The Starter and The Burb

The other night Tony and I were talking about all of the places we’ve lived, and I realized that since graduating from college I’ve lived in 7 different houses/apartments.  That is 7 moves, 7 USPS mail forwarding forms, 7 commutes to adjust to, 7 new sets of neighbors, 7 weird house noises to get used to.  How many places have YOU lived??

Our most recent move was probably the most emotional one I’ve had.  When we bought our first house (will refer to now as “The Starter”) it was incredibly exciting.  We were still newlyweds, and now first time home owners,  with nothing but time and energy to make the house our own.  Oh the plans we had!  There was not one wall in the house we didn’t change/paint/remove wallpaper from, not one floor we didn’t scrub/stain/remove carpet from.  By the time we left, three years later, the house was literally covered with our blood, sweat and tears (not in order of amount).

demo wallpaper-peel

I am nostalgic thinking back to those late nights we spent in the house, drinking beers and painting walls the cool new colors we debated over for weeks.  We ate dinner standing up, eager to get to work before we lost sunlight and were forced to share the one work light we borrowed from Tony’s dad, as the house did not have any over head lights.  It was tiring, sure, but looking back, we truly made that house our own, in every way we could.

So when we decided to move to house #2, which I will now refer to as “The Burb”, I was emotional.  On the one hand  I was psyched. The Burb had everything I wanted, and it was move in ready, which meant no wallpaper to remove, no windows to replace!  And now with a toddler in tow, hallelujah!  But I also worried that without that deep thumbprint that we had put on The Starter, would it ever feel like ours?  Or would it always feel like the house of the previous owners, those people who chose that paint color and those cabinets.

Those fears quickly subsided, after night one in the new house.  While barely unpacked, I looked around and realized the house already felt so much like us, and not the previous owners.  There was our furniture, our rugs, our bed.  Our music was still playing as we unpacked boxes, and our favorite beer quickly stocked the first shelf of the new fridge.  And my husband and my child, and my poor limpy dog, were there with me, looking so comfortable like they had been there for years.

Amazing how quickly a brand new place can feel like home, when it’s filled with the things and people you love.

 

Kitchen Update, Take 2

Backstory:  For those just tuning in, we have moved!  So this post, which has been hanging in draft land for several months, is no longer accurate as this is not our kitchen anymore, but I still wanted to share with you our final kitchen update because the progression was so much fun to go through.

Our first kitchen makeover happened shortly after we moved in (full post here).  This included replacing the appliances, restructuring some of the cabinets, and making a space for a dishwasher.  We then sat tight for about 2 years, saved up some money, and then moved on to the counters.

Hello Granite!!!!

We had talked about putting in granite for a long time, but were scared off by the price.  Well turns out granite is not as expensive as I thought it was!  Dont’ get me wrong, it ain’t cheap.  But I thought it would cost us over 5k to remove and install new countertops, when in reality we were able to do it for about 2k!    Again, not chump change here, but more affordable than I originally thought.  Am I the only one???

We went over to our local granite store called Stone Surfaces, and picked about 5 samples to bring home.  We eventually narrowed it down to these two.

While I loved the white and gray stone, we decided that the beige color went better with the cabinets.  We then returned to the store to look at the actual slab and determine how it would be cut, which was pretty cool.

Charlie was of course instrumental in this process.

Yes, we were hiring out to do the work this time – whoohoo!  But it’s never without a challenge!  As our laminate counter tops so graciously decided not to stop at the counter, but to proceed all the way up the kitchen wall.  Cause who doesn’t love a laminate back splash?


Yummy.

So we had to first figure out what to do with the wall once T-dawg removed the counters.  Painting the wall would be the cheapest solution, and since we still had leftover paint from the remaining kitchen walls, we decided that would be the best bet.  But can you paint laminate???  You sure can!  After extensive web research (thank you DIY bloggers) I learned about an amazing water based primer by Zinsser called Bulls Eye 1-2-3.  We got it at our local Home Depot.

This stuff is Amaaaaahzing.  It will cover anything, even slippery laminate!  Seriously, if you want to spruce up an old Ikea piece or something else that isn’t usually paintable, this stuff will do the trick.

So shortly before Tony removed the counter tops (wish I had a picture of this – it was a dirty job!) I set out to paint the “backsplash”.


Yes, the sexy headlamp was required.

Next the counter top folks came in and installed the new counter, along with the new sink (hardware not pictured here) and I came home from work to this!!!

So we have now gone from this:

Oh granite, I love you so….

Buy and Selling Simultaneously. Not for the faint of heart.

house2

Want to go bat shit crazy?  Here’s the recipe*:

  1. Find your dream house.
  2. Decide to put an offer in.
  3. Then realize that in order to buy said dream house, you need to sell your house first.
  4. Start the timer for 1 week.
  5. Have husband break his collarbone playing football (oh boys…)
  6. Get house “on the market ready” which means:
    Clean, purge, organize… even you, basement!

