Our House

We Moved!

November 19, 2017

Yep, that’s right. We moved!

Which is the real reason as to why there’s been a lack of posts. But new house = new posts!

The decision to move wasn’t exactly the most planned. It wasn’t a crazy spontaneous decision either, but we did move a few years before we had ever planned to. I had been keeping an eye on the market for at least a year – just to see what was out there, keeping track of what homes were selling for in the parts of town that we’d consider moving to, how fast houses were selling. Our old house was a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch from the 50’s. We gutted and refinished the basement, new driveway, new landscaping, refinished the hardwood floors and so many other projects. We loved that house for the 7+ years we had lived there. It was suppose to be our “10 year house”.

However, our beloved ranch was only 1,000 sq ft (plus the basement) and when you add a baby in to the mix, things get to feeling more than just cozy. We got curious as to what realtors would say about our house, so we had a couple over to walk through. We wanted to see what it could be listed for and what projects would we need to do over the next year to get it ready to sell. Both realtors told us that we needed to know where we were moving to before listing our house (that’s how fast houses in STL were selling this summer) and we had next to nothing to do before listing. A good, deep cleaning and touching up a few areas of paint. So that’s when we decided to go full steam ahead and just try our hands with the market. We didn’t HAVE to sell, so if we needed to take the house off the market and try it again in a year, we would.

Spoiler alert: We got an offer for full list price the day our house hit the market. Thank goodness because we already had an offer on a new house accepted with a close date on the calendar.

The house we bought is not my dream home. In fact, I didn’t even want to look at this house. I wanted a 100 yr old house with creaky floors and all the charm. We ended up with a builder grade home from from the 90’s (which I consider a brand new house). I really, really don’t care for builder grade homes or neighborhoods. Tim, however, is all about it. Even though it’s not my style of house, there were so many positives compared to the negatives—the basement is finished, the yard is fenced in, the garage, the bedrooms, the schools. The neighborhood is actually pretty great too. We had more neighbors come say hi and introduce themselves within the first two weeks than we ever had in the 7+ years at our old house.

Tim really had to talk me into seeing the possibilities with this house, and now after being here for 2.5 months I’m actually starting to see them! We have already made a big dent in our to-do list. Light fixtures, ceiling fans, pant, door knobs and some carpet have been updated. (Full before & after posts coming!) But we have some big projects ahead of us – new kitchen, new master bath, flooring. We’re planning on this being our forever home so all will happen in due time. Pretty excited to get some charm and character in this place!

–m.

Travel

City by the Bay, Wine in the Vines

September 23, 2017

As if the past few months haven’t been crazy enough (more on that soon!), I snuck in an end-of-summer trip! It’s actually been planned for several months, but it was my first solo trip since having the baby. I will admit that it was strange to not have a baby and hauling extra stuff around.

So where did I go? San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa!

One of my really good friends lives in SF so I try to get out there once a year to visit. We’ve explored the actual city my last two trips, so I asked if we could do wine country this time. Um, yes!

We spent part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday in wine country taking a more relaxed pace. We only made one reservation each day so we were able to make decisions based on our mood. It was really nice to just go with the flow and not rush from winery to winery.

Friday
We started the trip at Gloria Ferrer for some bubbles. The winery was so pretty and had a great view of the vines. However, the flies that day were terrible! It was actually quite bothersome. I did the Glorious Tasting Flight which included the Sonoma Brut, Blanc de Noirs, 2014 Estate Chardonnay and 2013 Estate Pinor Noir. I don’t know much about sparkling wines, but I did really enjoy the Blanc de Noirs.

Next we headed to Scribe, where we had a reservation. (I do believe they’re required here.) Apparently it’s the “hip” winery right now. It’s so cute! Rustic and in an old estate home with great views of their vines. Scribe’s website doesn’t say much about their tasting experience, but we knew there was going to be wine and food. The wine changes fairly frequently and the food menu can change weekly. It was all so delicious! We started with a glass of their German style Estate Riesling (so it wasn’t really sweet), followed by a glass of their Estate Chardonnay, Skin Fermented Chardonnay and Caneros Pinot Noir. For food we were give a small board of charred peppers, almonds and olives. Then served meatballs, a garden salad, roasted vegetable medley, toasted bread and a slice of garden melon. This was a favorite of the wineries we visited.

