Happy Housiversary, House!

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living

It hardly feels like we have been living here for a year (and one month).  I don’t remember feeling particularly nostalgic when we hit our one year mark in Ohio, but we hadn’t accomplished much; our house pretty much looked like the same house we moved into.  Only with our furniture.  And a new fridge.  And a bathroom under construction.

Here, I feel like we are meant to live here.  Sure, there are lots of projects to get done.  In Ohio, even though we had every intention to live there for a good decade, I feel like we were living in someone elses house now that I look back on it.  I’m sure I felt like it was our house when we were pouring money into bathroom and kitchen renovations… And when we left those gorgeous appliances behind, but I do not miss Ohio.  At all.

Okay, maybe I do miss french door refrigerator.

The first day I set foot in this house, I was feeling lots of emotions…  I was relieved that our Ohio house had closed that morning, I was anxious because I had only toured it virtually while I was in Ohio and Nathan was zipping around the property with his iPhone on Facetime.  I was completely grossed out because it was absolutely filthy.  I was excited because it had such great light and an awesome layout.  And mortified when Finn managed to track poop through the whole top floor when he realized there was nothing to wipe with…   One of his finer moments.

Now, most of the filth that belonged to the previous owners (and Finn) has been scrubbed away – only the original carpets upstairs and in the family room remain and they have been cleaned within an inch of their lives, and our stuff is mostly unpacked.  We’ve painted rooms and planted gardens and replaced most of the hideous brass light fixtures.  We have enough furniture to fill the place, which is novel since we had countless empty rooms in our house back in the Midwest.

There is still LOTS to do.  The place was all original builder finishes when we turned the key, and it will take years to update it to our liking.  But it is getting there.

Eeek.  Moving day.

Eeek. Moving day.

I still cringe everytime I see those oak bannisters...

I still cringe every time I see those oak banisters…

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dining 1

I’m glad that we started working on the living room first.  We ripped up the carpets the day we moved in and laid new floors the next.  All those oak railings are in the process of getting painted and stained at the moment and the stairs are in serious need of carpet removal and refinishing.  The dining room is looking much better and is going to get a giant mirror as soon as I salvage one from one of our blah bathrooms.   The living room is where we spend the most time…  Only the kitchen gets as much action.

Good god.  This is what it looked like a year ago.  Not pictured:  an eighth of an inch of grime covering every surface.

Good god. This is what it looked like a year ago. Not pictured: an eighth of an inch of grime covering every surface.

At least it is clean now.

At least it is clean now.

Still have to patch the ceiling.

Still have to patch the ceiling.

Speaking of the kitchen, it is finally, mercifully a blank slate now.  The giant box housing the florescent lighting has made way for recessed lighting, though we still have to patch the ceiling and give it a new coat of paint.  I turned the orange blinds into roman shades with the help of a drop cloth.  And thank god the seashell/butterfly/flower wallpaper is toast.  The whole room is pretty unassuming, uneventful and bland.  I loathe the honey oak cabinets, and they are slated to get a fresh coat of paint.  While I cook, I fantasize about reclaimed wood open shelving, farmhouse sinks, white subway tile backsplashes and concrete counters…  All of which will have to wait for a mysterious, unknown, filthy rich distant relative to leave me a giant inheritance.

A year ago...

A year ago…

Aaaand today.

Aaaand today.

Finn’s room is D. O. N. E.  It started looking like this:

Before...

Before…

And now it is gloriously DONE.

Another Big Bite - DIY Globe Light

Alice’s room is on the chopping block, but we are hanging tight until she moves to a big girl bed.  I’ve already got lots of ideas, for her room, and I’ll probably be knocking them out little by little over the next six months or so.

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Our room is awful.  And you aren’t seeing it. The carpets are stretched and stained.  Our mattress could use replacing and I despise the giant computer desk that lives in there – since it doesn’t fit anywhere else.  I would love to put in faux beams and a tongue and groove ceiling, but Nae assures me it is way too much work and money.  But I still dream of it.  This is the one room that is on my mental list to tackle next.  Right now my carpenter (Nathan) is heavily tasked with everything else in life, but once things settle down, I am pinning him down to build us a new bed and night stands.  I am pining over this amazing chandelier at West Elm that I will sell my first-born for once we get moving.

