Archive for the ‘The Homestead’ Category

We spend all spare time on the house since we moved in. So far it’s not overwhelming and mostly fun. We still have boxes and junk everywhere, and even though it immediately felt like home, we’re not settled yet. I know we don’t have to do everything right away, but I get hung up on ideas that I MUST get done or I can’t relax. I think I’m in full-on nesting mode, and with a new house, there’s a lot that needs to be…nested.

Last weekend we continued to paint the kitchen. It has been such a job because the previous owners had a wallpaper border that was not there when we moved in, but they left lots of glue residue behind that Mike had to dissolve and sand off. It’s still not done, but we’re taking a break because we couldn’t live with our kitchen like this anymore.

Here’s how the kitchen started:

We also finally painted the “master” bedroom. I had picked out a greenish grey color, but in the can it looked like really muddy grey. We decided to go for it anyway, and on the walls it actually looks like a light blue with grey undertones. The color is Valspar’s Woodlawn Sterling Blue. Duh, blue is in the name. Why am I surprised it looks blue? Turns out I love it though, especially with all the dark wood.

This one is a little more true to life:

It was just white before, so not a drastic change, but it classes up the joint.

(As a HUD home, this place didn’t come with any curtains, blinds or even curtain rods. We’re slowly working on that.)

Here it is before we moved in:

Last weekend we also put together the crib! My sister sold hers to me for a great price, and I was so eager to get it in the baby’s room so I could start to envision what the room might look like.

See that sticker on the bottom of the crib? It says INSIDE. Oopsies! We should probably fix that eventually.

Also, a few people have told us we should just keep the orange paint, and even though I love orange, it’s just not right for what I want to do in this room. Stay tuned to see what color paint we bought instead.


Read Full Post »

Move-in day was amazing. Did you know we have the best family possible? I know lots of people have great families, but mine is definitely one of them. So many people showed up, and most of them stayed all day. The last didn’t leave until after 7:00. Who showed up?

My dad and stepmom and their two kids
My mom and stepdad
Mike’s dad
Mike’s mom
My sister Andrea, her husband and son
My sister Emily and her husband
My sister Kelli and her daughter
Mike’s brother

They moved our entire house over, and then helped us start unpacking. They got our whole kitchen unpacked, most of our bathroom stuff, and a variety of other things. We even set up our living room furniture, the desk, the dining area, and all of the beds. They even made the beds and set up a few decorative touches here and there. We haven’t figured out a way to thoroughly thank everyone. Other than POOL PARTY! Too bad we’re not opening the pool till next summer…

Anyway, when I last left off, we were midway through painting the living room. In the last few days before move-in, we finished that, painted some of the brick on our fireplace, painted a door, and started to paint in the kitchen. Here are some photos from move-in day.

Giant Moving Truck

All packed up!

Living room with new paint!

Remember what it looked like before?

Sitting room with fireplace (other side of living room).


The fireplace used to have reddish bricks with a random splotch of white paint. We painted them grey. The white part needs a new coat of paint still. You can see the before look here:


We started painting it grey (the same as the fireplace bricks), but we still need to do the bulk heads. And we’ll paint that brown paneling part on the left to be white. And eventually I want to paint the cabinets (despite several people discouraging me – I just really hate the wood cabinets). And down the road, new flooring and countertops.

Here’s the kitchen before the paint:

Moving on the multi-purpose “front room.”

Front room – entryway and dining area.

Front room – sitting area (plus lots of random junk – this was our drop zone)

Front room – desk area.

Half bath on main floor. What’s up with that paint?

Basement rec area. The rest of the basement is a large unfinished area we’ll use for storage and laundry.

Full bath upstairs.

Full bath, another view.

There are also four bedrooms upstairs. I don’t have any great photos, and mostly they’re just a big mess right now anyway. One is the guest room, which I’ll also use as my sewing/craft room. The second is a future nursery. The third is the room where I store all my clothes, and also where I’m sleeping until I can cure my ridiculous insomnia* and be a normal human again. The fourth is our room, where Mike sleeps and stores his clothes.

