our long weekend in photos

Hi everybody!  We had a marvelous weekend.  It started midday on Friday when I met Kait and Oliver for lunch.

After lunch, Oliver came home with me and we played until Timmy got home with the new Subaru!  Living as deep in the woods as we do, we were realizing that winter would not be safe or enjoyable in the Camry given the likelihood of sliding off the driveway and down a very steep ravine.  Perhaps some fencing will be in our future.  Nevertheless, I feel safer now that we both have Suba-dubes, as we call them.   Don’t they look cozy?

After lots of playing with race tracks built from spare trim pieces lying around the house, Tim and Olli decided to do some “garhedening.”  It was darling.  Oliver loves our house in the woods, but he wondered where the other houses were.  We don’t really have any of those…  and we love it.

He also thinks our house is the park.  How awesome is that?

This particular bed probably won’t need water for quite some time given the enthusiastic watering Oliver gave it.  Three times.  Bath time and an adventure in co-sleeping were soon to follow.   Oliver’s sleeping habits tend to be geographically far-reaching.  As in I almost didn’t fit with him and Tim in our king sized bed once he finally settled in to sleep.  Hilarious.

Kait came down after work and we had a great visit until about midnight after she made it through “the scariest three miles of [her] life” right before she arrived at our house.  She had not been here before, and the switchback turns, deep woods, and windy long driveway may have been a little more treacherous in the dark.  Sorry, Kait!  We were up early to head to the Farmers’ Market.  It’s our favorite Saturday affair around here.  We started the morning with some wicked bagels from Bloomington Bagel.  I had an everygrain with sun-dried tomato schmear and kait had everyseed with artichoke smoked gouda schmear.  They were awesome, as usual.

Oliver really wanted to pick the “fuzz” off the strawberries at the market, but he showed great restraint.  He also had a ball trying a tiny cup of fresh maple syrup in the last photo and they throwing his little cup in the bucket.  “That was GOOD!”  By the time we were done at the market, Oliver was ready to go to the lake with Timmy while I had a visit with Kait.  It was lovely.

Saturday afternoon, Sara and Derek and Dylan came to stay.  We had a relaxing afternoon and an early dinner, and then Tim took them to Lake Monroe where, if wet shoes are any indication, great fun was had by all.  Sunday morning we were up pretty early spending time on the loft deck doing some birdwatching and coffee drinking.  The boys hiked for a few hours, going all the way down the ravine to the big dam and back.  That last leg coming back up the ravine is deadly.  Sara and I were glad we stayed behind and constructively used our time on Pinterest in the air conditioning.

For lunch, we went into town to Nick’s English Hut, which is always good food and a fun time.  No, we didn’t sink a single biz.  Someday we might do that, but not pregnant and not with a ten year old in tow.  I did a terrible job of taking pictures while I was playing hostess, so all you get is a blurry, BlackBerry idea of Nick’s.  Sorry!

Monday is a day for relaxing.  So far we have gone to Menard’s and had breakfast.  The rest of the day will probably include books and a nap, and maybe a little laundry or cooking for the week.  Four days of work and then vacation for me.  Tim’s parents will be here next weekend and we can’t wait to see them!


I really AM pregnant

I know, you already knew that.  But there is something about seeing that little thing wiggling on a screen that makes your heart beat faster and your brain nearly combust with the gravity of impending parenthood.  Tim was fully on board, and the gagging should have been a solid indicator, but it didn’t feel “real” to me until I saw it this morning.  I cried a little bit, even.  I used to make fun of people who posted sonogram pictures because, honestly, it looks like a blob to most of the world.  Now I understand why people want to share them so openly.  There is a sense of pride about creating another human, and I am no exception.

I already think our baby is adorable, and arguably she/he is not really adorable yet.  I even remarked “oh my gosh, its little butt is already cute.”  And it is.  I swear.  Wiggling, stretching, snuggling in, moving all over the place.  I loved it.  Tim is sad he wasn’t there (mix up about the appointment…  it was supposed to happen last time but didn’t, and this time he couldn’t get off work) but the next ultrasound will be gender revealing if we decide to find out, so that will be even more fun for Timmy.  We are on the fence about that one still.

