We bleed green

St. Patrick’s Day has always been a big deal in my family. I come from a large Irish extended family and March 17th is a huge holiday for us. My maiden name is as Irish as it gets! Ever since Atom & I were married 15 years ago, every year we’ve had a huge party to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Back in San Diego we averaged 50-75 people at our annual parties and our fridge would be packed to the brim with corned beef, lamb, cabbage, cheese, and all the fixings. Needless to say we went all out. It was definitely a day we always looked forward to, until six years ago today. It was at 1:30 on March 17th, 2013 when we learned that the baby growing inside me had gained its angel wings. It was a pain unlike any other Atom and I had ever experienced and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s a soul crushing gut wrenching agony. Since that day, St. Patrick’s Day will always sting a little bit but we have our faith which is what brought us through our loss. While we didn’t know God’s plan at the time, he blessed us with a beautiful healthy rainbow baby girl almost year later. For a couple of years after our miscarriage we didn’t have a party. I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate the holiday. It felt wrong. It was awhile before I was able to allow myself to feel happiness on this day. Now every year I still think of our baby who never knew the outside world but I am incredibly comforted knowing he or she is up dancing in heaven waiting for us to join with him or her when God calls us home.

We didn’t have a party last year because I was working and things were pretty hectic. This year we decided we wanted to host a party & invite friends and just have a jolly good time. We deserve it after all of the nonstop work we have been doing on the building and working outside of the building as well. The party was PERFECT & just what we needed.

We usually make both corned beef (which is actually an American St. Patrick’s Day tradition) and a traditional Irish lamb stew but this year we opted to just make the corned beef. And a whole lot of it.

Atom brewed 15 gallons of his famous vanilla stout which will last a VERY long time and we had a variety of other Irish liquors.

Last year I struggled to find ONE type of Irish cheese and this year I hit the jackpot and found SIX types of imported Irish cheeses!!

One of our neighbors brought over this incredible rainbow fruit tray that nearly brought me to tears considering the history of this day.

Another neighbor brought over this amazing green pasta salad that was so delicious!!

If you have never had Irish bangers you’re totally missing out!

Atom’s home made Irish soda bread is always a huge hit and there is never any leftovers.

And of course the corned beef, cabbage, fingerling potatoes and rainbow carrots. YUM!

Lastly, my oldest and I made these green mint cookies for dessert that I promise tasted better than they look. Haha!

It felt really good to be able to share our deep rooted love for this holiday with tons of our friends here. We LOVE to host parties and dinners and thank goodness we have enough space to do so! Having an upstairs kitchen sure makes things a lot easier! Now it’s time to start planning our next “Taco Party” in the next few months. That one is going to be a HUGE event.

Now I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish blessings:

Go raibh tú daibhir i mí-áidh

Agus saibhir i mbeannachtaí

Go mall ag déanamh namhaid, go luath a déanamh carad,

Ach saibhir nó daibhir, go mall nó go luath,

Nach raibh ach áthas agat

Ón lá seo amach.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!!

Sláinte!!

(Translation:

May you be poor in misfortune,

Rich in blessings,

Slow to make enemies,

quick to make friends,

But rich or poor, quick or slow,

May you know nothing but happiness

From this day forward

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Cheers!)

Winter take 2

“Are you sick of winter and the snow yet?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me this question this winter I’m almost certain we would have enough money for all of the renovations! I have encountered more people who live here who aren’t a fan of the pretty white stuff that falls from the sky than those who really love it. For me, the magic of seeing snow fall and the excitement that comes with it definitely hasn’t worn off. Not even close. I don’t think I will ever get used to driving in the snow & ice but I am definitely slowly gaining confidence.

“Don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes!” I have learned this to be the most true statement when it comes to living in the midwest. With that being said, last winter and this winter have been pretty different. We survived the horrid polar vortex/arctic blast at the end of January. Let me tell you, IT WAS SO COLD!!! Here in town we had temperatures with the windchill of -49 degrees. The actual temp was -22!! I have never in my life felt temperatures that cold. Even all bundled up, the moment I walked outside the cold air instantly knocked the wind out of me. At work, we did the trick where you throw a cup of boiling water into the air and it instantly freezes and it totally worked! Pretty neat to see!

For me the most difficult part of winter this year has been the dramatic swings in temperatures. When we had the polar vortex and the real feel temperature was -49 degrees on a Wednesday. Then 2 days later it was 2 degrees on Friday, 38 degrees on Saturday and 56 degrees on Monday. That is a 105 degree temperature swing in FIVE DAYS. Then a couple days later it was back in the teens and snowing. It seriously felt like my lungs are getting whiplash over and over again. We’ve had the back and forth so many times in the past month alone that as soon as we get a decent amount of snow, it partially (or all the way) melts and then the temperature drops and it completely freezes. I’m sure people who are from here are used to this unstable weather but it is for sure throwing me for a loop! A couple weeks ago, I pulled out my mom’s old ice skates from her childhood and literally ice skated in the frozen street! And yes, this city slicker knows how to ice skate! (I couldn’t lace them all the way up because they are so old the laces were brittle and broke off. Oops!)

During my (short) skating session several cars that drove by laughed and honked their horns and gave me a thumbs up. It was pretty funny!

We decided to try a little experiment with our kids one afternoon and filled water balloons with water and some we added a bit of food coloring to. We set them outside in the snow overnight and then peeled the balloon off in the morning. The results were really neat!

Our pup decided this year that he LOVES the snow! He loves to run around with his little booties on and chase tennis balls and frisbees. He’s so funny!

Now that the upstairs kitchen renovations are finished, Atom has been working on our boys’ rooms and making quick progress! We took our boys to the hardware store where they both picked out the paint colors they want for their rooms. Atom being an incredibly talented artist, is going to paint murals on a wall in both of their rooms. I’ll let their themes be a surprise for when its all done and painted. Here are a couple in-progress photos of their rooms. If you recall from previous posts, we cut in half a huge room that was 20×30 into two separate 15×20 bedrooms. Both boys designed their side and are very different and accurately represent their unique personalities. Here are a few in progress photos:

These next two are of the closet space that was built into the center dividing wall. The boys haven’t decided yet if they want a secret passageway in the middle to get to the other’s room or a solid wall in the middle. Either way, I have major closet envy.

Probably a big surprise to the majority who read my blog as we haven’t told many people yet, but after thinking and praying for awhile, Atom decided to take a part time job school bus driving! He started his latest adventure this week and is loving every minute of it. He missed working and he wanted to have a way to bring in some extra income to help pay for the renovations faster. It is the ideal job for him! Fun fact- 18 years ago Atom was a school bus driver for awhile when we were in college. So even though it has been awhile he isn’t new to it. Already having his class A drivers license and pretty much every endorsement from his utility company career in San Diego driving everything from semi’s to massive crane trucks made it easy for him to get his school bus endorsement. Driving busses out here part time is perfect because he still has several hours in the middle of the day where he can still work on the building when the kids he is driving are in school. It’s a win-win! You should have seen the looks we got from the neighbors and rubber necks from the cars driving by when he first pulled the bus into our parking lot. It was hilarious!

