April 23, 2014

Our Mini Spring Break : Louisville, KY

It’s been weeks since I posted and I’m sorry to leave you all hanging! Between finishing Dresden and lots of orders for dfmi designs and getting sick (AGAIN!) the blog was the first to be put on hold. Something has to give, right? We did manage to spend a little fun time taking a trip to Louisville. We left Thursday night and drove down for all day Friday, coming back Saturday night in time for the Easter Bunny to arrive the next morning. At 3 1/2 hours away, it was perfect. I can’t handle much of a car ride anymore with this baby belly, everything is super uncomfortable.

What’s there to do, you wonder? Well, on several trips to Nashville there is a large dinosaur that you can see from the freeway inviting you to come to Dinosaur World. I’m not going to lie, I was totally into this! I wanted to be able to visit when we had Arden along though. They have 150 life-sized dinosaurs on display. You take a walking path through the woods and encounter all the creatures along the way. Some are better than others, with plaques providing information about each one. When Arden was in her dino phase a couple years ago, we learned about way more dinosaurs than I ever did in school. This place provides even more!

Dino 1 copy

Bronciosoris pic copy

They also have a “Fossil Search’ for little kids, which Arden was super into. Basically the children sift through a sand table with their little tools and discover fossils. There are tons, but they can only keep 3 favorites. Then Arden went to the Dino Dig, which is basically a faux dinosaur skeleton covered in sand that the kids (with their shovels and brushes) have to unearth. It was cute, she was into it. There is also a museum, a cave with a video about the life of a dinosaur and a gift shop.

Joel vs. the T-REX 1

Dinosaur World was about an hour and a half from Louisville and didn’t cost much. There are lots of other attractions like caves, ziplining and a Corvette Museum in the area to check out too.

family pic at dino world 1 copy

During the researching portion of the trip, I was really drawn to the East Market District of Louisville. What was once a small town that would look like any other that you’d pass through, this place has been revived with an edge. Lots of cool eateries and interesting shops line the streets. Some of our favorites was ‘Garage Bar’, a converted service station with an interior I could live in! Lots of reclaimed metal and wood.

Garage bar sign copy

Arden at bar  Garage copy

Garage bar doors up copy

A cute shop for coffee and treats was ‘Please and Thank You’, which is also a tiny record shop. Loved their sign!

please and thank you sign copy

Awesome street tacos were found at Taco Punk. How cool is this sign?

Punk taco sign copy

We also went to at Easter Parade on Frankfort Avenue, where Arden collected an insane amount of candy! It was almost Halloween amount of candy!

I super love this building photo taken while driving through the Historic District!

Awesome topography building sign copy

All the while, we stayed at Hyatt Place in Louisville. It is considered a 3 star hotel, but was really nice. The room was spacious, modern and had a handy mini-fridge. (I love this for drinks and snacks!) We opted for the king-sized bed and it was cool, because it also included a sleeper sofa in the sitting area and a stylish partition divided the two. So we could put Arden to bed and hang out for a bit on our side watching t.v that swiveled in either direction. The downside is that she was sick most of the trip (allergies are killing us at our house this year!) and kept me on my toes getting her ice chips and meds to soothe her constant coughing in the middle of the night. The BEST part of this place was the complimentary hot breakfast. Special breakfast sandwiches made fresh, sausage gravy & biscuits, oatmeal & cereal bar, fresh fruit and yogurt, muffins, pastries & bagels, plus a wonderful drink selection. Maybe I’m easily impressed or maybe I just really like food, but seriously, the spread was great! Perfect for a family stay, especially for this pregnant/hungry mama!

Here’s Arden setting up her bevy of stuffed animals she brought along.

Arden making her hotel bed copy

Overall, it was a nice little get-away. What fun things did you guys do over your long weekend?

