Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

He or She, Who will it Be?

As I mentioned in my last post, Dave and I are expecting a baby in October! We're so excited. Babies are such a wonderful blessing, and we can't wait to meet ours!

Tomorrow we have a doctor's appointment, and (assuming the little one cooperates) we'll get to find out the gender! Now, I know that there are several schools of thought on finding out the gender of unborn babies, but as far as I'm concerned, it's just as much of a surprise at 20 weeks as it is at birth! Plus, being a planner, I'm excited to plan things like nursery decor etc. around the gender of my little one.

So, since I've been dying to know if this kiddo is a boy or a girl pretty much since we found out we were expecting, I've read pretty much every old wives tale out there. Not to say I put any stock in them. I don't. They're just a fun way to pass the time! And hey, with a 50-50 chance, some of them have to be right! Right?

We'd love to hear your guesses as to what Baby will be! So, to give you all the information we have, here are the old wives tales and their outcomes:
  • Heartbeat: According to this one, babies with a heartbeat below 140bpm are boys, and those above 140 are girls! Our baby's heartbeat was 158 at 12 weeks, and 156 at 16 weeks. Girl! 

  • Sweet or Sour Cravings: Some say that if mom is craving sweet treats, baby will be a girl. If mom must have sour or salty treats, baby will be a boy. I haven't been able to get enough fruit (watermelon especially)! I'm not sure if this qualifies as a craving, since I've always loved fruit and there's always more to be eaten in the summer than other times of the year, but I'll take it. And since watermelon is pretty sweet, it must be a Girl! 

  • Chinese Gender Chart: According to legend, this chart is over 700 years old and was discovered in a Chinese royal tomb. It's supposed to predict the gender of the baby based on the month of conception and mom's age at that time. According to this one, it's a Boy! 

  • Mayan Gender Predictor: We all know how good the Mayans are at predicting things. I mean, the world ended in 2012, right? Anyway, apparently the Mayans determined gender by looking at mom's age at conception and the year of conception. If both are even or odd, it's a girl. If one's even and one's odd, it's a boy. Girl! 

  • Glow or No? Supposedly, little girls steal their mother's beauty, and little boys give mom the coveted pregnancy "glow." If the spots all over my face are any indication, I'm thinking the beauty is being sucked right out of me. Girl! 

  • The Ring Trick: If you take off your wedding ring, tie it to a string and dangle it over your belly, it will move (physics. Stuff on a string tends to wiggle). If it moves in a circle, the peanut is supposed to be a boy. Back and forth means a girl. Girl! 

  • Morning Sickness: If mom's morning sickness is out of control during the first trimester, it's suppose to be a girl. Feeling great means it's a boy. I certainly had my queasy days, but over all I felt great. Boy! 

  • Soft or Dry Hands: Apparently, soft hands during pregnancy mean it's a girl; dry means a boy. Boy!

Those old wives seem to think a baby girl is in our future! But it was close. What do you think? Snips and snails, or sugar and spice? I'd love to hear your experience with these old wive's tales. Are there any you swear by? Did I miss a favorite? Let me know!

Monday, May 20, 2013

House Tour

We've purchased our first house! And, I'm a little late in sharing that news. It's only been 2 months. Oh well, better late than never, right?

Dave and I started looking at houses last fall, and saw this one for the first time in December. We put an offer on it in January, but didn't close till March (it was a personal choice, there were no problems causing setbacks). Even though we closed the beginning of March, we didn't move until the beginning of April. So it's been kind of a lengthy process, but it's been a good one.

We love our little ranch, and it will be the perfect place to raise our family (oh yeah, we're going to have a baby in October!). Our favorite things about the house are the 2-car garage, the workshop out back, and the bonus room, that I'm planning on turning into a craft room/office. Well, actually our most favorite thing about the house is that it is OURS! We can make any changes to it that we want.

We've already started making some changes. Because we still had a lease on our apartment until last week, our attention has been split between the house and the apartment, and cleaning and painting the apartment took precedence over painting the house. But now we're 100% homeowners and 0% renters, and we should be able to tackle our projects full force!

