Shelves and other updates

Having a whole new house to start from scratch with is simultaneously awesome and slightly overwhelming. That’s one of the reasons I pushed so hard to get the master bedroom to a place where it felt “done enough” to me, so that at least one room in the house didn’t prompt constant “should we move that? tweak that? paint that?” feelings every time I was in there. And it has totally been worth it.

The other rooms in the house? They are not quite as calming. But we are making progress little by little, and some things are just going to take time (like painting all the trim in the house with a fresh coat (or three) of white paint). I’m learning to enjoy the process and not rush things. Although I am sure our neighbors would appreciate if we “rushed” improving our yards a bit. :)

The last time we chatted about the kitchen (three months ago!) we had removed the cabinets and the soffit above them, and painted the walls. Since then, we’ve continued to work on little projects here and there. One of the projects that I am just wild about was adding some shelving to give us some storage (since we removed all the upper cabinets). Sometimes when I get the idea for a project, I can see it in my head, but the execution comes out less than stellar. This used to happen to me all the time when I drew a lot. I could see it in my head but could not make my fingers reproduce that on paper. But this project? It exceeded my expectations. Behold.

They’re cute, right? I knew, pretty much from the moment that we took out the cabinets, that we’d put up some shelving between the window and the door. All it took was two pine boards from Home Depot (or was it Lowes?), six brackets from IKEA, and some stain, poly and paint. And there you have a functional and pretty little addition to our kitchen. Here’s a picture from a little further back so you can see how it all plays together.

By the way, if anyone knows of a microwave that is cute to look at, I am all ears. I can’t figure out anywhere else to put the darn thing, but it’s just so… black and hulking. ANYWAYS. Redirect your attention to the cute shelves. One of my favorite details is the fact that I painted the bottoms of the shelves in a deep green. It was one of those off the cuff – hey let’s try this!- kind of things, but I really like how it’s slightly unexpected and brings in a bit of color.

So that is one completed project that I am loving. We have also, since May, replaced the seventies light with this classy and brassy chandelier.

It’s a huge improvement over what was there, for sure. When we went out one night to pick this up (for $20 off Craigslist – hurray!), we obviously had the kids with us. So Javi asked “mommy, why we buyed this light?” and I told him it was because I didn’t like the one that was hanging in the dining area. He thought about that for a long time, and then at lunchtime the next day we had the exact same conversation. He then proceeded to take me through the house and ask me if I liked every other light in the house. :)

Anyways, it’s a huge improvement. There still feels like something is a bit off with it, (too gold? too white? too… much?) but it’s so much better than what was there. And brighter too! I also hung up some curtains and found a really cool mirror at the thrift store so this side of the room is looking a bit fancier.

I really like the direction this room is heading – lots of visual interest from the brick wall, all the warm wood tones from the dining set and the shelves, and the deep greens and purples. Oh, and I also found these little hanging planters that are just like the ones my Grandma has hanging on either side of her sink. Although her plants are real, because her thumb is amazingly green. I have much less of a green thumb, and also three little babes to remember to take care of before I water plants, so my succulents are fake. :)

How much do you love my little herb tiles on the backsplash? They’re kinda charming. I just wish that rosemary wasn’t represented three times all within a foot of each other. But – cute. I’m searching for a new little light for over the sink to replace that fluorescent awesomeness. And I think some new knobs and hinges are in order for these cabinets, but I haven’t totally made up my mind about that. The next project we’ll be tackling in this space? Flooring. For reals. The carpet has seen better days and we have only lived here for four months. :)


Posted in 2015, amherst | 1 Comment

And baby makes 5



Declan Oliver Kodanko

Declan joined us on the 7th of July, just three short (or long, depending on how you look at it) weeks ago. He is the sweetest, snuggliest little guy, and we are all in love. He came into the world happy and healthy, and we are all adjusting to life as a family of five.

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Nightstands and Dressers and Jewelry… Oh My!

When we moved out here, we were determined to buy new, and not become Craigslist addicts again. The determination lasted us through three trips to big box furniture stores, after which we determined that we were still, in fact, going to use Craig and his list. Yes, there is time and money involved in making over our secondhand finds, but when compared to the cost of purchasing new… well, we just couldn’t do it. The time spent refinishing things is well worth the savings. So – you could say we are back to our old ways. :)

Throughout our months at the apartment, Lover and my nightstands consisted of a cardboard box and a rubbermaid tote. Although the aesthetics were lacking, they served the intended purpose just fine, and surprisingly reminded me a little of our newlywed days when we owned one nightstand, a janky dresser and a “couch” made out of twin mattress, six rubbermaid totes and a bunch of pillows. Ah, nostalgia.

Anyways, I was on a mission to get us some nightstands before the baby came, so when a set of two nightstands and a small dresser turned up on CL for $25, I was sold. We trekked out that night and loaded up the van with our finds, after making small talk for a few minutes with the gentleman who was selling the furniture. He wished us good luck with “that” with an awkward gesture towards my very pregnant belly, which kept us laughing all the way home.

