We now have manual lawnmower

The day before we left for Colorado for a week, Andrew worked ALL DAY. All day. And I had been asking him and asking him nagging him to mow the lawn before we left. Not because I care particularly, but because our HOA cares. It needed to be mowed like nobody’s business AND we were going out of town.

Finally at 6p or so, I texted Andrew and (gently) reminded him that if he didn’t leave work soon he wasn’t going to have enough daylight to mow the lawn! So, he rushed home. changed into a grubby t-shirt and went to do his duty as man of the house.

And OF COURSE the mower wouldn’t start.

And OF COURSE, we didn’t have time to figure out why.

SO we left for Colorado with a very long front lawn.

And we came home from Colorado and still couldn’t start the mower.

2 months went by without mowing the lawn (I wish I had a picture, it looked so long and luxurious)….. and finally Andrew decided that this was the perfect reason to use his birthday gift cards and get us a manual mower!!

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He had been wanting one since we bought the house. We figure it will be quieter (so we can mow early in the morning and not disturb neighbors), it will be easier for me to use and Andrew thinks it will be almost like a work out :)

Of course, it’s not meant to be used with crazy long grass, so the first cut was actually 2 or 3 passes and it still looks patchy.

And (I think) having the grass so long for so many weeks meant that the dirt underneath never really dried out and a lot of our grass died from being overwatered.

He also got an edger and some other lawn toys to clean up the lawn to look really nice. It’s a constant battle. And doesn’t even include all the raking and tree-trimming that really should be done.

And then the weekend AFTER he got all these new tools, he started talking to friends about how much it costs to hire a gardener :)

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Summer sleeping

You guys. It is HOT in our house.

It’s 2 stories (heat rises), and the sun beats down on the back of the house in the afternoon.

Our bedroom is by far the hottest room in the house – which is extremely inconvenient since we always spend at least 8 hours/day in there, right?

Last summer I think we had a couple electric bills north of $150 for the month. Not great, considering our bills in the winter are less than $50. This summer I was bound and determined to save some of that money.

Just in order to get our bedroom cool enough to fall asleep, we were putting the AC down to 71 or so. Yea. $EXPENSIVE$

Of course, keep in mind that last summer we didn’t have any window treatments on any of our windows. AND I was getting home at midnight, so we often didn’t turn down the AC until *right* before we went to bed – so it would need to be on HIGH to make any difference.

This summer, we’ve got thick curtains that hopefully are helping hold in cold air AND reflect sun/heat. PLUS, since I quit and I’m home during the day, I can go upstairs to open the window around sunset to help cool the room earlier.

But even with all of that, some nights it’s just way too hot.

So instead I’ve been sleeping downstairs:

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Our downstairs stays cooler anyway, and there is virtually ZERO direct sunlight in our living room, so that room always stays the coolest.

Plus our couch is pretty fantastic and just about the size of a twin bed.

So all the nights that Andrew is recording over night and doesn’t come home til 5, 6, 7am, I just sleep downstairs.

In fact, between the new floor fan we got for downstairs (we love it) and opening the front window, it can be a little chilly in the mornings.

I love it.

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…. and our last electric bill was HALF of what it was last year at this time.

Plan for next summer?

We’re going to get another new floor fan and we’d like to get a futon for Andrew’s office before next summer.

He’s using the downstairs room for his office (which is a whole other story since the last you all heard, that was the guest room). It’s about halfway set up, so we’re hoping by next summer we’ll be able to get a futon for he or I to sleep on when it gets too hot. And then it can also double as another guest room if needed.

Do you guys have any smart tips for keeping a house cool? Particularly 2 stories?

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Schubert HQ: blinds for all the windows

When we bought the house, we just had the contractors take down ALL the window coverings (if there were any) and paint white.

We figured we would just start over. The house was vacant for a year before we moved – lord knows what was going on in there.

So we had bare windows when we moved in. We put up curtains on the front window right away (for obvious reasons), but the rest of the windows were bare until the end of May/beginning of June some time! Yup. More than a year later.

We put up curtains in our bedroom, but after that we had 2 bedroom windows upstairs, and a dining room and bedroom window downstairs that were bare. We decided to just put up blinds – Andrew didn’t want white, I didn’t want black, so we opted for a warm wood in all the rooms. It matches the floor on the downstairs of the house, so the color scheme of the whole house stays roughly together.

BEFORE:

Notice that the downstairs bedroom has light blocked with a sheet nailed up. Classy. And the upstairs room has light blocked with a couple big pieces of cardboard. Yup.

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PROGRESS:

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AFTER:

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I mean, they’re just blinds, but the house feels so much nicer with them. PLUS the upstairs office that gets a lot of direct sunlight is staying a lot cooler with the blinds closed all the time.

I work in there in the mornings, blinds open and looking outdoors, and then close the blinds for the afternoon sun.

Also! If you come stay with us, there will be blinds on YOUR room too!

Win-win.

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curtains! Finally!

