Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Good Day

Today I've gotten a big compliment at work, and then I was at Hirschfield's to pick up some paint chips for a project we're going to tackle, and they had mistinted paint for FREE! I was super excited and snapped up two gallons. One was very similar to the color I had in mind, and I got a white as well.
Then, just now, a co-worker of mind gave me 25 pairs of nearly new shoes in my size from her mother-in-law.
It's a day of freebies!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Airing My Dirty Laundry

Week one of the Apartment Therapy Cure is over. We did pretty good! I made me list of repairs, we bought fresh flowers, I vacuumed and mopped (almost) all the floors, and I took one thing out of my house.

What was that one thing? It was actually many things. I purged some old clothes out of my closet.

Our master bedroom closet is going to be one of the biggest things I want to tackle for the cure. Because it is... horrifying.

Did I really just post this on the internet?

Hopefully before my eight weeks are up, I will have some inspiring after shots to show you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Organizing Small Things

Awhile ago we tackled this CD organization project. As you can see, we had way too many CDs, all cluttering up valuable storage space (they were in our storage room in a rubbermaid tote).

Of course, we could have gotten rid of them all together, since we have an iPod, and all our music is stored on our external hard drive. But it's hard to part with something you spent so much money on, and what if something happened and we lost all our music? It's unlikely, but it would be awful! So, we sought out storage options that would let us keep the CDs and liner notes, but ditch the jewel cases.

Here's what we came up with:

And, since this industrial style metal case with sleeves for the CDs actually didn't fit our entire collection, we got a small media storage box to fit the rest:

I found cute paper clips with tabs on them in the office section at Target, which I used to alphabetize the CDs.

The result is a clean looking storage solution that takes up very little space.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Autumn!

Our wedding anniversary is in the fall.

My first nature table. Ceramic leaf plates, a candle, a wooden bowl with rocks, pine cones and leaves, anniversary cards, and fresh flowers (part of the Apartment Therapy cure)

Back to Basics

I've been kind of stressed out this week. It's mostly because I'm not feeling well. I got slammed hard with an icky cold Monday night, and I'm still straining to talk and coughing like crazy on Friday. When I feel run down, everything just seems hard. Especially when it comes to homemaking - cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, organizing, budgeting and caring for the little one are daunting tasks. But, I'm starting to feel on the mend, so that's a good thing.
I think this week, because I was feeling so tired and overwhelmed, I let a lot of things slide. I know Sebastian watched a lot of TV and didn't eat the healthiest. I had actually wanted to adhere to the AAP recommendation of no TV at all until 2, but it's been hard. I don't turn it on for him, but my husband does, and so does my dad, who watches him during the day. I am also struggling with the food thing - I haven't eaten the best this week at all, I've had way more sugar than I should, and I know Sebastian's eaten a lot of hot dogs for lunch, and I even caved and gave him some watered down juice at a wedding last weekend.
I need to start walking the walk: I have these ideals in my head of what our home life should be (time outside, homemade food, limited media, free play time), but a lot of times I succumb to TV and processed food because it's easier, and when your energy is low, easy is good. Also, I have a tough time being confident in a lot of my decisions, particularly when it comes to parenting (but also sometimes nutrition). I have a tendency to let people talk me out of things that I want to do, and I allow them to make me feel silly in my convictions. That, of course, isn't something I can solve overnight, but this weekend I'm going to challenge myself to step it up and get my family back to basics. We're going to eat simple, healthy meals and stay away from the TV. I'm excited!

