Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lounging Around

Hello again! My, how time flies when you have a newborn baby! It has been more than five months since I took the time to write a blog post and right now the little guy is napping, so here I am! (I suspect he will be waking soon, so who knows when this will actually hit the interwebs . . . )

My last post was on my due date, and this post will take us back to the day after, August 28th. I had my 40 week appointment, and though Baby Smith was preparing to join the outside world, there was zero baby birthing action going on. My Mama had already been in town with us for a few days, and as usual, she was itching for a home improvement project. Together, she and Drew are a formidable team. I must have been loopy with hormones, because I agreed to let them refinish the parquet floor in our front room and entryway. Up until this point, the front room had served as a storage and staging area for the nursery project, and now that the Baby's room was ready, it was time for the front room to find meaning in life.

The floor was really worn and the dark stain dated the room by a few decades.
Mind you, this would involve lots of sanding, which would make the house dusty, and lots of polyurethane, which would make the house inhospitable for pregnant me. Yet, I said, "okay." My sanity is obviously questionable. On D-Day Plus 1, the sanding began. Since I couldn't help, I set out to finish the new cushion covers for the glider we refinished for the nursery. To minimize dust in the house, Drew and Mama hung plastic tarps on the main level and shut off the air conditioning. There I was, nine months pregnant, sitting at a hot sewing machine on the second floor of a house in Texas in the afternoon at the end of August with no AC. And I wasn't even doing the hard work.

We got it done the night before our Baby arrived - woohoo!
The floor looked fantastic after several trips to Home Depot to rent and buy all the right tools. It was up to Drew to spend the next three days applying the polyurethane that would protect our beautiful floor. Since I couldn't be in the house while this happened (really, nobody should be in a house while varnish goes down - both Mama and Drew have said they will never refinish a floor themselves again), Mama walked me through every furniture store in Arlington, some of them more than once. Still, with all that walking, not a single contraction. And you know what? I am so glad the exercise didn't put me into labor, because I couldn't have even gone home! Fortunately, we were able to sleep at the house each night, and both the floor and the Baby's glider got done before I was 41 weeks pregnant, which is when we had to induce labor. Our stubborn little Smith wasn't going anywhere without the coercion of Pitocin.

Mama began the task of painting the front room, which we decided would be called, "The Lounge," while we were at the hospital, and she finished up after we got home. I felt bad that I couldn't help (not really), but it was fun listening to her and Drew work out the details of the room. Drew even built us two beautiful end tables. He came up with the design all by himself and they are just spectacular.

Isn't the table lovely? And check out that gorgeous floor!
I love the beautiful detail work.
The Lounge creates such a welcoming entrance to our home, and the built in unit, which is now properly painted, allows us to show off our hobbies, personalities, and the important things in our lives.
All done!
I really the fabric we chose for "my" chair.
Our neighbors gave us this orchid. It is the perfect addition to the lounge. I hope I can keep it alive!
Pretty pegs, all lined up.
Wedding day mementos

Reminders of our faith

I wonder what crazy project I will agree to the next time I am pregnant? Gosh, it feels so good to be writing again! I want to get back to regularly posting - stay tuned!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Nursery for Baby Smith

Today is Baby Smith's estimated due date, and so far, he or she has not made any effort to join the rest of us out here. So instead of showing off a baby, I will show off the little nest we have created for our bundle of joy! It has been a lot of fun to put it all together and I can't wait to share it with our baby.

I found this shower curtain and the towels on clearance at Target and they became the inspiration for the color scheme in the nursery.
I liked the idea of gray walls and so we also chose a gray crib. All of those paint samples looked so similar on paper, we were surprised to see how different they appeared on the wall and up close to the crib. We chose a color called Pebble Gray, which I believe is the one all the way on the right. Coincidentally, my sister painted her nursery the same color! My Mama came to visit in June and, as usual, she couldn't help but paint something. She painted EVERYTHING in the nursery. The ceiling, baseboards, closets, walls, and four brand new doors. What a rock star she is. :)

I am excited to read lots of books to Baby!
Mr. Fox

This piece of artwork was inspired by the invitation and decorations that my friends made for a baby shower they hosted, inspired by The Sound of Music.

Diapers for a small butt!
So many tiny things!
We are ready for Baby Smith's first Sunday Mass, we just need to know which outfit to choose.
The chair in the corner is Drew's office chair. Eventually it will be replaced by the glider we are refinishing. And by "we," I mean that he is doing 98% of the work. Because he is wonderful.

Okay, Baby, we are ready for you! You can come on out, now!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Laundry Makeover Series - Part Two: Lessen the Load

If I could have one super power, I would just say the word and all the dirty clothes and dirty towels and dirty bed sheets would be cleaned and folded and put away in an instant. With many other chores I can set myself up for success the whole way through. For example, when the dishwasher is efficiently loaded, putting clean plates and cups away takes only a few minutes. If you regularly clean up small messes in the bathroom, a deep cleaning takes less time. There is nothing you can do to make folding laundry any easier, because no matter what you do, those clothes are going to get all tossed around and mixed up in the dryer. It also takes time to wait for the washer and the dryer to do their thing, leaving plenty of opportunity to lose your groove by getting distracted by something else, and before you know it, it is Thursday and you have been air-fluffing the clothes in the dryer since Monday. And there is still a load in the washer that is starting to smell bad. The line-up of laundry is never ending and the piles grow so fast. There are only two of us right now and soon there will be three – something must be done to streamline the process, because laundry is a chore that is here to stay. 

