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!


Small town USA, aka Main Street Disneyland

Last Friday evening was the kickoff to the “Music in The City” series that our town has each summer. The first Friday of the month the Main Street that goes through downtown is closed down and there is free live music on a stage at dusk and it is an all around great time! There is usually a food truck or two and the local eateries are also open late as well. We started attending these events last summer and it was so much fun to see so many people come together and just hang out and listen to music and be in community. I met Atom and the kids down there as I worked last Friday and went home to change and then walked down to meet up with them.

Everything about the evening was PERFECT. The weather, the company, everything. Our friend Joey’s band Roustabout was playing and they are seriously so so so talented!!!! I was sitting in my lawn chair eating my giant ice cream cone from our favorite ice cream and soda shop Antiqology and thought, THIS is happiness. Small town life is our calling. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times Atom and I have looked at each other throughout the past year & said “how did we get so lucky to live here?”

As I was looking around I had another realization that made me literally laugh out loud. Atom asked what was so funny. I looked up and down the street and said, “have you ever noticed that our downtown is basically Main Street, Disneyland?” He looked at me like I had two heads.

Ok, I know what you are thinking. How could our little town *possibly* be compared to the happiest place on earth? Stay with me as I explain.

Growing up in Southern California, my family made yearly trips to Disneyland and I have always been a huge Disney fan. It has always been a magical place for me. That feeling you get when you walk through the gates and into the park. Main Street, Disneyland in particular has a lot to offer to make a person happy.

As I was sitting in my lawn chair last Friday listening to the music I realized that there were so many parallels that our little downtown has to Main Street Disneyland. We have an ice cream and soda shop (Antiqology), we have a coffee and home made candy shop (The Party Shop), a bakery (Sugar Mama’s), several amazing restaurants (The famous Nick’s Kitchen, The Berg, & The Brick House Grill to name a few), an old theatre that is currently for sale where local plays were once held. Our downtown has parades, live music, a water fountain, clock tower and I could go on and on. Are you starting to see the similarities?!

Many of the buildings have been restored and painted and brought back to life and are absolutely stunning. At least to this city slicker.

The city building/police department looks like a castle so there’s that…..

Even the bricks are magical! We have many yellow brick roads as well! (Not to mention our building is made of half yellow brick)

Another thing about Disneyland that has always captivated me since I was a child are how many colorful flowers, plants and trees are in the park. Over the past 2 weeks our town has literally EXPLODED with color. It has truly been a sight to see happen seemingly almost overnight. We don’t remember seeing it happen last year because everything was already green before we moved into town but it seems spring took her sweet time arriving this year. Flowering trees that I have never seen in person before have literally taken my breath away with their beauty on our walks and the tulips and daffodils are blooming in everyone’s gardens and popping up all over the place. I have taken a ton of photos because I’m like a kid in a candy store when I see these trees in full bloom and it has been hard to choose which ones to include in this post. So I’ll throw some of my favorites below from around town:

(Magnolia photo credit- Shannon Zuercher)

While we might not have Mickey & Minnie & the gang running around nor the Main Street Electrical Parade, I think our little town is pretty magical and we are pretty darn happy here. Our daughter (age 4) is always telling us there are all kinds of castles in our town. She tells her friends that she is a princess and lives in a castle herself. I prefer to think of our building as the “Haunted Mansion.” 😉

Find magic where you are friends! If you look you will find it. Promise.


One Year Here!

One year ago today we pulled our little suv and trailer into the parking lot of our building at 1:30am. We were absolutely exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. We had been driving for 36 hours straight, taking turns at the wheel just to get here. And who can forget the water pipes exploding in the boiler room 30 min after our arrival from freezing the prior winter before our arrival as a result of our botched attempt of winterizing the building?! That was a fun experience! LOL!

I have to say that this year has blown by so incredibly fast!! Like we blinked & here we are!! Ever since I was little I used to try & imagine what the future would be like. But not the far out future- like 6 months to a year from that particular moment in time. When we left San Diego I struggled with imagining what a year from then would be like because I just couldn’t imagine what it would be like but it didn’t really scare me because I knew we would be okay and things would be great. God had his plan and even though it hadn’t been completely revealed to us yet, it would be in due time.