Small Steps

I tend to get ahead of myself, um, a lot. It can be really easy for me to have a goal in mind, and get really frustrated when I can't accomplish it RIGHT NOW. When it comes to my desire to sell our condo and move to a single family home, I need to start with the small steps. Even if we weren't so underwater, now would not be the time for us to do this. First, we need to get some debts paid off. Then we need to save for a down payment.
So I am trying to step back and look at the small steps we need to take to make the big dream of having a "forever" home happen. First things first, a budget. I've looked at our budget, and we actually should be doing much better than we are. We're over spending on frivolous stuff like eating out and Target trips. Once we get our budget under control we're going to roll all those extra pennies into paying down our debt.
I feel motivated, and like we can do this.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First day of Autumn

Today is the first day of Autumn, and it definitely feels like it in these parts. Outside my window there's a tree beginning to turn a rich gold, and rain is pouring down the window. It's cold and snuggly. I'm not feeling the best today, but am at work. I'm about to go make some peppermint tea and watch the rain fall for a bit.
This is the first year that I've been planning a nature table, so I will have photos of that soon. Tonight, if I have the energy, I'm going to put out our fall wreathe on the front door, set out the fall placemats and linens, and cook something warm and hearty to celebrate the first day of my favorite season.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's Important

With a week and a half until my brother's wedding, and extended family drama brewing, I can't help but reflect on what's important to me. My little family of three makes me so very happy. I love nothing more than spending time with the wonderful man I married and this funny and silly and sweet little boy we are raising. I want to have a close family, but I'll admit, I have basically no blue-print for such a thing. My immediate family is close: I talk to my mom every day on the phone, my dad is babysitting Sebastian at least a few times a week while we work, and while I don't see him as often as I'd like, I get along well with my brother. But our extended family is another story. They all live out of state, don't talk to us too often, and more often than not, bring the drama. Like right now, with my brother's wedding so close, all of them chose to ignore the invitations, not RSVP, and then disapoint him by not coming. It's a shame really; I know that compared to his fiancee's huge, tight-knit family, he feels let down and alone.
Way, way in the future I hope there's no question that Sebastian's uncles and aunties would make it to his wedding, and that he has some cousins to grow up with, and some siblings too. But, of course, you just never know. So in addition to trying to cultivate a happy, close family, we're also choosing some surrogate "family" as well, in the form of our dear, close friends and their kids. I felt so lucky to have this "family" over the weekend as we attended our lovely friends C. and M's wedding. There was lots of joy, happiness, and about 15 toddlers tearing up the dance floor.
We can't always choose our family, but we can choose the way we treat people and the way we want to live.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Is Where We Used to Live: Part 6

This is the last house that I lived in with my parents and brother before moving out on my own. I'm no boomerang kid - I moved out at 19 and never looked back (although I do love my family... just not living with them!)
It was 1996, and the housing market was pretty calm in the Twin Cities. There was definitely not a housing boom yet, so homes were affordable, but loans a little harder to get and interest rates a little higher. But buying a home during that time period was a much more financially savvy move than renting, and so after renting the townhome for a year, my parents embarked on the journey to become homeowners. This story is kind of hard for me to tell. Perhaps it's why I have so many issues regarding homeownership.
I didn't help them search for a house, which is something that makes me kind of sad. I was 16 and dating my first boyfriend, so I was off spending time with him, or my friends, and couldn't be bothered to help my parents house hunt. They chose this little 1950s ranch with a huge walkout basement. I recently asked my mom why she picked this house, and she said because of the big finished basement and the laundry chute from the upper floor bathroom to the laundry room downstairs (that WAS really cool!). The house had two small bedrooms upstairs, one bathroom, and a very outdated kitchen, dining and living room. Downstairs was a bedroom, bathroom and laundry. There was a huge backyard. A lot about the house was really pretty - hardwood floors in my room and my parent's, vintage tile in the bathroom. Two fireplaces. A built hutch in in the dining roomThere was a lot that needed help - there was super old rust-colored shag carpet in the living room and hallway, old appliances, bad wallpaper. It could have eventually been a beautiful home. In fact, it is one now (it was on the market a few years ago, and the real estate listings showed that the next owners had completely revamped the kitchen and ripped out the bad carpet to expose the hardwoods underneath.
Unfortunately, my parents ran into some financial troubles about two years after buying the house, and weren't able to fix it up, or to keep the home. After my brother and I moved out, they moved into a downtown rental apartment. They're actually much happier now, and say that owning a home was not for them. But it still makes me sad sometimes that the one house they owned in all their lives they couldn't hang on to. They lived there just a little bit longer than all the houses we rented growing up.
I actually live really close to this house now, and drive by it fairly often. It seems like a family with young children lives there, and that makes me happy. My family was going through such a rough time during the years that they lived at this house that I find I can't think about it too much.