As it turns out, I am measuring at about 13 weeks instead of about 14 weeks, moving my due date to December 3rd.  Fine by me!  I will enjoy my Thanksgiving and have that lovely mid-holiday lull to fill with things like childbirth and new motherhood.  I will go ahead and apologize now for not seeing anyone over the Christmas holiday.  We will be at home in our nest.  By all means, you are welcome to come visit instead for a cozy, relaxing holiday in the woods.  I am still resisting the urge to post a sonogram picture.

I kicked off my weekend a day early by having lunch with Kait and Oliver and it was awesome.  Oliver came home with me and is currently taking a nap like a champ, but then he assures me it will be time to play in the “park” which is our yard.  He can’t get over the trees.  He even asked about my neighbors or lack thereof.  I told him we don’t have neighbors, we just have trees.  He said “yep, and bugs.”  We have those, too.  I think he loves it here.


Is he beautiful or what?  Time to clean our house before Olli wakes and company comes.  Hopefully I will be on my camera A game this weekend and have a super weekend post for you on Monday.  Enjoy the long weekend, everybody!

holy cow

First of all, my Mom just shot a hole in one at their weekly Elks golf round.  WOW!  You can golf for fifty years and never do that.  What fun!

Second of all, we have cabinets.  Yes, it’s true.  We are inching nearer and nearer that point where our house will actually look put together and somewhat cohesive, and this is a huge step forward for humankind.  Or at least Garner-Ballardkind.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain junk on the counters.  We are having company this weekend and I have been stockpiling food for the occasion.  Also pretend you can’t see that hideous window frame that needs a makeover.  Beautiful cabinets!  Beautiful countertop!  Sigh.

garner-ballard dinnertime

Second post today…  Sorry.  I should have waited and combined the two, but I had to post this accidental rediscovery of a dish we love.  In an effort to work healthy things into our dinners, we buy quinoa, lentils, pearled barley and beans in the bulk food bins at Bloomingfoods, our local co-op grocery.  Our counter tops are lined with Ball jars of various healthy things and they are our nutrient rich, bargain go-to ingredients for dinners.  Here is one of the absolute simplest dishes I ever make and one that is always a hit.  I hope it will encourage you to embark into the world of lentils, because they are one rockin’ legume.

This recipe originally came from Heidi Swanson who pens the San Francisco blog http://www.101cookbooks.com.  She has a wizardly knack for creating dishes from a handful of whole food, on-hand ingredients and somehow still making it taste like magic.  We love her Banana Walnut Espresso Muffins as well, which can be found in her cookbook called Supernatural Cooking.  Here is the original recipe, which includes saffron yogurt and a few other cool but not handy elements:


My version of this recipe looks more like this:

Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup Recipe, Meg Edition

French green lentils are the only ones I can find (do not use green or “red” lentils from the normal grocery!  French lentils are tiny, dark dark green, and look like pebbles.  Beluga lentils are truly black and very hard to find in Indiana.)  I have used crushed, diced, or fire-roasted tomatoes, and they are all fine.  I also hardly ever use the greens unless I just happen to have them, but they get slimy if you have leftovers for more than two days (which we never do.)

2 cups green French lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
28-ounces canned tomatoes
1-2 cups water
3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped, optional
balsamic vinegar
ground red pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, optional

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens if using, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.  Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a few dashes of red pepper for some flavor. Ladle into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese or whatever you have on hand.

Serves 6 if using as a one pot meal, otherwise serves 8.

our weekend in photos

Hello, all.  We have had a very busy weekend.  Friday night, we had a dinner picnic at Lake Monroe with friends.  It was quite relaxing after the work week.  Saturday morning, Tim had to do a landscaping project that was previously auctioned off at our church, UU Bloomington, for the goods and services fundraiser.  While he was gone, I was a busy bee painting cabinet boxes (at long last) and throwing in an extra paint job for the previously candy apple red back door.  Whatcha think?

