Archive for November, 2012

Playroom Under Construction

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Posted by Rebecca, November 27th, 2012

Has it seriously been 2 months since we started looking for a playroom carpet? We didn’t plan on waiting this long (we wanted it done for Thanksgiving), but some things happened and we ended up ordering it much later than planned. But the moral of the story is… we ordered a playroom carpet!!

Need a refresher? The playroom is actually our former office that is downstairs with the striped walls and french doors.

Thanks to that little cat, who ironically photobombed this picture, we have to completely scrap this carpet. Darwin was diagnosed with kidney cancer last year and had a few very, very rough months that included… peeing on our carpets. We tore up the family room carpet this spring and now it’s time for this one to go.

(For those of you wanting a Darwin update, he is doing amazing. He was the first cat with renal lymphoma that his oncologist has ever treated to live past 6 months. It’s just an awful form of cancer for cats that essentially causes kidney failure even if chemo is suppressing the cancer. Darwin beat the odds and has since made it to a year post-diagnosis. Though he does suffer from some loss of kidney function, cats can actually live normal lives with something ridiculous like 75% of their kidney function lost. He has been off chemo for almost a year now!)

A few weeks ago I discovered Mohawk’s SmartStrand carpet, which is eco-friendly and you can clean it with just soap and water. We looked around some major retailers, but we didn’t see anything that you could clean with just soap and water. So after being frustrated that Easton had no where to roll free (though he has carpet in his room), we realized that we really need to choose something. I am generally a pretty decisive person, so we headed to Lowe’s all set to choose something. And choose we did.

So we trekked up to the salesperson, with this board and baby in hand and were like, “okay, we’ll take it”. That guy made the easiest commission ever. We wanted Lowe’s to install it (what the heck do we know about stapling carpets??), but we didn’t know that regardless of if we had the measurements on hand, they still had to send someone out fo measure. Whaaamp whaamp. So they wrote down what carpet we wanted and took our information. Then we had to wait to hear from the installer.

He called us within a day or so and scheduled a measurement for a few days away. He came, confirmed our measurements and called them into Lowe’s. Lowe’s then called us and told us the price and that we just had to come in to pay, yay! Except they lied. Mike got there and they needed all of the carpet information again, which is how I have the above picture. Since I was carrying Easton and whatnot, I trusted that Lowe’s was recording what I was choosing and didn’t take any pictures the day we selected it. Thankfully my memory is ridiculous and I remembered the style name, so I asked Mike to send a picture of the board because I knew the position of the color we wanted.

So we went with the SmartStrand Preston in Sugared Bronze with the recommended carpet pad. Using the SmartStrand pad protects the warranty and was seriously something like 10 cents more a square foot. Our room is incredibly small so it was something like $15 for the better pad. Sold!

Here is where I would normally give you pictures of the carpet I found while googling… but I can’t find any. My google-age (new word) has led me to believe that the big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot carry their own lines of SmartStrand carpet. Quite like mattresses, this makes it impossible to compare across retailers. So I’m guessing that my Preston is someone else’s Harrison and someone else’s Mason. My sugared bronze is someone elses shimmer metallic brown. It has to be in limited availability to have no history on the internet. Bizarre.

Anyway, we really just guessed what color would look best. We knew the paint color of the stripes in the new playroom has a tinge of brown to it. A bluish gray wouldn’t go as well as one with more of a taupe undertone. From there we just picked a mid-tone color that wasn’t too dark or too light.

As for the style of the carpet, we petted the larger samples to see how each one would feel on little knees. Then we compared prices and weighed the pros and cons. For example, our room is between 100-150 square feet, so we knew if the prices differed by a small amount, we would just go with the nicer one. A 20 cent price difference wasn’t making a big dent in the budget if it meant we were getting a more dense carpet. Using that method, we went with a mid-range carpet that was the best in it’s group. So it’s like the upper middle class of carpets.

