One Year Anniversary in 225 Winthrop Dr.

A year already??  No...you're jerkin' my chain!  So many things have gone on over the last year; moving from Austin up to St. Louis and all that comes with living in the Midwest.  Starting a new job.  Making new friends.  Exploring our new city. Traveling. 
Oh yah, and buying a house....quite possibly (hands down) the biggest change of the year (of our lifetimes). 

I still cannot believe that we've lived in our house for a year.  I thought it would be fitting for today to be about how 225 Winthrop ended up as the house we decided to make our first home. 
When we were laying the groundwork of where our ideal area would be to start searching, we figured that it would be reasonable to live in the middle of where our two jobs would be.  As you can see below, we pretty much nailed that spot on.  (my work is yellow, Terry's is Red, and our house is purple)

Our next step in the house-hunt was to just hit the ground running.  We looked at close to 15 homes with our realtor.  I dont know if I'll be able to describe this it right, but after many many house tours, walking into our house was the first one that I felt like "this is it".  I told Terry with only about a minute into looking around that "this is our house, I love everything about it".  He looked at me a little puzzled and he figured I was overwhelmed for the day.  I just felt it in my gut. 

Next, we wanted to narrow down what our deal-breakers were and what things we could compromise.  Deal-Breakers (things we wouldn't sacrafice) Large backyard.  Semi-fixer-upper.  2+ Bathrooms.  2+ bedrooms.  Spacious Kitchen. Garage.  Our Compromises (things we wanted but could live without) Basement (I'm from the east coast...I love a good basement!).  Newer Appliances.  Front porch.  Patio deck.

Here was the house during our very first walk-through.  Even through the old feel of the home, we saw so much potential.  The layout was perfect for us (Our #1 layout factor:  The bedrooms need to be away from the living area.  Learned that in our rental in Austin).

Holy Wood Paneling

This was move-in day

This morning. :-)

Walk-Through view from the hallway entrance. 

Move-in Day, view from the kitchen entrance. (remodeling has thus far included exposing the hardwood floors that still need refinishing and the dual colored paint with chair rail shown in previous posts.) 

Current:  Paint  and  Hardwood Floors

Walk-through.  Holy Smokes was it dated!  Still, it had such a good feel to it, it was open, lots to work with, and could picture us spending a lot of time here.

Move-in day.

Today:  And sorry that this is my best shot right now considering all the mess, but it is the only one that captures that we have all newly revamped cabinets, recessed lights, granite counters, gorgeous undermounted sink, butcher block island, pendant lights, and stainless steel appliances (the stove is still to be swapped with our stainless gas once we run the gas line).

Walk-Through. Master Bedroom.  Changed the paint, still need to put in crown-moulding.  Still deciding if the paint color will stay or be changed.

Walk-through.  Front Living room.  It was so dark and dismal, but we changed it so much that this is increasingly becoming one of our favorite rooms.  Re-painted the walls, added a french door leading to the kitchen, stripped and re-stained the floors, new furniture, new baseboards.  It's almost complete!

This morning:  Again, pardon with the mess.  Just wanted a shot from the same angle.  This room is about 75% finished.  Will post when it is entirely done.

Walk through: Master Bathroom.....how we got past the color still baffles me!

Move-In Day: Guest Room

Today: New Paint, new doors, Completely new guest bath.

Move-in day: Hall Bath.  YIKES!

We finally stopped dragging our feet and put in the offer.  Our realtor said that she would call us as soon as she heard back.  We were out driving around doing, what else, looking at other homes. Summer called and said they accepted our offer on the first go, didn't have to deal with all the back and forth.  I started crying, Terry rolled his eyes at me, gave me kisses, and then we headed to the closest bar we could find (which we just recently found it again driving home from downtown Belleville) and had a celebratory drink.  We called everyone in the family.  We were just so excited!

Fast forward a month from then, I was sitting at work, just waiting for the phone call from Terry to tell me to start heading "home".  Needless to say it was not a very productive work day. :-)

So much change, especially change in each of us through this project.  Terry has more and more become reasonable with the idea of letting me use a power tool and not thinking that I'm going to mess things up (although it's taken a lot of complaining).  He's become a great teacher, even if he uses as few words as possible to get to his point.  I've certainly gained more confidence in my abilities, but still need to stop with the hesitations.  I've also really started enjoying DIY projects and now just have to put all these great finds into action in our home.

