Archive for the ‘Decorating’ Category

This was our deck last August, about two months after we began demo. The vinyl siding is still completely intact, as we hadn't yet installed Sadie's egress window.

This was during the mending, scraping, filling and sanding phase.


Finally a day off without rain! I’m making the most of it by painting our once-sad little deck. The goal is to go from shabby-shabby to shabby-chic. Next step? Replacing the siding around the deck and painting our Adirondack chair. Oh and Doing some container planting and putting up a trellis in front of that neighbor’s window.

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This is not a test. The photos you see here are REAL. This is our actual bath tub. With tile. Not concrete backerboard. We have been taking showers now for nearly a month and it is blissful. Especially for this 7-months pregnant lady.

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Lest anyone forget how far we’ve come at Casa Dos Gatos, let’s take a look at the evolution of Sadie’s room. All of the following photos were taken from the same angle:

Sadie’s room as it was the first time we saw it:

First glimpse of Sadie's room

After the previous owner moved her stuff out:

The carpet was soaked in cat pee.


New window (sized for egress) and closet wall. Floor not yet laid.

And now, one little step from completion (fabric roller shades):

Wow. We've come a long way!

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First, some renovation news: our tile order won’t be coming in until April 12. That means we won’t have a tiled tub surround until probably the middle of April, at the earliest, which means we will have been without a shower for nearly 6 months when all is said and done. Sort of incredible, if you think about it. But we’re just not going to think about it.

And, on another note altogether, we have some much happier, bigger news: Two Cats is gaining a new family member. No, not another cat (or chihuahua). I am pregnant with baby #2! We are expecting our little bundle in early August.

It’s funny, when we first moved in, I remember feeling totally drained and had zero motivation for doing anything around the house. I think I even told a friend that I felt like a mother who had given birth and then shunned her needy baby. Well, turns out I was onto something. We’re pretty sure I conceived about two weeks after we moved in, and shortly after that my motivation and energy levels plummeted. I thought I was just exhausted from the energy expended from packing up the old apartment and moving, which I”m sure contributed to my malaise, but with pregnancy hormones raging, I never quite recovered from the move, and was pretty much catatonic for the last two months of 2009. I’m four months along now and feeling much better–less tired, less nauseous, and feeling like less of a bump on a log.

Our little house might start to feel a lot smaller with two kids running around, but we’re ready. We have enough friends in New York living with children in apartments to know that you can raise happy kids in small spaces. I think it’s going to come down to being super efficient and organized, purging even more of our stuff, and getting really good at creating storage niches and building shelves. And, of course, I still hang on to the dream of buying a piece of the Horseman’s yard. Being able to fling open the door and run outside is a great feeling for a kid, and I hope ours can have that someday.

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In Brief

So….where were we?

We did tell you that Wiley is back, right? The people who moved into our old apartment called one freezing morning in early January to tell us that Wiley was mewling outside their front door. Apparently, he’d been living underneath the apartment building. When we picked him up he was skin and bones, with a gaping wound on his haunches to boot. We took him to the vet for a checkup and were told he was fine. We were so relieved to find him all in one piece, especially after the cold snap he’d lived through, but already he is disturbing the fragile peace that Ting-Tong and Thumbs were finally establishing with each other. Our animal kingdom had finally found some order, but Wiley has a tendency to rule with an iron-fisted my-way-or-the-highway kind of demeanor when it comes to the other pets. As you can see here, he already has Ting-Tong on a short leash.

We’re hoping he calms down soon.

In the dining area, we finally put up the curtains we bought at IKEA back at Christmastime. They look great, though you can’t see much of them in this photo. I need to hem them a bit, which scares me because they’re really nice linen fabric with a nice lining, and I’ve never hemmed anything with so many layers and really don’t want to screw it up, but I’ll get around to it one of these days.

Our contractor, Ben is back from his two-week trip to India, which means 1) we owe him a lot of money, but 2) he will be coming over soon to tile our bathtub surround! This is very exciting, since we’ve been taking “shubs” (showers while sitting in the tub) for almost a month now. (Before that it was just baths, because we didn’t have our removable shower head yet. It’s amazing what one can get used to, isn’t it? No real shower for 3 months. Sounds pretty awful, but I don’t even notice the lack of it anymore.)

We’re also hoping to bang out some painting next weekend when my cousin Emily comes up for a home improvement visit. She’s got the energy to make up for our lackadaisical ways times three, AND she loves Sadie, to boot. So it should be a relaxing but productive weekend. Now, to get through the workweek first…

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A few days after Christmas, we got the most amazing gift: my cousins Emily and Toby and my Uncle Bill came to visit, and they went crazy helping me organize, fix, and move stuff around. I took the week off because Sadie’s daycare was closed for the week, and as it turns out I came down with an awful, energy-sucking cold. Nick worked the entire week–including the weekend–so I would have been totally on my own if it weren’t for my awesome extended family. (I should add that my sister-in-law, who lives here in Maine, also pitched in on Tuesday, leaving 2 of her 3 kids with my brother in order to do so.)