They are all about this exciting.

They are all about this exciting.

The bathrooms are functional and boring, though I did sing an aria when I scrubbed this off the wall in our master suite:

Really??  And I just painted  over the hummingbird ones in the powder room.

Really?? And I just painted over the hummingbird ones in the powder room.

All the finishes are ho-hum.  We’ve replaced two broken faucets and I have plans to do the same to our builder-grade fixtures in our bathroom.  What matters is that they are clean.  And everything works.  Knock on wood.

The Family Room:  aka; The Room of Furniture of Days Past

The Family Room: aka; Gallery of Furniture from Days Past (and it is the only furniture that we don’t lose our shit if pizza sauce gets on it)

We have a family room downstairs that doesn’t get much play.  Our giant sectional from ill-advised-purchases-past barely fits and the fireplace is begging for a makeover.  Nathan wants to get moving on this room next; and I can understand since this is the TV ROOM.

It may be tiny, (and messy) but it is ALL MINE.

It may be tiny (and messy), but it is ALL MINE.

Right next door is the laundry room which also houses my sewing area and craft stuff.  If ever there is a photo on the blog of a sewing project, it was taken in this room.  They are terrible pictures, mostly because I am taking them in what amounts to a tiny-bit more than a closet, but it suits me.  Though I am dying to get Nathan on board for putting in a sliding barn door so it feels more open.  I have to close the door to sit down.  Actually, now that I think about it, it is like a little Martha Stewart cocoon.  And I like it.

The front of the house needs landscaping and new lighting.  We painted the shutters and front door.  The garage door is slated to be painted the same color, but I can’t even think of exterior stuff when there is still snow on the ground.  Every time I think of the backyard, I get an ulcer.

I spend a lot of time feeling inadequate since I look at so many design blogs, but taking a peek back makes me feel like we’ve come a long way.  And without spending thousands of dollars.

So there it is…  Don’t judge my lack of design skills (and moolah) just yet; the house is a work-in-progress and probably will be until the day we move out.  That said, I am planning on making a point of NOT getting caught up in spending a fortune and making my house look good just so I feel like I am keeping up with all the Pinterest-worthy houses on the interwebs.

Well… Maybe I’ll start toning it down once I get that West Elm chandelier.  *Sigh.

A Light of Global Proportions

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Another Big Bite - DIY Globe Light3

Another Big Bite - DIY Globe Light2

Finn’s room has been done for quite some time, but the one thing we never got around to doing was updating his light fixture.  Finn’s was a builder’s special and hideous.  But, the light fixtures that I like are expensive…  I hate boob lights and they are seemingly the only affordable flushmount in the world.  Which is why we ended up DIYing a light fixture for him.  We had a lot of fun making his pin map, and this seemed like a logical direction to go in for his overhead lighting.

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We started with a cheapie setup from Home Depot; a 4″ glass shade holder and a 8″ glass globe; which set us back about $15 total.  The holder got a nice coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint (which was from previous projects).

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We had silver and black vinyl lying around from a project that Nathan had dreamed up (and still has yet to come to fruition – surprise!).  I printed out a world map and got to cutting out each continent out of black vinyl.  I attached the landmasses to the vinyl with double stick tape and then got busy with my handy little embroidery scissors.  (A gift from my mom on my 21st birthday; proving that I had a mean DIY streak even then.)  I’m sure black contact paper would look just as good.

I eyeballed it for the continent to globe ratio… This globe aint going to win any cartography awards.  I started with North America, and by the time I got to Antarctica, I had to shrink it down to a quarter of its actual size.  And it is still swimming distance to Chile and Australia.  Little did you know arctic conditions now exist in South America.  Penguins have been spotted in Argentina.