    Take all the help you can get!
  7. Have husband need to travel for work (seriously???)
  8. Hold a full weekend of open houses.
  9. Have dog tear her ACL (okay, this is just crazy now).
  10. Get a fabulous offer on our house!!!!
  11. Apply for a mortgage.
  12. Spend an entire night on the internet locating the 965,765 files needed for mortgage application.
  13. Spend 36 hours negotiating for new house, knowing  full well that you could be homeless in 6 weeks if this doesn’t work out.
  14. Settle on agreement for new house.  YAY!
  15. Start timer for 6 week.
  16. Decide to throw a New Year’s Party for 12 adults, 5 kids, and 3 dogs .  Hey, why not!
  17. Pray every night for no snow until after move day.
  18. Pack UP!
  19. Pick ONE day to close on old house, close on new house, move out of old house, and move in to new house.
  20. BREATHE.
  21. Have a drink (or 8).
  22. Begin unpacking.
  23. Begin Snowmageddon 2015!

*Do all of this while simultaneously feeding, diapering, and providing constant entertainment for a 15 month old child and 9 year old injured bulldog (minus the diapering, thank god).

Got all that?  So that pretty much summed up the end of our 2014.   I’ll be honest, this was one of the most stressful periods of my life.  The amount of paperwork, people and logistics required to go through this process, coupled with the lengthily list of things that were completely out of our control (Would someone buy our house?  Would they offer what we need?  Will our offer on the other house be accepted?) was incredibly overwhelming and oftentimes scary.  We were so lucky to work with Redfin both on the buying and selling side, as they were fantastic, and got SUPER lucky on so many fronts, but still, I think I aged 5 years during the whole ordeal.  Oh and both Tony and Roxy have now recovered/are recovering.  Phew!

Tips for those going through the process?

  • Find an agent that you love (Hi Sandy!) as he/she will occupy 90% of your cell phone minutes and data over the next few months.
  • Get your game face on.  Real estate negotiations can be brutal and everyone wants their piece of the pie.  Be strong and try not to get too emotional (riiiiight!).
  • Plan ahead.  As soon as you even start thinking about selling your house, start prepping.  Get things fixed, throw things out, de-clutter, and keep track of any/all renovations you have done.
  • Be realistic.  Just because you love your house, doesn’t mean others will.
  • Stay organized.  Google Drive = my savior
  • Buy Uhaul packing tape.  Seriously, this is the best product ever made.
  • Invest in a case of wine and bourbon.  You are going to need it to help you sleep.
  • Pray you don’t get slammed with Snomageddon 2015 (we JUST made it!)

For those who have gone through this double process, what else can you add?
Are you still alive to share?

One year later

I’m baaaaaack people!

God I’ve been wanting to write that for so long now.  I’ve contemplated returning to this blog so many times, but then life seemed to get in the way, or the new season of The Bachelor started, and well, you know… priorities.

Well SO much has changed since my last post, which was just about one year ago today.  My then baby boy, who had just started crawling and becoming less blob like, is now a full fledged toddler who walks (okay runs) talks, eats yogurt with a spoon, has opinions, tantrums, and a love of bulldozers, and has changed our lives for the better in every possible way.  I have to hold back from eating him, on a daily basis.  More on him and general motherhood in later posts, promise.

Another big change is that WE MOVED!!!  AGAIN!   I know, we JUST got here, right?  Well turns out the market in Arlington, where we bought our “fixer upper” was HOT HOT HOT, so we decided to sell while the market was in our favor, which allowed us to buy our dream home, in a new town about 25 minutes away.   So much to tell you about the new house and the new projects and decor we have planned, but I’m going to make you wait a bit for it.  I want you to keep following, alright? ;)

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the exterior – but please picture 6+ feet of snow on top of every surface, so you’ll get a good idea of what it really looks like.  F U winter.  Seriously, we’ve had enough.
House

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings with HFoP.  I plan to continue writing about all things home related, sprinkled with stories about new motherhood and raising a toddler.  I probably won’t post as much as I used to (combo of juggling being a mom, a career, and a Hulu subscription) but I’m excited to be back and look forward to hearing from you guys!

Stay tuned!

xoxo
Jenny

Quick bites

My mornings used to be a relaxing medley of warm coffee, tidbits of the local news, browsing through my closet in search of a cute work outfit, and several days a week I might even curl my hair for work!  Whoa!

But now it’s jump out of bed, diaper change, nurse, dress Jenny, dress baby (bonus points for matching!) messy bun, and whirlwind to get out of the house for 7:10am.  It’s a good day if I remember deodorant ;)

So when a friend asked if I would sample these new “Karma”ffins from U-Be-Livin-Smart, I could not pass up the chance for a ready made breakfast.

