Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sam and Jacci - 3; Woods - 52

Do you remember last January when we payed some guys to cut & haul all of the honeysuckle off of the slope in the backyard? Since it was their off-season, they did the work in the cold and snowy mud for less than they would normally charge. Good deal for us. Getting rid of all that honeysuckle made us feel like we had won a small victory over our wild, overgrown woods.

We were right on both counts there. It was a victory, and it was small.

What would you imagine might happen to a long-neglected woodland edge that was finally freed from the brambly honeysuckle that covered it for... oh, I don't know... at least 20 years? Here's a hint: the slope was getting sunlight all spring long.

You got it! It was weed heaven.

Actually it was weed and thorny wild raspberry and sumac and grapevine heaven. We had moved in last December, so when things began to leaf out in the warm weather it was a real eye-opener. Not only was our slope totally over run with some serious vegetation, but we got a clear picture of exactly how densely our understory was jam packed full of honeysuckle. You couldn't see a thing down there all summer.

Finally, the honeysuckle and sumac leaves started to fall, and we could begin to devise a plan for our next stage of attack. One afternoon while the children played in the backyard, I took loppers to most of the sumac on the yard's edge. The pile seemed so little compared to the work I hade done, but it did at least make a difference in knocking out some of the vegetation that was slowly creeping closer to the back of the house.

Sam's mom and dad (Susan and David) were here last weekend, and he and David got out there and took care of some more of the slopey wildness. Sadly, that also meant taking down one of the little trees we had been hoping to save - one of my favorites, an American Sycamore. It's obvious that we're going to have to do some re-grading of that slope, though, and there was just no way to get around the small trees that have grown up there. Besides, I really want a clear view of the woods from the backdoor, so that (when our children can finally walk around down there) I'll be able to see them clearly from the house. The Sycamore was smack dab in the line of vision. Sam had been itchin' to fire up the chainsaw, anyway :)

So, then there was a felled tree in the backyard. Sam and I kind of looked at each other and said, "Now what?". Nice. Good planning, guys.

But, on Tuesday evening, Sam hacked away at the tree, combined the pieces with my sumac, and made smaller piles all over the yard. Then, he bundled 'em up and put them out front. I think next time we have a decent amount of wood, we'll try to advertise on freecyle - the wood isn't aged enough to burn this year and it's mostly too sizeable for kindling, but maybe someone could use it. Now that Sam has the 3' by 3' firepit dug (the largest city laws will allow in town), we can at least burn some of the smaller things Sam cut down earlier in the year. They've been down for a few months - wonder if they're still too green to burn well? Anyway - tree down. Another point for us :)

The woods are still whoopin' our tails, though. There's a whole lotta work that needs done. Good thing the trees have been so thoroughly enjoyable to look at this fall... it's beginning to feel like it's worth it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kitchen Update :)

It's still far from finished, but we are getting close to completing the first layer of our kitchen makeover. We can't really call it a remodel because nothing was torn out or replaced (except the hardware) - we're really just working with what we had. The cabinets were all in great shape, thankfully. The entire kitchen just needed to be made lighter and brighter. That was our goal for before winter, and I think we're there! :) Yay. Our own little testimony to the power of paint and perseverance.

The sun never really came out today like the weatherman had promised, so these photos aren't the greatest. You can definitely still see the difference, though :) Remember where we were starting from
back in March? Here's where we are today:

What do you think? I think I'm very thankful that I won't be spending another long, gray Ohio winter in a Pumpkin Pie kitchen :) We're in this room so much everyday, it makes such a difference to have it light and... dare I say it?... pretty! Now, just about 3 to 5 more little projects until we call the first layer a wrap in here. It's been a loooong time in process (seven months feels long at least), but all of that sanding, priming, and painting has really been worth it.

After Sam put the last of the bin pulls on last night, I couldn't stop going back in the kitchen to look at it. I may have even danced a little in my glee :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You Know The Drill

This is what we were up to on Wednesday night...

See those pulls? The character factor just got kicked up several notches in here :)

More soon...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Woops - Were You Looking For A Design Blog?