So much change, but the one thing that I'm so happy that has stayed the same is "us".  Of course there was apprehension in buying our first home, and of course there were the "Are we going to be able to agree?" scenarios, but as a whole we have had great luck...or at least had very easy compromises.  We've learned far more about each other re-building this house than we did in the first "living together" set-up in Texas for sure.  We were able to make decisions together, and agree (and disagree) but I learned...I wont speak for Terry even though I suspect his opinion is the same...that I value his opinions and ideas and his idiosyncrasies so much more through this process.  He makes me so happy, everyday, even in the days where his OCD makes me want to shake him as hard as I can.  I'm as much in love with him today as I was the day we moved in, as our time in Texas, as our time in Maryland, and I am so glad to be on this journey with him. 

Enough of that lovey-dovey mess......WHAT'S IN STORE FOR THE NEXT YEAR!!??!!   Well I'll tell ya.....BATHROOM DEMO!!!  Our hall bath and master bath are just as atrocious as they were the day we moved in.  That's right....I could take a picture today and they pretty much still look identical. We figured it'd be best to start in the guest room to have it completed before we knock out two bathrooms in one go.  Also on the plate is pulling out the carpet in the hall and computer room to expose the hardwood floors.  Ugh, and also to be done.....more painting.  Obviously I'm dragging my feet, but the computer room needs changed, as does the front bedroom needs a re-paint. Can't wait to see all the improvements of the coming year!!

Happy 1-year house anniversary!! 


Alexa found what she wants for Christmas

Alexa (my oldest niece) called last night on the drive home from work, and we got to talk for a pretty long time about all kinds of things.  There was the talk of our Eagles and how she got to go to see a training camp, how all the other nieces are doing, and how she is amazed that summer is almost over already.  Then she got to the part of the conversation she was most excited about which involved.....Ebay and Legos.  In fact, since she reads this blog she told me I should put up a post about it because of how cool it was.  So here you go Lex :-)
Alexa has always loved Legos.  She's hard to shop for just because she isn't girly-girl at all, so Legos have always been an easy gift idea; just so long as she doesn't already have the set!  She was looking around on Ebay at different Lego sets people had for sale, and she stumbled across what she considered the coolest thing she'd seen in a reeeeaaalllly long time; a post for someone selling 500 LBS of LEGOS!!

I immediately asked how much it is to which she said, "well there isn't any shipping charges because they only give you the option to pick it up.....but it's over $7000!!!"  She said that I needed to go online and look when I got home, and I must say, it is quite the collection!  500 Pounds.....that's ridiculous!!

So if any of you have $7,299.99 just laying around and have nothing to spend it on, I know a 12 year old that would know JUST how to spend it! 


Chicago: Saturday and Sunday

We got up very early Saturday morning, much to Terry and Emily's dismays.  First stop was breakfast at a diner the hotel recommended.  It was a hole-in-the-wall and our waitress was, well, nevermind, but the food was fairly decent.  I think this was Terry still yelling at me for getting us all up so early. :-)

Then we headed down to the riverwalk to sign up for a boat cruise.  We chose a 90-minute cruise that went out onto the Lake as well as through the canals.  I got some great shots of the city skyline. 

Navy Pier
John Hancock Building

So many drawbridges, it was really pretty by boat

After the cruise, we went back for a nap at the hotel, then got ourselves together to go down to the Chicago Bears / OAKLAND RAIDERS football game at Soldier Field.  We didn't buy tickets in advance just assuming that there were going to be plenty of scalpers around.  Well we assumed wrong.  We may have just not known where the scalpers were hiding, but there were none to be found and we walked almost the entire perimeter of the stadium.  We stood in the will-call line at the stadium to try and buy visitor seats, but when we got to the front of the line, which was already 30 minutes into the game, they said that the tickets were $68 a piece.  Needless to say, we did not pay that for a preseason game where all the starters had probably finished for the game already. 
We ended up walking to a local White Sox / Bears bar nearby with plenty of TV's and watched the first half there.  Our view on the walk though was pretty incredible though. 

