Archive for the ‘Home Sweet Home’ Category

No matter how much you probably love your current home, do you ever just find yourself daydreaming about living in the perfect house?

We bought our house in April of 2006, a month before we got married. It’s our first house and we expected to live here for only about five years. (Side note: why is it that young people can only think ahead about 5 years? Saying you’re going to live somewhere for 10 years or more is basically saying you’re going to be there forever. So five years is the max for everyone.) We didn’t buy for the area (mistake #1) or even pay attention to the school district (mistake #2). We just wanted the best house for our budget. Seven years later and I now have a love/hate relationship with our house. I love that we have 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. I love that we have a basement. I love that we have a huge driveway that can fit about 7 cars, plus street parking. I love that we have a spacious side yard, plus a deck and a patio. I love that we have TWO parks within walking distance. I love how easy my commute is most days. I love that we have a basement, and plenty of storage space. And I love that we have mostly pergo/wood/tile floors rather than carpet.

But there are also a lot of things I don’t love. I don’t love not having a two-car garage (we have a carport). I don’t love not having a ranch, or a suitable pantry in the kitchen. I don’t love not having an on-suite master bathroom. I don’t love having a backyard that overlooks our neighbors’ backyard (even though they’re nice, quiet people). I don’t love having neighbors in general. No matter how nice they all are (well, most of them anyway). I don’t love having low ceilings. I don’t love not having a spacious bedroom or open floor plan. I don’t love not having an eat-in kitchen.

While we haven’t started the hunt for our second house quite yet, I’ve been stockpiling a list of qualities I want in my future home. For all of those house-hunting shows on HGTV that say first-time home buyers are the worst because of their high and unreasonable expectations, I almost think second and third time buyers are even worse because we have an even greater idea of what we want/don’t want in a home based on our previous experiences.

Anyway, enough talking. On with the inspiration photos.


Isn’t this pantry just perfect? The wicker baskets, the wire baskets, the drawers, the open shelves… I could store ALL THE THINGS in here!


I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to laundry rooms. While this one is by far one of the least extravagant, I love it for its simplicity. I can almost smell the fresh towels in the dryer. The only thing I might add would be a closet on the other side of those drawers (the not pictured area) for a dirty clothes hamper. With our washer and dryer in the basement, we are notorious for just dumping the dirty clothes on the floor and leaving them there until we wash them. It’s a bad habit but I know myself and I’d need a place to dispose of dirty clothes until I could get around to washing them.


I love having a backyard. I’d love it even more if I couldn’t see my neighbors. My parents have an awesome covered deck on the back of their house.  It’s by no means this luxurious, but doesn’t this look cozy? I also have a Pinterest board for backyards, most of which also have outdoor kitchens in them but when I thought about it, would I really use an outdoor kitchen that much? Probably not. They just look so cool! I mean, look at this!


Fancy, no?

In my mind, I’ve convinced myself that I would be in much better shape if I had enough space at home to work out. Having a kid plus working full time outside the home means the last thing I want to do is leave again to go to the gym. If I could do at-home workouts while he plays, I’d be so much better at working out. Maybe.



So how cute is this exercise room/playroom combo? I’d maybe change up the colors a bit but it’s just so darn functional. I even see a large flatscreen mounted on the wall, opposite the mirror. Just add a treadmill or elliptical and I’d be all set.




I really don’t know how this shower works without getting water all over the floor but I love the multiple shower heads.


On a slightly more practical scale, this is much more my jam when it comes to a bathroom.



Or maybe this one:



Ok so a fireplace in the bathroom really isn’t practical but my goodness it’s pretty. My only requirement for a future bathroom is dual sinks.

When it comes to kitchens, my style preference is all over the place. I would kill to have something like this:



Though the practical girl in me would even be over-the-moon for something like this:

benchCouldn’t you just envision lovely breakfasts here every morning before the kids go off to school? I just love it so much.