As for me, I have been allowing myself to have more “me time” and a better balance of work/home/self care. My neighbor taught me how to make home-made lotion using only 3 ingredients and we spent an afternoon last week whipping a couple batches of it up. It turned out really good! It smells like chocolate/coconut/lemon.

I have talked about my love of music and how being a musician is a huge part of who I am. I absolutely love singing and playing guitar on our church’s worship team on Sunday’s. It never gets old.

The last photo I wanted to share is probably the coolest photo I have seen of our building to date. Someone posted it in a local facebook group and I am sharing it with her permission. The exact date is unknown but from everyone’s best guesses, it’s from the late 1940s. It was a dinner party for a local company. SO NEAT!!

Can you even imagine if we tried to fit that many people in the basement now?! The fire Marshall would have a heart attack!

Ladies and gentlemen we have a finished KITCHEN!

The kitchen is DONE!! What a process this has been! I couldn’t be happier with the end result and it absolutely blows my mind what Atom designed and created with his own hands with zero help. He is seriously so incredibly talented and amazes me every day what he is able to do. I’m one lucky lady!

I filmed a live video this past Saturday afternoon and I’ll include the YouTube link *here* if you would like to watch it and get more info than is here in this post.

When we ripped up the carpet in this section of the big open room on the second floor to finish the original wood flooring, I couldn’t picture a kitchen being here. Because it was just a 20×16 foot giant open space. In hindsight we should have totally waited to actually finish the wood flooring until after the kitchen was completed because after all of the concrete grinding, sanding, mudding and painting was done we have to finish them all over again. Live & learn. That should be our motto for this entire building.

I’ve shown tons in-progress photos in other blog posts I’ve made previously so I didn’t want to spend too much time on the progress photos & jump right in to the finished product. If you are new to the blog I would encourage you to go back a bit if you’d like to see more of the progress photos.

OK HERE IT IS!

This is my coffee/tea counter & cabinet & the wood top was hand routed by Atom. I can store all of my Irish teas, coffee & mugs as well as my electric tea kettle underneath.

If you know Atom, you know that he likes to create things that are original and unique and this kitchen is the epitome of that. With the exception of the coffee cabinet and 2 smaller cabinets in the corner, every cabinet door is attached to a custom pull out cart. He had this vision to where the carts could be easily pulled out and moved around the kitchen. At first I was skeptical when he was drawing up all of the plans but once I saw one built I was in love and obsessed with how functional they are! Here is our spice cart next to the stove.

We had someone ask us why he have just a regular sized stove in such a large kitchen and why didn’t we get a larger one? We purchased the set of appliances shortly after moving here and it was long before we started building or even drawing up plans for the kitchen. Regardless, I didn’t want a huge stove upstairs. We have a 12 burner stove in the commercial kitchen downstairs so if we need to cook for an army we are already set!

On the other side of the stove are many more of the pull-outs and these ones are the same size so they can be switched around if we want to.

I’m still trying to figure out how to decorate the kitchen. Decorating is not my forte and I will freely admit that. But thank goodness for Pinterest, Hobby Lobby and some friends who are interior designers! I’m going for a sort of country theme and I’m going to take my time finding the right pieces to compliment without being too much. I’ll be hitting up some local antique shops in the near future for sure! The small vintage scale on the shelf in this photo was found down in the commercial kitchen. I’m sure I’ll find other vintage pieces to add from the downstairs kitchen as well.

Atom built this giant long cabinet to fit exactly between the pillar in the corner and the tall pantry. When he and our neighbor lifted it into place they realized that the wall behind is not flat and is slightly bowed. After some quick thinking and adjustments (and a couple extra 2x4s) they were able to get it anchored into place. It actually ended up working out better because it allowed for the under cabinet lighting to be hidden between the cabinet and the wall for a pretty neat effect. I also haven’t figured out what to put on top yet either. The floor cabinet next to the tall pantry is another pull out that contains our trash and recycling containers.

Underneath the 6×8 ft island is more storage space than we know what to do with. That seems to be an ongoing theme (and joke) of ours since moving into a 20,000 sq ft home. I am kind of obsessed with the raskog carts from ikea so in keeping with the cart theme we purchased 6 of them and they fit both here underneath on one side and also in front of the shelves inside the tall pantry. This photo was taken before the doors were attached and you can see both the shelves and how the raskog carts fit.

On the other side of the island are 4 more HUGE roller carts for larger items and we have no idea what else yet. Haha! This one has our kitchen-aid mixer, air fryer, iced tea maker, instant pot and grilled cheesus sandwich press. The rest are empty.

Out Bengal cat Karen left her mark on the end of the island when Atom was mudding over screw holes. #dammitkaren. We totally didn’t sand them off & just painted over them. Gives it character and a story to tell!

Now onto the island. The statement piece and my favorite part of the kitchen (ok it’s tied with the popcorn machine my grandparents sent us). I was pretty bummed that it was snowing and super gloomy on Saturday when I took these photos and did the live video because it doesn’t show how truly spectacular it is. If you don’t remember, we ordered 18 lbs of raw labradorite directly from Madagascar and also added 5 lbs of amethyst pieces to the concrete to give it flashes of color. Labradorite is my absolute favorite stone and we wanted to give the island even more of a “wow” factor. The island itself weighs about 1200 lbs and took 19 bags of concrete to make. What a day that was when we poured it all! To add more dimension to the top Atom hand painted this gorgeous teal blue vein with acid stain and the labradorite is concentrated generally around the vein. What I really love about the labradorite is that no matter where you are standing you see bright flashes of color from the stones which changes as you move around the island. They also change depending on the lighting. Here are some photos from Saturday:

Now here are some photos that I took yesterday afternoon. My favorite time of the day is late afternoon because that’s when the sun comes in through the window and makes the whole island pop and sparkle!!! The entire island seems to come alive and it really is a statement piece!

All in all this kitchen has been a labor of love and we are pretty damn proud of it. I can’t take the credit though- that all belongs to Atom.

Hello 2019!

Wow! 2018 has been quite a year for us! Atom and I have found our strides and the building now really feels like our “home” rather than a place we have been staying in for the last 20 months. Our two largest projects of this year have been the second floor kitchen and the basement. A year might seem like a really long time to build a kitchen, but when you really think about the amount of time and construction that was involved and that Atom literally did it all himself, from a space that was just a corner (a HUGE 20 ft x 16 ft corner) of the large open room on the second floor.

