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    43 posts categorized "New House"

    July 23, 2013

    KITCHEN.

    Take a gander.

    Photo (4)

    Photo (3)

    Photo (1)

    Photo (2)

    Isn't it a beaut?!

    I don't know what those cabinets are called. I've seen them in a million houses, but I have no idea what to google. And no one ever posts before pictures of THESE cabinets. So I've been feeling like the kitchen is sort of a lost cause, at least until we have the requisite bazillion dollars for a total gut job. Besides, it's totally functional and I don't hate using it, the way I hate the bathroom layout every time I go in there. It's been low-ish on my list of things to stress about. 

    Until it occurred to me that I wouldn't HAVE to wait until I had a bazillion dollars to make some substantial changes. Namely, my evil enabling SIL found a bunch of pictures online of THESE cabinets with a Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations makeover. I'm just going to apologize now because I? Cannot find these pictures anywhere. I'll have to have her email me the links. But anyway, people PAINTED these cabinets. And they looked AWESOME. I mean, as awesome as painted laminate cabinets go, which turns out is pretty awesome. I was super impressed. SIL spent an entire afternoon investigating the possibilities and yes I did go out that very evening to purchase my own paint kit. 

    This was our vision: 

    • dark gray cabinets ('Castle' on the box, although later I found out I can have that paint tinted any color I want. It doesn't have to be one of the colors on the box.)
    • ripping off the oak trim "backsplash" and replacing with a strip of sea glassy tile in blues and grays and translucents
    • some brushed nickel modern hardware
    • painting the oak trim around the tile counters the same aqua as the walls in the little room off the kitchen OR
    • staining the oak trim around the tile counters AND the butcher block bar height counters a deep espresso

    My house is super white and light and I felt like I could pull off a darker kitchen. I think clean lines, dark colors, and Ikea-looking pulls would look "right" in this house. I got super excited, mainly because it felt like something I could DO. I'd still have the same beat up floor and the same tile and grout countertops, but everything else would feel so different. And I could DO it. It would take a while, it would be inconvenient, but I could DO it. 

    Then, right before the kitchen designer dude (the consultation I got for free from Home Depot) was supposed to arrive, Phillip and I had a Discussion. 

    Here's the thing. I am... impulsive when it comes to house stuff. And I don't have a lot of patience, I don't like to wait around, I'd rather spend an entire day doing something and getting it done rather than a few hours here and there during the week. I don't zero in on the professional way to do something or the "best" way, I tend to look and see what other people have done, what the options are, and go from there. Which isn't to say I just up and paint something. I spent a loooong time reading about painting furniture before I cracked open the primer for my craigslist cabinet. And I feel like I have some experience now. I now have opinions about what to use spray paint on, what tools to use for regular painting, etc. Painting is no longer intimidating to me AT ALL (see: the archives from when we bought our townhouse. HA.)

    PHILLIP on the other hand... opposite of impulsive. In every way. Maybe I've mentioned that it took two years for him to suggest that maybe we start dating? Phillip's perspective was: we just finished the deck. We just shelled out a ton of money. What is this new thing my wife wants to do now? What sort of mess will I have to live in? Does she know what she's doing? What if it looks worse? Aren't you supposed to use a sprayer on cabinets? You can't paint LAMINATE! I'm tired of things not being done! I'm tired of things not getting put away. THIS IS STRESSING ME OUT. 

    It was a hard conversation, mainly because as soon as someone implies that I am not going to do a good job I immediately get offended, hurt, indignant, and irrational. So then I was all, "What evidence does he have that I will screw this up? What else have I done around the house that sucks? Where else did I do a bad job?" and getting super upset because HEY I'VE MADE OUR HOUSE REALLY PRETTY. AHEM. 

    But see, this is where the enneagram comes in really handy, people. I'm serious. I'm a Three and Threes feel loved/valued for what they accomplish. Someone expressing doubts about me and what I can do? TWIST THE KINFE A LITTLE MORE, WOULDJA? Phillip is a Nine with a One Wing. Nines want to be comfortable, not living in a DIY kitchen zone. They also hate making decisions and someone throwing questions at them at lightning speed? Like me? Demanding answers? Makes them IRATE. Can't they just go sit on the couch and eat some chips and NOT DEAL WITH THIS? Also, that One Wing - the Perfectionist - makes him liable to zero in on the screw ups, the places where the paint chips, the brush strokes are visible, the way his wife thinks she can just sand and stain a butcher block countertop where it IS... WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER? 

    The "discussion" ended with me saying I was not going to paint the kitchen cabinets. It's just not worth it. I'll give Phillip a few months to roll it around in his head and me a few months to decide if that's really something I want to do. I think Phillip DOES trust me to do a good (and mostly right) job, but it's not fair for me to just up and decide that we're going to do this huge project. 

    But then the designer came over. Sigh. I found him... pleasant with a touch of annoying. He wasn't a designer so much as a Home Depot sales guy who knows how to put cabinets together. Part of talking to him was great - he was there to sell us on refacing cabinets and he figured out a solution for our tiny wall oven, creating a new space for that, building new cabinet frames, getting rid of the ledge where the old microwave is currently sitting, all that. So helpful. He made it sound POSSIBLE, which is what I like to hear. He also described things in phases. We could do the cabinets and oven as Phase 1. We could get new appliances for Phase 2. For Phase 3 we'd get new countertops. Whenever we could afford to make those things happen. 

