Friday, August 23, 2013

The Friday Happy List

Orange is the New Black. What would happen if someone probably a lot like me (a WASP-y yuppie) got dropped in prison for 15 months for a 10-yr-old offense? It's a fascinating look into a world that is both humiliating and humbling, but also heartwarming. I was touched by the many stories of compassion the inmates showed for one another. We also really enjoyed the TV show (available on netflix only), but this is your official warning that it is crass and would probably offend some of you. (Mom, I'm talking to you. Don't watch it.)

Mumford & Sons. Have you ever given someone a gift that you secretly hoped you could keep? Yep, that's me right now. We gave Megan and Aaron tickets to go see Mumford & Sons (and friends) in Guthrie, OK for her birthday. It's part of their Gentleman of the Road tour. I'm insanely jealous, but also insanely excited for them. 

NBC Soccer commercial. There is only one kind of football in my book, but this commercial makes me laugh every time. 

Eating Pizza Out of the Box. Our kitchen is in boxes, and we've neglected to pick up paper plates. We ordered pizza at about 8:30 p.m. last night as we were driving from the new house back to our apartment. I brought the pizza box to bed with me, ate it right out of the box, and then fell asleep. I am not ashamed. It was glorious. 
Thursday, August 22, 2013

If You Can't Take The Heat...

...stay out of the kitchen, at least until the grout dries.

I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to buy a house, pack, move, paint, carpet, and kitchen remodel all in one month. I done lost my mind. I completely underestimated the amount of time and energy all of this would take on our end. Rookie mistake. It's basically a full-time job on top of our real full-time jobs. In no particular order, here's a status update and some general thoughts on this whole process. This probably isn't interesting at all, but I find it therapeutic so bear with me.

- The painters started yesterday. For the next few days, I'll probably only walk into the house with my eyes closed. I can think of few things more nerve-racking than your first glimpse at a new paint color. I'm not sure if it's better or worse to see it as you go (i.e. when painting yourself) or to rip the bandaid off and see the final result (i.e. when professional painters work while you aren't even there). You may remember that when Mom visited 2 weeks ago, we had a winner for the main paint color. In typical fashion, I changed my mind at the last minute. They hope to finish in 2-3 days so before/after shots and a full explanation of the paint choices should be coming soon (I know you can't wait).

- THERE ARE SO MANY DECISIONS. This is by far the worst part of home renovations for me. The little details are never-ending and ever time-consuming. Hardware, faucet, paint, carpet, switch plates, lighting, microwave, and on and on and on. All of these things have to be measured, counted, matched, ordered, purchased, etc. Should the grout be 1/16th of an inch or 1/8th? Should the border come out 2 inches or 4 inches? Where should one paint color stop and the other start? How far down should that light pendant hang? How big of a microwave can we fit in that space? I've spent more time in Home Depot or Lowe's over the last few weeks than in my previous 26 years combined.

- Sometimes you walk in and love everything, and sometimes you walk in and only notice the problems. Since I'm a little more in the glass half empty camp, I tend to side with the latter response. Our contractor has been fantastic to work with, and I'm grateful for that, but like all remodeling projects, something always goes wrong. He took it like a champ when I told him the newly installed and completely grouted backsplash needed to be redone (they laid it in a stacked pattern instead of a brick pattern).

It's starting to look like a completely different kitchen!
- The kitchen floor has been grouted (they ran out of pinwheel tile for the border so we had to wait for more to come in). We got a sneak peek of the floor last night, and I think it's going to look really fantastic. We had a brief moment of grout color panic until we realized that unlike paint, grout dries lighter. Whew. The cabinets are painted and re-installed, and the walls should be painted today or tomorrow. Now we are just waiting on the new backsplash tile, lighting fixtures and cabinet pulls to arrive so they can all be installed. If all goes well, they should be done this weekend or early next week.

- The grill and patio furniture arrive this Saturday. Hopefully we'll get to do some cleaning, gardening, and moving prep while we are hanging around the house waiting for deliveries.

- We are resigned to the fact that carpet won't be done before we move. The few pieces of furniture that go downstairs will just have to live in the garage for a little while. We've learned some interesting things about the carpet industry. Pretty much every carpet dealer private labels their carpets. This makes it impossible to shop around and/or compare prices. Sneaky, sneaky. We've been working with an independent installer that came recommended by friends. He brought some samples out for us to see at the house, but I didn't love any of them. Because of the private labeling, it would be nearly impossible for us to look around ourselves and just let him know what we want. Luckily he hooked us up with his wholesale supplier that is not generally open to the public. They've kindly agreed to let us stop by and look at all the options this Saturday morning.

- Last night we bought a new microwave so they can retrofit it to the existing space where the built-in microwave used to be. I would consider microwave shopping to be one of the more unenjoyable tasks to date.

So that's where we are. Moving day is 8 sleeps away, but I wouldn't know much about sleep these days.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You're Doin' Fine, Oklahoma

This weekend we traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to celebrate my sister's 30th birthday. It was a whirlwind weekend, but we had a lot of fun helping her throw a great party. She had a game-themed party with amazing food and adorable decorations, most of which she made herself. I would only spend that much time unfurling paper poms and stacking food on sticks for my sister.

