401 Update: Floors

So I've finally pulled myself together enough to sit down to write about the floor situation in Salida. A few disclaimers before I get started:

1- Under no circumstances is it ever okay to put carpet down in a kitchen.
2- Under no circumstances is it ever okay to put carpet down in a bathroom.
3- Under no circumstances is it ever okay to put carpet down over other existing carpet in any room.
4- Under no circumstances is it ever okay to put wallpaper on a floor.

So those are the morals of this story. I thought it would be best to get those out in the open before I lead you down this terrifying path just so you can know that there is a purpose to this, there is a meaning to life, there is hope in the darkness, there is a reason for living. Do not fear what is to come. Though you may walk through the valley of the shadow of...blah blah blah. Okay enough pep talks. Let's get to it.

A few weeks back we committed to pulling up all the carpet in the house because, well, it's gross. After pulling up the living room, kitchen, front bedroom, and stairs, we decided that we needed to stop pulling before we pulled ourselves right into hell. Let me give you a quick run down of what we found in those rooms.

Living room: original douglas fir wood floor in bad/slightly bearable/reasonable condition. Livable, yes. "Weathered", but not in a cool blogger kind of way, more like just a gross sort of way.

Dining room: a strange type of tile that is made of asphalt and therefore melts like tar under any heat and therefore the current condition of them is somewhere between a swirly mess of 70's tile pattern (detail pic below) and deteriorating black muddy tar. There are some spots where the tile has deteriorated enough to show that in fact there was at one time hope in the world, and more importantly, unadulterated wood floor (you can see a few of those spots in the next image).

Front bedroom: floral wallpaper that had been glued to the original doug fir floors and then covered with wood-grain contact paper. I mean. There's just nothing else to say.

Stairs: under two layers of carpet runner and what can only be descrbied as some sort of carpet padding that was made of either a mixture of horse and dog and squirrel hair, or perhaps a "felt" of every type of human hair that exists on this planet (detail image below), the treads are not in completely unbearable condition.

Kitchen: there was a layer of carpet that was glued to a layer of mdf that was laid on top of a layer of sawdust that was used to level out the uneven wood floors that was then lined with a layer of local newspapers from 1929. Did you get all that? So under that are original wood floors but goodness they are completely shot to hell.

So after all of that, we told ourselves we needed to take a break and rethink our purpose in life. With much sadness and feelings of defeat and humiliation, we decided to leave the carpet in the back bedroom and landing on the stairs because we just couldn't take anymore. Upstairs, we took the carpet out of the bedrooms to unearth original wood floors that were in various states of "painted with brown lead paint" and "streaks of mildly-sanded brown lead paint". Fine, whatever, we'll just paint them. Then we started ripping up the upstairs bathroom. Because we are insane.

After two layers of carpet, there was a layer of some sort of foam moisture-wicking material that is laid on top of, well, we have no idea because we are still trying to chip away at that black foam goodness. After years of absorbing whatever it is that is to be absorbed on a bathroom floor, you can't just pull it up off the ground. It is just flaking apart and disintegrating into small particles of death when you touch it. So the only way to get it up is by attacking it with a paint scraper. At this point, we have just kind of shut the door and tried not to look at it very much.

So where do we go from here? An insane asylum, perhaps, but then to a place of hope! Believe it or not, we can see the light! We decided to have someone refinish the original doug fir floors in the living room, dining room, and bedroom. We have to pay a little extra money to have them remove whatever that terrifying asphalt crap is in the dining room but it will be worth it. So original wood floors! Thank the lord.

In the kitchen, we are trying to figure out a way to even out that floor as best we can and then lay simple black and white checkerboard ceramic tile. Classic and easy. We may have to upgrade to porcelain if we can't figure out a great way to even out those original wood floors but we're holding out hope.

We are going to paint the stairs--probably black treads with a white banister and white risers (or maybe something super fun like ombre risers!)--and call it a day.

Upstairs, we painted the bedroom floors white and they look amazing. Exactly what was needed for those tiny dark spaces! And once we paint all that wood paneling it will be downright dreamy. Okay probably not but we've got to stay positive.