I knew my cousins and uncle were coming to visit, but had no idea that they were going to help me with the house. The first day, Emily, Julia and my Uncle Bill helped me clear a path through our “library” room. They carried boxes to the basement and helped me sort a lot of our “stuff” in a much more efficient manner than Nick and I could possibly be capable of. I realize now that Nick and I hem and haw and analyze–paralysis by analysis, I think it’s called. Not good. We needed neutral parties to come in and tell us what to do.

Emily and Bill put together the folding Ikea sewing table Nick and I picked up on our way back from Christmas at my dad’s house in Massachusetts, and I was finally able to unpack my sewing machine! The rest of the books went onto the bookshelf, and decisions were made as to what to do with a lot of …. stuff. Now we can actually sit in our “extra” room and I can imagine all the arts and crafts Sadie and I are going to do in there someday when she’s just a bit older. Here’s a picture of Emily taking a picture of Uncle Bill with Sadie and my niece (also named) Emily.

The other major, long overdue project Toby and Bill tackled was creating a new coat rack out of leftover pieces of trim wood and some hooks that we had picked up at Ikea on the same post-Christmas run. We borrowed my brother’s Skil Saw and they cut down the leftover pieces and made the whole thing fit perfectly into the corner where the wobbly coat rack used to stand. (My uncle then cut the coat rack down to Sadie-size, and we put it in her room for sweaters and hats.)

I’ll get a photo of the final product up here eventually, but trust me when I say it looks really cool and makes our coats and jackets feel much more organized and like less of a jumble.

Here’s Emily screwing in some outlet plates. There were all these finishing little touches that really made the house feel more organized and finished. We still have a long way to go, but it’s amazing what a bunch of borrowed hands can do for your house–and your morale.

I guess Nick and I have sort of hit a wall (ha! no pun intended) as far as the decorating/final renovating goes. There are just so many choices and we stall on making them, or else we make the wrong ones. For example, I was certain we wanted white walls in the living room and dining areas, to “brighten” things up, but the color we finally chose–Atirum White–looks much too stark. I think we need something creamier, at the very least, or need to pick a color. I dreamed of having a clean, modern, bright white space, with touches of rustic warm modernism, but you know what, I think that looks better in magazines than it does in real life. I have a kid, a dog and a cat, and we live in Maine, where it’s snowy half the year and muddy for the other quarter. I just don’t think white is gonna work. (I think my friend Kenda warned me of this way back…) Also, as I read over on the The Home and Garden Web in one of the forums, white really looks best when the architectural details of the house are already there. Otherwise, it tends to highlight the lack of character.

For example, here is our dining area. I love the space. We’re using the kitchen table from my childhood home (which needs to be sanded and refinished), Nick’s dining chairs, and a new pendant lamp from Ikea. I like how the space looks clean and crisp and modern, but it’s lacking some warmth. We have curtains we plan on hanging over our bank of windows, but I’m thinking now that we really need a wall color to warm it up a bit. Your thoughts?

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We’re still straggling along here at Two Cats. Last Sunday, while Nick was working, my mom came over and forced me to helped me straighten up the living room. This took all of about 15 minutes while Sadie was napping. We put all her toys away in bins, vacuumed the rug and upholstery, and moved various dribs and drabs to their proper places, most of which were not in the living room. As my mom said, we needed one sanctuary, a room that was “done” and where we could sit down and just really relax. When Nick came home that night, he was visibly relieved at seeing that one place of calm in our little house, and I felt it, too.

Well, that calm sanctuary lasted all of about 3 days. On Nick’s next day off a few days later, he emptied a bunch of boxes, the contents of which ended up strewn all over the living room. He also installed more door knobs, light switches, caulked the trim under the front door, and sprayed some expanding foam in the gaps around our basement windows. Somehow, setting up house isn’t that easy when you are also still fixing the house. And finishing the house.

As for finishing, we decided we couldn’t wait until every wall and piece of trim was painted to fully unpack and set things up. So two nights ago, we assembled our Ikea bookcase in the office, and last night we emptied out the boxes that had been sitting in piles for the last 7 weeks and finally filled up the shelves. It’s nice to feel some breathing room in that part of the house again, but the room is a long way from being finished. At some point we’ll have to take all those books down again so that we can move the bookshelf and paint the wall and trim behind it. But we’ll get to that…

We are hosting Christmas dinner at our house on Friday, which just means that my mom will be coming over to spend the day with our little family. I think it’ s a perfect way to christen the house. We bought a little tabletop tree that we’ll put out on the deck when the season is over, and we’re putting some lights up in the window, and that’s about all the decorating I can muster this year. Here’s to hoping that by next year I’ll be a lot more organized and it will begin to look a lot more like Christmas in Casa dos Gatos.*

*A note on Two Cats:  A few weeks ago Wiley ran out of the house when the door was open. We haven’t seen him since. We miss him terribly, but we’re comforted knowing that he lives up to his name and truly has the ability to get by on his wits and wile. We have faith that he has found a home somewhere that better suits his wandering spirit and his wiley ways. His spirit will always live on at Two Cats, and in Sadie, who calls every cat she sees Wiley (including Thumbs).

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