Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Piece of House History

A couple weeks ago when we were working on the bathroom, I mentioned that we were looking for something to do with the wallpaper swatches we saved from the dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. We bought this house because we fell in love with its character and history, even if parts of it did look a little dated. So we wanted to preserve some of that history and put it on display for any guests we have, and if the previous owners ever stop by.

We had received a collage frame a little while back as a gift and decided that it would be great to combine the wallpaper swatches with some shots of the house while it was "in progress". (Ok, it's still in progress, and will probably always be in progress, but these were taken as we moved in.)

I wish we had more photos of the house as it was when we bought it, but we didn't have a camera at the time. My mom did take a bunch whenever she came to visit, but we started pulling wallpaper off the day we bought the house so she didn't have a chance to get a lot of "before" shots. Now we have a camera and everybody gets to see the evolution of our home (since I don't think there is ever quite an "after", just completed steps).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

By Special Request

Thanks Farah, for reminding me it was time to get my butt in gear and put up a few shots of our tiny sprouts and other random green-ness happening on our micro-estate. I had just enough sunshine to get some photos, but when will we have enough that I can actually get back out there and actually plant some more things?

It's only a real garden if your rows are crooked...
Romaine lettuce 
One of our pea rows
Hens and chicks
Blueberry blossoms
Strawberry blossoms (and dandelions)
The berry patch
Next round of planting will be potatoes, another row of spinach, and carrots. And since I think we are past the danger of frost, green beans can probably go in too.

Oh, and speaking of growing things, this is by far our biggest project:

The approximately 29-week bump

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome to Our Crib

Once the carpet was in place, we were gung-ho to get the crib and dresser together. With a small room that has a large window, two separate closets, and the main door, it was a little tricky to find furniture that would fit. After a lot of online searching, we determined that a crib and changer combo would be the best fit since we have one long wall it could go on. We ordered the combo piece online from Target and it was sitting in its box in the dining room for about a month and a half. Quite an attractive addition to the decor. Then the trick was finding a dresser to match. We finally stumbled across one at Babies R Us that is a very close match. We had checked out Goodwill and some used furniture places, as well as a couple "real" furniture stores, but things either weren't the right fit or were way too expensive. The dresser we bought is plenty sturdy enough for little kid clothes.

Of course, Keith was thrilled that both pieces of furniture were assembly-required. What a trooper. He put the dresser together pretty much by himself as soon as the carpet installers had left.

The crib construction was a joint project, in which I read instructions and found the right pieces and then watched Keith do all the manual labor. In which I forgot to take any photos except of the finished crib. But everybody knows what furniture construction looks like: packing material, random fasteners, one dinky allen wrench, and mass confusion. You get the picture.

I just realized the hamper under the changer is missing its knob because I unscrewed it take along to find matching stain for the glider Keith is refinishing. We'll catch you up on that when it's finished. Or refinished, as the case may be.

MTV's "Cribs" has nothing on this, fo' shizzle.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Newest Thing in This Old House

One of the things we really wanted to do in the baby room was have carpet put in. The flooring in there was an old linoleum-type floor, probably made with asbestos. Which means it couldn't be pulled up to get to hardwood flooring so carpet seemed to be our best option. We were told by two separate flooring people that the floor wouldn't be any hazard as long as it wasn't tampered with and carpeting over it was probably the most effective means of containment.

Our carpet wish list was pretty short:

1. Should hide dirt
2. Should be soft enough to be comfortable to sit and play on
3. Should not have too deep of a pile (Bert needs to be able to run matchbox cars across it)

We started our search by going to a local flooring place and found some options we really liked, and one was even made with recycled nylon fibers, which was a bonus. Unfortunately, when we got the estimate, they wanted over $900 to carpet the room, which is just larger than 8' x 10' and a simple rectangle. That was just out of the question, especially when he told us it was only about 2 hours of work for 2 people.

So, our next venture was Lowe's. They were actually having a sale (which they probably run every other week or something) that if you bought any Stainmaster carpet and pad, basic installation was free. Sounded pretty good to us. We brought home a swatch board (they let you take them home for a $25 refundable deposit) and mulled over color for a couple days. Keith wanted a little greener color, I was leaning towards tan. Our decision was made when we looked at the names and the tan was called "Sandy Cove". The woman we bought the house from is named Sandy and this used to be her room.

Mocha test drives the carpet for comfort. She gives it a 10.
In the meantime, they sent someone out to measure and give us a price. Grand total was right around $475. Much more in the range we were thinking. So, we placed our order and while the carpet came in within about a week, we had to wait a few more weeks until they had an open day to install it that worked for Keith to stay home.

The installers came right on schedule and Keith reports that it only took them about an hour and a half to do the job. They even said it was the easiest room they've done in a long time. We are very happy with our choice and the animals agree.