March 17, 2014

Dresden : Week 8 Bring on the green!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thought it would be great timing to post about our next room we completed, The Green Room.
Joel has been told before by people that he is very lucky. Lucky to know what he does, to be able to do what he does, to get the jobs he does. It’s a little bit irritating, because it’s not luck at all. It’s hard work. He may have a knack for learning the mechanicals inside a furnace or a car or heck, even my printer. He’s good at figuring out how things work. It takes practice and making mistakes and lots of labor. It doesn’t involve luck.

As a matter of fact, the opposite could be said. After Joel replaced the toilet in the upstairs bathroom (because the renters actually cracked the tank and broke the wax seal (that prevents sewer water from leaking when you flush) it was discovered that we need to do more to the green room than just replace 2 windows and paint. When the tenant got her water turned off from not paying her bill, the pipes froze and they busted inside the ceiling. We found this out after some tests flushes upstairs. With water leaking everywhere, we had to tear out part of the ceiling to find the problem. Word of Advice: it’s good to pay your utilities. Another fun tip, if the temps are going to hit freezing, leave your faucets on, just dripping a wee bit and it prevents the pipes from freezing up and bursting.

Celiing torn out in green room copy

If you look the pipes closely, the 2 greys ends are what is supposed to be connected together.

Pipes burst in ceiling copy

So not only what there this issue, but quite a bit of the wall had to be scraped and patched to remove all the peeling.

Green room patched up copy

Then comes the REALLY unenjoyable part. The sanding. The dust gets everywhere.

Me from sanding the green room copy

AFTER priming and painting, here’s the ceiling where the hole was. Not too shabby.

ceiling pic copy

Here’s the completed room with the floor refinished. So sharp! We super love the new, brighter green! Most definitely a color we will use again!

Green room color copy

March 11, 2014

MIRROR, MIRROR

Mini me Arden pretend driving copy

About a year and a half ago I began to notice a really annoying habit Arden had.
Every time she was frustrated, say putting on shoes when the tongue stuck inside or a jacket with the arm inside out, she would make this really exasperated, loud grunt. If no one responded, it would continue into foot stomping and her shouting that whatever she was having difficulty with was ‘stupid’.

‘Dude, it’s not that hard!’ I would say, as she would flail all about. “Come on, we have to go!” No, of course it didn’t seem difficult for me. I knew how to do all these things easily. As a smaller person though, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by problem solving, especially when you are slow and always being rushed.

I’m not proud to say that it took me several months of this behavior before I finally caught on. Working on a wedding invitation order under a deadline, I stood over my printer fuming. The cardstock would jam, the toner would leak, smearing across the page. Something inevitably always went wrong when I just desperately needed it to work smoothly. I let out a loud overly-exaggerated groan, slammed the printer tray back into position, shouting “Stupid thing!”

THEN IT HIT ME.

The super annoying tendencies that my pint-sized child displayed were because of me. A completely learned reaction from one of the people in her life she looks up to most. I’m giving life lessons on how to handle challenges and stress and I was totally letting her down. This made me reflect on how I could rectify the situation.

In my job, I try to bend over backwards to make others happy. Pleased clients refer others. It’s good for business and my livelihood sort of depends on it. But in my quest to do whatever it took, I sold myself and my work short. The pressure I felt, spilled into my family life. I would be up till all hours tweaking a sample, only for a client to completely change their mind the next day. It was exhausting. I realized adjustments had to be made within how I ran the business in order for me to not get so overwhelmed. I needed to get rid of tension in my neck and the weight of perfection that always loomed over me.

Slowly, progress is being made.
I know this because I don’t get the crippling migraines I used to. I do better at taking things in stride and not so personally. And Arden? Well now, she calmly asks for help with a task she gets stuck on, instead of throwing a fit. While it’s humbling to realize my faults and work toward bettering them, it’s more important for me to make my example a good one.

