Tuesday, August 25, 2015

NBT, Vacation, Cakeballs, and Birthdays!

Recently I had someone ask me, "So you've given up on the blogging again already?".  I think it was a fair question because my track record basically speaks for itself.  But I have not given up blogging, I've just been crazy busy for the last several weeks!  Just so you know I'm not slacking here's a quick recap of what our family has been up to:

July 27 -  31:  We had Neighborhood Bible Time (like Vacation Bible School) at our church.  I taught 5th grade each day while Liam attended the Preschool Class and Ellie spent time with some lovely ladies in the nursery.

August 3 - 7: Technically time off but I spent all that time cleaning and preparing for our week long vacation in the Upper Peninsula.  This involved the normal packing as well as meal planning and prep since we stay in a cabin and my mother-in-law and I cook for each meal.

August 7 - 15:  Vacation!  Blessed, wonderful, relaxing, delightful vacation!

August 17 - 21:  Baking, mixing, rolling, dipping, and decorating 150 cake balls and 100 cake pops for a wedding.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention my wonderful mom who watched the kids on Thursday while I did the bulk of my dipping and decorating.  I don't think I ever would have finished if it wasn't for her.  Plus we celebrated her birthday, albeit a week late (sorry Mom, it seems like our vacation is always so close to your birthday!).

That brings us to this week when I am trying to get ready for my sweet Ellie's 1st birthday which happens to be Friday.  And my house is showing the neglect of the last few weeks.  And we're eating in the dining room for the first time.  And the dining room hasn't even been cleaned/unpacked because a few days after we moved in we trapped a bat in there and closed it off to let it die.  And what am I still doing here writing?  Bye!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Our First Project!

I'm excited to share the first non-essential project we tackled in our house.  Will has done a number of mini projects, but they were all essential for us to function in our home (non-working outlets/light sockets, leaking pipes, etc) so this was our first fun project.

Our office really didn't need much work.  The walls, ceiling, floor, and radiators were all in good shape so we knew we could get away with just painting the green walls and replacing the dark green fireplace tile.  We wanted to get our bookcase put up, and thus take down the "Great Wall of Book Boxes", but painting needed to happen before we could do that.  

I began to gather paint samples but quickly became overwhelmed thinking about open concept paint schemes.  Color and decor aren't my forte so thinking about how the living room flows with a wide doorway into the office/music room, which is connected to the dining room with swinging glass french doors, which will eventually be open to the kitchen with an island and stools (which is also open to a breakfast nook area), which connects to a hallway, which connects back to the living room/office/front door area was making me break out in a cold sweat.  

Did I paint all the rooms the same color?  Did I paint them coordinating neutral colors?  Since we were flipping dare I paint them a color I actually like, but might not be helpful for resale? The questions were endless and I was flummoxed.  

Enter the book, "The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful"  (not an affiliate link because I'm not an affiliate and don't even know what that is but should probably figure it out :). I began reading this book for a book club that I'm involved in with some ladies from my church.  It was seriously life changing for me in terms of how I put together my home.  I had been so worried that it wouldn't meet other people's standards of beauty that I had just talked myself out of putting up much in the way of decor.  I've written a little about this before here.  Needless to say we didn't have much on our walls that needed packing in the last house.

Anyway, shortly after finishing the book I was at Home Depot with my family looking at paint colors again and I saw this section of coordinated neutral colors and I said to myself, "Pick three colors you like RIGHT NOW!", and I did!  And it worked out!  I chose a gray with a blue undertones for the fireplace wall, a nice khaki for the other 3 walls and a very pale butter color for the ceiling  (I enjoy unexpected ceiling colors).  So without further ado, here are the before and afters:

Before: Gorgeous glass french doors that I adore, but making choosing paint  difficult!
Before: So. Much. Green. (which is especially loathsome since we are U of M fans ;)
Taping: Behind that stack of boxes were about 6 other similarly tall stacks filled with books
During: Liam got his own little section to paint, he was over the moon!
During:  Starting to see a difference!
After: We still have a few boxes hanging out but the office/music room is really taking shape now. Next up will be replacing the fireplace tile. We're thinking a neutral stone, but are open to ideas if you have any!! 
We have this fantastic medallion light plate on the ceiling but the colors don't go at all with our new paint job.  So what color(s) do you think I should paint it??
Had to grab this picture of Maisie sleeping on the rug, her nose was touching the floor :)
After: And lastly, the bookshelf is finally up!  It takes up one section of the wall next to the opening into the living room. 
The bookshelf is also currently home to a passel of PlayMobil characters!
It makes me immeasurably happy to see these guys and gals up there!
So, that is our first real project, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  Don't forget to weigh in with any ideas of what to do with our fireplace and the medallion light plate!

