Snowed In with a Toddler


Well, we were snowed in with a toddler last weekend. Well, all of last week, really. MLK day happened, then we went to work on Tuesday, and then everything stopped in East Tennessee for the next 5 days while Winter Storm Jonas made himself at home. Life literally grinds to a halt until the roads melt off (not “are plowed off” or “are salted”). It’s the way it works down here, and while the Midwesterner in me wants to scoff and be like all those Northerner assholes who make fun of the South when it snows, I realize it’s because of the lack of infrastructure and that it would be silly to build said infrastructure (buying plows and things) for something that only happens once or twice a year. And I also realize driving on a Tennessee hairpin backroad in the snow is a little different from driving on a pin-straight Midwestern country road. So people stay home and slowly go crazy while their toddlers make them watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1,000X in a row. I’m not even kidding, we’re not allowed to watch anything  else.



Watching it. Again.

We also had to say goodbye to one of our old ladies on Thursday. We’ll miss Miss Maggie. She was a sweet girl who was a challenge but was wildly affectionate. She adored Peter with every bit of her Maggie body.


Dixie is still adjusting.


They didn’t like each other, but I think the tiger in the boat is still company. She was confused, and so was the Boy.

So it was a sad weekend, but we did do some more work in the house. Peter built the doors for the closets we’ve been working on. That means they’re almost done!

In-House Workshop and Wife Insane-ifier.


He does good work, though.

I also started walking through the house finding little things to do and to paint. I got rid of the blue on the top two shelves of the dining room cabinet. Originally, it was going to have glass doors, but we realized we’re never going to get to that, and we kind of like it open anyway.

You can see the blue here…
All gone!

Annnnd, I got bored and decided to move a glass cabinet into the hallway to open up the living room, and painted the front door. Don’t leave me in a house for 5 days. Things start happening.



Better pics when I have ’em.

Needless to say, I’m super ready for spring. I’m ready to get my hands in the dirt, and I’m ready to spend time outside with the Boy. And to bury the Chitty DVD. Deep.

What did you do while Jonas brought his worst?


Closets Part III and a Specialty Lumber Yard



Well, the closets are painted. I still really like the color a lot. I feel like it goes nicely with the ceiling without competing with it too much. The next step, of course, is the doors, and that’s a step Peter has to do mostly on his own.

A step that called for a road trip!

Pete will be making the doors out of pine. It’s the most economical option, and since I’ll be painting the doors, not staining them, the color of the wood doesn’t matter all that much. What does matter, however, is that the wood be high enough quality that it won’t warp or bend, that the boards be straight when we get them and stay that way.

Wood from big box stores, like our local Lowe’s, can be a problem that way. Their “white wood” isn’t really pine, though everyone kind of assumes it is. It’s actually a fast-growing wood from New Zealand (this info via Pete). It tends to be low quality and it’s often warped or has huge knots and/or dents and splinters. Pete didn’t want to spend time making paneled doors with hand tools, only to have his doors warp and not fit correctly in their frames. (By the way, I was the one who requested doors that sit inside the frames instead of on the outside of them…so it’s kind of my fault that the doors have to fit so perfectly. And be more difficult to make. Oops.)

Enter Jeffries Fine Lumber south of Knoxville, TN (link is to a news article from 2012).


Last fall, via some online forums, Peter found out about a locally-owned fine lumber warehouse in Knox County; we took a date day in November-ish to go check it out. They supply all kinds of lumber from all around the world. It’s all really nice, high-quality stuff that you couldn’t find anywhere but a specialty lumber store.

It’s a little out in the middle of nowhere, in a big industrial park, the kind where one wonders if they’ll make the evening headlines. But once you find the green warehouse and step inside, you find some  really  cool stuff.


That right there is zebrawood. It’s beautiful and I’m in love.

This Saturday, we took the Boy along, and he had a blast scaring the crap out of me. He helped push our cart and his life was made when the owner drove a forklift past him.


Child, you’ll never have to tell anyone you had an “average” childhood.

Pete found his southern yellow pine (locally-sourced actual pine) and had it cut to size to fit into the station wagon. Our kid-hauler becomes a wood-hauler sometimes. This is a recent picture of my seating arrangement when Pete decides to buy wood when we’re driving the station wagon (not from this trip).

Don’t worry about my head, love. I’ll just hold it on my lap.

We brought the wood home and Pete’s next project will be to make those doors. Get on it, love. You don’t have anything else to do, right?



