All dogs are good dogs…

My (then fiance), Dr. J woke up one day and said, “Let’s go to the pound…just to see.”  He had been pressuring me to get a dog since we had been dating and I always felt like I had a legitimate excuse to say no.  “No, we can’t – we don’t live together.”  “No, we can’t, we’re not engaged.”  “No, we can’t – my family already has a dog.”  “No, we can’t – I ate Mexican for dinner.”  I finally gave in because I really had run out of legitimate excuses and I really liked the idea of having a heartbeat to come home to that was ours and not shared amongst 3-4 households as my family pet was.
It was a beautiful September Sunday in Columbus, Ohio (9.17.06 if you’re curious) when we went to the Franklin County Animal Shelter’s “Mingle with our Mutts” open house event.  It was a pretty big event for the pound and they invited several dozen rescue groups to set up on their front lawn for good measure.  It was sunny with piercing blue skies (a rarity in the Midwest) and the green grass of the shelter lawn beckoned us to come closer.  Walking across that lawn I immediately eyed a Beagle Rescue and a *big* Beagle inside of a pop-up “jail”.  It was love at first site.  She was quiet.  She was calm.  She was super interested in her surroundings.  She had a “pink eye” where one of her eyelids is pink instead of the typical black/brown.  She was house trained and knew a whole slew of tricks.  She had short hair.  She had ridiculously soulful eyes that said, “Love me, please!”.  She was a “she”.  She was Maggie.  She was perfect!  I wanted her.  Dr. J said to me, “Wait a minute – shouldn’t we look at a few more dogs before deciding on the first one we see?!”  I didn’t care.  I was sold.  We signed the paperwork, paid the $100 adoption fee ($50 from him, $50 from me), gathered her up and brought her home.
Maggie - OSU

Our first pic of Maggie. Dr. J took her into “work” at Ohio State University. That’s the ‘Shoe behind her…

Maggie Eyes

Those eyes are what slayed me…

The Maggie head tilt

The Maggie head tilt

The information we got from the Rescue filled us in on Maggie’s already eventful life.  She was born sometime in August of 2005 and was immediately adopted by somebody who probably didn’t realize how much work a Beagle-Boxer mix was going to be.  She was energetic and quite a handful so that person eventually gave her up to a Vet’s office around 6 months of age.  The Vet took one look at her and said, “Beagle!”  So they called up a Beagle Rescue nearby in Ohio, Beagles Rrrrrr Us, and they took her in.  But she kept growing and growing and growing…Eventually, she was too much for even the Beagle handlers to handle and they sent her to the klink – no, really!  She spent about two months in Madison County Correctional Facility living with the inmates, learning tricks, being cared for and rehabilitated by the inmates and, in turn, she rehabilitated them.  They kept a daily journal for her and it is still one of our most treasured items to flip through about her time as a puppy.  After her freedom from jail, she went back to the Beagle Rescue where she was passed over for a few months simply because she was “too big” by Beagle standards.  But she was absolutely perfect for us!  Home she came!
Whoever said two months in prison would teach you nothing?:
Maggie - trick - shake

Shake

Maggie - trick up

Up!

Maggie - trick down

Down! Now gimme a B-O-N-E!

Adjusting to life with a “puppy”, even a 1 year, 1 month old house trained mutt, is always a big adjustment. Maggie had all of the usual puppy things to get over that used to drive us (mostly me) crazy. She jumped up on people all of the time when they came in the door, including us! She chewed on our furniture (but never our shoes). She barked at random things and would wake us up in the middle of the night with her “big girl bark”. She also had a tendency to “jailbreak” and try to run free – boy, did she like to run! She also loved to tug on her leash and was a powerful little fireplug – she could take down a whole city block if she wanted to! We took her to a dog park very soon after we adopted her and she clotheslined several 5 year olds. She also had a tendency to chow down her meals. I timed it once – 5 seconds flat. It took a lot of creativity to break her in and in some cases she never really grew out of everything, but she eventually grew up and out of most of those habits and became the absolute best Mascot Mutt and Co-Pilot we could ask for.
Maggie Pillow

How we found her one morning and determined that she needed a doggy bed – yes, that is our pillow:

Maggie’s travels after adoption mirror that of her parents.  She lived in three states: Ohio, Oregon and California.  She traveled with us through 14, the final list being Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California.  She also got to see some incredible sights along the way like Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower and the Badlands.  She experienced cities like Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Salt Lake City and Reno.  She also got to kick back in smaller towns like Bend, Kennewick, Sioux Falls, Cody and the farm fields of Iowa.  She went up to peaks of about 7,000 feet like those in Lake Tahoe and Bighorn National Park and down to around sea level.  She got to see the Pacific Ocean on many occasions, both in the frigid waters off of Oregon and in beautiful sunny California.  She never really liked frolicking in the water, though a Sea Lion did intrigue her one time at the docks in Astoria, Oregon.  In California, she got to witness some amazing sunsets on the beaches of Cambria, great hikes, amazing weather and her long sought after sunbeams.  She saw snow, rain, sleet, hail, heat waves, cold snaps, blizzards and everything in between, though sunshine and warmth were her favorites.  She got to experience the highs and lows of her parents’ life as we took her everywhere we could with us that was possible.
Is this heaven?