We were told that the carpet would take only 2-3 weeks to come in, since the room is so small and the manufacturer should have enough on hand. We ordered it about a week and a half ago, so we’re hoping to hear from the installer soon. We were told that the whole room would take them less than an hour to do. I can’t wait :)

ps- Am I the only one that manages to kill an entire sleeve of crackers each time I open one? One blog post = a sleeve of saltines gone. Whoops.

Everything You Wanted To Know … Mike’s Version

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Posted by Michael, November 21st, 2012

Last week, Rebecca responded to some questions from the reader survey.  I figured it’d be pretty fun and absolutely ridiculous for me to answer them as well.  I’ve tweaked some questions so it’s more geared towards me.

Q: How are you handling taking care of Easton now that Rebecca is back to work? And the projects and your business?

I actually miss her a ton.  I know, I know, gasp!  It’s been fun getting to almost re-know Rebecca by raising Easton.  But the truth is, Rebecca going back to work has been a lot harder on her than it has on me.  Easton is an easy baby and we both know his routine like the back of our hands.  He tells me when he’s ready for a nap, he tells me when he is ready to eat, he farts and grunts just as he’s ready to poop and he pretends I don’t exist when the cats are around.

And if I’m being honest — and I’ve said this before to Rebecca — but I feel like I spend no time with him now that Rebecca is part time.  I know I still have more hours with him during the day than she does, but seriously, it’s like we both wake up, we eat, take a nap and then Rebecca is home.

Projects are a different story.  I think we’ve both been realistic with what we can accomplish and what we can’t.  Heck, January 2013 will make it a year since we first started the built-ins in the new office.  I have no idea why I admitted that to you.  Crap.   But really, projects have become more about what we need and want, and what we can actually accomplish.  I have no idea if that just made any sense.

As for the business, I take advantage of Easton’s nap time.  During the day, I can usually rely on two or three 45 minute naps; occasionally I get an hour in there (which is HUGE and I’m often like, OK EASTON WAKE UP!).  But as soon as he’s in his crib napping, I jump on the computer to work on SongMeanings.   And you know what?  It’s the most productive 45 minutes ever each and every time.

Typically when Rebecca comes home from work, I try to get 2-3 hours in until dinner time.  Rebecca takes over with Easton and I jump back into code for a few hours.  We do the dinner thing, bath+bed time routine for Easton and then I try to spend an hour or so with Rebecca watching The Walking Dead or Homeland.  Rebecca usually nods off 10 minutes into each show at which time I run as fast as I can up the stairs and back into code.  Then I spend as much time on the computer as I possibly can.  I’ve learned to not fight it as fighting it makes the following day all the more tough.  The earliest I’m in bed is around 1:30am and the latest is around 3:30am.

Then suddenly it’s 7am and we’re ready to repeat!

Q: Local area favorite trips or favorite road trips?

A: We love Baltimore, specifically the Fells Point area.  We do like the Harbor but really only when it’s empty.  We do live close to Philly but the only time we go into that city is for Ikea.

I have no idea why we don’t take advantage of Philly. Probably because we view it quite like how Ted and Barney view New Jersey; you just don’t go there.

But we do travel to NYC a bit for concerts, random dinner nights and so forth.  We love going to Yankee Games, too.  This was the first year that Rebecca and I didn’t make it to a game together in a very long time.  Boo!  But we’re excited to bring E to his first game so he can experience garlic fries and eat junk food!

Q: When will baby #2 come?

A: We definitely want another mini-Mike running around, but we’re certainly not ready.  There’s a ton of things we still want to accomplish with Easton, as well as with ourselves professionally and personally.  So we’ll see.

Q: I thought I read that you’re a vegetarian?

A: I’m off the wagon with this.  But it’s really only been the occasional cheeseburger or cold-cuts.  At this point, it’s more of a treat for me than really in my diet.

Q: Are you and Mike Mac using atheists or secularists or science lovers? 

A: I’m a total Apple fanboy.  Though those new Samsung phones do look sweet.

Q: When is the playroom coming?

A: We ordered the new carpet last week from Lowes!  Holla.  We should have it installed in the next 2-3 weeks!

Q: I would love to know more about your day to day diaper routine & baby essentially you can’t live without.

