Archive for ‘Handy DIYers’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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April 30, 2015

Today, I made a complete spectacle of myself for one hundred dollars.

chuck norris approved

Let me explain.
We’ve been in contract with people to buy Walmar for 2 months.

Today was the day it finally, officially sold.
The entire process has been such an extremely trying debacle.
We pick up back in January, when we started working with our new realtor. She swore she could get it sold. However, after having it on the market a few weeks her optimisim completely faded and she wanted to drop the price. This was hard for us, because now it was under what it was originally purchased for. An offer did eventually come, of course even lower. The realtor insisted we accept. I declined and countered. I also sent over the receipt of a brand-new high-effeiciency furnace/ac installation after the buyer’s realtor stated that it was old and needed replaced.

Well fella, I rememeber that day very well, the day the furnace went out. Arden was only a few months old. I put her in a furry, little, cream snowsuit to keep her warm, quarantined off in a bedroom with a space heater. I froze my butt off, being upstairs working on an order, while the new install was taking place. It was before Joel. Ironically, he could have installed it for a fraction of the price and time. It cost over $5000. I rememeber it well and no, I wasn’t about to get short-changed over it. For those that don’t know, furnaces last a lot longer than 6 years, more like 25.

The realtor did nothing. She offered no support. She acted like it was her first sale, asking us if we had previous comps for sales in the area. (Wouldn’t this have been done first thing?!) It was at this point we realized once again we were on our own. I declined the buyers requests for new windows (for the few we didn’t replace) and for a new hot water heater. There wasn’t anything wrong with the existing one, they just wanted new. We pointed out that this was why the Home Warranty was being provided. Finally an agreement was reached with the buyers. Unfortunately, they were in a lease and either we could pay for them breaking it or continue paying the mortgage and utilities for the next couple months. So we did the latter.

Fast-forward to today. Our realtor was too busy vacationing to bother to show for close. The guy from the Title Agency was going over the price break-down for what was owed. He obviously wasn’t excited to be dealing with us. I’m sure my reputation of difficulty had preceded me. He explained how we had to have taxes pro-rated, escrow refunded and then he reached the Home Warranty. The price was inflated from what the realtor originally quoted. He argued that I had signed the contract and it was binding. When I disputed it, he then managed to find the counter offer, where I had previously requested a lower Home Warranty (because the realtor had tried inflating it before.) In a split second decision, I explained that I would not be signing the rest of the documents until it was corrected. Let me just say: AWKWARD. They told me the sale would fall through and that I could get sued. I said to get the realtor on the phone and get it fixed. After 10 minutes they came back fast-talking how they indeed managed to talk to the realtor and find a lower warrenty and how I would be refunded $100.

It’s not a huge victory, I know, but it’s my money. It didn’t effect their paychecks. (They probably all met for drinks after work to talk about that crazy *itch they had to deal with.) It’s not okay though. I’m taking a stand on being taken advantage of. (How often do they try to pull that with other sellers that don’t notice?) Afterward, as I called each utility to have them shut off, I could see the invisible ropes of my burden getting untied. One by one, they separated from me until an enourmous, unseen weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I may win my group’s weight loss challenge after-all. 🙂

99

February 9, 2015

The Story of My Success.

quote-winston-churchill-success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to-759

I started out in life thinking if I could just turn 18, I would be an ADULT and things would be amazing! I wouldn’t have to follow rules, do chores and listen to parents. I knew better. If I could only get my own place. If I only had a car, I wouldn’t have to ride my bike everywhere, even in the winter. If college applications didn’t go off the parent’s income even though I lived on my own, I wouldn’t have to wait to start when most people were finishing. If I didn’t have to work AND go to school, it would be so much easier to graduate.

Life is supposed to go a certain way, right? The idyllic childhood, the partying, yet scholarly trip through college. Which of course enables you to land a perfect job, IMMEDIATELY, because that is what college is for. To ensure that you, me, people in general, succeed in life. All that money paid out, all that higher learning is supposed to give you an edge. A step up.

From there it gets even better. It’s TRUE! You just have to meet the ONE. The right person you will spend your entire life with. (But do it in your 20’s or it will be too late!)
Once you find THAT person, it will be magical! There will be singing and dancing (at least in my version) and everyone is happy and life is easy. If you really want to achieve ‘The American Dream’ , then you get married AND buy a house! To add a completely blissful cherry on top, have children. Then your life is truly complete. And apparently there are no more goals to reach until you die.

