Bring on the Summer!

Today is a big day! It’s the last day of first grade for Lincoln, and the end of another year of preschool for Juniper. We’ve been counting down the days for over a month now, and I think we’re all ready for the break in routine.

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We’re looking forward to this evening, when Juniper will don a graduation cap with her classmates and celebrate “the big kids” exiting her preschool program- off to the real world of kindergarten. And this weekend Lincoln and David will attend their first big-deal scouting event: Dad & Lad overnight at Camp Thunderbird. Then, it’s all systems go with a full lineup of summer excitement. Swim lessons, dance camp, a family vacation in Chelan, and as many popsicles as we can stomach.

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I’m excited to be fully present at all of it this summer, and I’m grateful for the opportunity that living in this small town provides. For the last month or so, and essentially for the first time since we made the move down here, we’ve had the luxury of enjoying our weekends together as a family. It has been such an amazing treat! We’ve fished and explored, visited and celebrated with family, and have just generally enjoyed being together in one place for longer than a couple of hours each evening. That is what brought us here to begin with, and it feels so good to be living this way!

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Adventures at Schaefer Park on the Skookumchuck River

Quickie Fireplace Update

Remember this mess? I figured it would be a quick and easy process to spiff this area up, so I decided to just go for it.

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It was mostly a simple process- it was easy to unscrew the clamps holding the gold doors onto the fireplace, then they went down to the garage for a scrub and a fresh coat of paint. Once the doors were off, it became apparent that the previous owners hadn’t cleaned out the ashes from their fires in a while. Or maybe ever. There was at least six inches of ash and debris piled up in there! Thinking I would make quick work of it, we brought the shop vac up, and I started to suck up the mess. In less than 30 seconds, the living room was filled with a plume of smoky ash, as everything I was sucking up the front was shooting directly out the back! Still not really sure what happened there- but it was an epic fail. I switched to a broom and dustpan, and after an hour or so running the fan out the open door, the air was clear(ish) and everything on the first floor was blanketed with a fine dusting of ash. Admittedly, this was not the best start to a simple project!

Fireplace Update

Once the dust had (literally) settled and I had wiped everything clean, I caulked along the edges of the bricks where they met the wall. There were some gaps there and I’m always impressed by how quickly a little caulk can make things look finished. Then it took less than a quart of white paint to freshen up the bricks, and just a bit of a sample test pot of paint (Interlude by Behr) to update the mantle. One can of spray paint in oil rubbed bronze finish completed the task, and we were back in business in 24 hours! And the total cost for this update was under $30! I think it was time and money well spent.


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Of course, cleaning up this one small area just serves to highlight the flaws surrounding it, but we’re on a slow and steady track here. One little thing at a time! I think finally getting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and trim around the windows and ceiling will make another huge difference in this space, so that might be next. I’m also thinking that Glenda’s suggestion to add some cool fabric to the back of the china cabinet might be fun. There’s certainly no shortage of fabric in this house!

Be back soon with more mini updates!

xoxo -t

New House Tour- Dining & Living Room

The house tour continues! I’m back to show you more of the upstairs, specifically the North-West quadrant/AKA the dining room and living room. For the most part, we’ve done very little to make our mark on any of these spaces, aside from moving furniture in, so prepare yourself to be underwhelmed!

This is the view from the kitchen looking out into the dining room, which is the area that has seen the most action so far. David stripped wallpaper in here a couple days before Thanksgiving, and painted the walls and trim. We still need to paint the trim around the window and around the doors, and also the doors themselves, to brighten them up from the dull creamy yellow to match the bright white trim that we prefer.

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Here’s a pic from the listing so you can see the REAL before of this space:

Dining Room

And now that we’ve stripped it of all that sweet country charm:

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Seeing these pics make me realize just how bland these spaces currently are! There’s hardly any art on the walls, and the beige paint and beige carpets and wood furniture are just so boring! We need to get some personality up in here soon! I’m thinking curtains on that window and a different rug under the table will help punch things up. Someday we would love to rip up that wall-to-wall carpet and lay down some hardwood floors, and there has been some talk of scraping the fancy glitter popcorn ceilings as well.

