New house, new beginnings..

We moved into our new house in December.  Just one town over, 7 miles away, but it feels like the other side of the world.  New neighbors, new town, new way of life really.  It's like starting over, but in a good way!!  And this was all totally on a whim, by the way.  We weren't even thinking about moving or selling the house that we put so much love and time and money into, we just stumbled onto a listing that we couldn't ignore.  I am not exaggerating when i say that as soon as we walked in we knew it was home.  I guess I shouldn't speak for my husband in that moment but as the saying goes, "happy wife, happy life!"  So we put our house on the market two days later and it was sold two days after that.  My head it still spinning.  We are settled in now but I have days where I wonder if we did the right thing.  We left some pretty wonderful neighbors, a newly renovated house, and the community that we loved for 4 years (although it felt like much longer), but then I remember all of the projects we still had left to do, and I start to forget all that.  I love me a good project, as you probably figured by now, but the things we had left to do included a new roof, boiler, insulation, just to name a few.  Nothing blog-worthy that's for sure!  

So instead of all that, we did the most unexpected thing of all; we bought new construction.  

I know.  I know.  What sort of projects could we possibly have here when it's brand new?  Trust me, though, we haven't been bored.  It's a blank slate.  There are a million decorating possibilities, two new kids rooms to have fun with and a whole basement to refinish (not sure if I even showed you final shots of the old one).  So although we won't be gutting and renovating this one like we did the last, we have a lot of work to do.  It was sad leaving such a special place (I will always love and miss our first home) but the extra space is really nice and I'm looking forward to all the amazing projects we can come up with here!!!

Looking forward to sharing this journey with you!!


A hop, a skip and a whole year

I can't believe its been a whole year since I've written.  Actually longer.  The demands of two kids was much more than I imagined and something had to give.  Unfortunately, it was this.  I can't tell you how much I have missed it though.

But I have still been decorating, renovating and even MOVING to a new house so we need a serious catch up session.....or several.  Hopefully this is like one of those friendships that stop and start right where they left off, like no time has passed.  I have a few wonderful friends like that.  We may only see each other 2 times a year, but you'd never know it.  Our conversations flow like we were just talking yesterday.  If this is anything like one of those friendships, I think we can rekindle this.  Fingers crossed.

I have some photo uploading and editing to do (7 months later and I still haven't taken a photo of the exterior of the house...oops), but I will share it all in the coming days. 

Can't wait to stretch out my legs after such a long hibernation.


And then there were four....

Hello world, I'm Reagan Grace....

Meet our newest addition; i.e., the reason I have been so sparse in my postings (and not for lack of projects going on around the house...which is sort of insane with a new baby around)!!  Reagan was born on April 17th at 2:56, weighing in at 6 lbs, 1 oz and 19 inches long.  Such a little peanut.  So far everything has been better the second time around.  I wouldn't say "easier" but at least more predictable, and as for the labor, it was less than half the time.  Phew!  And nursing has even been a little better.  Again, I wouldn't say easier, just marginally less awful.  But that is a whole other post. Bottom line is that she is amazing.  Pace loves her.....so far....and we are settling into a new routine around these parts.  I am finally finding time to sit down a think coherent thoughts, sort of, so posts will be coming fast a furious soon.  I hope. 

In addition to our new addition, we have created a nursery for her, finished the basement renovation, laid a new patio in the backyard, completely overhauled our upstairs bathroom, and lots of little projects here and there to contribute to these bigger ones.  Can't wait to share and get back on the horse.

For now, here are some more shots of the peanut...


In like a lion, out like a lamb....

I apologize for such a long hiatus, but it's been a busy few months!  First of all, we finished the basement....FINALLY....and then we renovated our upstairs bathroom (with some contractor help this time), and lastly, we updated another room in our house in anticipation of a new arrival in April.  :)  Yea, I snuck that one in there.  Sneaky, huh?  Yea, that sort of explains the struggle to find time to post.  I find that I am sleeping during Pace's naps and running around chasing him when he's awake, so there isn't a lot of time for independent thought....or project completion, really.  The last few weekends have been very productive though, so I hope to post a lot more from now on.  Well, at least until April 15th (give or take).  :) 

I haven't taken any recent photos of the basement, but i'll do that first thing tomorrow (when the light is good), and post them tomorrow or friday.  As far as the bathroom goes, I don't want to give away too much, so I'll show you a before photo to get a feel for what we were working with/living with for the last three years.  I suppose it could have been worse, but I was thrilled to see it go. 

Ick!!  I'm not sure which part was worse, the dirty, cracked, broken electric blue tile, or the flourescent vanity lights that took 3 minutes to turn on.  Hmm...tough choice!  So excited to show you the progress though.  More to come!  :)

And the other project we've been working on is a nursery for baby #2.  There is still a lot left to do, but we are moving along pretty well lately.  I think the nesting part of the program has commenced...I've been a little crazy lately!  To say the least. 

Can't wait to share all of those photos and more info on our new arrival. 


Small change

It's been a busy few months, but whenever I have a free minute (or 10) I try to complete some little project on my to-do list. Today I decided to tackle a quick frame fix. We were given this framed photo as a gift (in a Yankee swap actually). It's a friend of ours photography.

He's super talented and we love the photo but we didn't love the frame...especially not in the new basement bathroom. I am normally a fan of bronze but not in a gray/chrome/espresso filled space. So I decided to change it instead of replacing it. And I had just the thing to do it, a black sharpie. I know, profound right? But it worked....and it was free. Here's the before and after.

Certainly not my best transformation but it took about 10 minutes and it was free so I rank that pretty high on my list!

