Thursday, February 28, 2013

Living Room

 So during the renovation the living room was used as the "staging" area for the painting supplies and just about everything else. I have looked everywhere but I can't find the original pictures of the house that show the wall to wall bookcase that was in this room but if you look at that little strip of green there on the wall and imagine a set of bookshelves the length of the room that will give you an idea of what was there. We wanted more wall space, since we have so much art to hang, and the shelving just seemed to make the room feel small. So down they came on the first day in the house. Turns out they weren't even attached to the wall. Kind of held up by paint, if you will. Frankie would have had those on the floor the first week in. Safety first folks!

My neighbor tells me we are the 5th or 6th owners of this house since it was built in 1965. At some point one of the former owners put these lovely lights in the living room. They are each on a separate dimmer which made my Dad and his buddy, our home inspector, chuckle and make a few jokes about evening disco sessions. As an artists family we kinda liked them. We can literally adjust the lighting in every corner of that room and highlight the work that is hung there. Not too much went into this room other than paint and patching and taking down the old blinds and such. Had to put down some new baseboard. Patch a hole in the wall where someone had tried to create a vent that would allow heat from the fireplace downstairs to warm the living room. Nice idea but we didn't want to eaves drop on overnight guests so - patched. Also it was right in the middle of the stinkin' wall. Right above the back of the couch but too low to hang a painting over. See it there in the picture? On the left wall. There were a lot of decisions made in the life of this house that still baffle me. 

Anyway now it looks like this! Again with the lovely windows to look out of. Lots of bird watching here just like in the kitchen. That funny little shape under the rug is a rug pad that was too small. Took these pictures the day after we got the rug and we hadn't fixed that yet. Now it just looks like a plain old rug with a pad that fits it. One of the most delightful things about this house - particularly our things IN this house is how they all seem to be made for each other. We have been collecting mid-century vintage furniture since we got married. We have always liked the style of the 50s and early 60s. Also it used to be the stuff that you could get at Goodwill and that was where we went to find furniture. Now people snag the nicer pieces and and put them on Craigslist. Still I just love the way it looks like we planned the furnishings when really this is just the stuff we had. The stuff we loved then and the stuff we love even more here. The couch is new. We bought two new couches for this house because our old one was just a disaster after three babies and a puppy. But this one is from the early 60s too. It's a sleep sofa that is so old the frame is made of iron and it weighs as much as a locomotive. I found it for a cool $100 on good ol' Craigslist. We have some super awesome friends who love us lots and lots because somehow we were able to find guys to help Stephen go pick up this beast and it's sister and then move them here once we were done with the house. Love you guys. You know who you are.

That is a tiny Ada over by the stairs being my "model" on the day these pictures were taken. This room gets a lot of use as you can imagine. I love the line of sight from the kitchen. The girls love to run the length of the house when they get all worked up and need something active to do in the afternoon on "inside days". There is so much light that fills this room at any time of day - it makes it a super cheerful place to hang out. 

And now since Frankie has been awake for the last 2 hours and I have been going back and forth trying to figure out how to help her get back to sleep.. I am going to bed while Stephen gives it a try.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


These pictures are not news to most. If you know me on FB then you have already seen the big reveal. Still I wanted to try to remember the blur that was those two weeks between closing and moving in. So I am going to reminisce one room at a time. 

The kitchen was so much more of a mess than we originally thought when we bought the house. We had two weeks to get the place ready to move in and it seemed the more we prepped to get started to the more mess we found. Mouse droppings were the least of our worries here. The house simply needed a major face lift. The cabinets looked as though they had never been updated. The particle board of the shelves was so filthy with grease and water damage that in some areas it was literally like trying to clean a pile of saw dust. So thankful for my dad. 

We wanted to paint the cabinets white. We knew we wouldn't be able to do it ourselves and get the rest of the house ready to move in. Mom and dad gifted us the paint and one of my dad's painters on his crew. My parents live 90 minutes away. That's a lot of driving back and forth each day. Dad had the bright idea of seeing if Scott would be down with camping out in the house for the duration of the job. Scott was game. So, after I dropped the girls off at school every morning, leaving Frankie with Mary who was packing anything and everything she could get her hands on, I would come to the new house and be greeted by a cheerful Scott who had spent the night in our house. It was kinda crazy but it worked. Scott worked his tail off. So much went into this room I really can't remember it all. I do remember my dad replacing cabinet bottoms and covering others in linoleum to make them usable. I remember the new gas cooktop that Aunt B bought us. The new range hood Dad came back from Lowes with. The remnant granite counter tops from Mom and Dad that replaced the old ivory ones that were there before. I remember Jann coming to help me choose the perfect white that would work for the cabinets and the trim in the rest of the house. I remember painstakingly removing all the hardware from the cabinet doors. We had decided to try cleaning it instead of buying new. I was in love with the design and the look of them. They were original. I was supposed to let it soak in dish soap for a few hours and then scrub each handle, hinge and screw with a tooth brush. I forgot about that little bucket of metal - tucked away in one of the bathrooms on a sheet of cardboard - for three days. Late one night - exhausted and looking for something I could do while sitting down - I remembered that bucket and sat down to scrub. As I scrubbed a layer of varnish peeled off and what was left were bright copper plated handles. It took me several hours to scrub each piece and dry it. Then we had to put them all back on. I think Aunt B helped with the handles. I remember helping Scott to screw the hinges back on barely dry doors and hanging them back on the cabinets - leaving them slightly ajar so they could continue to dry. I remember choosing a dishwasher and then having Dad call me frantic because they had delivered the wrong color. I was walking into the girls Christmas party in their classroom at that moment in mismatched socks and a random assortment of clothes cobbled together to attempt a presentable look. Stephen handled it. Dad bringing his electrician to fix what was wrong in the kitchen. Add an outlet under the cabinets for the range so it wouldn't have to be plugged into the outlet at counter level. Add an outlet inside the cabinet over the stove for the microwave. Take down the poorly wired under counter lights over the sink and redo it properly. Safely. The day the new sink went in to the new granite counter tops. When Brookie came to install the garbage disposal and the dishwasher and check all the drains. I haven't seen Brookie in more years than I can count. He is the plumber my Dad has always worked with, since I was a little girl. I remember seeing him on job sites that my Dad brought me too. Jumping down off the front seat Dad's van and closing the door, hard to make sure it shut properly. He hugged me tight when I walked in the front door of our new home that day. Putting this house together started to feel more like a family reunion than a job.