The basement has also been a gigantic project. Atom spent countless hours up on a 20ft ladder with a sledge hammer meticulously breaking out the ceiling in order to expose the original steel beam work and to give the basement a more industrial feel. It also made it so much easier to access the pipes and wiring in the ceiling. He could only spend one day a week working on the ceiling because it was so incredibly physically exhausting. Then he would spend the following day cleaning up what he was able to knock down and put it all in the dumpster. Knocking it all down isn’t as easy as it sounds. The ceiling plaster was attached with this steel wire mesh that had to be cut every foot or so. Once he finally got it all down it was time to move on to the walls. We had to fix a couple places where the old drainage pipes had leaked which thankfully was a relatively easy (and inexpensive) process. We were a bit disappointed to find where in a couple of places where there were leaks, there was some pretty awful “patch jobs” that had been done who knows how long ago and if they would have been done right the first time we wouldn’t have the issues we did. But it’s all good- Atom hasn’t found anything he hasn’t been able to fix yet! Knock on wood! Since all of the ceiling is down now Atom has been using his fancy new chisel hammer drill to take off 92 years worth of plaster from the basement walls to expose the original brickwork. This is quite the delicate process as he has to be super careful not to chip the bricks. We will be re-plastering the lower four feet of the wall and sealing the bricks the rest of the way up and painting the ceiling matte black.

These aren’t the only projects we have been working on. In true Atom fashion, there are many other smaller side projects happening simultaneously in the building. Our boys bedroom is also a work in progress and that will take center stage once the kitchen is completely finished. Our master bathroom remodel has also begun although it is in the very VERY beginning stages.

I feel like we brought some of San Diego back with us after we went back to visit in June as it has been unseasonably warm this month. Today it was 54 degrees! We have only had a couple days where we got a little bit of snow which all melted within a few hours.

You might not remember that last year we discovered our entire Christmas light bin was either lost in the move or left behind. We have been slowly building back up our arsenal of lights and outdoor decorations. Hard to believe that we hung 10 strands of large lights and 6 strands of small ones this year. With a building as big as ours is we are going to need A LOT more to even notice!

We had a lovely Christmas that was very low key and perfect. When I was growing up my parents always gave my sister and I new jammies every year on Christmas Eve. We have kept up that tradition with our own kids and they look forward to opening them up on Christmas Eve and wearing them to bed. This year I joined in the fun and found the perfect onesie for myself!

For the past 2 years I have chosen a “word of the year.” In 2017 my word was “trust” as we had to put our trust 100% in God as we packed up everything and followed his call to Indiana. This year my word has been “determination” and we have been determined to stay focused on our goals. For 2019 I have chosen the word “balance.” I thought and prayed about what word to choose for the new year for many weeks. One thing I need to put more focus on is having better work/life/renovation balance. I have been working a ton this year between my hospital job and my medical article writing and moderating job. In 2019 I will try really hard to make time for myself here and there and not feel guilty about it. Back when we lived in San Diego, I was a crafting queen. Making crafts (specifically paper crafts and planner stickers/decals etc) was such a fun passion of mine. Since we moved to Indiana I haven’t had much time to spend crafting and I WILL make time to spend in my library crafting in 2019!

Lastly, I will leave you with a teaser photo as the kitchen will be DONE THIS WEEK! Atom has been working his tail off putting on the finishing touches and last minute touch ups! It has been a long time coming and I seriously am in awe as to what he has single handedly designed (with my input) and built by hand. It shattered any and all expectations and I am just so so happy with it. The next post I make will be of the finished product!

If you aren’t following along on Facebook and Instagram check for the links on the main blog page so you can see a ton more photos that I add there frequently! I will also be doing a live video on Facebook of a walkthrough of the finished kitchen hopefully next weekend.

Happy New Year friends! Here’s to a healthy and happy 2019! I can’t wait to see what is in store for us (and the building!)

Cheers!

Things that go bump in the night.

The second most common question I get asked (after the initial “what made you leave California and move to a small town in Indiana?”) is:

“Is the building haunted?’

The short answer is, yes.

*Warning*- this post will get a bit long as I talk all about the activity we have encountered in the building since moving in.

Let me back up a bit. I am a paranormal investigator, or ghost hunter. I have been ghost bustin’ for a little over 10 years now and professionally for the past 6. Growing up the thought of ghosts absolutely scared the crap out of me. I was always one who had to be sure that no part of my body other than my head were sticking out from under the covers.

A little over 10 years ago we went on a road trip and one of our stops was Tombstone. My favorite time period in history is the wild west 1800s so I was eager to check it out. I guess you could say that trip was what sparked my research into the paranormal. I didn’t have my first paranormal experience that trip, but I was definitely bitten by the “ghost bug” and when we returned from that trip I joined a local paranormal meetup group. I knew nothing about the paranormal when I first joined that group (shoutout to SDGAP!) but very quickly learned the ins & outs of investigating and all about the field and made some of my now very best friends. I especially enjoy the science behind investigating. It is absolutely fascinating! Eventually I was made one of the admins of the group and a small group of us that met through the group started going on investigations. We met up with another amazing group (OC Soulsearchers!!) and I was going on investigations several times a month.

A few years later SDGAP hosted a Maritime Ghost Conference and I was asked to be one of the speakers and tell tales of ghost ships throughout history. The conference took place on the beautiful Steam Ferry Berkeley in the San Diego harbor. It was truly a fantastic day! That evening there was an overnight investigation that was held on the ship, and boy the ship did not disappoint! I had investigated the Star of India ship that was docked next to the Berkeley numerous times but this was my first time investigating the Berkeley itself. I was unaware until the end of the night that a really cool trio of guys on the investigation that night were with TAPS. For those who are unaware, TAPS is the group that had the TV show “Ghost Hunters.” These fellas were on one of TAPS’ family teams (Pacific Paranormal Investigations or PPI) which is a network of paranormal teams around the nation and help field investigation requests from both the main TAPS headquarters as well as their own that come in through their specific website. I was approached after the investigation the following morning when we were wrapping up and asked to meet them and the rest of the team for dinner in the near future. I met with them and the rest is history. I was offered a spot on their team and literally jumped at the chance to go “pro.”

This incredibly talented group of people have become like family to me and we are all (& still are even with me being 2100 miles away) so very close. The knowledge I have learned from them and experience has been invaluable and I am extremely thankful for their unwavering friendship!!

I have been on hundreds of investigations over the past 10+ years and they have all been different. There have been places that I have investigated multiple times and one night the activity is so high that you walk out of there in the morning and ask yourself “what the heck just happened?!” while other nights it’s literally dead (pun totally intended.) I have met some really awesome people along the way as well. I got to hang out with the Ghost Adventures crew when they were filming an overnight investigation in San Diego many years ago. Here I am with Billy Tolley, Jay Wasley and their producer. Zak, Aaron & Nick we’re inside the building next to us doing an investigation when these photos were taken.

