Friday, August 19, 2011

Laundry Room Facelift

I mentioned a while back that we were working on fixing up our laundry room. This house is nearly 112 years old, which makes it all kinds of "charming." However, the basement laundry room was beyond disgusting and not charming at all. It's pretty common for these old houses to have sketchy basements. When we were considering purchasing this house, it was definitely on the "con" list. Adam promised that we could make it nicer. So, three years later, we finally tackled this project. I will walk you through the before and after.
Floor was previously painted but it was chipping everywhere and just felt dirty. The washing machine had a rusty exterior.
Check out this freak-fest! The walls had paint chipping and some funky mold. To be fair, this photo was taken after I scraped a lot of the paint. It didn't look this bad, but close. 
After I scraped the chipped paint and washed the walls with bleach and water, I painted everything with a pale blue exterior wall paint. I decided to paint the pipes so that it looked more finished. For the floor, we chose Rust-Oleum Epoxyshield Garage Floor Paint. It's awesome! It has a glossy finish and almost feels like linoleum. It's super durable and feels so clean. We replaced the washing machine, added some better lighting, and I sewed some curtains to cover up the freaky windows.
My mom suggested that we add a folding table to make it look more like a laundry room. We found a prefab counter top and Adam built a frame to support it. I love this folding table. It is so handy to just take the clothes right out of the dryer and have a place to fold everything.
Considering what we started out with, I am so pleased with the result! I think it will make a potential buyer feel better about the laundry room being in the basement. Now... on to the next project!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mornings with Gavin

My mornings generally begin in the same way. Gavin climbs into bed with me around 6:30am. He kisses me on the cheek and tells me I'm the best mom he's ever had. It's so sweet that I almost forgive him for waking me up so early. Occasionally, he'll fall back to sleep until 8am. More often, he'll play with his toys and mess with my face. Around 8:30, Olivia will wake up and we'll all make our way downstairs for breakfast. We're a lazy bunch in the mornings and it's pretty much perfect.

Gavin starts prekindergarten in less than a month. It's going be a huge change for all of us. The Albany school district offers prekindergarten spots based on a lottery. Gavin was selected this year and we decided to accept. It's full-time, which has been very hard for me to wrap my head around. At first, I was completely against it. He will just be turning 4- seems like a pretty big change for a little guy. Still, I registered him to hold our spot so I could think about it over the summer months. We have talked with Gavin about it and he is just so excited to start school. Over the past few months, he has really turned into a little boy. He has so much energy and seems like he will really excel in an environment with lots of activities. He is about as social as kids come. I'm fairly confident that he's going to love school.

Being a mom can be so conflicting. It's impossible to quantify the amount of love that I have for Gavin and part of me wants to keep him home so I can have him all to myself. Yet, I look at this little boy that I am raising and realize that I have done a great job with him. He is fun-loving, smart, and confident. Sending him to school will allow these traits to flourish and he'll develop skills that will prepare him for the rest of his life. The school is just a half mile from our house so we'll probably walk when the weather is warm. He'll be home at 2pm, which will give us plenty of time to go to the park afterwards or chat about his day over a snack. It's funny- he's actually been the one making me feel good about this, "Mom, I need to go to school. I want to make friends and learn my letters."

I'm looking forward to having some individual time with Liv. Gavin demands so much interaction that sometimes I feel like Liv isn't getting as much as she'd like. My plan is to drop Gavin off at school, take Olivia to the library for story-time or go for a walk. By late morning, she goes down for a pretty long nap. I should have a good couple of hours to myself which I plan to use for writing and tackling projects around the house in preparation to sell.We'll have lunch and then go pick up the G-unit. It'll be an adjustment but that's what life is, right? The beauty of our situation is that we can change it if we need to. If for some reason, school isn't working out- I can just pull him out. Still, I'm a little sad about all of this. It's really amazing how fast kids grow up. I don't see time slowing down, either. It's why I don't make Gavin go back to his room in the mornings. Before I know it, he'll be a teenager and I'll be wishing for the days when he tickled my ears with his Mr. Potato Head arms.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"My Father's Daughter" - cookbook review