Sometimes we feel like we haven’t gotten as much done on the building as we had hoped but then we look around and realize that we really have accomplished SO MUCH! I mean really, when tackling a 20,000 square foot 92 year old building that needed some serious renovation that Atom is basically doing 100% BY HIMSELF with help from me when I’m not working at the hospital, it’s going to take significantly longer than if we were just hiring it done. And that would have costed an ungodly amount of money and taken the fun out of the whole project. When we were writing down the plans in detail for the order of the projects and projected completion dates long before we even left San Diego we had such unrealistic expectations which led to feelings of disappointment when those deadlines weren’t met in the beginning. Once Atom & I sat down & talked about these silly deadlines and literally tossed them in the trash and decided to just enjoy the journey with our children even if it takes us 5 or 10 years, our whole outlook on this project changed. We still have the same goals and aspirations for the building, but we are enjoying the ride.

I have become quite attached to our building and can picture us staying here for the long run. I’m fiercely protective of it, just like Earnie once was. It almost has a Beauty & the Beast magical castle quality to it (maybe that’s just the library & the staircase) as if the walls could talk. So many stories are contained within these massive four walls. I still meet people all the time who have their stories to tell me of their time inside the building for dances and fancy dinners. Hearing these stories will never get old.

I have so many emotions today. But mostly gratitude. We are so thankful for our little town. I’ve said it before but this town truly has welcomed us with open arms and took us in like we belonged here all along. We have made awesome friendships that we didn’t think could be possible after only a year here. We have the BEST neighbors in the whole world- our entire block is just amazing. I seriously don’t know what I would do with out each & every one of them. Our church family has been there for us in ways we didn’t even know we would need but they sure did! As we attend Sunday service this morning I know there will be tears because it will mark one year of our family being members and being so beyond grateful that God led us to The Well and knew exactly where we needed to be. Since we were so active for so long at our previous church in San Diego (shout-out to Newbreak!!) I was super worried that we wouldn’t be able to find another church that would spiritually fulfill us. Silly me. God totally had our backs on that one.

I have been thinking about what I would write about in my one year here post for awhile now and to be quite honest I’m still not sure and as you can see I’m pretty much all over the place. And that’s okay.

I have definitely had a lot of fun blogging our progress both here and on the Facebook page (and Instagram/Twitter). When we purchased the building making a separate renovation page and blog were not even on my radar. It was suggested to me from a couple friends because they thought it was a fascinating project & other people would want to read about it. I had my doubts but decided to give it a go to see what would happen. It still blows my mind that our Facebook renovation page now has over 7,000 followers from all over the world and that number is still growing organically daily! My original live walkthrough video that I filmed on a whim (after being begged to do so from friends) back in October of 2016 when Atom & I flew out one weekend to get the keys to the building long before we moved here has over 24,500 views and that number is also continuing to climb. The support and cheering on we have received from our followers has definitely helped us keep on with the drive and determination with this massive project. It will become our legacy.

Thanks for being along for this wild ride friends, we hope you’ll stick around for years to come.

One year down, a lifetime to go!



Dubliner Cheese

Atom and I are both irish by heritage. Both of our bloodlines are (mostly) deeply rooted in the Emerald Isle. To say I bleed green is an understatement.

For those who know Atom and I well know that we have ALWAYS had a huge St. Patrick’s Day party at our house every year. We’re talking a grand affair with tons of our friends and family packing our home for an evening of food and fun. Traditional irish lamb and beef stew, irish soda bread from a recipe out of a recipe book we bought from Kylemore Abbey on one of our trips to Ireland, Atom’s home brewed stout, Baileys, 8-10 different varieties of imported irish cheeses, irish butter, a ton of fingerling potatoes and of course corned beef (which is actually an American-irish dish rather than a traditional irish meal but whatever. It’s delicious and we still love it and eat it often regardless of the time of year.)

We knew this year would probably be different. We mentally prepared ourselves that we more than likely wouldn’t be having our large party and we were okay with that. We have been busy with renovations with the kitchen and now simultaneously the master bathroom remodel and at the same time tearing down the basement ceiling which can only be done in segments as the dumpster is emptied biweekly. So we ended up just planning a super low key dinner at our place with a couple friends. While I was at work last week Atom went shopping for the corned beef and such. We decided against the lamb stew this year again to keep it super simple. We already had everything we needed for the soda bread at home thank goodness. What I wasn’t prepared for and what surprised me was when Atom told me he couldn’t find any of our favorite irish cheeses anywhere. I was so upset. It sounds silly to be so upset about cheese. But having those irish cheeses at our parties every year were pretty darn important to me. I don’t know why, but they were. And they were darn delicious. Oh well. Nothing I could do about it now. We had some other really delicious cheeses in our fridge that I had impulse bought at the grocery store (who doesn’t love a good quality cheese?!) and I had planned on serving those and making do with what we had instead.

