How to Clean a Paint Brush

This past weekend was jam packed with lots of stuff going on: big (overdue) house cleaning, finishing up of a drainage project (more on that tomorrow), work at the Raiders, handyman jobs, catching up on day job work and lots more. So when I was trying to motivate myself this morning to write about the drainage project Chris worked on I was too tired to type about it (lazy ass) and I realized I never published this post from ages ago when Chris gives instructions on how to properly clean a paintbrush.

Chris painted houses in college and is pretty meticulous about making sure his brushes are always cleaned properly to ensure lasting use. We always buy Purdy brushes which are a tad more expensive, but also made a lot better (they are made by hand with a sticker on it of the person who made it, pretty awesome.) Because of the quality of the brushes we always make sure to clean them really well.

Without further ado...


Renovation vs. Babies

Renovating a house is sort of like having a baby. Just in the same way I've always thought having a cat prepares you for a dog and having a dog prepares you for a kid. Naturally Chris and I just skipped those steps all together and went straight for the kid :) But there are some strange similarities between working on a house and working on raising a baby...

1. You become that person.

And it's only gotten worse. With the house I would just want to talk about it all the time. "What? You want to know what project we're working on? Oh, let me tell you all about it, including all the materials which you probably don't care about at all about but I'm going to tell you all about anyway." Now, with a baby I'll tell you all about her AND (do the dreaded) whip out my phone and show you pictures. I know, I'm so obnoxious. I make myself feel better because I preface it with, "I know I'm really annoying, but want to see pictures?" As if they could ever say no, right? ;)

2. It's always way harder than you thought it was going to be.

We completely (well, me at least) had rose colored glasses when it came to starting the whole renovating process. Chris was really handy and had built things in the past and I grew up helping my dad with projects around the house. How much harder could renovating be? Uh, 47 times harder. Whoever knew it would involve throwing tools? The same thing happened with having a baby. I like to think Chris and I are fairly intelligent people, but who knew a nearly 4 month old could outsmart you? Little stinker. I think having a baby is about 68 times harder than you thought it would be

Zoe's first Raiders tailgate
3. Oh yeah, and they cost a million times more too

What's that statistic? It costs 29 million dollars to raise a kid? No, of course not that much, but it does cost a lot. You think, "Oh, she doesn't need all those toys, what a waste of money, [x] amount will be plenty." And then pretty soon you have 17 million toys and you've spent 17 million dollars. Chris and I are so far pretty good about keeping the costs under control and really only buying things we feel are necessary. But already, phew Zoe, you're expensive. In the same way every renovation project ends up costing about 3 times more than you thought. Even when you know it will and try to accommodate that, why is it always more expensive? Have you ever done a project that was less expensive than you thought? No, it's impossible. 

4. You're a masochist because you'd do it again.

We're totally not there yet with even the possibility of baby #2, but it's amazing because when you're pregnant with baby #1 people ask you when you're going to have baby #2. "Ummm, there is still a shrimp in my stomach, it's not even a human yet, please leave me alone," should have been my response. But most people do it again. We all must forget about the crazy times (like wonderful Zoe waking up about every 90 minutes last night). Chris and I aren't done with baby house #1 yet and we've always been excited about the prospects of baby house #2. What is it with babies and houses? Forget the ridiculous crying and asbestos floor tile, let's put ourselves through hell again and love it!

Sorry for the fuzziness, this is mid-roll over. Tummy to back rolling, hooray!
5. It takes a while to figure out whose role is what.

Just like I talked about last week, it takes a while to figure out what your role is in both cases - who takes the lead when framing and who takes the lead with fussiness? Chris and I are both people who like to take charge, and while Chris is quiet about it and I'm loud about it, it definitely took some time (ie, a year or two) to figure out who was the boss on certain tasks when it came to renovating. Now I think we've got a really good system down that results in a lot less fights :) It's the same adventure with raising Zoe. For example: I'm a lot better with her fussiness in the morning because I'm an early riser so I just pop right up with her, and Chris is much better at tackling the fussies in the evening because he's a night person. Each new challenge along the way teaches us a lot.

6. You're embarrassed by all the of the shit it accumulates.

And you PROMISE yourself that you will not accumulate said shit, but you do. There has been drywall propped up against the wall/large window in the front room for about a year. With all the accompanying drywall dust. Sure, it's embarrassing and I should probably sweep it up, but Zoe can't crawl yet so I could really give a shit. And that activity mat of hers? It's permanently planted in front of the coffee table. Of course it is really annoying to walk around whenever we're in the room ever, but if we move it about 6 inches to the left it makes things a little easier. Move it out of the way all together? Yeah, right.

