Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baby blizzard

All has been seemingly quiet on the Bigger, Better, Best front for a few weeks. We ditched the never-ending horror that is living among three in-progress re-dos and headed east then south for some baby shower action.

First up, was a brunch soiree in Chicago. Hubs' mom went all out, decorating each table with a different kids' book, which was adorable.
I parked myself at the Curious George table, mostly because the candy favors there were runts and if there is one thing I love, it's sugar shaped like fruit. Sneaky candy!

There was also a Pete the Cat table, in homage to our crazy cat person-ness.

Can't beat a classic - Goodnight, Moon.

And Berenstein Bears!

My parents came out for the bash, too. I donned the belt to keep up my end of the bargain of being the most pregnant lady at the party.

We played pinned the pacifier on the baby and each person had to choose a pink or blue blindfold based on what they think baby is going to be. The girl votes edged out, but only by one vote.

Next up was St Louis, where the greatest appetizer ever:

 A giant soft pretzel heralding the impending arrival of my first-born. Seriously perfect.

The crowd went wild while we opened presents.

Can't you just hear us going "Oooooo!" as we opened this card saying a bike trailer was on it's way to our place? Psyched to cart around that little homie!

And my dad went for the gold and gave Hubs the shirt he wore the day I was born. He even wrote a classic Papa BBB poem to immortalize the moment. Want to make a pregnant lady cry? This is how you do it.

What dries happy tears better than hot chocolate? I enjoyed the basic version while most other guests spiked theirs with tons of fun add-ins. 

The whole BBB clan. Holla!

Of course, in addition to hanging out with our nearest and dearest, we accumulated a hell of a lot of baby gear. Now that the room is nearly ready, it's time to organize and decorate. Get excited!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bathroom Bump-Up: In which we reflect

Originally, we bought a pre-framed mirror at Home Depot for $30 with the intention to hang it in the space between the beadboard trim.Sadly, we failed to account for one measly half inch and the mirror hung so low, it overlapped the tile backsplash.

So, we set about making our own framed mirror. We got a mirror cut to size at Lowes and then Hubs decided that adding more beadboard would be the easiest way to get the mirror to lay flat against the wall and not sit at an angle as it hung from plaster to beadboard.

There was much measuring and mathing.

I'm thankful everyday that this flannel-clad man is my husband, but especially when projects like this require extreme precision.

I think you can see him thinking in this picture. We secured the beadboard with a bajillion nails.

Then, it was time to hang the mirror. We busted out the construction adhesive and Hubs got to work making the beadboard a cozy home for the mirror to hang.

A scientist and an artist, Hubs never ceases to amaze.

I love when we can hide cats in our DIY projects.

And then, a moment of sheer terror.

Construction adhesive sets up pretty quick, but we still had to fight gravity to keep it level while we hung the bottom trim to keep it steady.

The rest of the trim went up lickety split.

And I finally can apply my hot rollers in the bathroom and not the dining room.

It's coming together!

If our DIY graffiti tag is cats, what's yours?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Life in a house with three projects in process

Fun Fact: Somehow, watching this video is a really distinct childhood memory for me (which is weird because we didn't have cable, so no MTV for me as a 3 year old). I remember being equal parts terrified and fascinated by the puppets.

Anyway, "Land of Confusion" really sums up how it feels to be three-projects deep (baby room, bathroom and now home office).

Because we're refinishing the baby's floor, using some yuck-o primers and adhesive, I walk around like this a lot.

My living room is piled with baby furniture (though the crib is still hidden in the basement).

The dining room is the staging area for all the tools.

Notes, reminders and other can't-miss items live on the dining room table.

Replacement items (towel bar, shelves and a fan for the kiddo's room) hang out next to the toilet brush. In my living room. Gag. Assorted junk is squirreled away under the coffee table.

Baby shower presents have started to roll in (yay!), but they have no home until the floors are done.

And finally, the worst part - because we're always sanding or scraping something down (it seems), there is a constant layer of dust on everything that I really see no sense in taking care of until the dust-creating activities are done.


It's not too bad, but after about three weeks of this, I've got to admit, I feel a little cramped. Hopefully, these nesting instincts I've heard so much about will really inspire me to do a deep clean once the projects are done!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A birthday interlude

Every year, I try to get crazy in the kitchen for Hubs birthday. You've seen me try my hand at cinnamon rolls, eggs benedict and key lime cake with wildly unpredictable rates of success. Nevertheless, on the docket for the mister's 28th was a variation on his favorite dessert - tiramisu in cupcake form!