Yes, those are magnets!  I finally unpacked a few more kitchen boxes and found fun things like my bundt pan, half gallon ball jars for iced herbal tea, and all of our magnets.  I even found time to give the blog a rename and facelift. We have been thinking on it for a while and wanted something that was both a name and a goal for our life, so this is what we chose.  I know I shouldn’t be congratulated for doing laundry, but I also did a ton of it while Tim was gone.  Poor Tim.  One of these days I am going to have all of my ducks in a row again.

We spent the evening carrying various bulky furniture items to the carport so we can have a “free” rummage next weekend to get rid of some things and hopefully help some other people as we do it.  People often give us wonderful things they don’t need anymore, so we try to perpetuate that cycle. Tim also propped up all of our baseboard, but the nails didn’t fit in the nail gun, so propped is all they will be for the time being.  It already looks better!  Now, just squint and imagine window frames and white woodwork and finished A-frame seams…  Sigh.  Someday.  Sorry about the dark photo.

Sunday morning brought us the long-awaited feeling of having nothing pressing to do.  The day is ours!  So far we have shared coffee and a bagel at Bloomington Bagel Company, gone to UU service, cleaned up the kitchen, and done some yard work.  We attempted to plant some shade-friendly blooming impatients, but the ground was rock hard and it seemed like a ton of work, so we opted for doing some more pots for sporadic color.  Last weekend we did a few coleus/begonia pots.

I don’t know how these few projects took the whole weekend, but we feel pretty well rested and ready for the week, so we are happy to have finished these amid the recuperation.

the babe

Today we went to meet Dr. Labban.  He was funny, candid, and open about what he prefers as well as being immediately willing to adapt to things we want for labor and delivery that are not common practice.  We liked him very much.  We also heard the heartbeat today, which was crazy.  I still can’t believe a child is living in my body.  It will really sink in once I see the ultrasound next week.

My belly is not very big, but for a gal who has a genetically flat stomach, I feel like it sticks out a lot.  Compared to other 13 week bellies, mine is small, but I am long waisted and wide hipped, so I think I am absorbing baby GB at this point.  By the evening, Tim is usually making sound effect noises about how much it sticks out, which never fails to make me feel both reassured that it isn’t in my head and also slightly blimpish.  I know, I know, I haven’t seen anything yet.

Tim and I had a long conversation at six this morning about the kind of labor process we want/I want just in case I got in there and totally panicked.  It’s happened before.  I don’t do needles.  But it was fine!  The nurse is great and it’s a one man show, so I know he will be my doc when the time comes.  He is one of very few independent practices in town.  I feel much better knowing that I like my OB and that I won’t be thrown at an on-call sheet of five docs when the time comes.  Talk about panic…

 I have been feeling good for the most part.  I am staying up until at least nine o’clock at night (don’t laugh–this is a huge improvement) and I have had two slightly queasy days in two weeks.  I have definitely been eating more and things have been sounding either really good or really bad.  Asparagus and fresh tomato risotto for lunch, anyone?  Tim’s first question to the nurse was about how much food I haven’t been eating up to this point and she assured us it was fine.  The adage about eating breakfast to curb nausea seems true for my second trimester (thanks, Abbi!) especially if I can get a punch of protein in there, like a Greek yogurt smoothie.  I’ll take it!

Mothers’ Week

Forget about Mothers’ Day, we are celebrating Mothers’ week over here.  We need it to cheer us up from last week’s events.  Tim got us a new king sized mattress for the loft for Mothers’ Day since ours has what we like to call the “black hole” in the middle where we both end up in the middle of the night.  I usually wake up at least once, snarling and lovely, muttering about Tim’s side of the bed.  He usually instinctively understands without opening his eyes and we try to climb out of the hole, but it’s no small task.  I am so glad we are getting the mattress now before I am huge and pregnant.  I am going to have a well rested second trimester and it is going to rock.