Stop Waiting

I was reading a simple living blog, and there was a post about someone wishing they could live in the country and garden, craft, etc. This other person responded in the comments, and I just loved what she said, so I am posting it here, mostly for a reminder for myself.
For 3 years I have put off 'simple living' because I am in the city and felt like "as soon as I get my dream cottage I will learn knitting, quilting, baking etc" Well a year ago I decided that I wasn't content because I was 'waiting' to move on. So I decided I am going to live like this is the house I will be in forever. I planted a small garden, filled all my flower pots with herbs or other vegetables. I made a small shelf to keep my fabric and craft supplies on and keep them readily available. I pulled out the cookbooks and taught myself how to bake bread, grind wheat and make healthy meals. I have taken the small amount of earth that I do have and I give it 100% of my attention. I gather my kids around me at night and read to them. I homeschool and make use of the flowergardens to capture bugs and learn about nature. I am living like I am exactly where I want to be forever and it has made all the difference. Make the home you have now your safe haven. Surround yourself with things you love. If you want to learn how to bake bread, buy some bread pans and display them. If you want to quilt, get a small basket and put some fat quarters in it, ready to go. I have found that the most simple things bring me the most satisfaction and my life is different now. I am content and happy and have MADE my house a peaceful place to be full of my own touches and love. Good luck to you! Don't wait for the things you love, surround yourself with them now. Put a planter on the window, get a knitting basket next to your favorite chair. Quilt a pillow to keep on your couch or chair. It worked for me!
I'm sure that some day we'll have a little house with a yard to call our own. In the meantime, I'm never going to be happy in the moment if I keep wishing away the home I do have. I needed this reminder to stop waiting, and start living.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apartment Therapy

Over the weekend I read Apartment Therapy, and I am a total convert. I've been looking at the blog for a couple of years now, but never really knew what "The Cure" was. Now I am so glad I finally got around to reading the book. It's exactly what I've been needing in my life (which sounds a little dramatic, but it's true!) I am going to be starting my 8-week home cure next weekend, and am really excited. As I read through the book, I realized I've been doing a lot of this stuff lately with my blog-inspired home redecorating, mostly trying to address the problem areas in my house and revamp the space for better flow and functionality. A lot has changed and improved in my home, thanks to this blog. Having it inspired me to repaint the fireplace, makeover our bedroom, get a new couch and turn the dining room into a playroom. So I feel like I have a relatively good start on the Cure, and on decorating in general. I don't think I'll spend a lot of time on the finding your style aspects of the Cure, but I am really excited to organize, do a deep clean, purge out some unnecessary stuff, and set up a landing strip by the front door. And buy fresh flowers every week! I can't wait for that.
Mostly, I need Apartment Therapy for the therapy aspect of things. I have been way too negative about my house the past year or so. I need to make peace with my condo as it is, and not constantly think about the future, and whether we will be able to sell it ever and move to a house. If I could sell right now, I'm not even sure I would, so I need to table those thoughts for the time being. AT seems to say that if you do The Cure, your attitude about your living space will change, you'll feel lighter, happier, and even sleep better. I'll be embarking on this journey in hopes that it will cure my negative thoughts about condo living.
I'll post my progress as I go along, as well as my insights into the book.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Playroom - Mostly Done!

