Confession.

I’m in love.  With a trashcan.

I never thought I could feel the feelings I feel (whoa!) for something that contains my trash, but friends, this is the real thing.

I also never thought I would spend this much money on a trash can, but let me tell you, it’s been worth every penny.

Let me explain.

Our old kitchen trashcan was hidden in a cabinet, so I couldn’t have cared less about what it looked like.  But we don’t have that option in our new house, which means the can would be on constant display.  So now not only did I want the can to function well, but I wanted her to look good.

I had some pretty lofty requirements for our new hottie can.

1. She must open hands free (foot petal)
2.  She must take regular trash bags.  Don’t think you’re roping me into buying fancy custom bags. Nope.
3. She must be hard for my toddler to open.
4. She must have a compartment for both trash and recycling.  THIS WAS KEY!

After much searching, I settled on the Simplehuman 46L Stainless Steal wide-step rectangular recycler.


Source

It took me a week to justify spending this much money on a trash can.  I ended up picking mine up at Bed Bath and Beyond so I could use a 20% off coupon.  I sweated a bit coming home, thinking about the bags and boots and college funds I could have used the money for instead.  But let me tell you, this can ROCKS.  I use it at least 10x a day (can’t say that about my shoes and bags) and I no longer have brown Trader Joe’s paper bags full of recycleables taking over my kitchen.  I tell Tony about 3x a week how much I love the trash can.  He thinks I’m nuts, but I don’t care.  It just feels right ;)

A few notes about the can:
* It is deceivingly big.  We empty it maybe twice a week.
* Don’t listen to those reviewers who say you need to use the Simplehuman trash bags.  We use Target brand bags and while it takes an extra 30 seconds to get it to fit tight around the top, they do the trick.

 

Room Reveal: Sunroom

With spring technically here (get out of my yard, snow banks!!) we’ve been very busy with updates in the new house, focusing primarily on the sunroom.  The room was an addition to the original house, and is located two steps down, right off the kitchen.  The previous owners used it as their dining area, and since our kitchen does not currently have a space for a large table, we decided to do the same.  We also chose to create a sitting area, since the room gets an incredible amount of sunlight, and we have found ourselves sitting out there on the weekends, warming up!

We’ve still got some decorating to do, and will likely play a little bit of musical rugs (cause that’s what I do) but wanted to give you a first sneak peak!

This is the widest shot I could take, to give you a sense of the overall space.  The glass doors are all sliders with screens, which open up to a patio on the right side, a small porch to the left (not in photo) and the backyard in the middle.

The dining table is our newest furniture addition and was custom built from a FABULOUS family owned shop in New Jersey called Emmor Works.  You seriously have to check them out.  Not only is their stuff gorgeous, but it’s built to order, so get your creative juices flowing!  It’s also Potterybarn quality at a fraction of the cost. We went with the Trestle table (96″) with a dark walnut distressed top and a distressed ivory bottom.  Within 4 weeks of placing the order they built it, delivered and assembled it.  Shazam!

The blue tolix chairs that I hinted about here, were from Wayfair, and at $60/chair the price can not be beat! I was just on their website and looks like the price has gone up a bit, so if you’re interested, definitely keep an eye on them.  Click here for the listing.

Now the other side of the room is our sitting area.  I’m crazy about this table, which was a total Tony Craigslist find!  We had to drive an hour to get it, but for $75, it was worth the trip.  It’s an old boat door that was refinished and turned into a table.  Cool, right??  The chairs (here) and rug (old) are Ikea.

I still gotta throw some ploy on it, to make it a bit more toddler spill friendly :)

Last but not least, here is a picture of the ceiling.  I fell in love with the beams at first site, and the two sky lights and ceiling fan are going to be so great come summer.  Now if only we can hit 50 degrees!!!

Thanks for letting me show you our new space!  Can’t wait to update you on the fun decor we have planned, and of course, continue the house tour!

Less Energy, Mo Money

About three years ago I shared with you our experience of switching from oil to gas heat (read more here) and briefly mentioned the free Mass Save home energy audit we took advantage of, to help make it all happen.  Well we just had an audit for our new house, and the free service is just too great not to share the info with you.

