Monday, November 14, 2011

House, Warmed.

Over the weekend, the fruits of our basement redo labor culminated with a gathering of some of our dear friends.

That's the most simplistic way of saying... we all got real tore up on Saturday night. 

Chris and I have spent the last seven weeks coming home from work, shoveling pizza or turkey sammiches down our throats, then changing into raggedy old clothes for as many hours of DIY fun as we could muster. It all began with a little paint, which wasn't a little so much as it was 6 gallons of Kilz primer, 4 gallons of Benjamin Moore Natura paint (no VOC, thankyouverymuch), and a gallon of Ben's very amazing trim paint in a luscious, satiny Decorator's White.

More on the deets of that later.

DIY is hard, you guys. And not because painting takes much talent, but because it's hard to come home and work after work and work with someone that has very different design opinions and methods of attack than yourself. There were moments in which tile chipped, door hinges wouldn't budge and I could have thrown a trowel at Chris' head and stomped off in a fury of SHUT UP AND JUST LISTEN TO ME rage. My mantra for each one of those moments was do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? 

Because without hesitation, I fully admit that each time something went wrong, I was mumbling "I told you so" in my head.

We made it though. We made it through a giant project during a stressful time and still, for the most part, liked each other at the conclusion of each week.

So we decided to celebrate. Chris suggested having a few friends over for a few drinks and I took his words at face value. I invited a few friends then he handed me his guest list and revealed that his idea of a few was more along the lines of 30 or 40. Okay, so, a few turned into a few dozen which turned into a keg and a week's worth of baking and cooking in anticipation and self-imposed anguish over I MUST IMPRESS PEOPLE WITH MY DOMESTIC TALENTS!

And that was entirely moronic because people that are drinking beer like dehydrated camels couldn't give half of a shit about my made from scratch maple cupcakes or the pumpkin donuts I packaged myself for Take & Enjoy In the Morning purposes.

We awoke yesterday amidst a small sea of partiers that had slept on the couches, in the spare bedroom, and... the porch! On a November night in Minnesota. Two of them, peacefully enjoying respite from the looming threat of a hangover on a porch that couldn't possibly have been more than 35 degrees.

Hardcore, those two!

It took three trips to the curb this morning to clear out the VFW stench in our basement. Whew, so glad we spent nearly two months getting it ready to be trashed! The empty keg, champagne corks scattered on the floor, sticky spots where people spilled shot glasses full of tequila and pink vodka. Yesterday was a day full of napping and popping Advil: with the exception of one mixed drink over the summer, I haven't touched hard alcohol since last March. Not because there was an issue, but simply because my Creeping Up On 30 body couldn't handle it anymore. It was one of the most SO TOTALLY WORTH IT hangovers I have ever endured.

Thank you to everyone that helped us get the house ready. Thank you to everyone that took our phone calls when we wanted to claw one another's eyes out. And thank you to our friends-- many of whom drove from the other side of the river, found babysitters for their children, and some that even had to work the next morning-- that came over with not only thoughtful gifts, but with huge smiles and good cheer.

Both our house and our hearts are warmed (and still palpitating a bit, ahem, TEQUILA) over the kindness and generosity of your friendship.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where My Sheep At?!

Today has been a Count to Ten kind of day.

Or perhaps more appropriately, a Count to 1000 Day. Because counting to ten has happened at least a hundred times prior to lunch even hitting the table.

Counting to three is for the kids; counting to ten is for me. It's the only way to take a crack at regaining self control, composure, and the will to continue on with the day.

The older two boys and I have been deeply engaged in a battle of CLEAN UP YO' SHIT, DUDE for almost a month now. Constant dumping out of buckets and bins, cutting and tearing of paper, the leaving of garbage all around the house. If the mess came from fun, sure, I'd be happy to pick up after them. If the day had them enjoying PotatoHeads and Play Doh so much together that they couldn't be troubled to clean up before moving on to the next activity, that would be one thing. But I am talking outright MAKING A MESS TO MAKE A MESS and refusing to clean it up to the point that we have missed out on other things.

They're making a mess because they are bored; I know, I can hear you all rolling your eyes and thinking it. Even you over there in Colorado! That may be true to some extent, but it is also 1, the result of an ADHD oldest child; 2, a three year old that only wants to do what his ADHD older brother does; and 3, it is their attempt to take attention away from the babies and cast the spotlight back onto themselves.

But whats a girl to do?! I have made every effort to NOT use that babies as a reason or excuse; meaning, I never tell the older boys that I have to stop playing superheroes or we have to leave the park or etc etc because of anything pertaining to the babies. Even if I have one whaling at the top of his lungs, I try not to say, "boys, WE ARE OUTTA HERE because the baby is hungry/poopy/otherwise up in arms about life."

I have tried to clean up with them. I have tried to make it a game. We have tried timers, timeouts, the removal of privileges and the threat of looming consequences. Last week, we missed the library, the park, and a bike ride all because it took the boys more than an hour to cleanup their crap. There are moments in which I simply want to sob and beg them to just fricken listen to my words and stop making life so difficult!

