Friday, March 30, 2012 goose)

It turns out that my 30-day challenge has been slightly difficult to keep up with, given all the work, the house work, the continued projects, oh - and the baby growing.  Unfortunately only one of those aforementioned tasks is currently on autopilot.  But at any rate, although I haven't posted everyday, being one week into my "post-a-day" challenge, I've realized that I DO enjoy the blog, and I am definitely leaning strongly towards keeping it up (although possibly not at this ridiculous pace!)

I'd like to share with you some pictures from Justin's cell phone.  As we returned from dinner on Wednesday evening, we saw some new critters in our front yard!  I had actually met said critters on Sunday while weeding the front garden, and I was impressed not only that they were back, but that they again got within a few feet of us.  Meet our resident ducks:

I of course have to sneak in a before-and-after and remind you what this space looked like when we moved in!  I'm feeling a bit of an improvement, particularly with our wildlife :)

Our amusement at the ducks was amplified by finding that there was an entire sub roll in our bushes.  Apparently someone tried to feed the ducks...on a large scale!  Check out the two pieces of bread, one in the bush and one on the ground.

I'm hoping the ducks will continue to visit, it's definitely fun to see them.  While I'm not sure I love the idea of people throwing bread at the house, at least I can be glad (as my aunt pointed out) that they're not throwing eggs!

P.S. For the record, the pregnancy has not made me quite as plump as these pictures would indicate....I'll have to post a baby bump update soon :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The tale of two shelves

Once upon a time, there was a shelf.  It hung over the kitchen sink when Emily & Justin bought their house - in fact, it was the only "upper cabinet" in the whole house.

During an early demolition, Justin took the shelf off the wall and planned to throw it in the growing pile for the dump.  Emily begged Justin to save the shelf.  He looked at her with the same crazy look he gave when she wanted to renovate the only "nice" room in the house.  (He's an equal opportunity skeptic when it comes to proposed renovations that intend to redo either really nice - or, in this case - really, really awful things).

Emily was determined that the sad little cabinet would have a future in their home, even though it spent several months in drywall dust exile, and then even longer in back-porch prison.  The dust and the outdoor weather made the sad little cabinet look even worse, and even Emily's mother (and her least likely skeptic) said "just throw that thing away!  Buy a new cabinet!"

But Emily prevailed.  And skeptics are no longer skeptical.

It still has the rough edges of a cabinet with a story, but that's because it IS a cabinet with a story.

And it has the dignified duty of hiding all of the cleaning products and laundry supplies - a job it does quite well!

This shelf isn't the only one in the laundry room rescued from a former life in the kitchen.  I'll tell this tale in the more-normal first person :)

Remember when our original kitchen didn't have any upper cabinets (other than the aforementioned ugly-white-shelf, which Justin promptly removed)?  And then my dad bought & installed a nice shelf that helped to free up a bit of the counter top?  (Notice in the background of this picture, the sloppy white paint outline of the other old shelf, which was apparently painted in place).

This shelf, too, was destined for a place in the laundry room.  The light wood, which had matched in the kitchen, was out of place in the decor of the laundry room.  So I turned to the glue gun and staple gun and made a trip to Jo-Anns.  Half of yard of fabric and 15 minutes of gluing and stapling, the shelf was ready for a new home!

My remaining plan for the laundry room is in regards to the light fixtures. You know I can't leave anything as-is :)  I have new glass shades for them (from the clearance rack at Lowes), as well as a bottle of spray paint waiting for a kind non-pregnant helper to cover up that shiny silver.  The fixtures themselves will be oil rubbed bronze (to match the brackets on the shelf), and the shades are a muted golden color with little brown specks.

Anybody else out there a revamp-a-holic?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The best kind of renovation

I was planning to revisit the details of the bathroom renovation tonight, but we were invited last-minute to attend a Lenten service at our friends' church in the next town over from Ithaca.  It was a really nice penance service led by a dynamic priest, and it had me reflecting on the ultimate before and after ~ has there ever been a more incredible change than the one our world saw on Calvary?  Talk about making something amazing from wood and nails!  And still today, the greatest carpenter of all time waits for us - regardless of our current state - ready and able to polish our souls, finding the former glory that He designed each to have.

