Monthly Archives: July 2013

A significant reason…

…that we put an offer in on this house was the layout.  It was, arguably, exactly what we were looking for (with one extra wall and a slightly smaller upstairs hall).  One of the things we began really wishing for in our old home was a foyer.  Sound silly?  Well, maybe.  But when you live in a 12 foot wide house and only have a 12’x12′ living area that also functions as a foyer and hallway, you too, might long for a true, defined, wide, entrance foyer.  You can make fun, I don’t mind.  When we walked into this house, in all it’s disarray, we both loved the foyer space and the stair and the window.  It was a great first impression to the rest of our tour that day.

First Impression.

A shell of it’s former self.

As work progressed on the house and the drywall began going up, the entrance space really started taking shape.  It has some great little details, the lower ceiling at the doorway with 4 inch reveals really defining the ‘entrance’ and the original arches into the living room really frame the stairs and window space.  Having two windows in the stairway really brighten everything up, especially the upstairs landing.

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When it came to paint color, we weren’t sure what we wanted.  Originally we thought a light green or yellow, but couldn’t find anything we really loved, especially since it had to look good on the first floor AND second floor of the house.  We painted the living and dining rooms a cool grey but wanted something a little warmer for the foyer space.  We tested two samples that looked promising  in the store, both in the tan/brown family – one with some yellow undertones, the other with some red undertones,  and after putting them on the wall, thought we had found a good balance of neutral and warm in one of them.  Out I went to purchase 2 gallons and the minute I got home, we both decided it was the very wrong color!  As the sun changed through the day, the yellow-ish one got very bad yellow and greenish.  The red-ish one- was too mauve and then dark brown.  Neither was good (I won’t tell you which one we have 2 gallons of now, just sitting in the basement!).

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We were back at square one.  We wanted this house to feel different from our previous home (which was tan, blue, and brown) but with nothing else jumping out at us, we went back to investigate a cooler color.  Something tan with some grey.  We found two colors that seemed to fit the bill, one a little darker than the other, so we bought the sample size and painted some more squares on the wall.  G even helped us out a little.  She LOVED ‘painteeeee-g’ and did not want to stop, ‘dippie-dippie’ the brush into the little can to create her masterpiece on the wall.

Gotta shake them first! (while smirking)

A little here, a little there…perfect!

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The choice was immediately clear- it was a no brainer for us.  Why had we not just gone with something more neutral sooner?  And, yup, it’s one of the same colors we used on our old house- no wonder it felt so comfortable!  Now the tedious part of cutting in and painting this large, multi-corner, multi-trimmed doorway, two-storey space began.

Quick snapshop of the progress at night.

It took a long time to finish this – basically only painted for an hour or two a few nights a week after G was asleep.  Most of the space was finished a few weeks ago, but cutting in the ceiling line of the stairwell required the 12′ extension ladder which made it nearly impossible to accomplish quickly after work when G was sleeping so it got pushed back until just last week when I left work and headed straight home with the sole mission to finish painting the stairwell.

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Here are some before and afters:

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We still, of course, need to paint the trim and doors, but that’s small potatoes compared to the rest of the space.   The door on the right is the original coat closet that we turned into a half bath.  Since we lost the coat closet function there, we want to build a custom cubby/bench/hook unit for the left side wall next to the front door.  In the meantime, we found this bench up in the attic from the previous owner and it works great.  We might paint it a bright, fun color just for kicks.

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We are also on the hunt for an entry table to go in the little nook by the stairs.  Currently Riese’s toy chest is there but something fun with a little lamp on it where we…ok, where ANTHONY,  can throw his keys and wallet down instead of on the TV console, or dining table, or kitchen island, or… you get the picture.

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We continued the same color down through the basement stairwell since it is now open to the hallway.  This helped make it feel like a continuation of the house and less like, ‘just the basement’.  (now we just need to finish the basement, itself, and paint the trim!)

Some artwork has gone up, but we still have ideas for more.  Our family photos found a new home between the two windows.

Layout before installation

Naomi’s original stained glass that once hung in the transom of our old home now hangs in the 2nd floor window.

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We love having them back up in the house and Gabby LOVES being able to say ‘hi’ to everyone as we go up and down.  They are also right at her eye level from the upstairs railing so she can stand there and point to everyone and practice their names.  This really makes it start to feel like home for us!

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July 30, 2013 · 9:46 pm

Month 18!