I’m torn about the future of this sweet built-in china cabinet. I love having the extra storage and I think it’s a great feature of the house. I don’t love the dark stained wood though, and I find it especially annoying when the trim is all painted white. I try to think of it like a piece of furniture so it doesn’t bug me as much, but a part of me wants to paint it or re-stain it or do something to it to make it more me. Another part of me thinks it would be terrible to “destroy” this original feature by doing anything to it though. I haven’t decided which part will win. Perhaps they can compromise and we’ll just swap out the hardware or something.

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Past the dining room we have the upstairs living room area:

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I love the big brick fireplace in this room (it’s a lot like the one we had in the last house which was beautiful and my favorite thing about that place) though it definitely could use some love. That gold screen, for one, must go! Perhaps Santa too, given that it’s almost February? We’ll see…

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And just for fun, another listing shot of this space before-before:

Upstairs LR

The previous owners were kind enough to leave those lovely sheer curtains for us, but we were in the house for about 45 minutes before we ripped them down. They were not kind enough to leave us the kitty. Jerks.

This is the rather boring view of the other side of the room. Again, no art, no personality, and populated only by the couch that we very nearly left on the side of the road in Burien. It came along as a placeholder until we can afford to replace it, and unfortunately, it’s likely it will be sitting there in all that swirly red glory for a good long time! Those paint swatches have been there for over a month now, and we’re still uncommitted to either color. We’ve talked about just continuing the dining room shade in here, since it’s all just one big room, but that feels kind of boring. And so we do nothing!

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This beauty is another gift from the former owners, and one that we were only too happy to accept, despite the fact that none of us play. I love listening to the kids bang on it (gently, of course), and hope that one or both of them will be amenable to lessons at some point in the future. A piano is something that we were unlikely to ever purchase, so it feels like such a special thing to have one without expending any effort. There’s even a selection of sheet music in the seat! It’s the lazy music lover’s dream come true.

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And that, my friends, concludes this portion of the tour. This has definitely inspired me to add some life to these beige boxes we’ve got going on here! I’ve been telling myself that we just got here and everything will take some time (which is totally reasonable and true) but we’ve been here almost three full months now. It’s probably time to hang some art! Will be back to show you interesting updates should there be any, and will continue the tour of the rest of the place at some point. For posterity and stuff.

xoxo- t

New House Tour- Kitchen

I was chatting with a friend this week, and she mentioned that she was curious about the house and requested pictures. Then another friend said that she had no idea what was going on in my life these days, so I decided maybe it was time to provide a little update! I started this blog with good intentions of keeping family and friends looped in on our adventures in our new hometown, but as usual, life has gotten in the way. Since the place will never be super tidy and Pinterest-ready, I decided to just take a few pics and throw them up here, so those who are interested can see what we’ve been up to. I started with the kitchen.

This first photo was taken from the dining room, looking into the left side of the kitchen. Farthest left (out of frame where the parquet floor is) is a hallway that leads to all the bedrooms and the main floor bath and a staircase leading downstairs. This little counter/desk/glass cabinet area is kind of weird and we’re still figuring out how to use it effectively. It’s on the list for potential revamping down the line into something more functional for our family. But the BIG cabinet to the right of it is a pantry, which thrills me to no end. It is SO nice to have a place to store things inside the kitchen. In our last house, we stored cans and dry goods in the laundry room, which was downstairs. Needless to say, this is much more convenient!

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Just in case you’re a weirdo like me who is into this sort of thing, here’s a shot of the inside of the pantry. JUST LOOK at how big it is! And for the record, these little clear bins on the top shelf are a lifesaver for a shorty like me. Nothing gets shoved to the back of the cabinet in no man’s land, and you can just pull the whole thing down to find what you need. And this can rack ended up being pretty revolutionary too. You’re welcome, fellow organizing geeks.

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To the right of the pantry is the first project that we Gus took on in the new house. I lifted this photo from his FB page, BTW, which is why the chalk drawing looks nicer and the light is different. This wall was covered with some (un)lovely floral wallpaper when we moved in, but a spray bottle and a couple of hours of peeling made that a distant memory. The wall beneath was in rough shape due to a crappy patch job on a former doorway, so Gus spent a few days skimcoating and sanding and prepping before he painted the whole wall with a couple of coats of chalkboard paint and hung up some hooks for display/storage of our cookware.