And since we’re dreaming here, I’d love to have a movie room. Maybe when I no longer have a need for a playroom, I could turn it into a movie room. Most movie rooms I’ve seen are super cheesy looking though. They’ve tried too hard to make them feel like the real movie theater, but I’d much rather have something stylish and comfortable with just a giant flatscreen instead of a projector screen.

This was about the least cheesy image I could find for the seating.



So tell me, what would you want in your dream home?

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Think about where you live right now. The house or apartment. The street. The city. The state. Is it where you thought you’d be at this point in your life? Is it where you want to be next year? Five years from now? How about 20?

We bought our home a month before we got married in 2006. In just a couple of weeks, we will celebrate our 7 year anniversary of living in this house. SEVEN. YEARS.

I thought we’d be here five, max.

I’ve talked about how we tried to move to Charlotte a couple of years ago, perhaps only vaguely. It was so horrible that neither of us want to move to Charlotte ever again. Not because we hate Charlotte; it’s a lovely place. We just don’t want to go through that heartbreak again.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I think we should try again. Maybe not Charlotte, no. But somewhere. Somewhere closer to my husband’s family. (Though not TOO close, considering they live in the unhealthiest and saddest city in the country.) Someplace where the housing market isn’t quite as screwed up as it is in St. Louis. Where we can get a nice home in a nice school district that isn’t five times the price of our current home.

But is that all it takes? Being closer to family in a semi-decent job and housing market? Shouldn’t we be dreaming a little…bigger?

Last Sunday the hubs and I (and the baby) drove back from my grandma’s 91st birthday party. A 2.5 hour drive. I brought up moving and threw out terms like “five year plan.” Then I said, “How about San Diego?” and soon we were down a rabbit hole of hypotheticals. The hubs started surfing realtor.com, pointing out this home or that. We talked about the pros and cons, making a verbal list of each. Wouldn’t it be great to live near the beach? In a warmer climate? But could we stand being so far away from family. In order to live in paradise, we’d have to leave everyone behind and spend whatever vacation time we had visiting them. Several flights a year. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

After we got home, we did our bedtime routine and climbed into bed. The hubs got out the iPad to continue exploring this California dream, but for me, something just didn’t feel right and I no longer felt like daydreaming.

Making a pros and cons list only helps with the criteria are of equal importance. But when you’re comparing being within driving distance of LegoLand or your entire family, it’s hard to give the former top billing.

And with that, he put away the iPad.

I’ve never been very good with staying content for very long, so it goes against my nature to admit that things are pretty comfortable right now and that maybe we should just continue to let fate run its course for awhile. So what if that means staying in our house for another 2, 3, 4 years. So what if that means staying in St. Louis for another 2, 10, or 20 years. Life is pretty good right now, and St. Louis truly is a great place to raise a family. I know this. But it’s just so hard to look at someone else’s grass and not think to myself “Is it greener over there?” Especially if that grass is in California, because with average temps in the mid 70s year round, it’s definitely greener.

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I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let the gender of this baby determine the nursery theme. I told anyone that asked that we would be doing “gender neutral” so we wouldn’t have to re-do it for a possible baby #2. Yet, I find myself gravitating toward very gender specific themes. I can’t help it. The majority of gender neutral stuff out there isn’t very exciting. And I can only imagine if we were having a girl, just how hog-wild I’d be going with a chandelier light fixture and ruffled blankets.

Anyone that follow me on Pinterest knows I’ve been stockpiling nursery ideas for weeks now. Just as decorators tell you to collect photos of rooms that appeal to you to see if you sense a common theme among them, I was doing the same through Pinterest — pinning every nursery that looked unique or soothing. I had hoped to look back at my nursery ideas board and immediately see a pattern to my madness. This was not the case. We decided awhile ago that the overall theme would be “travel” but I’m not so keen on the modes of transportation theme that typically goes along with a travel theme. Instead, I prefer maps and globes with animals and bright colors. But not too bright – because that’s overwhelming. Here’s a sample of what I’ve been pinning lately:

How cute is that wall decal? Also like the neutral walls/fabrics with pop of bright colors here and there.