The box of samples came last week, and immediately I called dibs on the Belgian Chocolate with Banana ones. Tony gravitated to the Berry Medley box.  And this folks is why we have a happy marriage :)

Upon reading the box, I was a little nervous.  These bad boys are nutrient dense muffins and each little square is packed with Protein, Fruits, Vegetables, and Fiber; Sweet Potato, Avocado, Blueberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Pomegranate, Raspberries, Orange, Mango, Banana, and Apple.   I assumed these would be super heavy and have that protein bar taste that I am never a fan of.

But man, was I surprised!  The muffins are incredibly light and airy, and I could have probably eaten about 3 in one sitting.

Fortunately this lady has will power (or more like time restraints) so I kept things in check ;)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were low in fat and high in protein and fiber.  Win win.

See full nutritional info here.

They currently come in 4 flavors: Smoothie Berry Medley, Belgian Chocolate with Banana, Orange Cinnamon with Mango, Apple Cinnamon with Chia Seed.  I’ve now tried them all, and seriously enjoyed each one!

I’m not sure what I love more… eating a nutritious breakfast that keeps me full for a few hours, or not having to make it myself.  Either way, these are winners.

More info at www.ubelivinsmart.com!

 

Sleep. A poem.

This post is dedicated to all of my mom friends, who may very well be reading this at 2:30 AM.

To my dear friend, Sleep:

You’ve always been a great companion,
Appearing each and every night.
We’d meet right after Conan,
And you’d stay with me till light.

In college we were such allies,
You’d often wait for me till dawn.
Then you’d stay with me through lunchtime
When my hangover was gone.

Remember those daytime hangouts,
Where you’d join me on the couch?
Your patience never wavered,
When I was cranky or a grouch.

There were times I’d need you more frequently,
During pregnancy, or when I was ill.
You’d show up, no questions asked of me,
And help me slowly still.

Well I know lately things have changed, my friend,
Our schedule’s been out of whack.
At night we’re often interrupted,
And you’re never sure when I’ll be back.

Please know I think about you often,
More often than you probably know.
I yearn for a prolonged visit,
Oh the things, for you, I’d forgo!

But I’m learning to function with less of you.
Not always graciously, as you can see.
But with my new role as mom to baby,
For now, that’s just how it needs to be.

I now realize I once took you for granted.
Man, I owe you a round of beers.
But for now I must accept the fact,
That I’ll see you again in 18 years.

Love always,
Your tired new mama friend,
Jenny

 

In my future dream home…

In my future dream home I hope to:

Eat dinner like this:

Work from my home office like this:


(
Yes, that’s sand under his feat!)

And then relax on the weekends like this:


(With unlimited access to all the latest RomComs)

Oh I’ve got plans, my friends….

See above sources and more super cool home ideas here!

 

Moments…

The big smile you give me when you see me for the first time in the morning…

When we look in the mirror together, and at first, you so shyly nuzzle your head into my chest…

Your no-hold-back laugh when I kiss your belly…

How you bang your hands in excitement on the high chair tray when you want more bananas…

The way you hold my hand while you nurse…

That last moment in the day together, right before I put you down for the night, how you rest your head, half asleep on my shoulder, and I can feel your little breath on my face…

These are the small moments that make me being your mom the greatest feeling in the world.
Can’t wait for more, little man.

JandC

Pet Peeves

Can I just vent for a sec?

So I don’t really mind doing laundry (and ever since C was born, it seems to be my new part time gig… unpaid of course), but what drives me crazy, I mean reeeeally gets me going, is that the laundry basket is NEVER EMPTY!!!

via

Like I do a load (or 3) of laundry and I want to feel all accomplished… but then I look over at the basket that for a split second was empty, and see a dirty t-shirt has suddenly made it’s way in there.  Then throw in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt an hour later, and now the damn basket looks half full.

This whole cycle… It’s cruel really.

The never empty laundry basket.  This is definitely one of my biggest house pet peeves.

What are yours?

Wood paneling makin’ a come back!

Last weekend I had a long overdue opportunity to browse through one of my favorite home decor shops, West Elm, and stumbled upon something very cool, and now very much on my wish list.

Have you seen their Stickwood Adhesive Wood Paneling?

They come in a variety of woods and finishes, but the weathered wood option is by far my favorite.

via

So. Freakin. Cool.

Tony suggested we use it to cover the two panels on either side of the living room TV, and I love the idea so much, I”m kinda pissed I didn’t think of it first.

lr

Now if I can only justify spending $500 to put a wall on a wall :)

Here’s a quick tutorial in case you’re as smitten as I am!

http://youtu.be/lXj7dPN4KO0

Hey West Elm, need a demonstration volunteer??? ;)

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