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We still need to finish peeling the wallpaper border around the rest of the room, and throw away the hideous rugs that the former owner left (why haven’t I done that already?) and eventually we would love to replace the ugly linoleum floor. The floor is in fine shape, and not the ugliest I’ve ever seen, so we’re living with it until it comes to the top of the list. (Meaning it will be with us for a good long while!) The wallpaper, however, will be leaving us once we can decide on a paint color for the walls.

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The photo above shows the view straight into the kitchen from the dining room doorway. The slider leads to the south side of the deck that wraps around from the front of the house and goes to the backyard. The homemade bookcase was left in the garage by the previous owners and is serving as a temporary solution to the cookbook storage/microwave homelessness problem that we currently face. We’re contemplating a more permanent solution in the form of a built-in cabinet in that same location, or perhaps in the spot where that desk/glass cabinet thing is. The fridge is one of the few appliances that didn’t die upon our arrival*, so I’m fully expecting its inevitable demise in the next month or so.

The dishwasher, on the other hand, was the third appliance (of three so far) to fail and require replacement in the two-plus months that we’ve been here. Our replacement strategy is cheap and serviceable for this phase of the game. We figure that if we ever remodel the kitchen at some future point, we may want to go higher-end, but right now we just need something that works and doesn’t leak water all over the floor. Gus even installed this baby himself, which saved us the $70 Home Depot install fee. Unfortunately, he was hit by an un-licensed, un-insured driver while on the way to the hardware store to pick up a part that he needed to complete the job, so you know. One step forward, eleventy-bajillion back, as is our way. He (and Junie, who was with him) are both fine. He was driving our old, paid-for minivan, which is not fine, but it still operates. Time, and an insurance adjuster, will determine what happens to it next.

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Also please take note of the lovely wallpaper which continues on this wall, and the delightful scallop trim between the cabinets over the window. The lacy curtain was also a gift from the former occupants, and will be going the way of the wallpaper, scallops, and rug.

Continuing our rotation around the kitchen, we come to the lovely new oven. This item was the number two major unexpected expense to arise after our move. The stove that was here was a perfectly functional ceramic cooktop unit that developed a giant crack a few weeks ago. The last house also had a glass top and we managed to break that one too, so we decided to replace it with an old-school electric coil cooktop oven instead. We figure we can’t break this (probably), and though there is gas in the house, there isn’t gas in the kitchen and we didn’t want the added expense of running the line right now. Someday if we remodel the kitchen, we’ll deal with it then.

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That doorway on the right of the frame leads to the dining room, so that completes the 360 tour of the kitchen. So there you have it! One room of our new little abode in all its glory. Maybe some day, we’ll do some kind of impressive remodel reveal and show you what handy DIY-ers we are and how far we’ve come. Until then, though, this is how we’re living and some of what we’ve been doing so far for those who are curious. There has been some wallpaper peeling happening in other areas of the house, so I’ll probably be back at some point with another little photo tour or two.

On the list for (eventual, not in order) kitchen improvements:

  1. Peel the rest of the wallpaper & paint the walls.
  2. Paint the cabinets(?) We’re strongly considering this. The dark cabinets are in fine shape, but they’re very dark. I think a nice neutral light grey would really lighten the room up and help modernize the room. Replacing the cabinets is not in the short-term plan, but is something we’ll probably do eventually, so painting them seems like a good intermediate step. We’ll see if we have the follow-through to actually undertake this task!
  3. Install a backsplash. This seems like something we should be able to do (we watch a LOT of HGTV, and they make it look so easy!) but I don’t know if we’ll get up the guts to try it ourselves and hiring it out is not in the budget right now. But that wood trim has got to go!
  4. Build a cabinet to replace the ugly duckling next to the fridge that will hold the microwave, cookbooks, and recycling. Also potentially the coffee/tea paraphernalia.
  5. Figure out what to do with the weird wasted space next to the pantry. We don’t really need a little desk there, and the glass-fronted cabinet is nice but not super necessary. There’s got to be a better use for this.
  6. Reconfigure the layout so you can use the refrigerator and dishwasher at the same time, and also so I can reach the cabinets above the dishwasher when it’s open. There may not be a solution for this that doesn’t involve a full kitchen remodel and new cabinets, but we keep considering things. Items 4, 5, and 6 all feel like they could potentially be solved together with one smart solution. It’s all probably out of scope right now, but we’re always scheming and pondering.