You guys. It’s a miracle. We have curtains in our bedroom finally!! On Saturday in May, I had finally decided what curtains I wanted to put up, bought them, and Andrew hung them for us!

He’s the best.

 BEFORE:

Yup. UGLY.

That would be 2 car-sun-shades propped up on the window sills (and regularly knocked down by the cats), and a vintage sheet (really a hand-me-down from my parents that I remember from my childhood), nailed over the window, and held open on one side by a safety pin.

We are the classiest.

It’s looked like this more or less for the last year.

curtains before

in progress:

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AFTER:

 

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I read a few reviews and we settled on these white/sheer curtains underneath (hoping the white will reflect the sun) and these gray/thick/poor-man’s-blackout curtains. The curtain rod is actually the same one that we have in the living room.

These curtains make me SO HAPPY!!!

I love how dark the room is now, and it is actually noticeably cooler too! PLUS they’re installed almost all the way up to the ceiling and they make the whole room look totally different.

SO exciting!!

 

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Staycation

I love to travel

So I’m not one to plan a “staycation” ….. But sometimes Staycations find you.

Easter weekend happened to be right near my birthday (which I get off from work) and, of course, Good Friday (a “quasi holiday” that I also got off from work). Throw in an extra PTO day that Monday and all of a sudden I had a 5-day “weekend” with nothing planned!

LOVE IT.

Crammed the errands that needed to be done in on Friday morning, and spent the rest of the weekend around the house, reading a TON and tackling some of the long-standing items on my to do list.

FRIDAY:

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Visited the DMV (to renew my license. It has now been 5 years that we’ve lived in CA again), visited the library (favorite errand) and the grocery store.

Then I got home at about 12:30p …. with a wealth of time in front of me. MIRACULOUS.

I tell you, I was SO excited to have so much time off with nothing specific planned I was giddy.

So I read a novel….

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I don’t have any photos from the rest of the day, so I probably didn’t do much else :)

SATURDAY:

Andrew was home all day AND it was the day chosen for March’s Day in the Life project, so there are a ton of photos.

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Forced snuggles, computer work and Andrew made eggs for breakfast.

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Shower, made the bed, computer work and spent some more time reading this novel. I LOVED it. I think I finished it on Saturday, actually.

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In the afternoon, Andrew went out back to do some (much needed) yardwork, and brought the cats with him. We got them leashes (I know) so they can hang out in the yard with us/Andrew while we’re there.

Actually, we only had 1 leash, so Andrew took a quick trip to Petco to get a second.

Khaleesi crying because we left her inside:

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Andrew has been working on taking out all this weed/ground cover so we can till and replant grass and veggies and all. It’s a constant battle and we never seem to have enough time to make decent progress before the weeds come back.

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Problem with the leashes: Khaleesi is actually too small for it. She pulled a little too hard, dragged the chair which made a loud noise that scared her enough that she just *slipped* out of the leash.

Sigh.

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More reading and more computer work that night. It’s how I CHOOSE to spend my Saturday nights :)

SUNDAY:

Easter.

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Andy and Julie came over for lunch (we got Stonefire Grill)

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And then the rest of the day we just hung out. More reading, more computer work, and I *think* we marathoned several episodes of The Killing season 2.

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Andrew started craving sugar (I try not to buy any) so he took a quick trip to Albertson’s for some CHEAP donuts and cupcakes.

…. and I still had 2 full days off ahead of me!!

MONDAY:

VERY low-key day.
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I had a Skype chat first thing in the morning …. and then nothing else the rest of the day.

More reading (Andrew dragged one of our chairs over to the back door so he could sit int he sun like a lizard), more computer work, more TV marathoning.

We are so easy.

TUESDAY:

My 31st birthday!!!!

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Breakfast at the Egg Plantation. Breakfasts out are one of my favorite things!

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More reading. More computer work. More TV marathoning. In this last photo you can see that I wore PJ pants most of the day.

Pretty much the best 5 days off I could ask for.

Happy Birthday to me – and thank you Andrew for ALSO taking days off work!!

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Schubert HQ: To do list updated

I am ALWAYS thinking about more work that needs to be done on this house.

Today, check out our updated MASTER TO DO LIST for Schubert HQ

The first chunk was all done before we moved in …. the rest we’ve been doing little by little …. Updates since the last list are noted with bold and links when applicable.

I’ve also added more tasks (mostly to the backyard)

If you read all the way through this you can see that we’re kind of just living with a bunch of stuff until we have the time and money to fix them. Could be worse, though.

And, really, I’m so excited still about owning a house that I can do whatever I want with …. even if it means going SLOWLY.