Ok so back to the building. When we first looked at the building when it was for sale not once did I ever get any “negative feelings” while inside. You know sometimes if you are somewhere and you get that feeling that you just don’t like the energy and want to leave? Never felt that. We researched records and still as of now haven’t found any deaths that actually occurred on the property. Which really doesn’t matter because a past death on site doesn’t mean it’s automatically haunted and just because there weren’t any recorded deaths doesn’t mean it isn’t haunted. Also old buildings or houses aren’t all haunted. Some of the most intense investigations I have ever been on were of modern homes. I will stop to mention that I am a woman of strong faith, a christ follower and I know there can be a great deal of controversy surrounding paranormal investigating and different religious beliefs. If anything, having absolutely undeniable personal paranormal experiences has only strengthened my faith even more.

While we have all had numerous experiences since purchasing the building, I’ll highlight just some of them in this post.

My first paranormal experience with the building came the very first night Atom and I spent the night when the two of us flew from San Diego to Indiana to get the keys and winterize the building after we closed escrow in September of 2016. It was just us in the big empty building. We slept on an air mattress that we bought in what is now the master bedroom. The building is deafeningly silent at night. The kind of silence that hurts your ears. I was woken up with first time by what sounded like boot steps or heavy shoes going up and down the stairs & it didn’t last long. Early in the wee hours of the morning Atom woke me up and told me he heard whistling.

Not long after we all moved in one night Atom and I were walking up from the basement to the second floor late one night when we heard what sounded like moaning or crying. Initially we thought it was our daughter crying from her room but as we walked up the stairs we realized the sound was definitely not coming from her room. This particular instance I’m still not convinced it’s actually a ghost because sounds and whatnot can easily echo up or down the stairwell from other places in the building. Ghost hunting 101: 95% of what people perceive as paranormal activity can be easily explained. We live in a really OLD building. Naturally it will shift and make noises at night and during the day that are NOT paranormal at all. The things I am talking about in this post are things that even I can’t come up with an explanation for.

Also not long after we moved in I found a tie tack in a drawer in the desk that is now the glitter desk. It’s a really neat one and was in a little plastic box. I had set the box on the windowsill in the second floor foyer one afternoon. The next morning the box was on the ground a good 3-4 feet away. What is worth noting here is that the window where it was originally laying was sealed shut as Atom hadn’t yet busted the windows free (for the first time in who knows how many decades) after we first moved in so there wasn’t any kind of draft. Our cats were also not allowed in this part of the building at this time so they couldn’t have knocked it off. I drew an arrow in this photo so you can see where the box landed vs where it was sitting.

Late spring/early summer last year (2017) we did some heavy sweeping of the stairwells to get rid of falling plaster and dust that had accumulated, especially the debris that had been caught between the railing and the wall. The next morning as I was walking down the stairs to go to work I see a random piece of plaster on the landing between the second and first floors. At first I thought nothing of it because plaster has randomly fallen and drifted down from the very top. But when I got down to it and actually looked at it, there was a definite large mans boot print in it. No one in our family was wearing boots at all for weeks prior to this nor had anyone else been in the building.

I love Disney, and have since I was a child. We went on annual trips to Disneyland as a child and loved taking our children there many times before we moved to Indiana. On our last Disney trip I purchased a Lumiere candlestick and a Cogsworth clock because I knew they would be the most perfect additions to the library when we moved. I had initially put batteries in the clock but they ran out and the clock didn’t work for many months before we moved. I didn’t put new batteries in it because I figured it would be in a box in the move and take awhile to be unpacked so I figured I would wait until I unpacked it before replacing them. Cogsworth was unpacked and placed on the shelf in the library but I didn’t replace the batteries because at the time I wasn’t sure where they were as a lot of our things were still in boxes and when we finally got everything finally put away I had forgotten all about it. Not too long ago I was sitting at my desk in the library and happened to look up and Cogsworth was working. It was ticking away like someone had put brand new batteries in it. I checked the back and they were still the old ones. I asked Atom and all the kids if they had changed them and they all said no. Not only was the clock working, it was set to the correct time! It only worked for a period of a few hours and then stopped again when I went back to look at it.

Our hutch in the dining room seems to be a hotbed of activity. Things are flying off of it all the time. Our neighbors witnessed this one night when they were over for dinner and a box of cereal fell off the shelf onto the floor. A soap dispenser flew off another day when we were sitting at the table eating lunch. The hutch isn’t near any windows or vents and the things that have fallen were not close to the edge. Here are a few photos of where the soap was before it fell and then where it landed. Excuse the dust on the wood around it- this happened the day after Atom was sanding the wood kitchen floors so dust got everywhere.

A common occurrence that I have is hearing jingling keys (like a janitor) in the basement specifically. I will hear it almost off in the distance at times and others I will hear it like someone is standing next to me. Sometimes I will also hear whistling while it’s going on.

Probably 6 months ago or so when I would walk down the stairs to leave for work, I would have an uneasy feeling when I would go down the last set of stairs to the first floor entryway. Specifically when it came to looking across into the former small office room. We hang our winter jackets on hooks on the door frame and the door was about half way open. It was dark in there and our jackets were dark as well so it gave the illusion that someone was standing there. The first time I looked that way my heart dropped because I thought it was a person but quickly realized it was just the jackets hanging. The next morning I had the same feeling as I was walking down the stairs and I looked across into the office. Same silhouette. Although this time it MOVED. It was as if someone was standing behind the half way open door peering around to look at me and then went back. I’ll be completely honest here I gasped and darted out the front door. It takes A LOT to get me to jump on an investigation. I’ll be the first to sit in a pitch black room by myself for hours to investigate. I have seen countless shadow apparitions (a dark or black and sometimes white shadow figure that has a human shape) so I knew instantly what it was. I guess it was something about it happening IN MY HOUSE that made me jump out of my skin. If I wasn’t on my way to work in a hurry that morning I more than likely would have ran into the office and flipped the light on.

Last but not least I will tell you about my most profound paranormal experience to date inside the building. The time I saw my first ever full bodied apparition. I have experienced just about every other ghostly encounter (I have been touched, pushed, scratched, had ghosts follow me home and the list goes on and on) and captured a ton of evidence both in print, video and audio but never a full bodied apparition. Most even seasoned veteran ghost hunters never see one in their lifetime. A full bodied apparition is the holy grail of ghost hunting. It is where you see a person, clear as day, and then they are gone. It is an undeniable, soul shaking, awesome, life changing experience. A couple months ago I got home from work one evening and the lights were on in the basement which meant Atom was down in the kitchen making dinner. I opened the double french doors from the first floor that went down the set of stairs into the basement. As I was walking down the stairs, I saw a man standing across the basement diagonally from where I was in the doorway that led to the back hall and boiler room. Initially I thought it was Atom. It was a man, probably late 30s or 40s wearing blue pants and a white t-shirt with short dark blonde hair. When I turned to look again after I got to the bottom of the stairs he was gone. Here’s a photo of the basement taken long before we moved in (it definitely doesn’t look like this now) with the arrow pointing to the doorway where I saw the man.