Popcorn balls on a stick!

Outdoor decorations & a twister tablecloth to complete the theme. 
The lovely cake is the only thing we didn't make. 
It takes 2 people to light the candles once you're 30. 

We made all finger food/food on a stick so everyone could
keep their hands clean to hold cards and/or game pieces. 
She makes 30 look good. 

Big sisters really are the best. Megan and I are very different, but also very similar. People are amazed to learn that we largely missed the typical sister squabbling. We've always been best friends. We've also always done everything together...just to make things more stressful on our poor parents. We got married a few months apart and bought houses a few months apart - who knows what's next?! ;)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Mom's trip to D.C. could not have come at a better time. It was so helpful to have another set of eyes and another pair of hands. We got a lot done, but now I'm exhausted.

Best Mom ever. She packed several boxes
while I was at work on Friday.

We packed almost the entire apartment. It's paper plates & cups from here on out, but I'm so glad to have that massive chore behind us.

Fabric for the patio furniture
The grill and patio furniture are ordered and set for delivery. I'm so excited to finally have some outdoor space that I'd probably be happy to sit on the ground and eat takeout, but I think the new furniture and grill will be way more fun. Thanks for the housewarming gift, Mom & Dad!

Kitchen lighting, hardware, and faucet have also been ordered and should arrive later this week. Here is a peek of all the kitchen finishes so far. I'm still wavering on the paint color, but I think I've narrowed it down to 2 options. I really love the faucet. I read somewhere that hardware is like jewelry for a house. When you think of it like that, it was totally worth it to splurge on this pretty polished nickel faucet.

Kitchen paint samples
#2 - Hollingsworth Green
#7 - Thornton Sage

Last but not least, a paint color for the main part of the house was chosen! More on this later. I never want to look at paint samples again, but I still have to choose colors for the master bedroom and kitchen. Sigh.

We managed to have a little fun by eating good food at some of our favorite restaurants. Other than that it was all work...unless you consider making a million decisions fun. Mom and I probably enjoyed it more than Jon, but he was a trooper even when we had to start all over with the paint samples.

We are headed to Oklahoma this weekend to celebrate my sister's birthday and to properly warm their new house. I need a break, and thankfully we got so much done this weekend that I might actually be able to relax and enjoy myself.

[Notice Jon in the reflection of the window in this photo. I love how hard he is trying even though I'm pretty sure they all still look the same to him.]
Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Paint Saga Continues

I'm so over paint. We picked up 8 paint samples this week determined to find the perfect color.

Painting the SureSwatches
We found these neat paint films at Home Depot called SureSwatch. You paint 2 coats on one side, and once it dries, you can peel it off and stick it directly to the wall. Because the films are clear, you get an accurate representation of what the color will look like on top of your current paint color. It also has nifty guide to help you select a primer if needed. Of course you could just paint the samples directly on the wall (we did that after narrowing it down to what we thought were the 2 favorites), but the films are great because you can easily move them around to test the color in various rooms/light.

But we made one huge mistake with these: we first viewed the samples before peeling them off the backer sheet - I'm not totally sure why we did this...laziness? We just held the samples up in a few different rooms and all agreed that 1 color was the clear favorite (edgecomb gray) with elmira white being a close second. So we proceeded to paint those 2 samples directly on the wall, and, of course, they looked completely different.

Our step 1, which I don't recommend: holding up the 2 color samples rather than peeling them away from the backing (I know they look like 1 color which happens to be the same color as the current paint, but I swear he is holding up 2 different samples and it's different- you'll see the in a minute):

And here are those SAME 2 COLORS painted directly on the wall. No, the lighting has not really changed. Neither of these photos were taken with natural light.

They don't even look like they came from the same color family, much less like they are the same colors. Once we saw how different the paint looked on the wall (very different from the original paint chip), we peeled off the sample sheet & stuck it next to the paint that was directly on the wall. Wouldn't you know it? They looked the same. The SureSwatch sheets are worth the 98 cents, but lesson learned, all the benefit comes from sticking them to the wall - you know, like the directions said. This is also a great lesson on why anything less than clear films or paint directly on the walls will not give you an accurate idea of the final color. Not to mention that looking at inspiration photos is useless because paint photos are incredibly deceiving (see above for proof).

I'm not totally giving up. The first round of colors were all too cool despite looking pretty warm on the paint chips. They look almost light blue or lavender next to the wood trim, which we definitely don't want. We're going back today for 4 more samples - all shades I previously eliminated based on the paint chips for being too warm. Go figure.

In other much happier news, here is the kitchen tile floor. It's coming along, and I think I'm in love. :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

Dining room: Monday afternoon compared to Wednesday evening.

And here is a sneak peek of the kitchen. The granite backsplash and tile floor are gone. We couldn't go in because the subfloor material was still drying, but it's already starting to look better. Turns out the previous floor had no subfloor, which explains why the tiles were cracking.