We had a wonderful weekend.  We spent the weekend at the Garner family’s house working in the yard as Mom’s Mothers’ Day present.  By the end of the day, the previously jungle looking thing looked like this:

Last week was ok.  Tim and I both worked really long days and were extra tired/not up for home improvement.  Tuesday was great because my Mom came to spend the day with me and we laid the flooring in the entry way to surprise Tim.  It was simple!  I totally recommend attacking a project like that one if you are considering it.  We were shocked at how easy it was, and Tim was wickedly impressed.

Tuesday evening I drove to Remington, Indiana (halfway to Great Lakes, IL) to meet my darling Angela Kelly one last time before she moves to Italy for two years.  I also picked up our sweet, sweet tortoise kitty.  The week seemed to be moving along swimmingly.  Let’s fast forward to Friday when we had not only a terribly flooded basement, but also a dying kitty.  Yes, our cat died.  Imagine Tim trying to bury a really cute cat while Meg wails on the porch about being a bad mother and what kind of parents are we going to be and so forth.  We didn’t know she had swallowed string and stopped eating before we ever got her, so we didn’t know we should have taken her to the vet.  We didn’t find this out until the day after she died, so that first night when I thought it was all my fault was a little rough.  Poor, poor kitty.  She seemed so happy and purry and normal and we loved her. We hope her spirit is prancing around our woods and scaring the mice away.

Let’s rewind a little to the flooded basement part of the story.  There are a few phrases that echo in our heads from our closing appointment with the previous owners.  They are things like “oh we NEVER had termites in here” as Tim shows her all the termite damage (and she continued to say “I don’t think that’s termite damage…”)  Other things now came into our minds like “oh we NEVER had water in that basement…”  Well guess what.  We haven’t been here three months yet and we had about two inches of it.  Granted it was a torrential downpour like we have never seen, and the neighbors swear they’ve never seen anything like it either.  Here’s investing hesitantly in the goodness of humankind and giving ol’ Davey the benefit of the doubt.  Or at least trying to.  As the neighbors said, “he doesn’t lie, but he probably wishes there was never water in the basement and that’s all he remembers.”  Sigh.

There are several bits of good news wrapped up in this sucky event:  The previously VERY adhered carpet on the concrete floor came out with shocking ease after it had soaked for three days.  The entire basement level (800 square feet?) took about two hours with Timmy working alone.  The other good bit of news is that we noticed right away when water started to come in, so even though everything we own was down there, not a single thing was ruined in the disaster.   The only real sacrifice was that mauve carpet and charcoal astroturf.  Bonus:  We have beautiful wooden stairs that were hiding under the astroturf!  I am already envisioning them painted white.  I also finally got on the unpacking train and finished unpacking most of the kitchen.  Still no measuring cups.  What the heck?

This week, Tim is impressively productive with the painting of baseboards and doing other odd jobs around the house, like pulling all the soggy carpet from our basement and loading the dishwasher repeatedly as I randomly decide to cook three things at a time. We are going to try to finish caulking/painting the cabinets this week and get them reassembled.  That will make a huge difference.  We will be home the next three weekends (!) and are so looking forward to having time to work on the house.  When we work long days and travel on the weekends, it is so hard to get things done.  It is very different from the picture in my head when we moved in that looked like nightly projects after work and a crazy succession of nearly impossible projects on the weekends just to prove to ourselves we could do it.  Then I got pregnant and Tim worked his butt off, and here we are.  T-i-r-e-d.  Alas, it will all be done someday.  We are so over hurrying and I have to say, it’s wonderful.

   This weekend we are aiming for a productive Saturday and a lakeside day on Sunday.  I need some sunshine on this little bump.  Speaking of bump, the first doctor’s appointment is in two days so I will update you all then.  Today I got the email that said “Welcome to your second trimester!”   If my second trimester was tangible, I would have hugged it.  I felt a tiny sense of accomplishment even though I didn’t actively do anything.  I am so happy to be feeling gagless (although still not hungry) and energetic enough to help Tim around the house.  Welcome, second trimester!


I have been getting lots of questions about the nursery, what kind of toys we like, what kind of baby gear we need, what we are reading, whether I will stay home…  Here are some baby details.