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Oh dear god, someone get me some moisturizer…

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Once the continents were cut out (Russia in three pieces), I got to sticking and smoothing.  Wrapping a round object in a flat sticker is a pain, and it didn’t turn out perfect by any means.  There is a healthy crease through the middle of Africa and Russia is a major cluster fuck; I’m sure there is a meaningful political allegory in there somewhere.

But once it was up, even Russia’s problems weren’t noticeable.

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I cut a compass rose out of the silver vinyl (in 12 separate pieces) and we stuck that up first.  Nathan whipped out the compass on his phone to make sure north was really pointing north.  This, ladies and gents, is why I married the man.

Nae wired in the freshly painted fixture and we loaded it up with a CF bulb.  I’m not sure how wonderfully the vinyl countries would hold up to the heat if we had an incandescent in there.  Once the shade was on, all that was left to do was touch up the little screws that held the globe in place with some black paint.

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Even though I have checked three times with the compass and twice online – I still think the east looks weird on the left. The fact that it is on the ceiling must be what throws me off.

Finn has informed me that “I sure do like my new globe, Mom.  But I’m mad at Dad for taking away my Legos and I’m not telling him that I like it.”  So that is a plus, I suppose.  Even if we would have had to buy all the supplies we used, I doubt we would have spent more than $25.  Which about the cost of two fugly cheapie light fixtures.

Another Big Bite - DIY Globe Light

Another Big Bite - DIY Globe Light4

It is ten times better than that ugly mushroom lamp that was up there to begin with.  And two hundred and twelve times better than a boob light.

Well, I can check ice climbing off my bucket list.

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And I don’t mean gingerly creeping up the slope of the driveway after taking out the garbage in the middle of January.

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Here is a little disclaimer:  I never had ice climbing on my bucket list to begin with.  My actual bucket list is chock full of things like petting a dolphin, eating escargot and visiting every Disney park on the planet.  But, being married to a mountain man means that some things rub off on ya.

When we started rock climbing at Nathan’s behest a decade ago, I never would have thought we would ever go ICE climbing.  It is expensive, dangerous, and we lived in Chicago.  Where were we going to go ice climbing??

You really can never tell where life will take you.

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The plus side to ice climbing is how bad ass you feel wielding two sharp axes and giant spikes on your feet. The rest of you, however, looks ridiculous. And now you know what my grownup ass looks like in snow pants.  Oh safety glasses, I’ve missed you since 10th grade chemistry.

We have been fortunate enough that Nathan’s job requires him to know how to do cool shit.  Like climbing a 100 foot frozen waterfall.  And being in touch with otherwise normal individuals who have a giant lapse in judgement when it comes to finding things to do for fun.

Fun.  Hanging on to a sheet of ice by two ice axes and crampons is apparently supposed to be FUN.

I’ll tell you what it really is: E’FFING INSANE.  Scary.  Hard.  Oh, and yes… FUNNER THAN HELL.

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We headed up to Ouray, Colorado to ice climb, which is apparently the place to ice climb.  I never made it farther than the forty foot kid wall (which actually has six-year-olds dangling off the side), seeing as how I have charge of my own two lillyputs, neither of which have a set of crampons and so we can’t actually visit the Ouray Ice Park without pairs for everyone.  Oh, and it isn’t safe.  So there’s that.

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Nathan filming away while I climbed.

We spent the New Years weekend back in Ouray with a few friends and their friends who love to climb.  The reason no one is heard of this trip is because it was so terrible that I haven’t even wanted to reflect on it until now.  The kids and I were holed up in a hotel room for most of it.  When Nathan suggested we go, I was all for it.  We spent a weekend in Ouray in the fall and I loved it.

“Sure!  Let’s go!  The kids and I can tool around town, grab a late breakfast, go shopping, take a dip in the hot springs, visit the AWESOME toy store, get ice cream instead of lunch, take a nap…  And then we can all go out for dinner!”

Well, we went to the toy store.  Three times.