    Then he said that just refacing the cabinets we have (and building a couple of new boxes for the wall oven situation) would be in the range of $16K to $20K. 

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Maybe I've been watching too much HGTV, but I thought that would be the cost for entirely NEW cabinets. Maybe I'm totally in la la land, but $16K to $20K just for CABINETS doesn't seem worth it to me at all. I feel like I should get brand new insides for that! At least! After a few snide remarks about Ikea (whose cabinets I happen to like more than any other store's, so far) he left his card and a brochure and drove away. We ended up feeling like, "Well! That is good information to have!" 

    And so I go back to the painting cabinet idea. One thing Phillip could handle if I wanted to do something NOW is testing the paint kit on our bathroom cabinets which are exactly the same. The kids' bathroom would be a great place to test out all our ideas, right? I still very much like the idea of painting them, but since that weekend I've seen a few other things and now I have a few other ideas. 

    This concrete countertop idea, for example. I thought you had to pour concrete into forms to make this happen, but this link Elizabeth sent me is basically painting concrete onto your existing countertops. INTERESTING. Also CHEAP. Phillip and I have both talked about concrete countertops as an option, so when I sent him the link he was actually amenable! But I couldn't do dark gray cabinets and concrete counters. Now I'm wondering if I should try the dark gray in the bathrooms, see how that works, and decide about the kitchen. If it does work I'd also want to test out the concrete. If we were going to go with all of that for the kitchen (and honestly, just TRYING it sounds kinda fun to me) then I'd definitely want a lighter color for the cabinets. I'd get either a new kit or go the Centsational Girl laminate route, where you use oil based primer and then whatever color you choose. (No primer in the kit.) 

    Also, Phillip, being an Almost Perfectionist, suggested we get a paint sprayer if we're going to do this. Did you know he considered getting me a paint sprayer for Christmas last year? This is hilarious to me. ME. A PAINT SPRAYER. (Would I even know how to use it?) 

    So... this is all definitely on the table still, just farther down the table. Seriously, if it's going to cost 20 grand just to switch out cabinet doors, then painted laminate, a $15 concrete mix, and a $100 worth of backsplash tile sounds super great to me. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if I don't do it perfectly. It sounds FUN and it sounds like DIFFERENT. I like both of those things! 

    I also want to say: MY KITCHEN IS JUST FINE. I need to say this to ME. My kitchen is fine. It's big. It's functional. Everything works. Everything fits. It's light. It's bright. Just because I'd tear down walls and redesign the whole thing if I COULD doesn't mean I am currently living in Kitchen Misery. That's ridiculous. White quartz countertops will not make me happier. (At least not for long.) Sleek modern cabinetry will not make me a better person. An oven that fits my biggest cookie sheet WOULD be an improvement, but we certainly manage to bake and eat heaps of cookies without it. Much like my pants size, how pretty my kitchen is should not determine how I feel about myself. 

    All right. That caveat out of the way - I think it'd be SUPER FUN to start painting/tiling/concreting things. As soon as my marriage can handle it, we'll get started. WHEE!

     

    June 11, 2013

    A poor substitute for the post I wrote last night that vanished DAMMIT TYPEPAD

    Last night I wrote this huuuge post about a bit of shopping I've done lately, replete with pictures and links and actual opinions and all that. And somehow I messed up and it didn't post and POOF. Last night I was just angry, this morning I am taking it as a sign that I am not to even pretend to be a fashion blogger. 

    But I did provide you with a little write up of the new home section at JCPenney and it seems that this is the section I am most bummed I didn't get to share with you. Interesting! I think it's because I've finally found my dream dining room table - at PENNEY'S. I know. And it's $1300 which means I will not be purchasing it, maybe ever, on account of buying a deck instead. 

    Isn't is BEEYOOTIFUL?

    Whitetable

    Okay, fine, you can barely see it. This is because it's a shiny white LACQUERED table and I am IN LOVE. It's from the Jonathan Adler collection and it's too expensive and it doesn't seat enough people and it doesn't come with an extension and I don't care because IT'S SO PRETTY. I may have to re-envision my entire future dining room around a white laquered table.

    Anyway. Here is what I thought about the new JCPenney Home department, which you have definitely heard about if you a) watch/read financial news or b) see a commercial on HGTV. It's awesome. I know! Much like their dress department, where I am finding 99% of the dresses I like lately, the home department is my kind of stuff. A lot of it (and not just the uber-bright Jonathan Adler stuff) is the modern that isn't SO modern it looks uncomfortable, but with clean lines, interesting shapes, shiny, mixed materials. I have to compare it to Home Goods, where I went over the weekend in search of couch pillows. I like a lot of the stuff in Home Goods, but I'm thinking I'm not... I can't think of a good word. Like I'm not so much into chalkboard paint. I love their rugs and their lamps, but I think I'm not enough into the vintagey style. Anyway, the JCP stuff isn't cheap and not where I'd go in search of some wall art or a bathmat, but if I was seriously looking for something substantial? I'd totally check them out. 

    And now we need to talk about couch pillows. Why so expensive, couch pillows?! The few I liked at Home Goods were $25 each and at JCP they were between $20 and $40. I have a ginormous couch and there's no way I could buy enough pillows at that price point. Such a bummer. I may have to go to JoAnn's and pick out fabric and con my mother into sewing them for me. 

