February 8, 2016

Dear Monday: February 8, 2016

Monday, oh man. The weather report led me to believe that the whole day would be lost to cold temperatures and rain. When I got out of bed, it was cloudy but dry so I hurried to get dressed and take Lola for a rare morning walk around the neighborhood while we still could.  When we got back to the house, I remembered that Lola was running low on dry food, so I took her with me on a quick run to "the puppy store" (Petco) which she LOVES because a lady who works there always crumbles treats up really small and feeds them to her by hand while telling her how pretty she is. (I'd probably like that too, so I understand her excited dance when I ask, "Lola, want to go to the puppy store?!?") As we were leaving, the sun came out and was shining so brightly, I decided we needed to find a new-to-us park to go for another walk. We ended up walking a 3/4 mile loop along the lakeshore with a lady from the UK and her 50 pound puppy named Poppy who we met near the start of the loop. Lola and Poppy decided they were new BFFs and kept waiting for the other to catch up so that they could walk side by side and sniff things together which was super cute, so we all just walked together. On our way home, the clouds finally started rolling in, which was perfect timing- we got to enjoy way more outdoor time than I was expecting today, which was fabulous.

Sidebar:  I realize every time that I have a morning like this, how lucky I am to be able to take some time off from working right now. Walking my dog in the late morning of a Monday is truly the bees knees.

Costco, we came, we saw, we signed up, we bought wiper blades and the softest blanket I've ever touched. Here's to a year of bulk toilet paper and cheap wine.

Super Bowl Sunday, You were filled with episodes of Tiny House Hunters, a long aimless drive around the outskirts of town, Mexican food, and fairly entertaining commercials during the game. #puppymonkeybaby  It had been a few years since I've seen a whole Super Bowl game start to finish- I enjoyed it.

BeachbodyOnDemand, your videos have given us many painful days. Ouch.

This week in the Kitchen:  Cauliflower Pizza Crust. A little time consuming and messy, but pretty easy. Smelled good while baking!

Vince's verdict: Awesome! All the fun of pizza toppings with no crusty carb guilt! Let's do this again!

My verdict: I gagged just now just thinking about it. The wave of nausea I experienced just while looking at the pictures on the above link.. oof.  I learned that I have an unexpected and very strong aversion to cauliflower.  I went into this totally expecting it not to be like ACTUAL pizza obviously, and I've had cauliflower raw and steamed before, never being offended by it or even really thinking it had much of a flavor at all, so I assumed it would be a weird texture and somewhat vegetable-y, but otherwise edible... wrong. After a night of trying to sleep sitting up because the taste of the Trashflower was the gift that kept on giving, and sitting on the couch at 3am being unsure of whether to pray TO or NOT TO throw up- never again, my friends. Never again.

Goals for this week:  Organize the stuff that I decided to keep when *finally* going through boxes from our move, then sew something with the new fabric I bought last week. 

January 19, 2016

Weekly Update // 2

After a busy week before Vince's birthday party, I let myself soak up a couple of relaxing days because... why not!  I spent some time working on my online classes and bundling up to walk Lola around the neighborhood and at the parks near our house.

Even with a purple harness and a little sweater with pink on it, people still think Lola is a boy dog. They call her buddy and tell her she's a good boy.  

I've decided that I like frequently having a scheduled friend visit on the horizon- it realllllly helps us keep our house clean. Kate and Michael came over for dinner Saturday (to hang for the first time since college, mmmm, 7 years ago) which was fab.  So much to catch up on!  Lola also really enjoys expanding her friend circle- more people to come over and pet her. 

Looking for friends

On Friday, because I guess I've decided I'm just going to do some sort of renovation project every time anyone comes to see our house for the first time, I re-did our downstairs half bath. It was *DISGUSTING* and I feel so much better about it now that not only will I actually use it, but I'd also feel okay offering it as a second half-bath option to guests.  This bathroom is directly at the bottom of our stairs into our lower living area (so you can see straight into it from the sidelights at our front door... awkward), it is right beside the garage, and has our laundry room in the back of it, so I guess it just took a beating before we moved in... or was just pretty neglected. Right off the bat, we noticed it was yet another room that the previous owners used the wrong paint in.  The realtor photos aren't too bad, but in person the paint was a realllly dark, gloomy gray (which says something because I've painted most of the rest of our house various shades of gray), but worst of all, they chose a glossy finish. High gloss walls are just WEIRD, and the room really doesn't get any natural light, so it was just a dirty, glossy cave. 

I thought I had made a decent cleaning pass over this room (like the rest of the house) when we got the keys, but apparently that wasn't enough.  I crawled around every inch and disinfected / scrubbed / mopped / vacuumed that room... floors, walls, behind the toilet, and all. Yuck.  The painting of the trim and rolling the walls went fairly quick after that. I love how paint can make a room feel different so fast.  To finish it off, I used acetone to pull up the stains on the linoleum flooring and it looks tons better. 

