F**K Cancer

Hello friends!

I wanted to take a minute to ask y’all for some grace. If you have been following along with our blog since the beginning you will know that we believe in transparency and keeping it real. Well recently things got REAL. Last month Atom was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. It was quite a shock to get those results after he had a mole removed a week prior. We thought having the mole removed would be the end of it but as it turns out, it is just the beginning of his cancer journey. On Monday, Atom had a big surgery to excise extremely deep and wide into his shoulder (that incision is 8” long with a drain that will be in place for awhile) as well as removing lymph nodes from his armpit (another gnarly incision.) We are hopeful and praying that the pathology results will come back clean from the lymph nodes that were removed. If not, he will soldier on with the next steps on his cancer journey. It is very scary as to what the future holds but we will fight it every step of the way and lean on our faith to get him through this and kick cancer’s ass. We have an incredible support system here in our community which has helped tremendously especially this past week. From flowers to meals and calls/texts/messages that has brightened his day and meant so much. While Atom is only day 4 post op, he is doing remarkably well all things considered! He has minimal pain and is up and around. If you know Atom well, you will know how difficult it is going to be for him to take it easy over the next 4-6 weeks….

With that all said, our major renovations will be placed on hold for the summer while Atom is recovering. This is where we ask for some grace with us as posts may not be as frequent or exciting for a bit. I’ll still try to take & upload photos and update as I am able and give updates as we know more.

Thank you all in advance for any good vibes, prayers and positivity you wouldn’t mind throwing our way! It means the world to our entire family. Atom will kick cancer’s ass. He is the strongest man I have ever met and he’s got this!

Cruising into Summer

We have been all over the place over the past couple of months. Working on various projects in the building (story of our lives) as well as starting to make a projected short term and long term business plan. I wanted to make this post really quick to share some things we have done in recent weeks.

We won a battle against a wasp nest we discovered in the space between the wall and window in the stairwell between the second and third floors. They must have been there awhile or were hibernating because we started noticing wasps on the ground in the stairwell that weren’t dead but couldn’t fly. Anyway, Atom was able to take the window out and put his little bendy camera into the open space and gasped as there were hundreds of dazed wasps inside. He was able to get them out (without getting stung once!) and seal up the open space as well as restore the window in the process. One window down, 69 left to go!

One thing we noticed while pulling another window out to fix was that the wooden sills on the side of the old windows are numbered with carved roman numerals. Pretty neat!

We are a fun and silly family (at least I laugh at my own jokes so I think I’m funny) and as far back as I can remember in my childhood my grandparents always had a mannequin or two at their house and they’d dress it up for lavish parties they hosted over the years. I told my grandpa I wanted to follow in his footsteps and get a mannequin for the building. He surprised me last month when they came to Indiana for the summer with a mannequin he had from his collection! I was so stoked! We let the internet decide her name on our facebook renovation page. Her name is Tilda (after the actress she looks like, Tilda Swinton.)

A few days after Tilda joined the mansion family I found another mannequin for sale and of course had to buy it from a really neat guy. We named him Manny the mannequin. He’s missing an arm and part of his nose but that gives him character.

For fun, we put them both in random windows and had them under lit for some nighttime fun for passers by. Not going to lie, they look really REALLY creepy when it’s dark outside.

Here’s what Tilda looks like inside at night. I need to find her a really fun retro glam dress & faux fur shawl to get her into time period appropriate clothing. Atom just threw an old T-shirt & hat on her for the time being.

Now that the weather has warmed up a bit we got our entryway put back together so we can have a mosquito free area to have “porch time” with our neighbors! Mosquitoes love me for some reason and I react to bites very badly. What’s nice about this area is no matter how warm it is outside it’s always nice and cool in the entryway.

In a past post I shared some weather photography which I have recently found a love for. We had another wicked thunderstorm a couple of weeks ago and I was able to capture some awesome lightning photos from our parking lot.

The basement is coming along and we have some fun things planned for it (including a bungee harness workout area!) Atom has been working on power washing the bricks which is a long and labor intensive process to get the rest of the plaster off to get the bricks and the bottom concrete sealed with some fancy waterproofing paint that I forgot the name of.

Here’s what the walls looked like once the plaster was all taken off.

And here’s what they look like now.

Talk about a HUGE difference! I seriously love how industrial the basement is looking now! We can’t wait to hang out in our 6,000 sq ft living room! It is going to be such a fun space with so many possibilities!

Yesterday Atom made two triple berry pies to take to a cook out with our church small group. They turned out as amazing as they always do!

Last but not least, our first two (of many) lilies bloomed! Stargazer lilies are my absolute favorite flower and Atom surprised me by planting three different types in the front of the building last fall. Within the next week or so we will have a TON that should open up around the same time! I cant wait!

Ok I lied. One more photo I have to share because it is so funny. Our son’s dog Stewart was neutered yesterday and came home in a “Sputer Shirt” instead of a cone. It’s pretty hilarious and he looks so darn cute. It’s basically a cross between a hospital gown and a onesie.