We have no clue what we're going to do in the upstairs bathroom. Probably just keep the door closed. Forever.

So that's what we've got. Next update is gonna be walls. Slightly less terrifying, but still wildly entertaining, so stay tuned.


If you're just joining us on this little journey, you can catch up here:  


401 Update: Ceilings & Radon

So it's high time for an update on our housing adventures in Salida. I'm going to break up the posts into different topics because if I put it all down here in one post, you might possibly get sucked into your screen like that episode of Doctor Who. So for today, we're talking ceilings. Here's a little review:  we closed on the house at the very beginning of April so we went down the first weekend and got right to work. The first order of business was tearing down the drop ceiling in the living room, dining room, and front bedroom. We decided to leave the drop ceiling for now in the kitchen and second bedroom because of the plumbing so we’ll just have to live with that for a little while. Luckily, the drop ceiling came down really fast and it was super simple. All the tiles just pop out of the metal frame individually and then the frame is just a lot of smaller metal pieces that are kind of just resting on each other and hung from the ceiling by metal wire. Once the ceiling came down it made an immediate impact. It was miraculous. Without the drop ceiling we gain almost two feet of ceiling space which is amazing. We still have to remove all the little hooks from the ceiling and the metal frame that is attached to the walls but that is all child's play compared to the other stuff.

So now the plan goes a little haywire. We were jumping at the idea that we would find an HVAC or ductwork specialist to come in and help us find a product that would allow us to move all the ductwork into the floor joists of the original ceiling. Then we would bring in a drywaller to replace the original ceiling which would now be containing all the ductwork and electrical. However, this plan went south after a series of unfortunate events. First, our drywall guy had a heart attack and had to be care-flighted to Denver. Needless to say, that puts him out of commission. Second, I lost the piece of scrap trash paper I was taking notes on that had the HVAC guy’s name and number on it so now I can't remember who I talked to or his number. Finally, we had a conversation with our radon mitigator & electrician who basically told us that plan sounded like a huge pain in the ass and we should rethink our options.

So now we are kind of floating back to our original plan to build a new ceiling right below the ductwork as it stands. Sure we won't get to keep all 11 or 12 feet of original ceiling, but we’ll still have gained about a foot and a half in height so it's really not a loss. Our radon guy told us about a ceiling he had built in another house in town and he took us over to see it and we kind of fell in love. It is a ceiling made of pvc ceiling tiles that have a pattern to make them look like old tin ceiling tiles. Shockingly beautiful and not corny. And the other plus is that the ceiling tiles are really light so we wouldn't have to build a big huge frame like we would for a new drywall ceiling, which would help us to keep as much height as we possibly can. Here are some pictures of that ceiling we're using for reference:

So two ceiling ideas currently that we are tossing over. Oh and I almost forgot to tell you about the radon mitigation! Super exciting stuff. Long story short our house tested super high for radon which is supposedly a huge cause of lung cancer so not something we want floating around our house. However, it's still sort of an issue like climate change where you see the science and it's super simple to see that it's a real problem but you still have your crazy naysayers walking around saying shit like, “I don’t really believe in radon.” Needless to say, we’re in the first camp so we wanted to knock that out immediately. Luckily we found the best guy ever to tackle our radon issue and he did an amazing job. When we bought the house it was testing at 13 for radon (the epa has set a normal range limit at 4) and now just a couple weeks later it is testing in between 1 and 2. Thank you for saving our lives, mr. radon mitigator. He had to completely wrap our crawl space up with plastic and then build a fan to blow out all the radon and install it on the outside of our house. The fan just continually blows for a year and then we test again to make sure the wrapping job he did on the crawl space is still containing the radon.  And just because he's the raddest dude ever, he also shored up the stairs leading down to our crawl space and reinforced some of our foundation while he was down there you know, just because. He is our hero. (Here's a picture of the crawl space and all the beautiful plastic wrapping that is covering the surface and containing all the poisonous radon and preventing us all from dying a slow and painful death; and in the next picture you can see the fan that has been installed in the right corner of the house.)

Okay that's enough for this update. Next I'll tell you about the floors. What a shit show.