I have a thing for accent walls. I don’t trust myself to get a pattern like this to look this good, but I like it.

For awhile, I was leaning toward grayish tones. And since my floor color looks similar to this, I wanted to keep a visual of what gray and white stripes might look like.

I hate birds, but somehow I find myself drawn to this birdcage-like light fixture. Also love the colors.

Did I mention I have a thing for accent walls? And green, apparently.

I mentioned wanting maps in the decor scheme, yes? This would be one way. But I’m also liking the idea of a decal, like this one:

So that’s about as far as I had gotten with choosing a theme, until last weekend when we went to register at Babies R Us. One thing I’ve always loved about my husband is our similar tastes in home decor. We almost always agree on what we like/don’t like. And the only bedding ensemble that either of us liked at Babies R Us was this one:

Is it my favorite bedding ever? No, probably not. But it fits our travel theme, and has a simple color palette that I think we can work with. I’m not sold on the wall art, the hamper, the valance on the window, or the wall color in this room, but I like the bedding and the lamp. That, and I haven’t found anything better. So now I’m basing much of our theme on these colors, which, as I stated above, is now suddenly very gender specific.

But what to do with the walls? Right now, they’re stark white. At first, I just assumed I needed to paint them. Because that’s what you do when you decorate a room. You paint! But now that one of the main colors in our “theme” actually isn’t a color at all, I’m wondering if we should maybe leave the walls white and just accent with curtains and wall hangings? Or maybe just do an accent wall? I have no idea.

Who wants to come over and decorate a nursery for me?

*All image sources (except the last one) can be found on my Pinterest board. Last photo from BabiesRUs.com 

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One writes.

I’ve been a little MIA lately. Life has been…chaotic, I suppose. About two weeks ago, the hubs and I decided to reevaluate our plans for moving, for selling our home, for big life changes, and last week I had our house taken off the market. Of course, the day after we decided to do that, a potential buyer – a cash buyer it turns out – wanted to look at our house, but we were out with friends that day and had left things like dishes in the sink and underwear on the floor. So that was a no go.

Part of me is disappointed. Disappointed that we couldn’t sell our house. Disappointed that we won’t be following through with our grand plans anytime soon. Disappointed over my husband’s disappointment. It’s a vicious circle, really. More frustrating than the disappointment are the questions I continually ask myself. Why did everything lead us so far down this path if it wasn’t meant to be? Why did we essentially just waste more than 3 months working toward something only to find out it was all done in vain? What now?

On the other hand, I’m relieved. Relieved that I no longer have to keep this place looking spotless (which is exhausting). Relieved that I know we’ll be in our own home for the holidays, especially Thanksgiving which we always host and I’ve grown to love that holiday because of it. Relieved that I know this routine. I’m comfortable here, and if we’re being completely honest, I wasn’t ready to leave anyway. My house may not be perfect, but I love it. We have great neighbors and I really like living in this part of town. Even silly things like my favorite gas station, I would miss it. I mean really, who has a favorite gas station? I do. So I try to look at the positives of the situation and hope that we don’t dwell too long on the “failure” of selling our house. Because life? Is still pretty fucking awesome right now. (But tomorrow is going to suck unless I can tame this insomnia.)

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For Sale

We put our house on the market today.

It was a big decision, and as much as I love our house – our first house together – it’s time to move. We never intended to stay in our home any longer than 5 years, and that 5 year mark will be early next year. We’ve never sold a house before, so I’m a little nervous (but excited) to be taking this step. Of course, it’s bittersweet because this was our first home. We moved in just a month before our wedding. It’s where we began our family when just a month after our wedding, we adopted an adorable furry puppy.