  • remove all the trash and debris from the house
  • remove all the cabinets/counter from the kitchen
  • remove all mold from kitchen
  • remove all old floors throughout house
  • fix hole in kitchen ceiling
  • fix floorboards in bedroom
  • fix bathroom/kitchen leaks
  • new floors upstairs
  • new floors downstairs
  • paint all rooms (white)
  • take out fake closet in downstairs bedroom
  • reinforce beam below upstairs bedroom
  • replace broken front window
  • trim tree on side yard
  • get rid of mold in garage
  • add dining room light
  • new garage door opener
  • rekeyed front door
  • replace floor in front of garage
  • replace door into garage
  • fix AC going out of garage
  • paint exterior / red front door
  • new roof
  • rafters in garage
  • trim tree pushing on light post
  • scrape all ceilings
  • replace thermostat
  • replace all the windows with double panes
  • install solar panels
  • garage: add shelves above washer and dryer
  • garage: buy washer and dryer
  • master bathroom: new floor
  • master bathroom: shower door hanging crooked
  • master bathroom: clean clean clean - constant battle
  • master bathroom: buy trashcan
  • master bathroom: buy TP roll holder thank you Andrew
  • master bathroom: paint?
  • master bathroom: buy/hang towel racks
  • master bathroom: new toilet?
  • master bathroom: shelves?
  • master bathroom: light cover over sink
  • master bathroom: new floor
  • master bathroom: new vanity/sink
  • master bedroom: paintLOVE it
  • master bedroom: hang curtain rod - YES!
  • master bedroom: blinds – not doing this any more
  • master bedroom: hang artwork
  • master bedroom: buy/hang curtains - I am so in love with these. Post to come.
  • master bedroom: window screen - done for now, might need to redo it eventually
  • master bedroom: bookcases?
  • master bedroom: full length mirror
  • master bedroom: bedside tables
  • master bedroom: bedside lamps
  • master bedroom: hooks in closet interior
  • guest bedroom: blinds
  • guest bedroom: bed
  • guest bedroom: rug
  • guest bedroom: small dresser
  • guest bedroom: ceiling fan
  • guest bedroom: mirror - Found one in a box that works
  • guest bedroom: hang artwork
  • guest bedroom: paint
  • guest bathroom: new vanity
  • guest bathroom: new floor
  • guest bathroom: new tub
  • guest bathroom: fix shower
  • guest bathroom: new toilet
  • guest bathroom: big mirror
  • guest bathroom: new floor boards
  • guest bathroom: paint
  • guest bathroom: buy TP holder - $6 one installed
  • guest bathroom: towel racks
  • guest bathroom: buy shower rod - yep
  • guest bathroom: hang shower curtain - installed the one we got as a wedding gift so long ago
  • living room: see about building cupboard under stairs
  • living room: paint
  • living room: hem curtains
  • living room: rug
  • living room: smaller armchair
  • living room: make coffee tablewe actually got a hand-me-down that we like for now
  • living room: new or refinished entertainment center
  • living room: better lighting
  • living room: lamp for cornerwe got another hand-me-down that works for now
  • living room: DVD shelves
  • living room: side tables - we got a hand-me-down that works for now
  • living room: window screenthank you Andrew (also might need to get redone)
  • dining room: paint
  • dining room: window screen
  • dining room: rug
  • dining room: new table
  • dining room: chairswe have some. Need work though.
  • dining room: artwork?
  • sitting room: sand blast fireplace
  • sitting room: add bricks to fireplace
  • sitting room: add mantle to fireplace
  • sitting room: paint
  • sitting room: replace screen door
  • sitting room: hang artworksome. I’m not in love with them though.
  • sitting room: get armchair - LOVE the hand-me-downs we got.
  • sitting room: rug
  • sitting room: side tables
  • sitting room: new gas line for fireplace
  • Amy’s office: window screen - done for now
  • Amy’s office: window blinds
  • Amy’s office: bookshelves
  • Amy’s office: chalkboard paint
  • Amy’s office ceiling fan
  • Amy’s office: scrapbook bookshelf
  • Andrew’s office: window screendone for now
  • office bathroom: new vanity/sink
  • office bathroom: new floor
  • office bathroom: new tub?
  • office bathroom: paint
  • office bathroom: shelving or towel racks?
  • office bathroom: install skylight?
  • office bathroom: rehang doors so they close
  • kitchen: cabinet hardware
  • kitchen: Oven/range/hood
  • kitchen: dishwasher
  • kitchen: cabinet hardware installation
  • kitchen: sink
  • kitchen: faucet
  • replace kitchen cabinets
  • replace kitchen counters
  • replace kitchen tile
  • recaulk back windows
  • kitchen: backsplash
  • kitchen: hanging basket for onions/etc
  • kitchen: hooks for aprons - we’re using some hooks Andrew had in his childhood bedroom
  • kitchen: artwork
  • kitchen: rug for by sink
  • front yard: replace posts (brick)
  • front yard: create brick front porch
  • front yard: flower bed in front of porch
  • front yard: add lighting (to path/garage)
  • front yard: clean up/decorate entry way
  • front yard: weed around tree
  • front yard: trim treedone, but needs to be redone every year
  • front yard: till/plant grassdone. Love it. See the full post here.
  • front yard: clean or remove gravel
  • front yard: weed patch to side of driveway
  • front yard: plant in patch to side of driveway
  • backyard: replace shelf under kitchen window
  • backyard: remove “garden”
  • backyard: remove palm tree
  • backyard: fix flooding issue
  • backyard: mow grass
  • backyard: build trellis/patio overhang
  • backyard: plant trees
  • backyard: take out other tree
  • backyard: till dirt thoroughly
  • backyard: install privacy panels
  • backyard: take out tree
  • backyard: plant garden
  • backyard: plant grass
  • backyard: plant lilacs?
  • backyard: trim trees on side yard
  • backyard: fix back privacy panel
  • backyard: get bigger grill
  • backyard: hang lighting
  • sideyard: rebuild wall
  • sideyard: install gate
  • sideyard: remove dirt/rocks against house
  • sideyard: install cement/brick walkway
  • sideyard: remove lombardi tree
  • sideyard: clean leaves/debris from hill
  • sideyard: plant ground cover on hill
  • garage: clean out and rearrange
  • stairs: replace/repair pendant light
  • stairs: install some kind of window covering

