Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How To Survive A Home Remodel (While Living In The Mess)

Leah: Adopt an "It's Okay" attitude.  "Turtle living in the basement?  Can hear a herd of mice running around in the kitchen ceiling?"  "It's okay!"  "Water from the upstairs bathroom is pouring through the pendant lights in the kitchen?"  "It's okay!"  "It's a 5-foot jump into dirt out the front door?"  "It's okay!"    "I spent my whole morning hurrying around to clean the house before I left, and when I came home this evening, the teeny-tiny piece of drywall you cut out left a thin coating of white dust on EVERYTHING?!?"  "It's okay!"

Nathan: Don't let your wife overwhelm you.  She will talk through ten projects in two minutes.  Those ten projects will take thirty days to finish.  Start to tune her out when she talks about the house.  Only take note of her ideas if she repeats them everyday.  That means she actually wants them.

Leah: Offer your husband a helping hand with his projects.  Watch him cut the 9-foot opening for the triple window in the kitchen.  Help him out when the header (a heavy, 9-foot beam) for the window needs to be installed.  As you hold the heavy beam up, be sure not to mention that you can't hold it much longer.  Instead, scream as your arms give out and drop the beam on his head.

Leah: Take advantage of  your sister-in-law's offer to help out on the house.  Unload heavy items you purchased together into the old garage on the property.  Let her shut the old, manual, single-panel garage door.  Watch and laugh as she somehow shuts herself into the garage.  Pull really hard on the garage door, the only exit, trying to open it up.  Go get other sister-in-law to help open the garage door.  When that doesn't work, call uncle to help.  Call other relatives to come look at her through the stationary windows as she is locked in the garage.  Take lots of pictures in 100 degree weather until her uncle can get her out of the garage.

Nathan: We didn't have a working shower for a month when we moved into our house.  We had to go to our relative's houses to take showers.  During that time I made a scientific discovery.  Well, it's more like a formula: angriness = dirtiness^3 + C where C is a constant = how much time Leah had to spend at the house on that day. What it boils down to is this: "Clean wife, happy life."

Nathan:  Listen to your wife when she finds a cute puppy online and tells you that it would be a great idea to get a puppy.  Everyone knows the best time to get a new pet, especially a 7-week-old puppy, is two days after you move into a house without a bathroom, running water and basic kitchen appliances.

Leah: DO NOT think through what it means when your husband tells you the bathroom might not be finished when you move in the house.  DO NOT be shocked when you realize that since the new toilet is not working yet, you will need to use a bucket.  DO NOT check the bucket you choose for cracks or holes.  DO NOT be surprised the next morning when you wake up in your new home, walk into the bathroom and wipe out on your shiny marble tile because your bucket leaked all night.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

I count down to Christmas (and my birthday) like a little kid...only 29 days to go!  This weekend Christmas cards were stuffed, addressed and sealed.  I really should make an Excel file with all the addresses because I send them to the same people every year (our families, some friends and all my students), and all three times I've done this since we've been married, I've had to use whitepages.com to find the addresses of most people.  After that, I'm left with a long list of people our age who only use cell phones and move every year, so Facebook messages are my ally for tracking those people down.  Searching for the addresses makes an hour-long job take at least two.  

 Is it way too early to mail the cards today?  I'm going back and forth between getting the project crossed off my list and waiting until December 1st to mail them.  It is such a miracle that these are done BEFORE Christmas, and I can actually have the debate with myself if it is too EARLY to send them!

I said I wasn't going to decorate the house this year since we're in such a state of upheaval with the remodel.  Knowing all those sparkles and lights are packed away in boxes makes me a little sad though...so I may decorate at least upstairs and pop some pretty wreaths on the outside doors.

Amazon is becoming my Christmas friend!  I  just ordered this scarf for $12.99, including shipping, found Christmasy flavored K-Cup coffee for cheaper than I can get it anywhere else, and ordered several gifts.  

Luxury Diva's Infinity Lightweight Scarf
$12.99 + free shipping!