This entire day has been one of those moments.

As I sit here, the babies are upstairs in their cribs fussing. Not crying out of need or sadness, just fussing. They have a case of The Croup for a second time this month; Baby C is cutting two more upper teeth, Baby H has not taken more than half of his bottle since yesterday morning. Between the bodily fluids, the crying, the whining, the fighting and the ten billion tiny toys spread out in every corner of every room of the house, I am on the verge of a meltdown.

Much has been going on at home-- that tends to happen in grownup lives and grownup relationships, huh? The move and the Still For Sale status of the previous house adds a weight to our daily lives. Even when we try our hardest, I am certain that the Housing Beast is heavy on both mine and Chris' shoulders each day. The problem is compounded by late nights painting, restless sleep haunted by six figure real estate deficiencies, and early mornings chirping at one another over all of it.

Oh, and as the size of my backside reached new heights, at the urging of my trainer I gave up flour, sugar, processed foods and starches. In other words, I have been existing on nothing more than Diet Coke, coffee, string cheese, eggs, and chicken with nothing but salt and pepper for almost a month. Yep, my jeans are too big, my cholesterol is probably rising, but more than anything? I WANT TO CLAW SOMEONE'S EYES OUT.

Do you ever feel like this? I know we all do, but maybe it'll have to be me to volunteer my own life as an example of flawed, distressed, and almost buckling under pressure.

There isn't a down time- when I am at work, it is about taking care of someone else's life. When I am at home, it is about trying to make sure my partner is happy and my friends don't hate me for never being around. I don't get to workout anymore-- shit, I didn't do so much as a single race in 2011. I don't get to blog when or about what I want to anymore. I feel like there was such a giant part of my life spent WISHING for all of this-- the big job, the relationship, the house-- and now it's here and I'm drowning in it all.

It has been one of those days: A Count to Ten, I'm Not Sure I'm Going to Make It, kind of day.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Serenity of Serenbe

A road winds through the pastures of Serenbe, a sustainable living community in Georgia. 

OH YES, that is Utopia you see. As photographed by Amy Neunsinger for House Beautiful. Oftentimes, I love/loathe the pages of such magazines. What with their out of reach grandeur and implications that we all want to live in China Cabinet living rooms that are children and dogs are NOT to TOUCH.

After many years in 12,000 square foot homes as a nanny, I am here to tell you that, unaquivically, no one needs 12,000 square feet of house. Or even 8,000. It's the real estate equivalent of making sure your engagement ring is big enough to adequately represent your Hubby To Be's salary. Or big enough to make us all think he makes more than the rest of us anyway. The homes are beautiful on the glossy pages of magazines, sure, but they are often impersonal and non-conducive to family life.

These days, I walk into a home and think where will my children open Christmas presents? Where will they throw a football with their father or play House with their siblings?

And since we are now the proud owners of an asbestos-laden basement, I also think what am I bringing into my home that may possibly harm my family's health? 

For years, I have told people that my dream is to live a life in which I can visit the market several times a week to cook organic, made with love meals for my family. I saw this image and nearly cried. 

Serenbe is a community founded on the most fundamental principles of sustainability. Mad props to Steve Nygren for making green look so fracking FANTASTIC. Seriously, if you love design and eco-friendly living peaks your interest at all, read the article. It's da bomb.

Design by Marie Nygren & Smith Hanes

View the entire article here. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crash Cleanup

For those that have asked.

Ugh. I begrudgingly disclose the dirty deets of the trainwrecked blog shutdown.

Yes, it was a million times more fun to write and yes, I do know that it was a zillion times more fun to read. This is America, god damnit, and we love sensationalistic journalism! And scandal! GIVE US SCANDAL!

Many moons ago, I signed on with a new employment agency. Families pay agencies for placement of a nanny because of an agency's screening process: aka, I turn over everything from my medical records to the name, address, and phone number of anyone whose children I have ever made Mac N Cheese for. And if you were with me (bless your heart) nearly seven years ago when I first launched Blonde & Belligerent as a spinoff of my newspaper column (yep, turns out I have actually been a legit published writer before), then you're familiar with The Original Mrs.


The Original Mrs was a character who, incidentally, was also an atrocious real-live human being. I worked under her thumb for more than a few years and lived with her during the last year of my employment with her family. The Original Mrs took shape as a nod to The Nanny Diaries, of course. Which was one of the single most painfully ironic factoids of my entire life. You see, The Original Mrs and I were so close, in fact, that during my once monthly day off (seriously. every other Sunday and not a moment more), she invited herself to tag along with me to the movie theater. Where I was, of course, purchasing a ticket to see The Nanny Diaries.

We sat side by side, sipping Diet Coke and she chuckled over the ridiculousness of Mrs X in the film. OH, Original Mrs, I wanted to tell her, Mrs. X is a game of patty cake beneath a double rainbow in comparison to your bullshit. 