A: There’s a big difference between Rebecca and I.  She knows all about the products, the names, reviews, competitors, etc.  Me?  I just use them.  I’ve found it to be a lot easier to let Rebecca make the choices on what diapers we use, what butt-paste we put on Easton and so forth.  It’s not that I don’t care about it, she’s just ridiculously  thorough with the products she buys.  So Rebecca does her sales pitch and I’m all like, I’M IN!  Unless it’s a $600 diaper bag that I can’t use.  Obvs.

Q: What has had the biggest impact on the number of followers you have? Any blogging advice?, etc.

A: I don’t blog well, but I can offer some advice in running a website.  Have patience, be consistent and be passionate.  Aim insanely high for your goals but also be realistic.  You’re going to have days you’ll want to quit.  But keep chugging right along.   Oh and learn SEO techniques.

I think that about finishes it.  For those of you visiting from the United States, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We’re hosting (again) so the next 24-36 hours will feel like once long episode of Food Network’s Chopped.

E’s Hooks

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Posted by Michael, November 15th, 2012

A few months ago during a random trip to Lowe’s, we picked up some hooks for our laundry room.  We needed some space to hang random bags, jackets and so forth when we walk in from the garage.  We planned on lining them straight on a specific wall. But it turned out the wall had some duct work inside of it and the configuration we wanted would not work.  We ended up going with something different which left us with a handful of hooks.

Those hooks sat there for months until we faced the same dilemma in Easton’s room.  His room layout is a rectangle but the closet sticks out as you walk into the room leaving a space that is rather dead.  We wanted to utilize this area to hang random items; quite like the laundry room idea.  We went through some ideas from just mounting the hooks directly to the wall to buying one of those pre-made pieces of wood with hooks on them.

Both ideas just seemed lacking.  Random silver hooks on the wall?  Could work, but it just seemed too plain.  The pre-made idea would work, but we wanted something to really tie into the rest of the room.

The wall behind E’s crib is paneled and all white.  Why not extend this idea to the area when you walk into his room?  After all, I had a ton of wood left over since, well, I can’t measure (but that’s a story for another day).

So I ventured out to cut two straight pieces in order to make a joint in the corner.  From there it was some paint and attach the hooks.

Neither one of us were really sold on the hooks within E’s room.  We love the metal, of course, but the size feels a bit on the larger side.  Did we need to go so big?  I’m not sure; probably because his stuff is so tiny.  I’m sure with a couple of years and book-bags, sports gear and so forth, we’ll be looking to add even more hooks.  So perhaps these hooks will be just fine as Easton grows.

It was such a simple project that added functionality to an area of the room that otherwise would be useless (besides an opening for the door to swing, duh).  And plus, super cheap.  Left over wood from a previous project + left over white paint + roughly $10 for the hooks ($2.50 x 4).

Note to self: change those damn gold door knobs and hinges. 

Everything You Wanted To Know

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Posted by Rebecca, November 13th, 2012

A few weeks back, I posted a reader survey that ended with the opportunity to ask us whatever you were wondering. I’ve already said that I didn’t really expect many survey responses to begin with, so I really didn’t expect many questions for us, nevermind so many excellent ones! I thought we’d get the usual “what color is your dining room?” (Waynesboro Taupe) or “where can I find a hardwood stamp to do my own concrete?”(we didn’t DIY our patio so ours belonged to a conrete contractor). Your questions were so good and so much more substantial than I could have whipped up in a FAQs post that I decided they deserved their own post. So here we go, your questions, literally copied, pasted and answered.

Q: How are you handling being back at work with the baby and all the projects?   My son is 2 now, but it’s something I’ve struggled with and can’t seem to manage my time well enough!

A: Ah, I’ve been meaning to update you all on this. First of all, I by no means have everything under control. Obviously, I’ve been horrendous with projects and blogging since I returned to work in August. It does sometimes upset me, but I know that its perfectly normal to not be able to do everything I want to with a 5 month old and I’ve learned to (mostly) let the overachiever in me go. I’ve always been a busy person with multiple balls in the air all of the time, so being stretched thin is strangely normal for me.

