yard update

This Memorial Day weekend was a busy one at Casa Reisfelt. Between intensive yard work, hosting a garage sale, and remodeling a bathroom (what?!), there was no rest for the weary. The men were outside most of the weekend, hacking up the yard and putting it back together again. They spent 3 days preparing the yard for what I like to call "the pretty part." Day one included digging a 1 ft x 1ft ditch around the perimeter of the yard and digging out a massive root. The ditch was for a french drain to irrigate the yard.  The root was left behind by whomever dug out the trees from our backyard. This thing was so big that it took four guys most of the day to get it out of the ground. They used a chainsaw, a sawzall, and shovels to dig it out piece by piece. The remains filled up our entire yard waste bin. Crickey!

Day two included leveling out the ditch and destroying the big root's slightly smaller brothers. (Two more roots crossed the path of the french drain. Ugh!)
 Day three was the day when the french drain was installed and the backyard was leveled. And that is where the progress stops. After three very hard days of labor, it's time for everyone to head back to their day jobs and save the rest of the work for the next couple weekends.  
 In other happy news, we found out our HOA pays for all fencing so we don't have to repair those holey fences on our own! Even though we still have a yard full of dirt, it's easier to see what it is going to become and we're so excited! Of course, one thing leads to another and the progress so far has got us talking about Phase 2 (which will have to be saved for next summer, I'm afraid). Things like new patio furniture, an arbor, outdoor lights, a fire pit and other ideas have been dancing in our head... For now though, we are just glad to see this part of our home improving slowly, but surely. 


a teeny-tiny to-do list

Here's a to-do list of everything that we I have planned for the Little Man's room to get it ready for his arrival in just 10 weeks. The list is actually a bit long right now, but I'm looking forward to all these projects and creating the perfect room for our little guy. 
·     Prime and paint walls
·     Replace base-boards
·     Add chair rail/picture ledge
·     Make curtains
·     Purchase crib
·     Buy roller shades
·     Recover rocking chair
·     Paint and trim closet doors
·     Replace light fixture
·     Buy lamp
·     Make crib skirt
·     Make mobile
·     Art/pictures
·     Changing pad cover
·     Attach changing pad to dresser
·     Replace knobs on second dresser


an unplanned bathroom makeover

So, do you ever get an idea and just go for it? Well, that is what happened Saturday morning. My mom and I hosted a garage sale to downsize a bit and during the lulls in traffic, we talked about our favorite topic, home improvement. I decided that while I was in the midst of finishing painting Teeny-Tiny's room, I might as well tackle the adjoining bathroom. The only problem with this was that I knew I no longer wanted the huge wall mirror, gaudy light fixture, and Corian countertop that extended over the toilet. I also didn't really want to paint around them because they all were going to go, eventually. So, I asked my dad how hard it would be for him to remove these things from the bathroom. I didn't want to bother Nick with it, since he was in the middle of working hard on the yard and probably would have tried to talk me out of  such ideas. 
Luckily, my dad figured that those things would be, "eh no problem" to remove and came over Saturday afternoon post-garage sale to take them out for me. Speedy had everything out of the bathroom in about an hour.  He also removed the shower door and track from the tub in exactly 3.5 minutes. (I decided that bathing a baby in that bathtub would be difficult, having to bend over a metal track and only having access to one half of the bathtub). With everything out the bathroom, I was left with the bottom of a vanity, a toilet, and tub.  
I was also left with a little nervous feeling as to what Nick would say when he saw this demo-ed space... I decided then and there that this would be my project and Nick would get to see the finished product only. My sweet Dad told me that we could finish this bathroom in a few short days and offered both his physical labor and some monetary support, as a housewarming gift, to see this project through to completion.  The before/during pictures will all be extra gruesome, since we removed the light fixture and this bathroom has no natural light. That will just make the afters that much better looking, right?! 



 30 feels like a big pregnancy milestone. Only 10 weeks to go! Yikes! As ready as I am to meet our baby boy, I feel nervous about all the stuff I want to do before he's born. There are still more books to read/finish. We have the room to finish, and a crib to purchase. What if we wait to order it and then it's backordered?  I'm still figuring out everything with work and my maternity leave for next school year. We are still debating between two names. Our childbirth classes don't start for another week. We have our birth plan to figure out and turn in before our next appointment. It seems like a lot to cram into 2 and a half months! We are working on taking it day-by-day and having faith.  I know a lot of what I'm stressing about now isn't really a big deal. When he comes, I know more than anything that we will be ready to be his parents and care for him and love him even if all the details aren't in place. 