Well, friends, it looks like things are winding down after an exciting couple of days. Layla and Kevin have put up a new post (and it's a great one!) and our visitor count is slowly returning back to it's pre-giveaway numbers. It was tons of fun to see so many new visitors to Home for the Better! Thank you for all of your encouraging comments.

Now the question becomes, "Will any of these lovely readers come back"? We would like you to :) I suppose, though, we should be upfront with you all. Like, maybe we should go ahead and tell you that there are no knock-your-socks-off-a-magazine-is-going-to-be-calling-us-soon type before & afters here (at this point - ha). And maybe we should let you know that it sometimes takes a while to see discernable progress on this blog. While we're at it, perhaps we should also mention that sometimes we might whine and feel sorry for ourselves... well, not too often, but I'm not ruling it out.

But wait a minute. That hardly seems like a solid plan to get y'all to come back, now does it?!

So, we'd better talk fast and also let you know that sometimes we finally start to see something starting to look like "us", and after months of plugging away it means even more than a before and after completed in record time ever could. And sometimes we really are encouraged and having fun... those posts are nice. Occasionally, to keep things pretty - because everyone likes a blog that is pretty - we'll post photos of other people's spectacularly gorgeous rooms because they inspire us and we hope they inspire you, too. And, if it helps, we should also let you know that some of us are really cute and will be showing up from time to time.

So, we hope you come visit :)

In short, there are some incredible design blogs out there. We enjoy reading them, but we aren't pretending to be one of them. When it all comes down to it, this is really a
house blog. It's a real family making a real house their own in real time. It's not flashy, but we like to think it's at least getting more interesting.

We would
really love to have you come along with us as we keep making this home better... bit by bit and month by month. Hopefully, bin pulls, new door trim, and a power tool here and there will add up to entertainment for some of you :)

~ Jacci

P.S. - The house blog/design blog world really is an incredible place! Where else can you receive
free leafblowers and free one-on-one blog advice from dear souls you've never met - all in 48 hours? :) Many, many thanks to Susie for helping me finally get these photos the right size! And look, Susie, I figured out the border, too! How about that :) And, of course, another big "thank you" to the Palmers. (Now, if I can just figure out why that photo was so grainy). Hm.

Hope y'all have a great day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holy Smokes!!!! We WON!

When I checked into the ole' blog this afternoon, I was more than a little surprised to see that 57 visitors were here - at one time. That may not seem like much to some of you, but to this little-known piece of the blogosphere - that was HUGE. I couldn't help but wonder where all of these people were coming from.

I hit "refresh" and we were up to 61. What on earth? And then I looked over at my righthand sidebar.
Layla had posted the winner of her giveaway. My heart skipped a beat. "No way".

But, it's true! We won!!! :) Click here to read all about it. Can you believe it? Sam is going to be sooo excited.

Just for kicks, here's what I wrote to enter the giveaway. Layla had asked us to tell why we needed their free leafblower:

"I would like the leaf blower, please :)This is our first fall in our "new" house and we are one of the only young families on the entire street. Most of the homes still boast their original owners, now retired and manicuring their lawns with some fierce dedication. With four children ages 8 and under, we pale sadly in comparison. It's a good week if the grass gets mowed, let alone edged and aerated. Our house needs some love, but it has an amazing wooded acre lot. We have a huge black locust right beside our driveway that's dropping its teeny weeny leaves all over the place. Those things are tricky to rake! A leaf blower would be just the thing to take care of the locust leaves *and* get us up to speed with our meticulous neighbors :)

Thanks, Kevin & Layla!!! This is really generous of you!


Thanks, indeed! This is so incredibly generous of Layla and Kevin. Guys, no kidding, this is so great :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Year Frenzy-versary Part 1: Late October 2008

Have I ever mentioned how quickly we bought this house? Or how we weren't even looking for a new house at the time? Or how we had not placed our current house on the market at all yet - nor were we intending to do so? Have I mentioned that the entire purchase and most of the move happened within four short weeks?