    The other stuff I bought, just some dresses. I'm on the hunt for maxi dresses that skim over my lumpy parts and also a pair of sloppy khaki pants. I cannot find a pair of loose, easy, lightweight khaki pants ANYWHERE. I don't want skinny or cropped or stretchy or work-like or nice material or fitted or God forbid LINEN. Ugh. Basically what I want is a pair of Phillip's worn out Friday casual work pants in my size. Something to wear with t-shirts and tanks and sandals. That doesn't make me feel muffin toppy. That doesn't lower my self esteem like jeans. That isn't out of season like leggings or heavy yoga pants. That's messy but MEANT to be messy. Where are these pants?! I used to have a pair, pre-children, and I wore them ALL THE TIME. WANT. 

     

    May 30, 2013

    Winning

    Best day, you guys. BEST.

    First thing: Jack comes home from school and is telling my mom (who babysat while I went to the work lunch thingy) about his friend who had to go to the nurse's office. Apparently she ate something she was allergic to and she got sick. Quoth Jack, "She farts. She farts a lot if she eats something and she's allergic." Me, only after he'd said "farts" about forty seven times: "Jack, do you mean 'barfs'?" Jack, nodding: "Yes. Barfs." 

    Second thing: my deck is getting fixed. Finally! Turns out it doesn't look half bad under that plywood. (Check my instagram feed if you just went, "plywood? huh? what kind of deck IS this?") There are definitely rotting places, including a beam that is holding up a WALL, but apparently there are ways to fix this and the contractor tells me it looks good, and tomorrow morning we're meeting before Phillip goes to work to Discuss The Options. This is how it will go:

    Contractor: Blah blah blah blah blah

    Phillip: Blah blah blah how much blah blah what about blah blah 

    Me: WHENCANWEBUILDTHESTAIRS????????????

    Third thing: remember I was all, "aiiiieeee my old boss just invited me to a THING!" So I went to the thing today and it was SO GREAT. I mean, it wasn't heaps of fun or super fantabulously interesting and I didn't even see half the people I would have liked to see, but it was so good to see the people I DID see and bringing Molly along was a touch of brilliance. I always had someone to talk to, I always had something to do, and eeeeeveryone wanted to say hello to Molly. I know this will sound weird and creep you out Internet, but the guy who sat across from us, who was just smitten with Molly, PICKED HER UP as we were leaving. If he hadn't said how much Molly reminded him of his grandkids about a million times over lunch I would have been, you know, uncomfortable, but instead it was just super sweet. Which is basically how I feel about everyone in this particular local industry. THEY ARE JUST SO NICE. I thought this when I worked for them too. There are the unpleasant ones, but at these industry get togethers everyone is so friendly and kind. 

    I used to go to this thing every year when I worked for my old boss. It's not fancy or a big deal, but it honors an industry person of the year and raises money for an industry-related charity and everyone supports it big time. So there are lots of people there and all the companies donate items for a huge raffle. The grand prize is always a TV and ONCE I WON THE TV. I did not have this blog then or I would have told you about it. My boss bought me raffle tickets AND THEN I WON THE TV. Phillip was super duper impressed. 

    I did not win the TV this year. DISAPPOINTING. But I bought a crap ton of raffle tickets just so Molly would win something and feel like it was worth her time and effort escorting her silly mother to this boring social event. WE DIDN'T WIN ANYTHING. 25 raffle tickets people and not even a HAT. Some dude who worked for the charity, though, he won FOUR TIMES. Super bad ticket pickers, right? ANYWAY. They finally pull the ticket for the TV and it's not us and it's this young kid who I assume is part of this other group and he's flustered and I'm all WHATEVER and getting ready to go - 

    then my old boss comes up to me and says, "THAT'S MY ASSISTANT. MY ASSISTANT WON THE TV. AGAIN." So. He's the one to take to Vegas. But! I'm leaving and saying goodbye and the assistant, who I will call College Kid, is standing nearby having absolutely no idea how he's going to get his new television home. He lives in the U District like a proper college kid and that's on my way so I offer to take him home. And you GUYS. This kid. He was a TRIP. He was the chattiest, cutest, flabbergastiest, chipper little guy in the WORLD. And I am not exaggerating when I say he was just like the Fred Armisen character on SNL who can't form a sentence. I shall quote from wikipedia: 

    • Nicholas Fehn – a political commentator whose mind races and wanders so much that he is incapable of finishing a sentence without starting a new one.

    You know that guy? OMG THIS KID. I couldn't tell if he's ALWAYS like that or if he was just SO! EXCITED! about winning a television that he couldn't emit a coherent thought. IT WAS ADORABLE. 

    Last thing: It was sunny. You seriously cannot underestimate the power of sunshine around these parts. I swear, there's forward movement on a house project, I caught up with a former life, my daughter was absolutely perfect, my mom was here helping all day, sunshine, GOOD WORK EVERYONE. Let's make it happen again tomorrow. 

    P.S. THANK YOU FOR THE DINNER HELP. I will write a Dinner Update, I just had to get that farts story out of my system first. 

    May 28, 2013

    Perhaps I should try a home improvement television cleanse

    I think I've overdosed on HGTV. Which doesn't mean that I am sick of watching HGTV (AT ALL), it means that I spend way more time thinking about my OWN house and everything it NEEDS. Technically it needs nothing. Un-technically it needs EVERYTHING. And I just feel... it's like I feel MAD about it. I'm mad that we can't fix ALL the things IMMEDIATELY.