This morning we woke up to some “wintry mix” weather conditions which turned to a bit of snow and icy roads. Bummer because we had planned on a family hike through the wilderness before dinner this evening. Trying to make the best of it, we quickly switched up our plans & decided on a family game day indoors instead.

This afternoon I took a quick trip to the small grocery store here in town for a couple things and as I was walking past the produce aisle toward the back of the store I saw it out of the corner of my eye:

A tiny block of Dubliner irish cheese. I let out a literal gasp and my heart skipped a beat. Tears began to fall and I couldn’t stop them right there in the middle of the supermarket. One tiny block of cheese felt so familiar and I needed that so much today. The joy I felt in that moment over a silly block of cheese meant the world to me.

When our friends arrived for dinner they brought over some lovely desserts along with this:

They had no idea the silly cheese struggle we had been battling all week and just so happened to have this cheese in their fridge. What are the odds?!

I wish I would have taken a photo to share of the soda bread when it was fresh out of the oven but truth be told, we tore into it immediately and devoured it. Sorry friends.

We had a lovely evening and the food was great as always and maybe next year will be a grand affair.

Here’s a photo I dug out from Atom & my first trip to Ireland in 2006, pre kids.

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!!


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!


~Theresa ☘️

“Wintry Mix”

There are still a couple “official” weeks left of winter but I can feel it in the air, spring is right around the corner. It is hard to even fathom that next month we will have lived here in Indiana for an entire year. It feels so weird and awesome to say that.

We survived our first winter! Sort of. There has definitely been a learning curve about living in freezing (literally) cold temperatures that I have never before in my lifetime felt and having them go on for weeks at a time. Yeah, that was super fun. We sure picked a good winter to be our first! Apparently the past few years have been very mild in comparison as we have been told by many locals as far as snow fall totals and temperatures go. This winter we have gotten a decent amount of snow (although we have been warned it can be much more) but there were some temperature records that were shattered that dated back to the 1930s. Help me out locals because I can’t remember the exact details. There was a long stretch of days where the temperatures were in the single digits & below zero. The windchill temperatures were another new experience for me! People out here go more by that than the actual temperature. Another thing that doesn’t really apply in San Diego. In my head when the sun is out it’s a nice 72 degrees, not 16!! And then I walk outside and it feels like a thousand tiny daggers assaulting my lungs. It’s such a trip!

When it is that cold and icy the kids aren’t able to play outside so there were several weeks where we couldn’t play in the snow which was such a bummer for all of us and thank goodness we live in such a big building and the kids have plenty of room to play!

The back & forth in the weather is just so odd. It was pretty cold & stayed cold for a good deal of time but in the past few weeks the 30-40 degree temperature swings within a 24-48 hour period have been awful. The snow would half way melt & then completely freeze. Hence my completely frozen ice rink of a parking lot we had a couple weeks ago:

There is no water in that photo. That is 100% frozen solid ice. It was wild. It may have been super slushy the day before when it was 54 degrees but the day I took that photo it was 20 degrees. No joke. This is Indiana. The state we have grown to absolutely love. Even with its wicked sense of humor.

My parents flew out for a week to surprise our middle son for his birthday and we had a great week with them as always. They got to experience the up & down temperature swings as well! On their last day in town we got quite a snowstorm that produced really wet snow that made the trees look super neat and fuzzy! I wish I could have gotten a better photo but it was pretty late at night and it had all melted off of the branches to the ground by the morning.

Atom & I have joked all winter when we see the term “wintry mix” used on the news forecast that it sounds like a radio station or a pandora playlist. We even started coming up with songs we would include on such station. And of course when we would talk about it we would use our best radio DJ voices. Haha!

During this winter I conquered a huge fear of mine which is driving in the snow/ice. I am by no means an expert but I am very slowly gaining confidence. But let’s be real- I drive REALLY slow. One thing I am super proud of myself is I did not fall once while waking & slipping on ice this winter! If I can keep my lucky streak going the next month or so that will be fantastic! I’ve mastered the penguin walk!

This past weekend it warmed up enough to take a family bike ride to the park. By “warmed up” it was a balmy 42 degrees. That felt surprisingly warm to all of us! Even Stewart was excited to run around!

The building is slowly coming along (you know, the usual) so this isn’t going to be a major renovation update or anything. Last month Atom stripped, sanded and painted two old mismatched doors that were down in the boiler room for who knows how many decades. They have been repurposed to become sliding barn doors that now close off our laundry room that is off the foyer of the second floor. It is so nice to finally be able to close off the laundry room when I want to in order to give the foyer a classic look.