Keep in mind our basement is 6,000 sq ft so the man wasn’t super close to me. I didn’t hear any footsteps going back to the kitchen which had me scratching my head. When I got to the kitchen myself, Atom was sitting on the stool stirring the soup he was making. He said hi to me and I asked what he was doing in the hallway by the far door near the boiler room. This area in the hallway had a bunch of furniture stacked on that side because Atom was still in the process of tearing down the basement ceiling and we had to move the furniture out of the main part of the basement so it would be protected. So there really wasn’t a way for anyone to walk through there without significant difficulty. We always walk along the other side of the basement through the door on the other side of the back hallway to get into the kitchen. When I asked him why he was standing in the doorway looking at me like a total creeper he looked at me like I had 2 heads and said he has been sitting on the same stool for the past 30 min tending to the soup. He said he couldn’t even get to that doorway if he wanted to. That’s when it totally hit me. What I saw was a full bodied apparition. Holy crap. I think my entire body went numb and I was white as a ghost (again, total pun intended.) I had to go upstairs and process what had just happened. It was pretty freaking awesome. I had just witnessed what many ghost hunters spend their entire life searching for. I haven’t seen the man again since that night nor have I experienced the uneasy feeling while walking down the stairs looking across into the first floor office.

I have broken my previous rule of “no ghost hunting in my own house” numerous times since moving in. I mean, how could I not? Mostly in the basement and third/fourth floors. Our kids aren’t scared one bit. When things happen they usually will laugh or shrug it off saying “Oh Earnie!” or “the ghosts are at it again.”

I have been approached and messaged numerous times from different paranormal groups asking about hosting investigations in the building. I won’t say never and we would probably be open to the possibility in the future.

Our ghostly roommates don’t always make themselves known. The activity definitely isn’t constant nor is it scary. It’s actually pretty few and far between when we experience things in the building. They’re probably wondering who the heck we are and what the heck we are doing to *their* building. Generally activity will kick up when major projects are being started which is not unusual for any paranormal activity anywhere. We hope we aren’t letting down the souls who once loved our building as much as we do and are doing our best to restore it and make it our home while still trying to maintain it’s incredible integrity.

❤️👻

Falling Into Fall

Whoa. It has been a little over 2 months since my last post?! That’s bananas! Life has basically been in a constant state of fast forward lately. This post will be similar to the last one in that it will be a ton of random updates on projects and a bunch of photos. We are trucking along on the kitchen and it’s ALMOST totally done! We’re so close! To keep with the half brick backsplash we did along the concrete countertops, I wanted to do a half brick entire wall to the ceiling behind the stove. Atom and I both had a good chuckle at the irony that we are laying bricks literally on top of the bricks that are behind the plaster on the wall. Oh well, I wanted it to match the rest of the backsplash so we went with it.

Atom custom built me a coffee counter/nook with an oak butcher block top that he cut, rounded and sanded until it was incredibly smooth before sealing it. I loved the natural color of the wood so we didn’t stain it. There is a small hole in the wood at the wall where the cord to my Keurig and electric tea kettle are dropped down to the outlet underneath.

At the end of September I traveled to Toledo, Ohio with an amazing group of ladies from my church where we attended a weekend women’s conference. It was such an uplifting experience and it was exactly what my soul needed.

The first weekend in October we hosted our second annual Block Party! We had such a wonderful time with our neighbors and it was so nice to all be together at the same time and continue getting to know each other even better. We were having so much fun that I totally forgot to take any photos of the event other than this one of the “updated” sign. Haha. I think I need to just order an official banner for next year.

In my last post I showed the kitchen island framework that was up and since then, sides have been added and painted, the screen on top was bolted into place and we were ready to pour the concrete!

Atom bought the cutest little baby concrete mixer ever. (He wanted the larger one but the store was out of if and he didn’t want to wait any longer to get the darn thing poured.)

The island top took 19 bags of concrete to fill. I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate Labradorite which is my favorite stone into the counter top. We found a killer deal online and purchased 18lbs of raw labradorite chunks directly from Madagascar. I was blown away at the quality and the flashes that were in literally every single piece.

We decided to add in some smaller amethyst chips with the Labradorite and put it in a sort of flowing river diagonal pattern from corner to corner. Each piece was hand placed and then very gently pressed just under the wet concrete surface. When Atom grinds and sands the top the goal (and hope!) is that the pieces will shine and look amazing once the rest of the top is stained and sealed with the wet look finisher.

Our volunteer pumpkin patch produced a grand total of 15 pumpkins!! This was such a fun treat that popped up over the summer when we were in San Diego visiting family and friends. We watched it explode from a small, couple leafed plant to a gigantic wild vine to & we were constantly retraining it back up onto the grass from the sidewalk. Here is a photo of 12 of the pumpkins in the entryway. By this point we had already eaten 3 of them. 🙂

You might remember the giant spider Atom and the boys built last year that was attached to the top of our mailbox in the front of the building. This year they decided to make it look like it was coming down on a piece of web from the roof. It looked AWESOME!! My sincerest apologies to our neighbors who aren’t spider fans and had to look at it for a month…

Our boys bedroom designing and building is also coming along. They each have worked with Atom to completely design their rooms and have been involved with the entire building process. They have made a TON of progress in just the past week and they can’t wait to enclose the wall between them complete with a secret connecting door and build the custom individual closets on their side of the dividing wall!

You might remember me posting photos of my favorite tree last year (and if you follow the Facebook page you’ve already seen these photos) and this year the colors of the leaves are more vibrant than last year! It literally looked like it was on fire! I did a live video on Facebook from the roof earlier in the week and I showed the tree as it looks now that it is bare. Here’s the progression:

With the help of our neighbor, he & Atom got the HUGE upper custom cabinet hung above the sink area. I’m pretty strong but this sucker was so heavy & awkward there was no way I could have helped him. While they were shimmying it into place, they discovered the wall behind it is actually bowed. They must not have had a level back in the 1920s. With a few quick modifications they got it into place. The cabinet doors are currently being fabricated.

The entire ceiling is down & gone in the basement. It took an entire year for Atom to get it all down. What an agonizingly long, tough process that was. He would spend one entire day per week on a very tall ladder with a sledgehammer and would be cutting through steel mesh working meticulously to get it all down. He could only do so much per week because it would fill up our dumpster and we would have to wait until the next week for it to be emptied. A couple weeks ago I bought Atom a chisel hammer drill which has made the process of getting the plaster off of the original bricks on the basement walls take a fraction of the time it would have taken if he were using a basic chisel and hammer. He was able to get almost an entire side of the basement stripped in one day! These bricks are going to look absolutely amazing when they are brought back to life!

