Monday, September 28, 2009

big things happening!

first of all, my little Julia is walking! i can't believe it- my baby isn't a baby anymore. she's SO proud of herself and can't stop grinning as she toddles & waddles about the house. love this little cutie! now her biggest obstacle is her older sister, who relishes grabbing her by the hand & running... not quite ready for running yet, big sis! but julia can hold her own- she's not afraid to use her teeth in self-defense. : )
AND.... we have some cabinets in the kitchen! as much as i believe in DIY, i also believe there are things i can't do well. and either can my husband, superhero though he is. hanging cabinets is something we believe is worth paying for so we don't end up 1) unhappy with the results, 2) paying someone to fix our mistakes and 3) divorced. i'm kind of kidding... but not completely.
so here is what is happening so far:
some friends helped me paint the kitchen a few weeks ago- the color is Topsail by Sherwin-Williams. i've used this color a lot. it's pale enough to be calming & "beachy," but has enough color to avoid the 'blahs.' and i am in LOVE with my new cabinets! our current kitchen is fine, but it is severely lacking in counter space & storage. i'm sure i'll have no problem filling up these cabinets, but i can't wait to do it!
crown molding is going in this week, appliances are next... then floors, lighting & cabinet hardware. sounds like a lot, but when you consider that a few weeks ago this room was stripped down to the studs, we've made a lot of progress! i've chosen all the appliances, the sink & faucet. i think i've chosen the lights, too, but i'm not sure about hardware. do all your finishes need to match? i'm torn between cohesiveness & a lovely oil-rubbed bronze drawer pull.

i've been busy painting this week- the playroom is halfway transformed into a vibrant green & blue wonderland. the pink living room is now a lovely calming cream, and the family room is on it's way towards a second coat of Rice Grain. the dining room is primed, but it may need some more plaster work to deal with old water issues & stains. my husband has been busy laying laminate on the 3rd floor- turns out it's not so simple, but he's a champ. plugging away anytime he has a free moment, i think he'll be done pretty soon!

Friday, September 25, 2009

and a few during pictures...

just for fun! it has been a while since most of the demolition happened, but i'm so proud of my husband for doing so much of this himself! seriously- he's a super hero. it's not just because our last name is Blazer (but that's pretty super hero-ish), or because he has fun super powers like packing moving vans or always getting the lime to the bottom of the Corona bottle. it's not even because his nub (part of his thumb is missing- ask him about it) strikes fear into men of all ages.

nope- this guy was diagnosed with testicular cancer in March and had 2 surgeries to try to remove all of the bad cells. just prior to the second surgery, we discovered this little "diamond in the rough" house and made an offer on it. after his surgery it because clear that he would need 6 weeks of chemotherapy to thoroughly kill the cancer cells, and he STILL followed through with the demolition on several areas of our new house. this involved much sledgehammering and ripping of plaster, as well as removing TONS of bricks from the original exterior of the home. he's my hero... but mostly because i just love him alot. : ) and he's doing really well now- cancer free as far as anyone can tell, with good prognosis for the long term!

so here's a few little tidbits to get you excited about the after pictures- soon to come!

behold our kitchen ceiling... apparently the wiring was a little "off." but now we have great lighting in there, so a little extra work for the hubby benefitted me greatly!

the foyer floor had to be ripped up to see what was underneath. apparently it was a little too "holey" to be refinished well. i'm still a little bummed about that- i like old, worn "holey" floors. but i like the pretty new ones, too, so don't hear me complaining!

the man posing next to his handiwork. removing plaster walls is a lot of work, so i hear! i wouldn't have been much help anyway, but i had to stay home with the kiddos while he worked. i felt kind of lazy, but my work is happening now! painting, painting, painting, packing, and painting....

this is the same wall, just from the other side... you can see some of the trim and bricks he removed from the kitchen in this picture!

this is the door to the basement from the kitchen.
we moved it to the foyer (by we, i mean my husband and our contractor, mark. mostly mark, i think). plaster & brick are SO messy...

this was the bathroom entrance from the kitchen. like i said in a previous post, i wasn't crazy about having a full bath IN my kitchen. nor did i want my kitchen storage space to be limited by this doorway! so our wonderful contractor moved the door to the other side of the bathroom (now in the mudroom) and cut it's size in half. it's now a tiny powder room, which is fine with me! i wish we could have kept the full bath so it could be a "guest bath" if we had someone stay on a pullout in the family room... but i gladly sacrificed that for more kitchen space & a great breakfast bar leading into the family room!

YAY! i can't wait to get some AFTER pictures... i may go over there this afternoon with the kids in tow to see how things are coming!

(anyone know how to make the underlining go away? i tried control "click", font change, control "u" and a few other old tricks...)

