Playing With Fire

We've made a few minor changes to our fireplace this season. Minor changes with huge benefits. And all the was required were two purchases! No power tools, drilling, hammering, etc. Easy stuff - pretty nice when that happens, right?
First, we bought a new fireplace screen last weekend. We purchased the mission studded fireplace screen from Restoration Hardware. The picture below is a "before" and is of our old screen. The screen came with the house. It was a tri-fold and stuck out about five inches. And it was ugly. At least in our humble opinions.

The new screen is a flat screen and it fits just over the opening for the fireplace. A near perfect fit. It gives us a lot more space in that area. Our second purchase was a new grate. It is designed more up and down than our old greate (sorry but I don't know the official terminology) and really keeps the smoke from filtering out of the fire box and into the house. Instead, the smoke filters up through the chimney. We had a big problem with the smoke smell last winter. It could really be overpowering at times. This helps so much! What a great investment!

The picture below shows the new screen and the new grate. Oh yeah - and the featured puppy is Shelby! She loves the fireplace.


Images of Christmas

In an effort to keep blogging during this busy time (I'm in my last two weeks of the semester which means, papers and tests and all sorts of great things) some of my posts will be really short.

Anyway, I am in love with this Christmas mantel design. It is from Pottery Barn (some people hate PB but I happen to be a big fan.) Love the Christmas images it evokes - simple yet has a warm, holiday feel with the candles, stockings, and pictures of friends and family on the wall above the fireplcace. Maybe next Christmas our mantel will look similar!
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Choose a color, already!

This is our living room wall. Can you tell we're trying to decide on a color? Well, I should say we were trying to decide on a color. I've finally decided to give in and go with my husband's number one choice - the olive green color - the middle color in row of three. I still think it is going to be a bit too dark given that the trim color in the living room is very dark but the color of the blinds we're going with are pretty light so...anyway, Chad's usually right so I'll just go with it.

I'm kinda scared but...
(haha, I'm just kidding, Chad!)
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Possible Porch Lights

For the past few months we've been looking at ways to light our front porch and our side entrance. The house came with lights for both but about 10 months after moving in our front porch light just decided to quit working. Not altogether shocking but kind-of annoying - more so when people are coming over and we have no way to light up the front porch. We haven't been that aggressive in looking at lights thus far because Chad is in the process of re-wiring the house anyway so it will be a few months before we have totally switched over. In the mean time, it gives us time to to research and dream about "One Day." (When aren't we doing that?!)

We've looked several places, mostly online. One of our strong finalists has come down to Old California Lantern Company. They have some great looking products although we haven't talked to anyone who has bought anything from them. (If anyone out there has any experiences - let us know!)

Specifically, we're looking at the 40 Hillcrest series. Here is the one for the front porch:

Below is the light we're considering for the side porch. That porch is built differently so we'll have a hanging light there. I'm not too crazy about the link chain it hangs from but I love the light fixture. Of course, both lights will be in the same finish. Probably very similar to what is shown in the image above.

Hopefully we'll be getting these sometime in the next few months. There will definitely be a pic on here once they are installed!


First Snow of the Season


Last week we had our first snow of the season. I couldn't resist taking a picture of our street. I think it looks homey. Especially in black and white. Posted by Picasa


I'm Baaaack

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Well, I guess I was a bit overzealous with my promise to update the blog more often. It has been about 6 months since my last entry! oooops.
I'm going to try to keep this thing updated. But I'm afraid to promise anything again.
In our personal lives lots has changed since the last time I wrote.
- I started graduate school full time and
- Chad got a new job. All is going well on both those fronts.
- We got a new puppy! She's a blonde lab (but more of a red color) and her name is Shelby. We've been enjoying her energy - she's so cute!!
- We became Uncle Chad and Aunt Carmen to baby Elsa on August 26! Talk about cute! That baby is the chubbiest, sweetest thing EVER!
- We celebrated our One Year Anniversary yesterday! whew!
House-wise not that much has changed, unfortunately. With the career changes there has been even less income to go around. I might have mentioned this already, but we did get some insulation foamed into the walls. Even though we have only had a handful of cold winter days thus far, the insulation has been the best thing to happen to the house. The other day the words "I'm hot" were actually uttered. That has never happened before since we moved in! Chad was very happy to hear it. We are going to be buying some blinds for the whole house soon which is a huge thing for us. And the floors are slated to be re-finished early spring. And then we can actually paint the walls.
Okay, so there are no pictures in this post but that's because I'm not at home right now. Pictures to follow soon, I promise! :)


Here a Tree, There a Tree

What do you do when you enjoy the beauty of landscapes, flowers and trees yet do not enjoy the labor and planning that goes into it all?
You thank your lucky stars that you married a Landscape Architect.
My husband, Chad, is a Landscape Architect who is very talented at designing (and even installing if he gets the opportunity, which is rare) landscape plans. Right now he works at an architecture firm and mostly does plans for public schools. However, our collective dream is to one day have enough resources to make the outside of our home as beautiful as those that grace his imagination.
(When he reads this he is going to be mad at me for complimenting him on the internet! Oh well...I'll take the risk!)