Any ideas for Schubert HQ?

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Schubert HQ: Our kitchen 1 year in

So, we’ve lived in our house (Schubert HQ) since March 2012 …. but our kitchen wasn’t finished until May 2012.

Check out the original BEFORE & AFTER here

Now, 1 year later, how do we like it?

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I LOVE:

All of our color/style choices still. I love the warm cabinets with the stainless steel. I love the dark countertop and motley floor (so easy to hide the dirt)

I love the oven/stove that Fernando picked out for us

I love the sink/faucet

I love the big window and all the natural light this room gets.

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I don’t love but I will live with:

How easily the countertop and floor hide the dirt. I’m SURE we don’t clean as often as we should

That I don’t have *quite* enough cupboard space. This pile of pans in the corner has been there since we unpacked. I think I need to do some rearranging to make it all fit.

That snack food on the counter doesn’t fit in the pantry, really. Need to work on that too.

Plus we have a whole extra cart of appliances in the dining room (crockpot, blender, Kitchen Aid, etc) that doesn’t really fit in the kitchen.

There’s not REALLY any good floor space for the cats’ food bowls either. And they need to be on the tile because the girls like to play with their water and I don’t want it spilled and sitting on the wood floors.

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Other changes I want to make:

I think the room needs some kind of bright (red) artwork on that wall between the door and the window

I want to hang some kind of basket (I’d love to make one out of a vintage metal colander) to hold onions and potatoes and that kind of thing.

I’d like to replace the lighting eventually, but it doesn’t bother me a ton.

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But I do love my view out the window …. even if our backyard is a wreck.

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What’s your favorite bits of your kitchen?

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New Year’s at Schubert HQ

SUPER exciting …. Andrew and I both had New Year’s Day off.

Between his crazy work schedule and my vacation black-out dates, we don’t get hardly any days off together.

In fact, in the 10+ years we’ve been together, we’ve only started to get weekends off together in the last couple months. True story. Finally makes me feel like a grown-up.

Anyway …. New Year’s Eve I worked til 8p, and we didn’t really do much that night. Saving it all for New Year’s Day! A WHOLE DAY off together ….

This is what we did …..

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Andrew laid on the couch all day with kleenex and throat lozenges within reach.

Poor thing.

The girls played with this new “toy” – a little string tied to the landing. I read and watched movies and worked on the computer.

And Andrew just stayed under the covers and slept.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Schubert HQ progress: As-is house tour

Special treat today …. to make up for ignoring this blog for the last 2 months. Which is a story in and of itself.

But anyway … in honor of living in Schubert HQ for a whole year, today I’m sharing an AS-IS house tour.

Which means I did not really clean up a ton before taking these photos. Which means that none of these rooms are done. Any final “reveal” posts are still in the future.

I tried to match the new shots pretty closely with the before shots, so you can see what is new and different in the last year.

Let me know what questions you have and I’ll try to answer them in the comments…

P.S. the cats followed me around the house as I took these, so you’ll see them in several photos

BEFORE and AFTER photos

BEFORE-before photos here (ugh.)

Before photos taken from this original post back in February 2012…..

before:

after:

a small portion of this stuff is from Andrew’s recording studio that he shared with friends and they ended up leaving. So all this custom furniture built for it needed a home. So now it’s in our garage. As is Andrew’s brother’s BIG piece of artwork. Sigh.

And some dining room chairs I need to repaint and treat.

And some stuff to either sell at a garage sale or give to Goodwill.

There’s room for 1 car …. but once we get a washer and dryer (soon), we might lose that too.

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before:

after:

this is *technically* the guest room.

It’s also the record room, and since we do not yet have a guest room bed, it has recently been adopted as Andrew’s mixing room.

We want to install a ceiling fan/light, we need curtains (obviously), a rug, bed, side tables and maybe some other small things to make it more of a guest room.

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before:

after:

We put our bar in here – it’s full of our alcohol glasses and liquor.

I got these chairs from work (I still love them)

You can see we just drape our coats over these chairs – put them there when we get home from work and take them with us when we leave again the next day.

You can also see extension cords running across the floor …. we somehow blew the fuse in the outlets on either side of the fireplace and haven’t been able to figure out how to fix it.