There's my little detour to glory in our amazing God.  We can all enjoy our earthly transformations of rooms and homes - but I pray that we can all dig deeper and search for the amazing transformation that is waiting for us as we approach our heavenly home.

Happy heart renovations :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

The laundry list

The first time that we toured our house, I stood in the behemoth downstairs bathroom with our realtor, discussing options for converting it into a laundry/bath combo.  Previously, the house had no dryer, and the washer hook-up was in the kitchen.  As you can tell from the before and after (below), I had better ideas than a washing machine for the middle of the kitchen:

I also knew that I wanted to have the washer and dryer accessible on the first floor and not have to install them in the basement.  The downstairs bathroom was the perfect candidate because it already has water access (check!) and it's a HUGE room.  It was previously the master bedroom; converted to a handicap-accessible bathroom when the previous owner could no longer go upstairs.

Since it was converted within the last 5 years or so, it was a nice space.  The paint was nicely done (albeit not in my choice of color!), the fixtures were new, working, and didn't have years of caked on grime.  Longtime readers of the blog will know that all of these perks were not found throughout the rest of the house!

This room was - by far - the nicest room in the house when we bought it.  Naturally, my immediate plans to revamp it had Justin a little nervous.  At this point, the rest of the house was more or less falling apart, and, as he said "you want to tear apart the only nice space we have!"  Guilty as charged.  

For a while, we did leave it as is, and made trips to the laundromat (until at least this time last year) before we purchased a washer and dryer and had the plumbing revamped to fit a washer & dryer.  (Remember that announcement, here).

I stole the medicine cabinet for the upstairs bathroom, leaving us with a hole in the wall for much longer than anticipated.  My decorating and organization left a lot to be desired (but we were frying bigger fish at the time, like finishing the upstairs):

Then, last summer, I finally decided that it was time to make some things happen.  With 48 hours (or some other ridiculously short time frame) between that point and the pending arrival of my parents & siblings, I decided that I would finish the bathroom before they arrived to surprise them with the progress.  I think I finished the drywall repairs, painted the ceiling, and did half of the first coat (again, the huge size of the room and immense amount of cutting in took me by surprise) before the doorbell rang.  So, guess how my family spent a big part of their Ithaca vacation :)  (Thanks, guys!!)

Mom, helping to paint (and clearly acting on a dare from my dangerous-with-a-paintbrush sister in this shot!)

Maura and Colin, installing the sticky tiles I love - as a surprise for me while I was at work one day!

After new paint, new hardware, new floors, and some decor, I think it's looking a lot more spiffy (and organized, not to mention functional!)

This post is getting rather long, so I'll revisit some of the details in this room tomorrow.  I'm particularly proud of the brown cabinet and the rescue from its previous stay tuned!


I guess I'll have to take my little self-imposed 30-day challenges to 31 days since I completely forgot about the blog yesterday!  To make up for it tonight, I'll be back with full before and after of our downstairs bathroom-turned laundry room.

Here's one"before" picture...

It was definitely the nicest looking room in the house to begin with (aka, the walls were consistently one color, and the plumbing/fixtures was from this century)...but I think it's a lot better now.  Check back tonight for the after :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

A historical perspective

Did you know that our house was built in the 1890s?  Justin's best guess, based on fairly extensive research of census records, old maps, etc, is 1893.  He's spent a lot of time trying to learn about the history of the house, learn about the families who lived here, learn about what these walls have seen over the span of 119 years.

The earliest picture we have, from 1952.

When you stop and think, it's amazing all the time that this house has stood.  There was a family living here when Justin and I were born.  A different family when our parents were born.  A family was here through each of the world wars.  Someone weathered the Great Depression in this house.  The first woman to live here couldn't vote.  We suspect, based on the extra-large footprint of the bathrooms, that the initial inhabitants had an outhouse and that bedrooms were later converted to bathrooms when indoor plumbing became more common for residential use.

And each of those families had stories.  They worked, they played, they ate and slept here.  They laughed, cried, loved, and mourned.  I love to imagine the variety of clothing that was worn over the years as people came and went from the home.  And I love to close my eyes and try to imagine how it might have looked with 1950s furnishings.  Or earlier, at the turn of the century.  Like the scenes from Titanic when videos of the old, ruined ship are suddenly replaced by the vibrant images of the glory days, I would love to magically see back through time.  How were the rooms used?  How was it decorated?  What types of furniture were here?

