This is happening in our yard - a white Magnolia tree. Incredible!
We’ve slowly but surely tackled small projects that cumulatively have made this place more awesome than we could’ve imagined. None of them are as easy as we would like, and each one tests our decision to live in a house and leave our apartment-dwelling days behind.
Like our freshly painted dark blue hallway, and our pact to never paint anything a dark color again.
And the wallpaper I put up by myself in the guest room and the realization that putting up wallpaper is really a two person job.
And the beautiful shelf that Peter expertly built to look like it has always belonged in the sunroom - and our vow to measure things four times before we cut/assemble/buy/etc.
And this guy, our raised garden bed, hasn’t even started being awesome yet, but we learned that it’s WAY harder to shovel dirt than it is to shovel snow.
So we keep moving forward, one project at a time, learning — sometimes super obvious things — through each one. All of them have made a big impact, and walking into our house is more and more rewarding with each completed task.
The hardest, most labor intensive thing we’ve done since we bought the house has been re-finishing the stairs. When we moved in we knew that they would be a project to tackle - the faded, old carpet that covered them was ugly and worn, and somewhere underneath was wood. One day in late December I’d had it with the blue and ripped out a nice big chunk of it.
Shining up at me were wood stairs - painted a really ugly red color. And so it began, I suggested that we just paint them black, but Peter insisted we try and sand them down to the hopefully beautiful wood beneath. I agreed, but only because I had no idea how terrible the job would be.
The first stair was the hardest due to inexperience and trepidation. But soon we figured out how to use a combination of: heat gun, orbital sander, detail sander and chemical stripper to get it done. We also learned how important it was to seal off the work area after we didn’t and then had to clean every surface, nook and cranny of our house due to the terrible sawdust. There is nothing quite like brushing your teeth with a saw dust-covered tooth brush.
Over the next month and a half we begrudgingly took turns pulling on goggles and face masks, sealing off the upstairs, and pushing sanders into the wood for hours on end. Eventually it started to look good. Deciding we’d rather poke our eyes out than sand the risers, we opted for glossy black paint, and a stain that matched our wood floors.
We finally completed them a few weeks ago and they look incredible. Peter did an excellent and expert job finishing them after I became bored with the whole thing. It’s exciting and wonderful to have this accomplished and also to have learned that I never want to do anything like this again.
Now that Spring is springing, it’s easy to forget how long and cold winter was. The weather here isn’t so different than our previous home in Brooklyn, but nature isn’t really nature in NYC. Snow doesn’t stay on the ground for long - it’s pushed down gutters and floats away down the East River; a Super shovels your steps and all you have to worry about it is which shoes to change in to at work.
I was spoiled, so winter here was hard. Because I love to save money I insisted that shoveling the driveway would be a breeze and we wouldn’t need to hire a plow. Maybe not the smartest of ideas, but my upper body strength has improved for it.
The largest single snowfall was thanks to Nemo, a nor’easter in early February. It snowed for three days straight and totalled about 25 inches. We started the almost impossible task of clearing our deceptively long driveway mid-way through day 2; we switched back and forth for 15 minutes intervals - burning and sweating in our layers. It took us an hour to clear a quarter of the driveway and my hopes of finishing it were fading fast. Luckily, exactly when I was about to give up, our friendly neighbor came to our aid - I’ve never been so grateful to see a tractor in my life. He quickly plowed the driveway, made fun of our silly attempt to do it ourselves, and then drove away. Magic!
Needless to say, I’m glad winter is over. Now starts the season that makes living here worth it. Hopefully!
A coyote print? Maybe.
Oops, I forgot to post - for months. But I’m back and excited to put things on here. Plus, we did a ton of work on the house since I last wrote. And now that Spring is here, our garden is blooming — and here are tons of post worthy things happening everyday.
(photo by my wonderful mom-in-law Joey)
Early last week I read an article about how to save money on utilities. It had all the typical suggestions, turn off your lights at night, switch to energy smart light bulbs, etc. The most interesting part of the article was how to save money on your cable bill. Peter and I had been going back and forth about whether or not to get cable for awhile. We bought a TV a month ago and had been getting by just fine with Netflix and Hulu+. Sometimes though, you just want to flip on the TV and not think - but I couldn’t justify the additional cost for occasional zoning out.
Anyway, back to that article. It suggested forgoing cable and getting an antenna instead. Yes, really. So we got one, there are tons of different options, ours is an RCA indoor antenna. It required some finagling and we only get about 5 channels, but I’m curled up on my couch watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in HD for free; so many parts of that make me a happy camper. As the New Year approaches and resolutions are being decided upon, if saving money or watching less TV is one of them, consider and antenna!
