Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflections on a renovation, one year later

It's been a year now since we moved into our new house, aka my grandparent's house, and finished completely gutting and remodeling it.

Instead of reviewing our year as I usually do (who wants to relive this year? LOL), I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the reno a little. This seems to be the time that we are starting to notice a few things we regret/wish we had thought of/would have done differently.

And maybe it will be handy to some of you in the future if you are planning some sprucing up around your house.
This is the front of our house before. It's hard to tell because of the overgrown bushes, but the brick was grayish. Prison grayish.
Despite MANY MANY MANY protests from "the menfolk" working here, I had them paint the bricks bright white. But our siding is dark, dark gray. I don't regret the paint at all, but it needs something to tie it to the gray of the siding.

I am thinking dark shutters are the answer. (And it also needs time for my cottage garden to grow!)
I've mentioned this before, but we need an outlet in this part of the foyer. A small job.

But onto the BIG, HUGE what was I thinking mistakes:
These damn countertops. I know what I was thinking - I couldn't afford stone, I didn't want laminate, this seemed to be the best choice.

I HATE these bloody things. They are always filthy. They are hard to clean. They are grease stained. They are paint stained. They are food stained. They do not wipe off easily. Every glass a kid sets down leaves water marks. Stuff accumulates in the cracks that WILL NOT COME OUT. If you oil them as IKEA instructs then every single thing you set down on them will be so greasy when you pick it up it looks like you deep fried it at McDonalds.

I am all for "rustic" but GAH, they are horrible.

I am considering some marine grade varnish to make them at least wipeable until I can afford something else. (Which will be $$$$ since our island is SO WIDE.)
And the other BIG problem. We have these sort of fancy baseboards in every square inch of the 2,200 sq ft house. I CANNOT get the top edge clean. At all. I asked around and the consensus was that yes, that style is hard to clean. OKAY THEN. I shall live with it. Except no matter what I tried they WILL NOT COME CLEAN on the top.

When we were painting baby girl's room again I realized why. They have all been caulked to the walls. And dust sticks like mad to the caulk. Which will not wipe clean. (Nor will it vacuum clean.)

And then it occurred to me that the only remedy for this problem is to somehow PAINT all 4 million linear feet of baseboard on the top edge so the paint is wipeable/vaccumable. (Which my dad, the carpenter, confirmed.)

I suspect we will have filthy baseboards for the next 10 years or so. LOL

A few other small things:
I chose a plastic laundry room slop sink. It is so paint stained and nothing will clean it up. Stainless or porcelain would have been a MUCH better choice.

Our hall bathroom tub faucet only has two speeds - all the way on or all the way off. (This NEVER even occurred to me when I was choosing it.) It's fine, but Jack and I like to sort of dribble warm water into the tub while we bathe to keep the rest of the water warm. Not an option with that thing!

All in all I think we did pretty well. There were only about 1,456,798 decisions to make when doing a remodel like we did and regretting 5 or 6 things seems like a pretty good average to me!

And with that, I am off until January 2. We have another OB appt today and reservations at my favorite Indian restaurant for dinner. YUMMM.

When I come back I will open up sign ups for the heart to heart swap and get on with showing you Miss Thing's room. :-)

Happy New Year to you!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Being a brother

Jack made this sweet picture of him and his sister for me the other morning:
Aren't they cute?

Then he decided he needed a version 2.0:

Oh yes, his sister is "toot"ing.

LOL That boy!

I took down ALL of the Christmas stuff yesterday. I still need to wrap and store the vintage ornaments which are in a laundry basket in the sewing room, but every last bit of it is GONE.


The car seat is installed, diapers are purchased, her room is mostly finished (minus storage basket liners and a few more little quilts).

So, while the rest of you are organizing and purging and planning for a new year, I fully intend to spend the next 2.5 weeks just waiting for the baby.

And making my Valentines for the heart to heart swap. As soon as I decide what to make!

Perhaps I should go pull out some magazines for inspiration while I spend the rest of the holiday vacation wasting too many hours watching HGTV. :-)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

This picture may not look like much, but if you look hard you can see Jack lying on the floor just beyond this giant castle. He was so surprised to see it here that he actually fell on the floor. LOL

(And what a relief to this mama that was. About 2 weeks ago he started asking for a different, large, $$$ toy that I knew Santa wasn't going to provide. It was ALL he talked about. I was terrified he was going to ask where it was this morning!)
What toys Santa *did* choose seem to be a big hit, despite the fact there are no pricey electronics, no violent toys, no popular characters, etc. Lots of science toys and craft projects and toys to stretch his growing imagination and intellect. Yippee for that. (And I don't usually even think about that kind of stuff to be honest. I don't hate Thomas or anything like that. It was challenging to find toys that I thought a 6 year old with a big brain would actually use. I desperately do not want MORE "STUFF" that is just stuff.)
And it snowed! All day yesterday.
I ended up putting a little vintage tree in our room. I really wanted another big tree there, but I just have no energy for that. It was nice to have a little sparkle in that corner. (But I am ready to take it down, I want to put the baby's bassinet there.)