We had to decide where to place the border this morning, which like most construction decisions, was more complicated than anticipated. It's the smallest things that become the biggest problems. They are starting to lay the tile floor today so when we go back tonight I'll be able to see the pattern. This is both exciting and terrifying.

We are also picking up paint samples today and more importantly, picking up Mom from the airport...just in time to restore my sanity and relieve Jon of his decision-making duties.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Picking the Perfect Paint Color for Wood Trim

Entry & dining room (that light fixture needs to go
too, but one thing at a time)
I knew I was in trouble before this all began. After bringing home color decks and carefully selecting a few shades, I presented my findings to Jon who immediately declared that they all looked the same. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It was time to call in the reinforcements so Mom is coming this weekend to help make some decisions. I think Jon and I are both relieved.

It's a little easier to choose paint colors when you are working with white trim, but I can't bring myself to paint the trim. I can always change my mind, but it's easier to paint wood rather than strip paint off wood so I don't want to touch it until I'm 100% sure.

I also do like the wood trim. It's in good shape and adds charm, but it does present some problems... particularly when it comes to choosing paint colors.

The current wall color throughout most of the house is richmond bisque. Although viewing colors on a monitor is deceiving, it's pretty easy to tell that this color is too golden. It looks fine at certain angles, but overall, it casts the room in a faint yellow glow. It's a little bit like walking into a giant jar of honey.

I want to modernize the space while complementing with the wood tones. Gray is really popular right now - it's basically the new beige, but every true gray I've tried is way too cold against the natural trim. I need a warm color with a modern edge. I've learned this is much easier said than done. I can't even find good inspiration photos on Houzz or Pinterest because everything is paired with white trim. Here are some of the contenders shown against the current wall color. They are all various shades or greige:

Top to bottom: Benjamin Moore tapestry beige, edgecomb
gray, natural linen, and Sherwin Williams wool skein

wool skein by Sherwin Williams

What do you think? Do you have a favorite? What neutral paint colors do you love?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Closing Day!

I tried to close my eyes while signing to avoid seeing the numbers. 

We are so grateful for God's providence, not just in this situation, but in all aspects of our lives. A year ago, we were convinced we would relocate from D.C. I was looking forward to moving to a smaller city closer to home, back to my Midwest roots. Thinking we had everything figured out was really just an invitation for God to change our hearts and minds. It's not always how you think it will happen, but it's always how God wants it to happen. There is so much comfort in serving a faithful God.

He provided a new job for Jon, which is going really well, and a great house for us. There are so many anecdotes along the way that speak to God's control and perfect timing. He protected us from bad decisions and constantly provided reassurance that our choices were the right ones. The house decision was no exception.

It's almost like this house was just waiting for us. They tried to sell it a year ago, and even this time around, it was on the market for a couple of months - a rare occurrence in DC's competitive real estate market. I thought shopping for a house was a lot like shopping for a wedding dress just with more dollars involved - a somewhat maddening, overly emotional process. Sometimes the first dress is perfect and you don't have to try on any others. Sometimes you try on several before realizing multiple dresses could fit the bill. And sometimes (like me) you change your mind about the first dress you ordered and start all over from scratch. Yipes! With this house, we knew right away. We walked in and immediately fell in love. It's such a wonderful house that I have no idea how it stayed on the market so long - except for God's providence.

I am a little sad that we will continue to live so far from family, but plane tickets will be purchased, phone calls will be made, and blog posts will be written. I'm choosing to focus on my excitement instead.

For those of you who haven't seen the house and are curious, this is it (I suggest making use of your mute button to avoid the terrible elevator music). The house was built in 1937, and most of the finishes are original to the house. The sellers are lovely people who have lived in the house for 27 years. It was their first home, and now it's our first home.

We appreciate all of your prayers and encouragement throughout this process. Everyone is invited to come stay with us - just not all at once. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Friday Happy List

The Way Way Back. This was the highlight of last weekend. We spent most of the weekend purging the house of everything we didn't want to pack and move. We aren't pack rats & our apartment is only 980 sq. ft., but it's amazing how much "junk" we managed to accumulate in 4 years. Our biggest find was $20 that my mom sent in a card several months ago. That's about all the encouragement we needed to quit organizing and go to a movie. The Way Way Back is a sweet coming-of-age story, heartwarming and funny. I particularly enjoyed Allison Janney's character, but I always love her so that's no surprise.

Starbucks Refreshers. Have you tried these yet? They are amazing. I don't like coffee - it's too hot for coffee right now anyway - so this is my go-to drink. It's refreshing (duh), low in calories, and has just enough caffeine to keep me awake in the afternoon. I recommend the cool lime flavor with added berries.

Sun Chips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Chips. I bought these at the store during a moment of weakness (I blame all impulse purchases on the stress of home buying), but I'm glad I did because they are pretty darn tasty. Do yourself a favor and buy them for your next cookout.

 Rifle Paper Co. Thank You Postcards. I love Rifle Paper Co. They have the best stationery. You never know when you'll need to send a thank you note so I always like to have some pretty ones on hand. These are my current favorites.