I have raised several babies in a row now from zero to two, so I am really way more excited/prepared for what to expect once I hit about three months.  That newbie to three months thing, not so much, but I am not (that) nervous.

We are getting really excited now that we are ending the first trimester.  I can’t believe we’re this far in already.  I go to the doctor next week.  He is a traditional OB/GYN but he backs up homebirths and was educated in Europe, so I like him already.   I am a natural childbirth person (shocker.)  I am trying to find a book on the true Lamaze program, not the one that is taught in a few classes in the US, but the in depth Lamaze book.  Anyone have any tips there?

As far as other books go, I thrifted ten or so that I either liked or hated and dispersed of accordingly, however we are only reading one book and it was really the only one I needed.  We fell in love with Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth.  It is super informative without being overly cryptic and medical, it is pretty holistic and based on the idea that our bodies were meant to birth children, and it didn’t scare the crap out of me with potential medical complications like Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week did.  I was panicking with that book and I wasn’t even pregnant yet, but that’s just who I am.

We also really like Baby Wise.  I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Believe me, helping people raise their children has revealed the very wide range of parenting tactics out there.  Let’s just go ahead and quote my great grandpa, Pop, and say it:  “If everyone liked Fords, they wouldn’t make Chevys.”  The one common thread in parenting from left to right is that we all want the best for our children, and most of the time, that’s enough. Love wins.  Isn’t that nice?

(from http://www.Amazon.com)

(also on http://www.Amazon.com)

The nursery plan is coming along nicely.  I feel like I had the creative breakthrough I have been waiting for, so that’s exciting.  I didn’t do a themed nursery with matching anything because I have been given a ton of stuff that I love and want to use.  I am creating my own theme and I am going to love it when it’s done.  I hope.  Here are a few snippets of things on the mood board:

(Red crib!  Maybe.  Pinterest…)

(Cloth diaper wet bag, http://www.Amazon.com)

That’s all for now in case I completely change my plan.  The nursery is full of spare bedroom furniture and toys and totes and things right now, so needless to say it will be a long while before we even have a nursery, but we’re fine with that.  We have literally everything we truly need, but there are things on our very short wish list that are “wants” that would be great to have.  We also have next to no books, which is shocking for an English teacher, I know.  We try to maintain a pretty minimalist lifestyle, but we need some books!  Aside from books, we love anything retro, naturalist, or educational.  Ours will be teeny tiny transcendentalist babies.  They are going to be adorable.

We are planning to travel and road trip most of the continental United States with our kids.  Tim and I have both traveled outside the US extensively, so we are content to spend our kids’ pre-university years seeing our own country and national parks.  We will probably be more excited than our kids are for half the places.  Isn’t that fun? We also live in the woods and Tim assures me that I will have to get over my fears of our kids tumbling down the ravine so they can explore.  I’d rather keep them tucked in our not so big, not fully fenced in yard for safe keeping, but I know he is right.  I see ticks and chiggers and ripped clothing in my future.  And lots of bonding time with their cute Dad, so it all works out.  We are planning two kids, two years apart, but you know how our plans usually go, so take that for what it’s worth.

Knowing we are super minimalist with baby gear and toys, anybody have a recommend for a product?  I loved California Baby Calendula Cream for a cloth-diaper-friendly rash cream and eczema cream, among so many other things, but not now that it has been reformulated.  Anybody have an all purpose cream like that one they would recommend?  How about winter coats for infants?  I am not up for lugging an extra 20 pounds in a car seat around with my handy, under ten pound (hopefully) sized baby, so I will need a winter sack or something for that little bean.  Is that old fashioned?  Probably.  I mean I like to wear aprons when I cook, and I was a women’s studies minor.  I just like it.  I am a feminist and I also like aprons.

