We're moving (literally)!

So. The title of this blog is a little misleading these days. Mainly because our rented house is no longer the peanut butter to my bread. Actually, I'm not sure if that analogy even makes sense, but since sandwiches are not the point of this post, I will carry on nonetheless.

In just a few weeks, we move out of here and into our new house officially. This warrants a blog name change if I've ever heard it, so from now on I'll be posting to our brand new little blog, which you can access here.

The new blog!

It's still a work in progress, but I'm itching to move on from life with a landlord, so the new blog is up and running. I'll see you there from now on! :)


88 signatures later...

...we are now officially responsible for a mortgage. And we could NOT be any happier about that fact. :)

Our to-do list is about 43 miles long, and we've already changed some things since these pictures were taken (let's just say that both Rick and I have gotten quite chummy with things like crowbars and tack removers), but here is the grand-ish "before" tour.

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I forgot to get a picture of the backyard and the pool, though you can sort of see the pool just behind the house. Maybe when there aren't 4 ft of snow in the backyard I'll take the time to traipse back there and get some better shots.

Not sure what Rick was doing in this picture--probably trying to get out of the picture, actually.

Someday, this will be a full bath. For now, it's just...for the birds.

That carpet sorta gives me the willies. But we're dealing with it for now.

Er-the built-in hutch in the dining room. Somehow, I failed to take a picture of the rest of the room. Check back soon.

Bay window = major selling point. 

Hardwood floors = another major selling point.

You can't tell from this picture, but there are eight outlets in this room. Eight.

We had a sneaking suspicion that they left behind their garland because it was holding the banister together (note the missing spindles), but, happily, we managed to unwrap it without anything falling apart. Yet.


 My mom says she plans to live in this closet when she is old and we have to take care of her.


The fact that there are plenty of rooms for multiple sets of twins = major selling point for our moms.

Nice floor, right? I already have paint swatches lined up to fix it...




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So there you have it: our big house that we have even bigger plans for. Believe me, there are very few feet of the 2500 it came with that we don't plan to completely transform. And, like I said earlier, we're already well on our way...


The post in which we dance and sing "Kumbaya."

Rick and I have this little event coming up soon called "Closing On a House." {Insert spastic celebratory dance here that may or may not be to the tune of "Omigod You Guys"--Legally Blonde: the Musical.} 

Virgin house buyers that we are, we have no idea who will be in attendance at this auspicious occasion, what it will look like, where it will occur, or what we will do. Well, I know what I'll be doing: I'll be spastically dancing. And Rick will be pretending that he bought the house with someone else, perhaps even someone whose dancing experience exceeds prancing across a stage wearing a faux elephant head and a pink tutu while "Baby Elephant Walk" rumbled in the background.

Since we don't know what to expect, then, we've amused ourselves by coming up with unlikely possibilities. Here's what we picture The Closing looking like:

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We (us, our lawyer, their lawyer, our realtor, their realtor, the soon-to-be non-owners, our parents,my first grade teacher, and my cats) all gather around the house and hold hands. Our lawyer will ceremoniously present us with the title of the house swathed in grosgrain ribbon, then give an elaborate toast to our victory. The realtors will sing a duet (we're torn between "Kumbaya" and "People (Who Need People)") while I do an interpretive dance with scarves in the background. The crowd will cheer jubilantly as the song comes to a close, and not because they're glad my dancing was over. We'll then go around the circle and say one thing we loved about the closing ceremony before making snow angels in the yard. Finally, we'll invite them all inside for cannoli and raspberry chai, which we'll dine upon until we have to fork over our life's savings our down payment, at which point we'll pry uneaten cannoli out of their hands since that's all we'll be able to eat for the next several months.
*          *          *

Yeah. With the exception of the money-changing-hands part, we know The Closing is not going to happen that way...unless by some strange chain of events our realtor morphs into Raffi or Barbara Streisand, in which case the odds would be much greater.
Weirdly doctored photo courtesy of too much time on my hands and this website.
Anyway, until That Happy Day when we finally learn what exactly is entailed in this mysterious event, we'll just keep entertaining ourselves with visions of cannoli and snow angels.

And oh--if you happened to have stumbled on this page by googling the real answer to "What is closing?" I sincerely apologize. May your closing be much less dramatic than my fictitious one. Please do let me know, though, if Barbara Streisand shows up to yours. I'd like an autograph.


The post with the--wait, I can't decide.