Needless to say, I voluntarily ended my position with her and her children shortly after. We left on good terms-- everyone crying, The Mr. telling me privately that there was a raise in it for me if I stayed. God only knows how badly he needed me to stay and be the buffer that mellowed his wife for him. But the saltiness of the employment popcorn subsided and The Original Mrs became a friend of sorts. Not only a friend, but a reader of trainwrecked.

Which is exactly the thing about life and about being a nanny, you guys. You cannot ever assume that oh, THIS family is normal. THIS family is so nice. Because they are all naked bongo drums playing nuts!

When my agency called The Original Mrs for employment verification, she whipped up tales of me taking her children for hours at a time, disappearing into the downtown Portland riff-raft. She swore that I was a nice gal, but one unfit to be left with children. Read her blog she told them. See how dreadful she is!

Without naming who had sold me up the river, my agency informed me that someone gave a bad reference and was a liability and loose cannon. They told me that she had scared the daylights out of a few potential employers by identifying me as a lost soul and wretched backstabber. My agent proceeded to say that this previous employer-- who remained unnamed to me still-- sounded intoxicated and disoriented.

OH I told them. THE ORIGINAL MRS strikes again, I see!!

I chose to not slam her for being the bottomfeeder that she is. I did not even tell them of my days off and how when the children bothered her, she would lock them out of the house. And how on one occasion, a neighbor called and said hey, do you know your 4 year old is wandering around downtown? I did not speak of her drinking entire bottles of wine at a time while breastfeeding and I did not even mention how she would stay at a hotel down the block just so she wouldn't be bothered by her newborn's crying at night.

The agency told me they had read the blog and they knew exactly the type of people of which I wrote. They told me that the issue wasn't me having a blog (a personal one not accessible to anyone other than those who were given the link directly by me) and the issue wasn't even anything I said. The issue was that The Original Mrs had darkened my agency's credibility by telling other potential employers that NO, the agency is wrong, this nanny person is horrendous!

So I stopped writing (and changed the URL) as a show of good measure to my agency. An agency, mind you, who could've sided with the Batshit Crazy lady and told me to take a hike. But they stood by me, supporting me in acknowledgement that yes, every word spoken on trainwrecked is the sad reality that we professional nannies often witness.

As sad as I was to no longer share my tales of Nanny Grandeur, it was a natural halting of sorts. Because, you see, this family is so nice. They are so normal, in fact, that I do not imagine I could find a tale to tell about them if I tried.

I say the above with wholehearted believe and that, my friends, is exactly the thing I most love about me. Even though I know this family is no different than the last, who was just the same as the previous, I choose to believe that everyone gets a do-over, everyone gets a clean slate, and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Now, let the good times roll!


A big shout out to the lovely folks who joined us over the course of the past ten days. It has been a helluva ride, huh?! 

We kicked off the move by throwing our brand new gray sofa over a bannister at the old house. And when that didn't give us enough titillation before noon time, we threw an 8' tall armoire over the back deck rails. Neighbors stood on their own decks and watched in both shock and awe: will they drop it? Will it break? Will it drop and break them in half? 

Hysteria followed by raucous applause and congratulations. Just the way I like to kick off a Friday morning! 

We pulled into the new driveway with our entourage of family members and a moving truck too tall to fit up the driveway. Meaning, our wooded lot with fantastically mature trees was about to take a beating. After a couple of hours of unloading from the END of the driveway, my mom and I were both paralyzed by the sound of a chainsaw. I looked outside only to find my father standing atop the moving truck, slicing limb after branch after tree. Thank Jeebus our neighbors are not arborists. Or people who scoff at new neighbors moving in, cutting down trees, and swarming the neighborhood with rowdy, Coors Light fueled hooligans. 

But nothing can be as fantastic as moving into a new home with brand spanking new wood floors. Because that, my Intraweb friends and followers, is a real bitch of a job. The floors made it through the move relatively unscathed. Although, the front entryway did take a few dings and there are trace amounts of furniture varnish mysteriously smudged across the white walls and ceiling. In more than several places. 

We did it though. We moved in. We drank beer. We ate pizza for so many consecutive nights that I will claw the eyes out of anyone who dares mention words like "mozzarella" or "marinara" anytime soon. The boxes were not even unpacked before we took a hammer and a paintbrush to our first Reno project. I figured the 1950s vintage (read: horrid) kitchen would be the first project, but what a fool am I! Such thinking would be entirely to rational for Chris and myself. 

So without further ado, I give you Plumage House's first DIY. 


You expected more, didn't you?

Fine, fine. Stay tuned for the pictures of the actual project. Because Comcast is the only bitch bigger than wood floors on moving day and my Internet at home is yet to be connected. BUT REST ASSURED, Kilz is the word around our house and Kilz'ing the bananas out of our wood paneled, 1975 VFW basement is the name of the game. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Here We Go!

One of the things that sold me on the new house- aside from Chris badgering me and threatening to throw my favorite Burberry cape out the window if we walked away from this "backyard putting green potential"-- was the enormous possibility within its walls.

