My Two Babies

The past few months have been a whirlwind and went by so quickly! I can hardly believe that Cole will be 12 weeks old this Thursday. When I was pregnant I originally told clients that I’d only need 4-6 weeks for my maternity leave and the clients who had children laughed at me. I can now see why! It really does take three months to get into a groove and develop some sort of a schedule. We’re still working on that schedule part, but it has gotten so much easier! Cole is an awesome sleeper and only wakes up once, maybe twice, each night and when he does he goes right back to sleep. He’s even had a few nights where he slept eight straight hours! He’s been in his crib from the first night home from the hospital and I like to think that helps with his sleeping. Once we swaddle him and put on his sound machine, he usually goes right to sleep. He is amazing, that little boy.

He is developing such a fun personality now that he’s almost three months old. He has been smiling a ton and is just now starting to giggle and coo which melts my heart. When Ryan sings to him in a silly voice he kicks his legs like crazy and smiles a big toothless smile. Here’s a few of those adorable smiles. :)



I have some more big news! Ryan and I bought a house! :) I know, we’re crazy. Two of the most stressful things in your life and we did them both within 10 weeks of each other. It doesn’t feel real and we’re both on cloud nine.

We weren’t planning on moving for at least two years but Ryan was looking at real estate every day “just for fun”. That’s like going to target “just for fun”. You always end up with a cart full of random items that you probably didn’t need. But, that’s besides the point.

Ryan found a different house last February and we ended up placing an offer but it didn’t get accepted. Looking back, I am so relieved! Our realtor casually mentioned that she had another house coming on the market  on March 28 (my birthday), so I saw it as a sign. She described this house and my eyes glazed over: center hall colonial, fixer upper, north side of Cranford, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a wood burning fireplace and a finishable basement (for a future office). Ahhhh! It reminds me of the Father of the Bride house (my absolute dream house) but obviously on a much smaller scale. I knew this was “the one”.

We closed on the house last Monday and it couldn’t have gone any better. We met the previous owner who lived there for 40 years and raised her family there. She was emotional to say goodbye to the house but she was so happy that a young family was moving in. She was sassy and full of life and exactly who I was hoping she’d be. Her positive energy was infectious and it made me feel so good because I know the house is full of good energy too. I asked her what her favorite thing about living there was and her answer would have been my own. She said her kitchen was always filled with people and love. I promised that we would continue to love the house, cook delicious meals in that kitchen, and have parties to create new memories. After we signed our life away to the mortgage company, the previous owner and I hugged and we both cried. While I jokingly teased that it was from my nursing hormones, I know it’s just because I’m just so happy. SO happy. I am so excited for this next chapter in a house I am so proud to call my own.

Since the previous owner was a bit older, it does need a lot of work. This past weekend Cole spent time with his Grandmas while Ryan and I were able to paint almost every room. It’s amazing how productive you can be when you don’t have an infant attached to you! Before we move in we are going to refinish the wood floors, install wood flooring in one of the rooms that is currently carpeted, and install central air. Go big or go home, right? We’re also removing a few HUGE trees that are way too close to the house. See that big daddy below on the left? He’ll be gone soon so we don’t have to worry about him falling on the house.

house before

My line of work is dangerous for my own house because I have big plans. For the exterior I want to built an overhang over the porch so the house doesn’t look so flat. We’re going to paint the shutters black and eventually get a new front door. We’re going to replace the lighting, windows, add landscaping and remove that funky walkway to the street. We have another walkway that goes to the driveway which is what we would use anyway. Ryan photoshopped a picture here to get an idea. Swoon!


I’m sure I’ll be posting progress pictures once we have time and money (ha!) to do more work. I don’t want to rush anything because this could be our “forever home” and I also don’t want to miss out on Cole’s infancy. Spending time with him is way more important than stressing over which windows to buy or how quickly we can add molding to the dining room. :) Baby steps.


works in progress

The past two weeks I’ve been in a funk. I don’t know why or when it exactly it started, but I’m thinking it has something to do with the most recent major change: moving. I absolutely love the new house, and do not miss living in a studio whatsoever, but seeing all the little projects and “to do” lists neatly typed in my iPhone has started to get to me. It doesn’t feel like home yet so I’ve been spending time trying to personalize the spaces to make them more comforting.

To get away from my honey-do list, this past weekend I took a trip to the beach to visit family. Well… they’re the family I used to nanny for in High School but they’re more like family. When I was sitting on the beach trying to figure out what’s been bothering me, I had a bit of an epiphany. I sat there watching the kids, thinking of how time goes by so quickly… how it was just 11 years ago I was there watching them learn how to walk and learn to say my name for the first time. (They call me “LaLa Car” still. Something about associating Lisa and Lisa’s car.) Then I started thinking about how I only enjoy the before and afters, and don’t take enough time to enjoy the “during”. This can be applied to my workout routine (non existent) or weeding the garden. Instead of rushing to get all the things done for the house, I want to take more time and actually enjoy what I’m doing. I need to step back and stop wishing for the future and enjoy the here and now.

These are the projects that we’re working on now:

Photo collage

The gallery wall in the dining room over the buffet. Ryan’s in the process of refinishing a Russell Wright buffet we bought on craigslist for only $100! More on that soon.

Hallway table

The upstairs hallway that I’m personalizing with a wall of family photos. I love the little nook at the end of the hall and will add some art above the console soon.

Beige Gray Chaise Lounge

The very empty corner of our bedroom that needs work. I’d love to get bookshelves, or install floating shelves on the wall for my books and small art pieces. Right now it feels really empty and need to think of what to do with this space. (Such a huge difference from the very beginning.)

The chaise is the IKEA KIVIK to be added to the sofa we have in the family room once we move to a bigger place in the future. We’re using it in the bedroom for the time being for a reading nook.

Weedy grass

The grass “BEFORE”. It was prickly and a wildflower graveyard so Ryan and I killed the grass and tilled the soil to plant new seed…

Weedy grass - before

This is what the yard is looking like now. Half dirt, half grass (weeds). Ryan planted seed last night in hopes that we’ll have some sprouts for our Labor Day BBQ. I love the way the yard looks at night when I like candles in those little black lanterns on either side of the benches.

house progress shots

Today the floors got sanded, so Ryan and I snuck over after work to sneak a peak at today’s progress. Tomorrow they’re going to sand the edges and start staining the floors a dark walnut color. I’m so excited at how different it looks already!


Before & After - Guest Room Before


Before & After - Guest Room During


Before & After - Master Bedroom Room Before


Before & After - Master Bedroom Room During


Before & After - Hallway Before


Before & After - Hallway During


Before & After - Living Room During


Before & After - Entry Door During

how to remove paint from door hardware

The first thing I cooked in our new house was brass door knobs. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Instead of using paint stripper for the door hardware, Ryan read somewhere that you can simmer them in water with a tiny bit of laundry detergent. (I used a cheapie 3 quart pot from the dollar store with about 2 tablespoons of detergent, and it worked perfectly!) I was a bit skeptical if it would work, but after I let it simmer for about 30-60 minutes, the paint almost fell off.

We didn’t cross everything off my to-do list but we got a lot done. Ryan and John hung the storm door, and the front entry door which takes all day when they’re drinking beer and having heart to hearts. Apparently our entry door is not a standard size (= $$$$) , but Ryan found a solid cherry door on clearance at Home Depot in our exact size! Once the floors are stained, we’re going to stain it the same color so it stands out from the white molding and makes it feel a little more special.

While the boys played inside in the air conditioning, I weeded the garden, laid the mulch and planted some plants. I just wish I would have known that there was a wasp nest in one of the bushes I tore out because that sting was painful! Even though my leg is still swollen from the sting, and I can’t seem to get the dirt out from under my nails, I am ending the weekend feeling happy and content and like everything is finally working out.

new uses for everyday things

Every month when Real Simple comes in the mail, Ryan knows not to talk to me for a good hour. This months issue has even more of my favorite “new uses for everyday things” and I’ve compiled a list of genius ideas that I wish I thought of sooner!

  • Use a tissue box as a plastic bag dispenser to organize your pile of shopping bags.

  • Use your salad spinner to get the extra water out of your cashmere sweaters. Just put the sweaters in the spinner, and then lay flat after to dry.

  • If you’re over your Uggs, cut the boot and use the shearling as a pot holder. (After cleaning them of course!) This is a great idea for camping!

  • Wrap a rubber band around nail polish for stubborn bottles that won’t open.

  • Use a lemon to disinfect your chopping block, or to remove stains from tupperware.
  • Clean your kitchen sponge by heating it in the microwave for a minute. (There’s nothing worse than the smell of dirty sponge!)

  • Wrap tomatoes in newspaper seperately to ripen sooner.
  • Hang Christmas lights vertically on your tree instead of wrapping them around and around. It cuts down the time of putting them up, and removing them.

  • Keep a few marshmallows in your brown sugar to keep it soft. Genius!

(all photos Real Simple.)

mountain retreat

When I saw this house, it literally took my breathe away. The New Zealand mountain retreat, designed by Fearon Hay Architects, has an open floor plan allowing for flexibility and to be able to appreciate the view from almost any part of this amazing home. The colors and textures of the materials are subtle compliments the landscape, using sandblasted concrete and a polished plaster ceiling. Now if only we knew what materials were used in the kitchen! That cabinetry and countertop is to die for!

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Thanks to yolksy for the discovery!