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What I did on my summer vacation (without social media)

by Karen on May 23, 2012

Let me just preface this by saying that I honestly believe we would have gotten just as much done this month even if I wasn’t taking a break from social media. I’ve been planning all of this stuff since we moved into our house (a year ago this month), and we finally had the time, money, and motivation to get all of it done. The sudden surge of productivity has more to do with both of us having a month off work.

With that said: whew. It has been a crazy month. In addition to visitors or travel plans every single weekend this month (I am not exaggerating), we finally started ticking things off our huge to-do list around the house.

We kicked it off by painting the den and repainting the dining room. We already painted the dining room the same color as the kitchen — pale yellow — but I didn’t like it next to the light blue in the living room. The two colors next to each other reminded me too much of an Easter egg. So we painted the dining room mocha. The den is a fabulous green color — Valspar’s Irish Paddock.

Dining room before:

Dining room after:

And here’s a shot of the mocha and blue side by side — much better than the yellow, trust me:

Den before:

Den after:

The den functions as a dual office, craft room, a place where we can relax and read or watch movies by the fire after Judah’s in bed (there’s a desktop computer off camera that we use for that), and a depository for all things not baby proof (it’s the only non-bedroom in the house that isn’t part of the open floor plan, so we’re able to gate it off). It’s cluttered, but cozy, and I suspect we’ll be able to eliminate a lot of the clutter when we move the bookshelf out and put all the books in the built-ins in the living room.

Now that we’re finished painting, we’re slowly starting to hang some things on the wall. First, we hung a family photo gallery in the living room.

The frames are the Virserum line from IKEA, and they’re dirt cheap — $1.99 each for 4×6 and 5×7 frames, and $4.99 for 8×10 frames. The gallery includes three 4×6, three 5×7, and two 8×10 frames. I love the way these frames look, but a word of warning if you decide to go with IKEA frames: they really are cheap. The hook in the back is really just a serrated edge, and when we hung them with ordinary nails, the three frames on the right fell off the wall when Judah pounded on the other side of it from his bedroom. We replaced the nails with 3M picture hangers, and they’re much more secure now.

On the other side: collages.

The collage on the far left is all photos taken before Judah was born, the one in the middle is a wedding photo, and on the right is pictures taken in the first 4 months after Judah was born.

And a shot for perspective:

I also framed postcards from major cities where we traveled in 4×6 frames and hung them in the hallway. Hopefully someday we’ll have enough to fill the other side of the hallway, too.

Amsterdam, Paris, and London:

Springfield (our first trip together as a couple — my husband is a huge Lincoln fan, and we’re both nerds); Asheville, NC; and the Bahamas:

New York, St. Louis, and Washington DC:

The Outer Banks, NC; Seattle, and Chicago:

 

We have several more postcards, but I couldn’t figure out how to fit them on the wall yet, so we’re waiting until we collect a few more to start hanging them on the other side.

It may not seem like a lot, but all of the painting was done in the late evening (and early morning hours) after Judah was in bed. And you wouldn’t believe the work that goes into hanging and positioning a multiple-photo gallery. Tony measured, calculated, and leveled photos for what seemed like forever. He threatened to frame the scratch paper full of numbers with measurements and calculations next to the gallery just so show people it’s not as easy as it looks. Heh.

We also made a huge dent in the ridiculous jungle in our backyard. Tony and his dad removed several hundred pounds of brush from the overgrown plants in the back, and I planted another herb garden this year. I really hoped to plant a bigger vegetable garden, but between my crazy 18 month old, my part-time teaching job, and my other part-time job freelancing, I just don’t see how I’ll have the time. I’ll be lucky if I can manage a small herb garden.

If you would have told me it would take over a year before our house really started feeling like our own, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it really does take time — and money. It seems like every time we do a small project on the house, it ends up costing at least a couple hundred dollars.

It’s overwhelming to know that this is only the beginning. We still have too many empty walls in the house to count, bleak empty flower beds in the front, an orange master bathroom to paint (eventually), a wall of built-in bookshelves to install (hopefully this fall!), and the million other to-dos that are sure to pop up as we go along. It really is never-ending. I imagine we’ll finish right around the time that we decide to sell. :)

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