For any locals who have been inside the building at one point or another, you might not recognize the basement if you walked inside in its current state. Atom has been painstakingly removing the ceiling, which has proven to be quite the slow process. Only so much can come down at a time because our dumpster is only so big and then we have to wait for it to be emptied and so on. We are removing the ceiling because we are wanting to go with more of an industrial look with the exposed beams and eventually the plaster will also be removed from the bricks on the walls. So far it looks really neat but we still have a long way to go.

The kitchen is a work in progress but we are making good headway! Starting from literally nothing and building this kitchen from the ground up I think will be our biggest challenge in the building. Everything else comes with at least a jump start. I have been in absolute awe watching Atom tackle everything so far. Here’s a sneak peek of one corner from last month. Steady progress has been made since this photo.

All of my life my favorite season has always been Fall. After going through my first winter here in Indiana I think my new favorite season is going to be Spring. Not because I dislike Winter, I actually have absolutely loved experiencing all 4 seasons here now since we arrived Easter weekend last year. I noticed last week that there are buds on the trees and the fields are just starting to turn green. So cool! The bitter cold of Winter (especially this year) has been difficult for my health but every time I walk outside and see the snow falling it makes me feel this joy unlike any other. I can’t explain it. It’s just so beautiful. It’s quiet and peaceful. And it was nice for three months and now I’m ready for Spring.


Is this real life?

Early last month I got a phone call from a friend of mine who also is a member of the local County Historical Society. She told me that Atom and I had been chosen to receive a Historic Preservation Award for 2017. It wasn’t until several months after we had moved into the building that we learned that there was a chance that the building could have been torn down had the Masons not found a buyer. I can understand that there are time constraints when selling a property and only being able to hold off for so long before having to make the decision to ultimately tear down a piece of history. I am sure there were financial reasons as to why that was a potential possibility. I’m not here to judge. But I can say that I AM SO GLAD WE BOUGHT IT! The mere thought of our breathtaking building being torn down brick by brick is devastating. I have always been a lover of old architecture but if you would have asked me a couple of years ago if I could possibly become so attached to a piece of history I probably would have laughed. Funny how things change when God intervenes.

We wanted to move to Indiana and own a 1800s farm house with a dreamy wrap around porch with a swing and a couple hundred acres of farmland with goats and chickens. And now we were being honored with a historic preservation award for 2017? How is this possible? How are we worthy of this honor? We are just a crazy family of city slickers from sunny San Diego who made a wrong turn 2 summers ago and stumbled upon this beautiful building. Humbling is an understatement.

The awards ceremony was held this past Tuesday evening at the courthouse downtown. It was really nice!! There were 4 Historic Preservation Awards given out to people in the county for various projects. Hearing their stories was truly inspirational.

We were given the award after an introduction & slideshow and we spoke briefly about our project and we have come to know that pretty much everyone in town already knows who we are (haha).

I absolutely LOVE meeting people here in town and hearing their stories about being inside our building at different times in their lives and for different events. It never gets old.

Being newcomers to this amazing community, we were truly blown away that we were even considered for this award. We love our building and we have had so much fun renovating it over the past 9 months. Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments of frustration thrown in there too! But it has all been a learning experience. Oh the joys of home ownership- just on a *slightly* larger scale.

Now back to kitchen building! It’s coming along!


125 Hours

You are probably wondering why we haven’t finished the kitchen or shown any progress photos. We have a really good reason.

A dollhouse.

Toward the end of October Atom & I were talking about what we wanted to get the kids for Christmas this year and making lists for shopping etc. Every year we get each child one “big” gift from us and then the smaller gifts are from Santa (although our boys had “the realization” this year but promised to not spoil it for their sister.) We wanted to get our daughter something that she would be able to play with for years to come and something that would be meaningful. Then it came to me. My dollhouse. When we were packing up our old house in San Diego, my parents had given us some boxes from my childhood that were in their attic. One of those boxes contained a complete dollhouse kit that had been untouched since it was given to me on Christmas morning in 1991 when I was 9 years old. My older sister and I both got these elaborate dollhouse kits and my dad had full intentions of putting them together. He literally got about 1/16th of the way through putting my sisters dollhouse together before throwing in the towel. We weren’t upset about it at the time and had other dollhouses to play with so there wasn’t any resentment at all. Promise. The boxes lived in the attic for the next 26 years until we moved.