Behold, a 1950s kitchen. Not quite the open concept, giant eat-in island, stainless steel appliance kind of facility that we've all been taught by House Hunters to expect. The keys dont technically belong to us until Friday morning at 10:00am, at which point I will be snapping pictures until someone throws my camera out the back door.

One of the first major Demo-Reno, Double-Whammy projects I dream of is the kitchen. Which is begging to have a wall knocked down, allowing for access to the sun porch (which eventually will be a legitimate family room). Until then, the L-shaped kitchen is interrupted by this completely random patch of dreadful, disgusting navy blue carpet. Somehow, the only 10x10' patch of carpet in the entire house lies smack in the middle of the kitchen.

Enter, the dinette. I have a love-hate relationship with the area and I'm not even sitting there with a bowl of oatmeal, mulling over my disdain for it yet. It's wonderful that we have a place to eat "in the kitchen," but as it is now, it feels more like a place to hold an interrogation beneath the polished brass pendant. Because I wouldn't be opposed to a crook putting his cigarette out directly on the floor. Not at all.

The right wall of this kitchen is an awesome jumping off point for us because it has a similar layout and cabinet style to what already exists in the new house. Im digging on the white subway tile with the dark grout. I'm even a little enamored with the gold fixtures.

And if by some miracle, we DO get to knock down walls, this is precisely how I would want the pass thru to turn out. Except not with the divided sink. No, sure as the sun will rise, the sink will be an apron.

doable with our little dinette/kitchen area. I think. Maybe. If I knock down the stairway.

Until that Dream Kitchen moment arrives, I will adhere to the notion that "if plan A doesn't workout, it's okay because there's still 25 letters left to go." We would have to shift around the dimensions, but this is a dinette I could really groove on. I like the idea of a little shelving to cap the actual kitchen cabinetry and to divide the funcion of the space. Plus, who doesn't want to sit among a pile of pillows with a hot cup of coffee and their laptop open to Pinterest?

That's what I thought.

Least Recommended

Of all the projects we did in the current house, the one we will NOT be doing in the new house involves our most beloved stone.

Meet Mr. Slate.

Varied in thickness, bumpy in surface texture.

It all started with the salesman selling us seven boxes of moderately priced backsplash tile and simple directions to thin coat, tile, and grout. He felt a weekend was an adequate amount of time to complete such a project.


Fast forward about six months and the directions were more like lose feeling in your hands from the repetitive vibrations of a wet saw shaking you while cutting hundreds of tiles to fit so snugly around outlets, vent hoods, and into corners. My favorite part, though, is that part that you always saw Norm and Bob Vila on This Old House warning viewers about: no house is plum.

Meaning, your shit aint straight, yo.

So in about half of the kitchen, the cabinets were about 1/16th of an inch lower than in the rest. Meaning, each of those tiles had to be shaved juuuuust ever so slightly to fit in. For those not familiar with stone cutting-- doing such a thin cut is a giant pain in the butt.

Another of Nawm and Bob's warnings to heed: turn off the power before you mess with electrical things. Even if you just think you're going to squeak a spacer behind an outlet to make the fancy new slate faceplate flush with the fancy new slate subway tile.

Oops. Also, FYI, a true electrical shock is nothing like dragging your feet across the carpet and catching a little zap when you flip on the lightswitch. Oh no, a true electrical shock hurts like a (!)!%^&_!* and involves seeing spots and needing to lie down.

We love the backsplash-- seriously, it's fab-- but never again. We'll take the learned lesson with us and leave the tiling to the pros.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A is for Anniversary

A month late and a good picture short would be an appropriate summary of our anniversary last month.

Here's the best we could come up with. I blame the Pinot Grigio and the amazing company equally.

Chris was playing in a golf tournament-- WHAT, playing golf you say? NO! Unpredictable that one is, I know. That meant I had to play the, "if we do nothing, it's fine" card. Which I sincerely meant because it seems sort of silly to me to be sure to sit down to dinner together for a special occasion. Call me old fashioned, but damnit, we make a point of sitting down together no matter what.

Even if it is in the living room while we watch Housewives of Whatever City at 8pm while wearing our sweaty gym and driving range ensembles. Whaddayawant from us, we're only normal people.

"But if we DO do anything" I told Chris, "you're in charge. Because I planned New Year's and Valentine's Day."

Ah. Therein lies the rub!

He surprised the living daylights out of me by barreling off of the links and into his magical Hot Boyfriend machine otherwise known as his bathroom. He swoops in there and comes out gleaming, smelling like something so much more fantastic than that generic Axe crap so many dingdongs wear, and is always sure to come out sporting his Puma hat backwards. Sometimes he says it's because I prefer it that way, but really we know that it's because he's... psst... in his thirties and clinging to his youth.

But shhh.

We hopped in the car and he fended off my constant, "OH, I KNOW, we're going to Insert Any Restaraunt Within a Mile Radius" idiocy. Much to his chagrin I am sure, we pulled into my favorite Minneapolis neighborhood and strolled towards the cutest place around. A place full of microbrews, tiny tables, and those annoying people known as Hipsters. Young Professionals in very stylish clothing, if you will.

