Thursday, November 21, 2013

Photo Ops

I know, this post has nothing to do with our house at all. But I thought some people might like it anyway.

In the midst of getting our house ready for a baby, we decided to take a quick afternoon for a maternity photo shoot. A friend who happens to play a photographer sometimes captured the shoot for us. And we're (well at least I'm) obsessed with the photos. Here's a few of my favorites:

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Peek[-A-Boo] Into The Nursery

Since the end of construction, we've started on the project of decorating the nursery. It's still got a ways to go, but here's a quick preview of it.

We have all the major furniture pieces now: crib, dresser and rocker. The dresser still needs to be stained/painted as it's an unfinished hand-me-down (it was part of a bedroom set I had years back), but we haven't 100% figured out what we want to do with it yet. We also have a nice, soft high pile rug to anchor the room, a towel holder that we plan to use to hold baby blankets, some baskets for toys, a changing pad for atop the dresser, and some heavy curtains to block out any light. Since the picture was taken we also received the crib mattress, curtain rods, and a pouf ottoman for near the rocker.

We do have a few things left to be delivered. Our mobile is on its way from California as I type (well probably not since it's coming USPS and it's 9:00pm, so it's probably sitting in post office storage), and a few pillows and a changing pad cover should come early October. Then we get to sit back and arrange, rearrange, and figure out what we forgot. The goal is to have the nursery mostly complete by Halloween, and fully complete (minus any toys or clothes and such) for our baby shower.

Then this weekend, after a quick trip to Bloomington for a wedding, I'll be having a girls day with a couple friends to paint.

And yes, I've heard that some of the Jewish women that read this blog may be having a small heart attack right now over the idea of the nursery being set up, but I really like to have a say in things that affect me when I can and to have things like this done my way, so to relinquish control was just out of the question (call me a control freak, I don't mind). Also, I may be superstitious, but plenty of babies do just fine with having the nursery set up ahead of time, so I'm just going to go with that. :)

Of course I'll have updates as things come together more!

Three Rooms Become Two

Sorry folks for the lack of a post recently (or basically forever). Life has gotten the best of us and unfortunately the blog suffered. I'll have two posts for you tonight to hopefully make up for the hiatus.

After 3 weeks of construction, the bedrooms were finally "done." I use the word done loosely because there was still an abundance of staining that needed to be tended to.

Here's a little photo timeline of the construction project.

Center window all closed up. Ready for the new wall.

Framing out the new closets (sorry it's a tad blurry...)

Closet framing on the other side of the window.

Doorway opened up, header in.

Shot of the closet framing and opened doorway with header.

So much wider area to walk from the front to the back of the room.

So much wider area to walk from the front to the back of the room.

Framed in window bench (with storage!)

New wall separating the back room.

Drywall begins!

Dry wall on the new closets and window bench.

Dry wall on the new closets and window bench.

Dry wall on the new closets and window bench.

And a lid for the window bench!

No longer able to get between rooms without going into the hall.

Closet doors.
Closet doors hung. Window bench and baseboards stained. 
Kevin took a couple weekends and stained all the baseboards and the window benches in the two rooms. He even did the trim and other staining projects throughout the rest of the house that we had been seriously slacking on getting to (most had only been there for two years...).

So now it's on to decorating!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Not-So-Baby Sized Project

I know I haven't posted any updates in a while. That's mostly because we haven't really done much around the house lately. But we do have a fun new project we're planning, a nursery!

We still have to tackle the big construction of the upstairs bedrooms, so that's our first step. Once the construction is done, we will have two larger bedrooms, instead of two small rooms and an awkward adjoining room. Each room will have proper lighting and closets too. Then we have the fun task of decorating. New light fixtures, paint, furniture, area rugs, curtains, etc etc.

We'll also be working a bit in the basement and setting up a guest room down there as well. Because, you know, a giant upstairs project wasn't enough to do at one time.