We've been slowly working on the playroom, and I'm ready to actually start calling it the playroom. According to my little inspiration board, I wanted to:
-Recover the blue chair
-Buy the gray Ikea rug
-Use the Expedit bookcase as toy and game storage, instead of a dining hutch
-Turn an old coffee table into a train table.
We've accomplished everything but the train table, which we're starting to think would be a nice Christmas present for S.
I really like what we've done with the room! I love, love, love the new blue chair (it's actually kind of grayish green now, but it will forever be the blue chair). We have a nice little LED candle on one of the shelves that I really like to turn on, settle into the chair and read. Sebastian now has lots of toy storage, and we had room to get him a little basketball hoop. Matt can have his keyboard out for practicing his choir music. It's way more functional.
Every once in awhile, I turn to put something on the dining room table and realize it's gone, but otherwise, this is really working for us.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Is Where We Used to Live: Part 4

The next place we moved to was the great state of Minnesota. I've blogged about how wonderful this move was for me: I met some of my best friends and my husband here, I went to a great high school, enjoyed college and got a decent job right out of school. Minnesota is my home, and I would never move back to California. That said, the first place we lived wasn't our favorite. In the early-mid 90s in Minnesota, homes were dirt cheap and rentals expensive and hard to find. We were completely shocked that hardly anyone rented in Minnesota, and that a single family home to rent was near impossible to find. That's why we ended up in this rental townhome (these have since turned into owned townhomes).
It was my first real experience with communal living. We'd lived in an apartment when I was a baby, but all my memories up until this point were of houses. There was a lot to like about the townhouse - it was multi-level, so you came in on the ground floor and could either go downstairs to a walkout basement (completely novel to us Californians), or go up a level to the living room, dining room and kitchen. Another level up were me and my brother's rooms and a bathroom. Up another flight of stairs and you were in the master. It was kind of neat to have all those stairs, especially when we were used to living in one-level ranches. There were two big decks - one on the main level and a smaller one off my parent's bedroom. There were some neat woods behind the townhouses, but I don't remember spending much time outside at all. For one, we moved in the dead of winter (a huge shock) and two, my brother and I were at the ages when hanging out with friends and exploring the wonders of dial-up internet took precedence over playing outside.
My parents liked how new the townhouse was, but didn't like having neighbors so close. The kids next door would leave their toys right in the entry way of our house, and you could hear lots of noise coming from next door. My brother and I would knock on the wall when they got too loud, which in hindsight was kind of rude. We had a communal pool, which was nice, but overall, these townhouses were seen as "trashy" by kids at school, who claimed that this perfectly fine suburban neighborhood was "the ghetto." I think there was a real stigma to renting in Minnesota, especially during that period of time in the housing market.
I had a nice bedroom with a bright sunny window. There's a really serene picture I have somewhere of my room with the light streaming in onto a pale yellow quilt and my sleeping kitty (and now dearly departed) Rex. I had my first real boyfriend at this house, and received my first kiss on the doorstep. My best friend to this day lived just down the block in an apartment complex, and we'd go swimming at her pool and spend summer days making our Empire Records website.
I find it interesting that you can now buy a townhouse in this development. I'm sure that happened during the housing boom. My mom scoffed when she heard this, and said, "who would want to own one of those?" It was a decent place to live for a year or two, but it always felt temporary.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Random Thoughts

It was a wonderful long weekend. Made even longer by a power outage at work that caused everyone to have to go home. I have to say, it was one of the greatest days ever. Somehow, summer had gotten the memo that school was now in session, and the weather swiftly changed to autumn in a day. It was blustery, cold and rainy. I love days like that, and hated having to get out of bed. But I did, only to discover that half our office was without power. I had a computer, so I logged in and started working. Then went and got some coffee down the street because the coffeemaker was without power (the horror!). Got back, was working some more and then there was a loud boom, and everything went pitch black. Maintenance came by and said a transformer had blown, and we'd be without power all day. Four day weekend! I sped home, and Sebastian was napping. I relieved the sitter (my wonderful dad), and had lunch and blogged. I spent the rest of my day catching up on laundry and playing with my son indoors while it rained softly outside.
It was the perfect mix of fun and domesticity this weekend. We saw many friends and relatives from out of town, hit up the state fair, played in the pool in Wisconsin, ate out a lot, but also cleaned the refrigerator (and my, what a difference it makes!), recovered our chair (see my last post), went for walks and cozied up on the couch watching Mad Men.
Yes, I think every weekend should be four days long.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reupholstering the Blue Chair

Well, we did it! We tackled the blue chair this weekend, and I have to say I love the results. I can't take too much credit, because I was mostly just a helper in this project. I have a tendency to be a "finisher," which means I get things done... but not always in the right way. Matt's the opposite. He won't start a project unless he can do it right. We frustrate each other, but I think we're a pretty good team. Especially on this one, since we got the project done, and did it right.

