Monday, January 16, 2017


If you have followed along for any amount of time, you know that Harris' dearest wish has been for a dog, and this weekend his wish came true!  Meet Rosie...

I think Rosie was meant to be our dog.  Neither Bryce nor I has ever had a dog before and we were sort of at a lose where to begin looking for one.  I contacted a breeder about getting a puppy but something about it just didn't feel right for us.  So I started praying that a dog would find us.

Last weekend, I woke up thinking that we needed to go to a local feed store as they often have puppies up for adoption.  We stopped by on the way home from my birthday lunch with family and there was one single puppy whose siblings had all already been adopted.  As we stood there she grabbed a blanket off of her gate, made a comfy nest for herself and plopped down to go to sleep. You guys, I think I knew right then that she was the one.  If you know Harris, you know how much he loves to make a blanket nest for himself at night.  

Because we hadn't walked in with any intention of actually getting a dog, we walked out without her, but clearly she had made an impression because as soon as we got home Bryce announced he thought a rescue dog was the way to go for us (she's a rescue from Georgia!).  We soon made plans to pick her up.

She is the sweetest dog and we already love her.  Welcome home Rosie.

Friday, January 13, 2017

What Lies Beneath

If you're easily grossed out or squeamish, you might want to skip this post!

I've debated whether or not to write this post.  I've said it before but this blog is mostly the glossy, pretty version of what's going on in our lives and this post certainly doesn't fit that criteria as there is nothing glossy or pretty about it.  However, it's an important part of owning an old house - surprises and unpleasant situations that is - and it's most definitely the biggest thing we are dealing with at the moment, so here it goes...

First, some history.  

1.  While looking at this house, Bryce's number one concern was that we couldn't inspect anything underneath the kitchen floor as there is no access to the crawl space.  Bryce likes to know the mechanics and condition of things going in.

2.  Grace's room has been the coldest room in the house.  No one has been able to fix or adequately explain this except to say that her room is the farthest away from the boiler.  The kitchen has also been cold.

3.  We suspected soon after we moved in that something was not right with the kitchen because most of the floorboards are cupped and warped.

4.  We have a steam heat system, which everyone universally says is great but is becoming very uncommon. 

In our kitchen there is an odd "pantry" that has a hole in the wall so that the door can close (the doorknob just fits in the hole in the wall, weird I know).  One evening while cooking, I noticed steam coming out of the hole!  Obviously, this is not a good thing and is indicative of a leak in the system.  

Around this same time, we noticed that the downstairs powder room's back wall was literally crumbling away.  Also, the grout and tile started having mineralization which was indicative of a water issue.  We assumed this was due to the steam leak.  Due to it being Christmas, we couldn't get anyone to come out right away to look into it.

Within a couple of days after Christmas, our plumber, who is an expert with steam heat, came to take a look.  Unfortunately, the only way to access the area was to cut a hole in the pantry floor and send the "skinny guy" into the crawl space.

The first words I heard from him after he went in was, "there seems to be a lot of toilet paper down here."  I'll just tell you that my brain could not take in what this could possibly mean so my first thought was to wonder why on earth anyone would try to fix a steam leak with toilet paper!

The long and short of it is this: the cast iron pipes long ago rusted away and two of our bathrooms were dumping into the crawl space instead of going out to the septic system.  Deep breath.  We basically had a cesspool under part of our house.  Extra deep breath.

At first, I couldn't get past the fact that there was poo (sorry) under our home and while that's certainly a tough pill to swallow, it turns out that the mold and other damage from so much water (every time a shower was taken or a faucet turned on it went straight to the crawl space) is really the bigger issue.  The subfloor under the bathroom has been compromised, joist and beams may be weakened or damaged and part of the bathroom floor has actually started to sink!  

Thank goodness that there are actually people who get paid to deal with this (tag line: like it never happened) and therefore we've had a hazmat type of situation going on here.  Walls of plastic sheeting, air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and men in respirators and suits have been part of our life for a couple of weeks now.  They have been taking every thing they can out of the crawlspace to dispose of.  

Oh, we also did have a steam leak that had to be fixed!  Two, actually.

All of this has been super unpleasant and not at all what we would have liked to see happen here, or where we would have anticipated putting money, but there are some very real silver linings...

1. The situation was caught and can be completely remedied.  This old house will be better for the remediations, shoring up and new pipes installed!