It's the kind of place too cool to accept reservations. The kind that has a 90 minute wait list that people glady put their names down on. While you wait, you're free to take glassware full of wine and microbrews outside to linger with a swarm of other sweaty, getting drunker by the waiting list minute-er diners. After being seated, Chris broke out the prerequisite Anniversary card. From my favorite obscure stationary shop. We had agreed to a very small gift budget since the only thing I care about right now is new appliances for the new house.

Being the high maintenance Go Big shopper that he is, he blew the budget out of the water with a gift from Crate and Barrel. And I know, how trite of a man to give a woman something for a kitchen store, right? But wrong. Because I treasure that store and even though I've never gone so far as to drag Chris into it, he knew.

That's the thing about Chris. He might complain 99 times out of 100 that the lunch I packed was wrong because X, or dinner was fifteen minutes too late for his liking or blah blah blah. You know, the standard complaints every woman hears from her family that make her feel inferior. But I will tell you something, folks, that one time? That one time looks at those other 99 and shuts 'em right the fuck up. When it counts, I can count on him. No matter how big or small, I know he won't disappoint me on the things that truly matter.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Now I Need to Know

What the fudge is SimplePie and how come you people are using it to find Plumage?

I'm still on AOL version 4.0 and it seems a'ight by me!

You guys are so technologically advanced, it's unbelievable.

You Need to Know

If you live in the Twin Cities area, then you need to know about the Pot O Gold that poured itself at my feet while blog hopping a few weeks ago.

Uniquely Attainable is a mobile thrift store.

That's right- a moving bargain mobile. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, right!

We rode to school on a bus as children. We rode to the club on a bus as hard partying college kids. Why would we not ride on a bus as penny pinching adults?!

Also, while we're on the topic of blog hopping-- SWEET JEEBUS, have I been a Pregnant Lady After Pickles fiend lately!

It all began about a month ago when my favorite blogger-- the blogger that introduced me to the beautiful black hole of personal weblogs-- sold out. I'm not talking little Google AdSense ads in the side margins of her site. Oh no, I am talking footnotes to every single post that began with the phrase "this post sponsored by."

Half of the posts turned into product and business links (aka CASH MONEY for blogger). I became disillusioned the way that I did when Kim Kardashian packaged up our sweet Minnesotan homeboy, Kris Humphries, and Bennifered the shit out of him. Only to turn around and sell the whole appalling mockery of marriage for about fifteen mil.

As in One-Five-Million-Dollars.

I know celebrities do it all the time, as do bloggers, but the one-two punch of these women shamelessly putting a dollar amount not only on matters of the 9 to 5 business variety, but on the entirety of their lives, left me feeling sour towards the self marketing madness of our Me-Me-Me World.

So I gave up on reading the same handful of blogs I have always read and instead began trolling through the smaller Mom and Pop sites listed on their blogrolls. And the blogrolls of the blogrolled. That makes perfect sense when I think about it though. Because I hate Macy's but I sure like that Peruvian woman on Etsy who makes scarves out of repurposed grain sacks.

You can always view MY blogroll, of course, but I have to give a shout out to a few in particular. So here's to the few and far between; the Radioheads of the Blogosphere; me and my growing carpal tunnel syndrome salute you. You and your uniqueness is so.. well... rare.

Uniquely Minnesota. Speaks for itself. 'Nuff said.

Now. I'm a little upset about this one because it sort of takes my creativity quotient down a notch. But I didn't know of this woman's existence until about 36 hours ago. Ironically, she, too, is a Minnesota girl with a sick sense of style and an appreciation of all things colored by the procreation of blue and green. Behold, my secret blog cousin, House of Turqoise.

Erin Gates is such a style smartie, but she also gets my respect for always giving credit to every single person on the planet that inspires her. It's also worth noting that she is so perfectly polished that you may feel tempted to backhand the skank, but just when you think she cannot be anymore pristine, she'll hit you with a sobering reality check post.

Green and Natural Parenting. I know you knew it was coming, but herein I plug my belief in minimizing exposure to chemicals, hormonally altered, and otherwise unnatural elements. This is something my parents and I differ on, but god dangit-- my kids, my rules, my way! When they are 27, they, too, can decide whether or not Fruity Pebbles poured in Mountain Dew is okay or not. For now, however, we go reasonably green.

This post brought to you by me, myself, and I. And for the record, it is sponsored by no one. Unless you'd like to click one of those little ad banners to your right. (imagine flight attendant finger directions). In which case, thank you for contributing to.. well... mostly Google. Because my share of that is pennies. Literally. So this post is brought to you by nothing but me and my desire to share what I think is delicious and wonderful about life, mmkay?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Time has Come

It's here! It's FINALLY friggin' HERE!!!

Even though the calendar says that the wait for Official Moving Month hasn't been much more than a Sex & The City marathon, it feels like an eternity. We sealed the deal over the 4th of July weekend and have been absolutely counting down every morning when we wake up.