Vinyl blue chair: Before

We took the dust guard off the bottom of the chair, and unbolted the arms. This gave us room to wrap the fabric pieces around each individual part of the chair (arms, seat and back) and then staple at the bottom. It worked much better than my original plan, which was to slipcover. It ended up looking much more tailored.

The chair was super gross in between the cushions. Whomever had the chair before me must have had a Kraft cheese and crackers obsession, as I found a bunch of those little red sticks. Shudder.

We added a small piece of foam over the cushion that we had leftover from another project. It covered up the rip in the vinyl, and made it cushier to sit on.

Basically, we wrapped the arms entirely, and stapled along the bottom. Then we wrapped the seat in fabric, and stapled on three sides (tucking it in as far as we could on the fourth side, the center of the chair). On the back we tucked in the middle, then wrapped the fabric around and stapled underneath. I may go back and sew a stitch or two to secure the back piece of fabric to the arms.

The project took about three hours, and an extra trip to JoAnn's for more fabric. We used about 4 yards, and have quite a few scraps leftover to make a couple throw pillows for the couch. We spent about $60, so 10 times the cost of the chair itself (a garage sale find), but not a bad price for a custom arm chair.

I now have my cozy little reading chair. Except the cats won't leave it alone. :) I am so happy that we transformed one of my favorite pieces of furniture, and hopefully have given it a whole new lease on life. I had this chair in my living room since I moved out on my own 11 years ago. I love the clean lines and the retro styling, but it had seen better days. Now it is softer and cozier, and perfect for our playroom.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sebastian's Room

The photos I have in our house tour post were from awhile ago - we didn't even have a crib mattress in yet, and no baby yet either! Here's what we've done with the room since that photo was taken.

For Sebastian's birthday this year we made a couple of tweaks to turn his room from a nursery to a toddler's bedroom. We added the airplane and hot air balloon decals from Etsy seller Design Your Space.

We moved the letters that spelled out "cozy" that was originally over the changing table to this wall. He was standing up, pulling off the letters and throwing them during every diaper change. Ahh, the things that change once your baby becomes mobile. We got a Closet Maid bookcase from Target (before we were using a tall bookshelf we already owned placed on its side. It worked okay, but took up a lot of space and was kind of an eye sore). Sebastian kept mistaking the Chinese lantern we hung from his ceiling for a "balloon" so we turned it into one.

I think it's a really sweet room, filled with lots of homemade touches: we painted the clouds, the ABC animal paintings and the "cozy" letters, and made the curtains and the hot air balloon. It's fun, sweet and cozy, just like the little boy who sleeps there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Favorite Jeans

Today I'm wearing my favorite pair of jeans. I spent $75 on them a couple of years ago... an amount that I had never spent on jeans before. I'm usually an Old Navy clearance kind of gal. Anyway, I was shopping with two coworkers, and one talked me into splurging. Because I bought them at a higher end shop, I could have them hemmed for free, and since I'm short, that was a nice bonus. I love these jeans. Somehow, I managed to wear them all through my pregnancy - belted before I was showing, then no belt, then slung a little lower under my belly. I actually was wearing them the day I went into labor. I still wear them now - they've been good post pregnancy pants too, going back over the belly, and now they're belted again. They're soft and really worn in spots, and there are a few stains on the legs from where Sebastian has decided to set a piece of food or wipe his jammy hands. They fit well and are cozy and just make me happy wearing them.
It's really cold outside today - I think in the 50s. I'm happy to be wearing my cozy jeans and drinking a mug of peppermint tea, and counting down the hours till I can go home and start the three day weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Corners of My Home