We don't have a whole lot to share about either project quite yet, as we don't even have a time frame of when we're going to start the construction yet. But we'll definitely keep everyone updated when we start. And one of these years we'll update on our exterior projects and how they're coming along too (hint: slowly thanks to mother nature).

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Weekend Outdoors

To go with the theme from the last post, we wanted to give an update of the outdoor projects we've been tackling. We didn't get everything we wanted done, but this weekend we did a TON.

We'll start with the patio area. We rented a manual sod cutter which Kevin and my dad used to pull up the grass in the area we want the patio to go. We laid down some weed block to act as a tarp and mud barrier for now. We'll pull that back up when it comes time to actually build the patio. The ground still needs to be dug down deeper and leveled before any pavers can be laid. But hey at least its a start.

Sadie had a need to be in as many pictures as she could on Saturday
While they were at the fun, they pulled up the grass in the area of our vegetable garden too. Then Sunday, I got all the fruits and veggies planted. I still need some more mulch, though. We have tomatoes, green and orange peppers, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, two types of lettuce, and chives.

I also got some flowers for pots and the front garden.

And last but not least, Kevin and his dad did some work on the deck. They popped off the top rail and the spindles, then replaced the top rail. The spindles still need to be put back on and the stair rails finished, but it was a great day's progress. Also, another day I'll finish staining the rest of the deck and all the new pieces.

Hopefully some nights this week and this coming weekend we can finish some of these projects up. We still have to finish up the front landscaping and the rock garden too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Great Outdoors

We wanted to give everyone a quick preview of some upcoming outdoor projects we have planned for the next month-ish.

We'll start with the parkway rock garden. Weather permitting, this weekend we plan to tackle creating a rock garden in the area between the street and sidewalk in front of our house. We decided a rock garden would be a good idea for the space to keep it low maintenance and also allow for a good place for people to get out of their cars and not kill any grass/plants by walking on them.

We also plan to create a vegetable garden in the backyard. There is an area on the side of the deck near our hoses and rain barrel (and a/c) that we feel would be perfect for our first vegetable garden. It should actually be a pretty decent size, so we're hoping to be able to plant enough to carry us through most of our summer fruits/veggies. Some quick measurements and calculations say we should be looking at just under 100 sqft of garden. For a city garden, we think thats pretty good.

Next weekend (again weather permitting-come on mother nature, work with us here...), we plan to makeover our deck a bit. The previous owners decided to not do the rail and spindles quite properly, not to mention the delightful squirrels have eaten the rail, so we're looking to fix it. Our lofty future goal would be to eventually redo the entire deck (redesign and rebuild) with composite materials, but for the time being this fix will do.

And our final plan is to build a patio. We bought new furniture and fire pit, and we're going to build a patio for it to all go on. It will be right at the bottom of the deck stairs under the big tree in our yard.

Hopefully things will go to plan (and mother nature will cooperate and let us get these projects done as scheduled). I'll try to keep everyone up to date on each project as we complete them!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oh The Places We'll Go

A new trend that we love is travel pinboards, essentially a corkboard map (whether just one country or the world). Then you put pins in all the places you visit.

We decided we loved the idea of documenting our travels together, but wanted to put our own little spin on things. Instead of buying a board or print, we decided to paint a map of the work onto the wall.

The project was tackled by myself and my mom (I tend to rely on her skills for any artsy projects, though she comes in handy for some construction type projects too). We started by projecting the image on the wall and tracing it with a pencil. Note: pencils work great because if/when you mess up, you can just erase and fix it.

Then we watered down a few different shades of wall paint to get a watercolor effect (three different greens so it tied in with the adjoining living room). Then we just went to town filling in all of the land area. I tackled the islands (there are a lot of islands on this planet, fyi) and my mom started with the larger landmasses.

