run girl, RUN

August 13, 2013, will end my first year of working full-time.  Sure, I held summer jobs waitressing, working at a jewelry store, driving the bev. cart at a swanky golf course, etc.  But this date marks a first.

Because my job is mainly sedentary–minus running in and out of court, depositions, and meetings–I have found one thing doesn’t come naturally anymore, EXERCISING.  This is a problem.

With most things, I have a difficult time starting small.  One of my friends ran the Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon this past spring.  This caused me to think that running a half marathon would be a great way to “make” myself run on a regular basis.  So I am bound and determined to run the Detroit half marathon, 13.1 miles.  Yup.

Of course this decision resulted in new running clothes, new running shoes, and finding a training plan (http://running.about.com/od/racetraining/a/basichalf.htm):

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(I went with New Balance shoes.  Hoping for a lot of support for my knees)

Today these shoes are hitting the ground for 4 miles.  WHOOT!  This endeavor is not going to be about how fast I run–genetically I was created semi-tortoise, it’s just about DOING it–Nike was on to something.

Because this is a first for me, I would love to hear any advice on do’s and don’ts, training plans, shoes, you name it!!  But please keep in mind that my goal is simple: FINISHING the race.

Lastly, I couldn’t write this post without a shout-out to a good friend for bringing us back some Lemonjello’s (LJ’s) coffee (that I am enjoying as I write this post):

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For those of you who aren’t Hope friends or Hollanders, Lemonjello’s is a local coffee shop in Holland, MI, on the sweet corner of 9th and College (http://lemonjellos.com/).  It is a place that holds many memories of past games of “one-up” and conversations about future dreams.

SUMMERTIME fun + cabinets + mustard

It’s JULY.  Not only July, but almost the 4th of July.  WOW!

We had a jam-packed June, in a good way.  Father’s day, Grandparents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary + party, Lindsay and Logan getting hitched, meeting Eli–the Nelson family’s beautiful child, spending quality time in Holland, Matt finishing his INTERN year of residency, plus a few house projects, and I’m ready for a LONG weekend!

Here are a few photos re what we’ve been up to:

First the Grandparents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary… I’ve written about my Gramsiebaby before (click HERE and scroll down to the end of the post to meet her).  It was such a blessing watching them celebrate 60 years of loving each other, serving each other, and living a life based on God’s promises.

I look at the milestones and adventure they have had raising five children, finding their way in the bush of Africa, caring for orphans in Albania, floating in the Dead Sea, battles with cancer and health, and doing this all, together. I can’t help but think–they did it.  They have truly lived.

When I was a child, I was scared of everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  My Grandma was scared of nothing, except getting on escalators, I’m not sure why.  She challenged me to experience life and I’m beginning to understand why:

(the lovely couple ON their anniversary)

(Alpen Rose cake–the best)

(my sister and I at my Grandparents’ shindig)

(enjoying Boatwerks on a Saturday night)
(meeting Elias Nelson for the first time)
(harvesting a few beans from our garden)
AND celebrating Matt finishing his first year by, wait for it, a new WEBER grill and accessories:

The man has always wanted a nice grill… so for the 52 weeks of 70-80 hours each week, we splurged!!  delicious.  I also have to add how proud of him I am.  It has been an awesome year watching him actually become a doctor.  
Finally–the SMALL house update.  The cabinets are FINISHED!!!  Here they are:

They are gorgeous.  The finish turned out so much smoother than when we used the rust-oleum kit…  Now I can’t wait to put in the new countertops and backsplash–maybe a roman shade, too??
And… the craft.  I last blogged about lightening up our living room.  Here is what I came up with:
(an old window frame)

(a little rust-oleum oil-rubbed bronze action on a white chain)

(close-up of chain)

(mustard paint, an old book, and the chain)

(close-up of the book pages I glued to the piece of plywood)

(the finished product!!)

(hung and brightening)
So that’s it for June… I can’t wait to see what July holds!!

rust-oleum REFUND

Slight progress on the kitchen cabinet end: rust-oleum will refund your $$$ if you aren’t happy with the result…  Getting the $150ish back is nice, but having to spend another 40ish hours on cabinets = not ideal.

Cabinet progress:

The bonus of an unfinished basement is that it is semi-barn like.  We paint (well, Matt paints), store, etc. all in our boxy basement.

The timeline for the cabinets has been pushed back, ahem, several times because Matt is busy learning about “drugs of the day” and other anesthesia things, but I am hoping they will be finished in the next week or so.

We also invested in “soft-close” hinges.  Matt is stoked about this:

Last, but not least, I’m plotting the next decor move for our living room.  I am inspired by clashing color.  Here is a link to a color scheme that I love (the decor is amazing):
clashing color scheme

I would never have put this together… but I started thinking about brightening up our living room and have a few ideas that involve either a bright mustard or teal + an old window.  The bright mustard may win.

light it UP–porch finds

We LOVE our front porch.  But, the tricky part is how to furnish a long, rather large rectangle?  When we bought the house (one year ago this weekend!), the porch looked like this:

It had POTENTIAL, but was dirty and a home to 102 spiders.  EWW!!  
The first night we slept in this house, we were tired.  We had spent the day cleaning the inside of our new house and starting to unpack.  We then had to finish cleaning our old condo–which was put off so we were still cleaning at 11:00 p.m.  Finally at 11:50 p.m., we came HOME to our new house, I put my key in the front door, and a giant spider fell on my arm.  NOT good.  I think I cried.
Needless to say, at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, we were up and SCRUBBING the porch–I couldn’t sleep because of the unknown “creepy” guests that were likely in our house…
After scrubbing and red cedar stain (plus landscaping and lots of pruning), our porch looked like this last summer:
It was cozy and we enjoyed it!!!  BUT this summer, we decided to add a few things:
I love lanterns. They add to nighttime porch sitting… I found this beauty at World Market for only $25.00 because it had a small crack in the back!! SCORE. Secret: Lanterns crack anyway.  My full-price lantern from Pottery Barn cracked days after I had it home.
We also added the RED stool (another World Market find).  The stool works as an EXTRA seat or a side table for drinks and snacks:

So this is our porch summer 2013:

We are pretty excited about the transformation:

Come sit with us!!!