 Nicholas, Lucy, and I took a a little hike last weekend. We live really close to some trails that lead up in the hills and eventually to Mount Diablo. We decided to hike for a bit on Saturday morning to see where this particular trail led. We found out quickly that it led up, up, up. We decided to go to the top of the biggest hill and we rewarded with an amazing view. On the way down, we talked about how the stroller we are planning on getting is supposedly good for trails and wouldn't it be fun (and a great workout) to take Teeny-Tiny up here?! 


piles of dirt

I'ver resisted showing you any in-depth shots of our backyard, because frankly, it isn't pretty. It's a cracked patio and dirt and weeds. No grass, a couple plants, and two random rose bushes. Oh, and the two crepe myrtle trees that my in-laws sweetly gave us as a housewarming gift.  Although the ugly bothered us, we had decided from the beginning that we would wait to fix up the yard, maybe until next year. There were a lot more projects we wanted to focus on inside the house so we put the yard down at the bottom of our to-do list. However, things have a way of changing. 
 My brother Chris's friend Jason owns a landscaping business and when he helped us move, he got really excited talking to us about what we could do with our tiny, ugly yard. Then last week, Chris called to tell us that Jason has some left over top soil and mulch from a recent job and asked if we'd like to have it. Of course we didn't object! So last Tuesday night our yard got piled high with mulch and dirt and Friday we had both guys over for a planning session. 
 One unfortunate thing about our backyard is soil erosion. The soil is running downhill at a foot and a half grade from the patio, creating large gaps under some of the fence boards. (See below). Jason's plan is to sink boards into the ground all the way around the perimeter of the fence to stop the soil running downhill. Also, this should keep the fence from rotting out with soil right up against it.

The rest of the plan includes leveling out the yard somewhat and creating a gradual slope from the patio down to the fence, adding sod to create a curvy lawn around the patio, adding some more trees and flowers, and throwing down lots of mulch. Here is a VERY rough picture of what I think it will look like in my mind. Please note that nothing is drawn to scale or measured out, but hopefully you get the idea.  
Since this weekend is a 4-day weekend for Nick (and me), there will be lots of yard work done around here to get things into tip-top shape (or at least looking much less pathetic). It's amazing what kind of projects a few piles of free dirt will inspire! 


painting teeny-tiny's room (part 1)

As I mentioned, we spent last weekend painting Teeny-Tiny's room. Having decided on fabric, we picked up some paint swatches to think about for the week, before buying anything.  We were debating between a super pale blue and pale gray and in the end, gray won out. We chose Martha Stewart's "Heavy Goose" because it's really pale and has some blue-ish undertones that will work nicely with the rest of the room. Our plan was actually to paint the room two colors, with gray on the bottom two-thirds of the wall and white at the top. To divide the colors, we are going to be adding a chair rail/picture ledge. 

Before painting we did all our prep work- moving everything out of the room or to the center and taping off all the windows and door frames. The taping was actually minimal because we didn't tape the baseboards or the ceiling. The baseboards are really ugly wood and already quite paint-splattered. Another project for this room is to add some chunky white baseboards, so it didn't matter if we got paint on the existing ones. As for the ceiling, we color matched the white of the ceiling to our wall color so we could paint right up to the ceiling without taping off. It's lucky we chose white for the top because those peaked ceilings would have been tricky, tricky to tape precisely. Nick also removed all the blinds and outlet covers (both of which we are switching out as well). 

Next we primed the whole room. We used Kilz Clean Start Latex Primer because it is a no-VOC primer, meaning low odor and no chemicals or gases are emitted. Important for both Baby and Mommy. We knew priming was a must, thanks to the dark khaki that covered the walls. Priming took much longer than the actual painting because the water-based primer didn't have perfect coverage and we ended up needing an extra can of primer three quarters of the way through the project. 

Luckily, the primer dried quickly and we were ready to add our gray to the wall. We also chose to have our paint mixed in a low-VOC option, so we used Glidden Low-VOC paint + primer.  We arbitrarily decided to make our color division at 60 inches so Nick measured and taped one wall for me. After cutting in along all the doors and windows, I rolled paint on the rest of the room. Since Nick had only taped one wall, I used this as my guide and eyeballed it for the rest of the room. Sixty inches is only slightly shorter than this little mama, so I knew that if I was painting above my head, I was going to high. We also weren't worried about a perfectly straight line, because the molding will cover the place where the two paints meet. This paint covered amazingly well. So well, in fact, that besides a few touch ups where we missed spots, we only needed one coat of paint for complete coverage. The distinction between the two parts of the wall is a little hard to see at the point, since the primer on the upper 1/3 of the wall is reading a gray, thanks to the khaki still showing through. Just imagine white in your head! 
You'll notice from the pictures that the walls look kind of shiny. When we asked to have the color mixed at Home Depot, we originally chose an eggshell finish for a more matte look. However, unbeknownst to us, the guy behind the counter mixed a semi-gloss can for us. Not exactly what we wanted but not enough of a problem for us to consider repainting. Besides, as Nick put it, the walls will be easier to clean should "anything" ever need to be cleaned off the walls ... 
This is the part where I tell you that we finished up painting the rest of the room the next day, but alas no. This is as far as we got last weekend. As I mentioned in this post, my endurance for big projects isn't quite what it used to be. So this ideally one-weekend project has turned into a two-weekender.  