After the mural was complete, I made little flag thumb tacks. I printed out small country flags from each of the place we had traveled to and mod podged them onto the heads of the thumb tacks. Here's what the markers for our most recent trip look like:

And as we continue to travel more in the future, we will be able to add more tacks to the map. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Honey Do List

People keep asking me if the work is done/almost done in our house. I usually don't have much of a response other than laughter, since we manage to keep adding things to the list before we even get close to finishing it. So here's our list (as of now) of things we still want to do. Let's start from the bottom of the house and work our way up.

-Paint. We bought a nice light tan color last year in hopes of painting the basement and lightening it up a bit (the dark green and orange make it a bit dark and creepy down there). We'll get to it eventually.

-Forth bedroom. With the replacement of windows, we now have egress access to a fourth bedroom in the basement (woo safety and legality). Once it warms up a bit, we're planning to spring clean the basement a lot and set that room up as a guest room and craft area (instead of just a giant catch-all).

-Water heater. Right now our water heater is old. Like survived Y2K old. We really would like to replace it with a tankless one to save on utilities and space in our basement, but it's not at the top of the priority list just yet.

-Fridge. We would love to get a second fridge/freezer for the basement for overflow (or when I bake a ton and need to store cupcakes somewhere). I've been keeping an eye on prices, but energy star is a big priority for us and right now the prices are just a bit out of reach.

-Finish the basement. We both think it would be great to finish the basement eventually. It's a HUGE project though, so who knows if/when it will ever happen. It would involve reworking the ducts, leveling the floor, electrical, framing, insulation, etc. etc. etc. One day it may happen, but definitely not in the foreseeable future.

First floor: The first floor is actually pretty put together. We spend most of our time here, making it a higher priority for us to get done.

-Under cabinet towel holder. My mom made us these reusable "paper" towels a while back. They've been a great, green replacement to disposable paper towels. But right now the roll is just sitting on the counter. Since our counter space is limited, I'd love to get an under cabinet holder for them.

-Decor. I've started adding decor to the tops of the cabinets to bring in a bit of color to the kitchen. It's still a bit sparse, so we'll keep adding more as we find more things we like (and catch sales).

-Shelves. We put up pipe shelves, but they still need to be stained. I'm waiting on spring to really arrive in Chicago so I can open windows and not stink up the whole house with the stain, though.

-Pantry. Our pantry started out decently organized. But I made the mistake of not telling Kevin the organizational setup. And now it's just one giant mess. I'd also love to get reusable containers for things like snacks and cereal and drink mixes and the like.

-Jade plant holder/storage cabinet. The previous owners left a side table/cabinet behind. We've been using it in a corner of our office to hold our jade plant and have filled it with all sorts of crap. The plans are to paint it green to bring some color to the office and to organize the stuff inside a bit.

-Doors/trim. We started to stain the doors and trim but realized the color is a bit off. We'll need to sand down the doors and restain them, along with staining the door frame. We'd also like to stain the trim in the office and kitchen to match the rest of the house while we're at it.

Living Room:
-Bookshelves. The plan is to box up/move to the basement shelves all the books and movies that we rarely use, and use the shelves for more practical storage. I foresee a container store shopping spree in my future.

-Pictures. The ultimate goal is to fill the wall going up the stairs with pictures. This will probably be a long, ongoing project as we have more and more pictures we want to display.

-Race bibs. We hung a some beaded twisted cord at the top of the stairs to hang all of our race bibs on. Kind of like bunting. There is plenty of space still for us to add future race bibs to it.

Second floor: The majority of our upcoming projects will take place on the second floor. There's a lot we want to do up here.

Master bedroom:
-Mirror. I really want to get/make a nicer mirror for our room. Right now we have one of those cheap, over-the-door mirrors from my college dorm room. The plan is to either revamp it to make it look a bit more adult, or get a new mirror. I'd love to get one of those vintage free standing mirrors. We'll see.

Second Bath:
-Paint. We have yet to actually paint this bathroom. I'm thinking maybe painting it white and then doing a couple light, lime green chevrons around the room.