Monday, September 21, 2009

the BEFORE pictures...

as i upload each of these pictures, i keep wondering: "what on earth were we thinking? this house was horrible!" i can say "was" because we are getting closer to our move in date & the house looks DRASTICALLY different than these pictures. but i'm so glad i have these as a reminder of where we began. as i get overwhelmed with all the details of fixing & finishing our house, i can look at this & remember that we've come a LONG way.

while matt & i enjoy getting our hands dirty & working on our home ourselves, we knew before we began that this project was beyond our abilities. we're not the most picky people in the world, but we do like straight lines, plumb walls, and functioning electric & plumbing! plus, we started this little "project" about the same time matt was beginning chemotherapy. good times. so our friend & contractor, Mark Maness of M & M Construction here in St. Louis, took on our home renovation. i can't say enough good things about him- he has worked with us so patiently to help us make decisions & save money. he has even worked with matt on multiple weekends to teach him how to do smaller projects... we're really thankful for him & all of his guys! they do great work.

but you're not going to see that in THESE pictures! these are the befores... enjoy!

Let's start outside... Here is the front of the house:

i'm not sure what we're going to do with the color of the house... i like white & green as much as the next girl, but it's kind of dull. and it's SO much white. and a green roof? really?
(and i can't change the font color to save my life... crazy)

and then there's the other problem... they didn't finish painting the addition. so not only is there too much white, there's the whole unpainted part, too! i'm thinking white brick with creamy yellow shutters & trim, but there are too many interior projects to do before we can consider the outside.

this is the front door & foyer... the walls are mold green. probably was pretty 10 years ago, but it's dirty & faded now. paint needed! but i love that there is a real entryway- a place for a bench & a spot for coats & shoes. it's the little things...

the front stair case... nothing fancy, but i like it! it looks welcoming to me. see the ugly light fixture? i don't like that.

this pink room is the formal living room. yup. pink. it also has pink fleur-de-lis stamped on the ceiling. those will not be surviving. none of the pink will survive.

this is the bay window in the pink living room. it looks out onto the front porch, and i think i want to put a piano here...

the view from the pink living room into the dining room. i love the pocket doors, and i wish i had a better picture of them. we do not know if the fireplaces work. i really hope they do!

bay window in the dining room... see the plaster falling off the wall? see the sponge paint on the floor? nice, huh?! who sponge paints the floor?

this is the ceiling & light fixture in the dining room. where do i begin? i hate the chandelier, but i don't think i can afford anything better right now (remember the peeling plaster & sponge painted floors). i'm consdering spray paint to cover the shiny brass... either black or oil-rubbed bronze. not sure yet. but the ceiling- look at it! i don't absolutely hate it. but i don't think it's my style. time will tell!

this is what was left of the kitchen. we think it was being used as a breakfast room (hence the chandelier), but the sink was kind of puzzling. that door went to a 3rd bathroom that we decided to make a 1/2 bath. i hate removing a full bath, but a shower just off the kitchen seemed a bit icky.

the other side of the former kitchen... that was the basement door. we moved it to the foyer & closed this wall because we needed some wall space for cabinetry & shelving. there were 5 doorways in this room before; this creates a very small kitchen! now there are only 3 doorways, so the kitchen has lots of storage space. yay! oh, and that flooring? gone. not that it was bad, but we wanted something that matched the original flooring in the living & dining room more closely.

this was a cute little pantry between the kitchen & family room. cute but not useful enough to keep. i think matt & his friends enjoyed bashing it with a sledgehammer! (we are re-purposing all the wood & trim that we possibly can, in case you were wondering. many hours spent gently removing nails from boards & flooring & trim!)

so i know this picture is apparently of nothing... but that's what this room looked like. it was the kitchen (with no appliances & strange, loose cabinets). now it has become our mudroom & laundry. i've never had a mudroom or main floor laundry, so i'm pretty excited! i have BIG plans for this being the most efficient & attractive little room ever- it may take some time, but i think it's important. this is where we will enter the house from the driveway, so it needs to be a welcoming place for my family. it also needs to encourage neatness & storing things in their proper place! too ambitious for a mudroom? never!

this is the family room where our couches & television will go- the hang out room. i like the window into the dining room! this used to be the exterior, hence the brick & the window.

the second floor- literally. this is what the floors on most of the second story look like. i believe the previous owners took the carpeting with them... did i mention that this was a foreclosure? that may put things in perspective. we can't refinish every floor in the house- way too expensive! so i am painting the floor in our daughter's bedrooms & this third bedroom/bonus room a creamy white. i've gotten mixed reviews on whether or not that was a great idea, but it's too late now!
(by the way, this is that 3rd bedroom- i tried to take pictures of it, but it is so small & there is nothing in it. my photos looked like pictures of walls).

kind of like this! doesn't look like much, but this is julia's room. somehow i didn't get any pictures of the other walls, which is where the 2 windows are. this room gets lots of pretty sunlight & will make a lovely little girl's room!