I saw this video a couple weeks ago that prompted me to want to write this post. WARNING: It is emotionally jarring, but it certainly gets it’s point across. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d4gmdl3zNQ

March 6, 2014

Dresden : Weeks 6 & 7

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this knows that we had to stop working on Hallie a bit to take care of business at Dresden. (So I may as well take it out of the title!) We have been very fortunate to be able to be granted an extension of an additional 3 months to work on Hallie after Dresden is completed. (So collective HUGE sigh of relief there!) We’ve been busy at work at Dresden as we have a potential renter lined up for April 1st move in. (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn in to an April Fool’s joke!)

Without further ado, here’s what new with Dresden over the last couple weeks.

When the weather was nice (you know that one day!)
Joel worked on framing in the outside portion of the newly installed windows. You can see on this side of the house 4 out of the 5 are completed. It is a such an enormous improvement!

Outside side photo show mostly finished windows copy

Another large undertaking for Joel was running 150 ft. of new water pipes in the basement.

Joel working on pipes in basement copy

water tank line pipes copyWasher hot and cold hook up copy

While they look a bit messy with drips, it actually is helpful during inspection, so the inspector is able to verify that the correct adhesives were used in the process.

Here’s a project I worked on. This hallway was pretty disgusting!
BEFORE

Hallway before lightswitch

hallway before floor to kitchen copy

Hallway closet door copy

Hallway before by bathroom copy

AFTER
Lots of scrubbing, painting (even down the basement hall), a new light fixture and new door.
Prepare to be dazzled! (At least we are!)

Hallway lightswitch copy

Hallway bathroom view copy

Hallway closed basement door copy

Stairwell to basement copy

We have a bunch more projects that we have been working diligently on (and are super proud of!) Hopefully we can get them wrapped up to show you all next week!
Thanks for viewing. :) erin

February 25, 2014

Drumroll please: IT’S A …

It's a boy banner copy

I cried.
It felt like a long time waiting for this moment. I had wanted more kids as soon as I met Joel, but the timing just wasn’t right quite. Looking up at the screen today for the ultrasound, I wanted a boy and there he was. All kicking and waving his arms.
Arden got to be there with us. She had talked about wanting a baby sister for so long. I kept her out of school a few hours just so she could witness it for herself. She laughed as she saw the baby move. It’s a cool experience for anyone to see their baby on the monitor. For her I think it was a little magical. I hope that it will be something that she always remembers, how she got to be part of it all.

Baby Stead 18 wk 2 days 001 copy

The other day, I stupidly looked at my paperwork from the previous appointment with my ob/gyn. Under diagnoses it read ‘Supervision of high-risk pregnancy of elderly multigravida’. It simple terms it means at 37, medically speaking they consider me old. As someone who has never quite looked her age, yeah, it’s super insulting. So by yesterday, as the gender determining ultrasound AND the DNA blood-test neared, I had a bit of a meltdown. I suddenly was worried that the baby wasn’t growing right, that a million things could be wrong. We did find out today that he has a tiny hole in his kidney. The doctor seemed pretty nonchalant about it, but ‘hole’ and ‘baby’ aren’t really two words you want to hear together. We still have to wait a couple weeks now for the test results to come back to find out if our son has any other issues.

{OUR SON!!! OMG!}
I cannot believe I’m going to be a mom of two kids. A girl and a boy. It’s wild and surreal.
I already feel like a whale. I don’t recall being this tired with Arden or this large already. Maybe it’s due to MY ADVANCED AGE. I still have 22 weeks to go. Our boy is due around July 27th. I was hoping for sooner. At least it’s not August. Between Arden on the 19th and me on the 26th, we do not need another birthday in August. Arden proclaimed that it would be “SO FUN” until I told her that if that happened, she certainly wouldn’t get a birthday party this year. That shut her right up! LOL.

Arden always has lots of opinions about everything (shocker, right?) A few month ago, she told us that if we had a boy, for his birthday she would have a flag party or a car party. Because boys like those things, she said. {HA HA HA!!!} A flag party, what is THAT? I think she will be pleased to find out that he will probably like a lot of the same things she does. Pirates, ninjas, cars. Possibly even horses. Guess I better start designing more party invitations. :)

HOORAY 001

February 19, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 19 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 5.