RCA ANT1400 Indoor Digital Antenna: $15-$30
This post is a true before and after. We spackled, sanded, painted, replaced hardware and rearranged. But the biggest difference is that we have way less stuff.
The photos I posted yesterday were the listing photos of our house. The furniture, wall hangings, paint, rugs - none of it was ours. But the stuff that was here really helped us fall in love with the place; interesting artifacts on the walls, beautiful tapestry rugs - it was scary to think what our more modern, minimal furniture would look like in such an old house. But, actually, it looks good - like surprisingly good.
Still though, there is a lot of work to do - and probably some furniture to buy. We always knew it would be a challenge going from apartment-living to house-living. But, certain circumstances did make it easier. When we moved to Costa Rica we put all of our stuff into storage in Texas - and when we moved back to New York City last year we decided to leave our stuff there and just get a few new things. Thusly, when we moved everything up here, we had two one-bedroom sized apartments worth of furniture. It helped us, even if the story of it all bored you to death.
More excitingly though, here are pictures of our pretty house:
If you want to see side-by-side before and afters, click here. There is a lot more work to be done. The upstairs guest bedroom needs to be sorted out; and by bedroom I obviously mean drum room (below). Plus, the downstairs guest bedroom is waiting for wallpaper and paint.
Also, the kitchen needs a tile backsplash and refinished countertops, our bedroom may need a dresser, a coffee table or ottoman would be nice in the living room, I need to replace the blinds downstairs and actually hang up some pictures, maybe we should buy a few frames for posters we have, etc., etc., etc., etc. Because we are doing all this work ourselves, it’s going to take awhile. But that is also what makes it so extremely exciting!
We bought a house. It’s pretty crazy actually. A whole house. Not a cube that is attached to other cubes, but a legitimate house on property that we now own. It makes me feel a little nauseous if I think about it too much, especially the whole we-don’t-really-own-it-the-bank-actually-does part. But anyway, it’s a big step. It’s also a lot of work, we’ve been here a little under a month and have already painted, rearranged, changed out hardware, pulled out weeds, etc. It’s going to be a process, but luckily, the house is structurally very sound (watch it fall down as soon as I post this), and only cosmetic things need to be addressed.
It’s a small, coral colored cottage that was built in 1875. It’s 18 miles north of Boston (as the crow flies) and we live on the commuter rail — almost literally, which makes getting to the city very easy. When we decided to move to the Boston area, we immediately started doing house-hunting research and this place kept popping up. On our first day here we drove by, parked outside and watched the house for a little bit before we had to meet our realtor. Two weeks later, after almost putting an offer on another house, we decided that this one was it.
Of course, a list of things have gone wrong in hysterical Moneypit-type scenarios. The handle on the kitchen sink broke clean off on day one, followed shortly by a leaking roof on day 2. The ignition control for the boiler stopped working at the beginning of the second week and then the flusher on the upstairs bathroom broke in half a few days ago. I feel like the house is teasing us - “You don’t have a super anymore, get used to this.” Or maybe I’ve just been spending a little too much time here alone. Anyway, without further ado, here are some “before” photos of the house, the listing photos actually. I’ll be posting some “after” photos tomorrow.
Dealing with Sandy, my best friend’s wedding and the purchase of a house has resulted in less-than-timely with posts. But now, hopefully, I’ll have time to update this blog with some before-and-after pictures of our lovely cottage on the North Shore. Picture above is a beach near our house.
My family has been making wine forever. And I mean that. Ever since they got to the US and as far as anyone knows in Italy as well. The press itself is from 1927, a huge hunking piece of wrought metal made somewhere in Philadelphia.
But listen, we do this legit, we have a license, we are Italian and my dad is a food scientist. Watch out Boone’s Farm (that is a joke, our wine is so much better than the schlock they shill). So my family all got together one fall afternoon at the end of October and pressed boxes and boxes of grapes. The resulting juice is now fermenting in glass jugs in my parents basement. Here are some photos of the process.
Happy Halloween, love ghost-cat
I hope you have a wonderful day. We’ve had some super fun times together, here are some of those times that I posted about:
My Mom and Dad visited us in Costa Rica
We visited my Mom and Dad in New Hope, PA
…and the Jersey Shore
My Mom visted Williamsburg
…and the MoMa
And lastly, a picture of us looking nice, just in case anyone was wondering if it was possible. Love you so much Mom!