When we bought the house we had some landscape features that we weren't too crazy about. There were some bushes along our front porch that weren't exactly our style and also hid the front porch more than we would've liked. Also there was a lilac bush with wisteria growing in it that was beautiful when it bloomed (I saw it the first time I looked at the house with the realtor) but when it wasn't in bloom it was just horrid looking. There was also a HUGE tree too close to our house that Chad insisted was dead. He is also a Certified Arborist, so I guess I had to believe him! What it boiled down to is that we wanted to remove it all.
So in the beginning of last summer, that is exactly what Chad did.
Removing all of the bushes and anything in our yard was the first major project that was tackled as well as burying all of the downspouts. It was a good project to start with as we got to know many of our neighbors. Most of them complaining to Chad that he was making them all look bad!
Chad tore out the bushes in the front yard and the lilac bush by himself. Luckily for us, the huge tree that was in our yard was actually on the city's property and they removed it for us.
Before removal.
After removal.

The city has also came and ground the stump which makes our yard look much better. Just to be perfectly clear here, we are certainly not in favor of chopping down trees - only dead ones that pose a possible threat to your property.
As you can imagine the removal of everything in the yard left many blank spaces. Chad loves trees and considers them the pillars of a good landscape plan. So buying and planting trees was a natural start for us.
Since last summer we have bought and Chad has planted -
three crabapple trees in the front yard, here they are in bloom this spring:

a dogwood in the back yard:

an ironwood in the side yard by our garage:

a blue spruce (sorry - this is not a great picture):

and we just bought three new trees (I can't remember the name of these) to plant near where the old, huge tree used to be:

For the moment that is going to be it for the trees (I think!) The only landscape feature we plan on doing soon, hopefully this summer, is adding a fence to the back yard.
Since I have probably bored everyone to death talking about trees, I'm going to end this post.


Where, Oh Where Have We Been?

I'd like to apologize for not writing in so long! It is deplorable and irresponsible and I feel just horrible.

Can you forgive me?

You can? You will?

Oh, thank you! I promise not to let you down again! Okay, I'm making a promise to myself and to you that I am going to write more often from now on!

So, now that we have that all behind us we can start anew and I'll try to catch you up on what has happened in our month and a half absence. House-wise and other wise.

Do you want the good news first or the bad news? I'm going to go ahead and get the bad news out of the way. You may remember a post in April about our dog Harley. Har was sick for over a month - one morning in late March we woke up and found he wasn't able to walk on his own or use his back legs. After several vet visits, medicines and even a surgery, Har just didn't get better. On May 25 we had to put him to sleep. It was, by far, the hardest decision that we have had to make but it was clear to us that Har just didn't have the will to live any longer. When he was feeling well Harley was known to eat anything that would come across his path or that he could sniff out. However, the morning before we put him down, I tried to feed him a donut (which I never would've done before) but he wouldn't eat it. He wouldn't eat anything. He wouldn't use the bathroom. He wouldn't bark or lift his head, wag his tale, play with his toys or act happy to see us anymore. That's when we knew it was time. It was very hard for us but, cliched as it may sound, we truly believe that he is happier now and running in some big field chasing squirrels and eating chocolate!

Okay. Whew. Enough bad news! On to good news!

So what have we been working on since our last post? The never ending wallpaper and glue removal from the plaster walls. The beginnings (the very, very beginning) of the re-wiring of the knob and tube electrical in our home. All this in preparation for our foam insulation to be sprayed into our exterior walls.
That's right! We're getting insulation. More specifically, we're having Icynene type insulation sprayed into our plaster walls. It will be our first major project and basically only one of the two things we're planning to have contracted out - the other being refinishing the floors when we can afford it (at least for now).

Because we are under a deadline as far as the insulation quote is concerned, we've been working as diligently as possible to have the glue cleaned off the walls and the holes for the electrical, phone and internet outlets cut. Also in prep for the insulation we are going to have to run all of the wires (electrical, phone and internet) as we won't be able to do so easily once the insulation is sprayed in the walls. Finally, we are going to drill one inch diameter holes in all of our exterior walls starting at roughly 36" from the floor and then every 16" apart until we reach the ceiling to facilitate the installation of the insulation.