We cabbed it back to the hotel and Terry went up to finish watching the game while Em and I had dinner in the hotel restaurant (I had prosciutto wrapped scallops with spicy mustard aioli and a white chocolate and dill sauce, Em had Seafood Tempura Misto which was tempura battered shrimp, scallops, octopus and fresh asparagus with udon noodles and a soy citrus sauce........it was SO GOOD!)  We got to bed early as it was just a very long day of sightseeing and we still had more in the morning. 

Millenium Park was on the agenda for Sunday as well as Gino's East Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!!  Em has all the great pictures of us with The Bean.  Here's the only one I have on my camera.  Will update shortly.

We walked all through the park, it is so fantastic, wish we had that in St. Louis!  Then, there was an enormous Art Fair going on, so we spent some time awing at paintings we couldn't afford.  We walked down to Buckingham Fountain after.  Terry and I fell in love with all the foliage, especially the red hostas...well I dont know if they're hostas but that's my story until I find out otherwise.  

So vibrant!!

We hailed a cab back to our car, then headed for lunch to Gino's East to get Chicago Deep Dish Pizza before we left.  Oh sweet lord it was so good!!!  I didn't take any pictures because I was stuffing my face the entire time, but again once I get Em's pics, I will post them. 

Overall, an incredible trip.  So many things we got to do and see and experience.  Great memories together with a great friend and a great boyfriend.  Wonder where the next adventure will be??  Suppose I should start planning!! :-)



Chicago: Thursday and Friday

What an incredible weekend we ended up having! (not that I expected any different) Chicago is truly such an amazing city, and we took full advantage it! 
Emily flew into town at 4:30, but Terry and weren't able to even get on the road until 6:15 from St. Louis.  The drive was uneventful, hit some bad construction work about 30 minutes outside of the city, and almost wanted to strangle each other by the time we arrived to the hotel (we always love each other....sleep deprivation seems to always cause a rucous and stir the mood between us though), but at 11pm when we were out of the car and with Em, all was much better. 
We threw our stuff down and proceeded down to the hotel skyline restaurant for the beautiful views....and a martini.  Right when we sat down though they told us it was last call so we would have to leave in a little bit.  Well we stayed for the little bit, and then went out for a casual stroll around the city; and by casual I mean we walked all over the city pit-stopping at downtown hole-in-the-walls until 3am.  Sleep deprivation didn't seem to go away after this night. 

We got up relatively early but were a very lazy crowd.  Terry went and got us breakfast and while he was gone, we proceeded to change up the order of events for the weekend.  We decided on the Cubs/Braves game for the afternoon and then Billy Elliot in the evening.  The Cubs game was a great time.  We had nosebleed seats, but thank goodness we snuck into these seats for the better view.  Wrigley field is such a great stadium!

After the game, we headed back towards the Loop so that Em and I could go and buy our discount tickets for Billy Elliott.  We got a little turned around with where the discount venue was located, but ended up walking right past the theater so we swung in to see what prices they have available.  $25 tickets in the section closest to the stage, on the right side.  Score!!  The seats were technically called "partial view" because we were not sitting center, but we figured we would chance it. 

We left and grabbed some food at The Tilted Kilt (which was funny for Terry and me because there was one right down from our house in Texas).  Great food, but all the waiters have Hooter-esque outfits on just in plaid.  Veeerrrrry Irish....whatever. 
We went back to the hotel to change into our pretty outfits (pics are on Em's camera but will upload when I get them) and sprinted off to the show.  The Oriental Theater is breath-taking.  Absolutely gorgeous.  I took a few inside, but not as many as I'd liked because even though they said no flash photography once the show has started, they apparently meant no photography at all.  I snapped one shot and was almost instantly being berated by a rather unpleasant usher.  It wasn't even a good shot but here it is none the less.

As for the show.......Phenomenal. Simply Phenomenal.  It deserves all of it awards for best musical of the decade!  We laughed a lot, we cried, we didn't want it to end. 