We’ve had parties and holidays and lazy Sundays in this house. I remember our first nights in this house, painting the walls, eating pizza, and sleeping on an air mattress watching The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on a 13-inch TV. I remember remodeling our bathroom – the first time – and having a cast iron tub sit in our backyard for nearly a year before we finally listed it on Craigslist. I remember discovering the cute little park across the street and taking Champ to run and play and chase tennis balls (his favorite thing in the world – even more than sleeping and eating). I remember the hubs mowing the grass for the first time and all of the neighbors came out of their houses to talk to him in our driveway. I remember thinking how awesome it was to have such friendly neighbors and being invited to their Friday night bonfires. I remember all the landscaping and deck building and bathroom remodeling. I remember buying LOTS of furniture to fill the rooms. When you go from a one bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house, it takes awhile (and a lot of $$$) to fill the space. I remember sleeping on a full size bed for the first year, and when we finally purchased a queen size mattress, I thought it was SO BIG! I remember cooking HUGE Thanksgiving meals with my mom. I remember raking what seemed like an endless amount of leaves. I remember decorating the outside of the house for Xmas and having our neighbors continually tell us that our North Pole sign was pointing south. Once they even kidnapped it and stuck it in their yard so it would point the right direction.

I remember so much about this house, and it’s all of these things that made our first house our home. Other than a few things – no garage, a backyard that overlooks our neighbor’s backyard – I really love this house. While it may be tough to sell it in this economy, and we may even have to rent it out, I don’t regret buying it. I’ve loved living in it and making it our home. I have days where it’s the one and only place I want to be, and part of me is scared to lose that. But this is the first of many sacrifices we’ll have to make to get to where we want to be, so we’re doing it. We’re selling our home. But we’re keeping the memories, because those are ours.


(I wrote this post last week, the day we put the house on the market. I delayed publishing until I had better photos to show you. Now I do.)

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It’s no secret that I’m a tad addicted to DIY/Home Improvement/Design/Dwell-type blogs. We’re currently in that do-we-dump-more-money-into-this-house-or-do-we-sell-it stage, so I haven’t been able to put much of my design inspiration to good use. For example, I’d love to get bamboo shades or wood blinds for my windows to replace our current fine-but-lackluster white mini-blinds. I’d also love to get pendant light fixtures. Or try DIYing some wainscoting or crown moulding. True, these things could potentially add to the value of our home, but our house is already at the top of the price list for our neighborhood so adding even more would likely only hurt us because we’d just lose money on our investment. So as much as I’d love to spruce up our house and show you the results, I can’t. Instead, I’ll show you things I’ve already done, be it recently or a few years ago.

One simple thing I did a long time ago, and that I’d like to share with you, is the quick and easy task of just adding a slipcover to an outdated couch, like this one.

This is our loveseat, part of a set that was handed down to me by my parents when I moved into my first apartment. I love the structure and comfort of it, but obviously the fabric is just plain hideous. Unless you live in an adobe in New Mexico. So what did I do? Well, I went to Target and purchased a slipcover and some throw pillows. And now, my little loveseat looks like this:

Please forgive the camera phone photos, but isn’t that so much better? I’m not in love with the throw pillows since they’re not very sturdy and make the couch look more “sloppy” than I would like, but at least it’s comfortable.

The other great thing about slipcovers is the option to routinely take it off and wash it. I have a dog. A very hair dog. So it’s nice to be able to remove the slipcover, throw it in the wash, and put it back on once it’s all fresh and clean and dog-hair free.

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A few months ago, back when it was still cold outside, my mom was staying with us for a few days. She told us she heard some movement in the wall of our downstairs bedroom and said that we either had mice or squirrels. That weekend we set some traps in our unfinished basement and sure enough, we caught a mouse. And then another mouse. (We also caught one in the washing machine but that’s another story for another time.) We’ve been living in this house for four years now and never once had we seen evidence of mice before, but they were definitely getting in now. After some poking around in our basement, we noticed that there was a HUGE hole that went from our basement ceiling into the backyard, right where the cable guy had drilled to run new lines into our house. There was no need to drill a hole that big, nor did he bother to seal it up. That was last fall.  So we’ve potentially had mice in our house since last fall. Which means they’ve had PLENTY of time to breed. We sealed the hole up immediately but the damage had been done. We have mice.