    Deck demo was supposed to start today but it got pushed back to Thursday. Fine. But we're waiting to see what the construction guys find before we decide how to fix the deck and I feel so twitchy and annoyed about it. I don't want to talk about getting other bids and how to finance it and blah blah blah I just want to get it DONE. I have an answer for all those things (whatever is easiest and fastest) and I'm READY. 

    And after that? GRAND plans for the kitchen and upstairs bathroom. Total gutting. Knocking down walls. All new everything. But you know, if that's too expensive I have less grand ideas and those are okay too, I just want to get MOVING! Let's DO this thing! 

    It's not just remodeling, it's wanting brighter couch pillows and a bigger better new rug, a king sized bed, new paint for Emma's room, ooh maybe I can PAINT our dining room table, and we'll need actual outdoor furniture and OMG STOP IT CRAZY LADY. 

    I actually quite like my house. I mean, for the dozens of things I hate about it (GRAY TILE EVERYWHERE), it's got a lot of great qualities. "Good bones", I think they'd say. I just wish I could go into a room and not instantly reimagine it as something else. We'll update everything eventually, I really think we will, and things will be perfectly pleasant in the meantime. This schizophrenic Pinteresting I'm doing - hire a kitchen designer! bathroom tile! appliances! landscaping! diy shower install tips! Ikea cabinets! - needs to stop. BLARGH.

    The forecast looks like a long string of sunny days ahead and THANK GOODNESS, because I wouldn't be surprised if the rain and gloom and stuckinsideness is part of the nonstop house wantingness. Also part: spending hours cleaning up the kitchen and vacuuming and creating a dozen piles for Goodwill and things STILL look dirty and cluttered. AND: the baby. Oh, the baby. As my mother would say, she's "asserting herself". The fact that Phillip is currently entertaining all three in his office downstairs is probably evidence of the sort of attitude I had when he got home. SORRY.

    In other news. Molly Cheung jumped into the swimming pool during lessons today and submerged her whole head. Not on purpose of course, but the point is: SHE DID NOT FREAK OUT. She wasn't HAPPY about it, but she wasn't shrieking and howling for me. In fact she was smiling not five seconds later. MAJOR IMPROVEMENT! So proud of my girl. 

    Oh you guys, I just had to erase a whole paragraph about diy remodeling and if YOU had done it and SERIOUSLY, PLEASE BEGIN THE INTERVENTION.

    April 30, 2013

    Slip 'n slide

    Molly had her first ever swim lesson this morning. Of the five kids she was probably the oldest, but also probably the least familiar with water. Whatever. I decided not to let this reflect on my parenting. Molly is the type of kid who starts screaming bloody murder and you run across the house and into the bathroom where you, irresponsible parent that you are, have let your 4- and 5-year-olds play in the tub and oh. Jackson got an eensy weensy drop of water on Molly's face. OH THE TRAUMA.

    So I wasn't really expecting it to go super well to begin with, but I was honestly too stressed about GOING to swim lessons to think about the actual lesson. I feel very new at the Y, I don't know how things work, I'm not always sure where to park or when to arrive and I made Molly take a shower before she got in the pool like all the Firm Signage demanded even though it was clear none of the OTHER kids' mothers made them do this. My ultimate plan is to drop Jack at school, go to the Y, stick the kids in the play area while I run, then get them both out for Molly's lesson at 10. But Emma is the clingiest whiniest baby EVER right now and I WAS JUST STRESSED OUT, OKAY! So getting us all there, on time, in the appropriate clothing, in the right place, without having done anything embarrassing or stupid? I WAS ALREADY WINNING. 

    Molly was game for everything though. I was so proud of her. I mean, this could be the kid who refused to get in the water without me. But she got right in with the others and ALMOST put her face in the water when all the other kids did. I mean, this was progress. Then the instructor had them stand on the side of the pool and jump in (with him right there of course) AND SHE DID IT. YOU GUYS MY KID JUMPED IN THE POOL. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. 

    Aaaaand she IMMEDIATELY burst into panicky tears, fuh-reaking out all over the place, UGH. Water got up her nose! Ack! Ack! And I couldn't put Emma down to deal with her because then I had TWO screaming children. So I'm kind of hovering over the edge of the pool, hoping I don't drop Emma in, trying to calm Molly down, trying to act like it's No Big Thang in front of the other moms even though I seriously just wanted to hand one of them my baby and take myself out for a latte. The other moms were actually super nice and encouraging. I suppose Molly is not the only drama queen in our family. 

    EVENTUALLY I coaxed her to at least stand NEAR the other kids in the water for the last 10 minutes of the lesson, but jeez. I may have to resort to bribery next time. Have Phillip take her on the weekends or something. I don't blame her, though. I don't know how to swim, nor do I have any interest because I AM AFRAID OF WATER. I just understand that it would be better if Molly were NOT like me in this particular instance. 

    Jack will have his first lesson Thursday night with Phillip as his chaperone. I expect that to go much better. Jack is a smidge more daring, plus he likes to show off. Peer pressure!

    As for the DECK SLIDE...