this is caroline's room, which is right across from julia's. it's basically the same size, but slightly longer. it only has one window because this one (in the picture) goes into the master bedroom addition. this was the previous owner's solution- mirror, beadboard, shelves & molding. not horrible, but not my first choice, either. we have removed this & are planning to back it with fabric & make it a little focal point. oh, and the dark green is gone, too. caroline is 3, so she chose PINK. i'm coming to terms with it.

this is the floor in caroline's room. yes, they liked stencils. i don't like them as much. i think they have their place, but not on hardwood floors.

this is the girl's bathroom, completely covered in white tile. the sink, floors, walls & tub/shower are all the same white tile. and it's so tiny that i couldn't get a good picture of the space. let's just say i'll have to close the door to kneel on the floor for their bathtime! although it is ugly, it is not a priority for renovation. we'll do this in a year or so when we have saved enough money to expand it!

i had to include this picture- this is matt standing in the tub/shower with the ENORMOUS showerhead. the tub is so shallow that there is NO way you could use this hand held sprayer without soaking the entire second story. i believe he is saying, "who in their right mind spends money on this kind of shower head in a bathroom that needs this much work?"

this is the space that was intended for a 2nd floor laundry, and i would LOVE a second floor laundry. but i would love a real master bathroom & a decent bath for my kids even more! this space has been cut in two: half to expand the master bath & half for a closet that will become the expanded girls bath at a later date. (besides, i don't think our washer & dryer would fit up the stairs, so that would have been disappointing!)

the master bathroom- note how the door blocks the cabinets? great design, huh? it gets even better.

the master bathroom shower. see the tub spout? no bathtub. ????????
and i don't know why this is underlined & i can't make it stop. maybe i'll get better at this soon!
anyway, the master bath has been completely gutted & i can't wait to take the after pictures!!

i had to include this picture. this is the window in the master bath.
see it? look closer:

yes. it's bird poo. there was a nest above almost every window in the addition because the exterior framing wasn't complete. awesome.

master bedroom... it's plain, but a pretty large room by my standards! lots of finishing touches to be done, and then it's a blank slate. i LOVE blank slates!

master closet! YAY!!!!

the third floor is a partially finished attic. we're going to use this space as a playroom, which i'm really excited about! and as cute as this diamond pattern is, it's just painted sub-flooring. rough & uneven at best, we decided to cover it with a laminate floor. and i'm painting over the dark red- i'm thinking really bright green & blue, very energizing colors!

last but not least, matt's office! a really good size room for him to spread out his books & papers, organize however he likes, preach sermons to himself... and it's climate controlled, unlike his basement "office" at our current house. carpet is gone- it was pretty gross, and it only covered half the floor. i'm a little jealous of this big room, but he really deserves it! and the girls would never let me sneak away to a room like this & shut the door, so it would be wasted on me anyway...

i realized that i don't have any photos of the garage or backyard... picture a forest with a shack in it. : )

so that's the BEFORE! i have DURING pictures, but those will be revealed with the AFTER pics. coming soon! well, the "post-construction" pictures are coming... it will be a slow process to thoroughly decorate this house. i'm really looking forward to living in it & figuring out what it needs to become our home!

the rhinos

i need to remember that childhood phases pass quickly & often... that the cute, sweet little voice & funny mispronounced words will soon be grown-up & proper, and the insanely annoying & highly destructive patterns will also pass. the difficult phases seem to last longer- why is that?

so right now, caroline is knee deep in an "i love rhinos" phase, and i think it's HILARIOUS. she is a bonafide tiara wearing princess- in love with the color pink, only wears dresses, ALWAYS wears her plastic tiara, and insists on being called Ariel (or belle or tinkerbell, depending on the day). why does this princess love rhinos? completely unknown, but she cannot stop talking about them. they are the answer to every question, the best part of every day, and the solution to any problem. funny kid...

Caroline looking at the rhinos with Grandpa- note the tiara, froggy boots and stuffed froggy wearing a Sleeping Beauty dress.

a rare rhino sighting... they often hide in the corner, only coming out when matt whistles for them. yup- they come when he calls.

Julia enjoys a more laid-back approach to the zoo, although the bush dogs really sparked her interest last time we visited.

I'm working on an "all things new house" post... lots of before & during pictures, soon to become after pictures! we'll be moving soon- maybe 3-4 weeks, and i am really excited to see our new house become our home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


i've been meaning to do this for ages... and in fact, i've actually started a blog post on several occasions over the months! several things keep stopping me- namely caroline & julia, but also second thoughts about entering 'blogland.' however, i still think this may be the best way for me to keep up with what is happening in our lives... i found that writing on matt's blog while he was being treated for cancer ( was a good way for me to communicate & express my feelings. now, although he has recovered & is cancer-free, i still feel like i want to write from time to time.
about this:

and this:
(photos above by Bailey Mohr of

and this:

and this:

(the home we are renovating... with lots of help!)

i just need a record of our perfectly imperfect life, and i'm HORRIBLE at keeping a journal. i may be horrible about blogging, too, but we'll see...