After we caught the first three, we just sort of forgot about it and figured we solved the problem. A month or two later, I started noticing little mice poop in the corners of our basement. And then on the storage shelves. It was probably another month before I got sick of asking my husband to buy more traps and I finally did it myself last weekend. Then the other night, I went in the basement to check the traps and I’ll be damned if a mouse didn’t just fall out of the ceiling and run past my trap! While another one stared at me from above the air conditioning vent!  Seriously. It just looked at me. I’m pretty sure they were taunting me. So we set more traps. And either those little buggers are smart and have figured out our traps, or they just don’t like cheese and peanut butter. Either way, it’s stressing me out because each day that passes, I just imagine more and more mice babies being born. And then I imagine them venturing up the basement stairs into the rest of the house. A house that I’m not very good at keeping clean as it is, which means an all-you-can-eat-buffett for mice. And then they’ll tell their little mice friends and family and they’ll ALL come upstairs to eat crumbs in my kitchen. And then I’ll have to move. Or die in piles of mouse poop.

I think I need a cat. A basement cat. Like this one.

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And I mean that quite literally.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about hiring a maid service. My thought process goes something like this:

“Damn, my house is dirty. Didn’t I just clean this place last week last month? WTF? Maybe I should hire a cleaning service. No, that just sounds so…snobbish. Like, only rich people who are too lazy to clean hire cleaning services. I might as well just get an effing butler! And name him Alfred, like in Batman. Ha! I’d be JUST LIKE Batman if I had a butler named Alfred. And he’d bring me awesome new lethal weapons disguised as regular household items. Like, check out this spatula that’s really a whatever-you-call-it that shoots across buildings, hooks itself to the other side, and lets you slide across with just the handle, thus ensuring your escape from the enemy! Yes, that would be awesome. Wait, what were we talking about? Oh right, cleaning services. That just seems so…snobbish.”

And so, I’m still debating whether or not to hire a cleaning service. The positives would be: a clean house (hello, Captain Obvious!), less stress, and fewer spousal arguments. The negatives would be: cost and feeling like a lazy, unaccomplished, trust-fund baby. (side note: no offense to those of you who use a cleaning service. I do not think you are a lazy, unaccomplished, trust-fund baby. It’s just that I come from a family that never, ever used a cleaning service. In fact, my family WAS the cleaning service. I have at least four family members that used to clean houses for a living. So it’s a concept that’s hard for me to deal with. My grandma possibly cleaning my house? Ridiculous.) I just tell myself, “I don’t NEED a cleaning service. I just need to take the time to do it and quit watching 10 hours of LOST on the weekends.” But then the weekend gets here and 10 hours of LOST later, my house is still a mess. I can keep it picked up but it’s never actually clean.

Then today, I dropped a black hanger on the floor. When I picked it up, it was covered in dust and dog hair. Just from dropping it on the floor for two seconds! Yes, that is how disgusting my house is right now. Yes, this is what happens when you have a 90 lbs ball of fur roaming your house 24 hours a day because it’s been too rainy to leave the damn dog outside. And I’m sick of it (SICK OF IT!) so I think I’ll just have to bite the bullet and hire a cleaning service, ego be damned!

So, does anyone know of a good cleaning service in St. Louis to recommend? Please and thank you.

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I haven’t transferred the vacay photos to the ‘puter yet but a recap post will be coming soon, promise! But I couldn’t let April 7 go by without acknowledging two very special moments in our life.