Saturday
We headed to Frog’s Leap around noon after a couple girl’s from the city drove up to meet Nicole and myself for the day. We had such a good Saturday! We all loved the atmosphere at Frog’s Leap. It was so charming and casual. The staff was also extremely welcoming and never pushed a membership. We opted for the Garden/Cellar Tasting which allowed us to get our tastings from an outdoor bar and casually stroll the grounds. The tasting included their Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel. We were also able to ask for a sample of their Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc, which happened to be my favorite two from FL. (And I’m a red wine drinker!) I’m kicking myself for not picking up a bottle of those.

Next we headed to Mumm for some bubbles! We grabbed a glass while we waited for our turn to sit for a tasting. I opted for a glass of the Bland de Noirs. All four of us girls got the Toast Today tasting option. It came with a tasting glass of Brute Prestige, Brute Rosé and Cuvée M. Not sure if it’s because sparkling isn’t my favorite type of wine or what but I would say my experience there was “fine”. We did all pitch in for a bottle to take back to the hotel and enjoy before going to dinner at Basalt.

Sunday
Nicole and I ended our wine country weekend on the Sonoma side as we headed back to the city. We ate brunch at The Girl & the Fig before heading to Cline for a walk-in tasting. It’s also super casual and you stand around one of their several bars and pick which five wines you’d like to taste. The gentlemen working that day let us try several extra, and I left with a bottle of their Rosé in hand. This is probably one of the cheapest tastings in the area–$10!

Our last stop was at Ram’s Gate. We had been told and read that you go there more for the view vs the wine, but we were pleasantly surprised by the wine as well! The tasting we chose to do included two Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs. We both purchased a bottle of Chardonnay at the end of our tasting. The winery itself is gorgeous and decorated in Restoration Hardware. The views were great as well. The one thing I didn’t love about Ram’s Gate is that the Sonoma Speedway is super close so you can hear the races happening. However, I was totally okay with it the day we were there because we also got a surprise show by the local Blue Angels.

I’m ready to book another trip with a whole group of girls! Who wants to join me?!

–m.

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Travel

Going Dutch in Holland, Michigan

August 20, 2017

Oh hello! Long time no see–again. It’s been so busy the last five months – more on that later. But first…we went on a little vacation!

Our friends Matt & Ellen invited us to join them and their kiddos on vacation near Holland, Michigan. Ellen grew up going to the area every summer with her family, so she’s pretty familiar with the area. Michigan was on our list for a domestic family vacation so we jumped at the invitation. Michigan’s weather in August is b-e-a-u-tiful! I think the warmest it got while we were there was in the low to mid 80s.

We caravanned up north and stayed almost an entire week. We rented a house through HomeAway.com that was about a mile from Holland State Park. The location was great because it was on a quiet residential street right off Lake Macatawa, was within walking distance to the beach and a short drive to downtown.

We didn’t go up with an itinerary and wanted to play it by ear. The first full day there, we ladies got a run in, followed by a trip to the beach. [Note: it costs $9 per car for a single visit to the state park. $32 for a year’s pass.] School hadn’t started yet so the beach got pretty full. The parking lot actually filled up to where cars weren’t allowed in until 20 parking spots had opened up. We used this trick to contain the baby at the beach. It worked so well! We ended the day by hitting up New Holland Brewery’s Pub for dinner and Captain Sundae for ice cream.

The next day the ladies took the littles on a walk to Albert K’s Lakeside Cafe for breakfast while the guys got a bike ride in. I normally am not a quiche / frittata eater, but for some reason I ordered it that morning and it was so good! We spent that afternoon exploring the shops along main street Holland. I bought a couple things for E at this children’s boutique called Tip Toes, purchased a couple bottles from Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars, and chocolate from the local candy/peanut store.

It was back to the beach the following day. This time Tim and I walked down to the beach with the stroller. We popped into the Ottawa Beach General Store on the way home for some soft serve ice cream. The serving sizes were giant! I couldn’t finish mine.

Tim, baby and I headed up to Grand Haven the following day after a little morning exercise. We didn’t really have much planned this day either. We popped into the Toasted Pickle for a sandwich, explored their main street and then stopped into the brewery Odd Side Ales for a couple beers. We even left with a six pack of one of their beers. We ended the day by going over to Ellen’s aunt and uncle’s house for dinner and drinks. Their house is right on Lake Michigan about 10 minutes away from our rental. We didn’t get the sunset we were hoping for but it was still a beautiful evening with amazing lake views.