Probably will install a ceiling fan/light in here, also a rug, new table for between the chairs, also redo the fireplace so its the red brick and mantle probably. We just had it painted white as a temporary fix.

Will probably eventually hang different artwork that fits the walls better.

I don’t think I want to hang any kind of window treatment on the back door. I rather like that open light.

You can also see our lovely (fake) wood floor that was put in throughout downstairs. Compare it to the disgusting carpet in the before photo above.

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before:

after:

This downstairs guest bathroom will be perfect for the guests … when its done.

The shower doesn’t work. The bath does – if you want to take a bath. But we have to replace the little mechanism that directs the water through the showerhead.

We also need to hang towel racks. And maybe paint in here.

I want to eventually replace the mirror/lights/vanity/tile and all. But those are low priority.

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more shots of the sitting room after:

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that box in front of the door is just for the girls to sit on. They like sitting in the sun.

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You can see in this shot the record player/stereo and Andrew’s cassette tapes are against this wall (the other side of this wall is the guest room)

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after :

The stairs …. Yes, those are boxes that still need to be unpacked. I think it is a big box of cake pans that don’t fit in the kitchen.

Tentative plan is to find a big rubbermaid-type tub to put the cake pans in the garage. Because obviously I will always need cake pans :)

Where Fang is sitting is one of their playing spots … where the cats WILL scratch you if you tempt them.

Our shoe pile lives under the stairs (you can see one of my rain boots on its side in the very bottom of the picture)

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before:

after:

looking through the house from the back to the front.

You can see the painting jobs and the new floors throughout.

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before:

after:

Check out the full new kitchen reveal here

This room is basically done.

The only things I still want to do is find a place for the pans in the corner (near the window) and find a vintage colander and make a hanging basket for onions and such. And replace the lighting eventually.

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looking through the kitchen into the dining room and living room

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before:

after:

Dining room… this might actually be my least favorite room – just because the doorway is smack in the middle so we either have the table centered in the room and then you have to walk way around it. Or we have the table against the wall so you can walk through more easily.

So we usually have the table against the wall unless we have guests for dinner.

Biggest news for this room? We got some handmedown dining room chairs so we’re no longer using vintage 1960s folding chairs. Exciting!

Plans for this room: New table (kinda want to build one like this) and chairs (as I mentioned they’re in the garage, just need some work), probably a rug, definitely a new light (maybe ceiling fan), some kind of blinds for the window and *possibly* moving our CD collection to the currently blank wall.

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before:

after:

love this room

I love this green color that we found. I love this big front window.

The room is kind of a weird shape. Our couch is actually 3+ feet in front of that wall – the pile of boxes behind it is all our DVDs that don’t have anywhere to live. We are thinking we’ll get shelves for that (green) corner to fill with DVDs. And I want to get a pendant lamp to hang over that corner. That floor lamp in the corner is trashy.

Also behind the couch is a basket of pillows and throw blankets.

The side table is a handmedown from I don’t know where. My mom finds stuff for me. The coffee table used to belong to Andrew’s great-grandpa.

We need to replace this front window (double paned, please) and I want to get a rug for this room too. I’m not in love with the coffee table but it will work for awhile.

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before:

after:

See that little string tied on the stair landing? That’s from one of my hoodies and the girls LOVE playing with it. Cuties.

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BEFORE-before:

before:

after:

So much better just without that gross carpet.

Our TV stand is actually an OLD coffee table (from Target). The TV was a housewarming gift from Andrew’s boss. It’s ridiculous and fantastic. SO nice of him!

That brown chair in the corner is one of my favorite spots to sit and read or work. And that’s where Fang comes and snuggles next to me.

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before:

after:

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before:

after:

One of my to read piles lives on the landing. Also in that pile is a couple art pieces to be framed and hung on this wall.

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before:

after:

I think that box is empty, but we built a little “ladder” for the girls to get to that window.

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BEFORE-before:

after:

When we saw this room empty we thought, ‘Wow this looks huge! It won’t look so big with our bed in it.’

Haha! We were wrong. The room still looks huge.

I am in love with that blue/teal color.

We need curtains/blinds in here. As well as wall art for the wall above our bed. And sidetables and lamps.

More to-read piles on my side of the bed. And more unpacked boxes (in the foreground)

I can’t decide if I want to install a ceiling fan in this vaulted room. We need better light in here, for sure.

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before:

after:

We might move these dressers to either side of the bed (I think there’s room) and then we can use this space for something else. Bookshelves or whatever.

Yea, that’s a pile of dirty laundry in the middle of the floor. Sorted and ready for washing.

That floor fan in the corner ran CONSTANTLY last summer. This room gets HOT.

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before:

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The girls’ food bowls are in our bathroom (Khaleesi is eating in this photo)…

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I like that wall of art … but need to focus on finishing it.

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I love my office. BUT it feels cluttered.

We need to get more shelving OR I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff.

It also need blinds in here and a ceiling fan/light.

