Life update

Whoa. It has been quite awhile since I last posted an update & life has been absolutely bonkers lately. For starters, a week ago I was diagnosed with pneumonia. While I’m on the mend and it was a mild case (not covid btw), it has forced me to take it easy and literally not get out of bed for almost a week. If you know me, this is super hard for me but with as sick as I was there was no way I could have forced myself to heal any faster. I already have terrible lungs so I am just super glad it didn’t land me in the hospital.

We’ve had some big changes for our family as Atom decided to leave his bus driving job a month ago for a different full time job that utilizes some of the skills he brought with him from his former career in San Diego. It was an incredibly hard decision for him to make because he absolutely LOVED driving the bus and making a positive impact on the kids he drove every day however we both decided it was time to move on and pursue a job that would be more financially helpful for our family and our renovations. With that said, our renovations have been at a standstill for the past few weeks while he was in training and adjusting to his new schedule. This is totally okay because we needed this time for all of us to learn new schedules without the pressure of renovating over our heads. The bad news is it will push off our completion date for the airbnb suite unit the spring. So sorry about that! The good news is his new salary is significantly more than he was making so once things settle down, we will be full steam ahead and have the financial means to purchase building materials easier.

Our weekends have been consumed with our oldest and his high school marching band. He is a freshman this year and this is his first marching season. Marching band out here in Indiana is so different than when I was in band in San Diego 23 years ago. The director wasn’t kidding when he told us during the parent meeting back in May that the marching season is a 1,000 hour commitment. But he is loving every minute of it & we couldn’t be more proud.

For funsies, here is a photo from one of my high school year books (circa 1998) of my band photo.

About a month ago a production company from a medical/health company (can’t say which yet- I’m under a NDA) invaded my house to film my asthma story for their international print media/video campaigns and it was such a fun day filming with them. Lungs are my life and I am always happy to share my story and advocate & educate as much as I can.

Here’s a random funny photo I took a couple weeks ago of our daughter yelling through a hole in the floor (from the old radiator pipes where we have some of the carpet pulled up and floors unfinished) down to our son who was in the basement. I laughed so hard!

Last but not least for this post, here is a spectacular sunset I captured back in August and quite possibly my favorite photo of the moon I have taken thus far.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Tiny Tomato Army

It has been awhile since I first posted about our garden and I wanted to give an update. This little garden has taken off more than our wildest expectations and we have been in fresh produce heaven for awhile now. It has grown so much that we have been able to bless our neighbors and friends with our excess as well and we’re making a donation to the local food bank this weekend.

Probably the most surprising part of our giant garden is our tomato patch. In my previous garden post I posted photos of Atom tilling the soil and planting a bunch of tomato seedlings. We thought part of them were were grape tomatoes and part beefsteak. Nope. Turns out they were ALL grape tomatoes. So we now have a 20 foot long grape tomato garden. A classic mix up of seeds will do that! LOL! Here are some photos of our tiny tomato garden.

I don’t think I have ever seen such bountiful tomato plants in my entire life! (Be gentle, we come from southern California where the soil is basically all clay & super hard to grow in not to mention all of the watering restrictions.) We are averaging 7 pounds of tomatoes picked every day!

Funny side note- I made a silly quick TikTok video about our tomato army and it went viral with 1.4 million views and climbing as of this post. Pretty funny. I’ll never understand Tiktok’s algorithm.

The back garden has been equally overachieving and has grown into the parking lot.

The cucumbers have finally slowed their roll after getting almost a dozen of them every couple days. Atom wanted to try his hand at making home made pickles so we currently have a 5 gallon crock FULL of cucumbers pickling on the kitchen counter.

We have many baby cantaloupes growing and I can’t wait for them to ripen!

As a kid we grew carrots but I never had the patience to wait to pick them so we always ended up with like 1” baby carrots. I had a little bit more self control this time around and I was so happy when I pulled these suckers out of the ground.

Our Flemish giant bunny, Linda loved eating the carrot tops!

Our lettuce plants are done for the season but we had a good couple weeks of great salads.

Besides carrots, my most favorite things to harvest are the potatoes. This was our first time ever growing potatoes and it was pretty easy! I made a Mississippi mud roast for dinner last week and the home grown potatoes were so good with it!