So these nightstands are just a simple pressboard construction, nothing particularly fancy or special about them. Someone had previously slapped a coat of burgundy paint on them and, how do I say this nicely, they had done a … subpar job of it.

See how there is just one uneven, gloppy coat on there? Yeah. Not so special. So I set to work making these babies prettier. I wiped everything down with some hot water and vinegar, and then put a quick coat of primer on all of the surfaces. With primer your goal is not to get complete opaque coverage, but rather a consistent coat that will help your paint adhere to the previous surface. It looks weird, but it gets the job done.

Then I did two coats of gray paint (same stuff we used on our walls) with a third touchup coat in a few little spots. I purchased a small foam roller for this project and it worked really well, making the job go much faster and I got really smooth, even coverage with it.

Being in Colorado means that there is a lot less humidity, and so paint cures much quicker and harder than it did in Rochester. But I still waited several days after everything was dry to make sure the paint was really curing well before I brought them inside. There’s nothing I hate more than finishing a piece and bringing it in to use it, just for it to flake or chip or stick to something. So I exerted all my willpower and made myself wait – even though I was chomping at the bit to get them in the room.

Because there wasn’t really anything interesting about these nightstands, I went with a fun knob for the drawers. Hobby Lobby makes so many cool knobs for under $5 a piece – I think these were $3.99 each and were probably on sale for half off, since most of their store is usually on sale. :) These little chalkboard thought bubbles were fun and tied in the turquoise. I used a chalk marker to write “MR” on Lover’s side and MRS on mine.I still need to find a basket that fits better on my side since I don’t have a shelf like Lover does.

Then I turned my attention to finding a dresser for our room. I had a few criteria – long versus tall, light wood, and not requiring a ton of work, since I was about a month from my due date at this point.

After a few weeks of (im)patient searching, I found just the right thing. Long, light stain, and the price was right at $50. It looked to be in pretty good condition too. We drove down to pick it up, and the seller even let me have it for $40. Hurray! When I’m buying dressers secondhand, I’ve learned to look for a few things – solid wood wherever possible, since dressers take a lot of abuse, functioning drawers and overall condition. If it’s covered in stickers or goop or something, it’s probably not worth my time to fix it up, unless it’s dirt cheap. Thankfully this dresser was only slightly worn on the top, and after looking it over I determined that I could refinish the top pretty easily.

I purchased an orbital sander for this project, and oh my goodness, how did I not know what I was missing out on? This baby is awesome for a quick, even sanding. I loved it. I used various grits of sandpaper to take out all the stains and scuffs in the finish on the top of the dresser, and finished with a high grit to smooth everything back out. This probably took me about half an hour – simple and easy.

I ended up having to take the top back down to the bare wood to get all the stains out. Which meant I needed to whitewash the top to get it to match the finish on the rest of the dresser. I put about a tablespoon of white paint in a cup and mixed it with about a cup of water, and then brushed it over the top in long strokes. Because the paint is so transparent, any touch up strokes are really visible, so try to avoid that when possible.

The kids also worked hard here painting a scrap board we had on hand. They loved it and it kept them busy for quite a while. Here’s what the top looked like after the whitewash. Pretty darn close match, right?

I finished the process up with three coats of poly, sanding between coats to get a really smooth finish. Then Lover and a friend brought it upstairs to our room since apparently its not a good idea to carry super heavy furniture when you’re preggers.

Looking good, right? It fits really nicely on that wall, and gave us tons of room for clothes. A couple of the drawers are actually empty. :) As you can see, the dresser came with a big old heavy mirror which fills up that wall nicely. And lastly, I hung up all my jewelry on the wall. I love having it hung up as “art” and when it’s on display like this I tend to wear it all more.

So that’s the story of how we are living like grownups again with our clothes in dressers and nightstands next to our bed. :) Our bedroom feels comfortable and functional, and the rest (art, little personal touches, etc) will come with time. It’s a good start!


Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

The Beginnings of the Master

So, I just had a baby. Hurray for the end of pregnancy and a snuggly, perfect little baby! All those details to come, but for now we’re going to talk about the master bedroom. Where, ironically, we’ve been spending a lot of time recovering and snuggling and sometimes even sleeping. Although there has been very little sleeping. :)

I tend to wait to post pictures of rooms until I feel they are done, but I’m trying to change that with this house. I’m trying to share more of the process, the planning behind the scenes, and the evolution of the rooms as we figure out what works best in each case. So,, expect to see more posts here with lots of ideas and plans and inspiration, as we slowly figure out what this house wants to be. Overall, our approach is very different in this house. We’re trying to pace ourselves, not live the house, and tackle things one at a time. So far we’ve focused on making the kitchen work for us (and adding some pretty in there), making the downstairs guest friendly, and getting our master bedroom done enough that it was relaxing and clean and somewhere I wanted to spend time.

