Apr 23, 2015

the renovation: exterior plans

We've been in our house for about a month now and we are so in love with it. There is still a lot to be done, of course, and progress has slowed down a little because of other obligations and the simple fact that we don't have to hurry to move in. But still, something gets done every week and each thing that gets checked off the to do list makes it look and feel even more like home.

Now that the main floor is livable and the weather has started to warm up, we're starting to focus our attention on the outside. The exterior of the house needs quite a bit of work and we also have a nice size parcel of land. Our first priority is replacing the roof because of leaks, and that should be happening in the next few weeks. This will obviously be a practical solution to a problem, but it will also be the first step in beautifying the long neglected exterior of the house!

One of our (Riley's) other focuses right now is on the creek in our side yard. Riley's been working hard at digging it out and cleaning it up. Firstly, because he likes it, but mainly because of some flooding issues that we've been having. A creek wasn't on my list of requirements when we were house shopping, but it sure is a nice perk and I'm looking forward to seeing it all cleaned up.

On the other side of the house we're thinking about making a nice outdoor seating area and fire pit. This will be a big project so it will have to happen in stages. We'll probably first focus on building a retaining wall and purchase a fire pit, and then plan on building a patio area and gas fire pit in the long run. 

We're both so glad to have our own yard space again and we just want to make the most of it! It was a lot easier to ignore the exterior when it was wintertime, which was a good thing since we needed to focus our attention on the interior in order to move in. But now we can't wait to start making the exterior look as fresh and new as the interior!

Do you have any outdoor projects planned for spring and summer?

Apr 9, 2015

favorite cleaning tools and tips

Every spring and every fall I get the urge to deep clean everything. This year, because of moving and nesting, my Spring Cleaning Fever is at it's highest ever.  

Now that we've moved into a new house and we're expecting a baby, I've started to rethink some of my cleaning routines and strategies. I would typically devote one day to clean our entire house (which has never been very big before now) and use the standard armful of cleaners, each one full of chemicals and devoted to a single task. When I started thinking about cleaning the new house, with all of it's untouched surfaces, and thinking about a new baby having access to them, I knew that the priorities for my new cleaning routine would be to maximize efficiency and minimize toxicity.

I'd like to share some of the new tips and tools that I've learned about recently, and then I'd really like to hear about some of your favorites as well!

A friend recently introduced me to Clean Mama. After taking one look at her blog, I quickly followed her on Pinterest and Instagram. She seems to have a great cleaning system in place so that she doesn't ever spend an entire day cleaning her house from top to bottom. I'm loving following her on Instagram because she posts daily reminders of her cleaning task for the day. For example, Tuesday is dusting day and Wednesday is vacuuming day. She's also currently in the middle of a spring cleaning challenge, and posts daily reminders of the day's extra task as well. There's something kind of nice about having a community of people working alongside you on their cleaning chores! So far I'm loving this approach to cleaning and would highly recommend following along with her on Instagram!

I also recently had a family member introduce me to Norwex products. I don't fall easily for these types of things, but I was hooked quickly, and can honestly say that their products have made me much more excited about cleaning and also more excited about the end results. I started out with the Norwex microfiber cloths and polishing cloth, and they work wonders on my windows, countertops and stainless steel appliances. I will never use windex and paper towels or stainless steel cleaner again. I've already cut back on time and effort by not lugging around a variety of different cleaning products for each room of the house. The basic idea behind their microfiber is that it contains silver fibers, which have self-purification properties. This means that bacteria is being eliminated with just the cloth and a little water. I'm no salesperson, but I am currently hosting an online party for friends and family, and if you'd like more information or if you'd like to try it out for yourself, I'd be happy to give you more information or you can follow this link: Allison's Norwex Party.

That's just the beginning of my new cleaning routine, but I'm honestly pretty excited about it, and I can't think of any other time in my life when I could say that! I'd love to hear what some of your favorite cleaning tools and tips are as I try to put these new routines in place. 

What is your cleaning schedule like? Do you clean a little every day or devote a single day to cleaning?

Do you have any favorite "green" cleaning products or any favorite recipes of cleaners that you make yourself? 

