Archive for ‘custom made invitations’

November 15, 2015

The House That Reading Built by Donalyn Miller

Source: The House That Reading Built by Donalyn Miller

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November 11, 2015

The Charm of Franklin

We’ve officially been in the new house 1 year. Well, at least had started painting it and had our first meal, sitting on the floor in the living room a year ago today. It was (and still is) a fixer-upper-in-progress. When turned over to us, it was a bit run down and A LOT dirty. We’ve put so much of ourselves in to it, to make it our own. Franklin (who I think of as a girl house, LOL.) still has a way to go, but that is usually the case with a 95 year old house. (It may be older, but the records show it was first sold in 1920. Before I go off on my litany of complaints about how the previous owners did things, let me tell you all about the awesomeness that is, The Craftsman.

I couldn’t find my ‘before’ pic that was worse, but here is the Google Earth pic.

Franklin before copy   Franklin house nov

Before we had officially closed (after the owners had moved out) I had started putting in my free-off-Craigslist stone and planting my end-of-the-season discounted plant stash and it paid off! The front flower beds look fantastic for being around such a short time. We have a garage, but I love parking out front. Walking up these 9 giant steps makes me feel fancy, like I’m about to enter a grand palace. Though I’m usually lugging a baby, with a bunch of stuff in tow, it makes it exciting to be home.

The original 9 foot wooden door was a bit marred up, but nothing several cans of metallic bronze spray paint couldn’t fix! Using this, made even the bits of wood putty and old brass kick plate look cohesive while keeping the natural wood grain.The lovely and spacious porch has only been partially painted so far, but has made a tremendous impact. The historic grey covered up the sloppy and mismatched toned tuck-pointing. The cool mint green makes the house’s accent pieces pop. The aqua blue porch ceiling is happy and relaxing when we sit out and enjoy hearing a neighbor’s band play on a porch swing that a friend was so cool to give us. My plans were that all the painting would have already been completed, but I step back and see all we accomplished thus far and try to be patient. Some day we’ll dig out the orange spray foam that the former owners used to fill in window sill cracks, (instead of replacing the wood ) and put on a slate roof to replace the current red nasty one, but the curb appeal has already been improved considerably.

Now onto the side yard.

Franklin house before side view copy  Franklin house Nov 2015 side view copy

Not as drastic a change as the front, but a much needed one. When Joel’s family came to visit his brothers and dad helped ripped out the chain link fence along the street and put up part of the wooden one. By the next week, Joel had built the back gate and we had the rest of the fence completed, then finished staining it in the Spring. It’s given us piece of mind to be able to let Arden out to play in the back yard (without wandering off!) and to have privacy when entertaining guests.

Lastly, there is the backyard, which was completely void of landscaping aside from a couple trees and some overgrown bushes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good completed backyard pic, but here’s some snippets. We brought in a trailer load of flagstone we removed from the Dresden flower beds before the sale. (Good thing, as the new owners got rid of the rest of it!) It went to define the outer portion of the firepit, as well as to line all the bushes. More loads of mulch, dirt and bags of stone were brought in to complete the fire pit, build new flower beds and a raised garden.

Franklin backyard before copy Side view of franklin backyard in the summer 2015 copy  Backyard photo from firepit copy While there is still so much we want to work on, like tearing down the raggedy, half-assed built raised deck to put in a pergola and eventually a roof top garden on the garage (some day!) We are extremely happy with our choice to purchase this home and live in this neighborhood. We have met so many pleasant people and become the best of friends with awesome neighbors Christine and Tim down the street, who share our passion for rehabbing houses. We also have a wonderful next-door neighbor, Karen, whose frequently visiting granddaughter, is a fun little girl for Arden to play with. It’s nice to be a couple blocks from 3 parks (The Franklin Park Conservatory, Wolfe Park and Jeffery Park & Nature Trails), and to live around so many beautifully built homes. This is the first time either of us have lived somewhere that we feel like we belong.

December 30, 2014

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

November 13, 2014

The Bittersweet End~

Our little house! (THEN)

When I was little, my dad would say “That was another lifetime ago.”, when asked about certain topics that he’d rather not discuss. For the longest time, I had no idea what he was talking about. But as we get ready to say good-bye to Walmar Drive, it all makes sense. I moved into this house the fall of 2003. In November. Almost exactly 11 years ago. It was my first house after all my apartment living. After leaving the house I grew up in. I claimed the entire upstairs for my work studio. With it’s gloriously well-made, built-in bookshelves, it would be perfect for all my cardstock I was quickly acquiring. My budding invitation business would steadily grow here. I met with countless clients in this room. Brides and grooms bursting at the seams with excitement to start their lives together. I would greet them at the door, “This place looks like my Grandma’s house!” many would say. It was true. On the outside, it rather looked kinda like my own Grandma’s house. A simple Cap Cod, built in the 1950’s. Then they would come inside and love the decor. It’s always been bright and colorful and happy. (Photo taken by C-Bus Magazine, an article about my business: dfmi designs)