In remodeling news, Nathan and his dad are working away digging out and framing in our new sidewalks.  The plan is for the concrete to be poured this Saturday morning.  We had some makeshift cement steps pushed up to our front door, but those were taken away to make way for the new half-hexagon shaped brick steps and landing that will be there soon and will look awesome.  Then, Nathan used the backhoe to dig out a place for the cement footer that will be the base for the brick.  So when I open the front door to leave now, I take a nice 5-foot jump into a pile of dirt!  You can imagine how much fun we had hoisting ourselves and our groceries inside the house on Saturday evening!

I saw two mice on Friday...so gross.  I did not stay calm!  I just can't stand those long, skinny, hair-less tails.  How do they make mice look so cute in animated movies??  I ran outside the house and was standing there, barefoot, in my pajamas.  After a few seconds, I realized that there was no where to go since I live here and went back inside.  But I did spend the rest of the day with socks AND cozy furry boots on my feet (after irrationally checking the inside of the boots for mice), since I just can't stand the thought of the little creatures running over my toes. Yuck!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Our third Thanksgiving together was so fun and sweet.  In the morning, Nathan went hunting with his dad and brother-in-law while I made a giant apple salad and cleaned the house.  I went into a panic earlier in the morning that all of his relatives would decide to come over (they didn't, but now I have a clean house!) and see our newly remodeled home, and it pretty much looked like a war zone.  How does that happen so fast with only two people living here?  I also made some snacks- sausage dip and candied pecans- to bring with for people to eat in the afternoon.  What were we thinking?!?  We were all way too full to eat snacks just hours after Thanksgiving dinner!  My college friend Evelyn joined us since her family lives in Taiwan.  It was a loud, happy afternoon with 50 people in one house, just the way holidays should be!

In the late afternoon, we went home for an hour and tried to pass into a food coma on the living room floor.  Well, Watson thought we must have wanted to play/wrestle since we were laying on the floor, so no napping ensued.  I got up and made Cranberry-Banana-Pumpkin-Walnut Muffins.  Yes, that was the combination of about three recipes.  I hate bananas and their smell with a passion, but somehow, I do like them baked in breads and muffins.  I was in the kitchen mashing them up and gagging, which Nathan found hilarious.

Around 6 pm, we got all bundled up to go stand in line for a TV at Walmart.  I was wearing four layers, boots, hat, scarf and mittens.  We went to pick up Nathan's mom and we found out that apparently we wait INSIDE the store.  Would have been good to know before I dressed for a blizzard!  Walmart, in general, was crazy.  We got to bypass a lot of that though because we went in for a specific TV.  They only had 35 of them so we had to get in line at 7 pm.  We sat on a couple cases of Dr. Pepper for three hours doing crossword puzzles and reading magazines across from the refrigerator section.  I started to regret shedding all my layers about an hour in.  Have YOU ever sat across from the eggs for three hours?  It's chilly!

That was probably our first and last Black Friday experience.  While we do appreciate a good deal, we already have so much, and for our warm home, family and friends, we spent yesterday being grateful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What We've Been Up To

-Considering that my 7-week-old car has 5,800 miles on it, I've been doing a lot of driving!

-Last week started with a studio recital for my cello and piano students on Sunday afternoon.  Recitals are a lot of work for all of us- me, the parents, the students- but it is totally worth it!  I didn't bring my picture-taker (Nathan) this time, so I don't have pictures and videos to show you this time, but each student did a great job.  We had lots of solos as well as a cello quartet and a couple piano duets.  I ended the week with a concert with one of the orchestras I play with.  Rehearsals meant that I didn't get home until 11:00 each night last week.  Nathan and I felt like we didn't see each other at all that week!

-Watson became an outdoor dog yesterday.  It breaks my heart to see him looking in the sidelights of the front door, whining and wanting to come in.  I know he'll be happy playing on our 3-acre lot and I'll be happy about how much cleaner our floors and furniture will be.  I wishfully hope babies are less work than puppies!

-I started P90X two weeks ago.  I was really nervous to start because I had heard it was so hard.  So, I bought it for $40 on Craigslist, hoping that if I couldn't swing it, I could at least resell it without losing too much.  What I found is that some days ARE really hard, but it's not impossible.  I cannot do a pull up to save my life, but the video gives you alternative things to do using exercise bands so you can eventually work up to a pull up.  The only downside is that it's so LONG!  60, 75 or 90 minutes a day, depending on the video scheduled. 