The thing, too, is that from the first awkward "Hi, how are ya... pause for hug or handshake or maybe kiss cheek. But one or two? Is he Italian?" meeting until now has been but a mere 13 months. Which felt like something I waited an entire lifetime for, but then again feels so quick. And here we are. I have Etsy'ed the shit out of "Change of Address" announcements and have been so, so tempted to go on ahead and subscribe to Renovation Style sort of for the content, but mostly just so I can type in our new address.

Then it occurs to me that the current owners would probably get the first issue and they might take away our perfect little (will be) amazing rambler in the 'burbs.

My Pinterest pins are getting out of control-- Chris sees me for long enough to share a quick dinner debriefing session, then sees nothing but the top of my head as I bury my nose in the computer. Each day, my excitement builds. Each day, I feel more and more inspired and hopeful about the enormous potential of this dark-paneled little house.

I trust that the Intraweb will also deliver to me a tool with which to pin the overnight delivery of a money tree.

Three weeks from tomorrow, I'm going to get Chris to begrudgingly pose next to the SOLD sign at the Plumage House and I am going to geek out with sheer joy. Then I will go inside, only to be reminded of the poop colored electric stove, the awkward bedroom layout, and this dreadful sunroom which is crying out for proper drywall and a refurb pair of french doors.

But the joy! Oh, the joy. This is going to be so totally out of control. Tally Ho!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In Retrospect

Oh, those Puppeteers of the Universe. A funny bunch, they are! I posted this on a previous blog exactly 11 days before our purchase agreement for the new house was signed. Oddly enough, what was supposed to be the house before The House is shaping up to be The House. Hindsight: Such a kick in the crotch little devil!

In the house– the one before The House– it may just be mandatory that this be a part of our home.

Those bridesmaidy throw pillows are a little shiny and solid for my taste, so maybe something obnoxiously patterned and orange could replace them. The teal (I hate that word. But it’s a dozen drops of green short of being called turquoise) on the sidechair is the color of our basement in the moment. When we move (ARE YOU LISTENING, GOD?), that color is totally coming with us. If only I could take with me the endless hours of Criminal Minds marathons I spent painting an entire basement in such a Don’t Fuck This Up/Get It On the Wood Trim and Die type of color.

I can’t wait.

When I walk into some of these shithole houses and see yellow bathroom tile and kitchen cabinets faced in vinyl wood planks (an actual Open House experience), I pray for the conviction to believe in the possibility.

Through the musty smell of wet dogs and the blinding haze of high-gloss brass fixtures, this is the possibility I refuse to let go of.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Favorite. Perhaps Even The Favorite.

To be a blogger and to be in this maddeningly wild life with Christopher is ironic the way that people circling the parking lot for the closest spot at the gym is ironic. He doesn't want his handsome mug schmeared all over my Facebook or blog and dammit, I totally agree most of the time but dammit, sometimes I need a second to say, OMIGAWD, Look at how CUTE he is!!

Behold the cuteness for yourself.

And now imagine him standing over my shoulder, reading this and arms are flailing and voices are getting loud and BABE, that picture of me sucks! I'm eating cookies! TAKE IT DOWN!

This is one of my favorites because this was the first night Chris said "I love you." Please make note of that- HE said it first and I didn't even have to trick him! We were at the State Fair when the lights began to shut down, crowds of people made their way to the Exits, and Chris looked at me and says, SWEET MARTHA'S COOKIES! I hadn't a clue what that meant but again, look at that face and how the hell was I not going to oblige. I snapped this very granulated picture with my POS phone camera only so I could text all of my girlfriends in a severe case of boasting. As I turned away from him to sends said texts, I saw the black and white photo booth I had been in search of all night. The photo strip remains safely framed by our bed and I still smile everytime I think of that grossly humid night and the way we squished our big butts into a tiny little booth just so I had an excuse to kiss him.

When children are fussing, one is bleeding, one is hitting, one is pooping, and one is showing me how ta da! Look Nanny, I can roll over and I just rolled off of my Boppy, I think hey God, YOU OWE ME.

Then He reminds me of how He introduced my Grandma to his Grandpa in Heaven and those two got into all sorts of cahoots to make sure Chris and I did not go through another day without one another. Who woulda thunk it!

Happy Anniversary Week, babe. You are a once in a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Down the Aisl.. Road

Chris and I are celebrating an anniversary next week. Not a wedding anniversary, but a We did it, We made it anniversary. We ReDid the crap out of a house, moved in together, I took a new job, mourned the loss of my grandfather together, Chris quit smoking, shared our whacky families with one another, sold a house, and bought a new house and goll darn, we still like one another!

People have been asking since Valentine's Day just when it is that he's going to make an honest woman out of me (choke!), and so far we are pretty unphased by the inquiries. Don't get me wrong, he likes it and he's going to put a ring on it, but not this very minute.

Without oversharing financial information or making a to do of Chris' business-- the man doesn't even Facebook for goodness Le Gasp!-- let's just say the housing transactions have been complex and the choice came down to Get Married or Get Movin, so we chose housing for the time being. But let's be real, I am still a chick and I still wiggle my ring finger in the windshield in anticipation of the glitter that will someday signify our commitment.