I asked Atom what he thought about putting the dollhouse together for our daughter for Christmas. He said it sounded like a great idea. He could work on it at night here & there after she went to bed upstairs in the “Egypt” room & could easily get it done before Christmas.

Famous. Last. Words.

The egypt room up on the third floor became the dollhouse building room and Atom quickly realized he was in for quite the task.

This dollhouse kit wasn’t just an easy “glue it together & paint” type of kit. Nope. Not in the least. This was a THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of pieces that were meant for the expert level hobbyist that would probably normally take a solid year to put together. Major props to my dad for even considering trying to assemble this thing when I was 9. Holy cow! There was no way he would of had time back then with working full time and then building TWO of these things?! No way.

Once Atom realized everything that was going to go into this thing he was committed and the renovations slowed to a crawl. So he got to work.

There were eighteen 2 foot by 3 foot planks of wood that had to have all of the sides and hundreds of smaller pieces of wood punched out of them. Then each piece of wood that was punched out had to be hand sanded, and either primed and painted or stained and sealed. There were over 100 individual slats of hardwood flooring that had to be laid down & glued into place, sanded, stained and sealed. 400 individual wood roof shingles that had to be individually glued into place.

Atom was really clever & took our daughter to the hardware store & asked for her “advice” about paint colors. He said he needed her help picking out some paint that she liked that she thought mommy would also like. He said she pointed at a paint swatch with 3 varying muted pinks that were perfect for the Victorian theme. Easy peasy.

I spent many hours up in the Egypt room with Atom keeping him company & helping move clamps around etc. But I take zero credit for any of the work. It was 100% his doing. The details are absolutely amazing. The creators of the dollhouse are something else! There are glass panes on the windows & doors and all of the doors & windows open & close and were individually assembled. Every single wood embellishment on the interior & exterior was individually glued into place. The bricks were a powder that Atom had to mix and paste onto a stencil. This part was an issue because it was so old and will need touching up which isn’t a big deal since Atom is an artist.

Atom worked every day on the dollhouse all the way up to Christmas Eve night when we were glueing the final shingles onto the roof and giving it a dusting of glitter (her favorite thing) and adding the last few pieces of crown molding before carefully carrying it downstairs and setting it next to the tree with a giant bow on top.

I had an old box of wooden dollhouse furniture from when I was little that Atom was able to use wood glue & repair & we also gave that to her on Christmas morning. When she woke up and saw the dollhouse she was absolutely beside herself. She was jumping up & down and couldn’t wait to play with it. She has played with it every single day since Christmas. It will be something she will treasure and pass down to her children someday and she will be able to tell them it was a gift that her Pappy bought for her Mama and her Daddy put it together for her.

How cool is that?

Now that the holidays are over, IT’S KITCHEN BUILDING TIME!


White Christmas!

Merry Christmas friends!! I hadn’t planned on making another post so soon but our wishes for a white Christmas came true in a big way! We were hit with a decent sized snowstorm yesterday and while I was also hit with a decent sized respiratory virus (thanks Atom for sharing your man flu), I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying every minute of this winter wonderland. This storm made the last one look like nothing! We were expecting 3-6 inches of snow.

After the morning Christmas Eve service at church we went home and changed into our show gear and drove a few blocks to our favorite little park (normally we walk or ride our bikes but definitely not in this weather. It was snowing pretty hard). We had so much fun sledding down some small hills we found and just jumping around in the snow and being silly. (Next time we were told to hit up Memorial Park for the big sledding hills!) It was so peaceful. We were the only people out at the park. No one else was around. I think I told Atom I just couldn’t get over how GORGEOUS this all was. I was so giddy!

When we got back home the plows had been out and our streets had been plowed, making them safer to drive on thankfully. By the late afternoon the sidewalk was completely covered and rising. The snow didn’t stop all day! I jumped on the house renovation Facebook page & filmed a super quick live video in the snow. There is a link to the Facebook page on the blog site if you haven’t seen it.

These next 2 photos were taken at 3pm yesterday afternoon. The parking lot at this point was already completely covered and if you look to the right you can see that the concrete parking blocks were almost covered with snow.

This morning we got up and we were all delighted to see we had gotten even more snow overnight and our parking lot was mid-calf deep with snow. After our children opened their gifts and we had our home made orange cinnamon rolls we couldn’t get back into our snow gear fast enough & barreled out the front door. It was quite a bit colder than yesterday with the wind but we had a ton of layers on & with the building blocking out a good portion of the wind we were good.

The morning started out pretty windy and gloomy and my cat mask came in quite handy.

