3.31.2014

The Party Work Wishlist

The Big Day will be on June 7th. Big Day? Oh yes, our wedding and Zoe's 1st birthday :) And as I shared last week we haven't been working on our house very well these last few weeks because we've been so damn busy with our other jobs (and now, enter baseball season where this week alone [on top of regular work] I'm there Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday). But of course when there's something going on at your house, you want it to look good right? So Chris and I have started a bit of a "Work Wishlist," or things we REALLY hope we can get done in the next 2+ months. And here they are...

The backyard is nearly done, but there are still a couple items left to do. I'd love to get the second veggie bed planted with something other than weeds


Also, our pergola was built a couple years ago and we should have really painted another coat on all the wood before we hung everything because the elements have taken their toll a bit


It needs a good powerwashing and then touching up.

We'd also like to build a little brick wall here


It used to have these rocks


But we busted them out a couple weekends ago (they were ugly, ineffective and not entirely secure), and haven't had the time to rebuild it yet.

Lastly in the backyard it would be nice to get some lattice up on this wall between the veggie garden and the crawl space


Not sure if that one will happen, and it's really not that big of a deal if it doesn't. The other backyard items I'd really like to get done because 95% of the par-tay will be taking place outside. Of course there will also be general sprucing up (like all of the shit disposed of), but that's really always on the to do list.

Then for the inside...

I'd REALLY like for the bed to be done


All that's left is buying drawer slides and then attaching the fronts to them and then the hardware to that. But because these drawers are fairly large and deep, Chris wants some pretty strong slides (so they don't fall apart in 2 years - we really want this bed to last), and so far we've only been able to find pretty expensive ones. We might just bit the bullet and go with them (I'd rather pay more for something that I know will hold up to daily use), but we're still hunting a bit.

And lastly, the nook


I haven't posted about this little room in a while, and you can tell that last window still doesn't have a curtain up. We need to find some hardware to hang the curtain rod and that sort of hasn't been a priority lately. This room also needs a quick coat of paint in the pantry (just to freshen it up) and a very necessary coat of paint on the walls. It will also need the picture molding and baseboard along one wall. It also needs some ceiling repair, a skim coat on the ceiling and the light replaced.

Then of course there's the general purge, sprucing up and throwing things you can't find a place for in a closet that hopefully no one will look in. Everyone else does that too, right?

3.28.2014

A Friend for Zoe and Friends for Mommy

A couple of months ago Chris was doing some handyman work at a house on our street. The owner had gotten his number from a neighbor and the couple living there needed some work done. It was around the time I was pulling my hair out because Zoe was having lots of trouble sleeping at night and napping during the day and I was feeling pretty awful. My mom was helping out with babysitting pretty frequently (seriously, how awesome is it that my mom babysits once a week for me? Us daughters don't thank our moms enough - THANKS MOM!), but I was still getting nothing done. Enter perfectly timed handyman job.

While Chris was working he got to talking to the couple who lived there and Andi was telling him how busy she was and how working from home was hard with her 8 month old. Chris mentioned that I was having the same problem and it was only a couple days later that I wandered over to meet her and her sweet daughter Sophi. You know how you just click with some people? That's how it was with Andi (I hope Andi feels the same way, otherwise, Andi, if you're reading this I promise I'm not a super creeper). We talked about our girls, our houses, our jobs, our lives....and then we remembered the whole point of our get together was to get some HELP. Luckily Andi knew the perfect person: a ballerina named Elizabeth (yes, literally ballerina).

A couple weeks later I headed back over to meet Elizabeth. Again, I was totally smitten (and again, Elizabeth, if you're reading this, I promise - not a creeper). I realize some people might really vet the people who watch their kids, but after talking with her for about 16 seconds, I was all for it - she was super sweet, funny and seemed like she was probably more responsible than me (afterall, the other day I let Zoe pull herself up onto a shaking table and dance around with an electrical cord around her feet).

And that is how Zoe started getting watched by this gorgeous lady


Elizabeth comes once a week (soon to be maybe two) and watches Zoe for about 90 minutes here at our house while I get work done. The first couple of times Zoe seemed a little confused by it ("I'm in my house, but my mom isn't watching me, this is strange.") But now when Elizabeth comes for the day Zoe gets a giant smile on her face and is ready to play.