Round Up!

Okay my dear internet cosmos, I'm gonna pick up the beat here a little. After the last couple weeks of what can only be described as "trudging", it's time to move on. Here are a few things that have gotten me excited lately:

6 Tools to Help Predict How Long You'll Live. According to the "sit test", I'm not gonna make it to 50. Fantastic.

Mother Nature Network

An Upbeat Emotion That's Surprisingly Good For You. This makes my overly-emotional, completely irrational, over-analytical, snowball-inducing-avalanche-of-love-and-wonder-and-joy heart just go nuts! Things like this make me feel so much more sure about the goodness of life. (Found via Refinery29)

New York Times

These are just too good.

Hello Giggles

"...then something that feels like it's in the diarrhea family, then ones I'll call the hammer and sickle, then the mortar and pestle, and the ones with teeth." Completely hilarious, and totally beautiful.

NY Mag

And if you are able and interested, please consider supporting the 2nd Annual Nationwide Miracle Milk Stroll that will be taking place around the US & Canada on May 2.  Their purpose is "to raise funds, educate, and raise appreciation for the life-saving power of human milk".  Find a location near you and get to strolling!

Best for Babes

Ahh now don't you feel better? Hope you all have a wondrous Easter weekend.



On Weaning

I've gone back and forth about whether I would write about this. It's been such a whirlwind of emotions--what was my greatest hurdle, and yet my greatest triumph, has come to an end.

Many won't understand the emotions associated with weaning after a long run of nursing a baby. In our case, 19 months. But tonight, I'm writing for the many who do understand. Who have fought and gave and struggled and persevered and raged to be able to nurse their child, for however long they were able, and then one day, had to say goodbye. 

And I'm sure there are many nursing mamas who still won't understand these feelings, because we are all completely different. Our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our pain, our victories--they are all uniquely ours. 

The past several days have been hard. NC decided that she was content not nursing for a few days in a row and on the third night when I went to put her to sleep and she didn't do so much as bat an eye in interest to nurse, as we have every night for her entire life thus far, I knew it was over. A couple days later, she decided that she had changed her mind, at least in the moment, and my heart broke all over again. The thought of scooping her up and staring into her eyes, her heart against mine, and my entire self comforting her again, completely slayed me. I couldn't bear the thought of again in a day or two, maybe a week, maybe a month, that she'd decide she was done again. So I said no. To spare me the pain that I'd already begun to grieve, already mourned the loss of, already began to say goodbye to.

Tonight I received a message from a friend that offered exactly the comfort I needed in this moment. She told me how she wrote a letter to her daughter explaining their nursing journey and that really helped give her some closure (and a good cry).  A love letter of sorts, explaining the breaking heart of a mama who is watching time go by with no way to stop it.

So I figured this could be my version of an ode to my daughter, and the life-changing opportunity she gave me when she let me feed her and hold her and comfort her and grow her with my own body. It is a part of me I will always treasure and look back on with deep gratitude and with a reverence for all that is mysterious and good and beautiful in life. 

Here's to the mamas and the babies who have held each other in endless embrace and who have given each other the strength and quiet solitude that the other did not even know she was missing.

**written at 9:45 pm on 3/25/15, laying in the dark on the floor by my daughter's crib, holding her hand as she falls asleep.


New Year, New Adventures

Well, hello there!  Yes, it's been forever.  Yes, it's been crazy busy.  But seriously how overused is that excuse?  So let's just acknowledge the truth of the matter.  I'm back, and ready to party.

So, the beginning of 2015 has been quite exciting thus far!  Most of you, my few and most treasured readers, are friends and family so you are somewhat privy to the goings-on in my life recently, but for those of you who aren't, or for those of you who'd like to follow along in more detail, I've decided to devote a large chunk of this space to explore the ins and outs of what moving to a mountain town, starting new jobs, a new life, in a new (super old) fixer upper is like!

So, let's jump right in, shall we?

At the end of 2014, we found out that we would be moving to Salida, CO, a quaint mountain town just southwest of Denver, nestled in between the breathtaking Collegiate Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo mountains, on the banks of the Arkansas River.  The picture above is on the road into town.  Once we had that little piece of knowledge locked down, we embarked on what would be the next step on this crazy relocation path called house hunting/selling.