This is what we started with when we closed. The view from the hallway was the big window that overlooks the backyard, and some dingy white walls. Oh and a dated ceiling fan.

To the right is the big master closet – not a walk in but huge none the less. We’ve actually talked about adding a washer/dryer in this closet to have first floor laundry – it’s that big. Note the gor-ge-ous fabric decoupaged onto the closet doors. Seriously, it’s actually pretty cool fabric, with peacock feathers and butterflies. I’m not saying we’re keeping it long term, but I don’t hate it. Behind those lovely pink silk panels is another skinny window. (Both of the windows in this room really need to be replaced with modern, functional ones that don’t sound like an 18 wheeler is rumbling by when you want to close them)

And, if you stand right in that corner by the skinny window, this is the other view of the room. The doorway all the way on the right is the master bathroom – I love having a bathroom in our room. It’s super convenient (and definitely, definitely got our money’s worth out of it during the last months of pregnancy!) and someday we’ll freshen things up in there and make it all cute. Until then, everything works and that’s great.

So – while we were still in the apartment, I found a bedspread that I really, really loved. It’s gray and white and turquoise, and so pretty. And then we bought light turquoise curtains from IKEA that went so nicely with the bedspread.

and I already told you that when we moved into Amherst we bought the perfect neutral gray (Ralph Lauren’s Saltaire)  to paint all of the rooms with to start. So that is where we started – gray walls, pretty comforter and turquoise curtains. Then I decided that I wanted to experiment with some high contrast color in our room. At Wendhurst we pretty much went with light, neutral and classic colors throughout, so I’m really excited to try out some color and drama in this house. That’s when I started thinking about navy blue walls in the bedroom. I’ve seen pictures of rooms painted in Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy for years, and I’ve always loved the color.

So, I talked to Lover about it, and he was on board – sort of. He was concerned about the room being too dark if we did all the walls in the navy, so we settled on just two of them. Then we headed to Home Depot to get some paint! Of course, HD doesn’t sell Benjamin Moore paint, so we just looked for a deep true navy that would work well with our comforter. The closest we could find that we liked was a Behr Marquee paint called Mirage. It was a deep blue with some green undertones that played so nicely with the grays and turquoises. We went up to the counter to have it color matched (because Behr Marque paint is upwards of $50/gallon) and as it turns out, Behr puts some kind of magic in their marquee paint to make it impossible to color match it. Darn the bad luck! I was seriously irritated. At that point I was ready to scrap the whole “accent wall” idea, since it was turning into a headache, and we really wanted to get our bedroom and the kids room painted before moving in. But – in a stroke of divine providence, we walked past the “oops” paints, and lo and behold, a nice deep navy was on the rack for $9! The only catch – it was a semi-gloss finish. I always, always buy eggshell – it has the slightest bit of sheen to it and therefore is quite cleanable, but it is not shiny. BUT – this paint was only NINE DOLLARS, and would let us try out a new, crazy idea for not a lot of moolah. So, into the cart it went. And up on the walls it went. Ta da!

We decided to paint the two walls that do not have windows the dark blue, and leave the window walls gray.

Surprisingly, the semi gloss doesn’t bother me too much. I think I would still prefer it in either eggshell or even a flat finish, but the gloss adds a bit of reflection and sparkle that is pretty cool. In another post I will show you the other walls, along with some details about the nightstands and dresser I refinished for this room, but let’s talk about the bed wall for a minute. So – a few things I have been thinking about. This room seriously needs some personal art to make it ours. Our bed is from IKEA, and let me tell you why I love it. The mattress rests on the combination bed frame/boxspring/storage space, and that sits directly on the floor. We had the option to buy legs, but I didn’t because, and here is my stroke of genius, you never have to clean under the bed. It isn’t the place where lost socks go to die, or little newborn diapers roll underneath never to be heard from again… it’s amazing. I love it very, very much.

So, we need a headboard of some sort, and some awesome art above the bed. I think I have figured out what I want for the art, and now I need to sort out a headboard. I think the headboard needs to be white, to provide some contrast with the dark blue wall. This means that the headboard needs to somehow be washable – because I guarantee it will get dirty. I would also like it to be fairly deep, so that we can access the plug that is directly behind the center of the bed. That would be nice for plugging in lamps and our phones at night. Eventually we will need to pay for an electrician to rewire that plug, since it is currently on the wall switch and we are therefore unable to have a light on a switch and our phones charging overnight. #firstworldproblems

The other thing I keep seriously considering is painting the door trim and the door to the en suite bathroom the same blue color. On the one hand it sounds crazy, but on the other hand, I think it would make this wall feel bigger and less choppy. The doors are decently solid and nice, but are still just hollow core doors from the 70s. So I don’t think it would be a great loss to paint them. Or at least that one.