-Thanksgiving this year is going to be at Nathan's paternal grandparents.  We live two houses down from them so we can literally walk there.  They are having 50 people, so I hope that we have nice weather to hang out outdoors!  

-Our house remodel is nearly done.  I would guess that in about 6 weeks, we'll be just about done with all our major projects.  Right now, there is a backhoe parked in our front yard (classy!) and we have trenches dug where our sidewalks will be, hopefully by next week.  But with the big, dusty mess we have now, I think we'll skip cutting a tree and pulling the boxes of Christmas decorations out of the spare bedroom.  It makes me sad since I'm the person who put up our tree last year at our rental house two weeks before Thanksgiving.  But there's always next year, and this house will be so beautiful all decked out for the holidays.

-And speaking of that, I'm almost done with our Christmas shopping!  I need to buy Nathan's gifts, and then we have four more relatives to find gifts for.  After that, let the wrapping begin!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Weekend + Dessert Recipes

Nathan and I had a fun, low-key weekend.  We saw Taken 2 on Friday night and ran into my brother and his friends at the movie.  It was a fun movie and Liam Nieson is always awesome, but the movie was pretty predictable if you've seen the first movie.  

Saturday mornings I always have one student from 8:30-9:30 which is great because it forces us to get going early on Saturday, pick up the house and get organized for the day ahead.  After my student left, we made the 30 minute drive to Home Depot where we picked out lights for the porch, got a few plumbing supplies and picked out the shower heads/shower handles for the new bathroom.  Nathan worked on the plumbing all day, except when we made another trip to the hardware store for plumbing pieces we didn't expect to need and a can of PVC primer to replace the one that a nameless person backed into and dumped over.  I painted the porch an orangish shade of red (Georgian Brick by Benjamin Moore), Watson sniffed the walls and got a red nose, and then I painted the hallway between the kitchen and porch.

Sunday was busy, as usual.  How does that always happen?  Nathan is the worship leader for our church so he is out the door more than two hours before church starts to get set up.  I head over there an hour later to practice with him and the rest of our group.  After church, it takes about an hour to tear everything down.  I did that by myself this week as Nathan had to rush over to the soccer fields and coach two games.  He coaches a U-14 club team and they won both of yesterday's games.  What a great way to end the season!  I usually watch the games, but yesterday I cleaned the house during the first game then headed into town to bring Nathan lunch during the break between games.  It was such a beautiful day to eat outside!  After that, I got our groceries for the week and headed home to do some baking.

When Nathan got home from his games, he and Watson watched football together.  I went into the living room to ask him a question and this was too cute not to photograph.  In the evening, we went to our church's  fall cookout and hay ride.  I brought Almond Joy Cupcakes and Butterfinger Cake, both were recipes I found on Pinterest.  Sometimes I can pretend that desserts are healthy.  These are not, but so delicious!  You should definitely try them this week.

Almond Joy Cupcakes
Chocolate Cake:
1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1 small pkg. chocolate instant pudding
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Coconut Topping:
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
sliced almonds
This recipe makes 24 cupcakes that you bake for 17-20 minutes.  After they cool, generously spread the coconut frosting on them.  Dip in a bowl of melted chocolate chips, and while the chocolate is still wet, top with a few sliced almonds.  At first I used Nestle chocolate chips and they just weren't dipping well.  The chocolate was sticky and lumpy.  I switched to melted Ghirardelli chocolate chips and it worked great!  The only thing I would change is that next time, I will substitute almond flavoring for the vanilla in the cake and frosting.  Maybe  I'll even stir some into the chocolate chips!