We will not be moving until June, but since Salida is the size of my thumbnail, we were advised to start looking early.  The housing market there is understandably tiny and our price range is evidently one of the fastest moving so the idea was that if we found a house there that we loved, we would see about the possibility of selling our house here and renting it back from the buyers until we officially move to Salida.  If your head is starting to spin already, probably shouldn't continue reading.

Anyway, step 1: house hunt in Salida.  For the sake of time and the inevitability that the universe will probably end at some point in time and I would hate to risk the thought that it could end while you are drowning in an expansive eulogy on the ins and outs of searching and scouring and analyzing and picking apart real estate, I'll just jump to the part where we found "THE HOUSE" and have been in the process of negotiating purchasing price and inspection details with the current owners for a while now.  Our closing date in Salida is April 2 so this will go on for a while and the details are not fun.  But you know what is fun?  Dreaming about all the things we will do to redo the house once we move in!  That's it below in all it's cute green gabled arched snowy glory.  We love it so much.

As much as I want to just jump into that and skip step 2, I feel like it should be included because one day I'll look back on this and want to have some sort of record of this madness.  Maybe.  Anyway, step 2: sell our house here.  Again, for the sake of time and the universe's fragility, our house went on the market last Thursday and 4 days later, we sifted through 6 offers.  Yes, count 'em.  SIX.  I'll just say this:  if you live in the Denver area, SELL YOUR HOUSE.  Now's the time.  People want your house.  It is crazy.  So as of a week ago we are officially under contract on this home.  The buyer wants to close at the beginning of March, and will rent back to us until the end of June when we relocate to Salida, thus preventing us from having two mortgages, and therefore our downfall into the depths of endless swaths of debt and torture and hell and gloom.

So, fun part!  Let's chat about the house in Salida.  This home was built in 1899 and sits on a corner lot downtown.  According to our inspector (translation: this could be totally true/false), this home and the homes in our neighborhood were built by Italian immigrants that for some reason came and settled in Salida a million years ago and built all these homes with victorian-meets-mediterranian architecture and pizza ovens in the backyard.  Because, you know, Italians.  Anyway, the home had one owner for 40 years so this is the first time it's been on the market since the dark ages.  The house is in pristine 1950's condition meaning there are lots of modern finishes to boast, such as carpet in the bathrooms and kitchen, brown painted original wood moldings and trim, lovely floral wallpaper, and a dropped ceiling with fluorescent lights.  To name a few.  Wanna see?  (Please disregard the awful pictures.  These were from inspection day so we were a little preoccupied.  With terror.)

That beautiful green carpeted staircase leads to the wood panel sanctuary of the upstairs that also houses the legendary wood paneled and wallpapered bathroom seen directly below.  Under that brown paint and unfortunate green wig, there is an original 1899 staircase ready to shine.  We have so many plans for this house to bring it back to it's former glory, but most of those are on the "eventually" timeline.  In the immediate, we'll replace all this horrible brown paint with bright white and install a new neutral runner.  Nothing a little paint can't fix.

This upstairs bathroom is definitely on the "eventually" timeline because we have a perfectly fine bathroom downstairs that will get us through until we can gut the hell out of this space.  All the wood in the bathroom is real wood paneling which is odd because that's the only place they put it.  All the other wood paneling in the house is the real deal 70's fake plastic stuff.  And yes don't you worry, the real wood paneling extends into the bathtub and shower as well!  Yeah, that's got yuck written all over it.  So like I said, everything will be gutted eventually.  Shockingly enough, the toilet and vanity area are spick and span and completely useable so in the meantime, everything will again get a coat of fresh paint, the carpet will get ripped up and floors refinished or replaced, and we'll throw a shower curtain over that bathtub with a sign instructing visitors to not look or be doomed to hell for all eternity.