TASTE of a weekend.

Here’s to a NORMAL weekend.  A weekend where Matt was home, we hung out with friends, and checked out Taste of Ann Arbor:

Taste of Ann Arbor is a food-filled festivity where many local Ann Arbor restaurants put up booths and serve delicious mini-portions for a certain number of 50 cent tickets (check it out here: taste of Ann Arbor).  Although Matt and I aren’t “foodies” as the article suggests, it was fun, social, and tasty.   Especially the fish tacos from The Black Pearl (and I’m normally anti-fish taco).

One of the best things about our small house is its location.  We were able to WALK downtown Ann Arbor for the foodie-festival with a group of friends.

We also stumbled across a “doggie” boutique on the walk back to our house in Kerrytown–Dogma Catmantoo (here’s a link: http://dogmacatmantoo.com/)  It’s a great little store filled with fun pet items.  Stella-bear is now sporting a new Bella Bean Couture collar:

She knows she looks extra cute (and desperately needs a haircut):

FREE fixes

How do you make a small house “work” for entertaining? I’ve blogged about this in the past (see link: prior Wixson house layouts), but never felt that we had quite the right setup.

The past two months we scoped out the options, which include:

1. Hire Contractor to tear out wall between living room and third bedroom on main level;
2. Hire Contractor to finish big room in basement; and
3. Put in a double-sided fireplace between living room and third bedroom on main level

BUT all three options were lots of $$$ and there was no guarantee we would get the same amount of $$$ back when we sell the house–someday.

Needless to say, I was disappointed.  I really wanted our house to be a place friends and family gathered, celebrated, and spent quality time with one another in a welcoming setting; not feeling squished, for instance.

Then, there was a suggestion from a good friend’s mom, who just happens to be an interior decorator– “it’s free to move furniture.” So we started MOVING (she also drew some helpful diagrams).

We ended up with this:

And it’s GREAT.  Thanks, Linda!!!
Last night was our new setup debut.  We ended up having 19 friends come and go and it was a blast.  
The third bedroom is a work in progress–I’ll blog about that later.  But here’s an update on the cabinets:
We decided on a GRAY white color: “gray owl” (Matt loves referring to this as “growl”).  We used ACE Hardware’s cabinet paint, which is a latex paint, but works like an oil paint in terms of hardening. I wanted a color that worked with, but was a bit edgier than, our Kingsport Gray and Elmira White:
This project reinforced that my painting skills are rated at: “0”.  But Matt is an awesome painter and now our cabinet boxes are DONE:

And the cabinet doors will hopefully be done by this Monday.  To anyone thinking about painting/redoing their cabinets, straight up painting the cabinets with ACE Hardware’s paint is easier and cheaper than Rust-oleum.  You simply de-gloss or sand down the cabinets, paint two coats, and you’re DONE.

Believe me, we’ve tried both.

Do and REDO

The story of 2012-2013 has been “doing” and “redoing.”  Maybe this is the nature of Do IT YOURSELF (DIY) projects, maybe we are flat-out indecisive, or maybe home ownership simply lends itself to “redoing,” I’m not sure.  
You all are familiar with the idiom “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try AGAIN?”–William Hickson.  This idiom is our MANTRA.   
Here is a taste of our unsuccessful firsts, that we have TRIED again or are in the middle of re-TRYING:
June 8, 2012:
December 2012:
Unfortunately, around February of 2013, I had the “bright” idea to use duck tape to keep a broken-hinged cabinet hanging.  BAD MOVE resulting in a very CHIPPED cabinet.  So Matt tried to touch up the CHIPPED cabinet, as well as all other cabinets, and we ended up with BLOTCHY cabinets.
Note to anyone using Rust-oleum: touch ups are DIFFICULT (and don’t use duck tape).
Back to ACE Hardware we went for paint samples to re-do our blotchy cabinets.  We tried Benjamin Moore’s: Charcoal Gray, Ashley Gray, Davenport Tan, and Pismo Dunes.

And all color attempts were a FAIL.  So back to the drawing board for us re: cabinet colors.  Either we are going to keep the chocolate theme or we are going with a STARK white.  I’ll keep you posted…
#2 STEPS
This is supposed to be MATT’S post–but sometimes residency is well, residency.  SO, we went from:
the great WALL of carpet:

 to porch paint: 
to hickory hardwood:

AND finally, we are LOVING the hickory hardwood.  Hopefully Matt can write an update on this project soon!
On a side note, we have been busy outside this week:
The lattice has been stained (goodbye s.k.u.n.k):

Lava rock was added to the “flower” garden in our side-yard:

And, we have CORN:

We would LOVE to hear about your spring projects, paint colors, or garden plans…