However, such is life that God does not let us all have it all, all at once. So for now, the wedding waits. Our commitment feels the same and every bit as real, but the paper documentation waits. When that day comes though, please little Wedding Fairies in the Enchanted Gardens of Love, let it look like this:

Monday, August 1, 2011

DIY Dreamland

Since our current house is on total lockdown while For Sale, the delight of a Sunday evening DIY project has come to a screeching hault. We moaned and groaned with every third tile spacer, but that's how those types of projects are: it feels like habanero pepper seeds in your eyeball at the time, but oh how we do adore ourselves a backsplash redo.

In the meantime, we are counting down the 51 days prior to move in day at the house/The House. We are happily browsing appliance stores, sadly crying over professional grade dual fuel ranges that cost more than my car, and eagerly brainstorming possibilities from moulding to settees to eventual sun room redos that involve creating a larger family room attached to the kitchen.

You know, for our eventual family.

I came across the Ana White website by way of a fellow Blogger. This thing is genius. I feel certain that we'll waste more time and money botching up building our own furniture, but the idea of jigsawing our way to the Custom Furniture Finishline makes my mouth water.

Behold! Ana White.

Oh and also. It is totally friggin free.

Salivation, commence!

Friday, July 29, 2011


This collection of front doors made my heart palpitate extra fast today. Sure, the kids are screaming, Matchbox Cars are being thrown across the kitchen, and babies are making their "FEED ME!" grunting noise, but it's 99% the doors that have my blood pumping. I feel a genuine movement  in my soul. 

Chris always talks about loving Augusta Green-- aka that dreadful green from the jackets golf players wear upon a major victory. And since that color is entirely unacceptable in the context of home design (and the jackets really should be Victory Red, as far as I'm concerned)-- perhaps he will bite one of these totally badass shades of neon. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Review

After several weeks of stashing things, staging things, and storing things, the realtor finally came to officially list the house. Chris and I worked hard with minimal funding and gave his darling house a total makeover over the past twelve months. Had we known that a year into our relationship, we'd be packing up to move to our bigger, beautiful (eventually!) home in a quiet suburban neighborhood, we would have been better at taking "Before" pictures. Along the way, we snagged a few shots of some of our first DIY projects together.

The bedroom reads a little like this on the listing, but is way cooler in person. Mostly when our things get to be a part of the space rather than stuffed in storage. The color is matched to our dream wallpaper. But since the $150/roll pricetag of the beaded bird masterpiece did indeed only allow for it to be a dream, we stole the cool gray tone instead. In a shoebox in my closet, the paper sample and order number still sits. I told myself it couldn't be for this house, but would be for The House. We'll see I guess! It's hard to tell on my wimpy Point N Shoot camera (or maybe it's my sad excuse for photographic documentation), but the bedding has pintucks, silver gilding, and greek key patterns, Oh My!

The item in this picture I miss the most is the framed photobooth strip from our first exchange of "I Love You"

Wait for it...


Here's Chris's tooshie in the crawl space, unloading the crap from the previous seven years of him having lived here. The crap went to storage, then we stored other crap there while we are For Sale. You know, things like 40lb bags of grout mix, holiday doormats, and 37 pairs of women's jeans that no longer fit, but hopefully will again someday.

I put winter sweaters INTO the storage space, and Chris pulled out 22" TIS rims. Which, if you know him, is a total DUH.  I think it is endlessly entertaining-- mostly because there's eleven more just like it in the garage. I don't have a place to put my flip flops, but we somehow store wheels, rims, and oh yes, eight sets of golf clubs.

My favorite thing about Chris and I as a couple is how practical we are.

The notorious slate backsplash. We decided on this as our first project an entire five weeks into our relationship. The guy at The Tile Shop was all dude, you can do this in an afternoon. So we were all like okay, here's my credit card! To which he said, "coolbeans" and we wondered if we had stepped into a 1996 timewarp. Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter all came and went before this project was done. And there was only one minor electrocution of a human being during the course of the whole thing. Can I get a WOO HA?

My blog's namesake. This is the Plumage paint from Martha Stewart that adorns the entire basement. Chris and I squabbled over color, but at the end of the day, his only requirement was that the space be a clubhouse of sorts. We were at the Home Depot one afternoon for a plant tray or something random and lame like that, when I wandered off to the Paint section. We were supposed to be meeting his Mom-- who is a totally genius interior designer-- so Chris said WOMAN! There's no time for this! Let's Go!! HA. In my purse I managed to snatch a paint swatch from my favorite domestic savant. It was a no brainer. The paint went up, and so did endless photos, autographed hole flags, and teebox statuary.

