at long last : a few snaps of the first floor, RENOVATED

You’d think that after all of the projects Jer and I have finished in this house, I would have learned my lesson and picked up the habit of thorough “before” documentation. Well unfortunately this is not the case, and the first floor renovation causes me the most regret for skipping out on before pics because of what an incredibly dramatic change this new apartment is from the old. I’m going to do my best to give you mental before snapshots, but ohhhhh how I wish you could have seen this place pre-transformation! I mean, YOWZA.

Our friends are all moved in and getting settled, and they were gracious enough to let me sneak into their place for some after pics while they enjoyed their honeymoon out of state. I skipped the bedrooms and bathroom, as these rooms’ transformations were a lot more about making weird spaces normal instead of massive change. Also, taking pictures of the teeny tiny bedrooms in this house basically translates into a bunch of photos of corners of rooms, which I think can be a little more disorienting than helpful. HOKAY. Here we go!

So time for you to use your imagination. This apartment is set up just like ours (front to back–living room, dining room, long hallway, then kitchen, with bedrooms all along the western side of the house). The first two rooms (living and dining) are the first you’ll see. Pre-renovation these rooms were all carpeted, and both rooms were in serious need of some love to the walls, as there was a decent amount of cracked plaster throughout. The carpet was ancient, and not salvageable, so we tore it up in hopes that we’d find wood flooring somewhere underneath. The other major project which started in these two front rooms involved reconfiguring the electrical. The few outlets around the rooms had a real ghetto burnt look to them, and our electrician ended up completely replacing all the old wiring with new.

Ok. So are you picturing it? Really bad carpet, cracking walls, sketchy-looking outlets? Here’s after all of our work:

IMG_4091Just to give you an idea of the layout, here’s from a bit of a different angle:

IMG_4096This picture also shows the sweet crown molding that isn’t in any of the other apartments in the building. All of the original wood trim and molding in these first two rooms was in incredible shape, which we were pumped about. Here’s a shot from the door to the hallway, with the dining room in the foreground:

IMG_4082It’s really quite amazing to think back to how this place looked before and consider that this is the same space. Cray cray.

Ok. THE KITCHEN. Ohhhhhh em gee. Alright. Time for the set up. Floors were linoleum. Not in awful shape, but seriously outdated. The walls and ceiling needed a lot of work. The walls were covered up to about four feet with some sort of plastic panels made to look like tile, sort of a high tile wainscoting knock-off with a sort of yellow and brown color scheme. Aside from being crazy looking stuff, it was all buckling off the walls so there were large spots that stuck out which you could push on, causing it to sort of crinkle into the wall and bounce back. Above this stuff there was some cracking plaster, and REAL busy wallpaper everywhere.

The ceiling was a bummer. The second and third floor apartments in our house have these sweet old tin ceilings, and when we tore up the cracking ceiling throughout the first floor kitchen and hallway, we found the same stuff, although in real bad shape. We hoped we could salvage it but, alas, we could not. So instead we had a new ceiling put in, and canned lighting while we were at it.

The cupboards and appliances were all crazy old. The stove was actually kind of neat-looking (aside from the creamy yellow finish), but the oven was probably about half the size of a normal one. No regulation-sized cookie sheets goin in there anytime soon, no ma’am. We ended up tearing all of this out and starting from scratch.

Ok. So old kitchen: weird buckling plastic fake tile all around the perimeters. Cracking walls. Cracking ceiling. Craaaazy wallpaper everywhere. Weird old cabinets and appliances. Got it? K here’s the glorious after:

IMG_4087Aaaand the other side of the kitchen:

IMG_4090Our friends built the countertop with legs over the radiator, which matches insanely well and makes so much sense functionally. Jer put in the tile backsplash behind the sink, which was totally worth the extra time, effort, money. After that piece of the project, he’s dreaming about the day he can put one of those babies in our own apartment.

So there you have it. A few shots of the place after all the crazy. Hope you enjoyed!


ten on ten : august 2013

The fact that I’ve missed the past couple ten on tens is testimony to how cray cray things have been. And the fact that I’m back for ten on ten this month (albeit posting a bit on the later side) feels like a glorious accomplishment for me. I felt a little rusty, but it also felt so great to have my camera glued to me for another ten hour span, and the tenth of this month was an incredibly sweet Saturday for me. I spent most of the day hanging around the house with my hubs and the smooch (we managed to eat two meals outside–woot!!!). And then Jeremy and I attended  the most gorgeous wedding I’ve ever been to. Our dear friends (who will soon live together in our first floor apartment) tied the knot yesterday, and it was such a blessing to be a part of their special day. Seriously one of the neatest couples I know, and the entire evening reflected them so well. My biggest ten on ten regret is that I didn’t bring my Canon into the reception, which was basically a photographer’s dream. It was seriously magical. Regardless, hope you enjoy my ten this month! [Side note: Jer joined in on the fun this month, and took two of the ten. Fun to have him snapping photogs with me, but he did force me to put in the picture of myself taking a picture of him with my phone.]











{breakfast on the porch} {porch smooch} {thank yous} {inside shower fleurs} {tomatoes} {pic of a pic *photo credit: the Jer} {backyard rose} {silkie eyes *photo credit: the Jer} {everybody wants a carrot} {Norquardts}

the last two months in a jumbled mess of words




Baking. I find it sooooooo therapeutic. My last days of clinical are just around the corner, which gave me the perfect excuse to spend the late afternoon mixing and measuring and stirring and sneaking tastes of batter today. It was a blessing to have this on my to-do list; a much-needed mental break to focus on something simple that I so much enjoy.

