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 :)


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?


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.


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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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!


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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?


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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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?


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…..



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

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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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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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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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1yr  039before:


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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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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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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?


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.”


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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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.







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.


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. :)



Schubert HQ progress: upstairs gallery wall

A few days after Andrew hung our downstairs gallery wall, he hung the smaller grouping of pictures we had designated for the upstairs gallery wall.

If you check out the BEFORE house tour, this wall is between our master bedroom (left) and my office (right).

Again, I just arranged the grouping on the floor, and Andrew did all the rest. Measuring and double checking and setting out the boundaries with paint tape.

Here’s a great resource on how to hang art groupings, if you don’t have Andrew around to do it for you.

There’s only a few pictures here …. including this 8×10 of Andrew and I from our wedding in another big chunky frame (from Andrew’s days as a framer). That photo was taken almost 7 years ago. Can you believe it??

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Also included a framed photo of Kevin and I (that I’ve had for a LONG time). I think this photo is from 2001 or 2002. Whenever we went to Ohio for a family reunion.

Below that is a framed photo of Andrew and I at California Adventure (again from 2001 or 2002). Such babies …

That A J Schubert on the top right is metal – and used to live in Andrew’s great-grandfather’s front yard (also an Andrew J Schubert).

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FINISHED (for now):

Some notes on what we’ve still got to do …

Again, thinking about painting the A. I don’t love the color on the A J Schubert, but I don’t know if I hate it enough to repaint it.

The black frame on the left is a shadow box. We’re going to make a wedding shadow box (someday), with maybe our invitation, fabric from the bridesmaid skirts, our cake toppers, etc. We’ll see. Not a priority at this moment.

The empty vertical frame will be a photo of Katie and Joe from their wedding, and we’ll add another vertical photo just like it in the empty space below of Joey. How to choose which one?

And then we also want to add a photo of Daniel (or Andrew and Daniel) …. but don’t know which one yet. Or where. We’ll see.

If/when Kevin and Daniel get married we’ll probably add wedding photos then too…. someday.

What do you think?


Little tiny bit more progress on making Schubert HQ a home …  We kind of got to a certain point in making the house livable and then …. “rested”

A couple weeks ago we unpacked all our Andrew&Amy framed photos, and Andrew hung them in on our front entryway wall.

All of these are just 4×6 photos that Andrew framed with big chunky frames from his days working in a frame store. Those are all scraps of frame from other, bigger orders. We previously had the collage in our bedroom in Arizona but had all these in storage since then.

Since all the photos are pre-2008, I’m planning on switching out a couple for more recent photos. We’ve already done it with a photo of Andrew and I from Kaitlin and Joe’s wedding.

If you check out the BEFORE house tour, this particular wall is right next to front door.


We started by laying out the frames on the floor to decide where we we wanted the frames.

And then of course the girls came to “help”

Andrew did the actual hanging …. and I did the supervising :)

He marked off (roughly) where we wanted the edges of collage – with painters tape. And then measured the width of the frames, calculated halfway for where the nail should go, and basically just went to town.


Once most of them were up we did a little tweaking and shifting (so there are extra holes in that wall behind some of the frames), but all in all Andrew did an AWESOME job!

Although, every time I look at it it looks like the outline of Australia to me.


Here’s a look at where it is in relation to the rest of the house.

When you walk in the front door these photos are on the wall to your immediate left.



I really love the eclectic mix of frames …. Not a single one of them match.

Of course, it will be hard to find frames to add to the collage, since they are super expensive scraps of frame.

But my plan is to just keep an eye out for thrift store and garage sale art that I can repurpose the frame from.


I also had this small A to hang (it’s about 4″ tall or so).

We’ve left it white for now …. but I may paint it a darker color so it doesn’t blend in with the wall so much.


And there remains a small bit of the wall to expand into if we find more frames to fill ….


And here’s another AFTER look:


I LOVE it!


At the end of July Andrew surprised me…. He had a bunch of days off work and on one of them he spontaneously decided to paint our bedroom!

We had already bought the paint, but just hadn’t gotten a chance to paint it yet ….

So I got home around 10:45p …. we watched a TV show…. walked upstairs to bed and as soon as I walked in the room I saw that the far wall was painted (the first coat)!

I *love* it….

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The next day (Saturday), he painted the second coat.

The more I look at this color the more I love it.

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It matches one of the stripes in the comforter that we have (and will put back on the bed once the weather cools down a little more).