The first is the day we closed on our first house exactly four years ago today – April 7, 2006. Ever since my relationship with the hubs got serious, we dreamed of buying a house. We lived in two different apartments before we just went for it. When we closed, it was just about 6 weeks before our wedding. We spent all of April cleaning, painting, moving, and buying things – like new appliances, furniture, lawn care equipment…it was an expensive month to be sure but one of the best. The day we closed, I remember getting the key from our agent and walking into our house. Then we walked back out so the hubs could carry me over the threshold. I was determined to sleep there the first night, so we brought an air mattress and our little TV over there and talked in great detail about our grand plans for decorating and furniture layout. That weekend we painted. And painted. And painted some more. I remember getting up on Sunday and my whole body ached from all the painting. I remember hubby’s allergies were completely out of control, worse than I’d ever seen them, because he’s allergic to pollen – specifically oak pollen – and we have a GIANT oak tree in our yard that had just started blooming its leaves. I remember ordering a lot of fast food or takeout too. And I remember frequent – maybe 5 times a day – trips to Home Depot.  Good thing we have one about 5 minutes from our house. We were such newbies at this whole home ownership thing but it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I still love our house. This is a photo of the house from the listing site, taken in winter. The tree and landscaping has changed quite a bit since then, but this is basically what it looked like when we moved in.

The same day of the same year, we also celebrate our furbaby’s birthday. We didn’t adopt him until June, shortly after our honeymoon, but the rescue organization we adopted him from estimated his birthday to be around April 6. We decided they were probably a day off and made his birthday April 7.

How cute was this little guy?

The quality sucks because these were taken on my little crappy camera phone. Some of you have probably heard this story but our camera was stolen on our honeymoon. On the way BACK too, so all 80-something photos we took of our honeymoon? Gone. I was so upset and depressed over it that I refused to buy another camera for a long time, because just the idea of shopping for new camera made me even more depressed. This overlapped with “new puppy time” so I have only a couple of photos of our furbaby as a puppy. We didn’t buy a new camera until almost Labor Day and by that time, our puppy wasn’t much of a puppy anymore.

And here’s our baby now:

Happy 4th birthday buddy!

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I’m really glad I didn’t make any new year resolutions about blogging. Wow, would I have failed majorly in that category.

Work has been crazy the last couple of weeks. I think I logged something like 55 hours last week and this week is trending the same. But, through all the stress there have been some small but incredibly rewarding moments that seem to make it all feel worth it. And yet, I’ve still managed to make time for my hubby, family, and friends – though just barely. Housework on the other hand, well, I’ve got a long ways to go. Laundry and dishes. That’s about all I can keep up on these days, and even that is a struggle. But for some crazy reason, I woke up around 7:30 am on Saturday with crazy amounts of energy, ready to tackle some deep cleaning. You see, I have a dog. A very large, very hairy dog. And he spends all but maybe an hour or two a day in the house, fuzzing up my stuff. So on Saturday morning, I got up, got dressed, and went to work on our downstairs. I vacuumed, twice. Even under the couches. Then I got out the lint roller and de-haired both couches, pulling out the cushions and making sure I got every last hair. The dog doesn’t get on the couch, but hair still appears there. Then I vacuumed under the cushions. (And found two pennies. Score!) Then I shampooed the carpet with my little Bissell steamer. And I finished it all off with dusting EVERYTHING. The result? A lovely family room:

Maybe I’m just a very slow cleaner, but you guys, this took me HOURS. It’s a pretty big accomplishment for me. (Sad, but true.) My goal is to one day show you every room in my house – clean – and while I once had some pretty lofty goals of being able to clean the entire house, photograph it, and show it to you in one day or one weekend, I realize now that that’s just never going to happen. So I figure, one room at a time. And just because I’m so proud of myself, here are a few more photos, from various angles.

Oooh! Aaah!

And now I have sufficiently entertained myself by boring all of you. My job here is done. Thank you and, I’m sorry.

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