Speaking of feminism, I would love to be a stay at home mom.  I have been scoffed at for this in a few corners, but I maintain that having the choice to stay home is still a feminist choice.  No one is asking me to give up my teaching career or making me feel like I should raise our kids instead of work.  I genuinely want to stay home.  Alas, this isn’t really going to be the case.  My nanny mom will be quitting her job when I have Baby GB this Fall and taking a part time position instead.  This means I will get to stay at home a lot of the time, maintain a part time relationship with my nanny toddler, Francesca, and she will get to spend a lot more time with her mommy while I work significantly fewer hours than I do now.  It’s a win-win-win!  I love those.

Dish out the advice, baby gear recommends, natural baby products, what-have-you.  I’m ready!

Our Weekend in Photos

Hello, all.  Here are a few peeks at our very fun, very productive weekend.

First, we went to spend time with friends we don’t see often in Brown County.  Tim attempted to camp with the boys, but it turned out that the “torrential downpours” in the forecast weren’t a joke.  They came traipsing in at about midnight with wet clothes and the faint smell of an unsuccessful campfire.  It burned just long enough for them to cook some dinner, luckily.  I forgot to take a photo of this part of the weekend.  Sorry!

Saturday, we went to the farmers’ market (again–forgot a photo) and we painted beams…finally.  We also realized there is one beam straight out from the skylight window that really should have been painted with the scaffolding for backup.  I leaned back into the loft rails with absolutely no success trying to reach that thing.  Timmy will have to trouble shoot that later.

Tim and I spent Sunday afternoon hanging wainscotting in the entry way after hours of agony peeling wallpaper on Mary Kay Ballard’s behalf, only to reveal crumbling drywall.  The options were to gut it or hang wainscotting over it.  I think we have had enough drywalling for one year with the thousand square feet already under our belts.

Our irises bloomed.  I am not really an iris fan, but it’s nice to see color when you live among the trees in absolute shade most of the time.  Not too many flowering beauties hang out in the shade.  We also have a few promising peonies, but we’ll see about those.

We got another coat on the cabinet doors.  One more coat on each side to go, and we haven’t started painting the boxes yet, so it will be next week before we have pretty, white cabinetry.    I spent a few hours caulking the cabinet bases on our very bowed walls, which led to a lot of sighing and groaning and streaks of caulk in my hair.  It was marginally better than when I started, but I fear I may be back in there today finishing up so we can finally prime those puppies.

Tim finished mulching the quasai flower beds in the yard.  We don’t have much grass, we don’t have many flowers.  We have GREEN everywhere.  No, that’s not code.  Just a lot of foliage.   The shot below is what I fondly refer to as the jungle.  We thinned that thing out two weeks ago and it already looks like some wild animal might thrive there.

Finally, Sunday afternoon when Tim couldn’t take any more home improvement (I was dying to lay the flooring in the entryway, but alas, I lost that one,) we decided to go sit at Lake Monroe for a few hours.  It is a four minute drive down our road and at 5pm on a Sunday, the crazies have departed to leave a quiet, peaceful place to sit and think.  It was a lovely respite after working like banshees all weekend.

How was your weekend?

This week, I am working late Monday but I am off on Tuesday and my Mom is coming to spend the day with me.  When she leaves, I will leave for Lafayette to pick up our mouse-chaser from my darling Angela Kelly.  The rest of the week will fly by and we will be in Alexandria this weekend for Mothers’ Day.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Buon Weekend!

It is a buon weekend for the Ballards.  We have had a busy week, a productive weekend already, and some major visible progress made on the house coming by the end of our two days off, we hope.  It is so hard to get things done once the inital glow of homeownership wears off.  Then we settled in and realized how much it sucks to have a huge to do list every time we sit down to attempt relaxation.  This started ringing true a bit ahead of schedule for me since I was pregnant and exhausted, but I think Tim joined me a few weeks back.