Then a short while later it was all sunny skies and absolutely gorgeous. Still pretty darn cold but we didn’t care, we were having an absolute blast making snowballs and snow angels and jumping through the parking lot snow.

Also, we built this pretty awesome snow mound.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday! I’ll be making another post later this week with a finished side project and then it’s back to major renovations & getting the kitchen done! YAY!


Be Still.

We had our first “real snow” a couple weeks ago. It was absolutely magical and terrifying at the same time. We had a few small flurries that melted before they hit the ground before then that were neat but literally you had to squint to see the snowflakes. Haha. Growing up in Southern California we would visit the snow in the local mountains annually and I would go skiing every spring break with my aunt and uncle to either Mammoth or Lake Tahoe. So this whole snow thing isn’t new to me or Atom. He actually lived in the mountains when he was in second grade for one year so he was pretty young but he has a photographic memory (which is a blessing and a curse) and can tell you every detail about it.

The weekend we were forecasted to get our first real measurable snowfall was my work weekend at the hospital. Lucky me. Literally up until this point I had never in my life driven in snow or ice (as I’ve mentioned in my previous post). I’ll admit I was a bit bummed that I was going to miss our daughters first experience with snow. However I was so thankful for technology and knew Atom would get so many photos and video and we would have the rest of winter to make up for it. Our boys had seen snow a few times already from a couple previous trips to the Southern California mountains in previous years.

I had been watching the forecast like a hawk, something I was quickly realizing was hilarious because it literally changed by the hour and was in no way accurate. Saturday morning I had set my alarm 30 min earlier than usual to give myself ample time just in case I needed it for my whopping one mile commute to work if it was snowing (I know I know). I got myself all bundled up and opened the front door and let out a literal gasp. IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! The sun hadn’t even come up yet but it was just light enough to see the huge fluffy snowflakes falling lightly around me and it was just a light dusting on the ground. I am so glad I got up early so I had this moment to just be still. I was the only one up & outside at this time on a Saturday morning. You guys I was in tears it was such a moving moment for me. It was different. This time was different. Yes I’ve seen snow so many times before growing up and as an adult on vacations and such but something about this time felt so real. Probably because in a way it was like I really was experiencing it for the first time as a person living here. Living in a place that has all four seasons.

Then it was time to REALLY experience a first. DRIVING IN SNOW. Thankfully it wasn’t a lot of snow. It was lightly coming down & the roads weren’t bad at all. I went super slow and being a weekend I was basically the only car on the road & I made it there just fine. Yay! My coworkers laughed as I skipped outside more times as I could count during the morning to dance around as it was snowing.

Atom sent me some photos from the first round of snow on Saturday when I was at work.

The snow tapered off that morning and then it started to pick up that afternoon & I’d be lying if I’d say I didn’t start to panic a little bit that night when reality set in that I would indeed have to drive home that night with much more snow and now ice on the ground. I’m not an anxious person by any means but I was getting pretty nervous. I got some really good pep talks from my coworkers and fantastic advice and went really slow and pushed the snow button on my suv (thank God we upgraded to a 4×4 vehicle before we moved here) and I made it home okay. My legs were jello when I stepped out of my suv because my whole body was so tensed up the whole way home. I had Atom drive me to work on Sunday. I’m so glad I did. The roads in town were basically a solid block of ice at 6am. I know eventually I’ll be okay & I will become okay with driving in snow & ice but I really need to find an empty parking lot (larger than mine) and learn how to safely correct and all that stuff. That is on the absolute top of my to do list for the next freeze.

Our kids wanted to spend basically that entire weekend playing in the snow and after a quick trip to the store to outfit all 3 of them from head to toe in snow gear (sorry kids- you can’t wear flip flops in the snow) they were as toasty as can be. Some of the neighborhood kids came over and they all had a great time playing together. They used their snowball molds that my parents got them (which apparently took some quick work by the dads because there wasn’t *that* much snow so they used the snow shovels to create piles of snow so they could create snowballs) to have a snowball fight and make snow angels. Or if you’re Atom, just take a nap in the middle of the frozen parking lot.

Stewart wasn’t too sure what to make of this cold white stuff.

Atom has been a busy bee working on sewing some snowsuits for Stewart for when we take him for his nightly walks around the block when it gets really cold. He definitely isn’t a fan of the colder temperatures here. He’s a Southern California pup at heart. Haha. He especially likes his buffalo plaid long sleeved pajamas. Spoiled pup. Also, he’s overdue for a haircut.