"Mind changeitis." It's what I suffer from. Please don't analyze that disease name too closely; you'll find that "inflammation of the mind changing" really makes no sense, which your nearest friendly pharmacist will readily point out to you. If my local friendly pharmacist was currently lurking over my shoulder instead of watching Norm Abram install pocket doors on This Old House, I'm sure he would have already informed me of my error.

Yes, I did give myself the ability to read his mind in the above picture. One of those perks of being a woman, you know.

Anyway, this problem of mine has resulted in me spending many minutes trying to locate some receipt that I put in a Good Spot (must do something about that) and then more minutes in some return or exchange line, with the following questions running through my mind:

"When has green and red plaid ever been a good option for my couch pillows?"
"What do these stores really pump in via those halogen bulbs?"
"How long will Rick roll his eyes at me this time?"
"Was it the 70% off sticker that made this snowman statue end up in my cart?"

Fortunately, I've learned of my problem and have been coping with it ("Hi, I'm Erin, and I'm addicted to changing my mind"), just in time to make some serious purchases for our house. How devastated would I have been if I bought some gorgeously red couch only to wish I didn't have to look at its face a couple months or even years later? They don't make return lines for stuff like that. And let's face it, not every color goes with red. Just ask Anne of Green Gables.

"Mrs. Hammond told me that God made my hair red on purpose and I've never cared for Him since."

So, in my quest to encourage my habit rather than eradicate it (yes, I'm an enabler: please don't tell the administrators at my school), I've decided to go with classic white for our new comforter. I've been doing some investigating and my qualms about white bedding have vanished since discovering that a little bleach will make a white comforter as good as new. Therefore, this West Elm duvet cover that I've been stalking keeping my eye on will soon be arriving at our door, thanks to a gift card and a 20% off sale:

'Til death do us part. I promise, this time. And my fingers aren't even cleverly crossed behind my back.

That is, it will be arriving as soon as I'm able to convince that friendly pharmacist of mine that I won't be trying to sneak it onto Craigslist within the year. :)


The post with the butterfly shadowbox.

Guess what happened to me today?

Clue #1: My employer called me at 5:33am.
Clue #2: I did a happy dance at 5:34am.
Clue #3: I'm still in my pajamas at 3:58pm. (Don't judge. They happen to be very warm and comfy.)

This surprise COLD day meant that I had plenty of time to clean the apartment, catch up on grading, and read for my grad classes. And I did do some of that...but I also made this paper butterfly shadowbox:

This is yet another Cricut and Sure Cuts a Lot project. The software for SCAL makes it so easy to cut out any. shape. you. want. without buying an expensive Cricut cartridge. I could even cut out the shapes in this picture:

But I don't know why I would want to do that. So I won't.

For the shadowbox, I found a free vector image of a butterfly, traced it with SCAL, then cut out nine winged beauties in different coordinating papers.

These colors are the real colors--this was the only picture taken in actual daylight.

I inked the edges of the butterflies with leftover ink from this gratitude project to give the edges a slightly more textured and dimensional look. It helps the wings pop a little more on the white background.

Then all I had to do was arrange them in a way that looked right, attach them to the white background (I used this rare adhesive product called Scotch tape), and fold up the wings to make them 3D.

I like that no butterflies were harmed in the making of this project. :)


The post with the pharmacist pillow.

If I wanted to decorate my house in a way that would constantly remind me and announce to all who entered that I was a teacher, I would need only go to the nearest craft fair and visit maybe two booths. Wooden apples, yardsticks that say "Teachers rule" (har har), crayon/glue/chalk fabric out of which trendy clothing apparel can be fashioned...we've got all of our decor and fashion needs covered.

How often do you see home decor, though, that proudly announces, "There's a pharmacist in this house!"? I have seen nary a wooden pill anywhere. And fabric with medicine on it? Pffhht. Of course, this seeming void may have something to do with the fact that a wooden pill would not look very attractive sitting on your bookshelf. And I'm pretty sure that there is not a market for vests with Lipitor and Cymbalta printed on them. That would sort of be like a walking HIPPA violation.

Anyway, that's why I am so excited to have made this pillow for Rick:

It started out as this:

Then morphed with the help of an old beige curtain so that the rusty fabric wouldn't show through the burlap:

Then morphed again when covered with a hot glued burlap pillow form:

Then was finished off when I used a black permanent marker to doodle on the design, inspired by these trays that I spotted while touring West Elm's new arrivals.

