Category Archives: house + home


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yesterday marked two years since we got the keys to our very first home. two years in and I’m still pinching myself that this place is all ours (okay, not really, we probably only own like four doorknobs worth at this point). today and everyday, counting all the blessings in our life that continue to make our dreams a reality. how did we get so lucky?

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the one with the cute garden markers.

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For the past couple of years we have (somewhat successfully) grown tomatoes, peppers, and various herbs in both a community garden plot and then last year for the first time, in our own backyard. Those of who who have seen our backyard know that we have tons of space so this year we were ready to expand a bit and try a few new things. Tomatoes, peppers, and other summer veggies (that I’m starting from seed!) will go in the ground in a few weeks in the main, sunny plot at the south end of the yard. This weekend we also tilled up a slightly shadier side plot (that was mostly weeds and a few tulip bulbs) and it’s becoming our root vegetable plot!

On Sunday we even got a few rows of seeds in the ground – two types of carrots (a red and a purple variety), radishes, and golden beets. We bought seed potatoes but are letting them harden off for a few days before they go in. In a few weeks, we’ll probably plant another row (or two) of each of these, so that we’ll have some to harvest later in the summer as well.

I’m excited to see what happens…we’re deeming this the year of trial and error, so I’m expecting that some stuff will succeed and some will fail. In addition the standard summer veggies, we’re also planning an area for strawberries, shallots, and a bigger herb garden than in past years. If nothing else, at least we have cute garden markers, complete with mediocre vegetable drawings.

Are you growing anything new in your gardens this year?

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getting stuff done.

Kevin and I are notorious for starting things and not finishing them…especially when it comes to home projects. We’re always getting distracted by another project or more likely, getting frustrated when something doesn’t work right the first time and resorting to watching netflix instead. I often joke that we need a mediator in order to get any home improvement projects done, no matter how small, but it’s kind of true. Last weekend, Kevin’s mom came to visit us in Omaha and we put her right to work on both mediation and home improvement duty. 

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First up was finishing these distressed shelves in the dining room area. I wish I was joking, but the brackets for one of these shelves have been screwed into the wall since August. Sans shelf. Protruding out from the wall at eye level. I’ve hit my head on them more times than I can count. Occasionally we used them as hooks. But not until our expert mediator showed up were we able to take this project to the finish line. Admittedly I actually stayed mostly out of the way on this one, waiting for my glorious shelves to finally appear. They soon did, and now I have a place for all my cookbooks, and whatever else we decide to put on the top shelf. The cookbooks were previous on a rickety bookshelf in the kitchen, so we were able to get rid of that (actually we put it out on our curb for free, and not 5 minutes later our neighbor took it – everybody wins!), and rearrange the kitchen a bit which I’m really loving.

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Next up was installing a new hinge on our storm door and then rehanging the door. In our defense, this is an at least 3-person job, but it has been on the to-do list since a big windstorm last spring blew the door open and bent it. Since then, we’ve had the storm door inside the house, and have moved it from room to room to get it out of the way, and most recently it’s sat in the stairwell and blocked us from using our side door. (Fire hazard – sorry, Mom!). We figured it was finally time to put this project to rest, and after quite an afternoon, the three of us, with help from a giant stack of books to support the weight of the door while we screwed it in, got it done.

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The third and final weekend project was putting in the last few pieces of laminate in our basement. It’s been at this stage since June and all we needed to do was buy a new jigsaw blade to cut the last few pieces and snap them in. In the approximately 8.5 million times we’ve been to Ace since June, we have failed to buy this new blade approximately 8.5 million of those times. We finally bought one, and put in the last 2.5 pieces in about 30 minutes. Maybe in another year and a half, we’ll be done with the trim.

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We were on a roll so we did a couple other small projects on Sunday afternoon. We needed new hooks in the entryway, so we bought some and got those screwed in.

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We’re always misplacing running gloves, hats, headphones, etc., so we bought a shower caddy, hung it up in the basement, and moved all of our running accessories onto it.

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And lastly, we’re working on a gallery wall for the basement, and finally got frames for a few of the things we plan to hang up. Still a few more to go, and you know, the actual hanging them part, but baby steps, right?