After that first 90 minutes with just Elizabeth either Sophi comes over to our house or Zoe heads over there and Elizabeth watches both girls together for a couple more hours. And I must say, those two little babies together are fucking adorable


I confess, sometimes when they're all over at our house I come out from my office and watch them play. It's hilarious. Sophi is about 3 months older than Zoe and so it's really fun to watch Zoe try and keep up (Sophi is working on getting her walk on). They don't really understand how to "play," so much of their time is spent pulling each other's pacifiers out of each other's mouths. Or, you know, sitting on each other

Hilariously, when I picked up Zoe this day Elizabeth opened the door and laughed, "Don't be mad at me..." because there was a bow in her hair, lol! We all laughed that most people would say that if their kid had a bruise or something. 
It's fun for the girls to get to switch around which house they play at each time because someone else's toys are always more exciting than your own (no matter what age, right?) And I marvel at how Elizabeth is able to watch both girls for extended periods of time without pulling her hair out. Rarely do I hear them be fussy for any extended period of time (lately changing Zoe's diaper has been, well, challenging) and on occasion Andi or I have had an appointment or family visiting so we've needed to switch up hours or add more time and Elizabeth seems to enjoy it more. Though this does look pretty fun :)


I feel so thankful to have had someone really just fall into my lap who loves watching Zoe. I was nervous about looking into a nanny share because I was scared about how to look for someone or know that they would be a good fit, but really, I got so damn lucky - Zoe loves Elizabeth, Zoe loves playing with Sophi, I trust Elizabeth and I feel like I gained two new friends.

Two weekends ago Andi (who is also a dancer) and I drove into San Francisco to watch a dance performance of Elizabeth's. It was a wonderful mom's night out and I had so much fun driving to and from the city with Andi and sharing different stories about our families and our lives. And it was so awesome getting to see Elizabeth perform and see a part of who she really is. It made me think about how great it is that someone so different from me spends time with Zoe. Elizabeth has graceful strength. She is strong and thoughtful in ways I don't know or understand - but in the best way. She will influence and encourage Zoe in ways that are foreign to me and I am so thankful for that. I love all the strong women in Zoe's life that will set such different and great examples for her.

Frequently when I go pick Zoe up at the end of the day I find myself spending some time visiting with Andi. We laugh and let the girls play more


It's wonderful to have someone so close by (about a 32 second walk, literally) that Zoe can play with and that I like visiting with. A couple times when I've gone out with Zoe I've found myself talking to another parent who is out with their kid (that always just seems to happen) and I get annoyed that people feel compelled to talk to me just because they have a kid too. I realize that sounds incredible bitchy, but it seems like a strange phenomenon - brunettes don't just randomly walk up and start talking to each other. That night we were driving to SF we both laughed about how a mutual friend actually virtually introduced us many months prior, but neither of us felt compelled to respond to the email - we both thought, "Why should we be friends with each other just because we have kids?" I found that hilarious, because we actually did end up meeting more organically (well, more desperate need for babysitting, but you know, whatever), and we ended up getting along so well. Sometimes life is funny.

So here is to Zoe's new friend


And my new friends too.

3.26.2014

Why Not Much is Going on Lately

Thanks so much everyone for all of your kind wishes on Monday's post! :) Chris and I are super excited to take on the adventure of having us both be self employed and owning our own business, and it certainly means a lot to have so much encouragement from all of you. And who couldn't be happy with lots of wedding congratulations either? :) We're a lucky pair :) Thank you!

I don't know if you've noticed, but full on house related posts have been lean lately. It's been pretty obvious, right? Well, there's good reason - we're up to our eyeballs in handyman and design work. There are 3, and soon to be 4 pretty giant projects we're working on, as well as the ever present smaller jobs that come along. I'm not complaining at all, in fact I'm super happy to have so much work - I'm more mentioning it to explain to you guys why we haven't been working on the bed, or the nook or any of the other projects we've got around our own house.

So I thought I'd just share a little bit of the bigger projects we've been working on. First up is someone's house who is getting a mini-makeover. I've got no pictures to share, but some of the projects include a 10,000 sq. ft. backyard that's getting a complete overhaul, excavating for a carport, redoing the porch, new flooring in two rooms, new furniture throughout most of it, new front and porch doors and some other smaller items like draperies, new interior door hardware, etc. Lots of work, right?

The second is another bathroom remodel at a restaurant. Remember this one?



