Oct 17, 2018

One Room Challenge: Week Three

It's week three of the One Room Challenge, and I finally have progress to show you! (Catch up on week one here and week two here to find out what's been happening behind the scenes.) Juventino, our wonderful handyman who I can never book anymore because all my friends asked for his contact info and they hire him for jobs before I can get to him but no I'm not upset about it at all, demolished the screened porch part of our front porch on Monday. Wow, does that open up the front of our house! The living room gets so much more light now, and I'm especially excited that the first door at the top of the stairs is gone. The downside is that our porch will no longer contain Charlie, our exuberant middle-aged black lab, but I think we'll just keep a leash tied to the porch railing so he can sit out with us without being tempted away by squirrels real or imaginary.

The path from the front gate to our stairs isn't in great shape, but we're not in a position to fix that now. It's not worth really investing in our front yard because, at some point in the next few years, we're going to have to replace the lead water pipe that runs from the street into our house, and to do that we'll have to tear up the grass and will probably regrade everything afterwards to help with drainage issues in our basement. (Old houses are fun, friends!) So, in the meantime, I'm just committing to keeping the grass mowed and the weeds pulled, and I'm focusing improvements on the flower bed right below the porch.

This past weekend, I dug up the irises and hostas that were planted by the previous owner - I don't want hostas there, and I love irises but that patch is so shady that we only had three blooms across the 15 plants last spring. Then, after a coaching session from my IG friend Lauren and on my mother's suggestion, I went to Behnke's, a nursery 30 minutes outside of DC. I'd done some research first to get an idea of what sort of low-maintenance shrubs would work well in clay soil without much sun, and the fantastic guys in woody plants department confirmed that viburnum was a good choice. They helped me pick out a Brandywine and a Winterthur plant, both native varieties that apparently cross-pollinate well, featuring clusters of delicate white blooms in the spring and "breathtaking berries that transform from green to shades of vivid pink and blue" in the fall. They'll both grow to about six feet tall and will spread well, so they should eventually cover the whole bed and reach up to the floor of the porch.

Oct 15, 2018

Okay, You Can Call Me Mama

Robbie visiting me at work

This is the post where I eat my words and admit that - well, to be honest, I still don't like being called mama. But it doesn't make me as angry as it used to.

Angry is a strong feeling for something that, as many pointed out, is meant kindly; so many of you commented on my Instagram about this that it's a tribal thing, and being called "mama" by another women is a way of recognizing that you share the challenges and joys of being a mother.

I get that now.

Oct 10, 2018

One Room Challenge: Week Two

March 2, 2018

Welcome back to my One Room Challenge! I told you last week all about the unexpected and unglamorous repairs we have to do to the front of the house - or, rather, that we have to hire professionals to do for us. (That's two strikes against me in the world of reno/decor blogs, but such is real life.) We've made some progress since then, I'm pleased to say, though there isn't much to show for it yet!

First, we've had three roofers come out to take a look at our porch roof and give us quotes. We're still deciding which to go with; the bad news is that it looks like we will need to do a full replacement, but the good news is that it should only take one day.

Second, we've confirmed that the Pella window people will be coming out on Friday to take all the measurements for our seven new windows and we've paid the deposit. It takes 4-6 weeks from that for the windows to be delivered and installed because they're all custom made, so my fingers are crossed that they'll be done in time for the ORC reveal but we'll be cutting it close.

Third, our wonderful handyman is booked for next week to remove the screened porch stuff - the screens and extra wood - from the structure of our porch.

Now onto my jobs: the exterior door(s) and our landscaping out front.

Oct 4, 2018

One Room Challenge: Week One

Well, dear readers, this is not the One Room Challenge I was planning to undertake even as of a few weeks ago... but such are the joys of an old house, I'm discovering!

(What's the One Room Challenge, you ask? For six weeks twice a year, hundreds of bloggers commit to transforming - you guessed it - one room in their house and documenting the process. There are always a number of featured designers who kick things off, but I mostly follow along with the guest participants. They're always so enthusiastic and usually have a great eye, and it's inspirational to see what people actually on a budget and, often, without professional contractor-ish skills can achieve. Anyway, you can see all the guest participants' posts for this first week of the challenge here, and the last post from my spring 2018 ORC project is here.)

When we first toured the rowhouse that would become our home, we saw immediately that it had been lovingly occupied but not very well maintained by the previous owner, who lived in it for 40 years. We were able to do a pre-inspection before we extended our offer, which was submitted without contingencies because the DC housing market is crazy, so we knew that we'd be on the hook for some significant projects sooner or later but we hoped to wait until we'd been in residence for at least a year before tackling anything major that wasn't a health or safety issue. Two weeks ago, though, we came home to find that one of our attic windows had caved in, and this past weekend we discovered that half of our door frame was rotted right through. (Washington had received its annual total rainfall by mid-August, which might have had something to do with the timing of both surprises!) That means our current priority is, unexpectedly, almost completely redoing the front of our house.