So I was supposed to post this last week, but the all the editing was daunting and I just didn’t get to it.
We worked on the master bedroom for several weeks. At roughly 600 sq. ft., it’s A LOT. The master bath is adjoining with another 125 sq. ft. (but we didn’t get to that yet.)

A RUNDOWN OF TASKS: (after removing the trash!)

1.) Completely replaced 4 windows.
(Ripped out old, built new framework, put in new, added drywall where needed, mudded, sanded, put trim back up.
2.) Texturized the ceiling
3.) New light fixtures
4.) Patched and painted. 3 gallons of just the blue paint.
5.) Completely redid corner beading that was shredded.
6.) Painted the ceiling
7.) Painted and reattached the banister that had been ripped down.

Now a mini story in pictures of what we accomplished.

BEFORE:
Original shot of 2 far windows copy

GETTING STARTED:
Joel ripping out old windows upstairs copy

PATCHED UP:
Windows in with drywall, patched copy

TA-DA!
Finished side windows copy

front wall first window put in copy

BEFORE:
Trash filled cubby over by bathroom wall copy

THIS ENCOMPASSES THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROOM:
Arden painted wall copy

Wall by bathroom copy

built in Dresser copy

Far window by stairs and dresser copy

Stairway copy

JUST A REFRESHER OF THE CORNER BEAD BEFORE:

Corner bead demolished before copy

AFTER:

corner I put up corner bead copy

As you can see, we need to get our mess cleaned up and sand the floors, BUT it’s made HUGE progress!

February 12, 2014

The things we do for LOVE.

heart punches copy

Four years ago, when life was less than serendipitous, a high school friend messaged me to see how I was holding up. It was right before Valentine’s Day and I inquired what festivities he had planned for his wife. He stated plainly that they didn’t really celebrate the holiday. I was in disbelief (and disgust.) The holiday of LOVE, how could you not, I thought? Sensing my disapproval, he typed back that they didn’t wait for a holiday to show each other love, that it should be everyday. WHATEVER, I thought. That’s stupid.

And it made me glad I wasn’t married to him.

It turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I still feel the sense of anticipation I did when I was in elementary school and my class had a party. We got to decorate our shoe boxes with glitter and hearts for all the love notes (aka valentines cards, we’d receive.) We’d run around the room giggling, passing out the goods. Then hurry back to our desks, eat cupcakes and survey our stash. It was simple. It was full of fun and excitement! And maybe somebody would profess their undying love!

Arden kindergarten valentines copy

Over the years, though, I had gotten jaded. Valentine’s came to mean that I had BETTER get flowers or Godiva and a fancy dinner. I had BETTER be made to feel special. AND it must be celebrated on THE. EXACT. DAY. or else hellfire would rain down. You think I’m being dramatic. I’m not. Then I married Joel. He didn’t bring me flowers, because I’m allergic. But everytime he runs out for a movie at Redbox or to grab something from the store, he picks me out candy. (I LOVE CANDY!!!) If he goes to UDF for gas, he always brings me back the SERIOUSLY Chocolate Milk (it’s really called that.) And it’s AWESOME.

Turns out, to know I was being thought of consistently, mattered more.

I get up every day when he gets ready for work and make him breakfast and pack his lunch. He genuinely thanks me every.single.time. It is wonderful and heartfelt and it’s what had been missing all along. Feeling appreciated. Without the forced grand gestures.

My friend was right. It is the little things.

Please share what little things (or the person you are with) do for love. :)

ardens finished kindergarten valentines copy

February 7, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 17 & 18 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 3 & 4.