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looking through to the bathroom. That shelving unit holds my scrapbooks and scrapbook paper.

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I want to replace that lamp hanging above the stairs. Also, it’s not actually attached to a working light switch so we should look into that.

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3rd bathroom between the 2 extra upstairs bathrooms.

Need to replace the vanity/sink/lights/floor/toilet/etc.

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hahahaa!

This room is the catch-all for unpacked boxes. MOST of these are CDs. Some are Andrew’s books that don’t really fit in my bookshelves.

This room is a WRECK.

But, one day…. we’ll paint and install a ceiling fan and make room to walk.

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looking back through the hallway

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back downstairs toward the front door …

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front stoop. We JUST got this mat in the last few weeks.

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front yard: More full reveal here

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What we still need to do: New roof, repaint (gray and white), new front window, new front door (with more windows), I want to install a security door (so we can keep the front door open), make those pillars red brick and build a red brick little porch in front of the window…. and do something with that side yard and and and …

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backyard.

IS A WRECK

Need to do EVERYTHING back here. Tear out that tree, plant a garden, till a TON, I kinda want to create built-in benches….  I can’t even think about this. Hurts my brain because there is too much to do.

I mean, it’s been raining and the water doesn’t even soak into the dirt.

We’ll deal with it eventually.

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Weird that this clover is growing all around the tree, but there’s this DEAD ring directly around the tree. Weird.

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SO there you have it!

The Schubert HQ status for now.

What do you think?

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Family craft day

New Schubert family tradition: girls-only craft day around the holidays

(yes, these photos are from December. So?)

On a Saturday morning in mid-December I took my computer over to Andy and Julie’s to work while Julie, Kaitlin, Aunt Susie and Amanda crafted ….

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They made these felt-flower wreaths in lovely reds and whites:

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Nice relaxing way to spend a Saturday – except for the fact that I was doing computer work the whole time.

But, you know.

Next year.

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our new Team Schubert Christmas tree

(going a little out of order so I can post about our Christmas tree before Christmas)

Our first Christmas in this home.

We have this lovely large window for a Christmas tree …. but as the holiday grew closer I started to get a little stressed out about our new floors. They’re wood-laminate … so if even a little bit of water seeps in between the ‘boards’ the ‘wood’ will swell up and the floor will basically be ruined.

How could I protect my floor from water with these 2 destructive monsters? They like to play with water! They put their paws in their water dish and splash it around. Plus, I knew they would at least try to chew on and bat at the branches which could shake the tree and spill water.

I was trying to envision how to put a big water-proof tarp down but still make it look festive enough.

Honestly a little stressed. We don’t really spend a lot of money on nice things – so I would like to keep this floor decent as long as possible.

And then I was reminded that it is totally ok to have a fake tree.

Problem solved.

Except for the “friends and family” who tried to publicly shame me on Facebook for not getting a real tree. Ahem. Uncle Ted.

Andrew and I talked about it – he is not as neurotic as my family in insisting on a real tree – and last Thursday when I was off work we went and picked it out.

For the last 4 years – since we moved back to California – we’ve had an annual tradition to help Andrew’s mom pick up her Christmas tree. Since we have a pickup truck and Andrew is a strapping man and all.

This year was no different.

We met her over at Home Depot Thursday morning for some tree shopping.

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I stood back and took photos – and Julie and Andrew were quite quick about finding a tree they liked.

 

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Then indoors to get our tree:

Just a simple, unlit 7.5″ tree. Not too expensive (because I had a feeling the cats would destroy it) but at least sturdy enough to last us several years.

We brought it home and set it up later that day …

 

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Both girls were a little wary …. and Khaleesi was downright SCARED of the noises. But they came around pretty quickly. First smelling…. then chewing on the branches.

We didn’t have time to fluff out the branches before we had to leave again, so we just left the tree as-is for a bit.

When we came home later that night, though, the girls had definitely gotten used to this strange plastic-and-metal-tower in the living room.

Khaleesi just climbed on up to about 2/3rds of the height and hung out to chew on branches! It was hilarious and adorable and I got a bunch of photos the first couple days before making her get down.

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And now most of my time at home is spent keeping her from climbing up again.

Fang is much more scared than Khaleesi – and it’s a good thing because Fang weighs about 4+ pounds more than Khaleesi and is waaaay too big to be climbing.

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We’ve fanned out the branches now, and it looks OK … but you can definitely tell where the cats climb up because those branches are BENT.

Each branch is supposed to go straight out (90 degrees from the ‘trunk’) …. and we have big chunks of branches that are bent at about 45 degrees or so. Each time they climb up I’m again reminded how glad I am that we did not get a real tree – they shake the whole thing so much that water would be spilling all over.

Sigh.

I can never have nice things again.

We’re not even going to decorate it. They will chew on the lights and break all the ornaments, and since no one is home for about 10 hours each day there’s no stopping them.

Maybe next year.

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We’ll pull it out again and the cats will remember all over again how much fun it is to climb all the way up …. If this tree lasts a few years it will at least be the same amount of $ we’d been spending on real trees. Fingers crossed.