    Okay people, the thing about slides is: 99% of the slides you see on HomeDepot.com or whatever are made for 5 foot decks. It might say "Ten Foot Slide" but that just means the slide is 10 feet long. It does not mean the slide is made for a 10 foot deck. SO. The majority of slides I've looked at online are made for 5 foot or 7 foot decks. I've got an 8. The difference in price between a 7 foot platform heigh slide and an 8 foot is, oh, $1500. I DON'T KNOW WHY. I can find a gajillion 7 foot slides for $500ish and the 8 footers start at, like, $2000. With tax and shipping. Is ridiculous. I KNOW. 

    So my contractor was telling me that I can either purchase a slide that costs more than the stairs, or they can build the slide deck a foot down from the actual deck and pay $750 extra (7 foot slide plus tax and shipping) - it's just that the actual deck stairs project will cost more. 

    Anyway, I did some googling and I found one single solitary option under-$1K for an 8 foot slide, a slide that comes in pieces and you can order as many extensions as you want. Enough extensions for an 8 foot deck comes to about $800. I also found a seven foot slide on Amazon for $500ish, which would work nice because we have an Amazon credit card and points to burn, making it even cheaper. I emailed those options. I haven't heard back, but I'm supposing one of those will work. My contractor's first thought for where to purchase a slide was Rainbow, which I already know is the priciest swingset out there. All those $100ish slides you see are for 5 foot decks. I know. 

    Of course, we could do away with the slide altogether except NOPE! I am in it. I feel the same way I did about the fireplace. It's a lot of money for something that isn't necessarily going to increase the value of our house, but it will improve the USE of our house SO MUCH. Like, remodeling the kitchen would be super duper nice? And remodeling the bathroom would be even better? And make our house a lot nicer? But not to the extent that deck stairs (AND A SLIDE) will make my children more inclined to play outside in the backyard this summer which is infinitely more helpful for a SAHM's quality of life, yes? 

    SLIDE! SLIDE! Stay tuned! 

     

    April 28, 2013

    Housey stuff

    Phillip and I are suffering from a bit of... well, I'm not really sure what you'd call it. Whatever you develop when you've gone overboard in your consumption of HGTV. 

    It started with the deck. Well, really, it started with buying the HOUSE, but the deck is the first big tangible fix/upgrade/change since we took out the weirdo fireplace the week before we moved in. There are a ton of things we want to do with our house, but deck stairs is the best combination of affordable/doable/most needed. And then I went and added that slide. (Phillip: still not sold. I mean, he's sold because I HATH DECREED IT SO, but, you know, he's still raising an eyebrow whenever I mention it. LOSE THE EYEBROW, PHILLIP.) Anyway, it's meant a lot of Pinterest browsing and contractor researching and all that housey stuff. 

    THEN my sister, the one who got married last summer, went and bought a brand new super huge house and duuuudes, that's pretty exciting. I keep getting jealous, then I remember that this house is a good 50 minutes away from my beloved city and I feel better. But THEN I remember it's within walking distance of the best babysitter in the universe, that babysitter being MY MOTHER and I get jealous all over again. But whatever! It's fabulous! Yay my sister! It's finally finished and I got to take the grand tour today and that just puts you in the housey mood too. WALK IN PANTRY, people. Swoon. 

    But the biggest thing? Phillip discovered HGTV. Now, I've known about HGTV for a while, but it's never really been all that interesting to me. I tried to develop an affinity for HGTV back when Emily Cassee was creating her House Hunters drinking game, but I couldn't get into it. But now? NOW? Maybe it's the fact that I learned how to paint things these last two years. Maybe it's the kitchen with the laminate cupboards and hateful tile grout counters. Maybe it's knowing we're here for a long time. I DON'T KNOW. But suddenly Phillip and I cannot get enough. It's actually quite embarrassing. 

    Our favorite show is Property Brothers. I think it's called Property Brothers? It features these two impossibly good-looking brothers - one is a realtor and the other renovates houses. They find people (preferably a young, obnoxious, entitled couple) a fixer upper and turn it into their dream house. We think this show is amazing. We think the renovations brother is a GOD. We cannot stand the idiot whiners who end up on this show because DO THEY NOT REALIZE WHAT THESE BROTHERS CAN DO?! They should just pick the cheapest house in the best neighborhood and thank their lucky stars they landed on this show. 

    Anyway, it makes us talk entirely too much about our own house and what we want to do to it. (Phillip comes up with these super random things, like wanting to replace the window in the garage with one that opesn, so the flies can fly out instead of getting stuck in the corners and dying. Yes. My ideas are more along the lines of "remodel the bathroom!") Just today we covered how we'll split the upstairs bathroom into two, whether or not we should open up the kitchen by knocking out the counter peninsula, and how exactly we would pay for all of this. In rather excruciating detail. 

    Today my sister was all "I have to buy a refrigerator today! Lame! I'm never going to buy anything fun again!" And I'm all, "WHAT IS NOT FUN ABOUT BUYING A REFRIGERATOR?!?!?!?" Because I am OLD and UNFUN and ADDICTED TO HGTV.

    I'm tempted to post a bazillion Kitchen Inspiration pictures, but Phillip is yelling from the bedroom saying another episode is on. Must go. Chat later. 

    April 22, 2013

    Garden thievery

    About two weeks ago I planted dozens of tiny seedlings in my freshly dug garden. Jack and Molly and I started four different kinds of tomatoes, snap peas, beans, squash, zucchini, and lettuce in little peat pots inside the house and I ohsocarefully transplanted all of them into the garden. 