2.  I will get a new downstairs bathroom sooner than anticipated!

3.  Fixing the steam leak seemed to have fixed Grace's cold bedroom!  It's now toasty warm.

4.  For whatever reason, this got Bryce and I discussing our kitchen renovations and we've completely changed our plans for the kitchen and mudroom.  We are super excited about the new direction we are going (more on this later)!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Grace's Room

I'm still trying to document parts of our summer renovation and up next is Grace's room.  When we first looked at the house this is the room Grace wanted right away, but, as I've mentioned, it was all by itself at the end of the house without a way to get to it unless one took the back stair or walked through Harris' bedroom.  Putting the hallway in was the perfect solution to this and now her room feels very much a part of the upstairs living space.

I love her room as I think it's just downright pretty without being too cutesy or precious.  It's really perfect for her (maybe too perfect, it can be hard to lure her out of it!).

The only massive change we made to this room, besides paint, was moving the door way to accommodate the new hallway.

This picture shows the original door on the left (through to Harris' room) and the door to the back staircase and Grace's bathroom on the right.

 The doorway on the right required cutting through stone wall to get the new opening and hallway

This corner of Grace's room remained as is.

Grace spends so much time sitting at her desk either doing homework or creating.

We were so glad that she had a wall that her dresser and her bulletin board fit on!

Of course, she had to have a bookshelf.  We got it at IKEA and it just fits under the ceiling!

The ceilings aren't exactly high in this space in the house so we found a darling vintage flush mount fixture for her ceiling which I just love!

Monday, January 2, 2017


Happy New Year friends!  

2016 was such an amazing year for us personally in that we bought Frog's Hollow and took the trip of a lifetime this summer.  I'm so crazy thankful for both opportunities.

The past couple of months however, I've felt at pretty loose ends.  I've let worries and fears sink in that have made me scared to move forward and questioning decisions already made.  The house is not yet how I want it, nor is it moving at any sort of happy speed, our plan for the farm seems loose at best and we seem to be at an important juncture in our life.  Moving forward out of our comfort zone is scary-I've talked about fear before and how I'm fearful of making big mistakes.  I have big ideas for lots of things but in some cases I have ZERO idea how to get moving, in other cases, I'm worried it's a silly or dumb idea and what on earth would people think, and in yet others, I'm just worried about failing.  But I've decided that the only way to find out if any of those things are true is to actually try.  So my mantra and my motto for this year is START.

I've spent several days, laying out my hopes and dreams for 2017.  I think the only way forward is to simply start by taking one step at a time.  I'm excited to see how far we get.  I'd love to hear any of your dreams for 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sibling Gifts 2016

As you know, my very favorite tradition in our family is the annual making of sibling gifts.  This practice started out very simply and has grown over the course of years.  The making has gotten more involved, this year power tools were used, and a lot of thought is put into the right gift.

There is a whole lot that I feel I could do better or differently at Christmas time, but this tradition is one that I'm so proud of the children for.  I always thought that there would come a time, and it still might, that they would ask to stop making gifts and perhaps buy something.  However, every year they start planning, plotting and working and I believe it's instilled pride of workmanship and a love of giving.

Harris made a wooden speaker for Grace's phone.  It's unbelievable how great it amplifies the sound! She loves it and I think it's beautiful in its simplicity.

Anyone who knows Harris knows that he has approximately one million cards.  He plays them, he throws them, he magics them and he tricks them.  We find them in literally the oddest places- inside and out.  Grace thought he could do with some organization and so she made him a box to put his full decks in.  I love the simplicity and the usefulness.

She also gave Harris a copy of the Harry Potter fan fiction she wrote.  She hasn't wanted to share it with us so this was really special and he loved it (it's really good).

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas (a little too late)

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope that your Christmas was everything that you hoped and more!

We had a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but I"m exhausted.  This year, Christmas felt like a lot of work; being in a new house that isn't "put together," my Mom having knee surgery a couple of days before Christmas, Bryce getting sick, and lots of kerfuffles with shipping and gifts.  I actually feel guilty typing that because according to any social media I follow, Christmas should only be magical, quality time with those you love.  And you know what?  In the end, it was such a nice day with family and the children and I am so thankful and appreciative for that.  But now all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch all the episodes of The Crown (I LOVE it, you?).

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Scenes of Christmas

The children have been off for the week (so nice) and have been busy working on their homemade gifts.  While I haven't made the time for a full blog post, I thought it would be nice to share a few shots of our Christmas around here (plus a few out and about in NYC).

Grace made this little cutie for us!

Ralph's coffee, in the Ralph Lauren store, is the most charming place to stop and refresh with hot chocolate or coffee while window gazing/shopping on 5th avenue!

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