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TCS Gift Guide

Andrew and I don’t really buy each other gifts. We haven’t done Christmas for each other in years. We did 30th birthday gifts, but no birthdays for awhile.

That doesn’t mean we don’t think about gifts for other people!

Here are just a few ideas for holiday gifts for your loved ones…

(note: Because I don’t really go shopping all that often, this gift guide may seem a little limited. But every item on here is awesome)

For the new home owners:

Custom rubber stamp with the new address 

I like these from AnnMarie Loves Paper. I’ve put off getting Andrew and I something like this since we were moving every year. But now that we’ll be staying put for awhile I think it could be fun.

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Loveby John and Sherry Petersik

The Petersiks have a very popular home DIY blog that I’ve been following for awhile. They’re much braver than I, but I imagine this book has some fantastic ideas in it.

Cookbooks:

I love to cook … and I love looking through my cookbooks for something new to try.

Sprouted Kitchen: The Sprouted Kitchen is a popular food blog that focuses on whole foods. Every single recipe on that site looks amazing, so I’m sure the cookbook is as well. It’s actually a husband-wife project – he shooting the photos, she writing the recipes. ” Sara Forte is a food-loving, wellness-craving veggie enthusiast who relishes sharing a wholesome meal with friends and family. The Sprouted Kitchen features 100 of her most mouthwatering recipes. Richly illustrated by her photographer husband, Hugh Forte, this bright, vivid book celebrates the simple beauty of seasonal foods with original recipes—plus a few favorites from her popular Sprouted Kitchen food blog tossed in for good measure. The collection features tasty snacks on the go like Granola Protein Bars, gluten-free brunch options like Cornmeal Cakes with Cherry Compote, dinner party dishes like Seared Scallops on Black Quinoa with Pomegranate Gastrique, “meaty” vegetarian meals like Beer Bean– and Cotija-Stuffed Poblanos, and sweet treats like Cocoa Hazelnut Cupcakes. From breakfast to dinner, snack time to happy hour, The Sprouted Kitchen will help you sneak a bit of delicious indulgence in among the vegetables.”

Smitten Kitchen: Also a popular blog. I’ve made several of her recipes and they are fantastic. “Deb Perelman loves to cook. She isn’t a chef or a restaurant owner—she’s never even waitressed. Cooking in her tiny Manhattan kitchen was, at least at first, for special occasions—and, too often, an unnecessarily daunting venture. Deb found herself overwhelmed by the number of recipes available to her. Have you ever searched for the perfect birthday cake on Google? You’ll get more than three million results. Where do you start? What if you pick a recipe that’s downright bad?

So Deb founded her award-winning blog, Smitten Kitchen, on the premise that cooking should be a pleasure, and that the results of your labor can—and should—be delicious . . .  every time. Deb is a firm believer that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes. She has dedicated herself to creating and finding the best of the best and adapting the recipes for the everyday cook.”

The Dutch Oven Cookbook: I believe my mother gave me this for my birthday … and it is now so well-loved I have essentially memorized a couple of the recipes. One of my favorite things is to make a big pot of soup or chili or similar and have it for several days, and this cookbook has a lot of great options. (P.S. The tagline is THE BEST “Recipes for the best pot in your kitchen” …. none of the recipes call for marijuana though, which was surprising.

For the tech geek:

iTunes gift card: Always

For apps or movies or songs. SO many ways to use this.

Cell phone lenses: Looks like so much fun!

Buy the Photojojo Phone Lens Series at the Photojojo Store! The Fisheye, Telephoto, Wide Angle and Macro Lenses are like pro-lenses for your phone! Especially for that friend that is interested in photography, or is addicted to Instagram, I would imagine this kind of toy would get a lot of use.

Castegram: Create an iPhone case out of your Instagram photos via Castegram (there is also an app for iPhone). What a fun idea!

What are some of your gift ideas this year?

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new chairs for the sitting room

So 4 and a half years ago (May 2008) I transferred from the Phoenix to the Los Angeles office of my company.

A few months after that I noticed the fantastic wingback chairs in some of the offices and asked one of my supervisors where they had gotten them because I wanted something similar for our house one day.

She told me they were hand-me-downs from a previous manager’s parents.

Dead end.

Fast forward to about August 2012.

Current manager announces we’re moving to a new office and won’t be taking all of the old furniture with us. And that we would be donating a lot of the old furniture.

I take that as another opportunity to mention to ANOTHER supervisor how much I loved the chairs and if the company decides to give them away I will take one or more. She said she had no idea what the plan was but she would try to remember.

Then all of a sudden mid-October I get this email (paraphrased):

“Mary mentioned you wanted the wingback chairs? If you want the 2 green ones, they’re yours. You just need to move them.”

SCORE.

Yet another example of mentioning something to the universe and having it come back to you.

So on one of Andrew’s days off the next week, he came down to the office with our truck, we carried the 2 chairs all the way downstairs (freight elevator) and now they live with us!