Frenzy, y'all. That's about what the activity level was like from my birthday in early November 2008 up until oh, I'd The Frenzy-versary is just a look back at Fall 2008 and early Winter 2009 and all the craziness that ensued ;)

Today's post is the last photo I have in my computer files from before November 9th - that fateful birthday (yes, I found our house on my birthday!).

Continental Divide Cookies w/ Friends

This photo was taken in this week of October 2008. We had friends over to bake a geography lesson. See, if you homeschool you can both bake and eat your geography. In the younger grades, at least. Here we are making Continental Divide cookies.

In the background you can see that nothing is packed up. All is happily chaotic in my kitchen with seven children (some of which must have been napping at this point) enjoying the dough and paint swatches on the wall. I was still decorating that place! I had abolutely zero clue we would be living in a completely different house before Christmas.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

About Us

You know, I've been thinking. This is a house blog, but what fun is a house blog (or a house) without personality? And what has more PERSONality than the people that live in it? I thought it might make things a little more interesting for you all if you knew a bit about the hands you see painting and the little feet you see moving out of the way of the nail gun.


We're so great


Boy, it's pretty bad when you have to look really long and hard for a photo of the two of you together and when you finally do come up with something... this is it. But, there you go. That's me (Jacci - pronouced "Jackie") and my dear Sam. All dolled up for this summer's Vacation Bible School at our church. Now you know us a little better than before. Among other things, you now know that we don't have a lot of personal pride.

Sam & Little Dude

That's a little more representative :) This is Sam and our youngest child. On this blog, he goes by the alias Little Dude. He'll be 3 in February and he's exhausting and enchanting all at once.

Me & Little Dude

Here I am with the little guy. This was taken a few weeks before my 34th birthday.


This, friends, is Punkin - age 5 - and she is a treat.


Shug (short for Sugar), 7 years old, showing off her new teeth coming in. Lovely, honey :)


SweetP, age 8 and a half, and our eldest (the photo is from when she was 7 and a half). She and Shug are tremendously helpful and I love them to bits. Of course, we both love them all to bits :)

Exterior - Late Summer 2009

And this is our house after a little paint and sprucing up. It may not seem like we've done much, but you have to understand that the siding is yellow and the shutters had been purple. Okay, mulberry. But still.


At the time of this posting, we've been working on the house for about 7 months and one week. The first thing we did was paint the pumpkin pie walls in the kitchen.

Last bank of cabinets now underway!

And the cabinets. We did paint them all, by the way. This photo is just a "during" shot. Oh, and we painted some doors black while we were at it.


We had "pee carpet" to remove, concrete to bleach, windows to replace, and - in short - a lot of work to do. But, over the last half of a year, it's been gradually becoming more of a way to "love on our house" and make it our own instead of just drudgery... most of the time. We're hoping and trying to make this home a Home for the Better.

We hope you enjoy reading about our progress and pitfalls.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

As I Type... (12:03 AM on a Tuesday)

Mad progress today, y'all. I finished the last coat on two of the doors upstairs and got the first coat on a third. More than halfway done painting those doors now. Sam and I cut the entryway in after we put the kiddos in bed, and now - thanks to my rolling fiend of a husband - it's white! :)

The wall on the far left gives you an idea of the creamy-yellow color it was before. Not at all a bad color. I just don't think this house is feeling the warm tones. The white is much crisper and works really nicely transitioning into the greige kitchen.

More soon!

(By the way - that trim color, Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige, was a "test". I liked it around the closet, but not around the black doors. The trim [and mostly likely the closet door, too] will be repainted the same white as the walls - Benjamin Moore "White Dove")

It's getting fun around here :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Playing Dress Up With The Sink

Sewing the linen sink skirt

In my last post I promised we'd show you our fun idea for the kitchen sink area. Remember how filthy it used to be before Sam cleaned it up? But by the time he was done, the walls and floor beneath the sink were gleaming with glossy white paint!

I love him.