A really neat thing that happened on Halloween was that we got fan mail! A follower graciously sent us these beautiful gold leafed plates! We plan to eventually make a memorabilia display with things from the building as a tribute to its amazing history.

People who know me know that I love popcorn almost as much as tacos. It’s my FAVORITE snack in the history of the world. My grandparents have always had a huge popcorn machine in their house since I was a little girl and some of my fondest memories are when my papa would make us popcorn. They have continued the tradition with our kids and they look forward to spending time with their Grammy & Papa and helping Papa make popcorn. They surprised us with an early Christmas gift when this showed up on our doorstep. Seriously one of the best, most thoughtful gifts we have ever received.

If you aren’t already following the Facebook and Instagram renovation pages, (links are to the right) be sure to do so as I’ve been posting more photos and updates there as well. I’ll be sure to post more frequently here too, even if they are shorter updates.

Also, IT SNOWED YESTERDAY!! Nothing really stuck but there were flurries all day. The magic of winter hasn’t worn off yet from last year and we will see how we feel after our second winter here…..

Summer Wrap Up

What a summer this has been! I wanted to make a hodge-podge post with a bunch of updates from the rest of our quite eventful summer! The kitchen building is coming along nicely and our renovations are at a good steady pace. Atom has been busy building our custom cabinet pull-outs and other cabinet doors and kitchen things.

The 6×8 island has been framed and is in place. Since this photo was taken, the top plywood has been bolted down and is ready for the concrete to be poured. Just last week we purchased the rest of the wood we need to finish the kitchen (YAY!) so the rest of the cabinets should be fabricated and finished in the near future.

About a month & a half ago I had my third heart procedure within the past year. It was a doozy and we had to travel down to Indianapolis for it where the top cardiologist in the nation for my issue is. I lucked out on scoring him as my new cardiologist. He’s beyond amazing!

It was actually my second time this summer going down but the first time the procedure was cancelled literally at the last possible minute due to it being deemed “too risky.” I was devastated because all I wanted was my heart to be working properly and not have to deal with the awful symptoms that have plagued me so horribly for the past year and a half. The procedure was rescheduled for the end of July and I woke up 7 hours later and for the first time in a VERY LONG TIME I didn’t feel my heart beating. I can’t even describe it. Such a weird, foreign but awesome feeling. Besides the wicked pain I was in I was no longer aware of every single torturous dyssynchronous beat like I was before. I looked up on the monitor in the ICU and started crying. To see my heart rhythm that looked “normal” on the monitors was something I had almost given up hope for. I recovered remarkably fast which was amazing, and within only one week I was back up and ready to take on the world. I had to wait a month to be medically cleared from my cardiologist before I could do a ton but now I’m good to go!! I had used the hashtag #myheartisanasshole for a very long time and I couldn’t be happier to now retire it. With everything I have gone through with my heart over the past year & a half (technically 10 years, but things had gotten a ton worse recently) I knew I wanted an anatomical heart tattoo. Atom designed and drew my lung tattoo that I got in 2015 after I had Bronchial Thermoplasty (my lungs are also a-holes but that’s another story for another day) which symbolizes my own lung journey and also my profession as a Respiratory Therapist. Atom spent an afternoon designing my heart tattoo and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

While I was home recovering the first week after the procedure my neighbor gave me this hilarious kitchen towel as a ‘get well soon’ gift. It’s quite perfect for our haunted mansion!

Our garden is super fun and while we aren’t getting as many veggies as we had hoped for, we are still really enjoying it. We should have started our seeds much earlier than we did but lesson learned for next year. The massive volunteer pumpkin patch has more than made up for it! We currently have at least 20 pumpkins growing! Atom cut one of them off the vine Sunday afternoon and roasted it to have with dinner. It was absolutely delicious!!

A friend of mine gave me a rainbow pepper starter and that plant has taken off and we have purple bell peppers! They’re so much fun and taste really good!

Also growing are tomatoes, green beans (which are our oldest’s favorite to pick and eat raw) cantaloupe, zucchini, and onions. I already have my list of things I can’t wait to grow next year.

Now that it is September it is officially fall in my head. I love Starbucks probably more than I should and it’s pumpkin spice season which makes me so incredibly happy. I can’t wait for the trees to start changing colors.

Getting the all clear from my cardiologist meant I was able to return to my love of worship music. Picking up my guitar last week and preparing for the worship service at our church felt so good. I was amazed how easy it was for me to sing an entire line of a song without having to take a breath mid-way. Total game changer.

Lastly, our boys room (you know, one of the 826370 side projects we have going at the same time) is starting to make some progress. Each of our boys have worked with Atom to design their 15×20 bedroom with beds built into the walls and secret passageways. The three of them worked all weekend to get the frames up.

We found all of these crates on clearance for $1.50 each and the boys picked out what colors they want to be storage inside their closets. Our daughter requested a couple pink ones for her room and for the price we got them, we were happy to oblige.

Atom and the boys worked all day yesterday to get the other wall frame built and into place. It has been a lot of fun watching them being so involved in the planning as well as building their own rooms. They are already thinking of paint colors for the walls and what kind of curtains or shutters they want for their windows. I can’t wait to see what they each decide on!

We are so ready for fall! We have started planning our second annual block party for our neighborhood as well as another taco party complete with an epic dodgeball tournament in our basement, a few private ghost investigations in the building, apple picking trips and other fun fall festivities!

Bring it on!

~Theresa

Did someone say side projects?

I think any homeowner would agree that there is constantly at least 4 projects going on at once at home. Probably more like 40. Some are huge major renovations while others are small, relatively quick projects. This is our life. Only on a massive scale. Our list of projects (both big and small) is literally a mile long and trying to budget and put them in order of importance can be dizzying.

We are taking things a bit slower with finishing up the kitchen so we stay within our budget each month. The same goes with all of our other projects. We are completely debt free and we want to remain that way, even if it takes us a bit longer to finish all of the reservations and eventually open a business. It has taken awhile to really find the stride and pace that works well for work/life balance when it comes to fixing up the building.

This past month in between painting the newly sanded & fabricated cabinet doors & pull outs for the kitchen, Atom and our boys decided to rip up all of the carpet in their room and finish the original wood floors underneath. The floors that have never seen the light of day. This room is roughly 20×30 and we will be putting a wall up across the middle to break it into two separate 20×15 bedrooms for the boys and they each have 100% designed their space themselves. Here’s what the room looked like with the carpeting once their beds and dressers etc were moved out.

Underneath the carpet was this lovely (eye roll) green super thick linoleum that was also in the office that was converted to our daughters room shortly after we moved in. We were hoping it would have been just carpet over the wood like it is in the open living room/kitchen/dining room area but nope. Couldn’t be that simple.