Mine and Tim’s last full day on the trip was mostly spent in Saugatuck. The whole crew headed down after breakfast at deBoer Bakkerij. It was Saugatuck’s sidewalk sale event, so we spent some time dipping in and out of the shops before heading over to Saugatuck Brewing Co. Which actually was right next door to an antique mall, so of course I ducked into there before heading home. I may or may not have left with one item. (I did.)

It was a great week spent with great friends. Tim and I had been wanting to visit Michigan and thought this was a great first introduction. I’d love to go even further north to Traverse City next time. Thanks Matt and Ellen for including us in your trip!

–m.

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Our House

Living Room Updates

April 9, 2017

If there’s one room in the house that has seen the most number of changes throughout the years it’s our living room. Between rugs, furniture, the TV moving, decor…the living room has been ever-evolving. It’s taken me a while to really nail down my style, but I think I’ve finally figured it out. It’s modern, but with a touch of traditional and a touch of industrial.

This is what the space looked like when we moved in…

Eventually I painted the fireplace white and the walls a cool gray with two of the walls a blue. Part of me still loves the blue but part of me wants to explore something else. We went through a couple different rugs, got some tables and eventually the living room came to look like this for the next couple of years.

The tan couch was mine from college that I had bought used from Craigslist. It was a great couch that served its purpose for several years, but it needed to be replaced. I wanted to find a new sleeper sofa that was more modern with clean lines without spending a fortune. I came across Joybird and instantly fell in love with a couple of their styles. However, the prices were more than I was willing to spend at the time. I continued to search for a YEAR for the perfect couch but just kept going back to those Joybird options. I waited for the next sale (they often have 20% off sales) and bit the bullet.

I am so happy with my purchase! Yes it was more than I originally was wanting to spend, but the pros far outweighed the cons. I selected the Korver style for several reasons, but the bench seat and no back cushions is what sealed the deal. Our dog always sat on the back cushions of our previous couch and practically ruined them. I also loved that I was able to select from a ton of different fabrics (we went with the pet + kid friendly Taylor Felt Gray), the stain of the wood legs and the mattress. It also comes with free shipping + delivery and a 1 year return policy if we aren’t happy with it. Even though I had to wait 2 months to get my sofa, I would still recommend Joybird hands down.

Getting a new couch prompted getting a new rug. The new couch and old rug were too close in color and it wasn’t jiving for me. This also took a ton of searching. I new I wanted something lighter and in a different style, but I just didn’t know what specifically. I ended up ordering this rug from Rugs USA. (They always have great sales with free shipping.) I was a little nervous of getting such a light color, but Scotchgard has been my friend.

About this time was when I also decided I ready for some new art to be hung above my vintage trunk. This also took a lot of looking. I wanted a different style altogether with moodier colors. I ordered two from Minted and one from Clare Elsaesser. I’ve been a fan of Clare Elsaesser for quite some time and wanted a print for the nursery, but didn’t have the space for it. So instead I ordered one for the living room! I used Framebridge to frame the Clare print and loved using the service! I will be going that route again if needing something professional framed down the road. I hung the art in a gallery style, which can be tough with different sizes and shapes. I really like the result!

And finally the fireplace.

The fireplace is a main feature in our small front room. It’s a working, wood-burning fireplace, though we’ve never used it. (And probably won’t ever) The brick was painted white years ago and it’s been that way ever since. I’ve always wanted a mantel for it and finally got it this winter! Here’s a whole post dedicated to it, but I’ll just say that I’m pretty smitten with it. Of course adding a mantel also meant a new mirror. I selected this one from AllModern and am so happy with it.

The living room has been a whole series of “one thing leads to another” and I can’t say I’m mad about it. Quite happy, actually. However, the ONE decor-related item that’s left on the list for the living/dining room…a new light fixture above the table. I have one picked out that I’m in love with, I just need to convince Tim it’s worth patching some holes in the ceiling. The living room and dining room are connected, so needs to feel like one cohesive space. Our current light fixture above the table doesn’t do that.

It took several attempts and years to finally get the living room in a place where I’m super happy. Let’s keep it this way for a while!

–m.

DIY, Our House

DIY Fireplace Mantel

April 7, 2017

When we moved into our house, the fireplace was ugly–dingy brick, black grout and a terrible insert.