Growing things here in Indiana is so much easier than in San Diego at least for us. From the soil to the climate in general we have been blown away at how we really didn’t have to do a whole lot to maintain it. We already have plans for a community garden next year and I want to use a good chunk of the back parking lot for it.

We can’t wait!

Q’s Quantum Colors

I think I have shared a bit in the past about how Atom is a phenomenal artist. Our first date (when we were 18) was him taking me to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art where he had one of his sculptures on display. I was absolutely blown away! Just like with building renovating, he is a jack of all trades when it comes to art. He can do it all and do it incredibly well. He wrote, illustrated and published a children’s book 15 years ago and has painted many murals of all sizes in our previous home in San Diego as well as for other people.

Our 12 year old son, Quaid is following in his fathers footsteps. He has had a sketchbook since he could hold a pencil & loves to doodle and sketch. More recently he has found a love in spray paint art. A few weeks ago Quaid asked me if he could use some of the spray paint we had downstairs for an art project. I said sure (& not to make a mess in the basement) not knowing exactly what he was planning. He told me it was a surprise. Fifteen minutes later he returned from the basement with this:

My jaw hit the floor. He knows I have always loved space ever since I was a kid and he had seen a YouTube video of a street artist who makes these types of spray paint paintings. This one was made just on a piece of paper. Since that day, we started buying canvas panels in bulk and a whole lot of colors of spray paint. Here are some of his creations:

I shared a couple videos on Tiktok and our house Facebook page and the response was overwhelming. We made a page just for him to share his art. Click HERE to check it out!

We are so proud of Quaid pursuing his dreams at such a young age and it has been so neat to watch him continue to improve and challenge himself to master new techniques!

Great Grandma’s Shortcake

Our garden has completely taken off this year (it’s about time!) and our raspberry bushes are the overachievers of the bunch. We have to pick them every other day just to keep up with them. Considering they are Atom and our kids favorite fruit this is a great problem to have!

One of my favorite desserts growing up was when my mom would make strawberry shortcake using my great grandmothers family recipe. When Atom and I got married (we just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past weekend,) my mom gave me a recipe box full of family recipes. The shortcake recipe was in said box and it is seriously so easy to make. With an abundance of berries yesterday I decided to whip up a batch for dessert. I wanted to share the recipe with all of you if you are looking for something easy and delicious.

Shortcake Recipe

In a medium sized bowl mix the following:

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp almond or vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

I mix it all with a spoon and not a hand or stand mixer. It mixes together quickly and easily. The recipe states to pour into two 9” pie tins but I will usually use just a 9×13” pan instead because I like it pretty thin.

I did half and half almond and vanilla which is why it looks like it is 2 different colors in this photo. (Atom hates almond flavoring. He’s weird.)

Bake at 400° for 9-11 min. Keep an eye on it because cooking times will vary depending on what type of pan you use.

Let cool and carefully cut to serve. It tends to get a bit crumbly so if you want that perfect presentation keep that in mind and go slow.

It is seriously so good and so easy! Atom cooked some of the raspberries into a syrup to also put on top (not pictured) with the fresh berries. We had some coconut whipped cream on hand and that on top made it even better!

It reminds me of my childhood and summer & I hope you love it as much as we do!

Hodgepodge Garden

We decided that this year we were going to have a garden. In San Diego we had a very large aquaponic garden in our back yard along with many fruit trees. A couple years ago we attempted a small garden but it didn’t really produce much. The only thing that had really taken off was the volunteer massive pumpkin patch we had a few years back. We have been *so* busy for the past 5 months and once our starter seeds had all sprouted inside it was a race to figure out how the heck we were going to actually put together the garden and where. Then the idea came to Atom-

Tires.

I wanted a gorgeous raised planter garden in the back lot that we would share with our amazing super friends/neighbors that live behind us. We had recently gotten new tires on my Jeep and in true Atom fashion, he requested to keep the old ones. Now I know why. Then magically about a dozen more tires show up in the back lot and the tire garden was born. Its definitely not a pretty garden but it is super functional. (And super huge thanks to said neighbors for adding the rock which totally helps with curb appeal!)

In the tires we have growing cantaloupe, potatoes, red and green lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, brussels sprouts, broccoli, parsley, basil, and I’m sure there are a few more that I can’t think of off the top of my head.