Ripping up the linoleum was the easy part. The thick fibrous padding underneath was extremely difficult and took many days of tedious scraping to get it all off.

Atom purchased some mega industrial strength adhesive remover at the hardware store (a gallon of it) and sprayed it all over which was the saving grace of the darn floors. It made it come up so much easier! Still took some elbow grease and patience, but it was definitely easier!

After all of the padding was scraped off Atom sanded and sanded and sanded. He used a combination of a small electric hand held sander and our industrial floor buffer with gigantic sanding pads that were 60, 80, and 120 grit.

Once he was done sanding and we scrubbed the floors they were so incredibly smooth by themselves & were super shiny. They were even slippery when walking with socks!

We chose to finish and seal the floors with wood oil. We chose not to formally stain the floors any specific color because we really liked the natural look of the wood. We knew the oil would change the color of the wood a little bit but it wouldn’t be super dramatic. Atom put one layer of the oil down and then when it was totally dry he buffed it and then repeated the same process again two more times. We couldn’t be happier with the end result! The final photo is after the third coat of oil while it was still drying. Now that it’s completely dry it’s the same color and even still looks shiny!

I can’t wait until we are able to take up ALL of the carpet in the rest of the big open kitchen/dining/living room part of the second floor because the wood floors are so pretty underneath. But that would add yet another project to our current 472637 already in progress.

Baby steps.

~Theresa

Taco Vacay!!

Warning: tons of photos ahead!

June has been such a fun month for us! We have been planning a trip back to San Diego to visit my family and our friends for awhile. It was the first time we had been back since we moved to Indiana last spring. We were so looking forward to 3 weeks of fun in the (not humid) sun! On my last day of work which was the day before we left, we were under all kinds of severe weather alerts. The wind and rain was super intense. I walked out into the ambulance bay at work and took this photo:

I emailed it to the local news station and within one minute they had it up on their live broadcast of the storms. It was also featured on the evening news that night! I was so glad that we were leaving on our flight early the next morning and wouldn’t have to worry about gnarly weather for the next 3 weeks.

Atom and I had talked about how we weren’t sure how we would feel being back in the city we grew up in and the only one we had ever lived our entire lives. Would it feel weird? Would we be sad? Would it feel foreign? I had so many emotions about the trip. Once we landed in San Diego, it was definitely a weird feeling being back in town but at the same time it almost felt like we had just been on a really long vacation. Except for the fact that we no longer had a house there. My dad picked us up from the airport and being late afternoon on a Friday evening, the traffic was awful. Typical for San Diego, but we definitely don’t miss that part! We arrived at my parents house at dinner time and my amazing mother had 4 dozen rolled tacos waiting for us.

After we ate our weight in tacos, we all crashed for the night. We were still on east coast time and it was a very long travel day, especially for the kids. They are fantastic travelers and never complained once on the flight.

The next morning we went to our absolute favorite Mexican place (Las Cuatro Milpas) to have tacos and menudo for breakfast. If you know me well you know that tacos are my love language and I can eat them any time of the day. We also went to the store to get some of our favorite produce that is significantly cheaper in San Diego.

After attending our former church on Sunday we went to the beach for a picnic lunch (of you guessed it, tacos) and of course the weather was perfect.

And yes, those are wicked awesome cat swim trunks that Atom is wearing. I saw them at Target a few months ago and HAD to buy them! He’s such a good sport and such a stud!

San Diego understands my love for tacos 100%. I need this food truck to live in my parking lot.

Literally every single day and evening over the course of those three weeks had things planned and people to visit. We had so many people we wanted to give hugs to and visit with. There wasn’t a lot of ‘resting time’ on this trip but it was so worth it.

A huge highlight of the trip for me was playing guitar and singing with my former worship team at our former church, Newbreak. I had missed them all so terribly and having the opportunity to worship with them all made my heart so incredibly full. I feel closest to God when I am singing his praises and worshiping him through music.

One morning we went to our favorite tide pools in La Jolla and had a really nice walk along the beach as a family. On this particular day the tiny clams were all on the shore digging themselves in the sand as it was low tide. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of them that went on for easily a quarter mile!!

This is probably my favorite photo that I took the entire trip of the underside of the Scripps Pier in La Jolla (I took a total of 638 photos).

And of course we had more Mexican food for lunch (are you noticing a theme of this vacation yet?)

One night a longtime family friend graciously babysat for us so Atom and I could go to a fancy dinner at Flemmings with my parents and my sister & brother in law. We celebrated my sister & brother inlaws 16th wedding anniversary, my sisters birthday and our 14th wedding anniversary which was this month as well.

We had made several lists before we left on the trip of places we for sure wanted to eat at as well as ethnic markets we wanted to shop at to bring spices and such home since they are significantly harder to get in Indiana. We went to our favorite Indian market and stocked up on some favorites and grabbed 2 bags of lychee fruits which are a favorite in our household.

I wish we would of had a way to get all of this rice home with us!

I am very thankful that I had time to see my very best friends many times and we always have so much fun together. We text and video chat every day but it’s so much better to be able to hug them in person! We laughed until our sides hurt. I am so thankful for their presence in my life.

Atom was also able to get together with his “man friends” more than once and had a great time on a brewery crawl in Los Angeles and also a game night with them just like they used to do every other Friday evening when we lived there.

I had dinner with my TAPS team and we also investigated one of our favorite haunts in San Diego. Man I miss investigating with them so much! I was also able to sneak away for some daytime investigating aboard the USS Midway one morning before joining up with Atom and the kids and getting a personal tour from our dear friends who work there. I have given ghost tours on the ship with a group of other investigators for many years around Halloween time so I knew my way around the massive aircraft carrier but it was so much fun watching my children be in absolute awe as they explored it for themselves for the first time.

Atom & the boys were super stoked to do a ton of snorkeling at their favorite snorkeling spot- La Jolla Cove. If you’ve never been there, the cove & beach is shared by the local sea lions.

The 3 dots out in the water are Atom & the boys. They’re quite the little fish and don’t even need or use floaties!

My favorite souvenir of the trip was this AMAZING large piece of labradorite, which is my absolute favorite stone. The flashes of blue and green are stunning. It will go in the library on display.

But the real MVP of the trip is my sweet Apple Watch tan. LOL!

On our last full day in town we went to the zoo with my sister and nephew. We have always had year passes to the zoo since I was a child and we were happy to go back and see all of the new exhibits that had been built since we were there last.

Atom & I flew home and our children got to stay for an extra 5 days with my parents and they were beyond excited for their extra “Mimi & Pappy time.” We are incredibly blessed that our kids have such amazing grandparents that are my parents. They FaceTime and we send my parents photos all the time of our kids multiple times per week but our kids actually being able to spend time with the best grandparents in the universe is priceless. They are the best role models and the kids love them so much. We are so glad they play such an active role in their lives. We CAN’T WAIT until my dad retires next summer and my parents move to Indiana and we will be able to see them often!!