Dfmi Design article in C-Bus magazine

I’ve hosted many dinners here and parties and get-togethers. I was always paranoid when the guest list would swell, more friends wanting to attend than declining. I worried how I’d fit them all. I’d try to rationalize it in my head. Thinking back to when I went to college parties with friends, people always crammed together and no one seemed to mind. Of course, there was beer involved, which did nothing for me and my introversion, but worked well for everyone else. Now though, good food and camaraderie is what ended up bonding all these guests together. First, it was wedding planning. Nothing was better than discussing your dress or reception with a bunch of other girls that were headed down the same path. Eventually, over the years the talks turned to meal planning, how to save money, kids and raising families. (This photo is from January 2004, in the hallway going upstairs.)

KnotMeeting15_OH011704

I brought my babies home to this house. Cam will never know what it’s like to live here. Arden, however, is excited for a bigger room. She’ll now have a walk-in closet and lots of space for toys. (Which means they will no longer be threatening to take over my work space.) For her nursery, I had chosen a bright, cheery green. As she got older she begged for it to be blue, because that was her favorite color. I thought for sure when I asked her what she wanted her new room to be she’d now pick pink or purple. But she requested the same green. Some days she’s excited and some days she’s apprehensive. I think it’s to make it feel more like her other one. As long as she has a magenta door too. That is the stipulation. LOL

Arden with sandwich copy

arden and Cam, cam on bed sept 2014 copy

I had my wedding in the backyard here. It was intimate and lovely. Just our closest friends and family. It was tons of work to pull together, but even more worth it once it was featured on Apartment Therapy. Random strangers commented on how cool it was to see Columbus represented and it almost won for our region in the ‘Room for Color Contest’. Which was even more impressive, because it wasn’t even technically a room. (Wedding photos taken by Lisa Penzone)

Room for Color contest Apartment Therapy

ty3 cropped blurred

There are so many memories, so much time spent here. It is comfortable, but we have outgrown it. It is hard to say good-bye.

(AFTER) Walmar ready to sell copy

http://www.kingthompson.com/property/details/162760/MLS-214042813/3335-Walmar-Drive-Columbus-OH-43224.aspx

November 5, 2014

the house hunt

It’s been several months since I’ve posted, mostly tending to that new baby and whatnot. That’s not all that has happened. For starters, Dresden sold in August! Yay! It was a complete-pain-in-the-ass, I-can’t-believe-it’s-gone type of experience. The kind where we were bonded with the house because we spent so much time there rehabbing it. We are so thankful to not have that to worry about anymore. A mortgage + renters don’t mix.

Then there was the house hunting. We spent free time driving around, looking at neighborhoods and hours online, looking at house interiors. Originally, we had our eye on a beautiful stone house on Cooke Road. In major need of a hearty power wash, along with gutter and shutter repair, we knew we could have it looking good in no time. The problem, it wasn’t for sale. Despite appearing abandoned, the owner supposedly worked out of the home and had it listed as a place of business. So sadly, we had to move on to more realistic properties that actually were listed.

Morrison copy

The first one we settled on was a complete rehab. A brick house on a cobblestone street, that was described as having minor fire damage on the 2nd floor. It didn’t. It had massive fire damage. The price was really low and the amount of work that it would take us to complete it was at least a year. It was lovely in a distressed sort of way. It had original molding, beautiful woodwork and a third floor that would have made an amazing workspace for me. We could imagine ourselves there immediately. The neighborhood was another story. At least 65% of the homes were vacant and in disrepair. A good investor could come in and restore the entire street in no time, but for us it wasn’t an option and so we sadly moved on.

Fireplace inside Morrison copy

The second house was over on Nelson Road. Another stone home with a bit of land, lots of trees and across from a large park. It was dated and had some disrepair on the outside, but pretty nice overall. The neighborhood was a friendly and rather diverse little community over in Eastgate, that has get-togethers at the Old Bag of Nails on the corner. Their Facebook page sucked me in and made living there sound magical. It was definitely priced right, but when we inquired about it, that’s when the problems started. Turns out, the current owners owed some major back taxes. So the list price wasn’t actually the real price, because then they added on $30,000 more dollars for back taxes. It had been taken off the market the day before and the realtor wasn’t interested in working with the sellers anymore with all their issues. We tried writing a letter regarding our interest to the owners, but received no reply. So the search was back on.