What is your biggest struggle when it comes to cleaning?

Apr 6, 2015

30 weeks

How far along: 30 weeks

Size of baby: a butternut squash

Maternity clothes: almost exclusively. Even my regular shirts that would technically still "fit" aren't long enough anymore to cover all this bump and that stretchy panel in maternity pants.

Gender: a girl!

Movement: quite a bit now. She's more of a squirmer than a kicker and she's had the hiccups a few times.

Sleep: still not happening.

What I miss: eating anything without worrying about acid reflux.

Food cravings: mango sorbet all time.

Food aversions: Anything that's likely to trigger acid reflux, which seems to be unpredictable for the most part.

Symptoms: Fatigue is starting to set in, as well as the nesting phase. But I'm not sure how much of that is attributed to moving and how much is attributed to pregnancy!

What I'm looking forward to: Our very first childbirth class is this evening and my first baby shower is this weekend!

Apr 1, 2015

currently… april (baby)showers

These four articles of clothing (yes, one is a bathing suit. I couldn't help myself) and a smattering of fragile and/or not kid friendly nursery decor are all we currently have for baby girl. First Time Parent alert?

wearing: maternity clothes. Fortunately, when I finally did get around to buying maternity clothes I bought them in anticipation of warmer weather, so I should be all set for spring!  Of course, with all the house work still going on, you're more likely to find me in my regular old leggings and t-shirts that still fit.

sipping: water, just plain old water.  I thought I was doing pretty well not missing any pre-pregnancy foods or drinks too badly, but every once in awhile I could really use some coffee or a nice glass of red wine. Although, just thinking about either practically triggers my acid reflux these days, so it doesn't make it too hard to resist.

wish listing: all the baby stuff! Between two showers of my own and the shower of my best friend from college (who is due with her first just two weeks before me!), almost every weekend in April is booked for baby showers. I just want to look at baby stuff all the time and I can't wait to start the celebrations!

writing: lists, calendars, and more lists. The month of March was all about renovations, and now the month of April is all about baby! I have lists of things to do, lists of things to buy, lists of things to research, lists of things to pack in a hospital bag, lists of things to decide… it goes on and on. Besides all of the lists, we also have a calendar full of times and dates for our birth classes, a newborn care class, and a breastfeeding class this month (I like classes, they make me feel better). Many people say that a first baby comes late, but just knowing that I myself was born 5 weeks early has me thinking that I can't leave anything important for May or June, just in case. 

exploring: options. Nursery decor options, birth plan options, pediatrician options… you name it, I'm thinking about it.

April is going to be so busy with all things baby, but I have been anxiously awaiting this month just so that I can finally start checking some of these things off. What a whirlwind of surreal and exciting things this month is going to be!

linking up with Jenna and Anne today.

Mar 30, 2015

the renovation: move-in ready or not, here we come!

Last weekend was the big "move-in weekend" and we've been living in the house for a week now! It feels so good to finally be here and not running back and forth trying to get things packed at the apartment and ready at the house at the same time. It's not "done" by any means, but it's certainly livable. At the time of move-in we did not have a bathroom door or vanity top (still waiting on that), and there was plenty of trim left to put up and paint, along with several other details. But it's all still moving along and every day we see some new progress.  I tried to snap a few "after" pictures of some of the rooms on the main floor in the few odd minutes that they were completely clear of any tools and construction dirt, or our piles of boxes. Some of the rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom, will deserve before and after posts of their own, but they're not quite ready yet.

I am absolutely in love with our foyer. Maybe it sounds silly, but I've never had a true foyer before and I've always wanted one. In this space we took down the faux wood paneling, had new plaster put on the walls and ceiling, had the floors refinished, changed the light fixture, and gave everything a fresh coat of paint.

Even though it seems like dining rooms are going out of style with the preference for open concept floor plans, I had never had one of these either, and am really looking forward to using this space. So it's another favorite (honestly, I could say this about almost every room). This room was completely gutted to it's studs, because after we removed the wall paper and paneling, the walls were in pretty bad shape. We also removed half of the wall that separates it from the kitchen, which I'll show in the kitchen post in the future. This room got new plaster board and new plaster, refinished floors, a new light fixture as well as can lights, board and batten and a fresh coat of paint. Currently, the window trim is back up and ready to be painted, and of course, Riley was (finally) okay with taking the cardboard paper off of the floor.  