Unfortunately (yet fortunately..I'm lucky that our laundry is inside and not in the garage), our laundry room is attached to this bathroom without a door between.  I had tried a bunch of paint swatches on the walls in there, which was super tacky looking, so I rolled the sections of the walls that can be seen easily from the bathroom, but didn't re-do the whole room.  Long story, but there is a gaping hole in the ceiling of our laundry room, and I do *not* want to spend a bunch of time fixing it up before Vince decides if he's going to have to re-drywall or just patch what's going on in there. I have grand Pinterest-y plans for sprucing up our laundry room, so I'm going to save the work for the actual overhaul.  

            Before: Realtor photo I pulled from the internet that looks way better than it did IRL.  

  After: Crappy phone panoramic pictures, but *so* much cleaner (and greener). I just stuck the white curtain panels there today to see what it would be like to have the rooms separated... and because I can't have them in the dining room bay window for the time being because Vince took them down to shrink wrap our drafty 1970's windows the other night.  #oldhouseproblems


I'm on the look out for pretty things to put on the walls, a less scary light fixture, and a new mirror to put over the vanity. That little slab of mirror just isn't doing the room any favors.  We also think that we kind of want a new vanity top, if not just a whole new unit. Vince would like a nice-ish utility sink since this is the closest sink to garage/outdoor projects, but for now, the existing one will do fine and we're not worried about messing it up because it's already fairly old/beaten up. 

In the Kitchen    I tried these recipes this week: 

Easy Tiramisu (no custard filling) 

January 12, 2016

Split Level Fixer-Upper Progress // House Update // Guest Bath

We knew when we bought our house that we could easily consider it a "fixer upper".  We bought it for the location, the price within our budget / how much lower the mortgage would be than our rent, the potential for improvement through doing some DIY upgrades, buuuut mostly for the view off the back deck.  

When we pulled up to the house with our realtor, she had already told us, "This one probably won't be it. There isn't a fenced yard for your dog, and the back yard is on a slope, which you said you don't like, so we'll just see this and move on."  It was a clear, cool, sunny spring day and when we walked up to the front door, we could see all the way through to the kitchen and the view out the back-  as soon as the door was open, my brother and I bolted straight up the stairs and out onto the deck to see the ridge lines of the mountains in the distance. I was pretty sold then, just for how much time I knew we'd spend outside. 

We've never planned for this to be our forever home. Even from the get-go, our goals were to stop throwing money away paying rent on apartments, get our feet wet in the home ownership game, and to tackle some home projects (while ultimately sprucing the house up) and sell it after a few years to move to something that would fit "us" more. We'd love to have more land, but for now, while we get acclimated to living in this part of the state, we're glad to live close to everything we could want/need.

We've learned a *LOT* through this process of buying our very first home. This one was definitely more of an undertaking than we realized and we know so much more about the process and what to look for now, and how long of a "whatever, we can fix that!" list is too long of a list.   ;)    By the time we're done with this house, we will have touched / worked on pretty much every inch and fixture of it. Overwhelming as that is, it does feel good to see things improve as we go! 

The easiest room to start with for a Before and After is our main / guest bathroom.  It gets more use than any other room in the house, mostly because we don't have a usable master bathroom right now, as it was gutted in July and hasn't been changed since, so er'rybody has to use the main bath.  

The bright baby blue paint in this room wasn't doing it *any* favors. Bright, yet dingey, and just made this bathroom look cheap. It was the same color that they used in their baby's nursery / our guest room, and in the hall closet / pantry.  I was not a fan and am soooo happy that its gone.  I actually didn't get the motivation to give this bathroom a makeover until 2 days before some of my friends were coming through town and I was suddenly and furiously bothered by how much I HATED it. New paint (Clary Sage by Sherwin Williams HGTV collection for Lowes) made a huge difference immediately, and I love the shelves that I had Vince add over the potty.  

Most recently (when a new set of company was coming into town), I felt compelled to paint the baseboards and crawl around with an acetone soaked cotton ball trying to scrub out discolored stains in the vinyl flooring, so I'm feeling even better about the room overall.   Do ignore the crap on the counter in these pictures. Just keeping it real. 

Projects Completed:
   * Fresh paint (Clary Sage)
   * New shower curtain (Target) 
   * New rug to cover up as much vinyl floor as possible (Lowes) 
   * Shelves (repurposed stair treads and shelf brackets from Lowes) 
   * Curved shower curtain rod (Target) 
   * Replaced vent cover (Lowes) 
   * Replaced toilet flusher system. It used to have a confusing push button that everyone 
      came out and said "..now how do I flush?!"  ..Now we have a normal flusher. 

Projects On Wish List: 
   * New flooring 
   * New, beefed up baseboards
   * Replace vanity or at least countertop
   * Replace faucet 
   * Frame or replace bathroom mirror
   * Replace bathroom door (throughout house, actually) 

I pulled this realtor photo from the internet. I don't think this shows how bright
the blue was. We never saw the home staged- it was vacant before our first showing.

                                  Before                                                                           After



January 10, 2016

Sunday Update // 1

In 2016, my hope is to return to my blog space more frequently to document what's going on in our life.  I miss being able to read back and remember what we'd been up to!