These pictures, with the exception of the exterior shots, were taken during our home inspection. This is why the rooms are mostly empty, and what is there looks like it belongs to an octogenarian. Because it did. We have our things moved in now, and soon I'll start showing updates that we're making!

So, without further ado, our house tour!

The Front Yard

This is the front yard in February. It still looks the same, except now we have a plethora of dandelions decorating our lawn. 

To Do:
  • Remove some/all of the bushes under the windows.
  • Add a curvy flowerbed to soften the very angular sidewalk.
  • Paint the siding/garage door
  • Possibly add a lilac bush?
  • Treat the lawn for dandelions (our neighbors all have gorgeous yards, and we don't want our weeds to spread to their lawns, therefore making us the worst neighbors ever). 
  • Change exterior lights or paint and fix existing ones. (Several of the glass panes are broken, so we don't know if we'll be able to replace only the glass, or if we should just replace the entire fixture).
  • Replace ugly screen door with pretty glass one.
  • Paint front door.
  • Replace mailbox (and hopefully hang it lower; it's currently so high that I can't see into it to check the mail, I just have to stick my hand in and hope for the best).
The Dining Room

This room was the original living room, before the addition was added sometime in the 80s. Since we don't have a real use for a formal sitting room, and the kitchen isn't big enough to comfortably add a dining table, we're using this front room as a dining room.

It is the first room you walk into through the front door.

To Do:
  • Paint the walls a fun, bright color
  • Update/replace light.
  • Buy/build dining table and chairs.
  • Add a fun rug.
  • Hang art, mirrors, etc.
  • Possibly get a sideboard for wall by hallway?
The Kitchen

The kitchen was originally at the back of the house, so the door and window opening would have looked out into the back yard. Now they lead to the living room.

The room itself is fairly large for what is in it, which is not much. I think we have less counter space here than we did in our last apartment. There are three entrances into the kitchen, making it a tricky room to layout. There is a large doorway from the dining room, a standard one from the living room, and the door to the garage is also in the kitchen, on the wall to the right. Some day we would like to make this space more useful.

To Do:
  • Upgrade all outlets to grounded outlets. Currently, we cannot plug most appliances into the outlets along the walls (not along the cabinets), because our appliances have 3 prongs, and the outlets only have 2.
  • Paint cabinets white.
  • Paint walls.
  • Buy new stove. This is the only major appliance that's not relatively new. It works, but not well. It always burns my baked goods, and I have yet to make successful rice on the stove top.
  • Replace lighting. Currently there is a ceiling fan in the back right corner, a long florescent light near the sink, and some lousy under-cabinet lighting directly over the sink. I'm not sure what we want to do lighting-wise, but we want to have it make sense!
  • Add light switch coming from living room. Since the living room is the space we spend the most time in, it's very frustrating to have to walk all the way across the kitchen to turn on the light. There is currently a switch by the garage door and a switch in the dining room. Yeah, it doesn't make sense to us either.
  • Remove various retro paraphernalia from garage door. There is a phone jack mounted on a plaque like a hunting trophy and a keypad to an alarm system that hasn't worked in years. We have already moved the smoke detector, but it still needs a permanent home (currently it's hanging on an art hook in the living room. Not gorgeous).
  • Make the room flow better. We've been back and forth on how exactly we want to do this. It will certainly involve changing the window space into a door (then it will line up with the dining room door and make a more logical walkway). However, we aren't sure if we want to then drywall over the existing door and add a small island in the middle of the room, or knock down the wall and add an island/bar into that space (the stools would then technically be in the living room). We'll be sure to keep you posted.
  • Add pantry.
The Living Room

This room was an addition. The wall along the kitchen is the original exterior wall, and is bricked most of the way up. It is dry walled at the very top where the roof would have covered it, and then had ceiling texture sprayed over it (yuck!). The beams are non-structural. The carpet is new.

