Monthly Archives: April 2013

Quick update!

Sorry we’ve been MIA recently but things are crazy up in here!  There are not enough hours in the day to keep everyone informed.  Since the last post there has been a lot of this going on:

Kitchen cabinets finally arrive and are being installed!

Kitchen windows arrived!

Lots and lots of painting!

And some of this little cutie, just for good measure…

‘nom nom nom, love me some yogurt!’

Better/more updates to come.  We’re expecting a LOT of deliveries this weekend and will try and get some longer posts up! Hang onto your seats!


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April 30, 2013 · 4:43 pm

Well, that was easy…

Well, easy because there were four professionals, a 50 foot crane, and a wood chipper that could swallow an entire tree in one, fatal swoop!  Confused?  Let’s recap.  When we first saw our new house, one of the first things we noticed, aside from the great architectural style, was that you could literally not see an entire 1/3 of the house through the vines and the trees.  There was also one extremely large tree that had been taken over by vines which subsequently took over our entire side yard.  Sensing a theme here?  This is what we had:

Here you can see the 3 offenders- 2 redwoods in the front and a HUGE silver maple in the rear (to the left) that loomed over the house and yard!

A better look at the monster in the back yard

We knew these trees would have to be removed at some point.  The redwoods were too close to the foundation and were in shabby condition.  The silver maple was a great established tree size, but we had 2 arborist come out and both said that due to poor pruning over the years and age, the tree was not safe and would need to come down.

We didn’t want to spend the money to take them down right away.  In fact, we even cut the 5 inch ivy vines that were climbing up the tree in an attempt to kill the overgrowth and give us a little more time with the trees as we figured out what we ultimately wanted to do here.  As we get closer to our move in date and with all the work starting to wrap up, we just found it harder and harder to want to live with them, especially since we’d like to start replanting and enjoying out backyard this summer.  The thought that if we installed a new deck and began landscaping the yard and then decided to have the trees removed and they happened to damage all the new work we’d done, just really made the decision for us.  We called back Lansbury Tree and Shrub who has done a lot of work in the neighborhood and had them schedule us in.

So I got a call telling me they were going to be at the house at 8:30am the NEXT morning with their crane to start the work.  I, of course, had to see all this in action as he said they would be lifting the tree over the house with the crane, one piece at a time.  Here’s a look at the events of the day:

The crane showed up right on time, 8:30am, and parked itself right on our…neighbor’s…front lawn! The truck was mainly on our lawn, but the extension legs were definitely at the neighbor’s front door. They were happy the tree was finally being removed, so they were good sports about it.

This is what it looks like when they remove an entire tree at once and dangle it in your front lawn.

…and then they literally fed the entire tree into the wood chipper. It was incredible!

An hour later, the redwoods were gone and it was time to move onto the silver maple in the back. You can start to see its size in this photo. All those branches over the house- that’s him!

The first branch comes down and the process begins! (if you look closely, you’ll see the guy up in the tree rigging it up!)

A few hours later, I came to check on the progress…

Tree limbs in the front yard, CHECK!

Last major limb left!

I showed up just in time to catch the removal of the last limb in the silver maple…ON CAMERA!  I was mesmerized for the entire 4 minutes. Quick note, the chainsaw got stuck around minute one and the crane operator spends some time with the rigger trying to free it, but keep watching, it gets better!  Oh, and disregard my occasional ‘holy cr-p’ as the limb was coming over the house.  When I realized what I was saying, I switched to ‘Holy-Moley’, gotta keep it PG around here!

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

Wasn’t it crazy when they lowered the limb into the front yard and it was the size of an actual TREE!?  These guys were Pros and made it look so easy.  Definitely recommend them!  The only problem is that our house now looks so naked!  Don’t worry, we have big plans for the landscaping.  It may take some time, but we’ll get there!  A quick before and after:



The sunroom is definitely on display now so we’ll need to make it look a little better sooner rather than later!


Back-After (well- with part of the tree hanging from the crane!)

It’s ridiculously open now and removing that tree makes the entire side of the backyard useable- we’re very excited!