See that weird tchotchke built in nook in the dining room?  Yeah, that used to be huge beautiful window that someone ripped out and covered up because they preferred to look at weird glass shelves and little trinkets than outside onto the beautiful porch and out into the great blue yonder.  Eventually, we'll replace that window.  Underneath all the carpet in the house is original wood floor so all the carpet is being ripped up immediately.  Of course, paint paint paint bright bright white paint.  And see those glorious ceiling tiles?  Yeah, those are getting ripped out first thing too.  They cover the whole first floor of the house so we'll be ripping those babies out first thing and putting new real non-gross ceilings up.  I'll explain more later about why we can't just go back to the original ceilings but until then, just trust me.

Above is one of two adorable little bedrooms upstairs.  They are covered in carpet and fake wood paneling.  In their immediate future, these little jewel box bedrooms will get covered in paint and that carpet will be exterminated.  

These are the big beautiful windows in the dining room.  There are three almost identical windows in the living room as well.  The windows are all original but in pristine condition so immediately they are fine.  In the future, they'll need to be updated.  But for now, rip out all the weird curtain crap and show off the beautiful original moldings. 

Ahhh, weird layout kitchen.  Carpet--gone.  Ceiling tiles--gone.  Amazing 3-burner stove--gone.  Mismatched cabinets--gone.  This space will get a facelift with paint, new countertops, hardware, and sink, and we'll probably knock out a few random cabinets that were thrown on the walls and build some open shelving.  Eventually, a total redo, but immediately, some stop gap measures to make it usable and wonderful.  

The backyard is magical.  That is a huge apple tree and a wood-burning pizza oven!!!  Remember like I said above, from the Italians??  There's also a nice garden space that's already sectioned off and a ramshackle garage that has great space with an automatic garage door opener but is built with sticks and twigs so we'll see how long it last before it falls to the ground.  

This is the view from the front living room looking through the amazing original pocket door and into the dining room and through into the kitchen.  That pocket door is my favorite part of the whole house.  Is that weird? Original hardware (but yet we need to find a replacement key because that weird clothespin is just not cutting it) and all.  The bottom pic is into the front living room, the only place where the trim is original wood.  We're debating what to do about all this wood trim in the front since we'll be painting the trim in the rest of the house.  Eventually, we'd love to strip and refinish all the wood but that's not in our immediate future.  So in the meantime the question remains:  paint the woodwork in the rest of house to look cohesive and clean and bright, and leave the front room wood?  Or paint it all to keep it cohesive?  The wood in the front is by no means even close to perfect condition so I'm leaving to paint it to match the rest of the house and then when the time comes we'll tackle all the woodwork at once.  Anyone have any reason why we shouldn't go down that path?  

So, there you have it!  The next 78 years of our lives and the rest of our paychecks for forever!  All going into this little home on a little corner in a cute little town.  We are so excited.  Please please PLESAE come back and follow along as I will need all the help I can get!  We need advice!  Suggestions!  Second guesses!  Extra hands!  No seriously, if you wanna come help us work on this baby, you have a whole wood paneled carpeted upstairs floor waiting for you as your personal suite during your stay.



want | need | wear | read : ME

want:  I've been in the market for some new ink for a while now and I'm hoping I can "scratch the itch" soon.  If I promise to get a big portrait of you, Santa, would you pretty please foot the bill?  (LAST MINUTE TIP:  make a cute homemade gift card and include some moolah for someone in your life who is wanting a new tat of her own.  This is a super easy last minute gift!) 

need:  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  my eyes suck and I need to get more serious about seeing things clearly.  One of the main reasons I don't wear my glasses as often as I should is because I hate having to switch between prescription glasses and non-prescription sunnies.  For anyone who wears glasses, you know how weird it feels to go from "good vision" to "bad vision" in a swoop of an eyeglass frame.  I'm hoping this might be the Christmas that I can finally say, "Why yes, I can read that speed limit sign, officer!"  (LAST MINUTE TIP:  hack into your friend's computer and figure out when they have an opening on their schedule coming up and make them an appointment with an eye doctor.  Then after they get their new prescription, foot the bill for the new prescription sunglasses.  This is an easy-peasy 2-in-1, folks!) 