And that’s the house! Lots more to unpack and arrange, lots of painting to do, and eventually, lots of fun renovation projects. It has only been three nights, but we’ve settled in easily. Even our cats feel right at home. Oberon, in past moves, has hidden away for a couple days before venturing out. This time, within a few hours, he was exploring, lounging on the couch, and hissing at Lennie. All indicators he feels right at home!

*For the last several months, I’ve basically stopped sleeping. I toss and turn and kick and flail all night. I get up and read or find something else to do several times a night. I’m a mess, and sharing a room with another person only makes it worse. For me and him!

Read Full Post »

Shades of Grey

We started our first painting project in the new house! First, we spent an entire Sunday, with some help from family, cleaning the whole place. We had planned to wait until we moved in to paint anything, but my mom and sister insisted we get at least one room done.

The living room has wood paneling that was painted a hideous puke brown. My guess is the former owners were trying to match the carpet, but my word it was ugly!

A closer look:

All the taping and cutting in and rolling took a long time despite the help we had, so we only got one coat up Tuesday night, and I haven’t uploaded pictures of the finished product yet, but you can start to see the difference it’s going to make. The room has small windows, both of which are covered by shade trees, so there’s a lack of natural light. The light grey really makes the room seem bigger and brighter. More photos soon!

That’s my sister and brother-in-law, they have been such rockstars for us lately.

I think I’m going to go with a lot of neutrals throughout the house. I love bold, fun colors, but I believe to pull it off, you have to really style the whole room. Our furniture is old and mismatched, and our house is always so…lived in. It just wouldn’t work to do anything too fun. I was showing my friend some paint swatches I had picked out, and she very observantly asked, “Are you painting any room anything other than grey?” Oops! I hadn’t planned on that, but I guess it’s true. In my mind, neutrals are either of the grey variety or the beige variety. Warm tones or cool tones, and apparently I’m a cool tone girl.

The other project we tackled right away was changing all the door locks and knobs. We bought a HUD home, so all the locks were keyed for HUD keys. Meaning a billion realtors around the state had keys to our house! The very day we closed, we bought all new locks and knobs, upgrading from horrible faux gold to something a little more stylish.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been excited to share some news here, but I’ve been putting it off. WE FINALLY BOUGHT A HOUSE! Back in May, I mentioned that we won a bid on a HUD home, and it took until July 31 to actually close on it. We were fine with this, we were in no hurry, and the details of the delay were too mundane to be blog-worthy. But then we finally closed, and I still didn’t want to write about it. I was too upset about how things went down in the last 24 hours that I knew any post would be spiked with vitriol. I wanted to celebrate the house, not rant about it. So I waited. Now, a week later, I feel like I can do that. Though I’m still pissed. Well, I’m still going to rant, but then I’ll celebrate!


Without going into too many boring details, basically Mike and I are new to home-buying, but we had lots of advisers and we believe we asked all the right questions and did everything right along the way. Still, less than 24 before close, our mortgage lender sent us our final closing costs (despite our asking for it days in advance). They were nearly $4,000 more than expected.

When we applied for the loan, we were told we could finance a roof repair that was required by HUD. So we added $3,600 to our mortgage. We asked a hundred times, are sure we can do this? Are you SURE? Yes, he was sure. Turns out, no. And instead of being sincerely apologetic or even offering a viable solution, he sent us the new closing costs, told us he screwed up, and that was it. I don’t know about that guy, but $4,000 is a lot to us. And coming up with that much in 24 hours is no easy feat. We drained our savings and pulled from our checking account which pays our bills. I also shot off a very angry email to the lender, who finally came up with a solution.

They would loan us $4,000 at 6%. Um, no thanks moron.

We did not want to go broke to buy a house. We never EVER would have pursued this if we knew that would happen in the beginning. But 24 hours isn’t a lot of time to contemplate. Literally minutes before our closing appointment, we were in the parking lot talking to our realtor, debating if we should back out. In the end I said, “I don’t know if it’s the right decision, and maybe we’ll regret it. But we don’t have time to figure this out, so let’s take a leap of faith.”

And we did. So we’re now home owners.


Now that I’ve ranted, let me say, I LOVE the house. I had forgotten that I loved it because it had been so long since we saw it. But when we got back in there, it all came back. It needs some work, and unfortunately we now have no money to do any of it immediately. First we replenish our savings, then we dive into projects. But it’s definitely livable, and we’re excited to officially move in.