The only regret I have about this move thus far is that upon deciding to sell, I quickly bubble wrapped and removed all of our personal items. I did so because it is a part of showing the house, but also because I didn't want our private lives to be photographed and put on a MLS listing at all. Ironically, the only personal item not put away by the time the realtor showed up today was this engraving. Even before a single Reach My Arm Out & Take a Picture of Our Heads Smooshed Together photo found its way into a frame, I had this made by an Etsy shop. It may not be on the Oak tree in the backyard, but I hope this goes with us wherever our lives take us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family Meeting

We sat Snoop down last week to tell him about the impending move. He wasn't real interested in sitting so much as he was the grilled salmon on the table though. We managed to borrow his attention for long enough to send his tail into a frenzy: Snoop, we bought you a new yard!

Sweatin' for It

The time is 6pm and the temperature is 99 degrees. Guess what we're doing right now.

MOVING! Paaaahr-tay!

Well, pre-moving anyway. This is the part of the moving process which makes perfectly backwards sense: buy a bigger house for all of your crap, but before you can move it to the house you've already paid for, pay for storage for all of your crap in the interim.

Ah, the joys of The Storage Unit. Since there are only two human beings in this house, we use the space a little differently than someone with, oh, say, three children and a normal sized dog of more than 14 pounds. So before the For Sale sign can officially be planted in the front lawn, the weight bench and treadmill must leave the spare bedroom. Because we're trying to sell a house here people, and people like bedrooms, not makeshift home gyms and coffee tables used for lightweight cardigans and seasonal coverups.

Minnesota has gone tropical as of late- I have been trapped in a house for 10 hours a day at work. In Solitary Nanny Confinement with two young children and two infants who simply cannot be taken out into the rainforest for total and complete roasting. After working an hour later than usual yesterday, I came home to an ever-eager Christopher: ya wanna move some shit? he proposed.

WELL SURE! After 11 hours at work, I most definitely want to drag that giant metal equipment out into the heat only to have it sweat humidity all over me, then schlep it over to the storage locker. Now if that isn't a party, what is?

The joke was on me because do you know what's more fun than moist fitness equipment? Moving furniture at 10pm!

Since the other mattress that would make the spare bedroom an actual bedroom is in its very own storage unit, we decided to play Furniture Refurb & Shuffle and move a rundown sofa from the living room into the bedroom. Big, bulky, and barfed on by the dog. We hoisted it up the stairs and to the doorway, where Chris explained to me in lots of geometrically descriptive terms how the couch needed to be turned, angled, and jammed through the doorway.

I was immediately reminded of this. One of my favorite evening sitcom moments of all time. I used to mimic that moment with my sister-- over, and over, and over. Immediately, I began to chuckle. And when Chris told me to quit it, I laughed harder.

The couch clipped the doorframe and we heard a loud thud. It was the wooden leg. On the floor. No longer attached to the couch frame. Which made me laugh harder yet, because what else are you going to do when you've been awake for 18 hours, you own two houses and desperately need to retrofit one of them to make someone else buy it, and your dumpy old couch just fell apart on your toes?

Oh, moving. Such a special treat.

 Someone is going to have to tell the new owners to change the light fixture, as it completely sucks balls. But here's the made over (for free. aka ZERO DOLLAS, ya'll!) couch in its new, Buy This House friendly location. We found the throws in a box in the closet. Then remembered that we put them there in the first place because Snoop wouldn't stop wrestling with them. We see that he wasted no time scoping them out again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Bidness of Moving

One couple, one house. Endless possibilities and unpredictable predicaments.

Chris and I met and fell instantly in love over a bucket of chocolate chip cookies at the Minnesota State Fair. I know, I know, go on ahead and feel envious of our fanciful romance. At the time, he owned a white-walled, blank canvas home in a city I had no earthy clue how to get to. In no less than 60 days, we had purchased tile saws, featherbeds, and countless buckets of paint. Zebra rugs, peacock colored paints, slate tile backsplashes. The house got a complete makeover– botoxed, lipglossed, corsetted and all. Then we thought HEY! Know what would be fun? LET'S MOVE!

After making the decision as a family– Chris, myself, and our 14 pound terror of an Eskipoo, Snoop– to pack our bags and move north of the river, we are about to embark on a brand new DIY masterpiece.

We hope.

The new digs take us closer to family, friends, and work. Snoop needed a proper yard and we needed a proper home in which we could grow our lives together. We wavered back and forth over the Real Estate Golden Ticket: after months of looking all over the Metro and at all sorts of price points, we had to make the executive decision as to whether land or house would win out.

Our hearts were set on a 1950s rambler in a quiet neighborhood with a great big lot. The basement is paneled, the closets are small, and there’s a good chance that the kitchen appliances are running on coal. But the lot! Two-thirds of an acre with a fenced area for the dog and ample outdoor space for us to live in, work on, and play with.

We made an initial offer to the sellers and, of course, were sent back a counter offer. We played back and forth and were tactfully told that the sellers wanted to wait for another open house (the property had only been on the market for 5 days when we made an offer). They were hoping for full price. So we quietly retreated and put it out of our minds, only to be called by the listing agent a week later: “Are you still interested?” he wondered.

The reno plans began even before the ink on the purchase agreement dried and we are unabashedly thrilled. T Minus 65 days. Grab your life jacket and have an emergency dingy on standby: this is going to be one hell of a river forging ride.
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