Potatoes
Lettuce
Spinach
Cucumber
Broccoli

(Thanks to our bunny Linda for the free garden fertilizer!)

Next to the building there was a large dead tree that the city removed late last year which opened up a perfect sunny spot along the west side of the building. A truckload of top soil and a rototiller later, our tomato seedlings were planted and have completely taken off.

Toward the front of the building we have a bunch of volunteer cilantro that keeps coming back each year since we initially planted it the year we moved here. It’s funny that we aren’t even watering it and it keeps coming back. We tried to grow cilantro for years in San Diego and it would never grow and now we can’t get rid of it here in Indiana. Good thing we all LOVE cilantro in our family!

Volunteer cilantro

Our peach & plum trees have totally taken off and are filling out nicely. Atom planted them last year and it looks like we will be getting fruit this year! There are so many little baby peaches and plums!

1 of 2 peach trees
Baby fuzzy peach!
Plum trees
Baby plum

Two years ago we planted little tiny raspberry (Atom’s fav) starts along the fence between us & our neighbors home. Last summer we added some blackberry starts as well. This spring they have absolutely exploded and we are going to have more raspberries & blackberries than we will be able to eat! We’re talking about a solid 50 feet of berry bushes all currently in full bloom.

Blackberry
Raspberries
We love our bee friends!

Last week we purchased 29 baby boxwood bushes and planted them along the front of the main parking lot. We can’t wait until they grow and fill in!

We are a family that LOVES produce and growing our own is so rewarding and it is going to be a delicious summer!

Four Years!

Whoa.

Four years ago today we arrived to begin the adventure of a lifetime. I don’t think I will ever forget the emotions I felt as we pulled into the parking lot of our massive home at 1:30am. The excitement, the “holy crap this is really happening”, the delirium and exhaustion from driving for the past 36 hours nonstop. And then there was the whole pipes exploding in the boiler room an hour later (if you missed that post, you can read about it here) which was our welcome present and a glimpse into what renovating a nearly 100 year old 20,000 sq ft building would be like.

Now here we are, four years later and are having the absolute time of our lives. Things aren’t always easy but we have really settled into a groove of renovating and life here in Indiana in general. If you asked me what life would be like in four years on day one I would have told you something polar opposite to where we are now. And we are totally okay with that! We have shifted away form grinding nonstop renovating to get to that finish line with a completely restored building to taking our time and enjoying the ride.

We are still working on the future Airbnb suite up on the third floor and we *finally* made it over the hump and are really making progress now. This has hands down been our most difficult & time intensive project yet. Who would have thought a bathroom would take us so long?! We have pulled and replaced well over a mile of wiring so far in the building which is wild to think about. Atom built the open doorless shower frame this past week and we will start laying the marble tile hopefully next week! I’ll write a separate post with more photos of the bathroom progress as I just realized the last blog post I wrote about the bathroom was July of last year!

Spring has officially sprung here and the colors from the earth waking up from its winter slumber makes me ridiculously happy. Our tulips are all up and have been in full bloom for the past two weeks! This is the third year we have had tulips and the first year for the orange ones that we planted last fall. The orange ones really give a nice pop of color out front.

Our peach and plum trees are blooming and even if we don’t get fruit yet this year (we planted them last year) it’s really pretty to see the blossoms.

Atom & I were at Costco last week and I spotted potted cedar trees. I have wanted these darn trees for the past 3 years and every year I see them and come back another day to get them, they were gone. I told Atom NOT THIS YEAR! We laid down the back seats in my rubicon and crammed those suckers in. We both had our ears tickled by branches the entire way home but it was so worth it! We potted & placed them exactly where I had envisioned them for three years & we couldn’t be happier with the look! It really brings everything together. (We will keep them trimmed so they don’t block the lights above them.)

Now that it is *sort of* warming up and it is no longer well below zero at night, I’ve been getting out and taking more photographs of the moon. Back on March 28th was the Worm/Paschal full moon and we got up on the dome of the roof to take photos. It was a spectacular night and this was the final shot I got.

Our little town has been so good to us. So, so good to us. The friendships and connections we have all made here have been amazing and we couldn’t ask for a better life for our family here in Indiana. We are also so thankful to all of our followers both here and our various social media sites. Without all of your love and support I think this would have been a much different experience fo us and we are so grateful for each and every one of you!