Nelson Road

We stopped looking for a bit until we came across house #3. The price had finally dropped and was looking to be a bit more in our range. We toured it. It has a lot of cool features we wanted like tons of windows, an awesome front porch and pocket doors. It’s livable, but needs some work to get it to how we’d like it to look. We’ve been in contract for over 2 months per the sellers request. It gave us time to get our house ready to sell. We were supposed to close last week, but last minute underwriting required we do more repairs that weren’t even addressed in the inspection. This week has been a waiting game and suddenly, we are closing today. I’ll post pics after we get it looking a little better. Wish us luck! 🙂

July 22, 2014

It’s THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.

And in case the title didn’t make you think of the fantastically 80’s hairband Europe’s song, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw

rubbing noses joel kissing belly use this one copy

This makes me feel a little better already.
Today I’m 39 weeks, 2 days. Basically, I’m due to have this baby any day.
To say I’m stressed about it is an understatement.
Well-meaning people ask me if I’m excited. The bizarrely, straight-forward answer is ‘no’. I’m about as excited as when I know something big is about to happen and I have absolutely no control on how the outcome will be. The apprehension, the fear, the suspense is not something I relish. Sure, other people are excited.
They also aren’t gaining 75lbs., sleeping only 45 minute intervals before either having to pee, waking up from pain, or experiencing the joy of acid reflux (all 3 have been going on for for the last couple weeks) OR having their body swell from heat so much that the skin feels tight and itchy and the only relief is going to be to have that darn baby.

The first time I read that to accommodate the growing fetus (ugh, I hate that word!), the mother’s ribs expand to make room for their organs. My mind was completely blown. Sure, the baby, ever-so-nonchalantly, can grow free and happy while the mother’s insides get squished and stuffed up their throat. That is some alien shit, right there though.

Arden hugging Cam in mama's belly copy

Sure, I had some of these issues while pregnant with Arden. With my rapid swelling/weigh gain that is a totally undesirable family trait, I was offered the sweet relief of being induced early. THEN, I was excited! I had an end in sight. Turns out though, that I was only dilated 1 cm. So that day, after 3 nurses and then finally my OB assaulted my lower half, I realized I had made a REALLY poor choice. Attempting to insert the balloon catheter into an opening too small, is extremely painful and that was only to get labor started. Pair that with not being allowed to eat and things got ugly.

There were some positives. The epidural was amazing. Then there was when Arden was actually born. Despite being covered in ick, I was in love immediately.
I’m sure that will happen again.
I wanted this baby for what seems like eternity.
It’s just been the 3 of us for so long, it’s hard to wrap my brain around what our family will NOW be like.
It’s challenging to try to comfort Arden when she says she feels left out because she has a different last name.
Joel has been wonderfully amazing and I’m going to miss my nightly foot-rubs.

Family pic on bench copy

Check back with me after the baby is born and we are all home safe.
OR after 4-6 months when I can (hopefully) fit into my regular-people clothes again. When I don’t spill food down myself at every meal. When I don’t eat chicken wings with such gusto that Arden says ‘Don’t eat the bone, Mama!’ When I only have to wake up every couple hours a night to care for a child instead of my current state. Then I hope to be able to feel completely different. Relieved that the anxious, exhausting wait is finally over. That labor is behind me and I will finally have that beautiful baby in my arms.

In the spirit of camaraderie, what was your most dumb-founding revelation about pregnancy or child-birth?

July 14, 2014

The TROUBLE with Hallie.

It started back at the end of March when we were finishing up Dresden. We stopped in to check on Hallie and drop off supplies. While we had been away 2 things happened. The first one was that the house that sat directly behind Hallie, covered in graffiti, peeling paint and a sagging porch had finally been demolished. The 2nd was that Hallie’s basement was now flooded.

Coincidence?

We had been notified by our contact at the Columbus Landbank, that if we didn’t purchase the other property, that this was the fate that would befall it. Earlier on though, we had decided that we’d stick with sturdier structures like brick, plus we weren’t in the financial position to take on another rehab. We even entertained the idea of purchasing the land that would connect right to Hallie’s backyard after the demolition. Then we came to our senses and realized we’d just pay more on taxes, have more grass to mow each week and in reality it would only benefit our potential renters. Which after considering putting up a fence in the backyard to prevent miscreants from walking through and dumping trash, it wasn’t an additional expense that we relished.

Hallie flooded basement copy (Shown here the water covering the bottom step.)

Obviously, this was NOT something that we wanted. We knew the drains on our end were all cleaned out. Joel had just snaked everything while working on the plumbing prior to the misadventures of Dresden. The correlation of the situation being tied to the other properties demolition seemed pretty clear. But Easter was upon us and as was our trip, so we took this time to clear our heads, hoping the situation would magically resolve itself.