I used some of my antique tinsel garland on this one, which has the BEST mellow sparkle.

We decided several years ago to do our family get together on a day other than Christmas (usually Christmas Eve, but it was too snowy yesterday), and it is really nice to be able to stay in our jammies and let Jack play with everything he wants to for a whole day. It makes a nice stress free day.

Now it's time to put the green bean casserole in the oven!

P.S. I cannot believe it will be January next weekend. We are having a baby in January. Eeeek!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I used to hate my OB

Back when I was pregnant with Jack I HATED this OB. Could not stand the man. But now that I have learned how to really communicate with him I think I love him. He doesn't care when I am bossy and he will go out of his way to make sure I am feeling comfortable with what is happening. Even if we do butt heads about everything. :-)

He took plenty of time to make sure EVERYTHING is a-okay with Miss Thing. Her cord is fine, her fluid is fine, she is still head down, and after another 20 minutes on the heart rate/contraction monitor she has been declared "classically reactive".

I have a tiny bit of cervical dilation, which is probably why I had the bleeding. (Which you can only see via u/s. Right, that u/s the hospital didn't bother doing.)

I am feeling much better about everything.

I've told him that I will not be returning that "treat and street ASAP" hospital again and he didn't even blink.


Bonus points to him for helping me find the dreidel that Jack has been asking for and is totally impossible to find in our county.

Now that I am back up off the couch, I have some work to do!

We are off to try and see the local light display before our family get together tomorrow.

I will be back tomorrow with my last vintage tree just in time before Santa arrives. :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Problem child I am

I'm here. I had a very small amount of bleeding* last night around 11 pm which promptly FREAKED ME OUT. Maybe if I were a "regular" pregnant lady I would have ignored it and went to sleep.

Instead I called the OB.

Who sent us to labor & delivery.

We spent almost two hours there trying a million different things to get Miss Thing's little ticker tape to "be textbook." Which never happened. I really felt like the nurses were pushing to just send me home while the midwife was trying to get what she needed on that piece of paper to reassure her.

After some apple juice the midwife decided she was never going to get what she wanted and that Miss Thing was moving enough to send us home.

Of course she offered the usual reassurances "she's fine really. This is not unusual." Followed with "go home and lie on your side, because she seems happiest there."

Except that you and I both know that is LITTLE reassurance for me.

I have definitely noticed her moving less if I am sitting or standing. If I eat something she passes their 10 kicks/per hour test, but, well, blah blah blah.

I am slightly perturbed that they didn't ultrasound her to make sure her cord and placenta are still fine.

I tried to call the OB but they have weird holiday hours today and I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon, so, I will be here, lying on the couch, counting a moving baby all day and hoping there are no return visits to L&D between now and 2 pm tomorrow.

This is just about the exact same time that my pregnancy with Jack started to shoot down the pipeline to hell and last night my blood pressure was insanely high. (Which is what started the *real* panic with Jack.)

Did I mention how much I HATE the big baby factory here in St Louis? I wish I could make those people understand that for some of us this baby thing is a dark and scary road. We are more than just patient #103,408 of the day.


Anyway. Think of us? My little mommy voice isn't saying "OMG we are all going to die!!" but it isn't exactly saying "this is no big thing, go buy the wrapping paper" either.

Hopefully I will be back tomorrow with word from the actual doctor I trust!

*Cause never determined.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The annual unveiling of the family jewels

Well, yesterday was exciting. Dave is still working on the basement play room and he sliced open his hand doing the wiring. So we spent part of last night in the urgent care getting him sewn back together. 7 stitches, 2 hours and plenty of whining about missing dinner from the Jack attack later, we were back home.

And here I thought it would be ME needing the hospital sooner rather than later!
When I showed you the tree the last time some of you thought I was done. Except I still had to put another 300 ornaments on it! (And it could still use more, but I ran out of steam.)
I actually love that someone has written "10" on that pink one with a grease pen.
The birds that Jack is so smitten with are on this tree too this year.
A random peek inside.