Building Closets in a 1900 Home (Part II)

We continue plodding along on the closets. This weekend, I filled holes from the brad nailer, but I don’t have pictures of that.

On Sunday morning, I primed the whole thing.

primed closets

Priming took forever because the wood soaked up so much of it, and because Peter used the primed side of most of the plywood inside the closets. Thanks, honey.

But those will get painted someday, too, so it’ll just save me time then instead of now.

Sunday afternoon, the closets got their first coat of paint.

I’ve been telling Pete for years that we needed to paint this room. When it was a living room, I leaned toward a warm, light gray to make the crown moulding pop against the original milk painted ceiling. I was afraid any real color would compete with the ceiling.

When this became our bedroom, though, I realized how lovely it was to have it white. I’ll take daytime pictures when this space is done, but suffice it to say, it is really nice during the day. One of the windows is a south-facing window, so it lets in really nice sunlight and the white has made this a really airy room. And, I’m slowly coming out of my gray period and looking for ways to add a little more understated color to the house.

So, I’ve decided to keep the room itself white (though it will get a fresh coat because the white in there is a little dingy and there are lots of little damage spots after a few years of living there). I’m sure Pete is relieved (though he secretly agrees that the gray in the dining room was the right choice).

On to the closets. I don’t know why, but the first time we drew up this plan, I wanted those closets to be navy blue. I’ve never really deviated from that plan. I knew the blue had to be the right blue, with lots of gray in it. A classic blue would really clash with all the green tones in the ceiling. So I chose a color called Volcanic Ash from Valspar.


volcanic ash

It’s a dark blue with gray and even brown undertones. The first coat went on in a semi-gloss on Sunday afternoon.



Pete asked if I wanted him to take my picture. I said yes, because I tend to not exist on this blog, but that I preferred that I not look at the camera. See! I do things!

One coat is on, and so far, I really like it. It’s dark and dramatic, but I don’t think it competes with the ceiling at all. The white iron bed will pop in front of it, and I’m picking out a piece of art or two to put on the shelf.

Here’s another picture I took with my phone when the first coat was done. I’ll probably finish it up later this week and we’ll move the bed- and then Peter can continue hating the fact that the doors aren’t done yet until he has time to build them.


Building Closets in a 1900 Home

I don’t usually post twice in one week (because I don’t have two posts’ worth of stuff), but I also don’t want to be recapping this weeks after it happens in order to keep blog posts going, so here! Second post of the week!

When we bought this house in 2012, Peter convinced me to make the room right off our kitchen the bedroom. Then, we moved upstairs, partly because the bedroom upstairs had a closet, and partly because of other reasons I don’t remember.

We moved back downstairs (next to the kitchen) after our son was born because we decided to co-sleep and needed more space for his crib to push up against our bed.

Earlier this year, though, I realized how much better the flow of the house would work if we a) moved to the other large room on the first floor, which was being used as the living room, and b) sealed off the doorway between that room and the dining room. So here’s a quick pictorial rundown of that shift.

Original living room.
Original bedroom, in the middle of the switch.
Bedroom a few days ago, including laundry, Hobbes, Foxy, and the back of the dining room cabinet, which we used to close off the doorway.
Dining room with a mostly finished cabinet blocking the original doorway to the new bedroom.

So, the biggest issue with the new bedroom set-up (and the old one, for that matter) was the lack of closet space. Old homes, as a rule, have very few closets, which makes sense, because people had very few articles of clothing. Neither of the rooms on the first floor were originally bedrooms, so neither of them had closets. We were using the laundry room as a closet, but I wanted to make sure we had closets in the new bedroom for two reasons: I wanted closets, and I wanted to be sure we could call that room a bedroom when we sell the house.

Peter also liked the idea of getting the laundry room as a tiny little in-house shop once the clothes were out. The things I do for that man. Or, let him do, I guess.

Pete and I hemmed and hawed, and eventually, with the help of a little research (which is a fancy word for Pinterest-ing and obsessively reading home blogs and Old House Journal), we settled on something like this to solve the closet problem:


The design called for closets on either side of the (now sealed-off) dining room door, with paneled doors and shelving/storage between the closets. We’d put our queen bed between the two closets, leaving plenty of room for someone to put a king bed there if they wanted to.

We started the project over the holidays, and the closets themselves are now finished. The doors will take a bit of work, as Pete will build them from scratch.

Closets go up…


Peter built a box between the closets. It now has a storage compartment above it and space for lamps or whatever else on either side of the bed.
Pete started adding trim to the top…
Moulding on the tops of the closets and above the shelf.