wear:  As a woman who is still nursing and still a long way off from feeling like putting on a super slim fitting sweater, this winter I'm all about my clothes fitting looser than…well…you can insert your own ending here.  This swingy sweatshirt is comfy enough for lounging around the house, easy enough for NC to access the goods, yet put together enough to wear out with jeans and boots.  (LAST MINUTE TIP:  brave the crowds and scoop up something pretty for your girl!  It's almost impossible to go wrong at H&M--find a store near you here!.)

read:  Everyone's raving, and I want to join in the fun.  As if 'Girls' wasn't reason enough, watching her hilarious short video series, 'Ask Lena', just sealed the deal.  (LAST MINUTE TIP:  buy the Kindle edition for her to read on one of her many techy devices!) 

This marks the end of our 2014 gift giving guide!  We hope you have an amazing holiday season filled with love, laughter, food, family, friends, and mistletoe.  See you in 2015.



want | need | wear | read : BABY

Today's WNWR-er is another sweet friend from college, Anna, who makes some of the most precious baby gear for her Etsy shop, Moshi Moshi. (Yeah, I dug into the Rhodes College alumni files for this series.  They should pay me for making it look like everyone who goes to Rhodes is as cool as we are.  That's right.  Humility.)  In addition to making other babies look adorable, she does a pretty good job of keeping her own little baby Lucy looking enviably precious too.  That's why her list of gifts for baby are so spot on.  So without further ado, I'll let her her take it away! 

want:  Lucy already has several things that she loves to ride on, but none are quite big or sturdy enough for future trips to the park.  We live up a steep drive (just steep, not fancy) so the park will be where we learn to bike ride.  I will be keeping an eye out for one of these bad boys at yard sales and consignment stores.  I read somewhere that kiddies outgrow these kind of quickly so a cheaper option is the way to go for me!
need:  We are taking a trip to Japan this winter to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday!  What?!  And her birthday is also New Year’s in Japan!  One of the country’s biggest celebrations.  Double what?!  Japan is a country of people that love and aren't afraid of walking and even though it will be chilly chilly cold, we will probably do a good bit of it.  So Lucy is going to need some good warm boots.  I’ll readily admit that there are probably cuter, more Instagram-worthy boots out there, but I trust Stride Rite and their shoes have been good to Lucy’s feet so far. Practical choices here we come.

wear:  Lucy started snoozing in the infant version of this sleep sack at about six months after another mom recommended it to me.  This particular brand has a hefty price for basically a wearable blanket, but it goes from age 0-2 so it lasts a good while.  Lucy has just about grown too long for hers at 18 months but she’s a tall one.  That’s why this toddler size one (ages 2-4) is on our wear list! The arm holes have a snap to adjust for smaller babes, there is a place to put the car seat buckle (the crotch one..what is that actually called?) so that you can transfer peacefully sleeping kiddos from crib to car and vice versa (Yeah right, snort snort. Oh, your kid can do that? Not mine.)  It’s all season, all weather, and all around awesome.  It is a critical part of our nap and bedtime routine…Lucy sees the sleep sack coming and knows I’m not playing around. It’s time to sleep, baby.

read:  My dad read these books to me when I was younger and I loved them.  Loved reading them to myself even as I got older.  Loved them in college and still love them.  Love the movies as they come out too (but I have a problem with people who love the movies but haven’t read the books –give the books a chance!).  I had a box set growing up (I use the past tense because I might have misplaced one of them freshman year while trying to show how cultured and “CS Lewis in the know” I was –sorry, Dad.) and I would love for Lucy to have her own.  She doesn’t have the attention span to get past a page full of words being read to her, but like most things in babydom I’m learning, change happens quickly.  So I want to be armed and ready with these books for when her book-attention-span develops into something longer than my rap version of 'Itsy Bitsy Spider'.  

Thanks so much, Anna!  Can I just also note that I would pay to have a recorded version of your rap version of 'Itsy Bitsy Spider'?!?  It's pretty much NC's favorite song and I think she would become your biggest fan pretty quickly.

I've got one more WNWR list for you on Monday, compiled by yours truly.  If you have any last minute gifts you still need to get for someone special in your life, all of my picks are procrastinator-friendly.