I just took a very late lunch break to hit up the farmer's market I just discovered happens every Thursday from 3-7 at a park near my work. It was teensy, about five stands, but felt just the right size. Lately the city farmer's market has been so, so crowded that it's hard to just get in and get what I need. I bought some delicious looking zucchini, tomatoes, green peppers and two squashes - butternut and spaghetti. On the meal plan for the week is fried zucchini, stuffed peppers, tacos with fresh salsa, butternut squash mac and cheese, and meatballs with spaghetti squash. We're going to eat well this week.
I'm really looking forward to the long weekend. I remember last year I felt really balanced after labor day. It was the perfect mix of time spent at home with my little family, time with extended family, time with friends, organization projects and relaxation time. I hope we can do the same this year.

This Is Where We Used to Live: Part 4

This was our last house in California, and probably my favorite house we ever lived in. I think it was my parent's favorite too. We lived here for around a year and a half. It was all of eighth grade and around half of ninth, before we moved to Minnesota. It's funny, looking at these grainy images on Google Maps, that so far most of the houses I've profiled have looked really similar on the outside. I'm sad that I can't get an image of the Bakersfield house, but there's no street view option. Anyway, I remember them all as really different looking.
This one wasn't much to look at on the outside, but was really charming on the inside. I remember the day we drove past it, before my parents had toured it or signed a lease. We parked and got out and peered in the windows, and I was completely in love with what I could see. There were two bedrooms - one powder pink and one powder blue. There was a really leafy yard with a big deck and a little playhouse in a tree. There was a garden trellis covered in ivy that hid a small concrete patio. There wasn't a lot of grass in this yard, but it was sweet. Inside was a small living room and a fireplace that had a cute little country scene painted over the mantle. The kitchen had an eat in area, and a breakfast bar, and of course there was that pink bedroom. I may have had to rent my whole life, but I finally had a room with some color on the walls!
I'm sad we didn't live here longer, and that by the time we moved here I was a teen and didn't really play anymore, so I never much took advantage of that playhouse. Still, this was the site of my first serious crush, who lived around the block from me. We would sometimes walk home from school together, and I would think that meant he obviously loved me. I had my first boy/girl party in this house for Christmas, and he was the only boy who showed up. My brother went to his first concert while we lived here, and we spent a lot of time doing things like playing pogs, listening to Weezer and watching My So Called Life. I remember walking around the block to another friends house, and walking home to find my brother crying in the street the day Kurt Cobain died. All my memories here are very nineties.
I really liked this house, but I didn't particularly like this time in my life. When I started high school, I was having a tough time with my friends. One of my best friends got a boyfriend and had frozen me out, spending all her time with him. I can't say that when I found out we were moving to Minnesota that I was sad. I was ready to move on. Still, this was a darling little house.

This Is Where We Used to Live: Part 3

In continuing my trip down housing memory lane, we come to this little house that we lived in when we returned to Dixon in 1991. We lived here until 1993, when our landlord sold the house, and we moved to a different rental house a few blocks away. My apologies to the lady doing her landscaping that Google Maps caught!
This place looks somewhat different, but also very much the same as when we lived there. All that landscaping was not there when we rented it, it was just grass in the front yard. The next door neighbor's home was all sand and cacti back then, as you can see it still is in the photo. My brother and I adored this, as we were really into the Nickelodeon show "Hey Dude," and the house next door provided the perfect backdrop for our pretend dude ranch (our bikes that we rode up and down the driveway were our horses). If I had to go back to one of the houses we lived in and live in it now, this one would be a contender. It was a one level ranch with a large eat in kitchen, big dining room (that was all pretty marble tile) that opened up to the living room. Down the hall was a bathroom and three bedrooms, and then a second bathroom off the master. My room had a really nice, shady window. For one of my birthdays my parents bought me a desk and a typewriter, and I'd sit under the window and type up teen fiction. Our yard was really nice here too - it had a patio and lots of fruit trees. In the summers my brother, cousin and I would play deserted island outside for hours, climbing the trees and plucking down ripe plums and eating them still warm from the sun.
I'd love a house like this now. It had big windows and fruit trees, and the yard wrapped around both sides of the house, which would be plenty of space to set up a garden. Plus, that huge dining room/living room would be perfect for cozy evenings with family and big parties with friends. It wasn't a huge house - I'd guess maybe 1,500-1,700 square feet? But it just really epitomizes that nice, open California ranch style house. And I have a lot of good memories of being a kid and pre-teen here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Is Where We Used to Live: Part 2