The kids and I were not in our very best form; all three of us were in a funk.  We were the only ones with kids, and while our whole group was super great with them and never gave us one reason to doubt they were anything less than charmed with Alice and Finn (they put on a great face), we realized AGAIN that being a double income household with no kids is a club we do not belong to any longer…

Like, we wouldn’t even be let in with a loaner sport coat at the door.

While the kids each had a few epic tantrums, my funk culminated in a fantastical display of hormones at the local ice cream shop on New Year’s Eve.  In front of EVERYONE.  Tears, heaving bosom, the whole bit.  And that was the end of that.  No champagne toast, no countdown, no trip to the hot springs, nothing else.  I picked a helluva battle with Nae, got my period, and cried myself to sleep.  We left the next morning after breakfast.

But the ice climbing part of the trip?  Best six minutes of the whole weekend.  It reminded me why I loved rock climbing…  All of a sudden, I didn’t have time to think of how cold I was, or whether I was working on phonics enough with Finn or arguing with the insurance company over our rate increase.  I just had one thing to worry about:  Don’t fall.

This, I feel you should know, is NOT ME.

This, I feel you should know, is NOT ME.  Just some random guy who is clearly out of his mind.

It also reminded me of how out of shape I am since my climbing heyday.  Yikes.  I need to work on that.

But, for a few minutes, everything was just…  Me.  And my quivering knees.

I learned a few things on that trip to Ouray.  ONE; it isn’t a child-friendly town.  TWO; the merchants or Ouray are not very nice or understanding to moms alone with their (obnoxious) kids (with the major exception of the staff at O’Toys – I cannot say enough of how great they are).  THREE:  A two-hour dinner at the nicest place in town in no place for my kids, and FOUR:  Never go on vacation with people you have never met when you are the only couple with kids and your uterus is due for a visit from Mother Nature.

I’m sure there is a good joke about crampons and getting your period in there somewhere.

As we drove out of town, past the hot springs that we didn’t visit, I vowed NEVER to go back.  Which I am not sure is petty and childish or simply pragmatic.

But I will miss the ice climbing.

My New Favorite Breakfast

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Another Big Bite - Sweet and Spicy Breakfast

I am not one for New Years resolutions.  For a few reasons.  First of all, I feel like making promises to myself that inevitably fall to the wayside in a few short weeks aren’t in any way productive.  Also, why should I wait until January 1st to make changes that should probably be made, oh, immediately?

And then I had kids.  Aaaaaand realized that I am a pretentious prick.

Setting goals is a good thing.  And being able to embrace the holiday season for what it is also is pretty realistic…  Sugar.  Chocolate.  Butter.  Cheese.  Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.

Now that all that unhealthy eating is out of the way (Sure, I’ll snarf an entire two-pound Toblerone by myself…  Because it’s Christmas, that’s why!), and the pallet of Diet Coke we bought for visiting relations is mercifully gone, it is time to get back into the grind of everyday life.

Nope, I’m not making the resolution to go to the gym more.  But I am going back to eating things that didn’t greet my threshold in a can.

This is my just-unhealthy-ehough-to-be-good breakfast.  Fruit, eggs, veggie juice, a tiny bit of cheese and an overtly large pat of butter make rolling out of bed a teentsy more bearable for me.  Squeeze on some lime and squirt on some Siracha…. Yes.  Heaven in a tortilla.

Actually cooking breakfast is normally something reserved for the weekends, but since this only takes a few minutes to make and it is hot, juciy, spicy and sweet?  I’ll give it a go.

I have a little pan that I warm my tortillas on.  I crank up the heat to high (8 out of 10) and heat a few tortillas up once it is good and hot… About 10-15 seconds on each side.  The tortillas hang out in a clean dish towel while I cook the eggs.

Finn loves these too (without the lime and siracha); he calls them egg tacos.  And I suppose that is fitting.  We each get an egg.  I mix it for a few seconds in a bowl with a fork.  I get my spatula ready and grab a pat of butter – just a little tooooooo much butter – and get my game face on.