So Massachusetts home owners, LISTEN UP!  And if you don’t live in MA, I’m sure there are comparable programs in your home state as well.  Let me know if you’re aware of them and I’ll share here!

So it starts with an online assessment.  Click here to take it.  Easy peasy.  This will let you know if you qualify.

If you do qualify (and I think the basic requirement is that you’re a home owner and have a recognized gas or oil account), next you’ll be asked to schedule your in-home assessment.  That means some friendly guy or gal from conservation services will show up at your house bearing gifts, and do a complete assessment of your home energy.

The FREE (and I mean absolutely FREE here) assessment in a nutshell includes:

  • Personalized report outlining recommended energy efficiency improvements
  • Screening for eligibility for the energy star refrigerator rebate (Um, they removed our old fridge AND gave us $150 for it.  Joke’s on them)
  • Air Sealing and Insulation specification, if applicable
  • Infrared Testing, if applicable
  • Combustion Safety Testing

And probably the coolest part…

  • Installation of brand new light bulbs, programmable thermostats, and water saving devices, as needed.

They swapped out EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of our light bulbs, including all of our recessed lights and sconces, and replaced them with more efficient and long lasting bulbs, including fancy dim-able LEDs which can cost big bucks and provide major savings to our electric bill!  We also have 4 heating zones which make efficient heating tricky – so for the 2 zones that don’t have a Nest (more from the Man Cave on this one) they gave us two FREE programmable thermostats.

Again, FREE people!

After the assessment you’ll receive a full report with recommendations on how to be more efficient and save money.  AND it’s the first step needed to apply for a no interest heat savings loan, which we also took advantage of at our previous house, for the new burner and new windows.

So when you get that less expensive electricity bill, You. Are. Welcome!

Parenthood is Hilarious

There are many truly joyous moments in new parenthood, and then there are those things that are just so absurd, you can only laugh at yourself, to avoid completely losing it.

Here are the top ten hilariously stupid things I admit I now do as a parent.

10.  Heat up food in the microwave, to then promptly put the food in the freezer to cool off for eating.

9. Use my son’s sleeve to wipe his boogers.

8. The great lengths I go to, to avoid a car nap.  Including throwing raisins into the back seat, opening and closing the window 100 times on a freezing cold day, and purposefully hitting potholes (sorry Tony).

7. Go out to dinner at 5:15 to avoid dining with other patrons.

6. Consider a wake up time after 7am a huge win.

5. Go to Target and ONLY buy diapers.

4. Let my son unwrap and play with a tampon in order to prevent a meltdown.

3. High five your husband after we realize we just barely missed a blow out.

2. Consider sprinting through the grocery store parking lot to grab the last car cart a legit form of exercise.

1. That time when we were drinking with other parent friends and we somehow ended up performing a full fledged rendition of Little Blue Truck.

Don’t judge me.  Admit to your own hilarious moments and post below!

 

 

The Tolix Chair

I’ve jumped on the industrial farmhouse bandwagon and I’m never getting off.

This has always been my favorite home decor look — think distressed woods paired with worn metals.  You know, stuff that looks like (or if you’re lucky, actually has) history.  Well now that we have a house that was designed for this style, I am in decor heaven.

After a great deal of time on Pinterest looking for dining room chairs, we’ve finally settled on a Tolix style chair for our sunroom, which is what we will be using as our dining area.

The Tolix Brand Model A chair has become an icon of industrial esthetics. It’s unfailing popularity since 1934 has enabled to enter the Collections of the Vitra Design Museum, MOMA and the Pompidou Center. This mythical chair, crafted of sheet metal, has been assured by «it’s fool-proof solidity, it’s unequalled lightness, it’s easy maintenance» advantages of which can be included «inexpensive». — Source

I am PSYCHED to put the whole look together (coming soon, I promise!).  I’m going to wait for the full room reveal  as it’s still in the works, to show you the ones we got (for a super deal, of course), but in the meantime, let’s swoon over the Tolix (or also known as Metal Bistro Chair) and Farmhouse table combo, shall we?


Via


via


Via


Via

I love these chairs not only because they are durable, easy to clean and move, but also because you can get them for a steal!  Plus they allow you to really play with pops of color if you so choose, and oh, we so chose.  Stay tuned!

 

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!

 

Page 1 of 4612345...102030...Last »