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We’ve been calling the back living area the “sitting room” since we moved in. Even though there was no where to sit. Until we got these chairs, that room was just full of empty boxes that the cats liked to play with.

Now we have 2 lovely (hand me down) wingback chairs and a side table.

Strangely, the green actually matches the color we painted our living room months ago!

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The chairs were in 2 different offices for YEARS.

One in Teri’s office – who has been with the company for 20+ years, in the same office, every day.

One in an Account Executive’s office – that has had about 4 different occupants since I’ve been there.

The cats LOVE one of the chairs, and won’t touch the other. I don’t know which is which – but I know Teri has several cats so I’m sure that’s a factor.

So when you come over, you’ll notice we’ve kept all the cat hair to one chair.

I LOVE these. Eventually we’ll probably reupholster them, but they’re both in decent shape and I like the color so we’re not in any rush.

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Unplanned purchase: new-to-me Macbook Pro

I hate shopping and spending money stresses me out.

That said, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and do something you don’t want to do.

In this case – it was buying a new computer.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m THRILLED to have a new-to-me computer. It was the actual making the decision and hitting the purchase button that I didn’t want to do.

I’ve been needing a new computer and putting it off for awhile. But finally a couple weeks ago the dumb ol’ harddrive died. It’s never great timing when that happens, but this time happened to be when I had just added photos of a visit from Christian and Avalon (and not yet backed them up) and a couple days before Andrew left for the weekend.

Sigh.

Bless his heart, he left me his computer so I could do a little research and buy a new one. Or, refurbished one, actually.

We had already been talking about getting a refurbished Mac computer. Neither of us is super early-adopter, needing the most cutting edge product. And buying refurbished would let our money go farther.

I knew I wanted a laptop (I like being able to take it to work to edit photos during my lunch break, or when we travel), and I knew I wanted a larger screen than previously.

Other than that, it was just a matter of picking out the best option for our budget….

And then a few days later it was delivered ….

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I don’t know when the last time you got a new computer was, but that stuff takes TIME!

It was delivered about half an hour before I had to leave for work so all I got to do was plug it in to charge the battery.

The next morning, I went through the set up (hooking it up to my Apple ID, etc), and then migrated all the data from my Time Machine backup. And that literally took all morning. Just watching the computer move files. Hours and hours, and then I had to go to work before it was done.

I didn’t get much done for several days.

And then we went out of town. And I realized that I didn’t have any photo editing software. So I went to buy the latest version of Aperture and couldn’t because I didn’t have the latest version of the operating system.

So I lost another morning of work because I had to download/install both of those things.

It wasn’t until the middle of this week (2 weeks after the initial harddrive fail) that I actually felt like I had my computer back.

And even then – I’m still learning how things work. New versions of software are slightly different. Settings are slightly different.

It has been fun – but time consuming. So I feel like I’m 2 weeks behind on everything. Even though I lost 10 days of photos.

But the computer is pretty :)

First day I opened it – the only time the screen will ever be this clean:

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I’m happy with it ….. But I hope I don’t have to get another new one for awhile!

P.S. We had the harddrive replaced (again) on my old computer, so when you come visit we have a backup if needed. It feels super luxurious to have a backup computer, even if it’s a 5.5 year old tiny laptop.

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mowing our front lawn for the first time

Today I thought a little flashback to August when we Andrew got to mow our front lawn for the first time!

In order to allow the grass to take root as well as possible, we were instructed to allow about 3 weeks before mowing it. But because of schedules and lack of a lawn mower, it actually ended up being 4 or 5 weeks.

It got a little wild.

Finally, Andy (Andrew’s dad) took pity on us and gifted us his old lawn mower – so I guess we had no more excuses. Andrew set out to mow the lawn on a hot August afternoon.

It took him *awhile*. Since the grass was SO long, he had to empty the lawn mower bag multiple times.

 

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Aaaaand …. Andrew accidentally cut off a sprinkler. The grass was so high and the sprinkler was a bit high. When he mowed around the area he just lobbed off the top.

Oooops.

BUT …. it actually kind of worked out. Once the lawn was mowed, we discovered several square feet near the house (around the broken sprinkler actually) was still muddy and wet and hadn’t dried after a days of 100 degree weather. The grass wasn’t growing very well because it was way way too wet (you can kinda tell in this image above).

There was very obviously a leak somewhere around where the broken sprinkler was – before it was broken.

So we took the sprinklers off their timer, and ran the sprinklers manually in the morning. JUST the half that wasn’t near the back sprinkler. That didn’t work. There was still a leak and the water was still getting into the ground even without the sprinklers running. So we turned the sprinklers off altogether and watered by hand for a few days and it finally dried out.

Luckily, the landscaper we hired came out to take a look some afternoon we were at work. And he must have fixed whatever happened because it’s fine now. No more leaking. No more worrying about it.

Now we just have a beautiful front lawn, shaded by trees, that I want to spend the afternoon lying on with a book.

Andrew is not yet in the habit of mowing the lawn every weekend, but it’s manageable. :)

 

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