I hoped that the appearance of this pillow would help Rick hurdle the complex he's developed due to his career of choice being so pitifully under-represented at Joann's, and good news--he loves it! He was actually so inspired that he asked that my next project be a Hydrocodone pantsuit, but I gently reminded him that A) that might be interpreted the wrong way by the less-legal drug dealers of the world and B) I really can't sew anything except straight lines.Oh, well.


The post with the melting dough ball/couch.

I don't intend to buy much brand-new furniture for our new house. This fact explains the arrival of this chair. We prefer to spend time, not money, and I've realized recently that I like this approach for three reasons:

1. It allows us to be good stewards with our finances. Since we aren't spending all of our money on these material things, we can tithe our 10% each week as we are called to, and are free to give to other people who need it more than we do. God is so good with His blessings.

2. It keeps what might otherwise end up in a landfill...well, out of a landfill. Like this ladder.

3. It gives us lots and lots of PROJECTS! (Insert spastic interpretive happy dance here, and then insert Rick giving me a sidelong glance and reminding me not to quit my day job.)

A couch, though, was one of the items that was on the top of my "Things to purchase straight from a store and not a store named Goodwill" list.We ended up at a Raymour and Flanigan Clearance Center and not only met our future couch, but also a completely bald little salesman named Gary who brought us complimentary bottled water and took off his shoes so he could jump on couches in a real-life demonstration of their strength and resilience.

I demonstrated how to not wet my pants from all that water because I was laughing so hard.

Blatantly disregarding the fact that I couldn't take any more laughter because I was about to have an extreme accident, Rick began finding the weirdest pieces of furniture (a dime a dozen in a clearance center, let me tell you--have you ever seen a couch upholstered in red terrycloth?),  plopping himself down in them, and then posing with a face that he apparently deemed to be appropriate for the given piece of furniture. For example, we affectionately began referring to one sad leather couch as "the ball of dough." It was a nondescript, saggy thing with little beige "dough balls" as armrests. It seriously looked just like this:

Only with a price tag on it.

Unfortunately, since I failed to bring along my camera (who knew that couch shopping could provide such photo-rich opportunities?), I'll have to leave Rick's "dough ball" pose and face up to your imagination.

We did manage to move beyond the dough ball to find and purchase a couch that met our requirements of:
  • comfort (my sister-in-law said, "I'll spend the night on this anytime!"), 
  • quality (Gary did, after all, successfully and without injury jump on the base and the arms, which bodes well for all those future sets of boisterous twins that our mothers plan on us having),  
  • size (we squished 7 people on it when our families came to gaze upon it after church yesterday--which also bodes well for all those twins),
  •  attractiveness (I wanted something classy with nice lines),
  •  color (light blue-gray for something neutral but not boring), and 
  •  price (we paid about $600 below retail and $300 below our budget (!) by A) purchasing a couch that has a you-practically-need-a-microscope-to-see-it-on-the-back-corner-of-the-couch tear, B) avoiding delivery fees by picking it up ourselves, and C) asking our friend Gary "Is this the best price we can get?" to which he responded, "Well, I'll give you $50 off, but only if you let me jump on your couch one more time.")
I kid. He actually offered to throw in the dough ball for free, as a kind of BOGO deal. We graciously declined.

I don't have a picture other than the grainy one on my cell phone, but this is our new couch (except not the right color) that is currently residing in the maintenance room at church because we have no other place to put it:

Our new couch!

Today, I'm praising the Lord for providing the means to buy a brand new piece of furniture as well as providing a day off, thanks to MLK Day: His timing (as always) was perfect to have a long weekend follow a rough week. It was just what I needed. :)


The post in which I pause.

This week has been stressful, and that stress is 100% due to my job. When I went to school to become a teacher, I didn't sign up for the girl who speaks to me in a way that would have made my 14 year-old self sooner curl up and hide in the corner of my room for the next 18.5 months. I didn't sign up for the FAQ of "Do we really have to read books in English?" I didn't sign up for the parent who chooses to believe their child's story rather than mine, despite the fact that said child's story has changed more times than I have changed my mind about what colors to put in our future living room.

No, I didn't sign up for any of the above, but they come with the territory. Duh, Erin. Even the biggest sigh of exasperation won't change the fact that teaching is a difficult and trying job. I try to stay positive, praying every morning for patience, a sense of humor, and wisdom about the right way to deal with anything that crosses my path, and I try to focus on the kids who make me laugh and the parents who are the strongest of allies. Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, weeks like this happen, and all of my commitment to optimism dissolves faster than the commotion of students when they realize just how angry they have made me.