    After one week I noticed that every single cherry tomato plant was missing. Peat pot and all. 

    Last night when I got home from Sacramento I went to check on what was left of the garden and noticed that nearly all the other seedlings had disappeared as well. Whatever's stealing them - raccoons? squirrels? the handful of mangy cats constantly trespassing in my yard? - is not a fan of snap peas or beans. Those are pretty much the only plants left - that have a chance of surviving, anyway. I'm annoyed. (UNDERSTATEMENT.) I angrily put up the bamboo stakes and string trellis for the pea and bean vines this morning, though I half expect to walk out there tomorrow and see that those are gone as well. I'll have to go buy actual plants now and, I don't know, create some sort of varmint repelling force field. GAH. 

    And then, because I spent the last several days in Elizabeth's ready-for-television (literally) backyard, I stood around staring at MY yard and mentally noting every single stupid thing I want to change or get rid of and this is what finally propelled me upstairs to pester a few contractors. I emailed a few a while back, but just because email is MY preferred method of communication doesn't mean contractors necessarily CHECK their email addresses. Even if they've posted them on their geocities style website. But I have two coming to visit now. The one who came last year and gave me an estimate and a new guy I found on Yelp. And I am not entirely sure how they'll respond when I say, "AND I want to put in a SLIDE." The correct response is, of course, "AWESOMESAUCE." 

    Phillip is only mildy interested in this slide thing. I think he thinks it's going to cost another kajillion dollars and look ridiculous, but I think it will only cost around a frillion dollars and who CARES if it looks ridiculous. It would be SO COOL. And something our kids would enjoy for a long time, I think. Take the stairs or slide down? ALWAYS SLIDE. We also always talk about "resale value" for things we want to do, even though I am not moving out of this house, ever. I mean, maybe if we somehow pile up a kajillion dollars and I could buy a house with a view of the Sound, then okay, MAYBE I would move. But until then? Nope! (Although, let's face it, you can add another $5K of value to a house with a slide off the deck, amiright? OBVS.)

    I have the tiniest bit of hope for my yard this year. One thing I've really been working on, honestly, is not getting all bent out of shape about how much work there is to do and how it needs to get done NOW. Like, my yard is just horrifying. It really is. All the work I put into it last year was for naught - everything is all grown over again, even worse. The first summer we lived here I was pregnant, and last summer I couldn't do anything because a certain baby was not mobile (and oh yeah, my husband was always gone.) But THIS summer... okay, so my baby is only quasi-mobile, but I have PLANS. Things WILL get done. But not all of it, and that will be okay. The stairs are a priority. Once those are in I can figure out what exactly needs to happen in the backyard, what I can save, what I need to rip out. I'm considering hiring a nice lawn service to do the massive weeding required in the front and mulching it all over. I'll plant some flowers. I might grow some snap peas. But I don't have to dig out the evil lavender bush or figure out what to do with the [many] overgrown flower beds or deal with the three (three!) dead trees. We will be here a long time. No rush. 

    I have visions of sitting on my deck with a frosty drink and a good book, watching the big kids clamber up the stairs and hurl themselves down the slide, keeping an eye on the baby "painting" on the deck with water, totally ignoring the fact that I have to make dinner. Doesn't that sound like a good summer? That sounds so NICE. 

    Summer. Ha. At this moment everyone in my family is sick, I feel like I'm about to lose my voice, I'm wearing pink fuzzy socks, jeans, and a sweater coat. Can't really start talking about summer in my town until, oh, the end of August. 

    April 03, 2013

    Pie in the sky

    Jack went back to school today. And instead of calling Children's Hospital to make appointments, I started digging in my backyard. 

    Yard Plans 2013 (in no specific order)

    1. Expand garden, plant seedlings before all the roots intertwine in their little plastic greenhouse. Need soil, fertilizer, ten tons of MiracleGro. 

    2. Get bamboo stakes and netting for beans and snap peas. 

    3. Buy a few pavers or tiles or whatever to create a little path through the garden. Actual Garden Design can be saved until 2014. 

    4. Plant raspberry bush and blueberry bush in the raised bed in the backyard.

    5. BUILD FREAKING STAIRS OFF THE DECK ALREADY. Note: find a contractor!

    6. Dig out the absolutely ginormous lavender monstrosity. (2014: create a little patio in its place?)

    7. Cut down little dead trees. Rent chainsaw? Call tree people? 

    8. Dig out weeds/grass from the not-grass area in the front yard, cover with bark. Or get a lawn service to do this. Because I've already dug it out once and that obviously got us nowhere. 

    9. Find shade-friendly plants for front yard.

    10. Plant dahlia bulbs. Where? Uhhhh... 

    11. After stairs are built, figure out what to do with the flower bed and vines and peonies and rosemary, but save that for 2014 because DUDE, just getting the stairs built will be a miracle. 

    12. Develop arm muscles/upper body strength via new million dollar idea: Power Gardening: Dig and Weed Your Way To Definition!

    March 10, 2013

    Dare I say we were PRODUCTIVE this weekend?!

    Sometimes we don't have any plans for the weekend, no one to visit, nothing to do, and that's when Phillip and I look at each other and say, "FINE, LET'S FINISH THE STUPID [insert house project here]." And we're in bad moods about it too, because as nice as finishing house projects is, neither of us are what you would call "handy" and it takes forever and the kids get in the way and we disagree and that's why we probably shouldn't start them in the first place. 

