Reuniting a postcard with family

This is going to be a super quick & short post but I had to share something really amazing that happened this past week! I know not all of our readers are on facebook so I wanted to be sure to make this post here as well.

Early last week I found some old papers in a box in the building. I posted a photo of this postcard on our facebook renovation page. The postcard was sent in 1944 from a man who was a Freemason and at the time stationed on the USS San Francisco while in the Navy. The temple had sent him and his shipmates a box of candy for Christmas.

Very soon after people started commenting on the photo saying that the man who wrote the postcard (Don Purviance) and his family are well known in our community. Within only a few hours and several tags in the post, I was able to connect with his son! Andy messaged me and I was thrilled to be able to set up a time for him and his wife to come over. On Saturday afternoon, Andy and Donna came over and I was so happy to give them the postcard and a tour of the building!

They are the nicest people and they were so happy to receive the postcard and I was absolutely thrilled to give it to them and for it to be in their family where it belongs.

What makes this story even more incredible is that when I was talking with Andy I learned that he & Donna spend part of the year in San Diego and attended the same church that we attended for nearly a decade before we moved to Indiana!! Talk about the epitome of a small world!!

Now I have a feeling I’m going to be on a mission to find the family members of any other hand written letters/notes/etc that we may continue to find in the building for years to come!

Summer Wrap Up!

Summer sure has flown by! It is hard to believe school starts this week for our kiddos. What a summer this has been! I wanted to start out by saying THANK YOU for all of your prayers and well wishes for Atom.

We received his pathology results and they got all of the cancer during surgery and it hadn’t spread!!

His lymph nodes that they removed were clear! Words cannot express how relieved we were when we heard the news! He will have to be followed by oncology dermatology every few months for a few years to keep an eye on things but no chemo or radiation needed! Getting Atom to relax and not do too much was a challenge and if you know him well, you know he doesn’t sit still very well. But he listened to doctors orders and is almost back to his regular self, with a shiny new 8” scar on his shoulder and a 5” one in his armpit. I told him it makes him look extra tough. Haha!

My parents officially retired and moved to Indiana at the end of June! We couldn’t be happier to finally have them close and be able to spend more time with them. The past two years have felt empty without them being close. We had a wonderful 4th of July. My sister and family flew in to surprise us! Our kids had so much fun with their cousin and it was a week of relaxing and spending time with them all. We continued our (second) annual fireworks extravaganza and launched fireworks off of our roof and put on quite a spectacular show for our neighbors who all came to watch from our parking lot.

I shared on our facebook renovation page awhile back that half of our stargazer lily plants were vandalized and ripped apart by a child while the parents watched and it was all caught on our security cameras. I was really upset because Atom had special ordered these lilies for me and they were not cheap! I was really excited for them to bloom and was pretty sad to know only half of them would bloom and the front of the building would look lopsided. The ones that were torn up should hopefully come back next year and it’s all good. The rest of them on the other side of the front of the building all bloomed and it was magical and smelled heavenly!

I have a feeling we will continue to find things in the building for many years to come. Just when I think I have explored every single nook and cranny I turn around and find more. Back when we first closed escrow on the building and we looked around I remember opening these cabinets and seeing a bunch of antique glass ice cream dishes. A couple weeks ago I was down in the basement and I moved some things around in the hallway between the large open room and the commercial kitchen so I could really open the cabinet doors and see how many there really are!! There are hundreds of ice cream dishes, glass coffee cups, and more salt and pepper shakers than we will know what to do with!

I took some time during Atom’s recovery to give the piano that was left behind in the basement a good cleaning. Even though it has been covered during the basement during the work we have done down there over the past year, it was in need of a good scrub. I polished every single key as well as the wood. It was quite the slow process but I got it done. It’s not a 100 year old piano (at least it I don’t think it is), but I really like it and it’s in great shape. Having taken piano lessons all throughout childhood I have a deep rooted love for piano as it was the first instrument I learned to play. As I was making my way around it cleaning every nook & cranny I opened the bench. Inside I found several very old music books and hymnals, many with hand written notes on the pages.

We have spent a lot of time as a family this summer which has been so great. Between Atom recovering from surgery and having my parents here and my sister & family in town our hearts are so full and thankful. Our pup Stewart has especially appreciated the extra family time and trips to the park.