It's weeks like this that really put life in perspective for me. Without these bumps and problems, life would seem too perfect. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are self-sufficient beings, and that life on earth is the best thing we have going for us.

But it's not. And weeks like this remind me that the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, will plant these obstacles and frustrations to remind us that we can't do this life thing alone, that we need to rely on Him for our every need. It is so comforting to know that He has already anticipated the events that make me question my sanity and my choice of career, and knows just how He will use it to make me grow as a stronger person and teacher, all the while teaching me to lean on Him like crazy, and to be grateful for these setbacks that he is using to set me up for being a better teacher and human being. Do I like the problems my job presents? I'd be lying if I said "YES! BRING ON THE DISRESPECT AND IRRESPONSIBILITY!". I'm getting better, though, at being grateful for these inevitable facets of my job, rather than resenting them.

Weeks like this also make me realize, in the grander scheme of life, just how insignificant a new mirror is, and how meaningless couch shopping is. Don't get me wrong: I still get ridiculously excited about spotting 80% off signs, sifting through fabric swatches, and testing every couch in Raymour and Flanigan with saleswoman Marcia close behind (OK, well, maybe I wasn't so excited about Marcia being close behind). And I probably always will get excited about these things, because these things all are linked to the gifts and abilities that God has given me. The Lord wants us to enjoy our gifts and blessings! I just want to enjoy them with a greater sense of gratefulness, without getting sucked into the material and temporal nature of this crazy world.

So here's my goal for the new year: I am still going to blog, and I'm still going to blog about my house. But I am going to do it all with the clear understanding that the truly greatest treasure can't be found on any clearance rack, magazine page, or home decorating blog. I am going to do it without forgetting that these earthly treasures are just that: earthly. I am going to give every last ounce of glory to the One who has allowed me to have the means to buy the things that I enjoy.

Hold me to it!

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 6:19-21


The post about taking apart a frumpy chair.

Some people buddy up with Ryan Seacrest, noisemakers, and Budweiser on December 31st.

We buddied up with some pliers, screwdrivers, and disintegrating foam.

Yes, that's right: we spent our New Year's Eve taking apart this frumpy but one-of-a-kind $20 Craigslist chair:

With some new fabric, cushions, and paint (which we haven't selected yet because I'm not sure yet where I want the chair to go in OUR NEW HOUSE), we'll be able to transform this ugly duckling into a swan. Or at least a more attractive duckling. However, due to the lack of weather temperatures that allow us to paint outdoors without going frozen from the waist down (name that Christmas movie) or indoors without acquiring a perpetual paint-fume headache, this frumpy duckling is, right now, more like a....well, a dismembered frumpy duckling.

That last statement was rather graphic. I promise no animals were harmed in the dismantling of this chair. See, our head project supervisor Gingerbread approves of our work:

Well, she at least approves of the fact that we created yet another new nook for her to explore and take up residence in.

Anyway, we tackled this chair the same way we tackled the zebra one. Our process is fairly straightforward:

1. Snap way too many pictures of the chair from every angle...

2. Remove all staples and tack strips, bemoaning the person who used these nasty metal tack strips when they put the chair together in the first place...

 (In that poor soul's defense, he probably never expected that anyone would spend their New Year's Eve taking his hard work apart.)

4. Take off the fabric one piece at a time and make a list of the order (putting the new fabric back on will happen in the reverse order)...

5. Notice that this chair's olive velour fabric is reminiscent of the gold velour fabric we removed from this chair and wonder during exactly what era gold and olive velour chairs were popular...

6. Keep the vacuum handy so our entire living room doesn't become covered in 60-year old disintegrating foam (alas, we didn't give it a chance to ring in a 61st year)...

7. Sand the chair's frame when we're blessed with a balmy 44 degrees on January 1st (the only part of this process that we didn't complete before Dick Clark's countdown)...

8. And last, not not least, pile the pieces into the empty corner of the living room where the Christmas tree stood just a mere 24 hours before and pretend it's some newfangled modern art sculpture (hey, if a urinal on a slab of concrete can make it to the MOMA, I say our chair can, too) until we have the supplies, plan, and weather to finish the project once and for all.

Take that, frumpy duckling. We'll turn you into a swan yet. :)