I did that tile backsplash in this picture all by myself, so feel free to compliment.  :-)

I don't have a picture of the butterfinger cake, but it is so easy and you really don't need a recipe.  Here's the directions:

Butterfinger Cake

Bake a yellow cake in a 9x13 pan according to the package directions.  Cool 5 minutes.  Poke 12-15 holes in the cake with the back of a spoon (they will be about 1/4 inch holes).  Pour a small can of condensed milk over the cake.  Pour a jar of caramel topping (16 oz) over that and spread evenly.  Top with an 8 oz. tub of softened Cool Whip.  Crunch 3-4 regular size Butterfingers and sprinkle over the top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you know me, you know that I love my coffee.  When I was in college, I bought a couple coffees a day.  Well, that breaks the bank pretty quickly, so I've collected fun kitchen tools to make delicious drinks at home.  Yesterday I tried a recipe I found for Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  All you need is a blender!  I liked the Starbucks version and wanted to be able to make something like that at home, for less money and without the artificial syrups and bucket load of sugar.  The following recipe isn't mine, I just altered it slightly by using less milk, more cream and adding the pumpkin puree.  I just tasted the milk mixture and tweaked the original recipe until I liked it.  This is so good, I just made our third batch since last night!

Well, I'm off to finish painting our front porch and the hallway tot he kitchen.  All this caffeine better kick in soon!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
12 oz. strong coffee
2 T. canned pumpkin puree
Whipped cream 

Heat milk and heavy cream in microwave for 2 minutes.  Pour into blender.  Add sugar, vanilla, pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree.  Blend until frothy, 2-4 minutes.  Pour about 1 cup milk mixture into each mug.  Add 1/2 cup coffee (4 oz.) to each glass.  Garnish with whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

40% Off Shutterfly Cards + Free Shipping

I've never been organized enough to order my Christmas cards before December 20th, but the Shutterfly email in my inbox this morning for 40% off of cards motivated me to order them today.  That's right, those of you who know me might get your Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas!  Normally I'd want to keep the card a secret, but I get $10.00 off my next order if I post it here.  I figure that you will all forget what it looks like and be surprised when it arrives in your mailbox two months from now.

If you want to get your cards 40% off, here's the details:
-Order by Thursday, October 11th
-Enter code GETMYCARDS at checkout
-If your order if over $30.00, like mine was, enter code SHIP30 to get that discount too

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Evolution of a Bedroom

When we bought our 100-year-old farmhouse in 2010, no one had done anything major to keep the home updated.  The walls were cracked and damaged plaster, and the windows, floors, doors and trim were original to the house.  Here's what our room looked like back in 2010:

Honestly, the pictures don't do justice to how yucky the room was.  It was musty and the walls were in a state of disrepair that doesn't show up in these pictures.  The ceilings were only 7 feet tall, too.
We decided to knock out all the plaster in the home.  The background of the picture below is what the room looked like after they tore out the plaster and lathe.  They had already scooped out about half of the mess by the time I took the picture.

 Once that was cleaned up, Nathan installed new windows, rewired the room and insulated.  There was no insulation in those old walls!

After that, he rebuilt the closet.  We spent our spring break hanging drywall in one bedroom.  Yes, it took us the whole week!  Don't worry though, things went faster in the remainder of the house once we had some experience.  The hardest part was finishing the drywall.  Our bedroom was the first room that we did, and while it has some imperfections that bug us occasionally, it turned out pretty well and we learned a lot!  We kept the original floors but hired someone to sand them and refinish them.  The upstairs floors are pine and the downstairs are pecan.

Here's what our room looks like now.  I still have a few pictures to hang, and I need to give the woodwork and doors one more coat of white paint, but it's mostly complete.

I'm always curious where I can buy the things I like when I see photos on Pinterest and blogs.  I'll try to keep you updated on all the details as I add pictures of the house.

As you can see, Nathan vaulted the ceiling so that it's a normal 8 foot ceiling.  That made such a difference in how the room feels!

Wall paint: Shale by Martha Stewart 
(I had them mix this color at Home Depot in a contractor grade paint to keep the costs low.)
Rug: Clearance at Pottery Barn last summer
Brown pillows: Pier 1
Curtains: Bed Bath and Beyond
 Vase/Branches: Pier 1
Black Mirror That Still Needs To Be Hung: Walmart
Silver Candle Holders: Garage sale for $10, but I've seen them at Hobby Lobby

 Eventually, I'd like to get a chair that coordinates better with our bedroom colors, but this one works for now.  It used to be in our living room when we lived in a bigger place.
Iron Wall Hanging: Clearance at Pier 1 a couple years ago
Baskets: Target (These hold up SO well!)
Brown pillow: Walmart
Lamp: Bed Bath and Beyond

 This shelf (Target) used to hold all of my cello and piano music, but it fit perfectly in this space and really helped with clothes storage since our closets in this house are much smaller.