"Don't look at me"
7. It's easy to let it take over your life

This one is so important for me to NOT let it happen. A lot of times Chris and I have gotten so busy and focused with the work of renovating our house over the last 4 1/2 years that we miss out on events with family and friends or we never take time for ourselves to just hang out. A year or two ago we really buckled down to give ourselves some more time outside of renovating so that we didn't go insane. And the same completely goes for raising a baby. Zoe is amazingly wonderful, special and just about the best thing ever, but it's also really important to remember that we were our own people before we had her. We have to feed ourselves in order to feed Zoe. It will make for happier parents and a happier baby.

What about you? How is renovating your house like raising your kids?


We Were in Desperate Need of Weeding

Since Zoe has been born we've done jack shit in the front yard. It's wonderful that our request of the landscaping being low maintenance has worked out because instead of the yard looking like complete shit, it was just looking over grown

Is 3 1/2 months too young to have Zoe help weed?

Our dwarf maple was sprouting everywhere

Our coral bark maple was growing very happily

The shasta daisies were begging for someone to trim all their dead flowers

The purple cone flower? Similarly desperate

But you want to know why we're lucky? Chris' mom came over last weekend and lended her landscaping hand to help get the yard under control. As always, Zoe supervised

After a couple hours of her time the yard looked SO MUCH BETTER

The weeds are under control and things are trimmed properly. Example?



You can actually see the plants now, which is awesome.

The dwarf maple looks like a tree again instead of the weird, springy bush it was starting to look like

I love that the old leaves are bright red, and the new growth ones are green. So pretty.

Things are definitely look a lot more tame (and acceptable)

There are still a couple plants that need to be replaced because they died :( Hello arbor vitae

There's only about 3 things that need to be replaced, which is pretty great considering we planted over 60 plants a year ago. I think that's pretty good. Wanna know what's even better? It's great that with the drip and all the low maintenance plants we put in that we can completely neglect our yard for nearly 4 months in mid-summer and have it only take an afternoon to clean things up

Hooray for good planning! I.e., lazy gardeners :)


To Headboard or Not to Headboard. That is the Question

Now that the bed building is underway, it's time to discuss important things: like a headboard. (clearly this is not important at all because I would rather have the mattress not on the floor, but this is a more fun touch). I've always been a pro headboard person, but now I'm actually a bit more on the fence about it. Why? Well, for one thing our current bedroom isn't huge and I'm afraid that with our king platform bed frame reaching about 24" tall that also having a headboard on the wall might really cramp everything

Still, I like headboards and a bed without a headboard just looks unfinished to me. But I just really don't want it to be huge. Naturally, I went to Pinterest. I didn't want anything crazy, I was just deciding between a fabric headboard or a wood one.

Here are the fabric ones I really liked

I love the low profile of these two (and the geometric fabric used)

Fabric Headboard Arrow by TheIndianJetty on Etsy
found here
Fabric headboard
found here
I love the regal-ness of this one
fabric headboard with the frame again
found here
I love the modge podge quality of this one

fabric headboard
found here
Then there were the wood ones I liked.

Now, I would never do the entire wall, but I love the mosaic of this "headboard" and it reminds me of an idea I had for a public arts project several years ago

21 #Wood #headboard design ideas
found here
My original idea was to do a headboard and matching footboard in a parquet pattern and this reminded me of it

Wood headboard
found here
I found the idea of an inlay very intriguing

DIY wood headboard
found here
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. It seems like a cool idea, but I'm afraid I might smack my head on those shelves every time I wake up in the morning

Shelves on wood headboard
found here
I'm not normally a fan of the more weathered look, but I liked the idea of a pattern in the wood that's a different color

wood headboard
found here
Clearly I have really no idea what I want to do - as evidenced by the 9 images I find inspirational that all have nothing to do with each other. Though I do think I'm leaning slightly towards an upholstered one. I think it will be a nice contrast with the wood frame and I've always just liked the idea of a snuggly headboard.

What about you? Wanna give me some advice? Clearly I need it.


Budget Breakdown: the Hallway

Now that the hallway is done, it's time to talk about how much it cost. As always, I round everything to the nearest $5 because I'm lazy. So when things cost $7.80, I just round it to $10. Got it? Ok, here we go :)

The hallway has been our cheapest transformation out of all the rooms on our house. That's not really a surprise because there's not really much to it.

First up, the paint

It didn't really cost much, just $25. We only need one gallon for the walls and all the trim and ceiling paint was paint we already had on hand. Simple.

