This and That

Apparently I don’t feel like being a “share-er” anymore! Here’s what’s been happening.

We went to my favorite concert EVER. Needtobreathe at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. They were everything.

IMG_5571We went to Greece. For ourselves.

DSC00282We went to Delaware. For a wedding. Amazing dancing.

IMG_6067We had our fourth wedding anniversary. Scott bought me a trip to Greece for our anniversary.¬† I planned the trip to Greece for Scott for our anniversary. ūüôā

We straight up quit doing work ON the house.¬† Now I’m buying pretty things FOR the house. Guess which I like better. I dare you.

We went to Bermuda. For a wedding. Bermudians=party!

IMG_6191I jumped on the Essential Oils bandwagon. Have only tried what came in the starter kit. I’ve ordered a few more for immune boosting.¬† I can’t handle Scott’s ongoing cough/sniffle that lasts all winter this year.

I started taking spin classes.¬† I love it. Great workout, but it’s such a mental game for me! The first two classes I almost broke down in tears.¬† I think I need to throw some yoga in for good measure.

Family time and mini golf with my pink-loving mini me.

IMG_6053We (I) have had my heart broken by Hokie football.

We (Scott) have had all our (his) dreams come true. The Mets are in the World Series. Lets Go Mets!

IMG_5683We saw Josh Turner right here in our hometown. His {deep} voice is just as good in person as it is on the radio. And it’s an excuse to wear cowboy boots in Jersey.

IMG_6043And I’ve knitted 6 scarves. Help.

Shotgun Rider

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that Scott and I went to a Tim McGraw concert on Saturday.¬† And you might think, “What fun those two have!¬† So glad they are enjoying their weekend.”¬† To which I would say, “Fooled you!” IMG_5443

Don’t get me wrong, the concert was a blast. It was an absolute lifesaver from the sheer amount of home improvement that consumed our weekend.¬† I’m still finding paint and caulk on my arms and legs.¬† I think my hand will forever be a claw that can only hold a paintbrush.

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But. We have finally…FINALLY…finished every project we have started.¬† I’m so excited to share finished pictures this week.¬† This has been such a long, grueling process.¬† And frankly, I’m just so happy I married someone who I can do home projects with all day and turn around and head straight to a country concert together.¬† We weren’t sick of each other and had so much fun dancing the night away.

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Tim McGraw always puts on a good show.¬† You know all of his songs and can dance and sing along all night.¬† He’s like Kenny Chesney – always a good bet for a live show.

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And he looks darn good in a hat.IMG_5450

The “During” Stage of Life

{House} facelifts don’t just happen.¬† But weren’t those “After” pictures nice?¬† Working on the house has been consuming our weekends and weeknights for awhile now.¬† I wanted to be sure to document the people doing the “during” work, not just the “after” pictures.¬† Because one day we’ll be able to just enjoy our house and our weekends, and I don’t want to take that for granted.

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We have had some incredible help from our family and friends.  Look at this sooty fireplace.IMG_5416

My family visited for a weekend at the Shore, but cold, rainy weather turned it into a work weekend!  Hi Megan!  Poor girl got roped into re-painting our fireplace.IMG_5172

And it looks so much better!IMG_4317

Mom helped me weed.  ALL the weeds.  They are the absolute bane of my existence.IMG_5178

Dad and Scott replaced rotted boards on the deck. IMG_5175IMG_5174 IMG_5179

And then Scott and his dad re-stained the whole thing. ¬†It’s a BIG deck.IMG_5232IMG_5245

We also painted our 2 downstairs bedrooms.  Somehow we talked our friends, Todd and Allie, into helping us.  IMG_5235

You go to bed thanking Jesus for that sort of blessing.IMG_5238 IMG_5239

And when it’s all done – or feels like it won’t end – I employ my good friend, tequila.IMG_5217We have one more weekend of housework to push through.¬† Send good thoughts, prayers and maybe tequila!

House Face Lift

We have been working on our house like crazy recently and we just finished some curb-appeal projects this weekend. Mainly, we painted the shutters black and stained the front porch.¬† Here’s the house, looking all spiffed up.¬† I couldn’t be happier with the new black shutters.¬† Buh-bye faded merlot eye sores! IMG_5412

Here is the “curb-appeal” progression. When we moved in to the jungle:Front Yard

Post-ripping out all of the trees and bushes.IMG_1253

After laying sod.IMG_1320

And the finished product!¬† With black shutters and a stained deck.¬† And pretty pink hydrangeas.¬† I’m debating painting the front door black (we have leftover paint).¬† Or a different color?¬† Thoughts?

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Bizzare-o Weekend at the Fitzgerald House

The past two weekends have been domestic bliss, I tell you.¬† Without an ounce of sarcasm.¬† We have stayed home, worked on the house, gone to church, caught up on movies, saw friends and enjoyed the glorious weekend sunshine-y weather.¬† I literally couldn’t want anything more out of my weekends.¬† Except a trip to Greece, I suppose.

Friday night, Scott and I went to one of our new local favorites, The Robinson Ale House.  We followed it up, no lie, with a viewing of How to Train Your Dragon 2.  If you ask me it was even better than the first one.  And apparently, dragons are just big cats.  Because Scott and I both kept laughing at the bizarre behavior similarities between the dragons and Prince.

Saturday was gloriously beautiful.¬† We hit up an estate sale (two lamps for $1 a piece), drove to the ocean and came home and put our new (to us) weight set to use.¬† Yes, that is right, I pumped some iron.¬† First time since a brief, week-long stint in weight training class in high school.¬† You know I promptly dropped that class in favor of aerobics.¬† Do they still offer aerobics as a legitimate class these days?¬† Anyways, I’m still sore.¬† I would love to know why my elbows hurt.

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And in the afternoon, Scott continued to build doorway headers as we slowly inch our way to a completed downstairs. I can’t wait to show pictures of the final product.¬† Especially considering the amount of painstaking work that goes into making an old house level.¬† IMG_4434

Believe it or not, this is what level/90 degree angles looks like.IMG_4432

And I planted a vegetable garden!¬† It’s success is doubtful, but I’m hoping to get some fresh veggies and a few gardening lessons out of it.¬† Lesson 1: Stick to the list you go to the store with, which was informed by garden research.¬† Don’t get fooled by the fact that they are selling brussels sprouts! Because you might come home to learn from Google that brussels are more of a fall crop and should not be planted in the heat.¬† Well then.¬† I planted spinach, mixed lettuce, cauliflower and the doomed brussels.¬† And some marigolds, since they are apparently the garden equivalent of a bouncer and “keep pests away.”

At one point, Scott came outside to inform me that Prince had escaped the deck and was halfway under a bush.  He pulled him out and then we saw a MOUSE run out from the bush!  So basically, my fluff ball went hunting. Outside. Without any claws or real world know-how.  And I lifted weights.  Bizarre-o land for sure.

I also finished a small makeover/DIY project. Our house came with this massive (4′ x 5′) mirror.

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So I used up some leftover Annie Sloan Antique White paint on the frame.

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And voila – it’s hung in our entryway, bouncing around more light and filling the wall nicely. You can see that the sunny weather didn’t last past the weekend, but I’d rather have sunny weekends than work weeks anyways.

IMG_4457Next up: Building a grey-washed shelf or table under the mirror.¬† And then pretty candles and vases and decorations. Hopefully my massive muscles and the aggressive mouse hunter don’t get in the way.

We Have Walls

We have walls, yes, we do. ¬†Here is proof. ¬†This is a little behind the times, since we have now painted. ¬†But I thought I’d give you a peek at the semi-finished downstairs. ¬†These pictures were taken back in August.

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Ok, so this is a floor. ¬†But it shows the amount of dust collected on the {once brown} paper. ¬†The mud and new dry wall smell like the inside of a pumpkin to me. ¬†Not in the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” way, but the gross, gut-sy stuff inside of a pumpkin you carve at Halloween. ¬†It actually makes me look forward to the smell of paint. (<– Written in August.)

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So there you have it.  And now, I need to try to get some pictures of the beautiful, blue paint we chose. We are inching our way along to a finished product!  Molding is up next.

One Year in our House

We have been in our house in New Jersey for one year. ¬†Well, one year on October 18. ¬†But life has been busy, y’all. ¬†In the past year, we have accomplished quite a bit. ¬†I still get overwhelmed and have to remind myself of that and rest easy that we are doing as much as we can. ¬†And what we can do is enough. ¬†Here are some of the highlights.

We ripped up our front yard and planted sod.  

We basically gave our house a major botox-injection-facelift.

Front Yard Before and After

I found our house on Google Maps street view. ¬†it’s the best picture of the front of the house with¬†a straight on ¬†view…of the craziest tree ever.

Front Yard

SO much better!IMG_1320

Now we have some serious landscaping to do next spring, but we still consider this one of our biggest accomplishments.

We ripped out plaster and put up drywall.

I promise we have walls now.  Just gotta get you some pictures!

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We bought a Jeep.

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We hosted at least six major holidays/get-togethers.

And that doesn’t include little visits here and there.

Thanksgiving (six weeks after the move). ¬†I’m so proud of that, I feel like I should include it on my resume.

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New Years Eve

NYE14 Glitter Prosecco

Christmas (in January)

Fireplace

Easter

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Summer Fitzgerald Family Reunion

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Labor Day

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We traveled far and wide.

Punta Cana

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Harrisonburg, VA for Megan’s GraduationIMG_0936

West Point, NY for West Point’s graduationIMG_5888

Manassas, VA

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Boston, MA

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Cape May, NJ

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Amish Country, PA

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Rehoboth, DE

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Nashville, TN

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And that doesn’t include work travel! ¬†I went to Anaheim, Las Vegas, Florida, Pittsburgh, and Chicago (and probably more that I’m blocking out). ¬†Frankly, we are both a little exhausted. ¬†But its fun to look back at what we have accomplished. ¬†And our house has been the site of so many good memories for us and our friends and family already and I have a feeling that will continue for a good, long time.

Not for the faint of heart.

Demolition of half of your house is not for the faint of heart. ¬†It is tough on your sanity, your comfort and your marriage, if I’m real with you. ¬†Picking contractors (or picking a different contractor than the one your spouse prefers…), making decisions, deciding how much money to spend and where to cut corners in your home. ¬†The home where you live and have to stare at said decisions for years to come. ¬†It’s quite a bit to take in. ¬†And then there is the deadline of visitors on Labor Day Weekend. ¬†Everything must be done by then! Gah.

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Scott was at a bachelor party last weekend. ¬†Which meant I was alone with nothing but the studs of our house and no window treatments. ¬†I met with contractors galore. ¬†Electrician’s, dry wallers and flooring, oh my!

And then I was out of town for work the past few days. ¬†Needless to say, this project has been a logistical spider web. ¬†We’ve had to get ok with strangers coming into our home while we aren’t there. ¬†And hoping that tape boxes on the wall properly communicate where we want the TV mounted.

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When the electrician stopped by to get his check the other day, Prince greeted him like an old friend. ¬†So there’s that.

But here’s the good news. ¬†Demo is DONE. ¬†As of 3:20 pm yesterday. And electrical is as done as it can be until the dry wall is up. ¬†And the dry wall – yeah, its getting started on WEDNESDAY! ¬†Like, in two days, people.

And living in a state of craziness continues to provide unforeseen marriage strengthening exercises. ¬†Scott and I could win one of those marriage competition reality shows at this point. ¬†For¬†example: Fish your house key out of the debris-filled hole in the floor. ¬†That is too narrow for either of your hands to fit in. ¬†In under a minute so you don’t miss your train. ¬†If you fail, your contractor can’t get into the house to do his work and then you will be behind schedule. ¬†GO! ¬† (We totally rocked that challenge – thank you, salad fork!)

Demo Demo Demo

Much to my surprise, we started demolishing our house this Saturday. ¬†No, it was not the plan when we woke up Saturday morning. ¬†But now, it’s Tuesday and my house looks like this.IMG951307We knew we wanted to have our walls redone. ¬†We just couldn’t bring ourselves to paint (and live forever in) a room with walls that looked like this:

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And this:

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And lets not forget the ceilings.  Which are either popcorn or the below.

photo 5-9Lovely, no?  NO.

So while there was no structural issue, we knew that everything either had to come down, get skim coated (messy!), or have new drywall put right over the top. ¬†Saturday morning we received a quote to have the drywall replaced in our living room, dining room, entry way, awkward extra entry way and hallway. ¬†It was a fair quote, so we decided to go for it. ¬†We went to Home Depot, bought a sledge hammer and a pry bar. ¬†We didn’t like the idea of piling drywall on top of what we thought was plaster, so we were going to demo it all ourselves. ¬†We felt better about taking everything down to the studs and starting fresh.

We discovered that the “plaster” was some sort of wall treatment on top of drywall. ¬†Huh? ¬†And under the “plaster?” ¬†Three layers of wall paper. ¬†Snowflakes (just what I want up year round).

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Lace on lace.photo 3-10

And the sixties.

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After Day One and Two we had the main room and entry way done.  And pieces and parts of other areas.

Main room before and after:

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Main entry before and after:

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After Day Three (aka yesterday evening for 2 hours) we have the rest of the hallways and most of the dining room done.photo 1-11

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Tetanus anyone?  Seeing these all around makes me chant the date of my last tetanus shot in my head (July 2011, well within the 10 year limit).

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The only major change to the layout includes closing the second archway in the entry.  There is no reason for that little arch below.

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So now she is all framed up and ready to be a wall to my new mini-mudroom!IMG_6468Tonight should be the last day of demo. ¬†Just need to finish up the dining room! ¬†And then we’ll have an electrician come to run wiring for recessed lighting and to the TV mount before the dry wall is put up! ¬†Giddy doesn’t even begin to cover it.

 

Our Grass is Now Greener

We did it! We are officially #strongerthantheyard.  We took our front yard from an overgrown jungle to a beautiful place where we can actually walk, talk to the neighbors, have future kids play and actually see the neighborhood.

Here is the best picture I have of where we started.

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Getting the yard ready for laying sod, which was the ultimate goal, was a long process.  We had to move all of the rocks.  And the shepherd hook plant hangers, the stone benches, two arches, a cast iron bird bath and countless lawn gnome type ornaments.  And when we got a few layers deeper, we found large Christmas light bulbs, a flip flop, a CD case, a lacrosse ball  and an invisible fence.

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And then we had 4 massive trees taken down. ¬†I didn’t get a great “before” picture, because we didn’t know exactly when the company would come take them down. ¬†So one day we had quite the surprise waiting for us when we got home from work. ¬†All of our neighbors said they almost drove by their own homes because they had come to use our yard as their marker.

Fear not, liberal, hippie friends (yes, I have those). ¬†Taking down the trees was a necessary evil. ¬†It was for the best and every other plant received a better home elsewhere in our yard. ¬†Here is the house mid-plant-migration. ¬†The pile of wood chips on the bottom left reminds me of Phoebe on Friends asking why the “Chipper” at the Christmas tree lot isn’t as happy as it sounds.

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After we had moved every. single. plant in our front yard, we were still left with the “hedge.” ¬†I use this term loosely. ¬†It could be the stunt double for the forest of thorn bushes Malificent creates in Sleeping Beauty.

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It was such an eye sore.IMG_1229

Scott went to town on it. ¬†While I did something around the yard. ¬†My efforts were less impressive than his, I’m realizing. ¬†IMG_1222

Ah, all cleared out.IMG_1224

We were finally ready to start leveling! ¬†And I realized we¬†hadn’t¬†moved all of the plants. ¬†Flowers just continued to spring up out of nowhere. ¬†I did my best to salvage them.
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I will say one thing for the previous homeowners.  They took excellent care of their plants.  Everything grew back after the winter and everything was very healthy.  Twice the size it should be. But healthy.IMG_1254

Once we had actually cleared the yard (it was a many layered process) we rented a rototiller and borrowed some metal rakes and set about leveling.  It was around this time that I did not think that I was going to make it. Pure manual labor Рmoving dirt around Рwas what was going to finally break me mentally.IMG_1262

It didn’t help that it was the first HOT beach weather weekend. ¬†It did not help that friends on their way to the beach stopped by under the guise of saying hello. ¬†IMG_1269

It did not help that we kept finding THESE.  Gosh darn those roots.

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And Scott kept getting distracted by the machines and the cutting of the massive roots with an ax (these were actually very important jobs I wasn’t able to do. I realize this. I was bitter anyways). ¬†Which left the actual moving around of dirt solely on my plate. ¬†Uuuuuggghhhh I hated life.IMG_1280

But then my father-in-law started to help rake dirt (after he and my mother-in-law power washed our house – amazing!).

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And then Scott started to help rake dirt.

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And soon enough, the yard was free of plants and it was flat. ¬†We kept that pretty, little magnolia. ¬†It makes me feel like I’m in the South whenever I say magnolia.

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And then this past weekend, the sod arrived! IMG_1307

I seriously underestimated the weight of this stuff. ¬†I couldn’t¬†help nearly as much as I thought I would.IMG_1310

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Luckily, we had help.IMG_1311

And 492304 grueling, hot hours later, we had this!!IMG_1317

And now for some stats and before and after shots.  Because yes, I am that proud of this.

The side yard.

Side Yard

The front yard:

Front Yard

Overall before(ish):

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Overall after:IMG_1320

And some fun numbers:

  • Scott moved 500¬†rocks
  • Scott moved 30 stone pavers
  • We moved over 30 fully grown plants. ¬†This doesn’t include the countless flowers.
  • We had four trees professionally removed. ¬†They were a combined 126 feet tall.
  • We removed six overgrown hedge evergreens on our own.
  • We talked to at least 10 neighbors we hadn’t met yet throughout the process. ¬†They all approve greatly.
  • We leveled 1500 square feet of yard.
  • We laid 1900 square feet of sod.

It’s still looking great! And now we are a slave to watering. ¬†Let me tell you, I interact with sprinklers the exact opposite of the way I did as a child. ¬†Now I’m running to avoid them! ¬†It’s worth it. Now we have to focus on the inside. ¬†Scary thought!