Hello again, friends!
All 3 of us have been butt-dragging sick this week. I’m excited to start being able to breath again and Joel is excited I’ve stopped snoring. It hasn’t been so terrible that Arden has been having snow days from school, because she definitely needs the rest.
Last week alone, Joel put in 37 hours of overtime. Needless to say, we are hoping to see an end to this extreme weather we’ve been having. We certainly could use some help getting our mountain of work completed and fingers crossed we get some relief soon.

There’s what we’ve worked on the past couple weeks.

THE GRAY ROOM
We started with a bedroom downstairs. The photos aren’t the greatest because I end up forgetting my good camera and just use my phone. Still the transformation is noticeable. Here’s before photos. Filth, excessive scribbles and chunks missing, all over the walls.

DSC_0045 (1) copy

Grey room dirty 2 before copy

After cleaning up a bit, patching, painted and new blinds:

Grey room repainted copy

Between that and the floor getting ripped out, it’s was nice to finally have a room that doesn’t stink anymore.

NEXT: The UPSTAIRS BEDROOM
It’s quite spacious, which is nice to live in, but means a lot of work too. We worked on texturing the entire upstairs ceiling, not because I don’t like a smooth ceiling, but it hides imperfections. Then lots of patch work. Next Joel’s been working on replacing windows. Shown here painting outside trim. Do not try this maneuver at home, it causes incredible back pain.

Joel hanging out window to paint copy

One of the projects I’ve been working on is repairing the excessively damaged corner beading. Seen here, it’s ripped to shreds hanging out of the wall.

Corner bead demolished before copy

If you aren’t familiar with the process, after drywall goes up to give nice, crisp corners, special strips of paper with metal are put in place with drywall mud. Cover that with several more layers of mud, so it looks something like this when dried. Even though it’s super sloppy, it requires a certain level of precision. Put on too much and it takes forever to dry and causes cracks. Put on too little and you risk the drywall/metal corners being exposed after it all gets sanded down.

Corner bead with layers of mud copy

Here’s the wall after sanding. It’s important to get every blemish as smooth as possible, because what gets missed shows up when painted.

Corner bead after mud is sanded copy

We’ve also been working on painting, but I will save that for next week. Hopefully we’ll have the upstairs completed by then.

January 28, 2014

What’s in a Name?

Joel and I are struggling to come up with names. I suppose when we go in for the gender determining ultrasound in a month, it may make things easier. Until then, we are all like “How about this?” and “What do you think?”

Back when I was pregnant with Arden, I had made a list. I wanted something unique, but not too weird that people couldn’t spell it. There is an ‘Arden Road’ in Clintonville that I used to pass by and fell in love with the name. It still confused my Grandma until my Aunt pointed out that it was like ‘Garden’ without the ‘G’, which sort-of seemed to help her remember, but mostly she would just end up calling her Great-Grandchild ‘Erin’. (LOL)

When I researched the meaning behind Arden’s name, I discovered it was from a Shakespearean comedy ‘As you like it.’ The main setting was a magical forest named ‘Arden’. The forest was named after Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden. Kinda cool, right? It ended up beating out another favorite of mine ‘Veruca’. As in the mouthy little girl from the Willy Wonka movie, (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) who fell down the egg sorting chute. While I had some supporters, I felt like if I went that route, I end up with my hands full. (If you know my daughter, you know the joke is on me.)

In a cool twist of fate, about 6 months after Arden was born, I received a request from a Historical Society out in California to put a bid on an invitation project that were working on for a celebration they would be hosting. It was to honor the late Helena Modjeska, a Shakespearean actress and her estate named (what else, but) ‘Arden’. They accepted my bid and I was euphoric. I ended up designing and making 300 sets of invitations and reply postcards for their event.

Helena Modjeska Foundation invitation

Helena Modjeska Foundation reply

If you notice, in super super small at the bottom of the logo on the reply card, it reads ‘Arden – Modjeska’s Home in Santiago Canyon’.
How awesome was that?! Definitely a highlight of my invitation-making career. I was only sad I couldn’t attend. One day, I’d love to see it for myself.