On this wall, there is still a whole lot of crazy going on. Ironically, the little “I love u” art I hung up kind of ties in with the colors of the fabric on those doors, which I still don’t hate. But, that fabric does clash with the rest of the room. I could paint the doors blue, recover the doors in a different fabric or, I don’t know, come up with something else brilliant for this wall. I like the I <3 u that I made, but I think it needs to go somewhere else, it’s too small for that wall. I think I want to hang a few pictures of Lover and I on this wall instead.

So – that is the story of how we painted a couple of walls really dark in the master bedroom. Hopefully you can see where I am going with this room- a little contrast, some pretty wood tones, a calm and relaxing place to retire to at the end of the day. Little by little we are getting there!


Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Due Date

It’s such a weird feeling to finally hit my due date. (It was Thursday) It’s over! Sort of. :) I’ve hit my due date with each of my three pregnancies, without a hint of going early, so I had absolutely no expectation of going early this time either, and that’s proven true. Here I sit, 40 weeks pregnant, only slightly dying of expectation and anticipation to meet this little one we’ve been waiting for.

So now the official waiting game begins. When will this little babe decide to make an appearance? We’re hoping for tomorrow, since then this will be our little firecracker baby, and every year from now on they will have fireworks and parade in their honor. How cool is that? :)

Overall, this has been my easiest pregnancy. Part of that is experience – I know what works and what doesn’t work for me when I am pregnant. (Works – Lots of waterlogged fruits and vegetables. Doesn’t work – drinking plain water) I immediately started my heartburn medicine once we discovered we were pregnant again, and my new midwife was a true lifesaver in prescribing an anti-nausea medicine at 19 weeks that totally improved my quality of life. I went from total exhaustion and barely able to eat anything to a much more varied diet and much more energy. Midwives FTW! :)

It’s been interesting to follow what’s been the same throughout this pregnancy, as opposed to the other two. I still can’t drink water, but I made a lot fewer sacrifices to the porcelain throne this time around. Foods I haven’t liked or haven’t been able to eat this pregnancy: meat in general, and specifically bacon. WHAT KIND OF TRAVESTY IS THIS? With Javi it was mushrooms, with Keilana it was broccoli (no great loss there), but with this one – bacon? Come on! :) On the other hand, I’m obsessed with fresh fruits like blueberries, grapes and most of all cherries. And they have all been dirt cheap lately, so that has been awesome. With Javi I was obsessed with watermelon, and with Keilana it was… mocha frappes from Burger King. And Klondike bars. :) So fresh fruit is definitely a better thing to be craving all the time!

I’ve also eaten a lifetime’s worth of boxed mac n cheese. But we won’t talk about that.

We’re not sure if this is our last kid or not (we promised NOT to make that decision while I am pregnant, because when I am pregnant I never, ever, EVER want to be pregnant again) but either way, I’ve been super excited from the get go about adding another little one to our family. I love watching the interaction between Javi and KK, and even though they are in a terrible phase of fighting and hitting and tantrums and disobedience, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t wait to see KK as a big sister, and I know Javi will just love having another baby around. He already talks about “When da baby is born, I will hold him and I will pick him up when he is crying.” Melts my heart. :)

In general this entire pregnancy has flown by. I found out I was pregnant just weeks after we moved out here to Denver, and so much has happened in these nine months! We moved into an apartment, found a church, set up life here, looked at ALL OF THE HOUSES, purchased a house, traveled back to New York and to Spain, and all of the other day to day life stuff that fills up the minutes. It’s been hectic, but it’s kept my mind off of obsessing about things that I have no control over (for the most part).

So hopefully this little babe will soon make their appearance, and we can start adjusting to being a family of five! I’m excited about what the future holds, and I’ve just about run out of things to obsessively clean and nest for, so baby better make an appearance soon!


Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Life Round These Here Parts

Life has been pretty laid back for the last couple of weeks, since returning from our big trip back to Rochester and my trip to Spain for my little brother’s wedding. I’m so glad I was able to be there, I had a great time and I can’t believe Ben is a married man now!

We haven’t had much going on, but we’ve been working hard to settle into the house, get ready for baby, and just enjoy our time together as a family again. This has entailed a lot of Craiglist shopping, some gallons of paint, and a certain happy guy with a chainsaw taking down about a dozen bushes in our front and back yards. So.Much.Better!

All of the bushes in this picture with the exception of one are now gone. And by gone, I mean that Lover cut them down and then we dragged them over to the other side of the yard where we will slowly cut them up and burn them in our fireplaces. About half of the bushes were dead, and the other half were so old and overgrown that it was better to just cut them down. We’re big fans, especially in the back yard, of a big open grassy space where everyone can just play, so that’s what we are working towards. That planter right in the front of the bushes is also on its way out.