When I was working on my master’s degree, I managed to work full-time, work on projects and blog consistently by being extremely disciplined with everything. Saturdays were for projects, Sundays were homework, Monday night was a blog post, Tuesday was class, Wednesday and Thursday blog again and Friday night was my night off. Now, Mike and I always have a running list of projects to tackle on weekends and I aim to blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but often I collapse once Easton is in bed. The craziness of sometimes waking up at 4am, taking care of Easton, running to work, cramming in pumping (which takes a ridiculous amount of discipline in itself), coming home and hanging out with Easton until bed, washing pump parts and bottles, throwing in laundry and getting ready for the next day means I’m usually in bed around 9. I try to stay up as late as I can, but I’ve learned that when my body is done, it’s DONE. I will fall asleep anywhere, in any position, once I’ve had enough. I think that has been my hardest challenge since returning to work.

I also have literally not been healthy since I returned to work, which may explain why I used to be able to stay awake until 11 and now I just can’t (oh and not being able to nap with Easton in the morning is a part of that). I’ve been fighting thrush for over a month now and it is horrific. Being in pain 6-7 times a day is exhausting, so I’ve let myself slide a lot.

All of that said, my biggest issue was my lack of time with Easton and the ensuing guilt. Mommy guilt is a killer. Babies change so often– how they liked to fall asleep yesterday may be different today, and I felt like I was missing so much. So after being back to work for a few weeks (long enough to see if my feelings would change), I decided to go down to part-time. I learned that I could keep my benefits and my current position while just cutting back my hours. I’m still working 30 hours a week, but getting home at 2pm each day is so much better for all of us. I’m only on my second week of my new schedule, so the effects on my productivity are pending :) Though I still can’t stay up late…

Q: Local area favorite trips or favorite road trips.  We are a road trip lovin’ family so I always like to hear about towns.

A: Hm, well we’re very lucky to live right in between NYC and Philly so those are regular trips of ours. We usually try to make a visit to Yankee Stadium every year and the standard Christmas in NYC type of things.

We’re more likely to travel somewhere if there’s a concert or something we want to see, like how we planned to bring Easton to Connecticut to the Young House Love book signing before the hurricane hit. But, I must say that one of our favorite cities is Baltimore. We love us some brunch in Fells Point.

Q: When baby #2 will come?

A: When baby #1 is old enough to babysit.

Having Easton made me even more excited to have more babies some day, but we’re not in any rush. My body is going to need a break after all of this nursing and we want to enjoy Easton for a bit. I’m already looking forward to all of the fun places we can bring him next summer.

Q: I thought I read once that you’re a vegetarian. Is this true? If so, how long. I’ve been vegetarian for 3 years.

A: Yep, it is true. Mike and I stopped eating meat almost 4 years ago. Though Mike has fallen off the wagon lately and I admit to eating some bacon after Easton was born. I went on a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich kick. I know some people will find it weird that I wouldn’t touch a piece of chicken but I’d eat nasty bacon, but I guess I just need a small dose in a mostly bread/egg/cheese concoction :)

Q: Are you and Mike Mac using atheists or secularists or science lovers? This is my inference from your cat names haha.

Mike prefers the term Apple fanboy. And yes, he is one, that is why Macky’s full name is Macintosh.

Darwin was actually named by the rescue we adopted him from and we liked it, so we kept it. I think it’s adorable that such a scrawny little cat has such a big important name :)

Mowie named herself. I found her (or rather, she found me) outside of my parents’ house and she literally mow-wow’d for 3 days until we fed her. We brought her to a vet because she was in bad shape and they made us give a name, so we just called her Mowie (pronounced Maui). Yeah I guess you figured out that we decided to keep her after not having the heart to put her in a shelter.

Q: How do you manage to keep your house so clutter free? Where are the junk drawers? 

A: Oh dear, every drawer in this house is a junk drawer. It’s one of my pet peeves and things I always say I’m going to tackle. Junk drawers and closets… we have major disorganization going on in both. While I was on maternity leave, I did manage to clean out the 4 drawers we have on one side of our kitchen. Now we’re down to one junk drawer in there, woo!