The closet was the biggest expense. The standards system comes in at a pretty penny

They were $280. I know. Ouch. But they also went in in about 2 hours. And that includes all the brackets, shelves, rods, drawers, etc. So you know, there are pluses and minuses. The rest of the items for the closet were the bins we got to shove things in for $55, the closet rod for $25, the rings for $25 and the curtain fabric for $45.

Our corner cabinet didn't cost much

The cabinet cost $60 and the knob on the bottom was $5. 

Our lights were $75

There are two lights in the hallway and we switched them out while working on this project so we've actually paid for 4 lights. All things considering $75 for 4 lights really isn't bad at all.

We also "spruced" up the doors

That came in at only $10. We also installed glass knobs on the doors leading to the bedroom and Chris' office, but I counted those on the tabs for those rooms. 

Then there's our artwork

That wasn't cheap. Well, one of them wasn't. Our baseball roadtrip map came in at $265 (OUCH), but we had it professionally framed because we were lazy. All the frames for our other travels were $40 (I got 8 on super clearance) and the printing of all the pictures was only $5 (can't go wrong with that). Our tile frame cost us only $5 for the glass of the shadowbox, but everything else we already had on hand, and the same goes for our floor plan frame too. 

As always I have an amount I add for miscellaneous items I forget (outlet covers, the small amount of trim we replaced in front of the cabinet, joint compound to skim coat the ceiling, etc.). Usually it's $300, but this area is small so I only made it $100 this time.

What the total?

Paint: $25
Closet: $430
Corner Cabinet: $65
Lights: $75
Doors: $10
Artwork: $315
Misc.: $100
Grand total: $1,020

I don't really think that's too bad all things considering. The price would have dropped by $200+ if we had framed the baseball map ourselves (which would be nearly 20% less for the whole space). But we'll also get to take that with us when we move

Not too bad for roughly $1k and 2 months of our time. It might in fact be the quickest room redo we've ever done. It's also about 1/4 the size, but that takes away from me feeling good about myself... :)


Being a Couple being Parents

For some reason I thought that after we had a baby, it would just not even be a transition, but that everything about how our relationship worked before baby would just be exactly the same after baby. That's just silly

Going into being pregnant Chris and I had a really solid relationship. Both of us come from divorced parents and so we talked long and hard about our fears of having a baby and both of us feared that having a baby would cause us to fight and have difficulties and break up. That was something we really didn't want. For ourselves, or for our child. We also acknowledged that we have so much fun together with just the two of us and we were afraid having a baby might cramp our style. We obviously knew having a baby meant we couldn't do all the things we used to do as easily (we still haven't seen a movie in the theater yet, one of our old weekend staples). But we were pretty confident we'd be able to keep our relationship intact exactly how it was. Enter this cute little stinker

I can safely say two things: I have no idea how single parents do it, and I have no idea how couples who didn't have a strong relationship before survive. Over the 8+ years Chris and I were together before Zoe came we certainly had tough and happy times. There were times we fought, times we struggled and times where it was absolutely perfect. I was confident that because we had weathered those harder times that the hard times with a baby wouldn't strain so much.

I think we were really lucky to know so much about each other before Zoe came. We knew what made the other person really frustrated, what to do to make the other feel better, and when to leave each other alone for our own personal recharge. That solid foundation has certainly come in handy with Zoe. All things considered Zoe is a really happy baby, but just like every other person, sometimes she just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and has an off day. Each of us gets frustrated at different times and at different things and having that great base between us helps the tag team effort it sometimes takes when she gets fussy. For instance, Wednesday night I was super tired when I got home from work and Zoe was being a particularly special fusser butt. Chris just took over, took charge and worked his magic to help make her as happy as she could be. I was frustrated, tired, had a headache and a fussy baby was not helping. In those moments I am amazingly, especially thankful of our team effort

And although we have become a great team when it comes to taking care of Zoe, the first two months were a bit strange when it came to a team of just me and him as a couple. We were very specific in our desire to still be a couple as well as parents after Zoe came along when we were pregnant. We didn't want to lose the fun of just me and him, we didn't want to always talk about the baby, we wanted to make sure there was still an element of our pre-baby life - just now we were parents also.

But it was weird to get used to when the time finally came. My mom babysat one night around the 2 month mark so that we could go on a date night. I was so excited for it. But it did feel a bit strange at first. Zoe had been so attached to both of us - wherever we went, she went. Whatever we did, she did. It was certainly a lot different to all of a sudden not have the stinker along for the ride with us. But as the night went on we got our mojo back. We went out to eat, played mini golf (we're now 4-5-4 with Chris in the lead, damnit) and then went to get ice cream. By the end of the night I was feeling the couple love again. We were parents now, but that didn't mean that we weren't still a couple.