My phone died half-way through the show so I had no idea what Terry was up to, but we decided to meet back up at the hotel after the show and then just go from there.  When Terry walked in, so did Billy and Jordan and it was a surprise and very fun!  I knew that we would see them at some point in the weekend, but it was still a nice surprise!  ...And then we didn't end up leaving the hotel room :-)  It was very nice on our budgets and it was still a great time to kick back. 

Always love catching a hysterically laughing billy (even if it is at my expense)

Ew Gross!!!! (Sooo good!)

The rest of the weekend to come tomorrow.  Until then....


Let the weekend begin!!

So yes, I know that it's Thursday, but after work today, I am taking off for a long weekend in Chicago with none other than the fabulous Emily Saulsgiver (and of course the boy is coming along for the fun as well)!  I simply cannot wait to get this weekend started!!  I got a STEAL of a hotel for us on Priceline's "name your own price".  Seriously, I completely low-balled them, and they accepted the offer at more than 60% off what the hotel website has the room listed at per night!  We are right off of Wacker St. and LaSalle Blvd., so right in the heart of the city.  GET ME THERE ALREADY!!

View Chicago!!!!!! in a larger map

We are planning a lot of events, so hopefully the scalpers are out in their glory!  We are going to go see the play Billy Elliott, going to go see the Cubs play the Braves, hopefully go see the pre-season game between the Bears and ..... wait for it.....  The RAIDERS!!!!  Terry's excited.  Well maybe he isn't, but that's because he doesn't get excited about a lot of things, but I'm excited for him.  We are also going to go on an architectural boat cruise and go up the John Hancock Building (it was a combo pack I found online...sweet).  Then of course all the in-between things like Millenium Park to see The Bean and the Faces water fountain, go out on the Navy Pier, eat some Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza and feel sick for days, ha. 
Get ready for the pictures on Monday (maybe Tuesday depending on how exhausted I am). 


Postcard from Scotland

I got a postcard from Allison (the best friend) yesterday!!!  She has been in Scotland for the past three weeks for work (I asked her if I could be temporarily hired as well but she said it wasn't possible...then I asked if i could at least get in a suitcase, still a no go). 

She sent an email early in the trip saying what a great time she had.  Specifically, "I'm having a GREAT time in Scotland so far! It's so much cooler than I expected. The city (Edinburgh) is beautiful and divided into two parts-old town and new town. Their old town puts the US to shame-I ate in a restaurant yesterday that was from the 1300s! New town is really cool/trendier with lots of places to shop and cool businesses. I think I pretty much know my way around the main parts of the city at this point."
This however is why she's my best friend, "Just for the record-everyone's teeth here suck. My pearly whites put the entire nation to shame, and that's not saying much."   Bah-haha
 I'm so excited she had such an awesome experience, but I am also so happy that she comes back tomorrow!!!" 


Revealed: French Doors and Living Room Hardwood Floors!!

The doors are sanded, hung, unhung, painted, re-hung, shiny new handles installed, and we are THRILLED!!  Who would have ever thought it would be so time-consuming to put up a french door?!?
The floors are sanded, stained, dried, stained, dried, stained, and FINISHED!!! 

In case you missed the front living room floor / french door demolition post

When Scott and I got back from our quick trip up to Chicago, we came home to see that Terry had framed in and installed the french doors.  SO EXCITING!!  (you can also see the floors are post-sanding / pre-staining at that point)

We painted the doors, installed beautiful handles (FYI: The handles don't turn, they are just for show, but that is called Half-Dummy Trim; it "does not turn or provide a function other than for decorative purposes or as a pull")

You can't see the handles well....I will try and find them online....

...found it!

Here's the other side of the doors (pardon the mess...it's all stuff from Lowes)

And we can't forget the floors!!

Addition of the new chairs and couch

Addition of our new carpet (again pardon the mess....I figured you aren't judgers)

We are so happy with how it all looks.  We still have finishings to do with the trim around the frame for the door and getting the TV in, and the curtains hung, and art on the wall, but I just couldn't wait that long!!

...Aaaaaaaand we may have been dancing around in the front room when it was still empty like it was a ballet studio; it's the little things in life that make it so perfect.