And a bell that *I* am smitten with this year.

The cats are driving me INSANE with the tree this year. My fattest cat (who weighs like 20 lbs) thinks it's fun to stand on his hind legs and reach up in the tree and scratch on the pole. Which shakes the whole tree and gives me a heart attack. Then the other two naughties WILL NOT STOP EATING THE PLASTIC NEEDLES which, of course, then they run all over the house puking up everywhere.

It's sad that I can easily teach kids to leave it alone but the cats are my worst enemy!

I kind of can't wait to take the darn thing down, as beautiful as it is.

Speaking of taking it down - some of you have asked on facebook about the heart to heart swap this year. I have every intention of doing it this year, baby or not. I will announce the details as soon as Christmas is over and open up sign ups then.

Barbara, I knew there was a deer ornament on that tree somewhere!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A million tiny putz houses

Time just keeps getting away from me! I thought we were well prepared for Christmas, but there was still the ham to buy, the drive through light display to see (still undone), the live tree for the play room to buy (and decorate, that makes tree #7 for me), etc. And Christmas is 5 days away!

I have been making slow but steady progress on the baby's room. And we have the car seat installed. And diapers in the house. That's something, right?

The second "tree" I put up was the putz house tree. I let Jack choose which tree to put in the foyer and he chose the houses. In previous years he has been ENTHRALLED by those little houses, nearly driving me to the crazy house constantly moving them around. This year? Eh. He hasn't even touched them.
One of these years I am going to buy enough rice lights to go under the "snow" (batting) so they can be lit up. I WISH, WISH, WISH that I had had Sparky (the electrician) put an outlet in that nook so I could plug things in on that table.

(And not the chandelier that has been sitting on the floor there forever. Someone from Craiglist came to buy it, and despite seeing photos of it and it being every color under the rainbow, he declared that it didn't match a damn thing in their house and he had no clue why his wife wanted it. So I still own it. Sigh.)
The houses speak for themselves I think.
Those little trees are actually dollhouse Christmas trees I bought in Chicago many moons ago. They have tiny spun cotton candles on them. Love.

Okay, off with me to put lights on the last tree. And make cushions for the rocking chair. And finish a doll bed pillow. And make Jack's Christmas pajamas.

Maybe I should just have a little nap first.


See you tomorrow with the "family jewels!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The woodland tree

I noticed a few of you mentioned our woodland tree on your own blogs (and wondered if we were doing it again this year), so I thought I would show you that tree first.

It was the first tree I put up. In the first week of November. (And BOY HOWDY am I ever glad I did this stuff then, it would NOT be happening right now.)
I used the woodland skirt I made a few years ago again. I know some of you wonder how on earth we can have fragile trees with kids and cats, but the trees here are generally screwed down to a table. This one is on an old typing table. (And each ornament is wired on.)
I tried to put away all of the woodland themed ornaments in one box the last time I did this tree so that putting it up again would be quick. (No hunting through 400 boxes for those ornaments.)
You don't just have to stick to gnomes or elves. I also put up cottages, fruit, nuts, berries...
mushrooms, toadstools...
acorns, pinecones...

birds, owls and more. There is even an antique potato on there!

This tree happens to be holding the ornaments that Jack is REALLY infatuated with this year - my very old birds. He loves their tails.

It's funny how every year it is something different that seems to capture his attention.

We have a "snow" day here today. (Ice really.) I am SO relieved to not have drive Jack back and forth to kindy today. But on the other hand, he has been up since well before dawn and it is only 8 30 am! I tried to plan ahead and buy some craft supplies for a craft he has been asking to do yesterday, but Michael's was totally sold out of what I needed and I couldn't walk anymore to go to Joanns.

It's going to be a long day!

Back tomorrow with the putz village. How can Christmas be next week already? (And who is going to put all this stuff away? LOLOLOL)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fixed the newel post

Today I am solving my nursery problem.

I am "fixing the newel post."
I am getting rid of the rug that has caused me to have an existential crisis.

Oh yes, I argued with Urban Outfitters for a month over that rug. I spent hours on the phone. I called 4 different states to get that rug.

And today, I am banishing it to the playroom. (Where it will work great!)
I tried to buy curtains that worked with it.

I waddled to 10 stores and bought many, many pairs of curtains (which now must all be returned) and I tried them all on the window.

I tried to make this work. I tried to buy orange or fuschia or turquoise or bold yellow. (The rug is much brighter/darker than the photos show.)