Part Two: Lessen the Load

I have the best husband in the whole world. I am on a mission to streamline our laundry process and he is being completely supportive. Part of our laundry problem is that we each have enough clothes to last us a LONG TIME before truly needing to wash something, which can result in days of running load after load and never feeling caught up. It gets frustrating. When I made-over the laundry room (with the help of my amazing Mama), I replaced our two large hampers in the bedroom with one small one to force us to bring the dirty clothes downstairs more frequently, and so far it is actually helping. I thought a good Step Two in the process would be to lessen the load by whittling down our wardrobes. The fewer clothes you have, the smaller your largest laundry mess can be. At work I have learned that most Americans wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time, so I thought we should narrow down our choices so that what we have is what we regularly wear. Obviously, special occasions call for pieces that are only worn once in a while, but that is okay. Overall, I want us to really like the clothes that we have, to choose quality over quantity, and to focus on what we need rather than keeping too many clothes simply because they aren’t threadbare.

I don't know if this really looks that bad, but I felt like my closet was feeling a little bit stuffed. And I had to leave several pairs of shoes on the floor, which I did not like.

Having made up my mind, I approached Drew and told him that for one of our Monday date nights I had been planning a sort of working, organizational date and asked if he would be interested in a bit of a challenge. “We’re throwing stuff away, aren’t we?” he asked. “Nope!” I reassured him, and being the wonderful man that he is, he agreed to be surprised by my plan for our date.

Let me lay this out for you, all teacher-like in lesson-plan style:

To simplify our wardrobe to assist in streamlining our laundry process.
To get organized and so that we truly appreciate what we do have. Less is more!

We will each evaluate and trim down our wardrobes by trying to limit ourselves to the following number of items. Some of the numbers are somewhat unrealistic, but that is the point; this is supposed to make you think about what you really like and need in your closet and dresser. We can adjust the numbers as needed.

5 nice t-shirts,
5 fun t-shirts (sports team related shirts and jerseys do not count towards this category)
5 grungy work-on-the-car shirts
5 under shirts
7 dress shirts
5 sweaters
5 jeans/other pants
4 shorts
4 dress pants
2 suits
4 pj pants
4 pj shirts
Evaluate and pare down undergarments, socks, ties, and shoes.
When finished, add any 10 additional articles of clothing.

Drew's piles-in-progress of clothes to keep.

(does not include maternity clothes)
5 t-shirts
5 fun t-shirts (sports team related shirts and jerseys do not count towards this category)
7 dress shirts
7 dresses
5 skirts
5 sweaters
5 cardigans
4 jeans/other pants
4 shorts
4 dress pants
2 pj pants
2 pj shorts
4 pj shirts
3 work out shorts
3 work out shirts
20 shoes
Evaluate and pare down undergarments, socks, dress socks, scarves, and purses.
When finished, add any 10 additional articles of clothing.

Angie's piles to keep (plus a couple of Drew's).

Put all extra clothing into bags/boxes/hampers and store in another room.

Clothes to donate!

Angie's clothes to store.

Drew's clothes to store.
In a month or two we will revisit our existing wardrobes and reflect upon the decisions we made. We will also look at the clothes we put away in the other room to determine what to keep and what to donate.

It was fun being able to help and support each other in this process. Although a few of the categories were hard for Drew to limit, I don’t think my numbers were really that far off in most cases. He ended up keeping many more than 7 dress shirts, but he wears them to work and church, and since he did choose to store several of them, that was fine. For me, I ended up keeping most of my dresses and skirts, but I did take the time to think about which ones I haven’t worn in a while and I put a few in the storage hamper. I also prematurely stored away my tank tops, and I ended up needing to grab a couple of them from my hamper. Also, 20 shoes was a little too low a number for me. I kept more like 25 pairs, I think. This is impressive, though, because a few months ago I think I had close to 40 pairs of shoes and since then I had already gotten rid of eight pairs. My shoes now fit much better in my hanging shoe organizers and I don't feel guilty when I see things that I rarely wear.

No doubled-up shoes! And clothes that were previously in piles on shelves now fit in my hanging organizer. Much better!

We put an impressive amount of clothing into our storage hampers. Between the two hampers and the bag of items to donate, I would estimate we removed four washing machines full of laundry from our potential load! Drew and I were each able to spread out our clothes more in our dressers and clothes aren’t trying to bust out each time a drawer is opened. I am looking forward to seeing how this experiment goes over the next few weeks!

This probably doesn't look much different than the "before" picture, but I promise, this is a great improvement. Cleaning up my closet now means that someday when I get to totally re-do it, the hardest part will already be done.
Clutter gone from the hanger bars and, most importantly, from the floor!
There is plenty of space for the items I chose to keep! Even though I could fit more in there, I don't want to.
Neat drawers make me happy.  :)
My clothes are nicely grouped by season and purpose. One thing that helped reduce clutter was getting bulky coats and jackets out of there.

