Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Post of the Year?

I think this will be my last post for 2013.  As soon as I typed those words, it's entirely possible I ensured I will deliver a baby in the next 36 hours and be forced to eat my words when we post a baby update. 

Speaking of baby updates, I don't have much to share except that I am in fact still pregnant!  I have about 10 days til my due date and all is well.  Strangers and near-strangers have generously peppered me with commentary on my size lately, with Jason's and my favorite being "you look like you could pop!"  What a way to describe a pregnant woman.  And how terrifying!  Also at the top of the list "you're really coming along now!" and "you can't get much bigger than that!"  Why, thank you!  

I've been terrible about taking bump pictures, but snapped this one in the pre-dawn hours today.  Huge shout-out to the makers of Puma and Asics running apparel for making ridiculously stretchy clothing that's gotten me through the last 39 weeks.  Although I jogged through my entire pregnancy with Sophie, I switched to walking at 37 weeks this time around when I was dilated to 2-3 cm and not quite ready to get the show on the road.  It's still nice to be able to exercise and work off some stress!

We had a fantastic Christmas and I had a great, happy birthday on 12/24.  Jason taught Sophie to sing Happy Birthday to me, so when I came downstairs (at 7:30, woohoo!) I got a lovely serenade, which we repeated over and over all day!

Sophie has had a lot of practice singing at school and especially thanks to a great program called Music U taught by the awesomely creative Jes Cleland.  Here's a video of the Older Toddler (Sophie's class), Young Preschool and Older Preschool classes singing carols on the McKendree UMC church steps:

I'm a terrible gift-giver.  I know this about myself and I've learned not to stress out about it as much over the years, but I do wish I were better at it! I'm married to a fantastic gift-giver, though.  Sophie and Jason gave me a really beautiful set of rings with all of our birthstones in them - November (Sophie), December (me) and January (Jason) plus Baby Powell, who will either have a December or January birthday.  They're stackable and made locally by a jewelry artist named Judith Bright and I absolutely love them!  Jason also found a really cool necklace by another local artist named Marrah Florita (M. Florita Jewelry) shaped like the State of Tennessee - how appropriate for us! I also received many thoughtful gifts from my parents, in-laws and friends and felt totally under-deserving of all of them but also really excited to feel the love!  

Sophie had a great holiday and received lots of fun gifts, including a new drag queen outfit (or Sleeping Beauty costume, whatever) that she wore until we finally had to force her to remove it and wash it.  

The new house is coming along, too.  Although we were set back a week or so after running into a 14-foot boulder, wet ground and special ordering equipment to break up the boulder, things are progressing!  We were able to move the 10x16 shed out of the way on Saturday to make room for the equipment that will break up the rock, making it possible to finally finish digging out the area where the addition will be constructed.  
View from the bonus room into the former living room / kitchen / sitting room / fireplace - no more wall!
New subfloor
View toward the back of the house - this exterior wall is next to come down
Exterior / future addition site
We were able to look at some finishes and products last week, including kitchen counter tops, cabinets, tile for the master bath and entry/mud room at the back of the house.  We gravitate toward granite companies that have both slab yards and do the fabrication as they're straightforward with pricing and there are no extra steps involved in hiring fabricators to install.  After shopping various solid surfaces, we're still in the granite camp simply because it's so durable, easy to maintain, cost-effective and we've found the look we want.  In the past we've used Brothers & Sons (a local Nashville company) and this time around have found most of what we like at a newer company called MC Granite in East Nashville. We may choose a quartz or marble surface (also available at MC Granite and Brothers & Sons) for our master bath both because we love the look and because it's more cost-effective in a smaller area that won't see as much abuse as our kitchen.  We'll see!  

Although we're leaving the vast majority of the work to professionals, we are doing a few things ourselves, such as removing the wallpaper in the bedroom hallway of the untouched portion of the original house and repainting the three existing bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Jason is off to score and peel wallpaper this week and I hope he's taking some good footage!