So much love and work went into this room. I won't lie. There were moments when I looked around and wondered if it would ever be done. If we would make it out alive. Then I would look at my original gas oven from 1966 that worked perfectly and cooks like an absolute dream and energy would rush into my veins and I would scrub the radiator a little harder, a little faster.  And then it was finished.

It is kind of amazing what a little know how (Dad) and a lot of hard work and long hours can accomplish. Stephen coaching swimming at 5:30am practices then teaching all day and running home to change clothes and come to the new house to paint. Matt and Cole sanding cabinet doors in the basement while Stephen painted our room. Matt and Stephen painting the girls rooms. Amy watching all three girls so we could work all morning on Saturday. Friends supported us through this. We couldn't have done it without them.

This room is the heartbeat of our home. Full of light and warm cookies and breakfasts eaten at the butcher block counter top with Daddy every morning. 

We can watch the birds in the bushes outside the windows while we eat lunch. We work on art projects at the table and make granola. The kitchen chairs that I picked up on the side of the road that were always in the way at the old house have their place here. They are a place for little knees to kneel while little fingers steal snippets of cookie dough from the mixing bowl. 

This kitchen is so easy to love. I am so thankful every time my eyes run over the granite back splash, every time I wipe down the cabinet fronts. 

Hope to be less long winded with the rest of the rooms. This room just makes me so happy it's easy to keep finding things to say about it. It's a happy room in a happy house.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Frankie recently found Ollie's last can of food under the kitchen sink. She has taken to going around the house calling for him for a length of time carrying around the can and a baby spoon. She peers out the front windows as she calls. She climbs the stairs and checks the bedrooms. Finally she locates her pink puppy from Aunt Heather and settles in to feed her the food. She focuses on getting the spoon right up to the puppy's mouth and then makes little nibbly noises with a concerned look on her face while she holds the spoon there. It's almost as if she wants to make sure puppy gets every crumb before the next mouthful. My heart warms to see the impact our precious Oliver had on the baby. My eyes always well up when I think that she will never truly remember him.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


We now have a yard. This yard is wild. There are benefits to having a wild yard - namely you don't have to maintain it regularly yet since you have never had even a non-wild yard and have no idea where to start with this tangle of 50 year old azalea bushes, pine cones and English ivy. When you have little kids.. this is a wonderland of non-stop fun and adventure. It is finally warm enough for us to venture out in the afternoons. The girls can swing and slide .. and also seem to love collecting the zillions of pine cones in our yard for various purposes. One such collection became a queens garden. Another ammunition stores to defeat the plastic owl that hangs on our tiny fig tree. Still another grouping of pine cones has been used to practice throwing at Daddy and seeing how many he can hit back with a stick. Also they just like to practice throwing them. They stand at the top of this little washed area in the middle of the yard and throw with all their girlish might. They are getting pretty accurate. Tonight Ada built the above "fire" and prepared a pot of spaghetti complete with meatballs and sauce. Here she is showing me her "blow-offer" - an ingenious device that allows you to cool your food without having to blow on it yourself. Simply wave the blow-offer like so and .. voila! Perfect eating temperature. 

Another "fun" thing about our wilderness is the bamboo. We are fighting it where we can which means lots of little baby bamboo on the yard waste pile. Margot decided that this baby tree needed to be a "Queen's Christmas tree" (kind of into queens right now). She then set about carefully balancing those pine cones and sycamore balls on the tiny limbs of said tiny bamboo shoot. It was tedious work and quite honestly I am not sure how she managed it. I tried a few myself to no avail. 

Daddy came home bearing gifts today - well one gift. Rings. Ada waits patiently in line every time we are at Marbles (the kids museum in town) to be able to swing and flip on the rings there. No longer! Thrilled. New swing next month perhaps ;) 

The yard needs so much work and we truly have no idea where to start but it has been amazing how just having a fenced in space to let all of us out in has been so relaxing in the afternoons. Better than going to a park - for right now at least. They have so much to do just exploring and poking sticks into the ground and chasing each other around the trees... paradise.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


No apologies. Only fresh greetings. You have been dearly missed. 

Tonight has been one of much talking. Much listening to bluegrass (more Allison Krauss than Doc Watson) and sipping of hot tea. Much mixing and slow roasting of fresh granola for the granola jar. It has been a peaceful evening and so much so that I am trying desperately to ignore that big 11 over there on the clock. If I try hard enough I might be able to imagine an "AM" in the place of that "PM". It has been one of those evenings you long for, plan for and sometimes have great difficulty in producing. One where nothing happened. At all. I allowed myself to clean the bathroom after the girls went to bed but after that purposed to leave the mountain of unfolded laundry in it's place on the bedroom floor and sit on the kitchen stool and read while I waited for the various times to add things to the granola baking in the oven. Then Stephen joined me. And the night got even better. Sometimes being still with nothing to entertain is so very entertaining. Love that this is something I can get comfortable with. I can get used to nights like these - in this home. In our home.