    But anyway. There was no small amount of shock when we finally built the ultra cheapo but uber functional bedside tables I picked up at Fred Meyer six weeks ago. 

    Photo (35)

    AMAAAAAAAZING!

    I bought two of these on sale, rushed home, opened the box and saw that 1) it was missing the little bag of hardware and 2) the instructional diagram was about one hundred times more impossible than Ikea instructional diagrams. So I boxed it back up, shoved it in a corner, forgot about it, lost the receipt, yeah. Until this weekend when Jack and Molly were headed to a playdate RIGHT NEXT to Fred Meyer and I started to feel guilty. They let me exchange it without giving me a hard time, probably because they knew what a PITA it was going to be to put those suckers together. 

    But I think they look nice! At least they are a huge improvement over the pine TV tray-type tables we were using as nightstands. Haaaa, classy. Also, that's probably as uncluttered and un-dusty as the top of that table is ever going to be. I clean up for the internet. 

    The PLAN for our bedroom is to get rid of the giant red couch and get a KING SIZE BED. OH YES. I HATH DECREED IT SO. This bed is Phillip's from the College Days and the some of the slats are broken and it's all chipped and unhappy. I want to get maybe a [king size!] black upholstered bed and add a few more pieces of supah fancy white Hemnes bedroom furniture. We have the tall dresser right now, but I'm batting my eyelashes at the long one. 

    Okay, but we put the nighstands together while we waited for the PAINT to dry on the WALL HOOK TRIM. 

    Photo (37)
    Did I not tell you I started a pre-K? 

    Phillip bought that piece of trim eons ago and I bought the hooks eons ago, but we left everything in the garage. AS WE ARE WONT TO DO. Anyway, I made a stink about it starting yesterday and we finally got it up this afternoon. We had to mark up a lot of area with pencil, drive to a friend's house to cut the trim, get out the trim paint YET AGAIN, but it was fairly easy for us House Novices. We even managed to screw it into a few studs, totally on accident. Woo!

    I still need to get a few things for the entry way walls, but otherwise it's done. No more paint or furniture or rugs. I'm quite happy with it too. All the storage choices are working out, there are decidedly fewer shoes strewn about and I'm hoping the same for coats now that the hooks are up. AND the bench is almost always available for sitting and shoe taking off/putting on. Goals: accomplished! 

    I thought my next project would be Emma's room. Hers is the other bedroom on the main floor besides ours, it has huge windows and great light, high ceilings, and a Pergo floor (the only part of the house that does, curiously enough. OH THE QUESTIONS I HAVE.) I *think* I want to paint this room a darker gray (the grays I chose for the hallway and my bedroom could also be described as a "sort of dirty white?") with a lot of bright white and hot pink accents. Eventually it will be Phillip's office OR, if he feels like it, at some point I could switch out Jack for Emma, the girls would be downstairs, Jack would be upstairs and we'd keep the larger bedroom (and attached bathroom) downstairs for the office/guest room. I don't know. If I think about it too much I get all STRESSED which is RIDICULOUS because YEARS! We have YEARS! BUT WHATEVER. I think a real gray would not be too dark at all for that room and would easily accomodate Baby Girl decor, Grade School Boy decor, or Husband's Office junk. 

    However! Pulling that off is overwhelming. I paint while the baby sleeps, but how do I paint if the baby is sleeping in the room I want to paint? HMMM? Maybe I should wait until she's not in the crib anymore? All the baby furniture - basically a super stained upholstered rocking chair and a much abused and half-broken Ikea dresser/changing table - needs to go at some point. Maybe I should just wait and do a Toddler Girl room? MAYBE I AM JUST COMING UP WITH LAZY EXCUSES?

    In the meantime I am plotting a Pinterest-Approved Gallery Wall:

    Photo (36)
    Tres boring.

    This is where I used to have a shorter brown hallway table and 3 canvas frames over which I stapled obnoxiously bright and flowery fabric. It... worked? It was something? I guess. Turns out that table looks awesome in the entry way and functions much better down there. I went and bought the table I originally and always wanted for that space - the super narrow Chloe foyer table at World Market. Tis awesome. In the corner I stuck my Goodwill chair that I painted coral back when I wanted a desk and coral accents in my bedroom. (This was pre-red couch.) But all over that wall, which is quite... expansive (bad picture, but it goes up pretty high) will be FRAMED THINGS. Of all shapes/sizes. Mostly white frames, but with a few dark brown, and lots of (obvs) yellow and aqua in the pictures. I have photos, prints, Etsy printables, and artwork that isn't necessarily working in other parts of the house. I have a lot of frames already and I hope to just spray paint them white to save money. I started gathering them all up (you can see them stacked under the table) and I'm hoping to get started on that this week. I have MANY large blank expansive wall spaces in this house, but this is the only one that I really feel could pull off a large-scale gallery wall, sort of asymmetrical and not-strictly-matching, but Highly Organized. At least, that's how it looks in my head. WE SHALL SEE. 

    (Oh, by the way, this is at the top of the stairs - entry way below, living room to the left, Emma's room to the right, taken from the dining room. The kids like to run laps around the stairwell. I have a weird house.) 