Life has been a whirlwind for the past two months. I feel like I am always saying that life has recently been a whirlwind… or especially busy, crazy, stressful, etc. Maybe this is just how life is for the most part? Regardless, I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster since about mid June.

JUNE. The month our first floor renovation started to get real. In one single week, while Jeremy was in Europe, our house started seemingly falling apart. A rogue pipe that we uncovered from the floor threatened to derail having the floors refinished. Our electrician was a no-show the day before our floor-refinishers planned to come, leaving the entire apartment sans electricity. And after smelling a gas leak [and having the gas shut off and locked over the weekend, leaving four of our tenants without gas and hot water], I was told we’d need to replace our gas line that feeds the attic, first floor, and basement… to the tune of about double what we had left in our dwindling bank account. Oh and by the way, they’d need to tear up some of that fresh drywall we just put in. Lord. Have. Mercy.

Thanks to incredibly caring friends and family eager to encourage, I miraculously kept my sanity (for the most part) that week. And thanks to generous parents willing to float us a last-minute emergency loan, we made it through the gas line debacle. Jeremy spent the month of July on the first floor, working every single day to complete the rest of the project without the help of contractors and professionals. My incredible parents came for several days to help with some of the heavy lifting, mainly the installation of all the nuts and bolts of the kitchen and most of the bathroom. Between clinicals and school, I spent afternoons, evenings, and days off helping as much as I could.

The deadline was August first. And so for the month of July, everything was all about the first floor. We lived and breathed that massive project. By the end of the month, our own apartment was a war zone. It seriously looked like a tornado had been through. Laundry was piled up, there was no ice in the freezer, no food anywhere in the apartment, and dishes/junk/clothes everywhere.

We finished at 11:58pm on July 31st, and the place looked GOOD. Our friends had already started moving stuff in, and we were finally starting to see the payoff of all the work. We retired to our own place for good. Passed out and rested a little. And then started putting our own apartment back together, because after all we would have a baby arriving in just a couple months. Oh em gee.

Just when I was starting to feel like we were getting a bit of a handle back on life, we had a bit of unwelcome news the first week of August. Jeremy’s insurance plan (which I had been planning to join once my own student health insurance ran out at the end of August) changed. Adding a spouse, which originally costed an additional $2,000 and change would now cost us over $6,000. In other words: totally no longer an option.

I spent the last week or so looking into other options. An IL insurance plan that accepts people with pre-existing conditions (aka seven months of pregnancy), some sort of partial option with Jeremy’s insurance, Medicaid, getting through a birth uninsured. Its been a humbling, somewhat rattling experience, with our son’s due date slightly over one month away. And new this week came the discovery that the National Health Service Corps (the organization that pays for my grad program) never paid my summer tuition. Ohhhhkay, hello, new problem.

I chuckle a little to myself whenever someone asks me about baby prep, how we’re decorating the nursery and whether we’re done with it yet. Let me give you a little sneak peak of what “the baby’s room” looks like just now:



This season has produced in me a keen awareness of my need for God’s provision. It’s been a rough couple months, but it hasn’t been all bad news and constant fretting. God continues to show his faithfulness, and to bless me in incredible ways. For example:

1. My husband has been an absolute gem. I mean this guy should write a book on how to be married to a pregnant wife, because he’s got it down. I’ve been struck by both his kindness toward me and his steadiness in the midst of all the ups and downs. His faith has been an incredible encouragement to me, and a reminder that God has already gifted us with the ultimate provision by saving us from sin and adopting us as His children forever. Earthly trials, no matter how significant, do not have the ability to separate us from the love of God in Christ. And as one of my favorite passages of Scripture says of God, for he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. He knows us. He’s got us.

2. We shop at Aldi now, which is THE BEST. Have you ever shopped at Aldi? We started exclusively doing groceries at Aldi because it is significantly cheaper than anywhere else, but we’ve really come to enjoy it. I’m so thankful this store exists, and every time I check out I seriously feel like they just didn’t charge me for half of the stuff in my cart.

3. I’ve had a super healthy normal pregnancy. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Do you know it costs half as much to have a home birth as it does to have the least-expensive scenario of a hospital birth? I’m so thankful this is even an option for us.

4. Our friends and family are THE BEST. We’ve been just showered with gifts, love, encouragement, and practical help at nearly every turn.

5. My mother is coming. And lest you think, “oh how fun, this must mean just seeing family and relaxing for a little while,” you do not know my mother. Mom coming into town does not only mean fun times with someone I love and enjoy very much. This woman is a GET-ER-DONE-ER. I mean a SERIOUS take-care-of-business type of lady. The fact that she is coming in a couple weeks is maybe the sole reason I have any hope that we will ever have a room for the baby that does not look like the disaster shown above.

So this is a ridiculously long post which is essentially a jumbled mess of what’s going on a bit in my life, mind, and heart over the past couple months. It’s all I’ve got for now, and I apologize for the disorganization of my thoughts! Keep us in your prayers over the next month, and before you know it I’ll have a little man to introduce to you. Xoxo.