Our front yard is also a hot mess. Maybe more so than the back. Because you and the neighbors and everyone that drives by see it every day, you know? Lover dug out the bushes that were just to the left of the steps, so you no longer get groped by their poky branches every time you enter the house. Again, they were overgrown and half dead, and then the movers broke one in half when they brought in our furniture. The little tree all the way to the left had pretty hot pink flowers when we moved in, so for now it’s staying. We just trimmed it up quite a bit.  The bush just to the right is gone now, along with the two big ugly bushes in front of the basement window. My thought is that we will make gardens everywhere you see mulch and then eventually get rid of the grassy area and at least one of the big trees and put in some more gardens and xeriscaping. One of the big trees belongs to the city, but it’s dead so I put in a call to have it removed. We’re debating on whether or not to take out the other tree. We decided to wait at least til the end of summer to see if we prefer it shading the house. :)

The kids have been having fun watching Daddy wield the chainsaw, and just generally being goofs. Peanut is really growing up, our trip was so good for her – it really pushed her out of her comfort zone (me and only me) and she’s been a lot more independent lately. Javi had a blast with all his cousins in Rochester, and is never happier than when we are hanging out with lots of friends here.

We spent Saturday prepping and then painting all of the paneling and walls in the basement (above the orange paneling – that’s staying for now). It was a long, tiring day, but it looks loads better now. And see how much light pours in those windows now without those dark bushes?

Primer lightened things up quite a bit, and then once we got the actual paint up – so much better! Now I’m working on curtains and decorations to pull it all together. It’s getting there! No more pictures till we’re closer to the finished product! :)

I’d say nesting is in full swing, although it’s looking different in this house than with the other two. This time it’s been about organizing, putting systems into place, unpacking those last few boxes, and settling in. Making sure we have all the necessary stuff for the baby, who should be here in about three weeks! I’m nervous and excited and anxious and patient all at the same time. :)

And these little goofballs make me laugh every day. They keep me on my toes and I can’t wait till there’s another one running around with them.

So that’s what life is looking like these days. Hopefully this baby will make an appearance sooner rather than later! :)


Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

In Christ Alone {How ISIS won’t win}

Last Sunday, as we drove up to Broomfield after church to buy a couch, Lover spent a good long while listening to me as I bawled my eyes out about all the things that were breaking my heart. Number one on that list? The women and children affected by ISIS’ unbending regime. Our church encouraged people to wear orange to church in support of Christians being executed by ISIS, and we spent quite a while talking about the trials the Church is facing over there during our Sunday morning service.

This came on the heels of reading Ann Voskamp’s posts about her trip to Iraq recently, where she sat on the floor of shipping containers with women who had been widowed, then fled their homes with their children, trying to escape ISIS. They are powerful posts, and wonderfully written, but only read them if you are prepared for some heart wrenching images and thoughts. It will not easily leave your mind.

All of this left me just absolutely shattered. It didn’t shake my belief in God or anything, but it just truly broke my heart that for some reason these women and children have to suffer so much. How was it fair that I get to live in my beautiful, spacious home in Colorado, and sleep peacefully through the night? That I get to  raise my children without any real concern that someone will harm them, or deliver my new baby in a clean, sterile hospital where it is an expectation that, not a question of if,  my baby will live? When women over in Iraq are literally choosing which children they will flee with and which they will leave behind?

Like I said, it just reduced me to tears. I couldn’t fathom how you walk through that, how God can carry you through a trial like that. How can you live in such an environment of fear, destruction, of death? How do you see God in the midst of all of that?

Yesterday, during the praise and prayer part of our service, the worship leader talked about the heart wrenching pain that God experienced when He gave up His only begotten Son. I wrote a little bit about this before Easter, but from the perspective of the Son – forsaken by his Father. But I didn’t really spend any time thinking about it from the Father’s perspective.

And in that moment of reflection, I knew that God understands. That He knows what it is like to lose His very precious child, to make a choice that results in losing them. He sees those beautiful women, making impossible choices. He’s there when they have to choose which children they will leave behind, when their daughters are taken by ISIS, when their infants die hours or days after birth because of the conditions into which they are born. He knows their pain, because He’s suffered through it. And they can find comfort in knowing that He understands them, and that He’s holding them close. They are NOT forgotten or abandoned. He knows their names, the names of their children, He sees their pain. As Second Corinthinans 9 says, they are persecuted, but not forgotten, cast down but not destroyed. 

And then we sang one of my favorite songs “In Christ Alone.” This song brings me to tears every time I sing it – the message is so powerful. In Christ alone, my hope is found…firm through the fiercest drought and storm…my Comforter, my all in all…

The last verse spoke to me in particular.

No guilt in life, no fear in death, (you, fellow Christians, executed for your faith)

this is the power of Christ in me,

from life’s first cry, to final breath,

Jesus commands my destiny. (He sees them, he hasn’t lost control)

No power of hell, no scheme of man, (ISIS can scheme all they want, they won’t prevail in the end)

can ever pluck me from His hand. (He’s holding them, they won’t be lost)

Till He returns, or calls me home, (Whether they survive this trial or not)

here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

I can’t express how much comfort this brings me. The idea that Christians a world away can feel God’s presence walking through the valley of the shadow of death with them, holding them in His hands, hiding them in the shadow of His wings. And it helps me to know how to better pray for them – that God would show Himself so real to them as they walk through this fiery trial.