I wanted an older home with some vintage charm, while Mike wanted something a little more modern. I think we found a good compromise. It’s new enough to have a more modern floor plan and some modern updates, but old enough to have the little touches of charm I love. And there is so much potential. We have lots of plans for the future!

I took some pictures on our second visit MONTHS ago, and I’ll get some more updates ones soon, but here are a couple sneak peeks.

The front door:

Unfinished three season porch for which have big plans:

Fun pass-through window and built-in clock in the basement. And wood paneling! My nieces and nephews are already so excited to play restaurant with that window. Also, hi Mom and Brady!

Big open kitchen. We plan to paint the walls and the cabinets soon (there are more cabinets and counters you can’t see to the right). Then later down the road we’ll update the floor, counters and appliances. And maybe a peninsula or island?

More photos soon, I promise. In the meantime, lots to do! Home ownership is exhausting and expensive. Welcome to real world right?

Read Full Post »

Recently, we moved into my Dad’s house. He got married, and moved into his new wife’s house, so we got to rent his on the cheap. It’s nice, because it’s kind of like owning a house without the debt. So far, I’ve had mixed experiences pretending to be a homeowner. Here is a partial recap of my escapades.

The towel bar fiasco:

We have a very small bathroom. Like closet-sized. As a space-saving measure, the previous owners (before Dad), installed a 2-tiered towel bar. It stuck out pretty far, and the weight of freshly dampened towels over the years pulled it loose. Easy fix right? I bought a new towel bar and set out with the best of intentions to remove the old bar and install the new one. 10 minutes and several gaping holes later, I removed what seemed to me to be a not so expertly installed towel bar. Installing mine would be simple. The bar came with wall anchors, so I carefully avoided the studs and drilled my holes. 20 frustrating seconds later, I determined that my stud-finder was broken as I flattened my wall anchor against a stud. Awesome. It was then time to pull out the big guns. I wall-dogged it. Wall-dogs are massive screws on steroids, designed for anchoring into studs or drywall. They did not disappoint, and the towel bar is still hanging. After several coats of Spackle, the walls are even mostly patched. It’s important to note also that Shannon gave me explicit instructions not to attempt the towel bar installation after my first fail. Instructions that I promptly ignored. Had the wall-dogs failed, I would have been in trouble. I love to live dangerously.

The flood of 2011:

On Black Friday, while strategically avoiding humanity at it’s worst by chilling at home, I was washing some dishes and my foot got soaked. I discovered a  plumbing problem that could not be fixed without parts. Off to Home Depot. Fortunately, most of the shoppers were gone, and I was able to pick up a new connector for the drain for $1.99. I even picked up a higher-end toilet seat to replace the cheap plastic one opposite our newly installed towel bar. The sink repair went perfectly, and has been holding since. I also must mention that this was shortly after I successfully installed a saddle-valve and connected the water line to our refrigerator ice/water dispenser. Apparently I don’t suck at plumbing.


I’m an awesome raker. Our yard was consistently one of the cleanest on the street this fall. After a weird lull in November and December, I’m now making a name as a driveway shoveler extraordinaire. I gotta give props to the man-plow for this. The man-plow was a conciliation prize after I chickened out on buying a snow blower at a pre-thanksgiving sale. It’s essentially a small plastic plow blade with a lawn-mower style handlebar. A man (or woman, of course) can get behind this plow and push lots of snow. It’s cut down my shoveling time by, I would guess, 25%. Plus, I get to announce that I’m going out to “man-plow.” I’m not super-excited about the fact that I’m now writing this post to avoid man-plowing for the 3rd time in less than 48 hours, but I guess it was inevitable.


This is just funny and stupid. Right now, I’m waiting for a load of laundry to finish washing for the 2nd time. I had a load of dirty clothes, plus a load in the washer and dryer. I emptied the dryer, transferred the washer to the dryer, then proceeded to load the dryer with the clothes I had just taken out of the dryer. Worse yet, I didn’t realize it until I had folded almost all of the basket of dirty clothes that I brought back upstairs with me from the basement laundry room. Nice work Mike…nice work.

All in all, it’s good to be a homeowner. A sort-of, not really, quasi homeowner.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts