Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We're Really Not This Messy

When I was little, I used to hate when my mom made us clean the house for guests, "But they're our friends! They'll like us no matter how the house looks!" 

Now that I'm older, I totally get it. It's not about whether or not your friends/family will still love you, it's about pretending you don't actually wallow in your bedsheets for 2 weeks, let your cats climb on the dining room table, and have a constant competition with your garbage can to see exactly how much trash it can hold. It's about showing you know how you're supposed to be living - somewhere in between sanitary conditions and Martha-Stewart-organized, and hopefully a little closer to the latter.

Since we have exactly T-minus 8 hours until Mike's niece arrives tonight, we've been on high alert, hyper aware of how our home appears to the objective eye. I organized the chaos in the office so we could cram all our other boxes in there, basically making the office the "under the rug" area. Don't open that door.

And we got all crazy in the guest bedroom, trimming out the window, finishing most of the baseboards on the floor, and setting up the new bed.

Nail guns are one of my favorites! I also learned they are
responsible for 150,000 emergency room visits a year!

We hustled in the kitchen - Mike got the shelves up, patched, sanded and stained them, and I unpacked our dishes. He even put up the kitchen hood! Here's a shot in progress:

before staining, with the kitchen hood partially up

completed shelves and installed hood - we still need to remove
the protective plastic. The hood is actually stainless steel.
close up of the kitchen shelves

I think by the end of the day today, we'll have a kitchen sink and dishwasher, and I'm crossing my fingers....hopefully a stove! If not, at least we'll have our grill, a waffle maker, and a crock pot to feed Mike's niece with. Mike also pulled a late night countertop sealing session:

step by step, we're getting stuff done...

Our master bath vanity, pendant lights, and mirrors were installed (thanks, Mike!), and although I'm second guessing my mirror choice and we're looking for a large rectangular one now, this will suffice for the time being. I also finished painting the ceiling in the shower area and could finally properly place the shower light. It really made a difference; the shower feels super glamorous when you're in it, and I can't stop staring at my 2" hexagon tiles. 

vanity shot on the left, shower view on the right

The glass in the shower area hasn't been installed yet (or even priced out), but to be honest, the shower is so huge that the water doesn't even hit the back wall, much less the area where the glass would be. This is awesome for two reasons - no rush to get the glass, and when we finally do get the glass - it won't get too many water spots. 

I think the thing we're most excited about with our niece's visit, is not that she's got us motivated to finish up some lingering projects; it's that we have an excuse to go out and do stuff for the next few days! We made a whole list of hikes to go on, waterfalls to see, things to show her...we can't wait to get out and do something other than remodeling. Fun starts now!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Into the Dust Pit and Back Out the Other Side

It is more difficult than you would think, living in a house that's going through a full-out remodel. If you have the means, I would highly recommend moving out of your home, if you ever take this on in the future. Our house is constantly dusty; anything you wash gets dirty within minutes, and we don't have a working kitchen or even a kitchen sink. I have a whole new level of appreciation for deep sinks with a proper faucet and garbage disposal.

We just made it through a week of grinding the countertops, which created an atmosphere in the house close to what I imagine working in a quarry feels like. Despite our best efforts to tarp off the kitchen and blanket our belongings, our entire house and our very own lungs got coated in a thick layer of concrete dust. 

Our kitchen looks ghostly with all the plastic and tarps up!

We had to live only in the master bedroom (due to all the dust), and I sort of wish we had drugged the cats for those few days, since all 6 of us were cooped up in the room together. It was impossible to use the toaster oven, and we did carry out and fast food, sitting on the floor of our bedroom, eating off a cardboard box. I kept reminding myself it was like camping, but without the beauty of nature, it's hard to keep a positive attitude.

But after a few days, we made it through the grinding and polishing, and then we moved on to tile, which was considerably less dirty. I picked this beautiful ice white glass subway tile, which makes the kitchen look incredibly clean. The picture below doesn't quite do it justice, but when the whole kitchen is done, I hope to get a better shot!

Mike celebrating after day 1 of tile.

The empty horizontal spaces are where the open kitchen shelving will go. I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but because we found mold and had to ditch the old kitchen cabinets, that left us with an extra cost we didn't anticipate in the remodel. The solution? We only purchased lower cabinets, and on top, we're putting open kitchen shelving. It works perfectly for us for several reasons: we love the open airy feel, it updates the traditional style of this 90s kitchen, the kitchen feels bigger, and our everyday dishes are all white, which makes them ideal for displaying!