Hard to believe Christmas is one week from today! Time is just flying by! This is definitely a busy time of year for everyone. I remember Atom & I talking about how we weren’t sure how Christmas would look for us here this year because we wouldn’t be near our extended family. To our surprise we have kept pretty darn busy! Our little princess turned four this past week and we had a small party with some of our new friends and neighbors. They helped us spoil her and make her feel special. Afterwards the adults continued our newish biweekly tradition of game night that has been a source of a lot of fun and laughter for the past couple months.

Today after the kids got home from school, our oldest & I came down to the kitchen and baked some Chex mix which has become one of our favorite holiday traditions. It is in the oven as we speak and smells so good. He went back up stairs to finish his homework while I’m waiting on the timer to ding and I’m sitting still just reflecting on this verse from Psalm 46:10,

Jesus said, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

When things seem to get super hectic and out of control it’s a good reminder to just be still. Take a moment, like I did in the snow.

We will be spending Christmas as just our little family for the first time ever this year. For as long as I can remember we have spent it with my extended family. It definitely stings to be so far away this year. There will probably be tears. As a matter of fact there are tears as I’m writing this very sentence. I can’t help it. I’m human and I love the dickens out of my family. But I tell you one thing, my family is AMAZING. Like seriously I couldn’t have asked God for a better family if I tried. They have made the transition here better than I could have imagined. The letters, care packages, surprise visits, FaceTime calls to the kids, texts, I could go on & on.

We will be starting some new family traditions of our own in addition to continuing some traditions from both of our childhoods. Atom will be making his grandmothers orange cinnamon rolls from scratch for breakfast Christmas morning and there will be some sort of movie marathon upstairs on the third floor (movies TBA). We will attend Christmas Eve services at The Well church where I’ll be playing guitar with the worship team (join us at 11am!)

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will have a white Christmas this year according to the forecast but it’s definitely true the saying that if you don’t like the weather in Indiana, wait 15 minutes because it will change!

Merry Christmas friends! Wishing you the most wonderful holiday and joyous season!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6

Winter is coming….

It has been quite the busy fall season for us and at the moment I have some time to sit down and finally post an update on our progress and life in general. This post will probably be long & a bit jumpy as I’ll be kind of all over the place and sharing quite a few photos as well. Hope you can hang with me.

I’ve mentioned it in the past how much I’ve enjoyed watching the seasons change here. It’s NOTHING like in San Diego. Here there are real seasons. San Diego is amazing and beautiful year round, but there is just something breathtaking about watching spring change to summer and summer change to fall and fall change to winter. I started taking photos of my favorite tree along the side of the building towards the end of the summer and I’m kicking myself for not taking more earlier from when we first moved here. Watch the progression of the leaves changing.

Back in October we took the kids to a local Apple orchard/pumpkin patch (Phil’s U-Pick. HIGHLY recommend it!) It was such a neat place! It was huge and the orchard went on forever! They had over 30 different varieties of apples and we picked our own as well as pumpkins right off the vine. Atom & our oldest made the best apple pie I’ve ever had from those apples!

Halloween was definitely an experience for us. It was 33 degrees that night. The complete opposite of everything we’ve ever been used to. In San Diego costumes are planned so as to not be too hot in them because it’s usually in the 80s & 90s. Nope. Not here! Our kids piled on the layers and hats and gloves to go out trick or treating. We had a zombie, grim reaper and a witch. I’ll let you guess who was who. Oh and we had a Uni-Kevin.

They got a bit creative with their pumpkins as well.

Also in October I experienced a first- sleet. I was at work and had just clocked out and was walking to my car with some coworkers. I saw this white stuff on the asphalt and had no clue what it was. It didn’t look like snow nor ice. I asked what it was. They started giggling and said it was sleet.

Now I’m sure the majority of you are laughing your heads off at me right now. And that’s okay! Yes I’ve seen snow. Quite a few times actually. I grew up skiing in the California mountains (Lake Tahoe and mammoth as well as Big Bear) with my aunt and uncle and countless trips to cabins and the snow growing up. But I’ve *never* driven in it. Never driven in snow or ice or sleet. This will be a new experience for me. And frankly it terrifies me. I’m so glad I live a mile from work and have a 4 wheel drive jeep. I’m sure I’ll learn and adapt and everything will be just fine. I’ve gotten some really great advice from our friends & coworkers here.