    February 07, 2013

    The Aquaway

    I want you to know that I just wasted several hours of my life searching my phone and computer (and Facebook profiles and blog posts) for Before Pictures and I only found TWO. I am BEYOND IRRITATED by this. I really really wish we had somehow 1) found a way and 2) thought it IMPORTANT enough to keep the pictures of the listing from when we BOUGHT the house. Those would be worth it for the minty green living room alone. ALAS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THOSE ARE. 

    Here's the entry way before I painted it the first time, last November or December (I can't remember.) 

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    Photo (27)

    You can't really tell (OBVS) but the walls were kind of a yellow green color. There's a Crayola name for it, but it's not lighting up in my brain right now. MUCH of the house was this yellow green color, pastel and kind of sickly. Not my favorite. Or even close. WAIT. Now I'm wondering if these are pictures I took while the new paint was DRYING?! GAH GAH GAH

    WHATEVER. And then here is the entry way AFTER I painted it Boring Cream (which was really the only color I could think of, at the time) but before I painted the doors white.

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    Photo (13)

    Photo (14)

    Not HORRIBLE but definitely not awesome. And I knew that as soon as I was done painting. But, you know, I had a TWO-MONTH-OLD, I wasn't going to paint the stupid entry way AGAIN. 

    (The bench, which is awesome, is from World Market. The sconces are the cheapest ones at Lowe's. The coat rack is from my parents' house in Italy. The basket on top was originally full of cheese and chocolate and bread and given to me at the hospital after I had Emma. The pictures on the wall are of my old street in Italy, a street map of Venice, and random Chinese scenes we collected on our trip. Also artwork from that famed and noted artist Jackson Cheung.)

    Fast forward to the summer: I painted every single stupid door in my house (except bedroom closets) white. I would find my picture of the Door Painting Assembly Line on my deck from the summer, but I already wasted too much time on the entry way. Anyway, that was an improvement. I didn't do a spectacular job or anything, but the doors are seriously nothing special and looked a lot better. I did not, however, paint the edges. I was tired and had stopped caring. SUE ME. 

    Fast forward to THIS past Christmas: I knew I wanted a COLOR. Hence the AQUA ANGST. (I love it. So there.) I thought it would look awesome with the white. So I painted all the trim in the entry way, plus the first stair railing, THEN I painted it a COLOR.

    Photo (28)

    TA-DA! 

    Photo (29)

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    Old bench from World Market, white Hemnes shoe cabinet from Ikea, coat tree from Ikea, rug from TJ Maxx, pillows from World Market (I bought them to go on my couch last year and didn't like them, they've lived on a shelf since then), white mirror from Target. 

    This is not really how it was supposed to be arranged - I wanted the shoe cabinet in the hallway, a chair on either side of the coat tree, but the shoe cabinet was a little too wide for the hallway and it didn't fit (if we also wanted seating) on the wall underneath the sconce in the corner. So. It's where it is. It's also screwed into the wall, per Ikea's instructions. It's nice to have a little shelf there (that's the door to the garage) and I'm looking for pictures to put above it. I wanted the white mirror there, but they are two different whites (THE HORROR) and the mirror was actually too high to be useful (for me, anyway.) 

    As for the BENCH... Phillip was all, "just put it in front of the window!" Which works, but it BUGS ME. I would prefer two chairs that are sort of angled towards each other. What do you think? The bench just barely fits on the wall where the door opens. By which I mean the door opens wide enough to use, but hits the bench. So I don't know. I like the bench and I like as much seating as possible (we are a no-shoes-in-the-house house), but obvs it has to LOOK RIGHT. This doesn't look quite right to me. 

    And the RUG. BAH. I really really like the colors and pattern of this rug and it was cheap so it's staying. But putting anything on the floor is a huge pain in the butt. I've told you about our Pine Needle Issue before. We sweep constantly (okay, we sweep before people come over) and any rug or floor covering is going to get in the way, never stay in place, be filthy, etc. BUT it looks COLD and BARE without a rug. Anyway, this one is terrible, it's slippery, it doesn't stay in place, it's too small for the space, BUT I like the patter and the colors, it looks okay if I shove it in front of the furniture and not pretend it's a rug for the whole floor, and it's easy to shake out. So. It stays for now. 

    The last things I need to do are buy faceplates for the light switches (the old ones were cream - unacceptable) and put up the white trim and hooks on the wall in the last picture. We've purchased these things, we just haven't put them up yet. Of course. That's where the kids will hang their coats and backpacks and other assorted annoying junk. 

    I wasn't sure I would like the coat tree. I REALLY LIKE THE COAT TREE. We are also actually using the coat closet. I KNOW. 

    I knew I would like the shoe cabinet. Phillip has been anti-this shoe cabinet for YEARS. Who knows why! But we've sort of exhausted all of HIS preferred options, and in the last several days I've heard him marvel once or twice, "All the shoes are put away!" It's kind of a weird piece of furniture, but it looks clean and it's easy for the kids to use. Infinitely better than the shoes in the bench or the metal rack we keep hidden in a hallway. 

    So there it is, internet, The Aquaway TM Emily Cassee. I need thoughts re: chairs vs. bench, if chairs then WHAT chairs, what to put above the shoe cabinet, rugs. GO. 

    P.S. if you look VERY CLOSELY you can tell that I finally painted the edges of the doors (the ones you see in the entry way, anyway) and I painted them AQUA. HA.

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