Well, we've moved on to the other two now




The two bathrooms are a men's and women's and are mirror images of each other. Chris started the demo just last week and will be doing a fair amount of the work and I worked with the owner again on the design plan. It'll take a while till it's all done, but of course I'll share the finished product with you :)

Project number 3 and 4? Those are a smaller and LARGE project for my brother's company. The first is a face lift at a place he purchased in the outer Sunset of San Francisco. It takes about an hour to get out there from our house, so although I'm sure my brother would love for us to do most of the work, it just doesn't make sense because it takes so long to get there. It is one block from the ocean though, so that's pretty cool. It's not too bad looking, just needs some sprucing up







Zoe has of course been out to see if she can help out in any way


The last project has the potential to be fairly large. It currently looks like this











Yup, gutted.

This is another project for my brother's company, this time in North Beach in SF. We haven't started work on it yet, and you can see we're taking over mid-removation - which is going to be a little interesting because the previous architect and designer made some really weird space layout decisions (as in the fridge, sink, stove and dishwasher all on the same 12 ft. wall. Wha????) We're not sure when work will be starting, but probably within the next 4-6 weeks.

I'll be working as the designer and with Chris' help also do the project management. There's a question mark as to how much of the work Chris and I will do. If it was up to Adam we would do all the work we could, but it's just a question of time (as in we would have to say no to all other jobs while this one became full time for several weeks). Either way, it will definitely be a large under taking, but also lots of fun. My brother is pretty hands off and trusts Chris and my judgement, which is pretty awesome.

Not only will this unit have all the construction complete, but we'll probably end up furnishing it as well. My brother and his wife will probably stay here from time to time when they come up and visit from San Diego, so it would help for it to be fully furnished. And because of that I get to work with my sister in law on all the design aspects, which I'm actually pretty excited about because I love her, she has great taste and she's probably about 5x craftier than I am.

So, that's what's going on around here. No bed drawers finished because we're ripping a bathroom down to the studs. It's pretty fun no matter what project we're working on and I'm glad to get to share those adventures with you as well. But hopefully we really can finish that bed sometime soon...

3.24.2014

Oh, Just Two Pieces of Big News

Let's just get right to it, shall we?

The first piece of news: Chris quit his day job. That's right! If you follow us on Facebook, I shared this news a couple weeks ago. In 2012 Chris and I formally started a business together geared towards handyman, design and organizing work. It was SUPER slow going in 2012 (as in we only had like 3 invoices). We didn't really pursue it at all, we just wanted to make sure we got it started because we knew we eventually wanted to move in that direction. Then last year things really picked up. We started a webpage, a Yelp page, told friends and family we were "officially" in business, and it just started to snowball. In a good way. We tried to never turn anything down unless it was a really big job that we knew we couldn't devote enough time to because we still had day jobs - and later in the year a baby - or that we knew was past our area of expertise. In which case we always tried to recommend someone who could do the job.

We were really surprised that without any real advertising or actively hunting for jobs we were basically able to stay busy all the time and were getting booked out sometimes weeks in advance just by word of mouth and our Yelp page. But recently it has gotten a bit crazy. Because I take care of Zoe most of the time (my mom usually babysits one day a week and we have a nanny share for part of the day on Wednesdays), while also trying to work all the jobs I was doing before having her and Chris still has his full-time job it has gotten to the point where Chris had to really step on the brakes - he cut back at his day job, worked evenings, and was working most Saturdays and Sundays. It got insane. There were days that he would not see Zoe at all because he was so jam packed. We knew we had to make a decision.

Deciding to leave his day job was a tough one. There is the guaranteed paycheck he gets every pay period and health care for him, me and Zoe. That is a big benefit to give up. But we were getting sooooo busy, and this is the kind of work we would really actually like to make our full time jobs and devote ourselves to, and so it seemed like, at some point, we just had to make the leap. I have always been a really good saver (any money still in my checking account when I get my next paycheck gets transferred immediately into my savings), and so I can carry our healthcare costs for two years+ if we made NO money. Of course, that's not going to happen because we're still booked solid, and when things get lean we can try some advertising strategies. It's an adventure we're both extremely excited for and incredibly nervous about, but like I said, sometimes you just have to leap


The only bad news is that Chris is too nice for his own good and told his boss he would stay at his job (though MUCH more limited hours) until June. I told him he was way too nice, and that's insane, but his boss is just such a wonderful lady who we both love so much and he couldn't help but be the nice guy that he is :) Until then though, it'll be quite the busy adventure :)

And what's the other piece of news? WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!