It didn’t.

It took a months worth of calls to finally get a response back. The Head of Demo seemed concerned, took the info from Joel and said he’d call back. Instead, though, the Head of the Columbus Landback (the organization we purchased Hallie from) contacted us, denying any wrong-doing. He told Joel that our property/pipes were old, that we should contact our insurance company and that IF we could prove that it WAS INDEED THEIR FAULT, that maybe they could just give us the land as payment. Sounds a little shady doesn’t it? Why would that last bit even be offered up?

It was on us to prove that it was the City’s wrongdoing. Over the course of the last 4 1/2 months, we’ve pumped the basement of 1 1/2 feet of water 5 TIMES. It’s a large basement. It takes half a day EACH TIME. We were hoping the first time, that we could just pump it and be done. By the 3rd round, leaks were springing up all over the basement from the intense pressure. (I have a video, it’s disheartening and won’t load.) Even with the water gone, it was still being forced to find it’s way in. After the water has emptied, Joel has attempted to snake the drains an additional 2 more times hoping that there was just debris in the pipes. He reworked the the downspouts and drainage around the duplex in hopes it would help. When nothing worked, we finally had a company come out to verify the problem and provide a quote. $8,000 to rip it all up and repair the damage. When Joel presented the findings to the Landbank, at first the guy seemed forthright. He stated this incident had happened one other time. It was a process, it would have to go through City Council to get approved, but it would be taken care of.

Then he totally back-pedaled.

The Head of the Landbank called back. Now one quote wasn’t good enough, they wanted at least 2. In addition, he said we’d have to cover the expense upfront AND THEN get reimbursed by the City. Then there was also something about an easement and how the demolished property would be useless to them if they repaired our pipes and they couldn’t have that. (Which is really random since those pipes were connected to ours all along and worked fine previously.) It became astoundingly clear why more people didn’t purchase these properties. Instead of being our allies, the very folks that we thought we were all working together with to make Columbus better, in reality were more than willing to shut us down and not take any sort of responsibility for their ignorance.

Aside from dealing with the basement and mowing/weeding, we stopped working on improving the property. There’s no point unless this situation can be remedied. A considerable amount of new hardwood flooring was purchased previously and just sits, waiting to be laid. If nothing changes, we are faced with the decision of possibly handing back the property that we already sunk thousands into. All the nights after work, weeks, months we poured ourselves into, would be a complete waste.

So thoughts? Suggestions? At this point, I’m very disenchanted. I’m tired, we both are. The last thing I want to be doing is dragging a newborn to a rehab site because people cannot be responsible to do their jobs correctly. By now, it was suppose to be completed, rented and providing us with an additional source of income and the neighborhood with one more residence that didn’t look like an abandoned dump.

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

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).

November 4, 2013

Hallie the Duplex : Week 6

Well, it’s been a busy week and this post is definitely coming in late. We are drawing to a close on the outside. (Thankfully!) There has been a lot of detailed tedious work and I’m ready to be done with the outdoor and get started on the inside.

Brick pillar without mortar copy

Let’s start with tuck pointing.
Here’s the brick pillar with quite a bit of mortar missing. It makes it look run down.

Filling in mortar copy

After mortar gets mixed up, it is inserted like so, into the voids of space. Then smoothed out.
It’s messy, time consuming and sort of like trying to frost a very vertical cake.

Here it is dried. Still looking a bit disheveled, because it needs cleaned up with acid, but you can see a definite improvement.

Hallie Week 6 008 copy

Next up! Joel’s been working hard putting in the glass block windows. To help seal them and also to provide a more finished look, mortar goes on around the outside. It gets scooped up, mounded on and smoothed out. Here’s a close up of a basement window and then a street view.

Hallie Week 6 003 copy

Hallie Week 6 004 copy

New down spouts have been put up, giving the outside a more residential look. It’s amazing how all these seemingly minute parts of a building come together to really give it a sense of completion and ‘home’-like feel.

Hallie Week 6 010 copy

The finished flower bed that extends along the side yard (covering up the old, broken-up cement walk)

Hallie Week 6 009 copy

Here Joel is working on repairing the steps. He fashioned a frame out of boards and braced it. It’s an awesome improvement to the steps, as large parts were previously missing due to the previous metal hand rails that were there being ripped out for scrap.

Hallie Week 6 006 copy

For the finale this evening, we have the new wooden hand railings we built. We were able to use the large posts on the left that were already in place (saving time and money!) Joel deftly crafted a duplicate out of 2 x 4’s. I worked on caulking and painting it this weekend and it looks fantastic! Can’t wait to show you guys soon. Thanks for checking out our progress!

Hallie Week 6 007 copy

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