 Nicholas and I had quite a busy weekend. We went for a hike up some fairly large hills, made two trips to Home Depot, primed and painted Teeny-Tiny's room for 6 hours(!!), made a big dinner for friends one night, and took a long Sunday morning walk. By Sunday at 1 pm, I was wiped and couldn't do much of anything the rest of the day. (I had big plans to finish painting the little man's room before the weekend was thru.) My husband had to gently remind me that at 29 weeks pregnant, I'm not going to be able to do everything I used to before. Especially in the heat. Especially running on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night... 


little man furniture

When thinking about Teeny Tiny's room, Nick and I were in agreement that we didn't want spend tons of money on furniture that the little man would outgrow in a couple years. We preferred to buy minimal "baby" furniture and work with what we had as much as possible. Knowing that we were planning to move for some time made it easy to decide which pieces of furniture would make it out of the living space of our apartment and into the new baby's room. In the end, a lot of my most favorite furniture will be part of the room, which makes me quite happy. Here are the pieces that now live there: 
 We're not positive the ottoman is there to stay, but I saw a baby's room online that had a big ottoman and I really liked the look, so it's definitely a top contender.  It just depends on the space.
Our rustic dresser is getting a second life as a baby changing station. We plan to attach the changing pad to the top of the dresser and keep all the necessary changing table supplies in the drawers below. In a few years when Teeny Tiny is no longer in diapers, this can be a functional piece of furniture, rather than a changing table we would have to store. 
The next part of the plan is the orb lantern that used to hang over our dining room table. We love this fixture and although its more decorative than functional, we thought it would be a fun piece for Baby Boy's room. 
 Next is the painted dresser that used to live in our guest room/office. When I painted this, I secretly had in mind that it would someday live in a future-baby's room, which is part of the reason I picked the soft white and grey paint. I'll probably change the knobs for something a little less girly when we get started on decorating.
Another repurposed item for the room is an upholstered rocking chair from my great grandmother. My mom has had the chair forever and she offered to recover it for the room. It's really comfortable and smallish so it won't take up a huge corner of the room. No pictures yet, but I'll be sure to share when my mom finishes reupholstering the chair.  
Obviously, we're missing something crucial for Teeny Tiny's room. Don't worry, we don't plan to forgo the crib or recycle any existing furniture. With constant changes to safety regulations, we knew that this was one thing that we would be buying brand new. We walked into Buy Buy Baby once to look at their crib selection and were a little disappointed. Neither of us like the super ornate cribs, sleigh-bed cribs, or the ones that have a higher back than front. We wanted something very plain and also, if possible, solid wood. Of course, solid wood cribs tend to be pricey but we lucked out by finding one at Pottery Barn Kids. The crib doesn't contain any pressboard or particleboard which can give off chemicals. It was also fairly inexpensive (for Pottery Barn) with a $399 price tag. With our credit cards points, we have enough gift cards from PB to pay almost nothing out of pocket for this crib. Plus this crib had lots of great reviews, which is alway reassuring! We also decided on the Sealy Soybean Crib Mattress from Walmart because it is another eco-friendly product with really good reviews. It is also relatively inexpensive at $131. 

So that's our furniture round-up for Baby R's room. Buying one piece of furniture for an entire room makeover isn't too bad and we're happy to reuse a lot of our favorite pieces in this new space. If all goes according to my plan, we should be painting the room this weekend so I'll have plenty of in progress pictures to share in the coming weeks! 


living room

After living here a couple weeks and finishing unpacking the last few boxes, Nick and I were ready to start adding some touches that made this house feel more like our home. Namely, we hung up a lot of our art and pictures and added some curtains and blinds. The living room saw the most significant change.  Here's what it looked like up until last weekend, sans curtains: 
 Nick's job requires him to travel overnight sometimes and with two trips coming up this month, window coverings were a priority. I don't mind being home alone at night but prefer to have the windows covered when I'm by myself. We're a fan of bamboo shades because they are natural and made from renewable resource and I don't have the urge to cover them up like regular blinds. I picked up four packages of bamboo shades at Home Depot, two for the living room and two for the dining room. Nick hung them all up on Saturday night.

Because the windows still looked a little naked, I wanted to add floor length white curtains to the windows and the sliding glass door. We had several curtain rods and two of the three sets of curtains that we needed left over from our last apartment. (All the curtains and rods came from Ikea.) The curtains + bamboo shades created a breezy laid-back look that we definitely love. 
 In the middle of the fireplace, Nick hung our big blue painting as a stand-in for the time being. On our to-do list is a mantle/wood surround for the fireplace but for now we are appreciating the art. 

Last but not least, I added some interest to the fireplace. Since we definitely won't be using this guy for at least eight months, I added a mirror and a platter of candles to have a little something going on down there.
 Every little thing we do is making this house feel more homey. I even mind the paint color much less now that there is art and pictures on the wall to break things up a bit!

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