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April 19, 2013 · 1:46 am

square + dot = rug

Whoever came up with this system is kind of a genius…it’s the best of both worlds, if you think about it! Carpet = soft, warm and cozy on your feet and tushie. Tiles = able to be easily replaced, cleaned and moved. 🙂 For a family of 4 including a dog + playful toddler, this is perfection.

We used FLOR in our current house when we renovated our basement and have loved every square inch of it. Our only complaint might be the thickness of it (or lack there of)…so this time, we went with a pile that’s a teensy tiny bit thicker and has more cushion for your tushie (wonder how many times I can use tushie in one post? we’ll find out…!). The corner dots you use to install it have super strong adhesive that’s never shifted or come apart – it’s the most fun I’ve ever had laying a floor down – you get to use circular stickers?! Done and done!

Now that we’ve professed our love for our new FLOR, let’s chat about the patterns available, shall we? If we had 3 other houses to design, I’d want each of these in them.

Love the simple beveled edge to this one. Doesn’t it look like your feet would just happily sink into this?


Here’s a fact you need to know about me: I love bold graphics in just the right amount. We’ll need to work some into the house aesthetic somehow. 🙂

And my favorite option. It reminds me of a design you’d find on personalized letterpress stationary.


Since the sunroom is primarily going to be used as a playroom/den for G, we decided to go with a playful, vibrant and geometric border, with a soft, shaggy center tile.

This is FLOR’s ‘parallel reality’ pattern in burgundy. The stripe pattern varies from tile to tile, so it’ll be fun to lay out!

parallel reality

The ‘rake me over’ tile in oyster will form the center of the room, where tushies plop down… 😛

rake me over

We placed our order and received it within less than a week. Woo hoo! It’s sitting and ready to get ‘dotted’. I just made that installation verb up, but I like it. Stay tuned for after photos of this dingy gem of a before…

that we’re going to transform into this… (you’re looking at a plan view)! The living room is off to the right in the image below. Oh, and please don’t mind the crude and quick photoshopping of our Sketchup model that I did to bring you this graphic.

Hopefully G gets a creative feel from it as she plays and enjoys the warmth under her tushie. 😉

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Filed under home renovation

Hit the floors running

The subject matter of this post is pretty obvious.  It involves a whole lot of this:

Drum Sander

and this:


and us not doing ANY of it!  You may remember us telling you that there was a little, um, FLOOD that had taken over the house before we purchased it.  When we first saw it, we knew the floors would need some work.  Our plan was to have them refinished with a simple coat of poly to keep their charm.  Well, the flooring subcontractor came in and did some poking around and found that some of the water stains were too dark (black) and deep to sand out.  The best solution would be to stain all the floors to mask the few dark spots in the living room and master bedroom.  We decided to go with the color ‘Jacobean’ because it offered a more uniform color with less visible wood grain.  It’s quite different from our original vision for the house, a bit more contemporary with the darker floors, but honestly, probably closer to what we really wanted in our home.  There was a slight up-charge for the staining because we hadn’t factored it into the original budget, but well worth it in the end.

Here are some process shots but first, one before photo for reference!

Here’s what they looked like the first day we saw the house. Trust me, they were in worse shape than they look here!  Stained with years of wear and tear.

Foyer- these stairs were one of the lings we loved about this house and seeing them cleaned up makes us love them even more!

Living Room. You can see all the dark stains that we have to work around really well in this shot.  Not bad considering what these floors had been through over the years.

Kitchen looking into the dining room. We had to patch some spots in the kitchen but they are all located under cabinets, so they won’t be visible. They also inlaid a new oak transition between the kitchen (pine) and dining room (oak) where the wall used to be. Once stained, it will look nice and seamless, like the wall was always open here!

It really is incredible how great the original floors have held up with the years of neglect and how awesome they are looking just after the sanding.  The upstairs landing and master bedroom are also being refinished but the crew was up there working when I took these.  I wasn’t allowed back into the house after the staining so here’s a sneak peak of what things look like now!

View from the front door!



April 13, 2013 · 11:25 pm

Month 14!