And I’ll thank God that He has not chosen me to walk through this trial, and I’ll be all the more grateful for the ways in which He has chosen to bless me.



Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Opening up the Kitchen

There’s a lot to do at Amherst, which I love. A project house is my kind of jam! :) We’ve been working on a few things in the kitchen, namely removing some upper cabinets to open things up in there. The kitchen and the dining room are basically one big room, with the galley kitchen on the left, and the dining area on the right. (That far right wall is the awesome brick wall) The kitchen has some fancy nineties linoleum, and the dining area has my very favorite – carpet! So at some point we will be ripping all of that out and replacing it with something a lot more durable and kid friendly. The carpet is a really nice quality, and is throughout much of the upstairs, so it will stay for the time being everywhere except for the dining area. I’m done with cleaning up little kid messes out of carpet.

Anyways, let me show you a floor plan, so you know where I am talking about. This is NOT 100% accurate, or even 90% I’d say. But it gives you a general idea of what I am talking about.

main floor floorplan

Okay, so the dining area is directly in front of you when you walk up the stairs coming into the house. Brick wall on the right, that door leads out to the back yard. Make sure to take note of the lovely dust filled curtains, the decals on the windows, and the rocking macrame plant holder. (sans plant)

If you spin around and stand at the back door, this is what you see. That blank wall is the back of the coat closet, and you can juuust see the pantry. On the far right of the picture you can see the decorative panel on the back of the upper cabinets, which we will be talking about in a moment.

So. If you look at the floor plan again, that “wall” between the kitchen and the dining area is just cabinets. It’s all one open space, but the stove and lower cabinets form the bottom of the wall dividing the two spaces, and the upper cabinets along with the soffit further enhanced that feeling of it being two separate rooms, with the kitchen feeling really small and a little claustrophobic.

See how you could see through, but it was low and all in your face? If you wanted to talk to the person in the kitchen you had to crouch down and talk through that opening. Not the end of the world, but also not the open feeling that we wanted. We knew that taking those cabinets and soffit out would change the room entirely.

So we started by removing the decorative panel on the back of the cabinets. Let me interject here that the previous owner did some beautiful woodworking, and made all these cabinets and panels himself. They’re really well made and in great shape, so we were very careful removing them as I think we will put them to good use elsewhere. The back panel was decorative and just nailed into place, so Lover was able to remove it without too much trouble. It was heavy though!

Then he disconnected the power to the vent hood, (obviously after turning off the power and taking all necessary safety measures) and removed the hood. Once that was safely out, we set about removing the cabinets, one by one. Each of the three were screwed to each other and then up into the supports above, so we just unscrewed them one by one. Lover would get them mostly free, and then I would remove the last couple of screws while he held up the weight of the cabinet. We may or may not have figured out this system after dropping the first cabinet on the counter. Luckily laminate is durable. :) They are all now sitting pretty in the garage.

This picture is terrible and blurry, but see how immediately things were feeling lighter? A few days later when we got the itch again, Lover removed the soffit above. This was more of a task, and I did not help at all. I just sat at the table and kept him company. The demo was pretty straight forward, with the exception of some long bolts that anchored everything into the ceiling. Those took some work to remove. But, in the end Lover was victorious and the soffit was no more.

Once those cabinets were out I was dying to paint everything to freshen up the room even more. We prepped the room one evening, and then the next day I fit in the painting between naps and TV shows and whatever other time I could steal away. It needs touch up in a few spots, but it looks so much nicer now!

And here’s the new and improved kitchen. Ahhhhh. Space, light and openness. It’s my jam, I tell ya.

From the other direction, it’s even more dramatic. This picture was taken standing right next to the fridge.

Now the entire dining area is a part of the kitchen too. That brick wall gets to be the star of the dining area and the kitchen, and it’s so much nicer to work on what is now a peninsula, instead of the lower half of a hulking wall.

It’s better, right? Yes, we lost some storage, but we’re planning on addressing that by adding shelves on the wall between the window and the back door, and possibly a hutch in the dining area. We’re still figuring out what we need and what should go where. Also, in this picture you can see that we are still working on patching up the ceiling, and replacing that light. Turns out when they installed the soffit they used a very high tech method of finding the studs in the ceiling, which involved smashing a hammer through the drywall in about a dozen places. #facepalm So we are working on patching those up relatively well, and then the entire ceiling needs a fresh coat of paint. And we need to figure out the lighting up there. But – it looks so much better, functions better, and I love it.

Also, I need to talk for a minute about the wall color. We agreed that since all of the walls in the house need a fresh coat of paint, we would just find a nice, neutral color that worked with everything, and start with that. Later on, as we figure out what direction we want the rooms to go, we might repaint certain rooms, but this way everything gets freshly updated. I brought home a million light gray swatches, some tans and some light blues, and then a miracle happened. In five seconds flat, we both agreed on a color, and said color worked in every room of the house. Miracles, they still happen people. :) The gray we went with is suuuper light and has great undertones, and works with all the different bricks, and so far has looked nice in every room we’ve painted. (The master, the kids’ room and now the kitchen.) I love it. It’s called Saltaire by Ralph Lauren, and we had it matched to Glidden paint.