Hope y’all are having a super week!

We have an announcement!

Have you ever wanted to come visit the Freemason Mansion?

SOON YOU WILL BE ABLE TO!!

(And we hope you will!)

Atom and I will be starting our next project on the building next month and we are pretty darn excited about it. Remember the room up on the third floor that we have dubbed the “Egyptian” room? We are going to be starting a top to bottom renovation (along with the bathroom down the same hallway) and starting in spring 2020 (or sooner!) offering it as an Airbnb suite!

We have wanted to have a proper place for family and friends to stay when they visit and thought how fun it would be fun to offer it to rent through Airbnb as well!

This will be quite a big undertaking to get these two rooms ready. Atom ripped up all of the carpet this morning and we will be finishing the original wood floors. The bathroom is similar to the one on the second floor with stalls and a urinal that we put a shower in the first month we lived in the building. We will be tearing everything out and adding a shower/bath and make it more accommodating. The room itself is just about 300 sq ft and the entire suite will total about 450 sq ft which includes the bedroom, bathroom and private hallway. We will also be building a small kitchenette in the bedroom to make peoples stay more comfortable. Here are a few before photos:

Stay tuned for updates as we are getting the suite ready! If you missed it, head over to our renovation facebook page for a live video I filmed this morning showing where your next sleepover could be!!

And because I know what y’all are thinking, YES a tour of the building will be included with every stay!

COME VISIT!

Bit by the weather bug

I used to be terrified of inclement weather. Back in San Diego I was terrified to drive in the rain and would only do it if it was somewhere I absolutely had to go. And to clarify, “rain” in San Diego is nothing like rain here in the Midwest. This I learned VERY quickly when we moved here. There are a ton of drivers in Southern California who do not know how to drive in the rain. People don’t slow down on the highways and there will be over 500 accidents on any given weekday morning when there is even a sprinkle of rain. The roads also aren’t really built to withstand rain and every time it rains the roads turn into giant oil slicks and makes for very hazardous driving conditions.

Naturally when we moved to Indiana I was extremely nervous to drive in ANY weather that wasn’t dry (rain, snow or ice.) This was something I had to face and get over. I’m still very nervous to drive in snow/ice and I think it will be something I will never get comfortable with.

One thing that has really fascinated me since moving here are the absolutely incredible cloud formations that occur. I could stare at them all day! Two weeks ago Atom and I went up onto the roof (and the top of the dome on the roof!) so I could take some photos of the clouds.

The next day we were hammered with a gnarly severe thunderstorm. Our phones were going bananas from all of the severe weather warnings and alerts. We were just about to put our kids to bed when the lightning started. We watched out the dining room window on the second floor and then all went up to the third floor and opened the fire escape door so we could have a better view from inside. I do love a good Midwest thunderstorm!

At first the lightning and thunder were all we got, and then the rain started and before we knew it the rain was super loud and when we looked down we realized it was HAIL!! Not just the tiny pea sized hail I had been used to in San Diego, this was the biggest sized hail I have ever seen in my life!! In our part of town the hail was the size of golf balls and just north of us the hail was the size of softballs!! Our suv has about 6-10 small dents on the hood from the hail but we were lucky because many others had windshields shattered and our neighbor had his side mirror taken off by a huge piece of hail!

After the hail and rain was done literally everyone in town was outside surveying the damage to vehicles and roofs. The sky was still super eerie and there was still some lightning.

You’ll see in these next 2 photos what happens when lightning happens when I was taking a photo. It was pitch black dark outside at this time.

We all stood outside (the adults- everyone’s children were in bed by this time) talking (have I mentioned how amazing it is to live in a small town where neighbors all get together and look out for each other???) and we watched how fast the clouds were moving and there would be sudden cold-warm wind shifts which our neighbors told us that’s a sign of potential tornadoes. Atom and one of our neighbors were keeping an eye on some swirling cloud formations for a while there but thankfully they fizzled out and didn’t turn into anything.

Sunday evening once again we were under severe weather alerts and as I was making dinner I watched out the window as the sky quickly turned black. I went outside and took these two photos in the parking lot.

The craziest part about this was the clouds were moving so incredibly fast and I could literally hear the wall of rain approaching. It was wild!! I ran & made it inside exactly at the time the sky opened up and started POURING. Our street and parking lot were flooded within a minute if that.

Last night Atom and I were taking our dog for a walk at about 9pm and the sky looked like blue and purple cotton candy. It was so neat!

While I’m definitely not brave enough to be a storm chaser, I am going to start learning the ins & outs of weather photography- specifically cloud formations. I am by no means a pro photographer and I don’t plan to be one, there are plenty of pro’s who spend years and years perfecting their craft. I’m just a gal who’s awesome husband (Atom) bought her (me) a fancy camera and a couple lenses (thank you Costco) yesterday. The user manual is the size of a textbook and currently I am very thankful for the “auto” button until I learn what the heck I’m doing. Haha.