To Do:
  • Scrape all that yucky texture off the walls.
  • Remove 3/4 trim from brick wall. Ok, we've actually already done this, and boy is it ugly underneath! Its not worse than the trim, however. Hopefully once we remove the texture we can mud and tape up the crack (yup, there's a gap between the drywall and the brick) then paint the whole wall one color to make it look more cohesive. 
  • Remove corner trim. Again, we've mostly done this. In the two interior corners, there are large gaps. We'll hopefully be able to fix these by mudding and taping as well. 
  • Hang art. I'd love to do a gallery wall on the brick, but I'm not sure if I'm crazy. You know, since it will be 1,000,000 times harder to hang art on that wall than any other wall in the whole house.
  • Build covers for the baseboard heaters. The rooms in the addition have baseboard heaters, because for some reason the central heating/AC vents were not continued throughout. The heaters work quite well, but we'll see how miserable this summer is without AC. 
  • Paint the walls
  • Paint/stain the beams. They're currently untreated and very rough looking. Like, if you ran your hand along them I think you'd get a splinter. I love the character they add, but they could be brought into this century a bit.
The Office

This room is off the living room, and behind the garage. It doesn't count as 4th bedroom because it has no closet. I'm super excited about this space, because I can have a dedicated craft room/office without having to worry about also making space for guests/future kiddos.

To Do:
  • Scrape all that yucky texture off the walls.
  • Remove 3/4 trim. Mud and tape as needed.
  • Paint walls fun bright color (pink??).
  • Paint shelves white.
  • Build baseboard heater cover.
  • Collect many many pretty boxes (the shelves may be good for organizing, but stacks of un-contained craft stuff is not so pretty to look at).
  • Build a closet against brick wall. To do this, we will have to modify/remove the shelves. I know, most people drool looking at these shelves, but there are some things that aren't meant to be looked at, and/or don't fit on shelves anyway. Plus, adding a closet makes it technically count as a bedroom. Score!
The Mudroom

The mudroom is on the opposite end of the living room, situated behind the laundry room. The door opens out to a concrete patio in the back yard.

To Do:
  • Do something with the cabinets. I'm thinking remove them and replace them with something more useful/less likely to bonk your head. They're at a rather funny height.
  • Remove door between living room and mudroom (done).
  • Eventually remove the wall between the mudroom and the living room, making a more open space.
  • Eventually tile the floor (who wants mud in the carpet?).
  • Paint the walls.
  • Paint back door?
The Pantry

The pantry is in the back of the mudroom.

To Do:
  • Turn into second bathroom. To do this, we need to to many things:
  • Remove plywood shelves. Re-purpose for workshop/shed/garage storage. 
  • Move wall up to approximately even with current mudroom door.
  • Tile floor.
  • Box in heating pipe.
  • Install lighting.
  • Install plumbing.
  • Decide: shower stall or bathtub? We are pretty sure we want a full bath instead of a half bath.
  • Paint walls.
The Hallway

Now we're back to the front of the house. The hallway is off the dining room to the left. All the bedrooms, the laundry room and the bathroom are in this little space.

To Do:
  • Paint the walls.
  • Update light fixture.
  • Remove doorbell from the Brady Bunch. It doesn't work anyway. 
  • Fix attic fan.
  • Paint fan and vent to blend in with ceiling. 
  • Change closet doors at the end of the hall from bi-fold to double doors. Build in shelves and use this larger closet as linen closet/general storage.
  • Change linen closet door (very front of hall, on the left) from bi fold to single door. Move linens to end closet and use this as medicine cabinet/general storage.
  • Hang art? There may not be space next to the 7 doors.
The Laundry Room

Because there is no basement, the utilities are also in this room. They make the entrance very crowded, and less than gorgeous. The laundry hookups are also along the same long wall as the utilities, which means that when the washer and dryer doors are open, I can't actually stand in front of them because they nearly touch the wall (we have energy-star rated front loaders).

To Do:
  • Remove cabinet on right (done. I nearly bonked my head too many times for comfort so down it came).
  • Paint walls.
  • Build in utilities? I would love to put the utilities into a closet (with vented doors of course) so that they aren't the first thing you see.
  • Move washer/dryer hookups. Our machines will just fit next to each other on the back wall, and if they were there I could actually reach the clothes inside them. What a novel idea!
  • Build counter top over washer/dryer.
  • Paint floors.
The Bathroom

There is only one bathroom in the house currently. It was also the very first thing we tackled (even before we moved in). Because it was the only room with wallpaper, we figured our best bet was to remove it immediately. 