(I once tried making Hubs real tiramisu back before I had a kitchen you could fit two people in and it was a horrible, horrible mistake. It tastes like cheap booze layered with unflavored gelatin. And the sweetheart still ate half the dish. Hubs clearly loves tiramisu so much, he can't even hate on sad versions.)

This experiment in cupcakery was really not too bad. I followed the directions (which is typically where I go wrong with these things) and am pleased to report that we enjoyed 18 of these little beauties, which taste just as good as they look! Seriously, try them for yourself.

I am now 1-1 in the birthday dessert department. I sense the beginning of a streak here, people.

Other ways to celebrate your husband's final non-dad birthday:

Presents, duh. Hubs got a new kitchen faucet and two ridiculously fat beer books.

Dinner at Baru 66 (which, while divine, was lacking a little in the vino department for me thanks to the bambino en borde. Sad times!).

Beatles Brunch at Cafe di Scala (it was our first time hitting up this monthly event and Oh. Holy. Cakes. The chicken and waffles made me want to melt into a puddle right at my seat. So amazing. I also had a virgin bloody mary with the house-made mix, which was fresh and bright).

Massages at East Village Spa (a new birthday tradition! Any excuse to take a little snooze on those fun beds).

Buy a Super Coat. Someone ruined her husband's winter coat in the wash and so we hit Eddie Bauer where this "little" guy was 60% off. Hubs can now trek comfortably in -40 degree climes and sleep well knowing he paid just $165 for the privilege.

Hooray for birthdays!

Friday, January 11, 2013

New gig, new digs!

For the past two and a half years, I've been the Communications Director for the American Heart Association's Iowa operations. It's been awesome. I've gotten to write event scripts, work with local celebrities, steer our messaging and social media presence, stage manage huge fundraisers, and genuinely make a difference in how Iowans see their heart health. It has been a complete blast.

But, it's time for me to move on to the next project! The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association (because risk factors are so similar and both fall under the cardiovascular disease umbrella) and nationally, the goal is to really put more resources behind the stroke side of things. I'm going to be managing their new social media presence at the American Stroke Association. How awesome is that? (Answer: Very, dude.)

It's a chance to learn new things, be a specialist in one area of PR (I've been a generalist for my whole career so far, so I'm super psyched at the chance to dig deep into one area) and shape an emerging online presence. Can you say "Holla, balla!"? because, yes, this is going to be superfun.

The job was technically supposed to be in Dallas, but I just couldn't ditch the possibility of blizzards and so I'll be working from a home office right here in cushy DSM. Which means, I get to design a home office. Which I need to really get started on, as my current home office space (in the glorious basement! This is where I silently thank this old house for being leaky a few years ago because I fo' sho' wouldn't have been thrilled to work in the dingy dungeon that was our basement in 2010.) is currently home to a fooseball table and a litter box. Not exactly where I'm going to get my best work done.

Maybe more like this, but no chandelier because the ceilings are under 7 feet and with a more comfy chair on wheels and definitely no orchid because I kill and maim orchids just by looking at them. (Also, notice the bar is on the side of the desk facing the chair - this desk is styled backwards!) But otherwise, exactly this:
pretty purple home office

Do you work from home? Any tips for me as I setup the new space?

PS If you are in Des Moines and PR-minded, we need a new Communications Director STAT (Heart Month is just about two weeks away!). Apply away!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bathroom Bump-Up: That weird, mostly-done stage

Every project hits this point. The big changes are done and all that's left is a bunch of piddly mini-projects that will take more time than you realize but no one will notice. I personally guarantee that no one has ever walked into a freshly renovated bathroom and first admired the grout-sealing job, for example. Unless that person was a grout-sealant salesperson.

But, it's all the little things you have to do, like seal grout, touch up trim, putty over nail holes and bust out the painter's caulk (which! Fixes everything! Gap in the trim? Ugly plaster to tile seam? Painter's caulk that bizzo!).

We do have three big, fun things left to do:

  1. Hang the mirror (we have to caulk the trim first and we've been hunting down some seriously secure hanging doo-dads for it. It's a 15lb framed mirror and so we want to make sure no little curious hands (or wandering cat butts) can knock it down and require us to spend a perfectly good Saturday in the ER - I'll share how we secure it in case anyone else is looking to do the same).
  2. Scrape and re-grout the shower. We left this until last because, frankly, it's going to suck. There are a lot of grout lines to scrape (previous DIYers failed to seal the grout, so it is NASTY like whoa), but the regrouting shouldn't be horrible.
  3. Shopping! I think I'll do a TJ Maxx shopping spree this weekend for:
    • Window dressing (the glass is frosted, but a valance or roman shade would look nice)
    • New shower curtain (because what was I thinking with that thing?) 
    • Rug
    • Soap dispenser
    • Shelves for above the toilet
    • Fancy, spa-like knick-knacks for those shelves
    • Curved shower curtain rod
What's your least favorite part of the project? This is definitely at the bottom of my list, right before priming but after paying for all this junk.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bathroom Bumpup: Bright, open spaces