Adin from Artisan Tile laying the last tile on the back wall.

Adin knocked out the tiles in 3 days, and then it was on to building the shelves. Mike found a blog online where this girl built her own shelves, and he decided to go ahead and make ours!

The frames for the shelves and a glimpse of the unsealed counters.

After all the kitchen insanity, and because the office looks like the picture below, we really felt a serious need to organize and clean.

One day, hopefully not too far in the future, this will be my office.

In a way, chaos in your house reflects the chaos in your life and mind. There is a real level of peace I get from not only organizing my belongings, but paring them down. One $99 closet organizer and an afternoon will buy you this sort of inner calm:

This is everything we've been wearing the last couple months!

Sure, there's like 2 more boxes and 3 more bags of clothes, but I was pretty happy to find that we've pared down quite a bit from our previous lives, and we picked out even more things we can donate. I think I jettisoned about half my closet once I quit corporate office life. I still have my collection of LBD (little black dresses) over there on the left, though. There's a level of practicality that speaks to keeping those around.

We're hoping to get out of the house more this coming week - we miss our nightly walks and just exploring around Oregon. Not only do our lungs need some fresh air, but spring is here, whether we're ready or not! Usually, the last frost is in May here in Bend, and I'm a little bit concerned for our plum tree. Should it freeze again, the blossoms will fall off and we won't get any fruit this year. Sad face (for potential lost plums and climate change).

Enjoying the beautiful plum blossoms while we can...

Mike's niece is coming up on Tuesday and we are so excited to show her around our little town. More to come!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chicago, LA, and Home Again

We wrapped up our super busy February with a move into our not-quite-completed home:

we hired professional movers this time to save our backs!

It's a little awkward to live in a home with no stove/kitchen sink/dishwasher/master bedroom/washer-dryer. We can't actually unpack things, because some walls still need to be painted, we don't have interior doors or trim, we're still missing light fixtures, closet doors/systems, and the kitchen is still under construction (counters need grinding, walls need tile). But it's such a relief to be in a home we own, with no worries about the landlord finding out about our (four!) cats, and knowing we can change anything we want.

the current state of the living room

Our current "kitchen" - toaster oven, coffee pot, and hot water dispenser.

It's not all under construction...the flooring is in, and our toilet is awesome.

Princess approves of the new floors!

our fancy toilet, with the heated seat and "nightlight."

We moved the kitties into the home, then 4 days later, took off for Chicago for Wedding Reception Round 2. It was actually really nice to see people I hadn't seen in a long while, and catch up with old friends. I was so busy with friends and family, I didn't even take any pictures!

And then we were off to LA, where we ate our way through the first few days. We had been daydreaming about the food - so we cruised around, alternating running into restaurants and eating in the car. 

Cook's tortas! It's on Atlantic and you should really go.

Donut Friend in Highland Park - I got mine with dulce de leche, bananas and whipped cream.

Ceviche at Guisado's in Echo Park.

Mole tacos and Bistek en salsa roja at Guisado's.

the charcuterie platter at Bestia, where we also saw Gordon Ramsay!

We stayed in a super creepy mansion in Echo Park's historical Victorian neighborhood. The homes are all from the late 1800s and are very well restored and maintained. However, that doesn't detract from the scary factor. This is a pic of the home from the outside:

I was pretty nervous every time we came home late, convinced I'd see a ghostly apparition standing at the top of the stairs, or around the corner....or at the side of my bed. But it did have a nice view:
The view from the 3rd story balcony

Honestly the location was ideal for our jaunts around town. We could be back in our old 'hood in 10 minutes. In fact, it was so close to downtown, that one morning Mike ran out and brought me back breakfast in bed!

the coddled egg from Eggslut in Grand Central Market - breakfast is served!

Our LA Wedding Reception Round 3 was just as wonderful as the Chicago one - but imagine having everyone you love in one room, with like 45 seconds to talk to each one. It's overwhelming! I wish I could spend a whole day with each one of our friends and family...and even that wouldn't be enough. I think another trip to Chicago and LA is in order for this year.

But while we're home, we're chipping away at the house projects, one by one. Today, we finally got the carpet installed in the master bedroom, and I'm finishing up the paint so we can move in. Completed "after" pic of the master bedroom coming up soon!

Adding a little drama to the master bedroom with the dark accent wall!