Yup, that's right, we've been living in sin for 9 years and we finally decided to take the plunge. We figured it's been long enough at this point, right?

Between the two sets of our parents there are 6 divorces, and marriage was something we didn't really know if we were sure we needed. We both know how we feel about the other and we were always very secure in our relationship just the way it was. But, after having Zoe and starting our business together, paperwork started to get really complicated, and it honestly seemed like not getting married was making more of a point than getting married. It's something that we've been talking about for a little while and we finally came to the decision a couple weeks ago. There is no romantic proposal to share, it was just an incredibly practical decision that we made while we were brushing our teeth one night. It suited us perfectly. And Zoe decided to share the news with our parents and siblings


We spilled the beans to our extended family and friends a couple weeks later with an invitation in mail for Zoe's 1st birthday (yes, sent out super early, but I'm a crazy planner) - and when they opened it all the way it revealed that we would also be getting married on the same day. None of our family and friends were expecting it, so it was a wonderful and fun surprise to get to share with them. And now I can share it with you :)

And of course, the happy affair could only happen at our house, naturally :) So in early June we'll have a fantabulous party - Zoe's 1st birthday and her parents getting married on the same day. It will make for so much happiness and great memories.

I've already started hoarding decorations, and of course I'll share that all along the way. As well as how much it'll cost, etc., because you know I like to over share :)

So that's our news! New jobs and a new marriage :) Not a bad Monday, huh? :)

3.21.2014

Why I Was Scared to Have a Girl

Since I was little I have always been very aware of the kind of girl, lady or woman I wanted to be. I was frequently around men because I played sports with boys (not that girls didn't play sports - totally not true - but I played baseball in a boys league for example instead of softball in a girls league). I also idolized my brother like nobody's business and wanted to be just like him. He was 3 years older and I followed him around, tried to play with him and his friends and wore his hand-me-downs. To this day many of his friends still call me, "Adam Phillips' little sister."


I was always very thankful that parents never treated us as their "son" and their "daughter." We were just their "kids." They let us do any activity we wanted (within reason - safety, money, etc.), regardless of gender, age, height or whatever. I never really realized how lucky I was to have that until now that I'm older and I reflect on how that shaped me to become the woman I am now. I was very fortunate to be able to discover the things I liked and the things I wanted to do. Because I liked so many "boy" things when I was little, I was made fun of a lot. I learned very early on what society thought were "boy" activities and what society thought were "girl" activities, and a lot of times it hurt my feelings or was hard to understand.

I think because I was made fun of a lot when I was little for that, it made me very aware that I wanted to set a really good example for myself in a way that I felt very proud of. I remember when I was 12 years old I was playing in a baseball game and a dad who I had never met before pulled me aside and told me that his daughter wanted to play baseball, saw me playing in a little league game and knew she could do it too and looked up to me. I never met his daughter, and I never saw him again, but that moment really sticks with me. It still gets me teary eyed to this day and it meant a lot to me then and now


I never wanted to not be able to do something because I was a girl. And I sort of made it a point early on to take on things with my dad and brother. My dad was always handy, building things, fixing things and taking on house adventures (my dad and mom built our house when my brother was little and my mom was pregnant with me), and for whatever reason Adam didn't really like helping out with my dad, and I jumped right at it. My dad stuck me under the house to help re-wire things, I used my little fingers to pick up screws and help him assemble furniture we bought and whenever he took us to the hardware store I would come home with my pockets full of little kid size trinkets

I was both aware that the things I did were not conventional "girl" things and at the same time I didn't quite understand why they weren't. For that reason I was so scared to have a girl. I was afraid that she wouldn't like anything that I liked and I wouldn't know how to relate to her. What if she wanted to take ballet, have tea parties and have every toy in her closet be pink? Those were things I wasn't really ever into and I was so scared that she would hate me for not having anything in common with her. I was so scared


But now, I am so fucking happy I had a girl. Not that a boy wouldn't be great too, but honestly, it is so awesome getting to see Zoe be a strong little woman already. And I try to remind myself that my parents let me become the person I wanted to be, even if that meant I didn't like things that they liked. My dad and brother are super close - and Adam could not care less about building things. Although, now that he owns his own home he has taken to landscaping - but that's honestly mostly because when he sets up a drip system he can make a spreadsheet to determine his water savings and strategy. He's a weirdo :)