This week (Wednesday, to be exact) was a big one for us because I finally felt like my old self.  Minimal nausea, lots of energy and coherent chattiness in the evenings, shocking motivation to do things in the house…  I feel amazing!  Hello, 12th week!  We are on day four of awesomeness and I can’t decide who is more excited to have me back among the living (but I think it’s Tim.)  Now that we are back in business for house project brainstorming, we have been working on a few things.  Tim has been such a trooper doing things without me for a long while now.  I think I may actually hang some things on the walls today.  I have felt a little protective of our fresh, new, beautiful and supremely labor intensive dry wall.  You just don’t hammer things into that without some consideration.  (Plus you should have seen the “buck shot” paneling that used to live in its place.  Bad news.  We still can’t figure out how many things they hung on that wall in merely 30 years to warrant that many nail holes.  Hence Tim’s buck shot comment.  That’s my man, a former NRA card carrying member.)

Now that we have floors, we really have noticed we need baseboards and trim around our doorways.  We are definitely minimalists, but even we need some finishing action for the main level.  Also on the list is to finish beams in the loft, which I am embarrassed to even admit is still not done.  I might be just mortified enough to get on that tonight.  In the mean time, I have caulked our cabinets twice and they are ready for some sanding once they are dry.  Then priming, painting, waiting, sanding, and painting some more.  Tim wondered aloud if there was a faster way to paint woodwork.  We have used our favorite DIY dorks from www.younghouselove.com for a reference in cabinet painting and we feel great about the advice they offered.  We don’t need it per se, but Tim would like hardware on our cabinets so we will be starting that hunt soon as well.  Our house is once again in shambles, but it is obvious that some serious progress is happening. Yipee!

We have (ok, I have) been doing a little brainstorming about projects we can do to improve our space that do not require us to spend more money.  At this point, we have put about $7,000 into this house.  Our realtor told us he is positive we have at least tripled our investment already in the value of the house.  We like to hear that, and it helps me come to terms with the fact that we are really, really, really on a budget now that we have baby GB in utero.  We bought paint the day we closed on the house, so we have been painting woodwork and cabinets at no added cost, but it is making a HUGE difference in how our home feels.  I love it!  Tim has been doing most of the painting while I do the prep work, which works out since I am “detail oriented” as he says, and he covers ground quickly. We might both tackle some painting tomorrow and try to finish out the loft beams/walls/trim, the stair rails, and the downstairs wall corners that I caulked.  Give me a caulk gun and cut me loose.  And an old student ID.  That always helps the caulking process.

Along the same line as our spend-no-money-but-make-it-pretty challenge, we tackled our floor registers.  We considered buying new heating/cooling registers because ours were shiny, shiny, dinged up brass ones that have been here for who knows how long.  They also were in the same room as the air intake, which is a huge register in a tannish-brown color.  I hate to show my OCD colors, but why can’t these all match?  We were going to buy them, but for five standard registers and one intake register, we were going to shell out at least $80.  Instead, when Tim called me from Menards, I had him detour to the aisle where our friend Mr. Spray Paint resides.  We decided to spend a few bucks on Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Metallic Finish and see what kind of magic we could work with wonky old metal registers.  After a good scrubbing with a Magic Eraser (what is in those things, anyway?) and a few light coats of paint, they look totally passable, if not nearly stunning.  Cheap thrills around here, which is lucky since we have that whole budget thing.

In other news, we shaved Tim’s head this week and he looks darling but it always startles me for a few days when I wake up and don’t see curly hair.  Then I adapt just fine.  Tim is currently tackling our biting-ant infested mailbox (I had no idea, I don’t even remember that we get mail.  Ever.)  He took it down, re-mounted, spray painted, re-numbered, and will be putting it back up shortly.  Can you believe how crafty he is?  We also ventured to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore today for the very first time!  It was impressive and inspiring.  Too bad someone bought that rockin’ kitchen island right before we got there, because Tim and I both fell instantly in love with it.  Oh well.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t free, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in our budget. We have a running list of things we need that we would prefer to buy used, like old wooden doors with panels for our three downstairs doors.  Someday when we save up a little, we will be renovating our bathroom in a weekend.  We are also hoping to finish the entry way this weekend, but that may be a high hope.  Walls, trim and flooring are a lot to do in 24 hours, even in a 6×9 space.

What about you?  Any projects you are starting?  Do you have any ideas about things we can do for minimal cash and maximum impact?  We are dying to hear them.