It actually helps make the room darker (and stay cooler) during the day, since that wall is dark now (instead of white).

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I also love the way the wood headboard looks against the dark teal.

Next plan is to add some big artwork above the bed. Tentatively planning big canvas prints from our wedding and 5th anniversary photos ….

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LOVE it!


Surrounded by fauna

I mentioned in this post about landscaping our front yard that we need to rebuild the fence blocking off our back yard.

We have a half-wall coming out from the the back wall, acting as a retaining wall all along the side of our property. Eventually, I’d like to extend the retaining wall all the way to the street, tear down the brick half-wall and rebuild a full wooden fence that is normal 6′ height and stretches from the house to the neighbor’s wall.

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Many reasons for this …. among others, to keep unwanted creatures out of our back yard.

Oh, yea. That happens.

Remember when we had a big pile of poop in our backyard? Completely inexplicably?

I still visually check for poop every couple days. Just in case. Because lord knows that half wall isn’t going to keep anything out.

We also have bird poop on our mailbox and rabbit poop in our front yard. Anyone know what squirrel poop looks like? That seems to be the only one we’ve not yet been gifted.

On a related note:

We’re working on getting the girls all excited to see squirrels and rabbits and birds in our yard. They’ve started responding to “Girls!!!!! Look!!!!!” Kind of the way Hazel does, actually.

A few weeks ago, Andrew told me he had carried but the cats out front to show them the rabbit! I’m sure they loved it, but, as I told Andrew …. I don’t really want them learning that outside is fun.

We would really prefer for them to stay indoor cats. There are *probably* coyotes or similar in the undeveloped hills nearby, and if the cats just go on thinking outdoors is scary then they hopefully won’t try to get out.

The next day, Andrew told me on his way home from work late at night, driving up the hill to our house, he saw a coyote in our neighbor’s front yard! Just around the corner from us – only 30 yards or so from our house!!


It was probably on the way to poop in our back yard again.


The perils of the suburbs

So as you know …. we bought our house in THE SUBURBS. The “boonies of the boonies” as one of my friends described it.

This town is …. fairly white bread, vanilla, isolated in the grand scheme of Los-Angeles-area cities.

It’s safe, sure. And it’s affordable for us. But when every single 30-something woman owns a minivan with a kids’ soccer-league bumper sticker on the back you know what you’re in for, right?

So this house ….. is in a nice neighborhood. Nicer than we could afford, except this particular house was *apparently* a weed-growing facility, and then it was a rental, and then it was vacant for a year or so while the owner tried to short-sell it.

We bought it KNOWING it needed help (although, there were hidden issues that didn’t come up in the inspection, but that’s a different story altogether). We knew we’d have to redo the kitchen. We knew we’d have to replace all the flooring. We knew we’d have to landscape the front yard before 6 months passed.

We knew all that.

We also knew that our suburban town is very appearances-driven and a lot of the neighborhoods around here have ridiculously strict HOAs (we’re actually pretty lucky ours is low-key)….

But we were still surprised when, on May 23 – about 10 weeks after moving in to a house that had been vacant for a year, neglected and in need of some serious rehab – we got a letter from the city alleging we are a “public nuisance” for not having a landscaped front yard.

More or less.


First of all, that’s just rude. The value of this house can only go up, and us just living in it and making it decent has already helped out the home-value of the neighborhood and is not in any way a public nuisance.

What the letter from the city ACTUALLY said was we were being fined $50 for not having “permanently thriving and healthy vegetation” … hahahaha! Who even has that?

Reminder: This is what the front of our house looked like? Public nuisance, you think?

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So …. all that to say … on top of everything else we’ve had to deal with to make this place livable and help keep this neighborhood from falling into a downward spiral of foreclosed homes… we Andrew has to deal with this complaint against us with the city*

But, I guess that’s just one of the perils of living in the suburbs.

*Resolution: Andrew called and said there was no way we were paying the fine.
The guy assigned to our case was very understanding, but of course he needs to resolve this somehow.
Apparently the complaint originated from more than a year ago,
probably around when the previous owner just gave up on the house.

Since we did the landscaping we haven’t seen any other letters or threats-of-fining.

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Schubert HQ: front yard landscaping progress

We’ve made progress on Schubert HQ this summer!!

Granted, this project cost us money we would have rather not had to spend … but this project HAD to be done for our HOA deadline, and we simply didn’t have the time to do it ourselves.