To our friends and followers in tornado alley, y’all have had such a rough week. Please know that we have been praying for a blanket of safety for you all during the horrible storms there and will continue to pray for the weather to ease up. ❤️

Stay safe, friends.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

It is so surreal to think that as of 1:30am this morning, April 15, 2019 we will have been Indiana residents for TWO YEARS!!! It honestly doesn’t feel like we have been here that long! For a really long time it still felt like we were on this really long vacation but now that we have really settled in and Indiana feels like home. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! Small town living is everything we ever wanted and needed without even realizing it until we packed up everything and left the big city. We have made strides in the building with our renovations while still making it enjoyable! The best thing we have done for ourselves is not setting any unrealistic deadlines or really any deadlines at all! Taking that unnecessary pressure off of our shoulders has turned our project into a labor of love rather than a “job.” We’ve had our fair share of frustrations naturally, and renovations definitely aren’t always sunshine and rainbows, especially when we find evidence of prior shoddy patchwork here and there. Thankfully Atom is basically Superman when it comes to fixing and building and hasn’t met a challenge he can’t fix (yet!)

I need to give a huge THANK YOU to all of our followers who have been with us since the day we closed escrow on the building to those who are new to the site. Your comments and positive reinforcement have really helped us keep on going with the project. Because lets be real- this is a MASSIVE undertaking. I have read every single comment that has been posted on this blog, our facebook renovation page, and instagram. The comments and suggestions really mean a lot and are very much appreciated! When it was suggested that I start a renovation page/blog/instagram about our journey I didn’t really know what to expect. I had no idea how far it would go nor how many people would actually want to follow us. Just this past Wednesday night we blew past 10,000 followers (and climbing) from all over the world on facebook! IS THIS REAL LIFE?! I still have moments almost daily where I look around no matter where I am inside the building and ask myself how in the world we got so lucky to be living this life and living in such a magnificent space. Maybe it hasn’t sunk in quite yet that our house is 20,000 square feet. Sharing our experiences has been extremely therapeutic for me. I love to be able to connect with people and share our experiences. I have also developed an even thicker skin than I had prior to our move. Not everyone is nice on the internet and there are people who have not had nice things to say about us and what we are doing. While they are entitled to their opinions they don’t bother me at all because ultimately they are not living our life and they have zero say in it. Unfortunately there will always be bullies and keyboard warriors who aim to try and threaten others due to their own insecurities and unhappiness. We are thankful to the local law enforcement and our attorneys who have helped us take care of a couple of situations.

So what have we been up to lately? That’s a loaded question for sure! I don’t have many photos to share in this post (sorry!) but we have been busy bees! We spent the week of spring break at a lake about an hour an a half away giving my grandparents little lake house they recently bought a facelift to bring it from the 1970s (think orange shag carpet and lime green walls) to modern times! Atom and I were laughing because we got more done on their little tiny vacation lake house in 8 days than we have done on our building in two years! Just kidding! We ripped up the old shag carpet and replaced it with wood plank flooring, painted the entire house top to bottom, scraped all of the popcorn ceilings, mudded, sanded and painted the ceilings, put in all new electrical outlets and switches (and this tiny 2 bedroom house had easily 50 outlets!) and put in all new baseboards.

When we got home from being at the lake for 8 days, our spring hyacinth bulbs that we planted in the fall had sprouted and were so pretty!

Too bad we had a wicked windy evening a couple days later and I came home from work to find several of them had broken off from the wind. I was so bummed! But at least they look and smell nice in my kitchen!

The basement is coming along nicely. Atom sent me this photo he took the other day after he had spent the day grinding the concrete on the walls getting it ready for waterproof sealing. When I opened the text and saw this photo my jaw dropped. It looked as if a bomb went off in the basement there was so much dust! I’m very glad he had an industrial filtered mask and eye protection on while he was grinding the lower basement walls! It took a good 24 hours for all of the dust to settle down there. It definitely won’t be a fun (or easy) job to clean it all up. Not all renovations are glamorous and this photo is proof of that.

I’m really looking forward to finishing the basement so we can have a huge space for our kids to play in (in addition to the third floor) and for us to host get togethers and possibly have it as a rental space for events. We will be also using a corner (at least temporarily until we finish the upstairs rooms for a more permanent place) of the basement for our home gym equipment and I plan on phrasing a bungee workout harness to attach to one of the 16’ steel beams in the ceiling. I can totally thank a random facebook video that I saw a year ago of people doing bungee harness workouts and knew I HAD to have one!

This summer we are also planning on turning the room we have dubbed the “Egyptian room” up on the third floor into a guest suite and also a potential Airbnb rental (who wants to come visit?!)

From the water pipes exploding at 2am (which had me asking what the heck did we get ourselves into??) on our first night to building our dream kitchen and SO much more this has been an incredible journey for our family. We want to give a HUGE THANK YOU again for all of your support and love.

We are only two years in, with so much more to go! We hope y’all will stick around as we continue on our magnificent renovation journey. ❤️

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.

❤️👻