It didn’t take long before we removed the insert, but it sat with the ugly brick for several months before I finally painted it white with a black high-heat paint for the inside. And that’s how the fireplace has looked for the last few years. Not terrible, but there’s one thing that I had always wanted to add–a wood mantel. Well, this winter my wish finally came true.

Tim picked up some oak boards from Menards to build a box that would slide over the existing brick. I wanted something with clean lines–no distressing or crazy knots. There was some discussion about a couple different ways to build the mantel and decided to build the three outside boards and the end caps. You can only really see the end caps if you’re standing on the side purposely looking at them. The wall the fireplace is on is not completely flat, so that posed another challenge. (Yay old houses) We had to sand down the top piece of wood to fit up against the wall as snug as possible. The original “mantel” also didn’t hang over the brick evenly on both sides, so when fitting the new one there were extra measurements. Before the stain was applied, a couple of the edges were sanded and curved so there were no sharp corners.

The color of the mantel was a bit of a discussion. Do we match our natural oak floors? Maybe just paint it white? Go dark? It was ultimately decided to go for a darker color, so we selected an espresso stain and put two coats of it on before the poly. I’m so happy with the color and how the grain shows through!

When it came time to attaching the mantel to the fireplace, we used wood glue to adhere it to the brick and clamps to keep it from shifting while the glue settled and dried.

It’s amazing what a couple small changes can do to a space. I love it and feel like this is how the fireplace should have always looked. It even called for a new mirror.


I love the way the new mirror looks, but am now lost as to how to decorate the mantel. Leave it simple? Add some height on either side of the mirror? There are a few other updates that I’ve done to our living room (couch, rug, art), which I plan on sharing soon!

—m.

Baby

Newborn Needs

February 15, 2017

Now that I have a 6 week old on my hands, that makes me a pro right? Ha, anything but.

As I’m looking back at the last six weeks, I was trying to think of what I could not have lived without or am glad that I purchased/recieved. I tried to go for a more minimalist approach with our baby gear. Our house isn’t the biggest and I didn’t want to add more stuff just because I thought we may need it. For instance, we didn’t get a swing, a mamaRoo, a Pack n Play/changing table set and tried not to go overboard with buying clothing. (FYI, hand-me-downs are the best.) This list doesn’t include big purchases (carseat, stroller, etc), but rather everyday items to consider. I know it’s different for every person and baby, but I wanted to compile what worked for us.

  1. Basic Clothing
    I feel like this is a no brainer, but having basic white onesies, sleepers and socks is all you really need to dress a baby. With having a winter baby, I opted for sleepers with footies and long sleeve onesies with the fold over mittens. Carters always has great sales, but there are so many places to get cute clothes!
  2. Rock ‘n Play
    This is what E sleeps in at night in our room and for some of her naps during the day. We don’t have the Cadillac version of the RnP, but it’s still awesome and is worth its weight in gold. (Our pediatrician approves of her sleeping in it, though I know not all do.)
  3. Gerber Cloth Diapers as Burp Cloths
    When I received these at one of my shower, I was confused for a split second until I was told “they make the best burp cloths!” and I have to say, I agree. The center is thicker and they’re absorbent.
  4. SwaddleMe Swaddles
    E LOVES to be swaddled and I’m absolutely terrible at doing it with loose blankets, so these are a Godsend. It takes me two seconds to wrap her up and I find it helps her fall asleep faster. E is 22 inches and is going to grow out of them soon sadly. I’ve ordered a Halo sleep sack for her to use next, so we’ll how that goes.
  5. Diaper Bag Backpack
    I love having a backpack as a diaper bag. I don’t have to constantly adjust a tote on my shoulder and makes carrying a bag hands free. There’s plenty of storage, the fabric is wipeable, hangs from my stroller and is a bit stylish. My only complaint is that this one doesn’t hang low enough on my back for my preference, but I just look past that.
  6. Nuk Pacifier
    My kid came out of the womb wanting to suck on anything she could get her mouth on. It’s also a natural thing for babies to do. Our pediatrician and lactation consultant recommended this specific type of pacifier for a newborn vs the big green one the hospital gives you. We don’t use it to put her to sleep, but it’s great if she’s a bit fussy throughout the day.

I’m excited to see E grow and start interacting more. She’s already so much more alert and making those cute and funny baby noises. Our needs are going to change as she grows, in which we’ll just re-evaluate and adjust.

–m.