Anyways, so that’s what we’ve been working on. Next on my radar may possibly be this light. Weird seventies light, you have been warned.


Posted in 2015, amherst | 1 Comment

The House God Gave Us

We have a house. We have a house! Hurray! We’ve owned our house for exactly twenty days and it still feels unreal. After my last post about our house hunting adventures, we switched realtors yet again, saw over fifty more houses, and submitted an additional 11 offers. For a total of 18 offers! Every single one of them fell through for one reason or another. Our poor realtor was absolutely stunned. He couldn’t believe we were losing on SO many houses! It was right down to the wire – it was March 18th and if we didn’t have an accepted offer by March 19th, we wouldn’t close in time to move before our lease was up and our backup plan (which we didn’t actually have) would have to go into effect. We were looking at moving into a month-to-month lease (and paying through the nose) while we continued to house shop. That would have been a)stressful b)expensive, and c)undesirable since our new closing/move dates would be much closer to when the baby would be born.

So, we prayed, a lot. We started looking at houses outside of our preferred location (for commute times). We started looking at houses outside of our established parameters (i.e. no HOA, no recent builds, etc) Basically we were looking for anything, with the knowledge that we would probably only live there for a year or two, and then move AGAIN. We prayed some more. We asked everyone at our Life Group and all our friends back home to pray. Things were serious!

Wednesday we spent all day trying to set up appointments to view houses that evening. The kids were worn out and grumpy from spending every evening and weekend doing nothing but looking at houses. Lover was stressed trying to balance work and house hunting and an emotional wife. I was stressed and overwhelmed trying to coordinate with our realtor, find houses we wanted to see, take care of the kids, oh and be pregnant too… it was a rough time. Our realtor touched base with me several times that day to let me know that most of the houses we were trying to see were unavailable, already sold, or simply refusing viewings for some unknown reason. I was on the verge of losing it.

I put the kids down for a nap, and sat on the couch trying to relax. Then our realtor called. At this point, I assumed he was calling to say that all of our viewings had been canceled for that evening. He started out by asking, “Hey Jenny, do you remember that house on Amherst?” amherst9

Did I remember it? Of course I did! It was one of the first houses we saw with Bill, and we totally and completely loved it. It was older, in a nice neighborhood, and had tons of vintage charm and quirk. It was love at first sight. We had put in a really strong offer, but someone had outbid us by several thousand dollars and had more cash to put down.

“Well,” Bill said “turns out the original buyers backed out, apparently due to an inspection issue that has since been resolved.  But they were no longer interested, and our offer was the second best offer, so the seller’s agent just called me to see if we still wanted this house.”


I was trying so hard not to bawl my eyes out, right then and there on the phone with Bill. Did we still want it? Do three year old boys like playing in the dirt? Yes, we still wanted this house. YES, YES, YES!!!!

I managed to answer in a somewhat dignified tone “ah, yes, I remember the house. We loved it. Yes, we are still interested in it.” Bill proceeded to say something about talking to Lover about it, and getting back to him in the next half an hour or so to confirm. I hung up the phone, sat down on the couch and cried. It was definitely an ugly cry. Such feelings of relief and exhilaration and incredulity. I cried for about twenty minutes, then pulled myself together and called Bill back. I told him we were on board and to send over the contracts.

I hadn’t talked to Lover about it, but I knew that we had both loved this house, and he wouldn’t have any problem with me giving the okay. We were devastated the first time we lost that house, and I knew he would jump at the chance to get a house, ANY house, but especially THIS house, that had been our favorite!

I confirmed everything with Bill, and e-signed all the paperwork while I anxiously waited for Lover to get home from work. The waiting just about killed me. Finally, I heard Lover come in the front door, and I met him at the top of the stairs. “I’m sorry,” I said. “we canceled all our showings for tonight.” His shoulders just slumped and he looked at me confused. “Because…” I said, with a sparkle in my eye “the buyers on Amherst backed out and NOW WE GET TO BUY IT!!!!!!” Lover grabbed me and hugged me and I cried some more and we jumped around and were all giddy and it was awesome.

God gave us the perfect house, in the perfect location, just in the nick of time. We had to wait till the bitter end, trusting that He would come through for us. It was really hard, but we did it, and we trusted that he had something great for us, and boy did He ever. Our Heavenly Father pours out on us an embarrassment of riches.

amherst1Amherst is a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom raised ranch with a ton of quirk and charm. It is about fifteen minutes from work, less than five minutes from church, and most of the friends we have made since moving here live less than ten minutes away. We couldn’t have picked a better location if we had tried.



The bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms are all upstairs. The living room has a brick wood burning fireplace. (Don’t worry, we didn’t inherit any of that furniture!) The fireplace is massive and awesome.

amherst4The dining room has a brick wall that is completely different from the fireplace brick just steps away. We love it. It’s moody and gray and totally makes the space. The kitchen is well planned out and very workable, and the cabinets are super sturdy – made by the previous owner who was a master woodworker.



These pictures are all pretty horrible (they are the listing photos) so I’ll follow up sometime soon with better pictures. But everything works, everything is clean, and we’re loving all the space to spread out.

amherst10There is a second brick fireplace in the basement family room, that is completely different from the two types and colors of brick upstairs. It’s also huge and awesome. We got to keep that geese carving/decoration thing above the fireplace too. :)

amherst7The family room is fully half of the bottom story of the house. In between the family room and the garage is a utility room with the laundry and a half bathroom with – wait for it – a brick wall that is nothing like the other brick walls/fireplaces in the house! Yes! :) This bar was made by the owner, along with all of that orange paneling you see (it wraps around the outside wall throughout the whole basement. We are actually considering keeping the orange, if you can believe that.

There’s lots more to see, but we’ll get to that as I have time to blog about it. It’s been a VERY busy couple of weeks, and we’ve got a trip back to NY coming up, along with traveling to my brother’s wedding in Spain, and oh yeah, I’m 31 weeks along today. So things are busy. So far we are working on the house little by little, painting a room here, taking out some cabinets there, and we are loving it.

Oh, and the yard! We have a yard again! It is the epitome of awesome. It’s overgrown and neglected and has about six trees that need to be chopped down post haste. But it’s fenced and full of grass and dirt and the kids absolutely love it. And it has a lilac bush. :)

So that’s where we are. Living in our new house, on Amherst Dr. (How funny is that, Wendhurst and Amherst? It’s like it was meant to be :) Settling in, unpacking boxes, and feeling thankful every day for the house that God gave us. We’ve already met several of our neighbors, and they couldn’t be nicer. Also, none of them call us at 5 in the morning to tell us our kids are being too loud. :) We are loving this house and we’re so thankful for all that God has provided us with.

Till next time,





Posted in 2015, amherst | Leave a comment

Lilacs just for Me

This lilac bush is the the back left corner of our yard. It’s huge and overgrown, and in desperate need of some pruning. But, the top of the bush is covered in big, puffy lilac blooms. And let me tell you, every time I look out of our new kitchen window and see those purple flowers, my heart bursts a little. Let me tell you why.

When Lover and I started talking about moving away from upstate NY a couple of years ago, we tossed around all sorts of destinations and discussed what our life would look like. We strongly considered moving to Portland,  Oregon for quite a while, thought about moving south to the Carolinas (like the rest of Rochester, NY) and even considered moving overseas. In the end, we decided to take a year off of our commitments, recharge emotionally and spiritually, and really rely on God to direct us where he wanted us to go after the year was up.

I’ve mentioned before that Lover’s job offer came in at 11:50pm the night of Peanut’s first birthday, which was exactly 365 days to the day after we had started our sabbatical year. That was our first sign that God was involved in this move in a major way. I kept a doc on my laptop of all of the ways He was showing us that this move was his plan for our future. Little things like the fact that we had purchased a van months before (which was a serious star player in our cross country trip), to big things like deciding to close down my photography business that year.

People helped us in droves during our last month there, watching our kids, running our enormous yard sale, selling things for us, making meals… the list goes on and on. As someone who has difficulty asking for help, the fact that I asked and people showed up – that meant so much to me.

I’ve continued to look for signs that this move was God’s will once we moved out here. It makes the hard days, the days where I desperately miss family and friends, a lot easier. I made note of the fact that the 2nd church we visited was the perfect fit for us, and we’ve only become happier there. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I haven’t let the fact that Lover no longer has sleep apnea go unnoticed. That God waited to let us get pregnant again until we were out here, established and with an apartment rented, and timed it just right so I could still attend my brother’s international wedding.

And throughout the long, arduous house hunting process, I kept all these things in mind. When I despaired that we would ever find a home we would love, that would fit our criteria, I reminded myself of all the ways that God has walked with us through this adventure so far. And at the final hour, a house came through. And not just any house, but one that we had absolutely fallen in love with, and was perfect for us in so many ways.

Once we had signed the contracts to purchase this house, I was talking to God one morning, a morning that I was particularly missing my world in Rochester. And I said “God, wouldn’t it be just perfect if, in our new yard, there was a lilac bush just waiting for me? To remind me of my friends and family in NY? A little sliver of “home” here in our new home?” Well, lo and behold, my friends, God moved the owners years ago to prepare this home for us by planting that pretty,  sweet smelling bush in the back corner, just for me. I hope they enjoyed it, but I don’t really worry about that, because I know that all along that bush was actually just for me. God was saving it for me, keeping it as one of my “signs” that he’s walking right beside me, loving on me and spoiling me. And now I have the perfect visual reminder that He loves me – right in my own backyard.



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Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment