May 23, 2012

We're Trading Spaces!

No, not the show - is that still on anymore?

A few months ago we signed up for It is essentially a website that links up homeowners. You post an ad about your house, where you want to go, and then other people contact you (or you contact them) to see if you can make a match in dates, times, and locations!

We paid about $100 to sign up and then the exchanges are free!

Right now, we're mostly interested in exchanges throughout California since flying is expensive and we don't have much vacation time.

Anyway, we made a match with a family who has a vacation home in the Russian River (ahhhhhhh)! They love coming to the city and exploring. We had already made plans for a vacation for this weekend, so our house would be empty - so we'll stay at their place later in the summer.

But - the stress.

Bubbs and I mostly only fight when we have company coming over.

Our house is mostly always only 15-20 minutes from being really well presentable (vaccuum, put away dishes, clean up toys), but when people are coming over all my insecurities come out.

We live in a 50 year old house that has had pretty close to zero upkeep until we moved in (it was a rental).

Anyway, I think I'm insecure about things most people wouldn't notice. I don't think I notice them at other people's homes, but I am sure I'll be judged. Do you notice a little paint on a doorknob? A closet door that stays open just a little bit? Trim that needs painting? A wobbly lampshade? Exterior paint that has scuffs on it?

So...we've had a long list of things to get done before the exchange happens.

So far we've:

1) Organized all the "common" closets

2) Organized the kitchen cupboards

(I didn't take pics of the food cupboards, but they are WAY better).

3) Completely re-vamped the living room and dining room

4) Wrangled the towels and toys in the bathroom

(the toys will get cleaned up before they get here)


5) Re-hug the headboard in our bedroom

6) bought new sheets for all the beds
(I bought some online that were just super thin despite the high thread count - then I went to ross and bought four sets of high threadcount white sheets that ROCK for 1/4 of the price).

What we have left to do:
  1. Re-stock our paper towels
  2. Clean out the fridge and freezer (the freezer is stocked to the brim but we can transfer most stuff to our chest freezer downstairs)
  3. clean out our bedside drawers
  4. Clean out my closet (Tim's is always neat and tidy, mine is always a mess).
  5. Put away the toddler potty equiptment
  6. Finish writing up our "house key" - like what to do if you get locked out, how to use the remote controls, etc.
  7. Set up our "guest" station (probably on the dining room table?) with San Francisco maps, guidebooks, history, passes to the zoo and aquarium, etc.

Oh - and then, you know, pack for a three day trip/wedding :)


I think it helps a little bit that I was just away for the weekend at a rental house that was just fine. I was looking for those little details but we were having such a great time I didn't even notice.

We're having a housecleaner come the day before they arrive to do the scrubbing of windows and floors and showers. We'll change the sheets right before we leave the house, and cross our fingers that it all works out!

May 21, 2012

And we re-arrange the dining room once again!

This wall has kinda always bugged me.


When we moved in I had this idea for rustic floating shelves to display all of my pretty white bud vases against the blue wall, but that never happened. Instead we found this great midcentury piece that has done the job okay.

Problem was, the wall was just too big for it. I hated the mirrors and the wedding pictures on it. But, no real solution had appeared so we just kept it and I continued browsing craigslist.

We were supposed to buckle down this weekend and get the house totally ready for our upcoming house exchange (strangers staying in our house while we stay in theirs).

Then, on Friday night, I found this!
And the dimensions were PERFECT for either our living room OR our dining room.

They were asking $300 for it, but that was definitely not in our budget, so I asked if they would take $150. They said yes! The thing is GIANT (112" long by 89"tall). I figured we could sell one of the other pieces and make $150 to make it an even trade.

Let the re-arranging begin!

Like I said awhile ago, I was kinda over the expedit in the living room. The books were always getting messy looking, I couldn't hide the TV in any way that looked great, and it just didn't feel like a grown up home to me.

Here's what they both looked like...



As we were planning what to do with the expedit my mom came down and told us she would buy it from us. Not having to post it on craigslist is awesome.

We called the movers and they would pick up our new bookcase at 3, bring it here, put it back together, then move the expedit up to my mom's.


When we moved the expedit into the hallway, we realized someone had been stashing snacks behind it for a LONG time.

The plan was to put the TV in the Rumpus Room and put the new bookcase in the living room.

Then we realized the TV would fit in the display from the dining room...PERFECTLY. And all the equipment could fit in the storage underneath...and the speakers in the spot above! I didn't even mind that the TV wasn't covered. Because it fit in the spot perfectly it wasn't too offensive.


Did a little switcheroo...(see the expedit awaiting the movers in the hallway)...

Bubbs hooked up the electronics while T modeled his "robot pants"

To make a long, boring, and whiny story short - the movers stank like pot and were horrible at their job. Bubbs and I ended up paying them for two hours (plus tip) and we put all the furniture together ourselves, dissembled the expedit, moved it upstairs and put it back together (not an easy task).


Apparently Elmo was riding a train in this photo.


Our entire Saturday was eaten up getting this beauty together and mounted to the wall (to avoid toddler death by climbing). Then we spent Sunday morning putting everything back together again.

We still have holes to patch, but I love the results.

The dining room looks giant with this in there. It seems a little busy with all the colors of the books, so I might arrange by color some afternoon during naptime, but for now, I like it.

I need so much help in the shelf styling department, but I see many garage sales in my future to make these shelves pretty :)

Ta Da!

May 10, 2012

Easy Entree Dinner

We're back on track this week with eating and money.

When we work on a cash only basis, I have to plan visits to the grocery store - which means I have to meal plan, which means I plan healthy meals.

I found a recipe on Epicurious that was delightful: Salmon Panzanella.

Mainly vegis, really light, but the bread is super satisfying.


Problem was -I made a heck of a lot of it and it was NOT great the next day. Next time - smaller portions or keep ingredients separate until we eat each little portion.

May 6, 2012

Recovering our Dining Room Chairs

Looking back in the blog, I've been hating my dining room chair's upholstery since April of last year (yup - 13 months ago). I've bought fabric twice and hated it both times.

My curtain fabric makes me a little insecure about my ability to match so I was looking for something toned down and mellow.

Again, we have a house exchange coming in just a few weeks and I had to recover them by then (they were DISGUSTING with toddler spills and who know how many years of funk on them).

I came to terms with the boring grey fabric I would use.

As the Beebs (grandma) took T out for an adventure yesterday morning, I got to work. But...when I pulled out my bag of fabric, I saw something I had forgotten about!


No, not a sofa and a cute baby, but the fabric from this sofa.

My girlfriend had this sofa and every time I went to her house I GUSHED over how amazing the fabric was. They were about to send it to the dumps, and without even asking, she cut any salvageable fabric from the frame and brought it to me!

I quickly measured (by laying my chair seats on top of some fabric) and we had enough! BARELY enough. Like no mistakes enough.

Mama got to work.

It is so easy. I'd do a photo essay on how to make it work, but this guy will do a better job.

I agree with everything he says except that you should put THAT fabric on a chair.

This took me no more than three hours (and that was because I had to pull some fabric SUPER tight).



It is NUTS in that room, but I like it, for now.


May 4, 2012

Our closet is bare!

We have four closets in our house. 

Two in the bedrooms, one in the hall, and one in the entry way.  That's it. 

The two "public" closets are awkward to say the least.

Take closet 1 for example:


It is supposed to be the "coat closet" (note the bar across the top). is SUPER deep and very narrow. If you put coats in it that would be all that would fit - and you could maybe get 4-5 coats in it.  It is too tall to keep the vaccum in (without throwing your back out) and it is just a silly closet.

Closet 2:

This closet is right outside the bathroom, so it makes sense that this is the linen closet (since there is no where in the bathroom to actually put towels). But...the shelves are SUPER shallow so the space is mostly wasted (and I can't fold fitted sheets, so it looks horrible 99% of the time).

Since we signed up for our first home exchange (and they are coming at the end of the month) I got super paranoid about people judging us for our nasty closets. So we took action.


"We" meaning I told Bubbs to get the bottom three shelves out.  And he did.

Kinda cool to see that the shelves were put in during original construction and were nailed into place through an open wall (that is closed now, so he just had to beat the *$% out of the shelves to get them out).

We still need to paint it, but for now, we had a place for the vacuum!


Since our linen closet now had no place for linens (with only two shelves) and our entry closet was holding ALL of our cleaning supplies (in random boxes and paper bags), we did the old switcheroo!

Remember this closet?

This was what came out of it:

To be clear - that is mostly paper bags.  We've stopped collecting them after cleaning out this closet.  Who knew we had a paper bag closet.  Straight into the compost bin they go!

So Bubbs used some L brackets and plywood and build me some shelves.  I ordered baskets on Amazon (who knew how expensive baskets were!?).  I tried to buy them locally, but it wasn't easy finding 23" deep baskets.  Using baskets (rather than just keeping them on the shelves) makes it so we can just slide the baskets in and out and not have to reach super far back to get sheets or tableclothes.


Bubbs wanted to build movable shelving, but this was easier (read: cheaper).

This closet holds our sheets, re-usable grocery bags and board games (well some of them).  We have more that enough room in here now!

A few days before I had organized the bathroom cabinets with little fabric boxes I bought at an import store down the block. They aren't pretty, but they are functional and were 2.50 each.


The medicine cabinet was purged of almost everything and now everything has a place.

(yes, we all use kid toothbrushes - what?)

So we used the extra cloth boxes to store our cleaning supplies HIGH above anywhere the munchkin could reach them.


We realized after putting them all away that we had been double or even triple buying cleaning supplies because we thought we were out but they were just shoved too far into the other closet.

Mama is seriously happy about this.

At this point in the weekend, you could probably say that I was on an organizing rampage.

It wasn't really safe to be in the house with your clutter.

I sent the boys downstairs to Cha Cha in the Rumpus room and I went to town on the kitchen.

I don't have befores because I was on such a tear, but here's the after:


It makes me SO happy.  One basket holds wooden cutting boards (we have a lot), one holds baking dishes, and one holds the hand blender and rolling pin.

I threw away:
a warped salad spinner
some bento boxes
cracked serving dishes
dusty paper plates and other funk.

I also realized that the painters that did a horrible job on our house before they put it on the market, sprayed the previous owner's contact paper with paint.

They were seriously awesome.  I wish I could find out who they hired so I could congratulate them on fooling us into thinking we didn't have any work to do on painting when we bought the place.  I assume that was their intention.

Anyway - we have the bedroom closets to get to next - and the backyard is getting some major love this weekend!