It’s almost impossible to believe at this time last year we’d only been parents to G for 6 months and had just started giving her solid foods. Now she likes to “dippy, dippy!” everything and anything, as much as possible. Hummus is a favorite condiment.

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  • This month included our 2nd trip to Maine with L, B, A and L but it was G’s first ever (cue her monthly photo being shot ON location)! She LOVED the beach…even rocky and with super cold water, she waded right in and we had to drag her out! Playing with the sand made her happy as a clam, er, lobster. Kayaking with Mommy and Daddy was also a huge hit! 🙂
  • Gabs uses a spoon…and actually gets cereal into her mouth with it! Gabby used to eat her own breakfast, while I ate my cereal next to her at the same time. Well, our little adult-in-the-making now only wants to enjoy MY bowl of cereal with me…and her own spoon. Good thing the Honey Bunches of Oats I buy, comes in a big box. 😛
  • The cuddles with Riese in the AM before we leave as if she’s heading out on a cross country trip and isn’t going to see her for a week make hearts melt daily…this happens. every. morning. I can’t get over it. She’ll say “hiiii Riese” in the tiniest voice and lie on her bed to relax before we start our commute. Oh and if Riese isn’t lying down, you can count on Gabriella asserting her alpha-toddler skills and saying “Riese, dowwwwn”. She learns from the way we say it, but I have to giggle whenever I hear it, because she’s so assertive with her; I’m pretty sure Riese is rolling her eyes inside thinking, “is this what my life has come to? I take orders from a girl 1/4 of my size?”
  • Who wants to put her shoes and socks on her feet (“feeee!”) when it’s time to go out? G Strausy. She’s ALL about wearing her shoes…only to then un-velcro them in her car seat and then say “uh-oh”, lol. She also even knows the word “sandals” and will pick them out when she wants to wear her yellow outfits…these Toms glitter shoes are uber popular right now in our house. 🙂
  • Gabby will ask for things by stringing multiple words together. Sentences are literally on the tip of her tongue? “Open it?” “You should clean it up.” (NOT EVEN JOKING. The girl tells us to clean up spills, dirt, dust she sees…) “Good job, Daddy…more art?” (this emerged for the first time, the morning after we hung up a bunch of artwork in her room).
  • “Gabby? Gabby?!” means “please let me sit and watch videos of myself on your iPhone.” Over. and Over. and Over Again. While G is obsessed with iPhone videos of herself as entertainment (they’re the only things she does with the phone…since she only has it while I’m sitting right next to her…) I’m obsessed with NOT letting this become routine and NOT having a child that’s glued to electronic devices, so it only happens for a few minutes usually if we all need a few quiet moments to rest and relax on the couch.
  • Riese has a new hand holding her leash at the other end; Gabs loves helping Daddy take her outside.

I can’t think more than 6 months ahead these days since things have been changing so much every few weeks! Here’s to the next 6 month milestone of becoming 2 years old…!?!??!

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July 22, 2013 · 3:09 am

Month 17!

June marked G’s transition into the Caterpillar Room (toddler classroom) at school…she used to be a Gentle Stork and now all of a sudden, at what feels like warp speed pace, she’s become a Caterpillar?! While there are a lot of new routines to get used to (new teachers, new classmates, new lessons, new foods…), it’s definitely been hardest on Mommy and Daddy. Gabby is a rockstar and makes new friends each day. She also amazes us with all of the new words and social skills she’s learning. As much as I miss the fact that she’s losing so much of her baby qualities, it really is best for her to be in the bigger kid room, you can literally see thoughts forming together as we have conversations with her now!

PS – we’re doing our best to get photos of a non-moving G Strausy…the girl doesn’t stand still!!! In lieu of a super crisp shot, how cute is this fabric? Owls, cupcakes and candies in summer fun colors! Thanks, Wal-Mart! (WHO KNEW!?)

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  • Likes to play on our bed each morning before going downstairs. She’ll run out of her room and say “Dad-dddeeee?!” as she climbs up on our bed to get a few morning tickles in. This time of day is hands down my favorite with her. She’s SO sweet, chatty, kissable and giddy.
  • Sings “itsy bitsy spider…” WITH the hand motions! We didn’t teach her that, so it makes us really excited to know that she’s learning things like this at school! 🙂
  • “Swims” on her belly, on the floor…turns out those swimming lessons were a huge success.
  • Paints and gardens with Daddy…she’s a natural. “Payteeng!” If she sees any size paint can, it’s all over. “Payteeng!” needs to happen right then and there or a very unhappy Gabriella will ensue.
  • Crinkles her nose as she spins and dances across the floor.
  • Started brushing her teeth with an electric kids toothbrush and loves it. Not sure why we didn’t buy one months ago for her to try out!