Here at the Bigger, Better, Best house, we don't give up easily. When faced like a minor obstacle (like having one very uncooperative toilet), we don't spend much time hyperventilating and throwing ourselves on the couch with deep "Woe is me!" sighs (the time limit on that is ten minutes). Instead, we look around the shambles of our sole bathroom and say, what else can we do?

So, we painted. From a nice, but dingy green...
And sick, sad pale ceiling...

To a sharply nautical blue and stark white ceiling!

The trim is still that greasy off-white, but not for long.

Hubs also installed the new light, which, is almost impossible for a photography newbie like myself to take a decent picture of. It's shiny and bright and lovely, though.

It might not be a functioning bathroom yet, but it is starting to look like one!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Branding the baby's room

The mural! Based on the tree I used as the grounding graphic force for our wedding, I created a super adorable baby room mural. I mean, I spent $75 for a very talented gal on Etsy to develop my wedding invites and this tree and really, I'm just trying to get the most bang for my buck by making this tree our family logo. (Our family also has a few favorite fonts that fit our "brand," too in case you were wondering. I'm clearly that bizarre.)

I mentioned before that painting this wasn't too bad, even for an art dunce like myself. A nice projector, a sharp pencil and a steady hand is all it took to create:



For those of you curious, Hubs is the green bird, I'm the yellow bird and Baby BBB is the teal bird. Hubs (bless his heart!) originally asked to be painted with the markings of a sun conure. After perusing the paint selections, though, he realized he didn't want to upstage the kiddo's bird and also, he did not want his wife/artiste to have a conniption fit trying to replicate nature's beautiful bounty. Hubs is a wise, wise man.

I did two coats, but there are still lots of great brush strokes, which only add to the tree-ness of it all. I can't wait to camp out in here every night and stare at this sucker while I'm in a sleep deprived zombie state.

Now that this is done, the baby's room work is on hold for a few days while we finish the bathroom. Then, the floors need to get refinished (barf). That's on the calendar for next weekend. I can only imagine how excited you all are to read about the whole sand, buff, seal thang. I'll make it fun, I promise.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bathroom Bumpup: Toilet Toils

Once the bathroom floor was all set, we were in a frenzied rush to install the new toilet that resulted in a potentially ripped and corroded pipe behind the wall, requiring not one, but two "Holy shit, what time does Home Depot close on New Year's Eve?" (answer: 5:00 p.m.) and "CRAP! What about Menard's?" (8:00 p.m., bless their discount-hardware-sellin' hearts) moments. Sadly, at 9:00 (after all hardware stores closed to ring in the new year), we realized we were one pipe short of a working toilet.
The horror.

And so, we set about living toilet-less for a third night, confident that our troubles would be gone by 9:00 the next morning when Home Depot reopened.

The short-lived (foreshadowing!) joy. 

I woke up on New Year's Day to the most glorious sound known to DIYers of a one bathroom home: the sound of a toilet flushing, because Hubs got up early and exchanged the short pipe for a full-length one, thus ending my reign as Queen of the Throne-less.

A cat in a fresh-out-of-the-box toilet.

Sadly, this joy was only temporary. After two days of bliss, we noticed a small leak. Upon trying to fix the leak, we realized how horrendously old and nasty the phlange (the piece that connects floor to toilet) was.  A quick call to our back-up emergency plumber revealed that because the pipe was original to the house, it might not be fixable without (brace yourself) going at it through our basement ceiling. You know the one - it's the ceiling we spent hours crippling ourselves over as we rebuilt it just two years ago.

Now, we were potty-less for a fourth night. We laughed, we cried, we binged on Jimmy John's.

Ken, our plumber, came to inspect the toilet yesterday. Lo and behold, his original diagnosis was worst-case scenario and it's actually a really easy fix. Stranger things have happened, right? This old heap of bricks sometimes magically cures itself.


We have a functioning toilet again. I hope my dainty and ladylike musings on this subject haven't turned you off my blog forever. I just felt compelled to share the trials and truths of this harrowing tale with you all. And really, what you don't know about those four dark nights is saving my dignity.

After all, a true lady doesn't kpiss and tell.

Blog Directory