Any helpful suggestions? We’re all ears.

*In case you were wondering, the dryer was the first to go (RIP). It just quit working exactly one week after we moved in. Wouldn’t turn on at all. The oven top broke about a month later at the beginning of December. And we think the dishwasher has leaked ever since we got here, but it was getting noticeably worse so a well-timed Christmas gift of a Home Depot gift certificate sealed its fate. Still hanging in there: the previously mentioned refrigerator, the washer, and hot water heater. Dead pool, anyone?

gun-shy

Because I live in fear of mis-using words (former English major with a reputation to uphold), I will often reference dictionary.com when I’m writing, just to make sure I’ve picked correctly from the endless list of available choices this language offers. I did that just now, after choosing the word “gun-shy” as the post title here. Turns out, I nailed it! Dictionary.com lists this perfectly applicable definition of the word in the #2 spot:

hesitant, wary, or distrustful, especially because of previous unpleasant experience.

So, remember when we thought we were going to be moving to Dallas but then didn’t? Well, that’s just one example of a whole string of half-cooked plans that Gus and I have made over the years in an attempt to re-imagine life as we know it. We’ve talked and formulated and researched and explored no less than a half-dozen possibilities with varying degrees of dedication and zeal, and despite it all, we managed to remain right where we were. Firmly rooted in a place that always seemed close enough to whatever it was that we sought elsewhere to make the effort of leaving and starting over seem irresponsible/improbable/impossible or all of the above.

Hesitant, wary, and distrustful is absolutely how I felt for just about the entirety of the last two months, though I mostly managed to keep all that mess stuffed tightly underneath a calm and unaffected presentation (as you do). I tried not to think about all the things that we had to do, or how many things could possibly go wrong because thinking about it did nothing but raise my blood pressure and bring on unbearable anxiety. Instead, I found myself in this mechanical survival mode where only the most-important next thing would be allowed to surface. It got handled, then the next thing could come up. One by one, we just trudged through the process, trying to find the bottom of the seemingly endless list.

It all felt a bit like a tenuous house of cards. All of the progress we made along the way felt impossibly fortunate and so unlike what we were used to encountering that we fully expected it all to come tumbling down at the slightest disturbance. But now, just over two months after we set out on this crazy road, we’re here. And I’m finally starting to relax and allow myself to believe that this is our new life. We live here! In this small town with no traffic and great schools and so much potential to create the life we’ve been dreaming about. It’s all happening. Mind. Blown.

There’s still a PackRat in front of the house, and plenty of boxes of worldly possessions yet to be rehomed. But we’re here. And the new story is underway. Whew!

change of life

Hi friends! I was a little dismayed the other day when I visited my blog and saw that the last post was made over a year ago. Has it really been so long? It makes me sad to see that, and it also feels wrong to just abandon the place, so I’m here to say hello.

There’s big change brewing around these parts, and I want to share everything but I’m not ready right now. I’ve started/revived gusandlulu.com and have also posted there in a similarly vague manner. I may move some things around, may merge this all back together at some point, but right now, this is what feels right to me so I’m going with it.

If you’re still here after all this time (you’re not, are you?!?), I want to say thank you for your virtual friendship and your patience! I’ve been doing a reasonable job keeping up with you (in a sneaky lurker way), but I’m there. You all continue to inspire me and I’m excited to share something that I’ve made with you again someday. Soon!

xo
t

Breaking the seal

In an effort to alleviate some of that new-blog-blank-page pressure, I feel compelled to post something (anything) in this space to get the ball rolling.

So:

At the end of 2008, when we learned that we were expecting for the first time, gusandlulu was born. Since then, Thing1 and Thing2 have materialized as actual (delightful) humans, and life has changed in a million ways. The gusandlulu blog morphed into a sewing blog and has been rebranded to match shops teetering on the precipice of extinction. And with life about to dramatically change again, it seems strange to pick up the radio silence over there after over a year and go back to writing about *us* there, so I just decided not to.

Gusandlulu is getting a new lease on life (and so are Gus and Lulu) and this is where I’m going to share the details. Or not, as you may have come to expect! More to come. It’s nice to be back!

xoxo- t