Say what you want about Gwyneth Paltrow; I am here to tell you that she just came out with a fantastic cookbook. She recently made the cover of Bon Appetit magazine which proved to be very controversial. I admit that even I wasn't thrilled to see her face on the magazine I anxiously await each month. I look forward to seeing what the cover recipe is and making that recipe. The sad little bowl of pasta she was holding was not exactly inspiring. It's a food magazine, after all. I follow Bon Appetit on facebook and enjoy reading all the comments. People were not happy about GP! But, several of the recipes in the magazine looked interesting and her new cookbook is getting rave reviews. Because is way too easy to use, I ordered it. I just spent an hour reading it over morning coffee and am really impressed. As the editor of BA explained, for so many of us mealtime is about far more than the food. It's about togetherness, nourishment, family, and creating memories. Gwyneth has a reputation for being a celebrity health nut. She addresses this in her book, explaining that she is very concerned about what she puts in her body and the bodies of her children. She has struggled to find balance in all of this. I also find the current food environment hard to navigate. To be honest, I think I sort of shelter myself from the information that is out there so I can continue to enjoy food that is highly suspect. 

I ordered My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness after reading a few excerpts online. I can really identify with wanting to provide my family with healthy, but delicious food. I think it's a good idea to have some good vegetarian recipes in ones diet. But, by vegetarian, I don't mean a lame pasta with some vegetables tossed in. I want flavor! I want a recipe that leaves people at the end of the meal exclaiming, "Wow, I didn't even notice that was vegetarian!" I can tell that Gwyneth created several of her recipes with the same goal in mind. I also want my family to eat (and like) more vegetables. I am constantly trying to find recipes that will excite Adam, who seems to have a very limited palate for the veggies. I messed up with Gavin somewhere around age 2. I never committed to this goal of feeding him unprocessed food. Why on earth would he like Kraft mac & cheese over my delicious homemade goodness? Because I gave it to him- that's why. Now he just thinks all melted cheese should be soupy and orange. I'll own up to it. It's something we're working on. I am very excited about this new cookbook because Gwneth has lots of tips for cooking for and with her kids. I love the balance of vegetable and meat focused recipes. All of her vinaigrette recipes look simple and delicious, as do several of her soups. I plan on making her oven-roasted tomatoes this week and maybe her paella.

Anyhow, I have a bit of a cookbook obsession and they are not all created equal. I am glad to add this one to my collection. Even if you're not a GP fan, I think you'll like what she's done with her book. At the end of the day, a good cookbook is a good cookbook! Check it out!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beautiful Montreal!

Hello again. I think I mentioned that we spent Olivia's first birthday in the glorious city of Montreal. I have been meaning to get back here to tell you all about our trip. Julie was visiting and we wanted to take her somewhere exciting. Adam had not been up to Montreal before so we decided that would be a perfect destination. If you remember, I took a girls trip up there last fall. Visiting in the summer was a completely different experience. The city was alive and the weather was perfect. Montreal is very metropolitan- tons of great restaurants and shopping. I really love the area called Vieux Montreal- or "Old Montreal." I have read that this area is considered a tourist trap and maybe it is. I don't much care, though. As someone who would love to make annual trips to Paris, this area of Montreal really does satisfy that Parisian craving. The cobblestone streets and historical architecture are charming. The neighborhood is filled with bistros, creperies, pubs, and cute shops. We had a great time walking around and taking in the scenery. We enjoyed lunch and afternoon ice cream. After wandering Old Montreal, we decided to visit Parc Olympique- where we thoroughly enjoyed the botanical gardens. We got lucky and got there right around closing. We just had to wait until 6pm, which is when they stop manning the gates and you can enter without paying the $16 per person admission fee. We were quite excited about that! During the day, the admission fee grants you access to the insectarium and the biodome. Oddly, you cannot just pay a small fee to walk the grounds and see just the gardens. Anyhow, evening was an ideal time to visit because it felt like we had the park to ourselves and the temperature was lovely. The gardens are absolutely stunning. There is a great playground outside the insectarium that we all enjoyed. It was a short, but sweet, trip to Montreal. Here are the pics!
Montreal- makes Europe feel just a little bit closer!
Beautiful day to walk along the water!
Hanging out in Montreal with my "little" sister!
Birthday girl enjoying ice cream!
At Parc Olympique
Julie getting her zen on!
Gavin getting his zen on!
Having fun at the playground
Auntie helping the birthday girl take a sip of water!
Another classic Julie pose!