But back to names. For boys, my go-to was always ‘Xander’. As in one of Buffy’s loyal vampire-slaying-sidekicks on the show, Buffy. It derives from ‘Alexander’, with a meaning of ‘Defender of all mankind’. I really felt I couldn’t go wrong with it. EXCEPT, it’s dramatically increased in popularity over the past 5 years, losing appeal for me. As a kicker, I just don’t feel like it goes with the ‘Stead’ last name. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to top a name with such an awesome meaning, everything seems to pale in comparison.

Then there is the girl name that Arden, who is longing for a sister, came up with like 6 months ago. Begging for a sister for at least a year, one day she sat me down and solemnly proclaimed that WHEN she had one, we should name her ‘Astley’. I have no idea where she came up with it, but oddly enough, Joel and I were both into it. If this name sounds remotely familiar, it’s because of 80′s crooner, Rick Astley. So far, from several of the people we have told, we’ve received the collective response of “Ass-what?”

Pronounced ‘a-st- ley’ it is an actual place in Warwickshire, from Old English east ‘east’ + leah ‘woodland clearing’. Or as some baby name sites list it, ‘A starry field’, or ‘A field of stars’ which honestly isn’t so shabby next to a magical forest. Whatever we end up choosing, I hope it fits the baby well.

Please post and tell us how you ended up choosing your name(s).

January 24, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 16 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 2.

Remember that day a week or so ago, when the weather was 40 degrees and that seemed balmy?
Well I took advantage of it, doing some much-needed outside maintenance over at Dresden.
The house is covered in yellow siding, which is unfortunate. I am not a fan of vinyl siding.
I feel like it lacks character, has a conformist attitude and this particular color fades really badly.
I also understand that it hides major flaws easily and cheaply, which is why it’s so popular.
(Joel had big plans for it before I came along, so it’s not like he liked it either.)

This particular color shows dirt something terrible. Not to mention it is positioned under a very tall tree,
which is awesome for shade purposes, but also has a nasty mossy/mold habit of growing on the house. Until Joel is able to replace all the pipes,
we have no water, so power washing is a bit out of the question. I’d also LOVE to get this place painted, so it looks a little more modern, but with sub degree temps, that also isn’t happening any time soon. I needed to work with what I could to make the place a bit more presentable, because honestly, it depressed the hell out of me every time we drove up.

On that particular day, I filled up several 5 gallon buckets of hot water from our house and drove a few blocks over to clean up the outside of Dresden.
The porch was really filthy and I had to scrub it good to remove the grime from out of the grooves.

Front of Dreseden filthy copy

And here’s after:
It’s not a jaw dropping transformation, but it helps.

Front of Dresden scrubbed copy

You may have also noticed the new front door Joel put in. The last one had it’s share of abuse and the decorative windows had (of course!) been broken out.
This one came primed and we aren’t sure of a paint color as of yet, but it looks tremendously better.

My next task was to drag out the ladder and scrub the awning. This thing is a disaster.

Awning dirty copy

It REALLY needs a good power washing, but in the meantime, I scrubbed what I could reach (and fortunately, what is visible.)

Here’s the dramatic difference! The left is scrubbed and the right is not.

Awning difference half cleaned copy

Joel also replaced several of the windows so far. The renter left cracks in most of them, so we are updating them with new. This process is a bit of a pain, as the windows aren’t the same size as the standard windows say carried by Lowe’s currently. To get them custom, they would be on order for a month and cost more. So unfortunately this really adds time to each install as Joel has to get it as close as possible, but build a frame for each window to sit into. It’s sucky, but he does a great job making it look good.

Removed old window copy

Installing new kitchen window copy

Here’s the new kitchen window after being painted.

replaced front window copy

After the awning, I trimmed bushes, raked leaves and cut back the branches that line the property to the right.
All in all, a big improvement!

Front of Dresden 005 copy

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