To Do:
  • Remove wallpaper (done).
  • Paint walls (done).
  • Remove large cabinet over toilet (done).
  • Replace sink and vanity (this was not strictly necessary, but we found a new all-white one for $50 (!!!) and it makes a huge difference) (done).
  • Replace towel and TP hardware (done).
  • Replace tiny medicine cabinet with large mirror.
  • Paint door and trim white (80% done. The trim is all done, and the door is technically white, but needs to be redone. Dave decided on a whim to paint it, but since we had company coming two days later, it didn't get fully finished before we had to replace the doorknob).
  • Make new shower curtain (our old one is sage green, and we painted the walls lime green. They don't play together well. I am almost done with the new curtain).
  • Hang new shower curtain close to the ceiling (I'm making an extra long curtain, and hoping that it will make this tiny space feel a tad larger). Also, we got a curved shower curtain rod. It was really the only thing Dave asked for on our bridal registry 2.5 years ago, and he was pretty bummed that we never got it. Now that we have a house, we upgraded!
  • Update lighting (possibly paint existing fixture).
The Master Bedroom

There isn't anything about this bedroom that makes it "master" other than it is slightly (like, maybe 2 sq.ft.) bigger than the second bedroom. Also, the fuse box is in the closet, which isn't something you want kiddos playing with!

To Do:
  • Remove curtains, hang new ones.
  • Paint the walls.
  • Possibly build in a dresser through wall into guest room closet (closet is extra deep)?
  • Find a way to make the closet more useful. We were spoiled in our last apartment, and had a massive walk-in closet to share. Now we can't fit all our clothes in the small closet. We need to find an organization system that works for us.
The Guest Room

This room is directly across the hall from the master bedroom. Someday it will be used as a kiddo room.

To Do:
  • Remove curtains, hang new ones.
  • Paint walls.
  • Get unbunkable bunk beds. This way, we can have two twin beds in this room for guests, but can stack them down the line when it is inhabited by our small fry.
The Nursery

The nursery is next to the guest room, across from the laundry room. We decided to make it the nursery because it is so tiny.

To Do:
  • Remove curtains, hang new ones.
  • Paint walls.
  • The rest of our nursery plans are currently on hold, as we are waiting to find out if our bundle of joy is a boy or a girl. I'll make decor choices around that information.
The Back Yard

This is our backyard as of this afternoon. I didn't have any pictures from before, because it was snowing buckets during the inspection.

To Do:
  • Add raised beds for fruits and vegetables (probably behind the workshop, but we don't know for sure yet).
  • Pull weds around workshop and replant beds with strawberries. Move hostas from these beds to front yard. 
  • Fix gutters.
  • Build firepit. We love s'mores!
The Workshop

The workshop is a freestanding shed in the back yard. If Dave decides he prefers working in the garage and we are able to organize the space properly, we may turn this into a playhouse.

To Do:
  • Empty of previous owner's junk. Decide what, if anything is worth keeping.
  • Pour cement or otherwise fix the foundation. The workshop does not appear to have a foundation. As a result, the floor is rotting and molding.
  • Run electricity. There are currently fluorescent lights installed in the ceiling, and outlets in several places, but there is no electricity dedicated to the workshop. The previous owner simply ran an extension cord to an exterior outlet on the house. Not so safe! 
  • Organize the interior and make it a pleasant, useful space in which to work.
  • Paint the walls.
  • Paint the siding and door.
  • Fix gutters. 

The Deck

The deck sits right behind the bathroom and master bedroom.