So, this is the month that our house went under contract (our current house, not the new one) and it’s unbelievable to me to think that 14 months ago, we were trying to figure out how to be parents and now we’re trying to figure out how to move our family to a new home. For a mama that doesn’t do well with change, a lot of it has happened in too quick of a timeframe for my liking. Anyway…let’s hope G learns to embrace it more quickly than I do. 🙂


This month, Gabriella seemed to learn how to be silly, loving, sweet and smartly inquisitive. Not that she wasn’t those things before, but in these past 4 weeks those traits have totally exploded. I love how this month’s photo is all about spring – flowers, butterflies and brightly colored prints. 🙂

  • G gives kisses and hugs like it’s her job. On command, randomly, before bed, when picking her up from school…you never know when the mood will strike for an open mouth kiss or a dead-weight cuddle on your shoulder and I live for those moments.
  • Gabs plays with Riese more and more…like, really plays with her rope, furry man squeaky toy, ball, if Riese wants it, G will grab it and throw it! She also has taken on her first household chore involving Riese, but more on that in a minute… 🙂
  • Serious face! This girl is ridiculous. She’ll sit in her high chair during dinner and make a scowl-y face with furrowed eyebrows and all, head down with sinister eyes…and as soon as you make that face back at her, she cracks up laughing and giggling. We love playing “serious face!” to keep things lighthearted around here.
  • Gabby’s newest words: helicopter (ca-coo), airplane (air-pee), open (op-ee), UP (which also means down in her mind), ready (re-iii), everywhere (evy-weir), bike (biee), bear (beeear), potty (paahty). Sidenote in regards to the ‘paahty’ – since she loves stating someone’s in there and closing the door after it’s been used, I’m hoping this means potty-training may happen quickly and painlessly! She’s already curious and excited about this space in the house, so the diaper-free lifestyle may begin sooner rather than later…!?
  • If you ask her, she’ll point out her head, feet, hair, arms, legs, eyes, ears, nose, mouth and mommy’s earrings and necklace (we’re working on not pulling those last 2 items out of their proper place).
  • G’s first chore (!): she loves to put Riese’s bowl back in her food container when she’s all done (note: we did NOT assign this job to her, she just started picking up her bowl and running to put it away – all while giggling!)

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Filed under G photo project

pack it up, pack it in…

It’s hard to imagine moving into a house that has no walls, wouldn’t you agree?  When we bought this place, some of the plaster was removed in areas that had been most damaged by water.  When the renovations got underway, our new plans called for the elimination of one wall and the addition of some partial walls.  The electrician then found it easier to take down the existing first floor ceilings and most of the kitchen walls.  All of these left the house looking more like a major construction site than a home.


But what a difference 3 days makes!  The guys have been working hard to get all the drywall up, taped, and mudded in preparation for the floors to be repaired and refinished at the end of next week.  Some befores and afters for your viewing enjoyment (pardon the iPhone pictures!):

Here’s where we started in the kitchen.

View into dining room.

View from living room through dining room into kitchen.

View from Kitchen into Dining room towards backyard.

View from dining room into kitchen. (the blue tape outlines the island)

From dining room into kitchen looking towards the foyer.

Foyer finally has walls!

Here’s a quick view of the living room with new 1/2 bath too:

Looking into the living room.  We decided to keep the original arches into both the living room and the dining room.

Looking back towards the foyer with the new 1/2 bath in the corner on the right.

Not the best shot, but it does give you an idea of how the living room, dining room, and kitchen start to open up to each other.

What do you think? You may not share in our excitement from these quick iPhone snapshots, but we are thrilled to see walls.  The crew was there taping an mudding all the seams all day today and it’s looking even better in person.

Since the plaster work upstairs is essentially complete and every single inch of this house needs to be painted, we figured it was never too early to start.  Only the floors in the master bedroom, hallway, and stair landing are being refinished upstairs, so we are trying to get those areas painted prior to the refinishing so that we won’t have to be as careful with drop-cloths and such when the floors are compete.  Pictures of the completed master bedroom to come.  Until then, we wanted to make sure you knew who is still watching over the house…

Always such a happy smile on his face!


April 7, 2013 · 1:38 am

With a huff and a puff…

Wow, lots of time has gone by since our last house update, but luckily that means things have been so busy we haven’t had time to update y’all! It’s been difficult trying to find time to get over to the house, and at times when we do, we undoubtedly forget the camera or the battery is dead. Wah, wah.