My parents love that we became people who are confident in our interests, always curious and strong and self assured. I think that's the best thing they gave us - the gift to go for something I'm interested in and not really give a shit what anyone else thinks. I admit, sometimes I'm not great at that, and I look for support in Chris, my family, or my friends, but I do think Adam and I tend to do what we want and go for the things we're interested in. And I want to give that to Zoe too


Zoe can be a ballet dancer, a football player, a cosmetologist, a banker, a teacher, whatever. She can like painting, playing with dolls, riding a bicycle, painting her nails, having tea parties, playing in the mud - I don't really care - as long as she's happy and confident in her decisions. I feel like that's one of my most important tasks as a mom to a girl - to give her strength and self confidence. I don't want her to be scared of who she is, what she's interested in or the things she wants to do. And I will love her for always reaching for something new and striving to become a better person. And let's all be honest, a strong bad ass chick is pretty fucking unstopable


I love you Zoe and all that you will become.

3.19.2014

Mohawk Giveaway Rug WINNER!

I was hoping to announce the winner of the giveaway and also write a post today, but Miss Zoe has been sick (poor little tyke) and so I didn't get to writing a post. She's being babysat later this afternoon, so hopefully I'll have another one up later today. But I know all of you really just want to know the winner of the Mohawk Home rug giveaway, right? :)

So without further ado...


Jenna Z! Congrats Jenna!

Thanks to EVERYONE for entering, and again for all the kinds words re an honest review. I love you guys. Hope to write another post later today, happy Wednesday!

3.17.2014

And Now, on to the Backyard

First off, let me thank you fine folks for all of your wonderful comments regarding my choice to do a product review with Mohawk. I was a little nervous to write the post, but you all made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, so thank you. And I'm excited for one of you to get to win one! And, if you haven't entered the giveaway yet, enter here (winner chosen on Wednesday!)

And second thing, I need to start paying attention to camera settings, because this post will have some more fun blue pictures (although, honestly, with watching Zoe, working and trying to take pictures at the same time, it's a wonder my thumb isn't in every shot).

We don't spend a ton of time maintaining the backyard, and as a result every several months we spend a couple hours back there and just bang out a bunch of weeding, planting, and general sprucing up. With temperatures in the glorious 70s yesterday, we did just that. And things were in need of some help. 

Here's veggie bed 2.0


And a really nice, rotten watermelon


Now, this shot doesn't look too bad. Though things need weeding against the neighbor's garage and the grass needs to be mowed again


The raised surface beds need to be weeded


And the original veggie bed has certainly seen better days


Not to mention this ridiculousness on the side of the house


So we hoped to it. And actually did most of the weeding while Zoe was taking an expert 1 hour nap, hallelujah! Of course, I'm writing this post at 4am because she's slept like crap tonight and I woke up to tend to her and now can't fall back asleep. Damnit. Oh well. I'm getting this post written and doing some billable work, so not all is lost, right?

But back to those weeds. Chris decided the tumbleweed method for ripping things up on the side of the house would work best, and it actually did work great. Instead of making a ton of piles all along the side of the that we would just have to go back and pick up when we were done, he kept pushing his tumbleweed along as he was going. It made for a much easier clean up. And it was pretty funny looking


After Zoe woke up, she joined in on the fun


There wasn't much left of weeding fun though. As you can see, we had been hard at work


That's another probably 2 full containers worth of green waste that needs to slowly be put in the green bin. I told you we hadn't done this in a while...

With the veggie bed weeded, we decided we would plant some veggies. It's a little early this year, but the weather has just been so damn nice we decided we'd go ahead and get started


Naturally, Zoe needed to help out

 

Planting always goes fairly quickly and soon we had 3 tomato plants, brocolli, red onions, and maybe something else I wasn't paying attention to while feeding Zoe


We also got some strawberries while we were out, but HD was out of strawberry planters, so we haven't planted them yet. Zoe and I are planning to his some landscaping places today while on the hunt for some


The last task was putting done some "filter fabric" (ie, just newspaper) by the fruit trees to try and keep the weeds away. We've tried so many weed block methods in the backyard and front yard that I was thinking about writing a post about it 


And after a glorious day spent in the backyard, things were looking a lot better. The side of the house is no longer a jungle


 And the fruit trees look properly maintained and pretty picturesque


Though we didn't get to mowing the lawn. Or to finishing weeding veggie garden 2.0...


But everything else was a success. So I'm giving us a pat on the (mildly sunburned) back.