The next house we moved to was in Lancaster, California, and since we only lived there a year ('88-89), I don't remember the address, so I can't look it up on Google Maps. It was a new construction house, and fairly bland from what I remember. All the houses in the neighborhood looked the same, and all I recall were the half moon shaped windows above everyone's garage. Our particular house was blue and white, with beige carpet inside, and an unlandscaped backyard. There was a dog run on the side of the house, which was good for the dog we ended up adopting that year. Lancaster and Palmdale both experienced a big real estate bust in the late 80s/early 90s, and we saw some of that in our development. Many of the houses were empty or boarded up, and tons were for sale. We lived in this big, brand new house because my aunt and uncle were in real estate and couldn't offload this property, so they rented it to us for super cheap.
After that, we moved to Bakersfield, California, a place where I have many more memories. My parents found the house we rented - a peach stucco little thing with a scraggly yard, lots of wallpaper, a wood burning stove and lots of olive green carpeting - late one night when we were visiting from Lancaster. When my mom saw it in the light of day, she cried. I don't blame her... it was  a really ugly house. Still, I fell in love with the school I attended and the people I met. They were all very welcoming to us, and we made a lot of close friends. My mom stayed at home with me and my brother, and during the summers us and the other families in our social group used to go on all kinds of "adventures" that were mostly free things: going to the park, walking around the mall, playing at the McDonald's playland, swimming a neighbor's pool and touring open houses. I used to love this, and would always pick out a room to be "mine" and make up stories about the people I imagined lived in these staged-with-props homes. Hah, I was a real estate junkie even at age 10! Across the street from the peach house was a cul-de-sac where three little boys my brother's age, and a brother and sister a tiny bit older than me, all lived. We would go over to their houses to play, and spend time wandering in and out of all the neighbors yards. Our experience living in Bakersfield is a great example of community and imagination meaning more to a kid than a great house. Sure, I lamented the fact that I couldn't paint my room pink, and looking back, I'm sure my mom was sort of embarassed by our ugly house. But we had some great fun there - meeting new people, playing with the rusty swingset and big patches of clover in the yard, playing Super Mario Bros. in the winter with a log on the stove.

Even If

I love this article.
It's perfect... exactly the kind of mantra I need to adopt to fall in love with my home. As you can tell from reading along with this blog, I have a lot of the same jealousies that the author does at the beginning - the desire for a larger, more Pottery-Barn-perfect house. I want these things partially because I think I'm supposed to want them. This spoke to me:
But for some reason I used to get very caught up in other people's beautiful homes and remodels. I thought I should have those things too—a lovely updated kitchen, a pristine and newly retiled bathroom, and new, high end furnishings. Where I got this idea I'm not entirely sure, but partly it was because I saw so many families around me getting these things. It made me feel like "when will it be my turn?" I basically had a bad attitude.
She goes on to list the ways she is learning to love her modest home:
- Clear the Clutter
- Use What You Have
- Make the Dining Room Table a Clear Area
- Get More Into Cleaning
- Make Stuff
- Generate Good Feelings
- Bring In Nature
- Keep the Nature Table Fresh
- Rearrange
I am totally going to keep these things in mind as I work toward making my condo a home. I am already finding my spirits lifting again as we've been decluttering and cleaning more. With a three day weekend ahead, I want to burrow in at home, do some cleaning and rearranging, perhaps recover the blue chair, and just get everything ready as Matt starts teaching next week, and we settle into our autumn rhythm.