January. A time for a fresh start. I hope to put more effort into being more engaged, present, and mindful of how I spend my time this year.  The first 10 days of 2016 has been full of celebration and organization....and some online learning.

Vince turned 30 this past Tuesday!  He took the day off work (he couldn't bear the thought of working through his birthday) and I had a whole day planned for us, but unfortunately he was feeling pretty run down from a lingering head cold so we kept it pretty low key.  I made him a big birthday breakfast of sweet potato/onion/sausage hash with over-easy eggs and coffee, then he opened his birthday gifts. We took Lola for a family walk at the park, then went to see Star Wars. After some cold medicine and a rest on the couch, we tried out a German restaurant Vince has been curious about for his birthday dinner and stuffed ourselves with an assortment of sausages (him) and chicken schnitzel (me).  Though we were full, we felt obligated to bring out the festive birthday cake that I'd made.  I realized at that time that I'd never had to sing "Happy Birthday" to someone by myself before. Usually we celebrate our birthdays with my family because we lived near them, but since we moved 2+ hours away from both of our families, we've experienced many more special occasions spent with just the two of us. It's different and a little sad and weird and nice all at the same time.

For 2016, Vince and I made a goal to try and grow our minds a bit and have signed up for some free online classes through edX . org.  It's a pretty cool site- you can choose classes from various colleges / universities and audit them or pay a bit of money to verify who you are and get credit for them.  We're taking a class together on becoming more innovative, he's taking an engineering leadership course, and I'm taking a few in marketing, accounting, the science of happiness, etc. In an effort to try and do more than just sit on the couch and stare at the TV when Vince comes home from work this year, we're going to spend a night or two each week educating ourselves. Our classes started on Tuesday, but since that was his birthday we waited to try "school night" on Wednesday and it was fun. :) 

I spent a lot of time most of the week organizing and cleaning.  The new year, taking down Christmas decorations, and having Vince's birthday party to prepare for really motivated me to start some Spring cleaning EARLY, and it felt fabulous.  I went through a number of boxes in our basement/downstairs living area that hadn't been touched since our half-way move from Lebanon last FEBRUARY. I had pretty much gotten to the point of frustration when packing up our apartment that Vince no longer lived in that I just started blindly raking things into boxes saying "I'll sort it later." That stuff moved to East TN and sat in stacks of boxes in the corner of the dining area of the Lenoir City apartment until August when it was picked up and moved again to our new house to sit.  My head tells me to just throw those sealed boxes away since I obviously haven't touched them in almost a year, but my heart always worries that I have some forgotten treasure hidden amongst the junk.  

I also rearranged our bedroom furniture and am slowwwwly trying to weed through and get rid of unloved clothing/junk. Neither of us have grown up dressers to put our clothes in, so lack of storage is definitely a dilemma right now. The room is a wreck.  I dragged our bed / night stands over to a different wall the other day (our room gets way less natural light than I'd like, and wondered if being near the window would make it feel less cave-y) and we're trying it out for a while before we move our wall-mounted headboard over to the new location. It looks pretty silly right now.

I'd planned to have the whole house straightened up by Friday so that on Saturday I would just have to do some last minute errands and start cooking before Vince's friends showed up...but Friday morning, my brain was like "COMPANY'S COMING...GOTTA PAINT THE BATHROOM BASEBOARDS AND VANITY!"    It was a lot like this :  

I read an article once that said the one thing you should really do when straightening up for guests is wipe down the baseboards behind the bathroom door, because once a guest is in there, closes the door, and sits down...there's nothing else for them to look at except the little areas YOU never really notice.  That struck a chord with me and now every time *I* sit on our toilet and look around, those are the areas I always look at and they bother me SO MUCH.

Last time that company was coming, I quickly repainted / made over our guest bathroom (...yeah.) but left the trim "as is" because we reaaaallllyyyy want to put new flooring and baseboards throughout our house and I didn't want to mess with it twice.... but lately those suckers have been bothering me enough that I HAD to fix it. Not only that, but I painted the drawer fronts on the vanity AND got down on the floor to take some acetone to some oddly discolored spots in the flooring that always caught my eye and looked dingey that wouldn't come up before, no matter what cleaner I used.  So ridiculousness aside, now I hate the bathroom floor a little less, and the baseboards look cleaner, so I don't feel as obsessed with replacing the flooring *right-this-minute*.... for the time being.

Vince's group of friends from college (his second time through) and their ladies drove all the way from Nashville to celebrate and we had a fun night of food, drinks...and Settlers of Catan.  He had a great time, AND he won his first ever game of Settlers (which he was pretty pumped about happening AT his birthday party... a feeling that may have been heightened by the volume of alcohol he had consumed).  One friend stayed the night with us and the 3 of us went out for a late breakfast, then Vince and I spent the remainder of our Sunday on the couch in front of the TV watching Teen Mom OG (me) and researching a video game to buy with the gift cards from his friends (him).

Birfday Breakfast. 

Family park walk

I was afraid to add all 30 candles and set the cute "Happy Birthday" banner on fire.   ;) 

Assisting with laundry and decluttering 

Danny brought Vince the gift of Irish car bombs

Sunday snugs on the couch