Right now our family room is a sea of baby jumpers, exersaucers and swings. The day I received this question, I had actually posted a picture of my side of the closet on Instagram, complaining about the clutter.

If anyone knows how to get a few more hours out of each day, please email me at rebecca@thelilhousethatcould.com. Thanks in advance.

Q: Can you do a house tour? I’d love to see more of your decorating and how it relates room to room. 

A: A full, current house tour is one of those things continually on my to-do list. I need to bite the bullet and stop trying to be overambitious and perfect with it. I was originally trying to post multiple pictures of each room, in various stages (ie- the house as just studs, then when we closed, as we painted, etc), but it got too be hard tracking down so many pictures. Maybe one of these days I’ll post things just as they are currently.

Q: When is the playroom coming? (asked in various ways by various people)

A: Weeeeell, we had a carpet installer measure the room today so that we can order our carpet possibly tomorrow. We’re crossing our fingers that it’s done for Christmas (we originally wanted Thanksgiving, ugh) so I’m just as anxious to get the ball rolling as you guys are :)

Q: I would love to know more about your day to day diaper routine & baby essentials you can’t live without.

A: I think this will be another “Coming Soon” post. I’m itching to make another mood board of baby products that have worked for us now that we’re close to 6 months in. Some people have requested it, others aren’t thrilled with baby posts, but I think a small dose is okay. I know that I always appreciated those posts from people whose style was similar to mine, so I feel like I should pay it forward.

Easton recommends a Jumperoo…

Q: What will you do when your home is finished? How do you know you are truly finished with a room? (I have this problem. I.e. is it missing something? Should I decorate more? Such things.) 

A: It’s never finished! We have just barely started on our upstairs– Easton’s room was the first one we touched up here. Now we’re focused on the new office, then it will be our bedroom, bathroom, sitting room, then probably Easton’s bathroom and the guest room. By the time all of that is done, I already have tweaks I want to make downstairs! It’s been 2.5 years since most of that was done so by the time we do everything else, we’ll probably be sick of some things down there!

As for a single room, such as Easton’s nursery, we just live in spaces and add/delete things as we feel like it. For example, after sitting in Easton’s room several times a day and actually using it, I decided I wanted to put something on the wall behind his door. Visualizing that before we did anything else in the room would have been hard. Sometimes you just have to stare at things for a while.

Q: Do you have any behind the scenes advice on renovating, decorating or updating a home for a young family that has (finally) found their forever house? 

A: Hm another toughie. Here’s what I can think of…

1) It won’t happen overnight. Homes take a long time to put together.

2) Don’t settle. If you can’t find say, an ottoman you like right away, don’t just buy one to fill the space. Buy only what you need at the moment and see what you need next. Make sure every piece you add is something that you love.

3) Don’t be scared. If you see something you like on Pinterest or HGTV, don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to have it or that you couldn’t possibly make it. The lumber section of Lowe’s is not as intimidating as you would think and fabric.com makes fabric shopping super easy.

4) Think outside the box. Just because granite and stainless are the hottest kitchen catchphrases doesn’t mean that there aren’t other great options out there.

5) Spray paint saves everything. Period.

Q: What has had the biggest impact on the number of followers you have? Any blogging advice?, etc.

A: I’m still just as new as most of you guys, so I’m not sure how helpful I can be here. Oh and the term “followers” always confuses me. Like when a blog says you have to be a “follower” to enter a giveaway. What does that mean? Is that a Blogger follower thing? Because I don’t use Blogger…

Anyway, I think that Pinterest has played a huge role in sending new people my way. But, I never put my own images on Pinterest– each one has been added by readers. Some people do add their own pictures, whether to get them in the “feed” or because they want to control what picture (say, out of a bunch of room shots) is included. I personally prefer to see what people are drawn to without my interference.

Q: I can’t add your blog to my google reader. Has anyone else had this issue?