But, let's face it. I cannot make this work.
My bathroom is aqua and pink...
my french doors are aqua and pink...
my FRONT door is aqua and pink...

even the blankets strewn about my house are aqua and pink.

Trying to force myself out of my somewhat "shabby, cottagey, collected with love" box has caused me to question my need for a good therapist. (If only I were kidding! I suspect this nonsense is a manifestation of my fears about this baby's safety.)

I pride myself on my decisiveness. I see something, I fall in love, I buy it.

I do not buy 10 pairs of curtains for one window. I do not test paint colors. I do not buy and return things. I do not worry about these things.

Somehow the "see it, love it, buy it" method always comes together for me.

So today, I am banishing the bane of my existence. I am going to stop changing dust ruffles and stop trying to force the artwork to fit that damn rug. I am going to hang up the stuff I love and be FREE of it!

And then I am going to hope the cats don't puke all over that blasted rug while it lives in the playroom.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tree toppers galore, for Barbara

How about some Christmas and no kids? Barbara insists I show it soon. :-) (Truth be told I am frustrated, frustrated by that nursery project. I CANNOT find what I want, everything is outrageously expensive and I just want to be done with it. Gah. I miss garage sale season! I am totally spoiled by never having to buy anything retail.)

Last year Laurie sent a box with tree toppers in it as a housewarming present for our new house. And much to my surprise when I was unpacking stuff this year I discovered that I had found quite a few of them myself this year and had been squirreling them away everywhere!
So I decided to put ALL the tree toppers on the mantel this year. Glass glitter ones, plastic ones, my favorite foil one, and all of the precious glass ones (both old and new). Because I didn't want some of my more special bottle brush trees to get lost in the shuffle, I put those in the cloches.
I stuck them in whatever was handy in the cupboard.
I also plopped the last two things I bought at the flea market this year up there too - cute vintage Santas!
I had to negotiate HARD to get those, but I was determined.

And just playing with the camera here. I need a Christmasy header!

Back tomorrow with more Christmas I think. :-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The joy of sewing

Several boxes have arrived for Miss Thing, making for the most wonderful kind of virtual baby shower. They are always filled to the brim with beautiful vintage goodness for our baby girl. (If I haven't shown yours yet, I am slowly working my way through taking pictures. I am finding it hard to get a good photo of anything right now, lol.)

The first box to arrive was from April . I showed you the doll quilt she sent, but nestled in amongst that quilt was this unfinished quilt top:
filled with these sweet little kittens. It took me a long time to decide what to do with it, but yesterday I was spurred on in a fit of creative juices.
So I carefully removed one of the panels and made another doll quilt for the mini quilt wall.
Not only did I get to dig through (and use) some of my MOST beloved vintage fabrics, it made me remember how satisfying it is to turn little pieces of fabric into something wonderful.

It feels like it has been a LONG time since I have been in that place. :-)

And doll quilts happen to be a good project for right now since they are fairly labor UNintensive and don't require hours of standing or sitting. (Both of which are becoming impossible. I can barely reach the kitchen faucet over the belly right now. LOL)

35 weeks and counting!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We had our first snowfall of the season last night.
It's beautiful.

And BITTERLY cold.

And it's the one year I didn't buy Jack new snow pants (I thought we had a size six from last year) and I discovered we only had a 5T and they are 8 inches too short! (There wasn't enough snow last year to even wear them but once or twice.)

Ooops. I need to spend more time at the thrifts!*
Since it's cold and snowy I gave into the gingerbread pleas.
We bought a Wilton mini village kit this year. I won't make that mistake again. (We had to cut all the pieces, make the icing, wait hours, and there were too many houses to hold Jack's attention for very long. I will be sticking to the Costco "gingerbread for very lazy mothers" kit next year.)

While I was taking the photos I noticed how lovely the new house truly is. At the other house our gingerbread photos always included piles of detritus every where in the background.

Not here! There is the snowy window and a Christmas tree and the fireplace and beautiful light.

Bring it on Christmas. I am ready. :-)

We painted the baby's room this week and once I get it put back together I am very nearly ready for her too. I've hit the thrift a few times this week scoring clothes for her and a few longer sweaters for me to cover the ever expanding belly. Now I can relax, make a few more little quilts for her and spend more time at the thrift! Yesssssssssssssssssssss.

I will be back soon to start some Christmas decor photos. Or baby's room photos. Or something. Enjoy your Sunday!

* I actually am ready. Presents bought, cards long mailed, trees decorated. And despite nearly going into labor in the middle of the grocery store on Friday, I have enough groceries for the next 3 weeks.