So you know what appliances we’re getting since we shopped for those the weekend we celebrated good ol’ George and Abe. If you’re just tuning in or want a recap, read it here. We have since rescheduled delivery for May mainly because of our furnace and central air.  During our home inspection, we found that the furnace turned on but with no oil in the tank, there was no way to test the system for heat.  We hedged our bets and figured that once there was oil in the tank, we’d be good to go.  (Note: hedging bets is never a good idea.) We scheduled an oil delivery for a Saturday, 2 days after closing since they give you a delivery window of, oh, ALL DAY.  ‘Sometime between 6am and 5pm.’  (Really, thanks, that’s very helpful!).  Because the technician had to come inside to prime the system before turning it on, one of us had to actually be at the house at that time.  We also learned that 50 gallons is the lowest amount you can order (at least here in MD) and because it’s only a small amount, you pay top dollar per gallon.  I bet you can guess what happened… yup, oil delivered, furnace primed, switch turned on, and 10 minutes later, the furnace turned off.

Many phone calls and 2 separate company techs checking it out (with two different diagnoses) and the furnace was busted.  We could have taken the cheap route and just replaced the oil furnace with another one, but we figured if we were going to invest in a furnace, we might as well take the opportunity to upgrade to natural gas.  We brought in our contractor’s mechanical sub who took a look at our set up and made us realize that we could replace the furnace all we wanted, but that the original duct work in the house would not efficiently heat, and more importantly, cool, the house.  We found that we what we really needed was new duct work throughout the house and since the basement and first floor were essentially gutted, if we were ever to replace the lines, the time was now.  We wavered back and forth and decided to jump all in- full removal and replacement of the furnace, duct lines, and AC condenser.

Here’s what we started with in the basement:

A little hard to see, but this seems to be the best picture to show the clunker in the basement. Note the huge duct lines hanging from the ceiling.

And here’s what we have now:

Here’s our new York unit installed.

Since we replaced every bit of duct work throughout the house, we opted for the 95.5% high-efficiency furnace.  The ducts were able to be installed to provide the most efficient air flow for heating and cooling that will allow us to take advantage of the efficiency of the furnace.  All this forced the furnace to be relocated into the corner of the basement to stack the supply and returns vertically through the house.  Too much technical talk?  Here’s the quick low-down:

Efficient unit – awesome!

Added the whole house humidifier.

All the vents are now located along exterior walls where they are most useful.

Each bedroom has its own supply and returns for full air circulation.

OK, enough nerdiness. 😛 Know what else happened while the HVAC was being finalized?  We went from this:


To this:


Look at that new door!  Here’s a close up (imagine a deck here one day!):

We went with the Marvin Integrity french door in a size that fit within the previous window width in order to align with the brick soldier course and structural frame. A small detail, but we’re so glad we did it. We’ll paint out the coping to match the door color (pebble grey).

And from the inside, a world of difference:


To this (…not exactly the same angle, but you get the idea of how much more light comes in with the french doors):

Dining room with the new HVAC stacks in the corner. Not exactly where we had wanted them placed, but we had to make some compromises for efficiency as well as overall space planning.

Now from the living room there is a direct view from the front windows through to the back yard.  You can also start to see what the kitchen/dining room feels like here:

View from the dining room into the kitchen. The blue tape marks out the side walls for the 7′ x 3′ kitchen island.

Our mason also took the bricks that they cut out for the french doors and re-used them to brick in the old access door from the kitchen (and a few other holes that needed bricks to patch) so that as they weather, all the brick will match.  It’s a small detail but well worth it.  Looks so much better than if we had patched the door opening with siding of sorts.


The fresh mortar is still light, but after a few storms it will start blending in.  Still not 100% sure what we are going to do with this side porch now that the door is gone.  It has a nice little slate roof and brick piers, but the rest is shot.  Not high on the priority list now, so stay tuned so see what happens here.

This past week we had and PASSED all of our inspections, ordered our new kitchen windows (that will match the new french door), and they started drywalling.  It’s FINALLY starting to feel like a home that we might actually be able to live in.  Pictures to come!


April 6, 2013 · 1:09 am