I was thrilled when I found these doors at Home Depot.  They are the same style as the doors original to the house.  While I was glad to get rid of the old, musty parts of this house, I've tried to keep some of that quaint farmhouse feel the house had when we bought it. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Catch-Up

1. Let's start with a disclaimer- this is a really quick post while I have a small break in my teaching schedule.  We'll see how much I can catch you all up on in ten minutes.

2. We got our Prius last week and are thrilled with it.  I'm consistently getting 53 miles per gallon, but today I averaged 56 miles per gallon on my 60-mile drive.  The hatchback is awesome.  I officially recall all the jokes I have made about how ugly Prius' are.  (I still think they are ugly, for the record.)

3.  I always have the day off on Friday (the perk of being your own boss!) and I'm looking forward to a long walk with Watson, baking cookies, hanging more pictures and a mirror.  I also need to paint my bathroom walls, and put a couple more hours in on painting the white trim in our whole house.  It is amazing how your house seems to grow when you sit down to paint ALL the trim.

4.  I try to make Friday my big cleaning day so that I don't have to do any major chores when Nathan's home for the weekend.  Especially since we are Nathan is still working like crazy at remodeling our house, I try to be available on the weekend to help him out cheer him on while still managing to not get dirty.

5.  We did hire someone to remodel our porch for us, which has been an amazing experience.  It's so fun to come home in the evening and see the progress that you did not have to be involved in.  The porch is going to be our mudroom with built in lockers and a big L-shaped bench with drawers beneath it.  It has lots of windows and I'm planning on painting it an orangy-red color.  We haven't decided what to do with half of the room but we really want to replace our boring idea of having a couple of comfy reading chairs in that part with hanging a hammock from the ceiling.  We probably won't, but it sounds so much more practical than an outdoor hammock.

6. My mom, Isaac, Eva and I went to the pumpkin patch last week.  I got a spaghetti squash and baked it a couple of nights ago.  Nathan and I couldn't believe how delicious it was as a replacement for pasta and according to Nathan, it is super fun to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the rind.

7. My time is up, time to head out to my next student.  I am being super-teacher today and working until 9:45.  But don't feel too bad for me...I only work three days a week.  :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Easy Chocolate Desserts

{Brownie Cupcakes}

This one really doesn't need a recipe, but it's a favorite for us to serve to company because it's so easy, pretty and it's the perfect amount of sweet to end a big meal.  All you do is bake your usual brownie batter in a mini muffin pan and let those cool.  Then, spray Redi-Whip cream on top and crown with a fresh raspberry.  Do wait to top with whipped cream and a raspberry until close to serving time.  I learned the hard way that the cream sort of disappears if you leave them sitting in the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Hmmm....maybe Redi-Whip isn't really whipped cream?

{Brownie Pudding Cake}

I broke the rule of not trying out a new recipe on your friends and experimented with this to bring to a friend's home for dessert Saturday night.  It took brownies to a whole new level because when you serve it warm from the oven, you cut the top part (brownie) and serve it in bowls, then scoop the warm chocolate pudding out of the bottom of the baking dish and dollop it on top of the brownies.  Plus, it has no butter or eggs, which keeps it inexpensive.  And if you are allergic to eggs and dairy, you could just substitute the milk in the recipe with a non-dairy alternative and be good to go!  It's not that pretty so I don't have a picture, but it is delicious, and you should definitely make it NOW.

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (dry baking cocoa powder)
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Combine flour, sugar, 2 T cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Add milk, oil and vanilla.  Stir in walnuts (optional).  Pour into greased 8x8 baking dish.  In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.  And the boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Pour that mixture slowly on top of the cake batter.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes, serve warm.