A: Yes, in the past I’ve heard complaints about this. I switched to Feedburner a while ago and I haven’t heard a complaint since this one. Anyone else still having issues?

Well, that is about it for now.  This reader survey was a ton of fun even if most of you are random stalkers!  Just kidding, we love random stalkers.  But really, responses keep coming in so perhaps we’ll do another survey update in a couple months.  Thank you all for your incredibly thoughtful questions :)

Last Week

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Posted by Rebecca, November 6th, 2012

Just when I started to get back into my former blogging habits, last week happened. Mike and I spent last weekend prepping for the hurricane– making sure our new generator worked and had gas, stocking up on food, picking up prescriptions for the cats. We felt pretty prepared and so, we picked up some paint and started working on our project for Young House Love’s seasonal Pinterest Challenge.

We also spent some time last weekend at our neighborhood Halloween party. Easton was a pirate.

He had all of the clothes and the day of the party I ran to Michael’s and picked up a solid red bandana and a skull one. I tied the red one around his head with a ponytail holder and used the skull one as a belt. They cost me $1.79 each… Halloween costume for under $4 :)

We planned to post about our Pinterest Challenge project on Monday night, but our power went out at 4:30.

If you saw the recent picture on our Facebook or Instagram pages, this is what we were working on…

Oh yes, those bookcases live on. Mike finally gave them the caulk and paint they deserve. Some areas still need another coat, so we’re not ready for after pictures yet. Oh and the wall is covered in primer because… we decided to change the color of the room too.

Once our power was out, we surrendered and put down the paint brushes. After Irene last year, we were more prepared this year with a small generator, flashlights and candles. We also set up a pack ‘n play in our formal living room, which is on the main floor, towards the front of the house (away from the tall trees in the backyard) and kept Easton as far away from windows as we could. We closed all of the bedroom doors upstairs to keep the cats from hiding up there incase a tree fell or we had a tornado warning.

During Irene, I barely slept all night because the wind, sirens and transformers exploding were terrifying. We knew Sandy was expected to be much worse for New Jersey. Once the storm started to get bad, Mike herded the cats into the former office/soon to be playroom. We wanted to make sure that if something happened to the house, or we had to make a run for it, we knew where to find them. Easton slept in his pack ‘n play and I slept next to him. I was blasting his white noise machine (which runs on battery) so I slept for a few hours.

Thanks to social media, we were very aware of how things were going around the state all night. We were able to keep our iPhones charged thanks to our generator. Once it was daylight and the pictures started popping up in our Facebook newsfeeds, we were in shock. Our yard was covered in leaves and branches, but our basement stayed dry this time. We were very, very lucky.

Our power was only out for a day– less time than it was with Hurricane Irene last year. At one point we were told it would take a week, so we were so excited when it came back on so quickly. We had Easton all bundled and sleeping with us for just a day, since it was cold and we had no baby monitor. Our hearts break for those who weren’t so lucky. And there are so so many of them.

My parents are still without power and the area I grew up in was hit pretty hard. New Jersey is a small state, so it seems that we know people in every badly affected area. My family is originally from Hoboken and I still have family there, Mike is from Staten Island and still has family there, we have friends down the shore everywhere and we spent time with Easton in Manasquan and Seaside this summer.

 

If you haven’t seen pictures of Seaside, that boardwalk is not even there anymore. Once we got power back I watched the Weather Channel for 3 days straight. We spent much of the remainder of the week hosting some family that didn’t have power and needed hot meals and showers.

It seemed wrong to post about superficial things, particularly our house, when so many people close to home (literally and figuratively) are suffering. We also planned a road trip to attend the Young House Love book signing in Connecticut on Friday, but because of gas shortages and traffic getting into NYC (which we’d have to cut through), we decided not to go. Everything was sort of put on hold last week, including my job, which was without power all week. Seeing familiar areas destroyed really put everything in perspective.

I know we have readers from around the world, so if you’re looking to donate to Sandy victims, the easiest option is to text “Red Cross” to 90999. If anyone would like to give another way or has any creative ideas, feel free to email me and I’ll see what I can do for you :)

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