-Hooks/Storage. Right now there is no where to hang towels or store anything in this bathroom. Well other than a hand towel. This bathroom doesn't really get used much so it's not a big deal yet.

-Complete overhaul. This is on our list as the next BIG project. The plan is to remove a window and put up a wall in the back room, separating it into two defined rooms. Also, open up the doorways from the bedrooms into the back room space, which will make it feel more like one cohesive room each. Lastly, closets will be added (old house means no closets in the bedrooms) and some electrical work for lighting and outlets.

Outside: We did a good deal of curb appeal work last summer, but there is still plenty more to do.

-Parkway. I would love to create a low maintenance rock garden in the parkway in front of our house. With the new fence out front, it's difficult to mow/water, so low maintenance is key. Also people tend to walk on that area a lot when parking in front of the house, so the idea of a rock garden would allow us to have some plants but also a good area for people to walk and not kill the plants.

-Backyard. So much to do in the backyard. Clean and refinish the deck. Replace the handrails that have been eaten by squirrels (yes, the lovely squirrels in our neighborhood ate our deck rails). Finish the fire pit and surrounding seating area. And plant a few gardens, veggie and flower. Eventually we'll completely replace the deck and front porch. But for now we're just kind of putting makeup on things to hold us over until a full overhaul can be done.

-Siding. One of these years (in the foreseeable future) we will need to replace the siding on our house. Currently we have a layer of wood siding covered by a layer of asphalt siding. The asphalt is falling to pieces (literally), but we are afraid to pull it off the entire house in fear that the wood might be in even worse shape. We're thinking we'll end up with vinyl siding when we do replace it all. Cross your fingers that we can get another couple years on the current stuff so we can attempt to save up a bit (and pay off the windows first).

So now you can see, we still have quite the list of things we want to do. And even with this long list of stuff, I feel like I'm probably forgetting some things. And by some, I mean a lot.

Also, sorry for all the words. I'll try to make the next post more pictures.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

This is a quick diversion from the typical house post, but I was too proud to not share. For Easter dinner this year I was asked to bring dessert (which is pretty typical for holiday meals, parties, random summer days by the pool, etc.). In the past I've made a lot of cupcakes, cookies, brownies, cheesecakes, pies, and more. This year I decided to make a shaped cake. A bunny butt.

The cake was two layer vanilla with raspberry filling, raspberry frosting, and shredded coconut. The carrots and foot pads were made from airheads and the dirt from chocolate cookies. It turned out quite well for the first time making it and everyone seemed to like it (either that or they're good actors).

Hope everyone had happy holiday, whether you celebrated or not.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

So far we've really liked most of what we've done to the house, but once in a while things just don't work. The kitchen shelves would be one of those things. We originally installed four shelves with brackets on an open wall in the kitchen, which provided more "counter"-like space.

Well, they seemed to look just fine. I was never a huge fan of the brackets, but figured we could change those out at a later date. But then the problems started. They were right in the walking path from the dining room to the pantry/back of the kitchen, so we were constantly scraping our arms on the corners. Without anything under the shelves and without big, chunky brackets, we were also hitting our heads when we would pick up Sadie's water and food bowls. The last straw was when I hit my head so hard it drew blood. Changing out the shelves had officially jumped to the top of our list.

We decided we wanted to pull a bit of the industrial design from our pipe pot rack into the shelves. And we wanted to make sure there was also some structure at the front of the shelves to make sure we don't walk into them/hit our heads anymore. Thus blossomed the idea for pipe shelves. They were constructed from the same electrical conduit that our pipe rack was. Using a 1inch drill bit, holes were drilled in the corners so they could slide onto the pipes. And finally, the entire structure was attached to the wall.

The entire project cost under $300 and was put together in a day. Though, I do still need to stain the wood shelves. But that's a project for another day when it's warm enough to open windows.