SO....! That means once we have the insulation sprayed in, we'll be able to fill the holes, sand, prime and paint. Which then means we'll be able to hang the various pictures, mirrors, wall lights, shelves, vases, sconces and ceiling fans that have sitting in boxes in two spare bedrooms over the past year! I can't wait.
I wonder what it will be like to go to my closet without running into the various boxes we have had since the end of last summer! Stay tuned - details to follow.

(I promised.)


Scenes from our house...

Built in cabinets in bathroom.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. We were in Florida for a while for a wedding. I wish we were still there because the weather here as reverted back to February and it might actually snow tonight! Ugh! I'm so mad.
At least the cold weather made it a lot easier to work on my walls today but it's still depressing.

Spring! What happened to you? Come back to us!

In an attempt to catch everyone up on what our house looks like and also cover the fact that nothing as changed except for glue coming off the walls, today I am posting more pictures of some of the features that sold us on our house.

Today's special: the bathroom. The pink, purple and green bathroom.

I'll be honest, when we first started looking at houses we only knew that we were attracted to older homes and more specifically the bungalow style homes. When my eyes first met the pastel-ness of this bathroom, I had no idea that it was historically correct. Honestly, I just thought it was ugly.
I have since changed my mind. Even though our 5'2" x 7'8" bathroom is smaller than most closets of brand new homes (my in-laws are building a house and their shower is bigger than our entire bathroom!), I have fallen in love with our pastel lavatory. It is unique and yet another reminder of how we didn't fall prey to the larger, cookie cutter homes that other people our age tend to buy.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course, just not for us.
We will, however, have to do some updating to the bathroom. For one thing, the outlets are outdated. My hairdryer won't work even with the adaptors. The tub/shower is right next to our wood casing around the window and our wood built-in cabinets. For now it is okay, we have a shower curtain in front of the window that protects from water but I am worried about the moisture in general ruining the wood. We also need to add a fan for ventilation.
We have been tossing around ideas of how we will change the bathroom. I think the major things we'll do is change to a pedestal sink and perhaps a new toilet. The toilet is original but it doesn't really work all that well. It takes a lot of coaxing, which is really annoying when you have guests over. The other major thing is getting a clawfoot tub but we'll have to do something about the tile. I don't want to have to take out the tile but I'm hoping we will be able to match it with lots of patient research and probably a significant amount of money! Oh and, of course, we will eventually remove the wall paper. I'm not a flower pattern kind-of gal.
For now, it is a totally usable bathroom and we'll have to live with it a while longer before anything changes in there. We would like to have another bathroom before we tackle this one.
One more thing, there is a line of the pinkish-purplish tiles missing and someone replaced them with cheap, shiny white tiles. I would like to replace those but I am having a horrible time finding something that matches. This is probably the same problem we'd run into with the floor tile. Oh well, more research and that's always fun. For me anyways.

Tile on bathroom floor.

Bathroom when we moved in, May 2004.



It's The Little Things (continued...)


The first thing we changed in the house was beginning to tackle the vinyl wallpaper on our plaster walls. That is still a work in progress. The second improvement we made was not only aesthetic but for safety reasons as well. That was changing the back door knob and adding double cylinder locks to all of our doors.

Above are before and after shots of our back door. When we moved in the back door had the shiny, brass knob and lock. They were probably only a few years old. But it just didn't fit in with the rest of the house. We have two other doors that have original door handles and locks but we added the same double cylinder deadbolt locks as you see above. The locks are Baldwin and are very heavy and sturdy feeling. And the finish is the oil rubbed bronze. Finding these locks actually took considerable research. But we were so happy with the results.

Like we like to say, it's the little things that make us happy here!


I really hope this isn't too gross to show on our blog!! This is what our dog, Harley, looked like the day after his surgery. Poor guy!

Harley comes home from surgery.