Funny story- one morning about a month & a half ago I walked out the front door to go to work at 6:45am like any other day and I got in my car and turned it on and noticed the dew (heh) on my windshield. I flipped on my windshield wipers to get rid of it (typical California girl thing to do) and IT DIDN’T MOVE!!!! It was ice! Not just a little frost, like a thick sheet of actual ice. What the heck Indiana?! Seriously go ahead & have your laugh at me. It’s okay. I totally have it coming. I panicked and wasn’t sure what the heck I was supposed to do! I didn’t have an ice scraper and basically just turned my heater on & waited for it to melt & then went on my merry way. I have since rectified that situation & have a scraper & a windshield cover thingy so I’m ready now! Haha! I remember walking from the parking lot to the hospital entrance one morning and seeing the grass completely frozen and it looking like the most beautiful green & silver glitter. I wanted to walk on it & touch it but didn’t want people to think I was nuts. Next time I see that I’ll for sure be all over it!

A San Diego friend of mine, Becca, who happened to have moved 45 min away from us came over to visit at the beginning of November and it was so great to catch up and have some girl time! She is also a wicked talented photographer and snapped a few photos of me. I’m the worlds least photogenic person & she made me look & feel beautiful! If you’re in the northeastern Indiana area, check out her website! Rebecca Danielle Photography She is super talented and so good at what she does! Book a session with her! You won’t be disappointed!

The kitchen is the project that is going to take the longest when it comes to the renovations. We’ve been joking that it’s going to take 10x longer than the bathroom did. Which in all likelihood it will. And that’s okay. At least we have a fully functioning gigantic commercial kitchen in the basement. This upstairs kitchen is literally being built from the ground up. Completely from scratch. The ceiling in the basement is being torn down little by little (as much as will fill up our dumpster each week) underneath where the kitchen is. The carpet has been removed in the square where the kitchen will be built and Atom put up plastic to sand and finish the wood floors. You can see Kevin wasted no time trying to climb it. Silly kitty.

Atom sanded the floors until they were smooth.

We fell in love with the natural look and patterns of the wood.

Atom ended up choosing to seal the wood with oil (not sure the exact name of the stuff) and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Eventually the entire living room floor will look the same when the rest of the carpet comes up. Here’s what it looked like right after it was applied.

And after it dried for a week.

Close up. There are still a few spots that need to be touched up of course and will be done next before the cabinets and countertops are built.

Another furball joined our furry farm in November. Karen the Bengal has stolen ours (& Kevin’s) hearts and fits right in! She is hilarious and loves to snuggle.

The Christmas season is upon us. When we first moved here I tried to imagine what it would be like and really couldn’t picture it in my head because it seemed like it was so far away. It feels like I just blinked and it’s here. Crazy. We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving with just the 5 of us and cooked the meal together. We smoked a turkey and had all the traditional fixings. We watched Elf while eating our feast and then brought down our Christmas decorations to start decorating. Atom & the boys brought down a few bins and we quickly realized we were missing ALL of our outdoor lights. We had 2 giant tubs of outdoor lights that somehow either got left behind in San Diego or lost in the move. Atom & I scoured every inch of the building looking for them & they were gone. We were bummed but we still had our tree and all of our other decorations etc. Lights can totally be replaced. So it was all good. Kevin watched with anticipation as Atom took the tree out of the bag and assembled it. He had never seen such a sight in his short life.

We put the tree up and Kevin & Karen were in it within 30 seconds. I was so proud. Haha.

A couple days later I went to Costco & grabbed some lights to put up. We decided to not spend a ton on lights this first year and wait until the after Christmas sales to stock up for next year so we can go all the way around the building & make it look spectacular. Our few lawn decorations made it from San Diego which made the kids super happy!

This past weekend has been pretty rough for me. Friday I had a second heart procedure which ended up being quite a bit more difficult than the first, and in turn my recovery has been more brutal. My entire medical team is seriously amazing and took such awesome care of me and I can’t thank them all enough. Not just because I happen to work for the same hospital system, but because the care was really just *that* excellent. I’m on the mend & feeling better every day. Now if we could just get my stupid heart to behave itself this time that would be great! 😉

It’s supposed to snow next week and our kids are chomping at the bit! Our youngest has never seen snow and she turns 4 next week as well! We’ve had a couple flurries (I think that’s what you call it?) where there are a few snowflakes that basically melt before they hit the ground but that’s it. We’re ready for the real stuff. Or maybe not. We’ve definitely been acclimating to the cooler weather here. It was 50 degrees a week ago & we walked downtown to Antiqology in just long sleeved shirts to get ice cream! WHO AM I?!?!?!

I wanted to leave you with this absolutely stunning panorama photo Atom took of the sunrise from the roof last month.

Life is beautiful friends. Get out there and live it.