I have a lot more to share in the new year (including some projects that I've been holding out on and some news to share), but until then, wishing you all the best during this holiday season! Happy new year!


Bathroom Setbacks...and Progress

It has been a little over a year since we started the renovation in our basement.  Yes, you read that correctly.....A YEAR!!  I actually choked up a little when I wrote that.  

Doing some of the work yourself has its perks (total control, lower cost, learning experience), but it also comes with its problems.  The largest of which is when you deal with an untrustworthy contractor.  Case in point: We planned to tile the bathroom ourselves, shower included, but we hired a contractor to rough out the space with plumbing and electrical so that I could just take over and start my work.  I have only ever tiled floors and backsplashes before, so I was a little new to the shower scene......which is precisely why I asked that the contractor get it all set for me to tile. 

He did (or so I thought), and after a few months of work, mostly during nap times, I was finally at this point in the project:

It felt like the home stretch, all I had left was the soffit and shelf.  I was feeling good, even proud of myself (which for a type A personality is not easy to do)......until an inspector came to check it out.  He noticed that we were missing the proper water-resistant wall board in the shower as well as the proper sealant in each corner/crack.  I cried.  A lot.  I'm glad we found out before I grouted and finished it all up, but it still stung.  I am not a confrontational person...usually.....but let's just say the aforementioned contractor is not allowed anywhere near my house....EVER.  He claims that he didn't know that I was doing the tiling (although he has helped us with projects before and knows that I tile, plus I specifically asked him for some tips on shower tiling).  Bottom line: he is a liar and can't be trusted.  I just wish I had known before I got this far.  

Needless to say, we had to fix the problem.  If we left it as is, we would have had water and mold problems down the road.  Maybe not even so far down the road either.  We didn't work this hard and this long to have it all compromised because of one bad shower.  So, we ripped it all out.  To the studs.  I cried again.  We attempted to take down each tile individually, but they were stuck on there pretty good, and it would have compromised the integrity of the already-sub-standard wall board behind them if we continued.  We were told that we could just seal the cracks and corners and we might not have a problem, but it's just a risk we weren't willing to take.  We wanted it done right.  And although I was proud of my work, and could have re-tiled the whole thing myself, I wasn't mentally prepared to start the project again, nor did I want to wait another few months to find the time to do it.  So we called someone in.  Normally, the hardest part is admitting you have a problem, right?  Well, for me, it's asking for help.  But I did.

It cost about $1500 to finish it up.  This included labor, roughing out the new space with the RIGHT type of water-resistant wall-board, sealing it all with Hydra-Ban (a special green-goopy sealant to keep out moisture as a secondary measure), and buying all new tiles (although we were able to save the mosaics).  I'm not used to paying for labor, but just knowing that it was done right made me feel better writing a check to this contractor (whom we trust now and will be using for a to-be-discussed project in January). 

So, the shower is done, as you can see, and everything is hooked up in the bathroom.  Finally isn't even the word to describe it.  I'm not sure what is.  Just an audible "Aaaaah!"  The refreshing one, not the scream one (although I've done that plenty of times during this process).  Now I just have to work my magic and get the space decorated and feeling like home. 

And because I'm a sucker for before and afters, here's a little peek at the transformation over the last year+.

These first few shots are what it looked like when we first started the project.  Cold, dark and a little creepy!

Then we started putting up some walls and getting plumbing and electrical roughed in:  The big hole in the ground below is to connect the shower, toilet and vanity to the pump.  You can see the pump itself in the second two shots.  

And here is the shower after it was "prepared" for me to tile.  You can see that he used regular Durock Cement Board.  This isn't the absolute worst thing you can use in a bathroom generally, but it's definitely not meant for a shower stall.  I should have done my research first rather than relying on/trusting someone else to take the reins.  He also poured a cement floor with a slight pitch toward the center (which was also not the right grade....which we found out later).  Also, you can see some of the nails in the cement board.  Those are supposed to be filled and the corners and edges sealed and caulked.  You live and learn, I suppose.

And here are some shots after my handy-work.  I used 1/8 spacers between my tiles, which I later learned is unnecessary and probably not the best idea either.  If you are using subway tiles in the shower, they are designed to stack on top of each other and leave a small gap.  The added space given by the 1/8 spacer just adds more room for moisture to potentially get trapped over the long term.  Lesson 490 of this project: Best to stack!

And then the final product...after much time and pain and stress:

Done. And done. 
I'll show you the rest of the bathroom next time, along with a sneak peek at the rest of the basement progress.  YAY!



I hit the pause button for the last two months.  It's not like I was keeping up a furious pace with the posts before August, but I seemed to have just stopped the presses since then, only I'm not exactly sure why.  I have been keeping busy, doing DIY projects here and there, finishing up the basement remodel, and doing lots of fun things with Pace, I guess I just haven't been focused enough to write about it all.  Or if I am, I can't seem to find the time to sit at the computer and get it down on paper....er, screen.  I could list a million excuses why, but ultimately, I have just been busy.  But that is hopefully about to change....well, not necessarily the busy part, but the fact that it gets in the way of my writing.  Since Pace turned 1 (holy crap, I know!) I can leave him at the gym daycare for 2 hours, which means an hour of working out for me (on a good day) and an hour to focus my thoughts on a post (or at least get one started) without distraction.  I have lots of fun, interesting, annoying, lessons-learned things to tell you, so I will be back.  And hopefully you will still be here to listen/read.  And I promise to get back to reading all of your fabulous blogs.  I am in desperate need of some inspiration and its all of your blogs that usually perk me up.  So, I guess I just wanted to say that I'm back and I can't wait to share some projects and stories with you. 

Now it's time to hit "Resume".....