So, the main structure of the closets is built. I filled nail holes in on Wednesday evening, and the next step is painting. That’ll be another post, because settling on a color for a room with a turquoise milk painted ceiling has taken me literally years.

Wanting Too Much Too Quickly

Shew, I started this post like four weeks ago. But then The Boy brought home the plague, which we carried to and apparently spread around Illinois, and then gave it to me. He went on a voluntary hunger strike while we were traveling, and I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in two weeks. We’re still in recovery from a pretty rough Christmas trip. But I have lots of updates because, regardless of this, we got going on the bedroom renovations… more on that in a few days, though. And when I say “we got going on the bedroom renovations,” I mean Peter did, because I was laid low with the Tennessee Crud.

I’ve been realizing lately that I am guilty of wanting too much too quickly with our home. And I think that ties into something kind of like delusions of grandeur? Well, at least a tendency to forget where we are in our lives…


We bought this house in 2012 as a (fairly) newly married couple. We moved in on the weekend of our first anniversary, and since then, have made some significant changes that (we think) really make the place more pleasant.






(Ok, so it’s pretty cool WordPress let me group images like that!)

I think, though, every time we work on a space, and take it a little further down the road, I want it FINISHED, and I want it perfect, even if that means I’d render it unlivable. As in, it will be beautiful and sweet and light and adorable and NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO WALK IN THERE WITH A SIPPY FULL OF JUICE.

Getting too worried about a space usually means a few things. I spend hours online looking for the things I “need” for the space- rugs, curtains, doo-dads in the right colors. I Pinterest and I go nuts reading blogs. Somewhere in the midst of it all, I start thinking about spending outrageous amounts of money and I get a bit big for my britches and start thinking “other people do that, spend lots of money on their house and decorations and stuff, why not me???”

And then it starts getting boring. I read the same stuff over and over again, and I start seeing that it all looks the same, and I start thinking about the fact that we’ll have a toddler for a while now, and will probably never be dog-less, and we’ll always be LIVING in our house, not staging pretty blog photos. To be honest, I end up feeling like a poser every time I try to make it pretty for a photo. It doesn’t much reflect real life in these spaces…


I hold off on the purchase and decide we’re okay for right now, or I finally give myself the creative freedom to figure out what I really want for the space, not what all the pictures on line say will be perfect. And hopefully, in the end, it doesn’t look like a Pinterest photo. It looks like home, instead.

And then I do the whole thing over again when we get some work done.

I’ve been obsessed with getting a new living room rug lately. The one that was in there was a rug we bought when we had no money and needed something to cover the floors. It has tons of pulls in it, and Maggie has had a few accidents on it. I painted the living room blue knowing that I was going to try to find another rug, so my ability to love the new color has been held up by this rug.


I’ve disliked it for a long time, so I’ve been hunting. HUNTING. Pinteresting. Shopping for deals… and trying to justify spending more money than I should to get a real wool rug. I really want to go more “real” with the fibers in our home, and I know wool rugs last a long time. But there is also the knowledge that a dog still might pull at it, a toddler might stain it, and Pete still doesn’t have his own shop space, so there WILL be sawdust footprints on it.

After months of looking (and even deciding on one and telling myself to wait until it’s on mega-sale, which would still be more than I wanted to spend), I did some soul searching and realized what we needed was a rug I didn’t mind, that hadn’t been soiled by a dog, that washed well, and didn’t break the bank, as it will be used in our main living space. We are in a season of compromises in our lives.

Ultimately, I settled for this: we’ve moved the rug from the dining room into the living room, keeping it nice and neutral under the blue grey (which I finally really love with a neutral rug).Pics of that soon.

I found a 75% off plus free shipping on a jute rug for under the dining room table. It should stand up to the use pretty well, it’s a natural fiber, and at $118, I don’t feel one bit bad about the price tag.

Photo from RugsUSA

It came in while we were traveling over break. I’ll post pictures as soon as I’ve got the rooms cleaned up. Insert “traveling/sick/exhausted” excuse here.

I’m excited to feel like the living room better reflects our tastes, but that the whole situation didn’t break the bank. And I’m trying to remember to furnish our home for US, not for comparison to the blogs and pins and photos online. I get so caught up, despite proud declarations on the “About” page, because it’s so easy to want it all perfect right now. I have to remember the point here: to make a home that fits our life and our needs. That means taking our time to make or find the right things, not rushing out to buy all the accessories that are the right color to match all the other stuff.