We've learned some from the previous owners, who had the house for more than 30 years.  We found a few yearbook pictures of kids that grew up here in the 1930s.  And Justin has been able to piece together some facts about the historical residents through  Many pieces will continually be a mystery and left to our imagination.  Today, however,  we were excited to receive a message from a woman Justin contacted through ancestry - she's the daughter of someone who grew up here, and she reports that she has many fond memories and even lived here herself at one point.  I hope she's willing to share some stories with us - I know that this old home has plenty to share!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To blog or not to blog?

I have to admit, I've had a secret internal debate (in retrospect, I suppose most internal debates are secret) for the past few months about canning the blog all together.  It ends up being one more thing on my to-do list, another stressor that doesn't get done.  And ask Justin, the number one contributor to my bad moods is me feeling like I haven't accomplished all that I want to accomplish.  But I can't quite give in to my desire to just end it - partly because I think of the folks out there who are appreciative whenever I post something new, partly because I'm stubborn and don't like giving up, and partly because I'm not sure yet if I'd miss it too much.  Granted, I've more or less taken the easy way out by posting once every three months, and my non-decision is beginning to look like a decision.

BUT - fear not, I'm not shutting down.  At least not yet.  Through a strange combination of factors (I deleted the weird list I had typed here, since re-reading it had even me confused) I was inspired with a crazy idea.

I'm going to challenge myself to post every day for the next 30 days.  By the end of that, I'll either love it or hate it...and thus have my answer!  So, stay tuned, and try not to be overwhelmed by the sudden feast in the famine-land that is Finding Former Glory.

The 30 days of posts won't be earth-shattering.  I'll just try to give you little glimpses into my world, including entire rooms you've never seen.  And, for today, pets you've never met.

Did you know we have a pet?  Meet JoAnn:

JoAnn is my goldfish, who lives in the sewing room.  Can you guess how she got her name?  (My dad cleverly quipped, "You preferred that name to 'Mike' and 'AC'?")  Technically, she's JoAnn the Second, but with the proper care (which may or may not include an accidental flop on the bathroom floor last night whilst in transit from her regular bowl to the temporary during-cleaning bowl), she seems to be much healthier, and dare I even say happier than JoAnn the First.  

And she's a regular model.  I swear, I have never seen her swim around so much as during her photoshoot this evening.

She's definitely the best 13 cents I've ever spent.  :)  I don't anticipate that I'll ever be a dog-lover or cat-lover (owing to a scary childhood chasing incident with the former and allergies with the latter), but I sure do find a lot of happiness in having a goldfish!

See ya back here tomorrow for day 2 of my little challenge.  And, until then...what do you think?  To blog or not to blog??

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A less good excuse...

If we're friends on facebook, you're probably jumping on board with my sister's recent comment:

You better write in your blog again soon, unless you have another "good excuse" up your sleeve like it's actually triplets or something. :P

Given the speed with which people started "liking" this, I realized it was probably about time for another update :)  Especially since I don't have any twin or triplet excuses.

But look - I have a baby bump picture!  In my mind, at least, that should buy me a few more weeks before the next post, right?  ;)  Not quite as long as the ultrasound picture, but perhaps at least a few days??  You see, in true Emily form, I took my newfound 2nd-trimester energy as a green-light to return to my pre-pregnancy craziness.  The amount of traveling/hosting/organizing/working that kept me exhausted before I was simultaneously growing a human is, naturally - but somehow still surprisingly to me - wearing me out even more.  Over the last two weeks, I think I learned an important lesson about the need to establish a healthy stay tuned and let's see how much of that lesson I actually put into practice!

I shouldn't keep teasing you with this for so long (except I literally am too tired to find the camera and take/upload pictures), but the house is really coming along!  For the first time, I feel that it is cozy and I'm proud to have people over (to see it in its current state, not just to see it for it's change).  Also, for the first time, I know where all of my belongings are located.  I owe you lots of organization & decoration pictures :)

But, for now, a tired picture of me, plus my expansion pack (gotta find room somewhere for a lemon-sized baby!)

P.S. Yes, we now decorate with onesies.  I promise the other decor-related updates are a little more conventional and, uh, classy!