Four years down, a lifetime to go!

Cheers!

Spring of Deception

Spring of Deception is a new Midwest term that I recently learned. I have heard the phrase “if you don’t like the weather just wait 15 minutes” so many times since we moved here almost 4 years ago and its so true. This list of all of the Midwest “seasons” was on the local news and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw it.

Now for a little winter recap-

This has definitely been the biggest winter we’ve experienced so far as Indiana residents. Nothing like the blizzard of ‘78 but we had a couple decent snow and ice storms. The temperatures were also very cold (for us at least) below 20 degrees F for several weeks straight which led to the waterfall in the stairwell I talked about in my last blog post. We rang in the new year with an ice storm that was one of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen! Atom and I very carefully walked around late at night so I could take photos of the ice and I could be a total weather nerd.

The lake where my parents live froze in a big way and I walked out on it for a photo op. Don’t worry- the ice was 9” thick! I was so nervous and got back on land directly after this photo.

The first big snow storm of the season gave us 9 inches which was the most Atom and I had seen out of one storm since being here.

Our awesome neighbor let Atom borrow his snow blower and it took him an entire day to get the main parking lot cleared! We are planning to purchase a small snow plow attachment for my Jeep before next winter which will make clearing the parking lots a breeze.

We went on some really fun family snow hikes on the local trails. Besides it being a pretty gnarly leg workout on the trails, we had a wonderful time! We really still do absolutely love winter and find it so magical!

Last month we had near blizzard like conditions overnight one night which prompted road closures and our kids were out of school for almost a full week due to it. We ended up getting 12 inches of snow that night.

Snow started falling late afternoon and by that evening we already had several inches and it was coming down at a rate of over an inch per hour. Of course Atom and I went on a night time walk in it! There was a travel advisory so no cars were out on the road. We walked the middle of the street to explore! There was so much snow everywhere that Atom made a snow angel in the street in front of our building!

By about 10pm the snow was already up to the bottom of the windows at the street level.

The next morning we woke up to a winter wonderland! Being an essential healthcare worker made for a very VERY slow commute to the hospital that morning. I’m very thankful for my 4×4 Rubicon as none of the roads were plowed at the time I left that morning (for good reason!)

Jerry the snowman also made a comeback at the end of January which was so much fun. Unfortunately our kids made him a bit too big so he was too heavy to be lifted so he didn’t go on any adventures this year. If you are newer to our blog, here’s a link to the post about Jerry’s hilarious adventures last year- (Click here)

Things have really warmed up in a BIG way over the past week and we have seen highs in the mid 60s all week! Such a difference from the frigid temps over the past two months. We do love the cold temps, but our windows have been open all week during the day! There is just something so wonderful about fresh air.

Atom and our kids planted a ton of starts for the garden(s) that we will have this year.

Pretty much the day the snow totally melted, a ton of tulip, hyacinth and other bulbs broke through the surface and are even bigger now! We planted soooooo many bulbs last fall so we are going to have an epic flower garden this year as well. I can’t wait.

Spring was never a season I gave much thought to prior to moving to the Midwest. Probably because there never really is a real “spring season” in San Diego. Here the flowers and trees bloom in a big way, and there is just something so neat and soul satisfying watching the earth literally wake from its winter slumber and come alive with the most incredible colors and smells!

That is, until it snows again next week since we are currently in the Spring of deception part…..

It’s Raining…… Inside

What a week we’ve had here at the mansion! Monday morning we woke up to the sound of water pouring in from the ceiling up on the 4th floor and down the main stairwell. It sounded like someone was literally taking a shower on the stairs. The main roof drain had failed and water was flooding in around it. We shoved a large Rubbermaid type tub between the wall & top of the stair railing to catch the water and I was bailing out water from that into a 5 gallon bucket and running it down 4 flights of stairs out the front door and dumping it into the snow outside. Then it was back up the stairs and do it all over again.

Meanwhile, Atom went up on the roof and discovered basically a swimming pool up there on the flat part in the front on top of ice and snow (we got a foot of snow a week ago and it has stuck around due to temperatures well below freezing). We hoisted a 100 ft garden hose up to the roof and created a siphon to drain the water off the side.