I haven't posted much about food lately, but we have really enjoyed the cooler weather and more soups and casseroles that are easy to make and even freeze.  One of my favorites is this tomato basil cheddar soup (can't find the source but I think it was Iowa Girl Eats!):

Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup

  • 2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes (I used one fire-roasted and one regular)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped (save time and use a bag of frozen chopped onion!)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt (we used light sour cream last time)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (grate it fresh - so many fewer preservatives and tastes/melts better)
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped, loosely packed (reduce this amount by about 1/4 if using dried basil)
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:  Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and allow to cook until tender, about three to four minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes (juice and all) and the vegetable stock. Stir in the basil, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper. Place the lid back onto the pot and allow to simmer ten minutes. At the end, stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until well blended. Use either an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup if you prefer a smooth texture. Garnish with chopped basil and grated cheddar cheese if desired.
Enjoy!  Happy New Year to you!

Friday, December 6, 2013


We closed on our new house a little more than two weeks ago and a lot of progress and demo work has been done already!  Here are some before and current shots of the kitchen, living room and bonus room.  All furnishings in the before photos were the previous owner's, photos taken before closing.  

Some of the demo work completed or in progress right now includes:  

  • Removing all flooring in the living room/kitchen/sitting area and bonus room, half bath and laundry room
  • Removing the brick plantar at the front door
  • Replacing subflooring in the living room/kitchen/sitting area and repairing/reinforcing floor joists
  • Scraping textured ceilings
  • Removing the wall dividing the living room/kitchen/sitting area
  • Removing the wall enclosing the half bath and laundry room in the bonus room
  • Demolition of the existing kitchen, bath and laundry
  • Demolition of the fireplace wall and chimney
  • Demolition of the current patio area to make way for the addition
 Construction work will include:
  • Laying hardwoods throughout the original house in all areas where the flooring was removed
  • Building a new fireplace in the former sitting area 
  • Old kitchen area becomes a dining room adjacent to a new sitting room and fireplace
  • An entry way/drop-off area will be built in at the existing back door
  • A half-bath will be constructed within the bonus room, accessible from the living/dining/kitchen, etc
  • The existing back exterior wall will be pushed out to make way for an addition with a new kitchen, laundry room, hallway and master suite

Bonus Room Before:

Bonus room view into laundry - before

Bonus room view into half bath - before
Half bath in bonus room - before

Laundry room in bonus Room - before
Bonus room view into half bath - before

Bonus Room Now:
Wall enclosing the half bath and laundry room is gone! Half bath is demoed.  The layers of flooring have also been removed.
Laundry Room has been demoed and plumbing will be capped off.  Windows are exposed that were previously behind the wall!

The bonus room is now a staging area for all demoed appliances, cabinetry, fixtures, etc. (Hi, Aunt Nancy!)

Kitchen and Living Room Before:

Front door entry into living room - before
View into living room and plantar - before
Living room before
View of kitchen from fireplace wall before (hello Bill, home inspector extraordinaire!)
Diagonal fireplace wall - before (and Mary & Phil!)
Kitchen and Living Room Now:

Wall is coming down - it's now completely gone (pics to come) and no support beam will be needed!

Many, many layers of flooring were removed, along with wainscoting.  The heavy brick fireplace wall and chimney contributed to our need to replace the subflooring with 3/4" subfloor and reinforcing the joists below.
View from living room into former kitchen, which is demoed.  The exterior wall is the next to go!  The addition will be in this area, including the new kitchen, laundry, hallway and master suite.
Diagonal fireplace wall is gone!  Chimney is the next to go.  So much brick!
Like any home renovation or addition project, we'll run into challenges we didn't foresee.  We've had a few good news/bad news situations arise already, but it all balances out for the most part.  Great news was that we didn't need a support beam where the wall used to be diving the living room and old kitchen.  Not so great news was the need to replace the subflooring and work on the joists.  The big question mark in that area of the house was the diagonal fireplace wall.  We knew the wall had to go because we need to be able to square off the room and be able to build the addition and hallway to the master suite from that area.  What we didn't know was what we'd find behind the wall!  We didn't expect the massive, crazy chimney but that's what we got.  We planned on keeping the chimney and flute but in the end we'll demo what was there and build a new fireplace.

It's great to see things happening, and a little overwhelming to know how much is going to happen over the next few months.  Looking forward to sharing more as we continue!