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July 22, 2013 · 3:08 am

well, what do we have here?

These?

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Oh, these are just our FINAL INSPECTION sign-offs!  FINALLY, after our ‘6-8 week, tops’ project as promised by our contractor turned into FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS, we are finally complete with all the work they were contracted to perform and our final inspections have passed.  If I heard one more time, ‘I just don’t understand, I’ve never had this happen before with so-and-so subcontractor?!?’ I was about to lose my sh#t!

We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to make the place feel more like home on the inside, and have been trying to make the outside, well, the best version of its current self.  We have big plans for the landscaping in both the front and the back, but need some time to really plan it all out before investing too much.  In an effort to increase our curb appeal, our first step was to try and finally get some grass to grow in the large hole in the front yard where a tree had been removed years before.

Disregard the huge crane on the lawn (don’t you have one of those too?! :P). You can see the large, barren wasteland right in front here with no grass to speak of.

This area had become the neighborhood’s largest dandelion patch and it was time for them to go.  Oh, and these were no ordinary dandelions, no no no, these were those that had thorns and fight back when you try to remove them! After carefully digging out each and every one of them, we threw down some grass seed, covered it with some grass clippings from the rest of the yard and watered.

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And waited.  And watered. And waited.  After about a week and a half with no action, I thought I had done something wrong.  Is it even possible to seed grass improperly!?  I was at a loss.  Just as I was about to give up, we saw these little guys!

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Ah-ha, success!!  I continued watering the patch every day and about once a week, I would go out there and carefully weed out all those darn thorny dandelions that insisted on coming back.  Just about a month later, the large hole is about 1/2 filled in and the rest still has some tiny seedlings plugging along.

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Going on vacation for 5 days without watering didn’t help the little guys and they got a little yellow.  I don’t think they’re dead, just moving a little slowly.  Still, an improvement over where we started.  For now we’ll leave it and see what happens, but in the fall we’ll do a more robust seeding of the entire front yard.  Hopefully that will give us a nice full lawn next spring!  A quick comparison of where we were a few months ago.

What we bought.

Where we are now!

(ps- the fact that these shots almost EXACTLY line up is a complete accident!)

This flower bed is a combo of found plants, new plants and recycled potted magnolia trees from the front of our old house (btw, they seem to love their new spot even more since they’re not baking between brick and asphalt!).

As for the back, we cleaned up the patio and the border planting area that we discovered with some new plants and some transplants from elsewhere in the yard.  We’ve found that the little bunny family living in our bamboo jungle sure likes to eat….everything we plant!  It’s very frustrating, but the littlest bunny is very cute and Gabby enjoys looking for him/her (?) everyday, so for now, they can stay although that bamboo jungle WILL be tamed at some point, perhaps in the fall.

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The two tables on the patio were left in our yard before we moved in and since we didn’t own an outdoor dining table, we figured we’d just go ahead and use it.  It needs to be refinished, but it’s a great size and solid wood, so we think it’s a win!  We only owned 2 outdoor dining chairs (that desperately need to be refinished…again) so as we were wandering through Target one day and saw these on clearance (50% off!) we snatched up 6 of them and had an instant patio set.

The rest of the yard just gets the weeds mowed (very little actual grass back there! ha) and we continue to dream big about what it will look like in the future.  You’ll also notice some new fence boards to the right.  We went ahead and installed new pickets over the gaps between the existing ones in an attempt to peacefully co-exist with our neighbor’s dog who doesn’t care for us in the least.  It has helped a bit in cutting down the constant barking at us and has allowed us to actually be in the backyard with Riese, without the two of them attacking one another. So it’s been a good mini-project that only required us to invest approximately $200 and a few hours of manual labor!

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Next up, we really need to get some stairs down from our new french doors to be able to really enjoy the yard for the rest of the season.  I’ve got some plans in mind so we’ll see what shakes out!  Oh, and look at this little guy who just popped up in our sideyard.

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I swear we didn’t plant it and didn’t throw any zucchini seeds out in the yard.  It just found its way to us! 🙂  I put a low barrier around it when it first popped up to keep the bunnies from eating it and it worked.  Let’s see what it produces for us this year.  Ironically, it’s in the exact spot where we want to put our vegetable garden next year.  Guess a vegetable garden in this location is meant to be!

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July 12, 2013 · 2:26 am