There's no denying that this little lady rules the roost now

But it's also really important for Chris and I (and any parents) to carve out time for each other. To make sure you're still on the same page with parenting, your relationship, your goals, etc. It's easy to let a baby take over your life in more ways than one, but all along the way of being pregnant I wanted to maintain my own identity outside of being a mom and I wanted to maintain my relationship with Chris. Part of the reason I went back to work so soon was so that I had my own thing going on. I love Zoe with all my heart, but part of being a good parent is making sure that you're happy with yourself and with your partner (if you're lucky enough to have a partner in crime to take on the crazy adventure. I seriously have no idea how single parents do it, they are amazing).

I love that Chris and I can be honest with each other and tell each other what we need, what we want and when we just need time to ourselves. It's important to learn now to devote time to ourselves as individuals, as a couple and as parents. For some reason I thought that transition would be super easy. Chris and I had always been a team and I didn't understand why adding a new variable to the mix would change anything. But just like when we started working on the house, it was a little hard at first to learn what our roles were. When did Chris take the lead and when did I take the lead? It's been the same way with Zoe in terms of learning who's better at dealing with certain things. And all along the way it will change. When she's 6 months we'll learn new skills, when she's 1 year there will be new frustrations

But I'm thankful to have someone who works hard along for the ride with me. And I'm thankful for the many years we had together before Zoe came along to really get to know each other so incredibly well and to feel so comfortable with each other. I am never afraid to tell Chris about the things I'm scared of, nervous about, think I can't do well, and I always know he will be there when I need help. He has been such a great partner and it's fun to discover a new part of our relationship together as parents. Sure, there isn't as much time for just the two of us anymore, but it makes those moments more special. Plus, how adorable is it to see your partner with your child?

It doesn't get much better.


Before & After: the Hallway

Screw those doors that still look the same, I loooove our hallway

It's not a big space by any means, but having a bright, happy space makes a huge difference. When we first moved in (and for the next 4+ years) our hallway was super depressing

We used to have a light in the middle of the hallway (that didn't work), and one of the first things we did was install two lights - one at either end. The hallway was so dark with that one light and no natural light, so the two lights made a huge difference. But it was still ugly - cracks on the walls, an ugly closet with gross sliding doors, a huge corner closet and just a lot of room for love. You don't remember the huge corner closet? Oh, here it is

Now that corner looks like this

We lost a lot of storage (but we gained a lot in the center closet and in the laundry room) and having this small corner cabinet instead of that monstrosity makes a really big difference. The corner no longer feels like it's cramping the space, it just looks like it was meant to be that way.

The bowl on the top is from cards I keep that are extra super special :) The next two rows have fun little mementos

The top row has a foul ball Chris got on our baseball roadtrip, a silly Seinfeld coaster (only the best show ever) and a clay toilet I made in a ceramics class (hehe). The second row has a trophy from Chris from high school when he was chosen as the most inspirational. I usually don't keep those things around, but I think that award is pretty awesome :) There's also the film newsletter honoring Chris' grandfather when he died (he was a film historian), a little souvenir license plate my mom got for Zoe :) And a ball I threw out as the first pitch my first season playing little league.

Then there's the next two rows

The top shelf has a VW bug Chris' friend got him when she studied abroad in Ethiopia, and everyone loves John Stewart and Dwight Schrute, right? Though I love Colbert more than John Stewart. Colbert bump! :) The bottom shelf has a photo that used to be on the hutch that I put here because that shelf was too crowded. It's a HILARIOUS candid shot of my high school soccer team. We're all dolled up at winter ball, but someone snapped this as we were getting ready for our photo and we all look like shit. I LOVE this picture. And the ball is from when I hit a triple in a little league game and scored us the only run in the game, thus winning us first place. I still think this shelf needs something tall, but I haven't found the right memento yet.

I'm not one for really accessorizing things, but I like these shelves. All the things on them are things that are meaningful or special.

And what were those other two pieces of artwork we put up?

I loved the floorplan so much I framed it! :) And our bathroom tile has been floating around looking for a home, and this seemed like the perfect place

I love having our giant roadtrip map greet us as soon as we enter the hallway. It looks awesome

And our other travels look great as well

And I LOVE our organized closet. I confess we normally keep it open, but it also looks great closed too

Way better than before, right?

Yeah, not so pretty. But now it is! :)

It's really great having this space completed

A bright, cheerful, efficient space full of great memories and mementos. And it didn't take too long to get done. Hooray!