I love what I get to do everyday- working with my little cello and piano students doesn't feel like work at all.  It is so fun for me to see them improve, progress and learn to love making music.  Group lessons are my favorite because I see them enjoy playing together!  And it is a fun challenge for me to teach creatively so that I reach each individual student in the most effective way.  I commute an hour each way and it flies by as I think about presenting new concepts and techniques to my students for that day.  On the way home, I'm often reviewing how somethings just didn't work how I had imagined, and trying to understand how I can teach better next time.  I often tell my students when they are about to try something new such as a sitting position, fingering, or possible way to adjust a technique issue, "We are going to do an experiment here.  It may not turn out the way we want it to, and that's okay, because we always learn something, even if it is just that we will not try it that way again."  Sometimes I have to tell myself that, too!

And I will leave you with the latest and greatest Watson photo.  We love this puppy so much and enjoy having him in our home and playing together.  If a puppy is this much fun, we can't imagine how fun it will be to have real kids!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This week.

1. Nathan took the day off work yesterday so that we could run some errands that we really needed to do together.  We were picking out tile for our downstairs bath and researching the walk-in shower that he is going to build.  It's going to be awesome...4x6 feet interior, which sounds especially great since we've been using the clawfoot tub in our other bathroom since we moved in June.  I can't wait!  I'm sure every wife is proud of her husband, but I just have to say I am so proud of Nathan for all the stuff he has learned to do to remodel our house.  You will be blown away by the pictures.

2. I'm going to post some before and after pictures of our house this week, I promise!

3. Our other errand yesterday was looking (again) at the new car we are getting.  We have been talking about this for a long time, and decided to stop by a different dealership on our way home yesterday to see if we could get a better deal.  Our casual conversation in the salesman's office turned into this high pressure push for him to get us in a car TODAY.  Nathan loved all the haggling, adrenaline and craziness, but it just made me sweat like crazy and want to cry.  Apparently I would be terrible at sales! Oh, and no, the salesman did not send us driving home in the car.

4. I finally caught up on all my picture printing this week from January 2009 to now.  600 pictures are coming in the mail next week for me to sort and put in albums.  I love doing that, but I have vowed to never again skip picture printing for nearly four years.  If you don't hear from me next week, I'm buried under a pile of pictures.  Here's some pictures from early 2009...I guess we haven't changed that much in almost 4 years, which is good?
 This is how most of our pictures turn out since Nathan loves having his picture taken.
 He is eating cookies in this picture...typical.  :-)

5. We have been reading Monster by Frank Peretti together.  If you like a good scary thriller that will make you never want to go camping or hiking again, this is a great choice.  Neither of us like to drive, but I like to read out loud even less, so when we are in the car together, he reads and I drive.  It's cheaper than books on tape and way more entertaining to listen to Nathan try to remember to do his "voices" for the different characters so I can tell who is talking.  

6. We have a five or six hour round-trip road trip tomorrow for soccer games.  Watson usually goes with us and if I get bored watching multiple soccer games in a row, we just head out for a nice walk.  Nathan has been coaching this U14 club team in the fall and spring for a year now, and the best perk is the paid for hotel, gas and food when we have weekend tournaments far away.  I usually watch some of the games, go shopping when I get bored, and then Nathan and I usually have a good amount of time in the evenings to do something fun in St. Louis or wherever the tournament is.  It's fun and it keeps Nathan super busy!  He's a computer programmer for nine hours a day plus a 90-minute round-trip commute, he coaches soccer on Tuesday and Thursday evenings plus weekends and puts in about 20 hours of work on our house each week!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Back in June, we moved to our new house.  It wasn't complete, but it was close enough that it was livable.  We were pretty motivated to move so we wouldn't have to pay rent anymore.  On top of that, our rental house sold and we had to be out by the second week of June.  We moved in and were totally overwhelmed by our piles of boxes and the lack of space to store it all.  So, to make things less hectic, we did what most sane people do, and adopted a puppy from the shelter!

This is Watson.  We are biased, of course, but we are pretty sure that he is the sweetest, smartest puppy ever.  He follows us all over the house.  He is totally happy as long as he is right next to us.  We were happily innocent when we brought him home that it was going to be somewhat like bringing home a newborn.  Good thing I'm great at rolling over and pretending to sleep through all the noise so that Nathan had to get up with him!  We'll see if that works out as well when we have kids.