To Do:
  • Strip, sand, stain/paint deck. It seems to be sturdy, but is very ugly.
  • Remove bushes. They're full of thorns!
  • Remove saggy step. Build new step the length of the deck.
  • Add pergola. I'd love to include string lights and curtains.
  • Build/buy deck furniture. It should be a comfortable place to enjoy the outdoors. 
Whole-House To Do:
  • Paint all trim and doors white. Fix and replace trim where needed.
  • Spray paint door hardware silver/brushed nickel. 
  • Replace all wooden, metal and beige outlets, light switches and cover plates with white ones.
  • Remove curtains and replace with new ones.
Well, there you have it! An extremely long-winded rundown of our house and our plans for it. I hope you enjoyed it! What is your favorite part? We just love being able to make plans to make it feel like us. Do you make crazy long lists of all the things you need to accomplish? Or are you more of a wingin'-it kind of DIYer? Do you have any suggestions for things we should consider? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Chair of Pink Perfection

I always have such grand plans about blogging more often. I love reading blogs by others, and I have always enjoyed writing, but somehow it's difficult for me to actually sit down and write what's on my mind. I actually wrote a post about this a few months ago. I think everything I said then was true, and still is, yet somehow I still haven't written since August.

Oh well! Hopefully I'll get better soon. I always tell myself that I'll start blogging when I have something interesting to write about, and soon I will! There's all sorts of exciting things happening in our household (hint: we're buying a house!!), so going forward there might actually be something interesting for me to share. But I guess the point is the sharing, and not the interesting-ness. Right?

So, speaking of my lazy blogging self, I realized that it's been a year since I showed the blogosphere that glider we picked up on the side of the road. A year! I'm notorious for bringing in supplies for projects and having big plans, but never getting around to accomplishing them. Who isn't right? But this one I actually got on right away. And I'm kind of ashamed that I haven't shown you the results yet, because it might be my best project to date.

As a reminder, here's what the chair looked like when we picked it up:

Don't mind the laundry and grocery bags in the background. This was last year when we were still living in our college apartment, with no laundry in-house and no grocery store within 20 miles. When we went to visit Dave's brother, we brought a week's worth of dirty laundry and did the grocery shopping on the way home. After going curb-shopping, apparently.

What can I say, we were classy college people.

It really wasn't all that hard to decide what to do with it. I had some awesome pink fabric laying around from a curtain project that never happened, and it seemed like a good solution. Granted, I did freak out a little bit because, really, pink furniture? Who am I, Barbie? (Actually, I think I am Elle Woods at heart. Legally Blonde is still the best motivational movie, ever.) Ironically, Dave didn't skip a beat. Somehow, pink furniture bothered me, his pink obsessed wife, more than it bothered him. Yet another reason I married him.

So, once I got over my once-in-a-lifetime fear of pink, I dove in. I did search the interwebs (or, mostly Pinterest) for other people who had recovered similar gliders, but I had a pretty good idea going in of what had to be done. That initial idea turned out to be a very good thing, because I found very few tutorials.

Basically, I took the old cushions apart with a seam ripper (used to only break the threads, not to tear through the fabric) and used the resulting pieces as pattern pieces for my new fabric. I just pinned it down and cut them out. I was sort of careful to label the pieces as I went, but I wish I had been a bit better. It ended up not mattering much because when it comes down to it, there is one way to sew the "cushion back piece" to the "cushion front piece," and it doesn't really matter which is which. If the cushion didn't fit terribly well, I just took it out, flipped it over and reinserted it. Easy-peasy.

I did carefully mark where all the snaps and ties went, and added those in as necessary. On the back of the chair, I did originally forget to include the snap tabs, but they were easy enough to add as an afterthought. I just used my trusty seam-ripper to undo the seam a few inches around where the tab needed to be inserted, added the tab, and stitched up the hole!

There were a few tricky spots, however. For example, stitching up the bottom of each of the cushions was tricky, to say the least. I did manage to use my little sewing machine, but it was a group effort, and the resulting seams are not exactly nice to look at. Dave had to help me hold the cushion up as I forced the edge under the presser foot and attempted to keep some semblance of a straight line going.

The arm rests were also a pain in the tush. Since they wrap around the arm of the chair, they're kind of a funny shape. Also, the part on top of the arm is much thicker than the barrier on the side. Throw in there an extra snap tab and things got all kinds of confusing. It was like a puzzle trying to put all those pieces together again, and on top of it I had to shove the whole thing through my poor sewing machine to stitch that dividing line between the arm rest and the side thingie (that's the technical term).

Maybe you can see the funny shape better there.

I'm happy to say that it did eventually all turn out okay. The pieces not only fit together, but even fit on the chair. Hooray!