Spring cleaning season is here - what are you waiting for?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Laundry Makeover Series - Part One: Love Your Laundry Room

If I could have one super power, I would just say the word and all the dirty clothes and dirty towels and dirty bed sheets would be cleaned and folded and put away in an instant. There is nothing you can do to make folding laundry any easier, because no matter what you do, those clothes are going to get all tossed around and mixed up in the dryer. Waiting for the washer and the dryer to do their thing leaves plenty of opportunity to lose your groove by getting distracted by something else, and before you know it, it is Thursday and you have been air-fluffing the clothes in the dryer since Monday. And there is still a load in the washer that is starting to smell bad. The line-up of laundry is never ending and the piles grow so fast. There are only two of us right now and soon there will be three – something must be done to streamline the process, because laundry is a chore that is here to stay. 

Part One: Love Your Laundry Room

Fact: When we moved into our house our laundry room was ugly. Everything in there was painted the same color. Its redeeming qualities are that it is inside the house (so many laundry rooms in older homes are in the garage) and it is a decent sized room. Our laundry room is downstairs and the bedrooms are upstairs, and for me, that is an added obstacle to staying on top of things. For my attitude towards this never-ceasing chore to change, I need the laundry room to be a pleasant destination. It is right off of our beautiful kitchen and so it has to both coordinate and stand out at the same time.

I have said it before and I will say it over and over again: Who paints a color like this all over everything in the house?!?!

You can't even tell how dingy looking that door is by this picture.

We hide a lot of things behind the door in here.

Enter, my Mama: She visited us at the end of March. Yay! She gets all the credit for our wonderfully painted kitchen and so when she offered to paint another room in the house, I leapt at the idea of doing the laundry room. And unlike the green paint color debacle I experienced with the kitchen, I had settled on a serene shade of blue for the laundry room months ago.

Isn't it gorgeous?

I am thrilled with the way the color looks on the walls! It is soothing and just lovely. It transformed the color of the cabinets from hideous to acceptable and it goes great with the black and white appliances. I have to say, though, that I think the biggest impact came from painting all the trim white. The door in front of the water heater looks 100 times better and, to me, totally cleaned up the look of the room.

Finishing Touches:

Accent rug – Initially I was hoping to find a black and white rug in a geometric print for this room, but when Mama and I were walking through Target, I saw this one and when I unfolded it I was surprised that I liked it! I am not usually into floral patterns, but I feel like it is more of a picture than a pattern, since the print is so large. Mama and I both agreed the colors were perfect – the blue of the laundry room, the green of the kitchen, and yellow for the pantry – they are all there! It adds a ton of life to the room and will keep my feet warm in the winter when the floor is cold as ice. Plus, it is machine washable. Score!

Laundry sorter – We have a problem called, “our laundry piles up in these huge hampers in our room until the mountain starts falling over and then we do laundry but it takes forever because the load was so huge.” Here is what I hope will be our solution: We will keep a small hamper in our room and every morning/every other morning we will bring it downstairs and sort it into our brand new laundry sorter. This will force us to do laundry more often, because even though each side theoretically holds two full loads, it will appear to be full faster. Also, having to look at the laundry on a nearly daily basis when I sort it will give me more awareness of when the clothes need to go into the washer.

A big thank you to my husband for helping me put this together. I have learned that I don't really do that well with picture instructions and I really was struggling with this one. The written instructions weren't fabulous either, though.

Drying rack – This is pretty simple. The drying rack we were using was just too large for this space and I do not want to have clothes hanging to dry in any other room but this one. I think this new drying rack will hold just as many clothes even though it takes up less space. I also like the mesh topper that can be used to dry sweaters.

Cleaning supplies – We replaced the dry erase board with a set of hooks to hold floor cleaning implements. This is pretty much where we were keeping them before, except now they won’t fall over or take up floor space. I like how much more orderly it looks, and the way the white hooks pop against the blue wall.

Thank you, Drew!

Now, indulge me for a moment while I tell you about this broom. This broom has achieved a level of broominess to which all other brooms should aspire. It. Is. Awesome. Broom, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: You are height adjustable. Your soft bristles gather all kinds of dust and crumbs while gliding over my tile floors as smoothly as Kristi Yamaguchi on a freshly resurfaced ice rink. You are wider than my previous broom, which means I accomplish more in less time. You have a removable whisk for sweeping debris into the dustpan. And oh, the dustpan! EVERYTHING goes into the dustpan without my having to do that thing where you keep backing up to get that last line of dust swept up. And the dustpan has teeth on the back to make sure everything is removed from the broom. This is the start of a great broomance.

Seriously, though, this is what I said the first time I used this broomtastic creation:
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, no way! Drew! Come look at the line of dust left by this broom and dustpan. Oh, wait. You CAN’T, because THERE ISN’T ONE! WOOHOO! This is the best. Broom. EVER!”

A beautiful laundry room and an epic broom. It takes so little to make me so happy. :)