We did have to remove the closet doors and the main door and Keith will trim the bottoms because they didn't have enough clearance to swing open and closed without dragging on the carpet.

One step closer to be ready for Bert!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Last spring, our first in our house, we were surprised by all the flowers blooming along the foundation. Though we knew what to expect this year, that doesn't make them any less gorgeous. They are a little blown over by yesterday's storm but seem to have held up alright. Check it out.

 And then there's this little loner, hanging out in the yard off the edge of the patio.

Happy spring!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Coming Out of Our Shells

With spring closing in on us, we're happy to be shedding our coats and gloves and getting outside. Apparently, Cash feels the same.

For those of you who have not been formally introduced, Cash is our red-eared slider turtle. He occupies a 65-gallon tank in the laundry room and would like more space if we had the room for it. When we bought him at a carnival, his shell was slightly larger than a quarter and he was bright green. Hence the name Cash. Well, that and because $15 seemed expensive for a pet we were pretty sure would have the longevity of a goldfish you win at a fair. But nearly four years and three tanks later, he's still swimming, but now he's about 10 inches nose to tail.

Keith gets all the credit for keeping him alive (especially because I make frequent suggestions about putting him in the creek for an "adventure" so that I can reclaim 20% of the laundry room). Cash consists on a custom blend of chicken, fish, fruit, vegetables, mealworms and crickets that Keith cooks and chops and freezes a couple times of year. He also gets live feeder fish on occasion and usually eats a couple and then we are convinced that he likes the company because he has four little buddies swimming around in his tank that have been there for months. 

Back to the shedding part though. Cash is evidently going through a growth spurt, because tiles of his shell are falling off. Kind of gross. They aren't as hard as you think, and are quite thin and papery as they dry.

No, Killian's is not part of his regular diet. The bottle cap is just there for size reference. Neither of us are sure what to do if he gets any bigger because we frankly don't have any place else for him to go. Keith has suggested an enclosed habitat with a pond in the basement. (I think that sounds like a creepy thing that middle aged bachelors have in their houses.)

Oh, did I mention that red-eared sliders can live up 90 years under ideal conditions? Let me tell you, we had no idea what we were committing to when we bought this little guy. Impulse pet purchases are generally not a good idea. We are going to have to put Cash in our will, and not the kind of cash that anybody is looking for as an inheritance. 

Let me end by saying:

4 yr old turtle. Comes with 65 gal. tank and stand. Free to good home. 

Oops. Did Keith see that? 'Cause he would never get rid of Cash, his claws are in too deep.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting Our S*@# Together

While we've been thinking "baby", spring has kind of snuck up on us. All the sudden, it occurred to us that we should be thinking, "garden". Last year, we were on top of it: ordered our seeds, consulted our books and planting guides, and were itching to get out in the dirt. This year, we've been hung up on projects inside and it didn't hit us until we had a couple of warm days that we should have been getting more things ready outside.

Enter my dad and a load of manure, or what we like to refer to as the "shitment". He offered to bring a truckload of composted manure to add to our garden so once we nailed him down to a Sunday to deliver it, we got in gear and started getting ready. Well, Keith got in gear. I'm doing a lot of supervising.

At any rate, Keith attacked the pile of dirt left over from putting our patio in last summer and getting the sod out so that we don't have to deal with grass growing up in the garden all summer long. 

Keith also emptied out our compost bin (a Christmas contraption built by Dad). Lots of good nutrients in our kitchen scraps.

In an apparent effort to get me prepared for having a little boy, he brought slimy things in the house to show me, although he did have the good sense to stand at the back door and not track dirt inside. The full report is that there are lots of salamanders and earthworms in our garden, which I'm taking to mean the soil is healthy.

Once the shitment was in place, he worked it in with a rototiller borrowed from our friend Jamie (who got about half the load of poop himself) and now we have a very full, and hopefully very fertile, garden.

Last year our garden was two separate 8' x 12' beds, plus some beans planted around poles, a berry patch and a small herb garden in an old bathtub. With all the dirt from the patio, we decided to enlarge a bit so that now we have one large 12' x 24' bed, along with the beans, berries, and herbs. The goal is to get a little bigger each year but considering the pending bambino arrival, we didn't want to take on too much this summer. Plus, we're still working our way through last year's veggies. Should be right on schedule to finish them up as fresh ones come on.

Here's a list of what we're planning on planting:

Green beans
Banana peppers
Green peppers

Plus some herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley, and chives) and our blueberry bushes and strawberry plants are looking healthy so we're excited to see how they bear now that they have strong root systems.

This year's other garden goal is to keep a better record of when we plant things, how much we plant, and how much they yield. I wasn't very diligent about writing down what we did last year so the only information I can glean from those notes is not to plant so many radishes. Yeah, definitely less radishes.
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