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Feels good to get things done and crossed off our to-do list, especially things that have been on there forever!

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happy new year!

IMG_04432014 was a really, really awesome year. 

it was the year of four half-marathons and new personal bests for both of us. it was the year we finally went on a proper honeymoon and took a few days off to explore san francisco. it was the year our niece turned one, and the year when she learned how to say “auntie holl” and “happy birthday uncle” and our hearts melted every single time. it was the year i turned 27, my favorite age so far. the year of our first backyard garden, our first backyard barbecue, our first lazy summer under the string lights and by the firepit. it was the inaugural year of my work’s participation in a sand volleyball league (although we excelled more in the drinking aspect), a true highlight of the summer and something we plan to keep going. it was the first year in a long time where we weren’t moving or even thinking about moving, and the year we worked towards making our house a home. it was the year of many failed home improvement projects, but a few successful ones too. 2014 was the year we learned how to do grown-up things like replace outlets and snake drains (ok, still working on that one). it was the year i got to see my baby sister graduate from high school, and the year that she moved 45 minutes away from us, and the year when i got to be there for her during the ups and downs of her first semester. it was the year i got to visit two new states, north carolina and louisiana, and eat lots of great food in both places. 2014 was the year when my bff ruth and her husband david welcomed their baby boy, noah augustus, into the world, and i got to be a proud auntie all over again. it was the year when kevin turned 30 and we took an epic five-day trip to chicago to celebrate. it was the year of our very first real christmas tree, and a quiet christmas spent together just the two of us. it was a really, really awesome year, and i’m so grateful to the family and friends and jobs and the God that made that happen.

hope your 2014 was wonderful and your 2015 is even better.

happy new year, friends!

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lessons in home ownership, one year in.

I can’t hardly even believe this, but tomorrow, August 30, marks one whole year of being in our first home. It’s been an amazing year, full of excitement and contentment and frustration and challenge and everything in between. And so, in honor of our first houseiversary, we thought we’d put together and share a few lessons in home ownership. Here goes…

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1. There is no such thing as an easy DIY project. 

But seriously. Kevin and I are notorious for attempting the seemingly simplest projects and somehow still finding a way to screw them up. I find it hilarious when people assume that we’re crafty or handy, because we’re always talking about doing some project or another, but now the secret’s out: we’re totally incapable of successfully accomplishing anything on the first try or in the way the instructions were written. We’re especially averse to anything that needs to be level and/or hung on a wall. So I guess the take home message here is to just know what you’re getting yourself into. Which leads me to…

2. Take your timeline for literally any project, and then multiply it times infinity. 

So, is it just us, or do other people fall prey to thinking they can finish things waaaaay sooner than is actually realistic too? It can’t just be us. Probably the most laughable example of this mistake is our basement renovation, which we were so convinced in September that we could complete by Thanksgiving and newsflash, we’re still not done. A more recent example is thinking that we could stain and install distressed wood shelving in our dining room before my parents came last week. Ha! In actuality, we stripped a screw in the very first bracket we drilled in, got discouraged and gave up, and waited for my dad to get here so we could troubleshoot next steps.

3. When in doubt, just switch the entire breaker box off. 

We think our breaker box is labeled pretty effectively, but the pressure of having to use wire cutters and change an outlet is enough all on it’s own, so we opt for the no-surprises route and just shut the whole thing down. Which leads to a whole different kind of stress revolving around me incessantly asking Kevin how much longer it’s going to take while I nervously worry about food beer going bad in the fridge.

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4. Make a friend at your local hardware store. 