The before and after pictures of the living room are from opposite sides of the room, but I think they still show its transformation pretty well. This was one of our lower maintenance rooms, and was good to go after new plaster, paint, and refinished floors.

Not only was the office (now officially the nursery!) a horrible shade of green, but it had a built out closet that took up a good portion of the room. Even though we are short on closet space in this house, we decided to go ahead and tear it out. Again, this room got new plaster and paint and refinished floors.  I still can't believe what great condition all of the floors were in. We are so thankful that there was so much carpeting and linoleum that kept them protected!

We decided to make this room, which we were considering a den, our temporary master bedroom until we renovate the upstairs. We removed the paneling, had the plaster and floors refinished, and painted the walls. We were pretty excited about the wood trim in this room, especially since it cut back on the painting! Although why the window trim was painted we will never know…

We are so incredibly happy to be living here and are excited about all the changes that are still to come. I'll be sharing the kitchen and bathroom as soon as they are ready, as well as some of these rooms as we get them decorated. And of course, we still have the entire exterior to come! This renovation has been an overwhelming task at times, but so far the process has been fairly smooth and so rewarding. Thanks for following along with us!

Mar 20, 2015

winter in the city

This winter season brings our one year (and one month) of downtown apartment living to an end. And all I really have to say is, it's time to move on.

I really have enjoyed the opportunity to live in a downtown apartment, and I would do it all over again. But just like our sailing experience, there was a definite moment when we realized we were done and ready to go "home." Funnily enough, the end of both experiences coincided with winter weather. But let's face it, nothing is quite as enjoyable or convenient in winter as it is the rest of the year.

It's interesting how quickly we start taking small conveniences for granted. We moved into the apartment straight from the sailboat, so automatically everything seemed bigger and easier and just plain more enjoyable. The living space was small, but much larger than the boat, and the kitchen had a dishwasher and a fridge and a regular sized oven! We had to walk up and down three flights of stairs to bring loads of groceries in or take the dog outside to the yard space, but hey, we actually had a car to transport our groceries, and we didn't have to use a dinghy just to get to shore!  Even noisy neighbors seemed amusing rather than annoying after spending so much time by ourselves.

Eventually the novelty of these things began to wear off. Combined with the fact that a lot of the benefits of living downtown, like walking to dinner and outdoor festivals, weren't really feasible in the winter, and the fact that we're looking forward to moving into the house that we're renovating, we're ready to say goodbye to downtown living. Some people are cut out for it, and some people aren't. I was cut out for it for exactly one year, no more, no less.

One highlight of this winter that I will always remember fondly is the first day of the first real snowfall. The city was so quiet and pretty, and we bundled up and walked down the street to the best pizza place and it was the perfect way to spend our first snow day of the year downtown.

I am so grateful that we were able to have this experience, and even more grateful to be moving on to a new place that we are excited about calling "home."

Mar 13, 2015

the renovation: a progress report

So much progress has been made on the house in the last couple of weeks!  The hardwood floors have been refinished, Riley laid the bathroom tile, and the kitchen cabinets, appliances, and countertop have all been delivered and installed. Every bit of progress has been such an exciting step and it's all coming together just as I hoped it would, and maybe even better. Right now, every room is in need of some varying degree of paint and trim work, and these things seem to take forever! This house, with it's walls, ceilings and abundance of trim, needed a lot of paint, and we wouldn't be even close to the point we're at now without the much appreciated help of my mother in law, my parents, and my sister in law. The good news is that we're making some serious progress on that front and that the paint color choice was a success! (Whew!)

This weekend and next week we'll be focusing on more trim work and more painting, and a few more details (like finding a bathroom door), before we're finally ready to move in. The main floor won't be completely finished by move-in, but it will be close enough, and it will certainly be easier to get some work done in the evenings without having to travel back and forth from the house and apartment.

I can't wait to officially call this house "home!"
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