Monday, August 3, 2015

How We Came To Buy Our House Part 2: The Why

Many people have asked us why we're flipping a house.  It's a fair question because I think, generally speaking, young families don't flip houses that often.  You see, Will grew up on a couple of acres on a dirt road outside a small town.  He also spent portions of each summer exploring the Upper Penninsula wilderness and swimming the extensive solitary stretches of Lake Superior beach at his family's cabin near Paradise, MI (yes, there really is such a place and it's wonderful).  Side story:  The first time we went swimming at Lake Michigan after we got married Will was confused, dare I say annoyed, by having to pay for parking and deal with all the other beach goers. 

I grew up on a busy highway, but we were in a small country town and were far enough outside the city limits that you could look out your windows without looking into the windows of your neighbor's house. 

While dating, Will and I discovered a shared dream of living on a few acres out in the country someday.  We rented a couple places our first year of marriage that fit the "country" part of our dream, but when we decided to buy our own home we realized our budget wouldn't allow us to purchase our "dream" home yet.  That was fine, we aren't always able to get exactly what we want when we want it, which is an important life lesson to learn.  So we bought a house we could afford and we loved that house.  I cried a good ugly cry when I left for the last time in June.  

Anyway, fast forward 5 years, 2 cats, and 2 kids later and we were starting to feel a little cramped in our small house.  We still weren't financially able to move into a "dream" home, especially since the market had rebounded and it was now a seller's market.  We talked about ways we could eventually finance a move out into the country.  We recalled how we had enjoyed remodeling parts of our old house, and designing and adding a fourth bedroom and 2nd full bathroom so the idea of flipping a house to gain equity seemed reasonable.  We thought that if we could find a cheap house that didn't need extensive work we might be able to flip it relatively easily and earn some equity to put towards a house in the country.  So that is, in a nutshell, why we decided to flip a house!

Friday, July 31, 2015

How We Came to Buy Our House Part 1: Coincidence or God?

As I mentioned in my previous post, God worked in some pretty interesting ways to bring us to this house.  There is no way that I can deny His involvement and I am very thankful for it!  The story of how we bought the house we are flipping actually starts almost 6 years ago.  I know, I know, you're wondering, "Ashley, how many parts are there going to be!?".  Don't worry, not that many!

So 6 years ago we were living in a historic one-room schoolhouse in Lowell:


As a newly married couple with no kids this place actually worked quite well for us. The main room functioned as a kitchen, living room, dining room, music room, and office with the bedroom and bathroom being more recent additions.  It was a small space but it was fine and some kind Christian missionaries were giving us a great deal on rent so we were thankful. 

In the fall of 2009 a friend from church tipped us off about a nice house for sale between Lowell and Ada and curiosity got the best of us.  Unfortunately that house sold before we actually ever saw it, but it helped us decide to start the process of purchasing our own home.  While it was definitely a buyers market at that time we were sad to realize that Lowell was still a bit too expensive for us.  We settled on Ionia, which was halfway between Grand Rapids, where I was working, and Lansing, where Will was working.  

After perusing houses for sale online we picked a few to see with our realtor.  And guess what? The very first house we looked at in Ionia happened to be right next door to the house we're flipping.  And here's the kicker!  As we drove away from looking at that first house we drove past this house and saw people eating dinner up on the rooftop patio.  There were tiki torches and twinkle lights and a canopy covering the trellis up there. And not only that, I was completely charmed by the Victorian exterior of the house.  I remember telling Will, "Oh man, I would LOVE to live there someday!!". He agreed that it was a pretty nice house but based on it's size, style, and age we assumed that, were it ever for sale, it would be significantly out of our price range.  

From time to time over the next year I would remember that house but as we began to settle in and remodel our first home, and then as we added children to it I forgot about it.  Until late last fall that is...  And as I have said all week long to the kids I taught at Neighborhood Bible Time (our church's version of Vacation Bible School), "If you want to hear the rest of the story you have to come back tomorrow" or whenever I have time to write up the next post.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I'm back again!

So it's been a loooong looooong time since I wrote a post on this blog.  In fact, the last time I posted Liam looked like this:

And now he looks like this:

And now we have this lovely little lady who will be one in a month:

We also moved from this house:

To this house (no it's not still snowing here, I just can't figure out where I saved the more current pictures): 

My husband also changed jobs twice so it's been a busy 18-ish months!  

So after such a ridiculously long hiatus why start my blog up again?   Well, we're flipping that beautiful old house and I have had a bunch of people ask why we're flipping it, how it's going, do we have pictures to show, etc.  This seemed like the easiest format to update people so over the next couple posts I'll be catching you up to speed on how we "happened upon" this house and what we've done since we moved in almost 2 months ago!  It's quite an amazing story!