Because you’ll be going there a lot, so the least you can do is set yourself up for a pleasant experience. All the big box hardware stores are pretty far from us, so we’ve started running to a nearby Ace when we need to grab something, and now we’re basically besties with one of the cashiers. She might not know much about how to help us with projects, but she has the best customer service ever and it’s just nice to see a smiling and familiar face in a place where you don’t expect it. Plus, she was there when we bought our firepit, and helped us negotiate our 10% discount with the manager. #wilmaFTW

5. Embrace the pink tile.

Ok, so maybe you haven’t been blessed with the same 1950s pink wall-tiled bathroom as we have, but I’m willing to bet you’ve got something in your house that you just hated when you moved in and swore you’d fix right away. For us, that was the pink tile. And the knotty pine in the basement. And 1,000 other things. But let’s face it, there will never be enough time or money or energy to fix all the things, so you have to pick your battles, and embrace what’s left. For us, again, that’s the pink tile. But after almost a year of telling myself over and over that it’s not so bad, right? I’m actually coming full circle and starting to think it’s cute and retro, right?

6. Ask yourself if you reeeeeeaaallllyyyy want a big yard.

“We want a big yard” is just one of those things people say when they’re looking for a house, ya know? And after living in apartments with no yard space and residence halls for many years, we were definitely among those people. It was on the top of our wish list when we house-hunted, and those of you who’ve seen our yard firsthand can attest to the fact that we got what we wanted, times ten. And thus has begun the love/hate relationship with our yard. Mowing the backyard feels like it takes an entire Saturday, and weeding could easily be a full-time job, but I love all the open space, not being too close to our neighbors, a place for a garden, and enjoying summer nights under the string lights in our adirondack chairs. I think we’re still coming out on top :)


7. You can never have too many Phillips screwdrivers.

Seriously, these things are like the bobby pins of tools – you know you have about 1,000, and yet you can’t find a single one when you need it. I have no advice here, other than to purchase one whenever you can, in hopes that eventually you’ll have so many that you’ll have to be able to track down at least one when you need it. Honestly, where do these things disappear to?

8. Always look under the carpet.

We bought our house with beautiful hardwood floors in the living room and hallway and crossed our fingers that those same beautiful floors would be underneath the carpet in all three bedrooms. Surprise! They were, and the first thing we did was rip that carpet right up to reveal wood floors in pretty good condition that just need a little sanding and a new coat of polyurethane. Oh! And after almost putting the carpeted – yes, carpeted – bar from our basement out on the street for the taking, we decided to peek underneath, and what do you know? It was knotty pine in perfect condition, so we cleaned it off and stuck it back in the basement. I’m so glad we painted the knotty pine on the basement walls, but I’m loving having this one piece where we’re keeping the wood as-is. So, always check under the carpet; you never know what you may find. (Of course, you may find asbestos-ridden tile, which leads me to #9).

9. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment in the pictures you send to mom and dad.

Because if you’re wearing a mask and gloves in the picture you send, it’ll ease the pain when your next text is all about how you’re removing tile in your basement and yes, in fact, it is 9×9″ and oh shoot that means it probably contains asbestos and your environmental health specialist mother basically tells you you’re going to die a slow death from mesothelioma. Ok, so maybe that’s just my family, but I can’t imagine mom and dad wouldn’t like to see their babies being safe doing whatever they’re doing. At least wear the hard hat for the picture, and then proceed as you wish.

10. If you aren’t married yet, add the following line to your wedding vows: “I will work peacefully with my spouse on home improvement projects.”

And if you are married, or have spent any amount of time living with your partner, you’ll know what I mean. If you don’t, wow, God bless you, and please teach us your secrets or at least come over and mediate for us. Kevin and I’s methods of strategizing, problem solving, and doing things are totally opposite, so doing home improvement projects is basically the definition of a recipe for disaster. You’d think we’d learn by now, but we’ve had enough successes (eventually) that we keep at it. Sometimes that means walking away from something for a couple days to re-strategize without all the emotions involved, and other times it involves just staying out of the other person’s way and letting them try on their own. And still other times, it involves calling Kevin’s mom and asking her to please come help us put our basement flooring down (thank you!), because we got stuck after one piece of underlayment. #truelife

Cheers to one year of home ownership under our belt! I know this post was lighthearted and funny, but on the inside, I’m feeling pretty sappy. So grateful to our families for knowing when to give advice and when to let us make our own mistakes, our friends for listening to us complain about mowing or lamenting the missing pieces in yet another piece of IKEA furniture, and most of all, to Kevin, for putting up with my never-ending honey-do list and always working to make my dreams a reality. 

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