A friend of mine recently recommended a semi-local blackberry farm and we visited it a week ago. Atom LOVES berries (specifically blackberries and raspberries) and was absolutely thrilled to go! The blackberries were gigantic and delicious and the owners were so sweet! We picked just under 11 lbs of berries in about 30 min. The kids had a blast and I have a feeling we will be planting some blackberry bushes on our property in the spring.

The renovations were at a standstill for the past couple months and now that Atom is just about healed from his surgery and cleared by his surgeons, we will be picking back up where we left off. We will be continuing to work on the basement, adding murals to our boys rooms (if you didn’t know, Atom is quite the accomplished artist and muralist) as well as finally starting the third floor “Egyptian” room & bathroom complete remodel.

Again, we want to thank you all for your incredible support over the past couple of months! It has meant the world to our family and we are so so grateful!!

Renovating while remaining debt free!

If you would have asked me ten or even five years ago if I thought we’d be completely debt free in our mid 30s and renovating a gigantic building without any loans or debt I would have told you that you were insane. Yet here we are, completely debt free.

I have been contacted by many people over the past two years who are considering purchasing a historic building or house asking how we were able to get a loan on a building that is so old and needed so much work as it is a hurdle they are currently facing. I wish I had some advice to offer but I don’t as we paid cash for our building.

I have thought about writing this post for a long time, pretty much since we purchased the building. It has always been in the back of my mind but I wasn’t exactly sure how I would write it. Today I figured I would just bite the bullet and just go for it.

Living a debt free lifestyle in this day and age isn’t easy. It’s not always glamorous but it is possible with hard work and a lot of determination. Our lifestyle in San Diego was vastly different than our life here. You could definitely say we were bound by the golden handcuffs. We made pretty darn good money, lived in a really nice desirable neighborhood, and were able to live a lifestyle without needing to budget. The only debt we had was our mortgage, which if you know anything about the housing market in California, it wasn’t a small one. We have always paid off our credit card every month to maintain a zero balance and we have never had to pay interest. This has also helped us maintain sterling credit for going on two decades. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone and others may choose other means (like using only cash to pay for things as part of the budgeting and debt pay off process) but it has worked really well for us.

When we stumbled across the building and fell in love with it, at first it felt like we were thinking impulsively. After spending 2 hours inside absolutely mesmerized by its beauty we told the realtor we would have to think about it as it wasn’t the farmhouse with land we were looking for. (If you are newer to this blog and want to know how the backstory of how we came to find and purchase the building click here).

We spent a couple of weeks researching our tails off regarding details like how much it would cost to heat and cool the building, electrical bills, rough renovation cost estimates, taxes, insurance, potential business possibilities etc etc etc.

We paid cash for the building and sold our home in San Diego before making the big move east. Cue instant debt free status. The money we had left over after paying our mortgage off on our San Diego house was enough to fund many of the major renovation things upfront right away.

Before we purchased the building we had a long chat about me working full time while Atom jumps into doing full time renovations on the building while also being a stay at home dad to our children. We knew this would make things financially tight and I’m not going to lie- it was a HARD transition to make. Prior to our move I worked part time in a hospital in California and spent the rest of the time at home with our children and Atom worked usually 6 days per week. I have absolutely loved jumping into full time employment here at the hospital. It was definitely an adjustment for Atom to be home but still working on the building at the same time. There is absolutely no way we could have been able to afford contracting the renovations out. The building is just too massive. Maybe if we won the lottery? Wishful thinking!

Living off one income is possible for us and we are pretty comfortable doing so, even if it is nowhere near what we made in California. Learning to stay within a budget has been a team effort and is honestly something I never thought I’d be able to do prior to moving here. This is the reason we are taking our renovations significantly slower than many other people who take on these massive historical buildings that need saving and brought back to life. We aren’t taking out any loans for projects and going at the pace we can within our means. We still pay off our credit card every month and maintain our perfect credit. Moving at a slower pace not only is better for our budget, it still allows us to spend time together as a family and not focusing every minute of every day on the building. And that makes this whole process even more worthwhile.

We were able to break free of the golden handcuffs and it feels pretty darn good!

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?


(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!


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!!



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!


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!