The backyard, though. That still looks like crap and we’ll probably end up doing that ourselves.

Anyway … all that to say, our house no longer looks like it’s “haunted” as Andrew has been describing it….

Andrew has been doing little projects here and there …. weeding and clearing out leaves and attempting to keep some flowers alive.

And then in June he braved a BIG project of ridding our front yard of a couple tons or so of gravel.

Then we just had an UGLY front yard …. in need of some TLC.

Here’s a BEFORE shot … You can see all the gravel on the right side of the yard, and all the dirt+tiny grass patches on the left.

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One of Andrew’s co-workers recently bought a house and really likes his landscaper, so we called that guy to come out, take a look and give us a quote.

The guy (Jose) came out on a Tuesday morning with a couple members of his team (including his son Richard who couldn’t have been older than 15 and *clearly* spending his summer working for his dad). They took a look at the yard before knocking on the door, so I surreptitiously watched them through the curtains. All I could think is they were sizing up exactly how ugly this poor yard was and thinking about how much work it would be.

So, we hired them to thin out our front tree, fix/extend the sprinkler system (there were no sprinklers under the gravel, obviously), till the dirt and plant grass…. All very basic things that just needed to be done for the HOA deadline.

And we woke up that Friday morning (730a or so) to a yard-full of branches already cut from the tree.

They started EARLY!

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Friday was spent thinning the tree, tilling the soil and making the sprinkler system workable …

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I honestly loved the scent of that freshly tilled soil ….You can just tell that this dirt was ready to be planted (unlike the sad, dead-feeling dirt yard we had before).

Monday morning they came back to finish the job – laying down the sod and testing the sprinklers….

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So interesting to watch them fit the pieces together.

You can kind of see in this shot below that we’ve left the gravel along the side of the house for now. Eventually that will also be out of there and replaced with a walkway and a small garden, I think….

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(Here’s another look at BEFORE)

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It looks GOOD in real life! And now I think our neighbors probably like us that much more ….

Although, clearly, we still have a LONG WAY to go ….

List of want-to-dos include:

  • extending the side wall all the way to the sidewalk (as a low retaining wall)
  • rebuild a fence blocking in the back yard (right now it’s just a half-wall)
  • build a brick walkway along the side of the house and turning the corner to the front of the house
  • plant in the resulting triangle of space between the brick walkway and retaining wall (I’m thinking maybe an herb garden)
  • replace the front columns with brick (or wrap existing with brick)
  • build a small planter between the columns to divide the space between the brick “porch” and the lawn
  • paint the exterior of the house (gray and white with a red door) and reroof
  • add lighting to either side of the garage

I think that’s all I can think of for now.

The grass was installed mid-July and Andrew has mowed it twice. …. all I want to do is go lay in it and read a book…. Maybe once the weather cools down a bit?

When are you going to come visit and see our pretty new lawn in real life?


New thermostat

On the Schubert To-Do list …. low-priority-but-really-should-be-done-before-summer …. Replace our thermostat

Our inspector had to jumpstart the old thermostat some way in order to test the AC for us. So we moved in in March and knew that AC worked but had no real way to turn it on.

Luckily it was March, and a bit rainy and chilly, so we had no need for it right away.

SO! I tried to do it myself! Because, I’m handy, right? How hard can it be? Instructions included and all?

Um, yea. Nothing is easy with this house.

Here’s a little ‘before’ shot:

The thermostat lives in the little hallway between the living areas and the garage …

I was able to take it off the wall by myself, marking the wires so I’d know where they go…

And then I got stuck.

Because there was this BIG ol’ hole behind the old thermostat.

You can see from this photo that the previous thermostat mounted in the corners – but none of the new thermostats they sold at Lowe’s mount there. They all mounted at about the third-of-the-way through marks in the center of the back.

If that makes sense.

Which basically means that the holes in the thermostat to mount it lined up perfectly with the huge hole in the wall.

So basically we had to figure out a way to recreate part of the wall that was missing.

And since Andrew is a lot more handy-man-minded than I am, I just waited for him to help me with that.

He decided to first mount a small piece of wood, and then we mounted the thermostat on that.

It’s ridiculously complicated for such a small little change – but what can you do?

It’s not 100% sturdy, but it’s sturdy enough. At least until it has to be changed again.

And a couple ‘after’ shots:

Easy, simple uncomplicated thermostat

So, now if you come visit the house in the summer you won’t roast. Don’t worry.

One more project crossed off the list!

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