The main drain pipe (which is 4” PVC) comes inside the building from the roof, then wraps around the inside 4th floor ceiling, through a wall into a closet and then punches out the side of the building and down to the parking lot level. We discovered that this pipe had completely frozen solid all the way up & to the roof which created this significant back up of water. We are very lucky that it only leaked into the building in that one spot where it just couldn’t handle the amount!! After the water had been siphoned off the roof and Atom shoveled & launched the snow off the roof we wrapped the inside pipe with all of our heating pads to help thaw what we could.

While we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off we heard a loud SMASH and I ran outside to find that a chunk of the drain pipe had broken off and bounced when it hit the ground in the parking lot right next to the building and shattered one of the large basement windows.

I’m thankful it didn’t hit anyone or any vehicles! The window/glass can be replaced relatively easily. Later Monday afternoon, Atom and our son ran that same garden hose from one of the water heaters on the 3rd floor up though the roof access on the 4th floor and he ran hot water over the exposed pipe that comes out the side of the building. After about 5 minutes they heard loud *thunk* noises as a few large 4” chunks of ice broke free and the pipe was flowing again, draining the remaining water off the roof that our siphon couldn’t get. It’s a good thing the window was already broken when these hit the ground in the parking lot!

It is now Saturday and my legs are still sore! My Apple Watch logged that I climbed 48 flights of stairs Monday morning. I haven’t climbed that much at once since I did my last American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb in 2016 when I raced up 32 stories (657 steps) and Monday blew past that number of flights climbed!

Yesterday afternoon Atom was inside the building and heard what he said sounded like an explosion out in the parking lot. He went out to investigate & found the rest of the ice from the no longer functioning drain pipe had shot out the bottom & across the parking lot.

Things dried up super quick inside and we caught it before a ton of damage was done. We will have quite the project ahead of us come late spring/summer to try & reroute the roof drainage back into the original large pipe that runs down inside the building and out to the street level so we will avoid having PVC which isn’t built to last and never should have been used in the first place years ago long before we moved in.

I think this DEFINITELY tops our pipes bursting in the boiler room our first night in indiana!

Just another bump in our renovation journey and if anyone on earth can fix it- it’s Atom!

Light Bulbs

Y’all know how much I love all of the original features to the building. From the gorgeous crown molding, to the super tall ceilings to the light fixtures. Almost every light fixture in the building is original. There is no way we could ever part with them. We are slowly replacing the old cloth-wrapped wiring within them with newer, safer stuff.

Here’s a step by step pictorial of how Atom did it. It’s convenient having someone with 15 years of electrical work under his belt as a husband 😉.

The lightbulbs that you see are temporary LED ones until we can get some more period-specific yet still energy efficient Edison type ones.

Last year our towns park & rec were selling some old lightbulbs that are now collectors items. They were the original bulbs in the Wolf and Dessauar Christmas wreath from 1937 that is on display every year. The 3,148 bulbs had to be removed after they became a fire hazard. Our town had a fundraiser to pay for all new LED bulbs to bring the wreath back to life. I thought I missed out last year on the sale and was super bummed. They announced this past week that they still had some left so I made an appointment to purchase a few. I love the history behind the bulbs & I’m so happy to have them on display in our historic home. The colors of the bulbs you see are all original & in fantastic shape for being 83 years old!

Playing Catch-up

I wanted to start this post with an apology.

I haven’t been able to keep up with this blog as often as I would like and I’m going to definitely try to do better. It’s quick & easy to put a photo up on Facebook & Instagram but this blog takes a bit more time. Time that I promise I will be better at devoting to! Life has been moving at ludicrous speed for us lately and to be honest, I’m tired.

Covid-19 has absolutely exploded here in the Midwest in the past month & working in the hospital has been extremely stressful. I love my job, my career and hospital so much which helps to have the support and amazing coworkers. In the beginning of the pandemic we were lucky to not have too many cases here in northern indiana but now we can barely keep up. The hospitals & ICUs are full and I spend my days at work (I’m a Respiratory Therapist) doing everything I can to keep my patients breathing and alive.

I’m going to make a few catch up posts over the next week of what we’ve been up to since I last made a post at the end of September.

Thanks for being such awesome & understanding followers/friends. We appreciate you all so much!

Stay safe!