Our Patient

Unfortunately, our most recent project has been our dog, Harley. About three weeks ago his back legs suddenly went out on him. And I mean suddenly. As in, we woke up one morning to get ready for work, as per usual, and found that five year old, one hundred and nine pound dog couldn't walk. After numerous vet visits and vet conversations and two emergency vet visits plus one surgery, we finally have a dog that is walking (better).
He had the surgery on April 4. I've posted some pictures of what he looked like when we brought him home. We were so surprised by the amount of hair they had to shave!! We call it his reverse mohawk. You never know, he might be starting a fashion trend!
The doctors initially thought he had a slipped disc. But after a myelogram, which he had right before surgery, they couldn't find anything substantially wrong with his discs. We opted for the surgery anyways. The surgeon found a fatty tumor which he removed.
We picked him up the day after the surgery and he seemed to be doing about 75% better. But by the weekend we had to take him back to the emergency vet for a catheter and a shot of Prednisone. Now he is almost back to the old Harley! We are so happy to have him back and hopefully he will be able to take long walks again soon! We are all missing the good weather that is on it's way back!


Another shot of the Living Room and the front door. April 2004.

Dining Room December 2004.

Living Room Looking Into Dining Room. April 2004.

Living Room April 2004

More Changes

I started to show you some of the changes we've made so far to the house and there are a few other things I'll share. But I was thinking that maybe I'll show some pics of what the house looks like in general. For now, I just started with the livng room and the dining room. Obviously, most of the pictures I've shown were before we moved in. Except for the dining room picture taken in December. That was my feeble attempt at decorating for Christmas. Somehow when you have wall paper half way off the walls and ladders and drills sitting around, it just doesn't totally feel like Christmas!
Anyway, you can't really tell in the pictures but there was wall paper on all the walls, the thick vinyl kind. I already talked about that in another post. Unfortunately, the place doesn't look that much different. We just have some furniture in the house now. We still have those nasty curtains the house came with. Hopefully, later this year we will be getting new blinds throughout the house. First we have to get the walls clean, get insulation, rewire the electrical, paint the walls....well, you get the idea!! Priorities....


Living room wall: with glue on the left and without wall paper glue on the right. Does it get any more exciting than this? But really, removing the glue is hard work but feeling the smooth plaster and seeing the room lighten up sans glue is rewarding!

Our first attempt at removing the vinyl wall paper. We quickly abandoned the wall paper steamer! June 2004.

Changes So Far

Like I said in an earlier post, we have lots of dreams for our home but thus far have had limited resources. Our big project last year was saving for our wedding which was this past November. Now we can focus more on the house.
But we did have the chance to make some changes here and there. It's the small accomplishments that keep us motivated!
One of the first things we did was start to remove the wall paper. Our plaster walls had/have wall paper on every single wall. Thankfully, I feel like we've been fairly lucky as there has been only one layer (so far) of wall paper, which makes it tons easier to remove. Above is a picture of my husband and I when we first started to take the wallpaper off. Now we have the paper off in the living room, the dining room, the kitchen and the hall. BUT removing the paper isn't the hard part.
The hard part is removing the glue from the plaster walls. You would think after six months of dreary, cold, midwestern winter that I would have all the glue removed from the walls.
You would also be drastically wrong! Why remove glue when you can curl up on the couch next to a fire and watch movies all day?
The glue is gone from the dining room and almost all of the living room. Above is a picture of what a wall looks like with glue and without glue. Only 15 walls to go. Or something like that. Sigh.

Our house as we bought it in May 2004.

New to this blog thing

I just wanted to put a note out there that I am going to be messing with this thing over the next few days or so to figure it out. So if things look a little crazy and unorganized...that's because they are! Just bear with me while I figure out what I'm doing!

In The Beginning

Finally! I've been reading house blogs for about a year now and I've been wanting to have one of our very own since about the time we bought our house. So here I am ... joining the ranks of all you other house bloggers out there. I'll try my best to make it as interesting and informative as the ones I read on a daily basis. I'll try to update as much as I can but sometimes there isn't a lot going on at our house due to either lack of time, money, or just pure laziness, there may not be posts everyday.
So on to the real purpose of the blog ... our house.
We (we being myself and my husband) purchased our house in May of 2004. It is our first home. It was about the first or second house I actually went to look at. The first time I saw the house, I knew that I was very interested in it. I saw immediate potential in the hardwood floors, chunky woodwork (all original, intact and in a dark mahogony color) and even the purplish pink and green tiled bathroom. Sure, there needed updates here and there (like the hideous 1970s kitchen) but I really, really liked the house. I snapped lots of pictures because my husband (at that time my fiance) was finishing school in Florida. So I would go look at a house and send him pictures. He really liked the house as well. Less than four weeks after thinking "maybe we should buy a house instead of moving to another apartment" we were at the closing table signing millions of papers.
And just like that, we were the owners of a cute bungalow in a historic part of town with lots of dreams and hopes for the house. And little cash to make them happen right now...but one day!
Let the fun begin...