That was how the version in my head went. I’m not sure exactly where I came to have those exact standards or ideals, but it turned out it was all kinda bullshit. I lived my life in sort of earnest, trying to become something. Someone important. Once I made it to California, I would be an actress. Once I had my invitation business, I gave myself 5 years, then I was going to be featured on Oprah. I wanted public acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. If only I had more money for advertising. If only I could get more exposure. If I just had unlimited resources and time…

success-really-looks-like

I’ll say one thing for getting older, it’s like a fantastical discovery. There are no set rules, there is no “I’ve been through so much crap that I should be good and have it easy for the rest of my life’. Believe me, I wish that were true. If you are one of the few whose life has gone exactly according to plan, then kudos to you! For the rest of us, it’s about learning. Joel and I were just half-joking the other day, about how we felt like we were all filled up on Life’s massive learning experiences for awhile. Because you know, they are rather all-consuming and overall just plain exhausting.

For now though, success to me equals getting Arden to school on time, fed breakfast. Her lunch and backpack in hand along with finished homework. It’s helping her navigate all the drama of getting along and interacting with other kids. It’s getting Cam fed solids as he flops around in his Bumbo seat, then to sleep when he’s extremely irritable. It’s working on the orders I do have, while dreaming up new ideas. It’s getting the insurance to finally pay the claim that collectors have been calling on for almost a year. It’s jumping through all the hoops to file with the City for our flooded duplex. It’s getting another room in the new house repaired/organized/painted/cleaned/livable.

The secret of my success is never giving up. Forever and always, persistent, stubborn and determined. It’s appreciating what I do have and respecting how far I’ve come. It’s knowing that I’ll accomplish so much more, as long as I keep trying. It’s being thankful for the support I have from Joel, who’s always amazing. (and that there IS the singing and dancing that I’d always hoped for!) It’s excepting that while my life isn’t a made-up ideal, it is one heck of an adventure that I’m fortunate to be a part of.

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 31, 2014

MISSION: Dresser make-over for nursery

Just because we weren’t working on Hallie, didn’t mean we had idle hands. As a matter of fact, it might be a condition. I’m not sure we really know how to relax. However, this sort of motivation does help us get a lot accomplished. Originally, we planned on buying a different house. A larger house. One that had more room for activities. Because we were having trouble figuring out where we were going to put this baby. The problem was, we weren’t really finding what we were looking for AND we needed to at least get Dresden sold. The upstairs here at Walmar is by far the largest room in our 1100 sq.ft. house. It has served as my work studio for the past almost 11 years. Joel has a desk that doesn’t get utilized very often and the space also provides a play area (much to my detriment) for Arden’s toys. Mostly though, upstairs is my domain with rows of printers, massive shelves of cardstock and envelope boxes stacked to the ceiling.

I like to be organized, but when it comes to my studio somehow that eludes me. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of crap. Cardstock isn’t a recyclable material, so I hold on to the bigger scraps in hopes that one day I will find a use. That also goes for misprints, ribbon remnants and handmade paper left over from orders. It adds up and it takes up space. Space that unfortunately, I had to come to terms with clearing out a bit, otherwise this kid was going to end up living out of a basket in our room.

One of the more enjoyable tasks for getting ready for this baby was redoing a crazy-looking dresser. I have had this thing for over 5 years, sitting in the garage after a neighbor put it out by the curb. It was an eyesore, but rather unique. Even though it was missing drawers, it was well-built and I saw potential.

Cam's dresser before copy

The front is a little unusual, as it curves in. The remaining drawers fit well, but had the odd blocks of wood screwed on the front of them. I was left to assume these were used as the drawer pulls. Joel made the executive decision to keep them on and as you’ll see, it paid off.
So I started with the priming. Then I painted the interiors without drawers pale blue.

Cam's dresser primed copy

In a shocking twist, I refrained from (mostly) pushing my aqua/teal fetish onto this child. His whale bedding we chose does have a hint of it, but I decided to go with a dark grey with pale blue accents for this piece. The weird looking fronts soon appeared to be waves, though were still lacking something to really set them off. Enter these super cool anchor knobs from Anthropologie! anthro anchor knobs copy

At $8 a piece, it caused me to pause. However the more I searched, the more I liked them and really feel like they tie it all together! After much searching, we found great felted storage bins at Lowe’s that fit perfect.

Cam's room dresser after copy

Here it is, all put together. Granted the walls don’t coordinate very well, because it’s a cozy corner of my workspace, but it’s what we are working with for now. 🙂

June 3, 2014

Dresden : For Sale

It took us 3 straight months to complete. During which time we had to put our duplex rehab project aka ‘Hallie’ on hold. On April 4th, we bid ado to the house we had lived and breathed our nights and weekends in. Ironically, I actually felt a little sad about the whole thing. We’d put so much work into it, pushed, pushed, pushed and was sort of left with an empty feeling once it was done. All our hard work passed inspection and the renters moved in.