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Since the pan is HOT, I have to move super fast.  Drop in the butter, swirl it around and then pour the eggs right over the browning butter.  I give it a few seconds before I pull the cooked eggs to the side of the pan to allow the raw eggs to run into the rest of the butter.  I give it a flip and then plunk them onto my snuggly tortillas.  The whole thing takes MAYBE 10 seconds.

Another Big Bite - Sweet and Spicy Breakfast2

Then I throw the windows open since I set off the smoke alarm (super hot pan + butter + eggs = smoke).  After it goes off, I top my eggs with a crumbling of queso fresco, squeeze on some lime and add a dribble of Siracha.

My tummy was a-grumbling while I was diligently snapping away.

A Day in the Life of Finn & Alice – A Typical 2013 Day

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book

It started as a gift for grandparents…  It was Nathan’s idea.  We had zero idea of what we would do for Christmas for our ‘rents.  Here were my qualifications for a gift:

  • Something affordable (dammit, there goes the 48 bottle wine fridge)
  • Something thoughtful (which meant that a round of winter formula windshield washer fluid was out)
  • One-size-fits-all (my 6’1″ stepfather and 5’5″ father-in-law probably would not appreciate Christmas-themed Isotoner gloves)
  • Something “from the kids” (and we’ve already given obligatory coffee mugs or mousepads emblazoned with the kids’ likenesses)
  • Something easy to ship (wow; that wine fridge really never had a chance)

All of this left me with a big, fat goose egg.  No dice; I was stumped.  Nathan thought maybe we should document a normal day in the life of the kids…. Since our parents don’t really get to see what these little monsters do when no one else (but us) is watching.

open book

It was after the fact that I realized that a regular day for one parent is VERY MUCH like a regular day for many others.  In short, our parents have already experienced this.  And they are now grandparents, and have realized what a joy it truly is to hand your grandchildren back to their parents after you’ve stuffed them with sugar, chips and toys with a bajillion little pieces.  This, however, is not something that most parents think of when they are in the trenches with their own children.

My children are unique.  And special.  And poop rainbows and cry unicorn tears.  My experience is so novel and new; there isn’t a parent in the history of the world that has been blessed with angels such as mine or the meaningful tribulations I deal with as their parent.

Riiiiight.

But in the end, all that was important was that they got a book of damn cute pics of their grandchildren.  And that it arrived on time in a standard Priority mail envelope.

A Day in the Life of Alice and Finn PAGE 2

A Day in the Life of Alice and Finn PAGE 7

A Day in the Life of Alice and Finn PAGE 19

I went around all day with my camera around my neck and went about snapping away.  This was actually the EASY part.  Once all the pictures were taken, it took me an entire day editing them in Photoshop.  Of course, if I was a better photographer, I wouldn’t have had to fake it with Photoshop.

I used Snapfish to make the books; they have their own templates that you can drop pictures in and add text, but their platform is sluggish and one of the worst I’ve encountered in the photo-book-making arena.  I opted to design the pages offline in InDesign (but Publisher or Photoshop works just as well), then upload jpegs of the whole page.  When it came to designing the photo book in Snapfish, the only thing I had to do was make sure they were in the right order.

While Snapfish is usually pretty well priced (compared to the superior Shutterfly in my humble opinion), they gouge you on the shipping.  Even though we ordered multiple books and they were all shipped to our house in one box, it was still $8 apiece to ship them.  Oooh, we’ll give you a killer deal on the books, but once we’ve got ya over a barrel when they are done, we’ll charge you an exorbitant price to get them to your door.  Nice.

We had the kids sign them (as did Nathan and I), and then sent them on their merry way with all the trappings of a well-wrapped package.

We didn’t order one for ourselves, but after they all left the house, I feel like we should make some kind of tradition of documenting one day each year.  Not for our parents (because do they really want a new book every year?), but for us.  We commemorate each year with a family yearbook, but methinks this might make a nice little companion to our annual recap of the previous 365 days.  (Shhh.. Secret: I still have not finished 2012’s book.  I’ve only gotten as far as August.)

If you care to take a peek into the monotony of Finn and Alice’s lives, you can see the whole book here.  Beware; there are many a naked baby tush in there.