When Atom & I flew back home, we had to drive through a wicked bad storm. It was downright scary. Lightning was all around us & at times it was raining so hard we could barely see. I took this photo of a super scary cloud formation. It was like something out of a movie. We drove right though it too. I kept looking up waiting for a tornado to send us flying.

Thankfully we made it home safe & sound. When we pulled into our parking lot we both gasped& started laughing when we saw the worlds largest volunteer zucchini or pumpkin intertwined with possibly a melon growing on the front lawn! It’s HUGE!

As much fun as we had on our trip and as many tacos as we ate, it sure felt good to be home. Yes, home in Indiana. We miss our San Diego friends and family terribly but Indiana is home. The slower pace of life and our amazing little town. These city slickers were destined for small town life. In a giant 20,000 sq ft mansion……

Now it’s time to FINISH THE DAMN KITCHEN!!

~Theresa

We have kitchen countertops!

What a process these countertops have been! I feel like that has been out motto for pretty much everything when it comes to the renovations. But it’s all good!! We knew we wanted to do concrete kitchen countertops long before we even moved in. In our previous house back in San Diego, we ripped up all of the carpet on the first floor and Atom acid stained the concrete floors and they turned out amazing. He wanted to do a spin on that for our countertops.

Originally we wanted to get the kitchen built as fast as possible directly after we finished the guest bathroom. But then we changed our mindset and decided to take it a bit slower and really make it exactly what we wanted and take our time doing it, rather than rush to just get a kitchen built. Having a massive commercial kitchen in the basement in the mean time isn’t too shabby either. We have become quite fond of having 7 ovens, 12 burners, a flat top griddle and a commercial deep fryer to cook with! Here is the part of the second floor before we started the kitchen construction (after Atom had pulled up the carpet and finished the original wood floors.)

Finding places to anchor the wood into the walls was a challenge because it’s all plaster and blocks of some sort (I forget what they’re called). Atom had to use these giant anchor bolts and a huge drill bit to drill into the walls to anchor them in place. Being that the building is just under 100 years old, it isn’t built with the traditional drywall & wood so it has made the process MUCH more difficult.

One night I was feeling silly so I brought up the crockpot and we “made our first dinner” in the kitchen in progress. Haha!

Once all of the wood was in place for what will become the cabinets underneath, Atom laid the treated board down that would become the base of the countertops and seated the sink in place. Karen, one of our very curious bengals kept a close eye on the entire project. She thinks she’s basically a dog, or a human.

Wire mesh was bolted down to help with the concreting process and the sink was completely sealed off.

The first layer of concrete was mixed and put down. Atom added color/dye to the concrete to make it a “light sand/tan” color.

After that was all spread around, Atom came in with more concrete and really smoothed it out. He spent almost 12 hours coming back every 30 min or so smoothing out any bubbles and imperfections.

Once it dried, we had to wait 30 days (yes you read that right) before he could start the grinding & sanding process. While doing the initial grinding, there were several spots that basically crumbled and Atom had to add more concrete to those spots and then wait ANOTHER 30 days for it to completely dry & cure. Are you starting to see why this process has taken so long?! He initially tried sandpaper of various grits but that didn’t work well and after a weeks worth of constant sanding and going through 25 full sheets of sandpaper, he switched to diamond buff pads and got the entire length of the countertops buffed until they were as smooth as marble. He used 50, 150, 300, 500, and 1,000 grit of the diamond buff pads with the grinder. What took him an entire week with the sand paper only took two days with the buff pads. Live & learn! It was pretty incredible to feel the concrete as smooth as it got, I had no idea it could feel so amazing! I’ll have to admit the plain concrete looked pretty darn cool by itself even without any stain on it!

We initially had decided on some sort of brown/tan with a hint of red for the acid stain. But then late one night Atom & I were looking at stain colors to order online and came across a turquoise color & we both pretty much knew we wanted to incorporate it into the counters somehow. Not too much, but something to accent it here & there. We ordered a small bottle of it along with the gallons of the other colors.

We decided to make some earthy looking cracks with the turquoise. Atom being the artist he is, got to work.

There were a couple of places on the concrete that were the low spots that Atom had to add more concrete to fill in and they were left a slightly different color/look than the rest of the concrete so we decided to stain those the turquoise color as well. There are no mistakes in art after all!

After the turquoise mostly dried, Atom started applying the base brown/reddish color all over. He used a stippling & dabbing technique initially with a corner of a giant car sponge to give it a textured look and then sort of painted over it to blend out the edges. It’s hard to explain. With acid stains, you will want to blend it a bit to prevent harsh lines. Unless of course that’s what you are going for. Then by all means go for it! We wanted a more natural(ish) look. As natural as a brown/red countertop with a few giant turquoise cracks though it can look. Haha!

We did 3 separate applications of the stain. The first one burned for 4 hours. Then you have to wash it with a ton of soap & water (or if you’re fancy you can buy neutralizer stuff from the store. We went the budget route and used soap & water) to neutralize the acid & stop it from burning and wait until it is completely dry before adding another layer. The second acid application covered about 80% of the surface, focusing on where we wanted more of the shadows etc to be and burned for 6 hours & then had to be washed & neutralized. The final (3rd) layer we did was mainly touch ups and a few specific areas we wanted to darken. We left that one to burn overnight for about 10 hours or so & washed/neutralized it the following morning.

Once everything was thoroughly washed and air dried, Atom put two coats of this wicked expensive food grade porous sealer over the whole thing. After a couple days it was dry & then he put the final wet look concrete sealer over the top of it. He did a total of four coats of this stuff and each one took 24 hours to dry. Holy moly the end result is amazing and we couldn’t be happier! The countertops are SUPER SHINY!!!!!

We decided to go with a half-brick backsplash and Atom put those up this week as well and just grouted them in yesterday afternoon. Once the grout is all set we can clean off the bricks and we will use the same wet look sealer to seal them (but only one coat- don’t need to go crazy with it on the bricks). We will reseal the countertops annually.

We already have all of the wood purchased for the cabinets and all of the appliances as well. The bummer that came of the countertops is that from all of the sanding/grinding, the wood floors will have to be totally redone all over again. Sucks, but it’s a lesson learned. We’re going to build the giant island in the middle of the kitchen BEFORE we refinish the floor. The appliances will all go into place to have the kitchen fully functional & cabinets built & stained/painted before we start on the island.

Our children are super excited to be out of school for the summer next week so we will be spending a lot of time with them working on our giant garden (stay tuned for that post!) that they started alongside the building a month ago as well as other fun things over the next 3 months until they go back to school. And find time to keep working on the kitchen!

It’s also time to start planning our annual summer block party!!

Happy summer friends!

Theresa