Of course, he had to grow up on us, so this is what he looks like now, 30 pounds later:

 I'll try to be better about blogging.  I appreciate all your sweet comments and emails letting me know that you had missed this.

Friday, January 20, 2012

House Inspiration

My sister Therese came over yesterday and introduced me to Pinterest.  I had heard of it and knew what it was, but I hadn't let myself use it because I could envision myself getting addicted.  Sure enough, I am hooked!

The downstairs bath, right off the kitchen, is probably going to be the celery green color in the top left.  I love the wainscoting too.  The cabinets below are like the ones we've ordered, but I like the idea of doing the black mirror with it.

I'm going for a really calm and serene look in the master bedroom.  I love the bottom left picture.  I tend to think of tan walls as boring walls, but with big white trim, it looks really crisp!  I thought the canvas prints below were a great idea too- the girl that made these used the lyrics from her wedding song to make the prints.  We have green and brown bedding right now, but *hopefully* I'll work getting an all white set into the budget. 

Nathan and I are moving into our house in March and have been renovating it from top to bottom.  Nathan actually bought it before we were even engaged, and in the past two years has done some work to it.  But we weren't sure that we even wanted to live there (it's pretty far out in the country, and more than an hour from where I teach my students) and we had been continually debating about whether to fix it up and move in, sort-of fix it up and rent it out, or sell it.  Well, in December, we decided we were tired of paying rent and two sets of utilities, and we would move in the last week of March.  Nathan has been spending all of his extra time there, and things are really starting to come together.  I'm so proud of how he isn't overwhelmed by the big project- he's so good at going step-by-step, tackling one small project at a time.  For most things, he's learning as he goes, and it's really turning out great!

With the decorating end of the job falling to me (it's a fun job!), Pinterest seems like it's going to be an inspirational help, and maybe a little waste of time.  Our home is a century-old farmhouse, and I hope by keeping the furnishings themed around clean lines and simplicity, it will still feel somewhat like a farmhouse when we're done.  I'd also like the home to lean towards being modern, but not so much that it feels cold.

In the kitchen, I'm going with cabinets very similar to those below.  Most of the top cabinets will have clear glass doors.  The actual cabinets are square and simple.  The main question for me is what color to paint the kitchen walls.  I like the robin egg blue above with red, but wonder if I'd get tired of it.  I could also paint it a nice neutral color like in the above right.  I was originally thinking of painting it an orangish-red color (not cranberry red), but since Nathan doesn't love dark walls and the kitchen is a part of the house we will both be spending a lot of time in, I nixed that idea.  The other question is whether to use a normal table in the kitchen, or build a booth, something like pictured below.

Isaac and Eva driving home with me a few weeks ago.  My car was getting worked on, so the dealership had loaned me a 2012 version of my car.  The kids were going on about different features they really liked about this car, how nice it was, and how I should buy it.  I told them that it would cost a lot of money to buy the car, so I'd just keep driving mine for a few more years.  Then they wanted to know how much I meant when I said it would be a lot of money, and I told them probably $25,000.  "Oh my!" Isaac said, "For that  much money, you could make your house civilized!"

The front porch is going to be our storage/entrance room.  I love the color of the bathroom for the porch, and since it has lots of windows, it shouldn't be too dark.

 We aren't going to buy cabinets in the laundry room for now, and I thought these were great ideas of shelves and things we could do ourselves.

Yes, our house isn't quite "civilized" yet, but hopefully by the time we move in, we'll be on our way towards that with cabinets, finished drywall and refinished wood floors.  The new windows are mostly in, and the siding/guttering/soffeting will be finished in a month or so.  The rest of the things won't be such a big deal to do while we live there...and I'll just be glad to have the super dusty projects out of the way.  Some of the ideas in these pictures are far into the future, and others are things we can do right away.  So tell me what you like and what you don't, and send me links to your own good ideas too!

In the guest bedroom, or "Isaac and Eva's Room" I'm going to paint the walls a neutral color and then accent with bright colors, like lime green (bedding above), bright yellow and some teal blue.  The picture just above isn't the right colors, but I love the flower pendant (only $30 at IKEA!) and the white chair.