Newly painted under-the-sink area

You see, the under-the-sink-area had to be cleaned up and made spiffy in order for our next project to really work out. Were you wondering what that pile of fabric on the floor in the last pic was? It was linen :) And in a few hours at my good ole sewing machine, I turned it into...

Linen sink skirt

A sink skirt! I love it!!! (Please ignore the shiny brass curtain rod for the time being - thanks)

kitchen w/ new sink skirt

This little kitchen is finally beginning to have some personality. Even more exciting news - we ordered our bin pulls for the drawers last night! Hopefully soon I'll be showing you a few photos with the skirt's curtain rod painted to match the hinges, the last cabinet door back on (should happen tonight!), and the new bin pulls in place. Then, I think we've both decided we'd better hightail it to another room and get some painting done before the cold weather really sets in.

So, what do you think of the sink skirt? Please say something nice. It makes me smile :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No Whitewashed Tombs (Funky Under My Sink)

The post title is a Bible reference. Google it :)

We've been taking on the last of the kitchen cabinets, and we are close to done with them! Yay. This last bank of cabinets has been the lower ones on the sink side of the galley. There aren't many doors and drawers - easy as pie. Well, it would have been, if I had been able to ignore this...


We could have just painted the doors and the outside of the cabinets and never, ever opened them again. No one would know about all the ick. Apparently, the previous owners had been able to carry on just fine while ignoring it all.

It was really filthy. There is not a current leak/water issue, but there clearly had been at some point. The wooden board that was inexplicably placed on the concrete floor showed proof. It was warped and a little molded. Super gross, y'all.



We decided that making it look great on the outside while ignoring such grossness inside would be cheating bigtime. Besides, I saw this area as a potentially usable space. Break out the bleach for this one, honey.

Sam is awesome, by the way.


Scrub, scrub, scrub and get rid of the nasty board.

After a good rinsing and time to dry, Sam primed it with Kilz. Awful stuff, but sometimes you just have to break out the big guns.


The last photo was taken just as Sam started priming the floor. He finished priming and coated the entire inside with 2 coats of high gloss paint the same color as the cabinets. We have a fun little idea for this space, now! :) I'll show you what we do with it this weekend. Stay tuned :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Kitchen Progress (Photos!)

Here are the photos I promised :) We are getting there, friends, we are getting there. Sam and I hope to finish up the last bank of cabinets this Sunday night!!! Can I hear a WOO-HOO?

The yellow countertops stand out now more than ever, but I'll just have to deal with that. Honestly, they aren't as vivid as they appear in the photos. Don't get me wrong, they're yellow. But, it's more of a straw/maize color than a bright yellow. We're still tossing around countertop ideas, but probably won't get to them for 1-2 more years. We have a few little jobs in here to take care of this fall and winter (adding bamboo blinds, a light over the sink, organizing type things). The next big kitchen project,though, is slated for Spring 2010 - we're busting out that awful garden window and expanding the opening for a larger, more traditional replacement :) Yay for more natural light!!!

Hope you all like what we've done so far. I'm pleased with how it's coming along on such a major budget. We're not finished, so I can't really call these Before and After pics. Maybe we'll call them Before and During pics. Here they are!

March 6, 2009

Kitchen Progress 10/1/09

March 6, 2009

Last bank of cabinets now underway!

Kitchen Progress 10/1/09

March 6, 2009

Eat-in Area October 1, 2009

The light is new from (sold out) and the curtains are Ritva from IKEA. Curtain rods from Target. Wall color is Sherwin William's "Balanced Beige" and the cabinets are SW "Panda White". The new hinges are oil-rubbed bronze in stock at Home Depot. Bin pulls to come next month!!! I had the tablecloth already - I think (I bought it at Kohls about 4 years ago). I switched out the old chairs for some others I already had, too.

P.S. We changed the flourescent bulbs from "Kitchen & Bath" to "Office" lights. It's a much whiter light now - more like natural light, I think. Definitely an improvement to hold us over until the ceiling can get raised in that part of the kitchen and new (not flourescent!) light fixtures can go in.

Thanks for looking!