Archive for ‘quirky’

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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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.

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. 🙂

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?

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

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

January 23, 2014

I did my best.

Here’s some randomness for you.
Sometimes I like to write poems to express myself. (Man, I love to rhyme!)
That sounds pretty hokey, but lately I’m on this kick of trying to find more ways to make myself feel happy and less stressed.

I DID MY BEST.

When I was young
I loved to read, write and do art,
I was bad at math though,
and made to feel not-so-smart.

I would study hard
and barely pass the test.
It wasn’t any consolation,
that I tried my best.

Later I found people aren’t all the same,
some of us function more from our left or right brain.
Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do,
I put my efforts into what I knew.

It’s not like life magically fell into place,
the world is persistently in my face.
But don’t compare yourself to how others do,
focus on and strive toward, what works for you.

Believe that there is a reason or rhythm,
and things will reveal themselves with time.
Now when I lay myself down to rest,
I understand, I did my best.

If you are not familiar with the comedian, Dane Cook, he does a super hilarious stand-up routine about ‘I did my best’.

January 17, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 15 : Girl, Interrupted – Enter, Dresden.

Several years ago, when a boy and girl met, they each had a house. The boy’s house was bigger, but had been a foreclosure, so essentially a major-fixer-upper. The girl’s house was smaller, but felt like home, so that is where they resided. They did a bit of work to the boy’s house, including tearing down all the cardboard-type panelling that lined the upstairs and replacing it with 65 sheets of drywall (After a work friend who had been staying there split with his wife and punched holes in it). Plus, they installed a new master bath. The couple were crunched for time and cash and wanted to get this place rented out quick. They were new to being landlords and didn’t quite realize just how dishonest and nasty tenants could be. They are learning.

Here’s the video to give you a clue.
It sometimes gets dark, trying to adjust to the light, so please bear with me.
The video is charmingly set to the sounds of Joel installing a new kitchen door.

Here’s a blurry pic of what the kitchen looked like before the renters moved in.

Dresden kitchen before copy

Here’s the downstairs bathroom before they moved in. (Look, no sink ripped out of the wall.)

dresden bathroom before copy

Once we were finally rid of them (it took awhile!) and were out 3 months of rent (back to paying 2 mortgages!) We were handed violations from the City of Columbus for the excessive debris left on the front porch, the fenced in side yard, the garage and the boarded up front door. So needless to say, all rehabbing work ceased at Hallie and and we got started here. Seeing all the vandalism is a bit of a slap in the face to all the hard work we put in previously. Not to mention, we are on a deadline to get Hallie completed by March per the purchase agreement. It’s overwhelming and exhausting and a bit much for us to handle, especially when Joel’s work is forcing him to put in a ton of overtime with all the continual crisis there and I’m well, not as spry as I used to be.

The house is about 85% trashed out (the basement still has some.) We completely cleaned up the backyard, side yard and garage of it’s extensive ‘furniture’ (because they were the most disgusting mattresses and couches I’ve ever seen) and trash. Joel removed all the furniture himself one night (without telling me, until after because he didn’t want me to hurt myself) not to mention it was completely mice infested. A friend of his was supposed to help, but that fell through at the last minute. On the upside, bulk pick-up took the enormous mountain of furniture. So we were grateful for that at least.

IMAG1469 trash out copy