The final difficulty I had was putting the pretty darts back into the chair. Initially, I thought that maybe I'd skip them and it would still look okay. Nope. It looked like a baggy over-sized T-shirt on my skinny teenage self. Not a good look. I knew there was no way I'd fit that three-inch cushion through my poor machine, and so I slowly resigned myself to stitching it by hand.

Thankfully, since I was reusing the original cushions, there were deep grooves in the foam to guide my uncertain stitching hand. I knew that hand sewing such prominent lines with white thread would be a mistake, so I decided to use invisible thread. Then, I did what any smart girl would: I put on Prince of Persia and started sewing (there's nothing quite like a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal to take away the pain of hand sewing).

All that to say, I did eventually get the chair done, and I'm so, so happy with it!

I love it. It's the most comfortable seat in the house, and the most stylish to boot! What about you? Do you think the pink fabric was a good choice? Have you ever tried to reupholster anything? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Favorite Vacation

A while back, Dave and I were talking about what our favorite vacations were growing up. Naturally, his all involved camping under the vast African sky and fighting off monkeys and lions and such (ok, maybe not so much wild animal fighting, but there could have been!!).

My family never went on elaborate get-aways, but I do remember going on a number of vacations with my family. Often, they involved unbearably long car rides and sharing rooms with cousins. I always had fun, and while the van certainly felt cramped after 12 hours, I never dreaded spending that time with my family. We'd listen to Hank the Cowdog or Adventures in Odyssey. We'd play the licence plate state game and the alphabet game 1,000,000 times (till mom made us stop because she was going nuts). But my favorite vacation wasn't at my Aunt's condo or touring new and exciting cities, but at my uncle's lake cottage about 40 minutes away from our house.

We'd been there a million times, so there was nothing "new and exciting" about the trip. The lake wasn't even that big. There wasn't a ton of sand to play in or fancy touristy things to visit. There was just a comfortable old cottage by a comfortable old lake with a comfortable old tree swing. In the summer of 2007 my parents decided that we would borrow the cottage for a week of vacation.

I was 17 and naturally couldn't handle a whole week away from "civilization" (aka my best friend and my boyfriend), so my parents let me bring Emily along. The four of us girls (Em and me and Sarah and Hannah) stayed in the ginormous upstairs loft/bedroom area all squished together, and Jake stayed downstairs in the "real" second bedroom. We didn't go anywhere the entire week. I'm pretty sure that the TV didn't work and all the music we listened to was on a record player (which honestly is retro and awesome. I hope that thing is still there). We spent the entire week swimming, canoeing over to the "island" just across the lake, laying out on the dock (and getting royally sunburned!) and reading. Seriously, at any given point there were probably three people sprawled across various pieces of furniture in the most uncomfortable-looking positions reading adventure novels and mysteries and westerns.

We ate a lot of food and roasted marshmallows over the fire. We relaxed and played and had a great time. We read and chatted and slept when (and where) we felt like it. To me, it was the perfect vacation. I was surrounded by people I loved. I wasn't expected to go anywhere or do anything or even make small talk if I didn't feel like it.

I was reminded of this vacation when my cousin posted pictures of her little daughter enjoying time at "Grandpa's cottage." I've seen pictures of me and my siblings playing there at about the same age. She'll grow up to have wonderful memories of a relaxing place with people who love  her. I know I do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.
(My Favorite Things, The Sound of Music)

There are a few things that can always make me happy, regardless of how I was feeling before. There's something wonderful about Christmas music (yes, any time of the year!) that will make me feel better even when I'm totally bummed out. When Dave and I were first married, he had to travel for two weeks for work, and I was sad and lonely. I realized that when I put Christmas music on, all my favorite feelings from my favorite holiday just came up and made me feel better.

I know I can't be the only one who has little things that make a big difference. They're things that recall my childhood or people that I love, and sometimes that's just enough umph to get me out of a rut. Here are a few of my favorite things, what are yours?

Anne of Green Gables
Little Women

Enchanted (or pretty much any princess movie)

Something pretty
An over-sized sweater or sweatshirt, especially if it belongs to my hubby :-)

Listen to:
Disney music
Christmas music



Homemade chocolate chip cookies