THEN…
DUN DUN DUN.
After several weeks, the couple’s relationship fell apart and the woman moved out. Supposedly, taking some of the next months rent and his car with her. By the 2nd month, the guy couldn’t pay the rent in it’s entirety. After the previous renter, we weren’t interested in sob stories. That may sound mean but ultimately it comes down to us being responsible to the bank for the mortgage payment. We’ve already lost several thousand in unpaid rent, though thankfully insurance miraculously covered the repairs since they were considered vandalism. To say we are a bit tired of people trying to get a free ride off us is an understatement. So the agreement was, the next renter that was even slightly late on rent, we were going to put the house up for sale.

The renter was pissed, none-the-less. He said we were inconveniencing him (and a new girlfriend he moved in without signing a new lease, so he could get the utilities turned back on in her name.) He declared we were leaving him homeless and lots of drama ensued. We hadn’t evicted him, we let him know we’d honor the lease if he’d like to stay, as long as he paid. Obviously, that wasn’t an option, because after excessive scratching of walls/paint and floors he abruptly moved out. Receiving only a small portion of his deposit.

Now we had the arduous task of getting it sell-worthy. If you recall, the basement that was once crammed with garbage and filth was cleaned, but really needed painted.

BEFORE: Basement hallway
dresden basement trashed copy

AFTER: Walls painted, carpet ripped up, steps painted.

mms_20140603_4 basement hallway after joel painted copy
BEFORE: Basement after trash removed, cleaned up, new lights put in.

mms_20140603_5 bestment before paint copy

AFTER: Walls & floor painted. (This oil-based paint is some hard-core stuff. Poor Joel probably lost some brain cells those 2 days. I gallantly was spared.)
mms_20140603_2 basement after joel painted copy

The yard and flower beds were completely neglected. And of course, the interior needed cleaned and paint touched up in every room. So here we were again for several more weeks. The result is quite charming.

BEFORE:
This is a very unfair before photo. Taken in winter when the lighting is poor and there is zero greenery. It’s like those stupid weight loss ads when the before/after actors don’t even remotely resemble each other. Back then, I had all proudly trimmed up the bushes and did what I could without running water to clean up the front. It was a tremendous improvement at the time.

Front of Dresden after bushes were trimmed copy

AFTER: We rehabbed all the flower beds (creating a new one around the tree). The front was extensively power washed, as was the sidewalk and fence. The four black scroll metal pillars on the porch got a dose of white paint, which lightened up the entire front tremendously. We also painted the mail box, added a few cute details, like the wreath to make it more homey and there you have it.

Dresden, front view after landscaping , powerwash & paint

Finally, here’s an after of the backyard flower bed.

mms_20140603_3 back flower bed copy

Please send some good selling vibes our way!

May 2, 2014

Dresden : Week 9 It’s starting to come together!

As promised, I’m back to posting the final weeks of rehabbing the Dresden House. At the time, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Things weren’t going smoothly. The upstairs bathroom was attempting to be worked on, but the toilet kept leaking. INTO THE GREEN ROOM. WHICH WAS ALREADY FINISHED. It was sort-of disastrous. We had JUST REPAIRED the ceiling, now we had to cut a hole to allow the water to escape. It was less-than-fantastic. It’s at this time Joel began to call his skill set into question. It’s easy to feel like you are going to lose your shit when things keep going wrong. I honestly didn’t doubt him for a minute. It’s much easier for me to doubt myself then him. Joel is awesome, end of story, so I figured there had to be something else wrong. FINALLY, it was discovered that the toilet had a hairline fracture. So no matter how good everything else was put together, it was going to be an issue. Fortunately, we discovered it BEFORE the renters moved in, so that’s sort of an upside, right?

Anyway, crisis solved and onto the next project. Here we have the living room. Here’s some photos of this tragedy to jog your memory.

BEFORE:

Karman trashed Dresden, erehabbed livingroom 3 copy

Karman trashed Dresden, rehabbed livingroom2 copy

Karman trashed Dresden rehabbed  livingroom1 copy

Karman trashed Dresden slate entryway copy

Ever heard the term ‘elbow grease’? Yeah, a whole lot of that went into scrubbing this slate entry. I don’t have a good after pic, but you’ll be able to see it on the final walk-through video I took (that I’ll post in a couple weeks.)

AFTER:
For us, this room was one of the more stand-out transformations. The refinished hardwood really sets it off.

livingroom completed. dresden

livingroom front window dresden copy

Thanks for checking it out! I’ll have another room to view next week. 🙂

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 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