Is this heaven? Iowa, 2008

Yellowstone National Park, 2008

Yellowstone, 2008

Goonie!

Cannon Beach, Oregon, 2009.

A San Francisco treat...

San Francisco, 2009

Cambria Beach, California, 2013

Cambria Beach, California, 2013

As much as her parents loved to travel and drag her along she really was a home body.  She enjoyed hanging out on whatever back porch/deck/patio/veranda we had just to catch some rays and work on her tan.  She lived in four different houses over the years as her parents flitted from state to state.  She loved chasing the Canada Geese at our Condo in Columbus and curling up by the fire in both of her Oregon houses.  Her California house gave her three floors to roam and she loved it when we let her out on the front porch to watch the crazy people walk by – her “big girl bark” came in handy in those instances.  Her favorite spot in all of those houses was either in a sunbeam or, in a pinch, in front of a fireplace.  She liked to stay active like her folks and she helped us with all kinds of remodeling projects around the house, big and small.  She suffered through demolition, renovation, painting (including accidentally, a few times on her – oops!), air compressors, power tools and all of the confusion it brought to her world.  She didn’t seem to mind it, but I’m sure she would’ve much preferred a quiet place to sleep with a lot of heat.
Tanning

Tanning

Supervising Dr. J

Supervising Dr. J

I'd much rather be sleeping...

I’d much rather be sleeping…

She had many rich experiences but she was always, first and foremost, a simple dog.  While we loved sitting on the beach with our dog, she just loved being close to us.  She hated car rides, but loved going places.  She wouldn’t let me touch my keys without promising to take her somewhere.  She loved sunbeams and green grass.  California was her favorite for that reason :-).  She was an insanely good catch, but a terrible retriever.  She loved to chase the laser pointer and would follow us around even if it was turned off waiting for us to turn the “dot” on.  She loved bees and hummingbirds.  She was confused by cats.  She hated the UPS man but loved the FedEx guy.  Bald people were apparently very scary.  So were long skirts, umbrellas and briefcases.  As such, her guard dog ways were both very helpful and insanely embarrassing.  Cuddling was her favorite pastime, though she never got up on the couch without first asking or “Mrf-ing” as we came to know it.  She had three doggy beds in our house so that no matter where we were she had a soft place to lie down.  We didn’t allow her to sleep in the bed, but every morning she would jump up the last 30 minutes or so before the alarm would go off and cuddle with her Daddy.  She must’ve known we were weak to her wiles at that time of day.  She loved to lick the dishwasher’s dirty dishes for us and even stole a spatula from the dishwasher at Christmas and ate it.  I couldn’t be angry.  She was too cute.
Cuddle time!

Cuddle time!

Early morning cuddles

Early morning cuddles

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Oh, please. Not another car ride!

Maggie was our dog, but she was my baby girl and she knew it.  She and I would “go to work” every morning, which was just a short shuffle down the hallway.  This was very important to her as her job was to sleep on my feet and provide me with hilarious instances over the years of her having “dog-mares” and snoring while I was in meetings on the phone.  Occasionally she would let one rip while I was on the phone for work and I had to quickly mute the phone so I wouldn’t laugh too hard while trying to remain professional.  She knew the sun schedule, too, and would often whine for me to open the blinds at the appropriate time so she could get her suntan and look out for the UPS man – God, she hated him and I don’t know why.  When I was having a rough day, I would walk away from my desk to give her a cuddle, rub her soft dog ears and calm my blood pressure.  Best medicine ever.
Maggie sleeping while I work - notice her tongue hanging out...?

Maggie sleeping while I work – notice her tongue hanging out…?

She likes to work it work it

She likes to work it work it

Maggie was a talkative soul and we talked a LOT.  Her eyes and head tilts always seemed to say, “But I really DO want to understand you!”  Her earnestness to understand was something I had never experienced in a dog before.  She had the most soulful eyes and expressive eyebrows.  It wasn’t unusual to see her tilt her head so far that it was almost upside down like a bird.  She mastered the art of cute.  She always asked to go outside by running to a door (or a window if we were in a 30 story hotel), sit, MRF.  No response.  Sit, MRF!  She would communicate this to us as opposed to the door, which I always thought was pretty incredible.  Even if she was really sick, she would rather die than make a mess indoors so she would wake us up in the middle of the night if it was an emergency…even for vomit!
We called this ear placement "Bat Dog"

We called this ear placement “Bat Dog”

Those eyes!!

Those eyes!!

It goes without saying that she was an incredible dog as all dogs are to their owners.  So it was a great shock to us when she passed away a few weeks back due to a short illness that took us completely by surprise and took her from us far too soon.  She was 8.5 years old and far too young to die when she did.  There really was nothing that could’ve been done that we didn’t do.  Had a kidney been needed, I would’ve gladly donated it.  Her last days were confusing and her final moments terrifically chaotic and traumatizing for me personally.  As difficult as it was for me to watch our beloved and adored Maggie die in our house by myself, I’m glad she felt “comfortable” enough to die in front of me.  She knew I was “there” even if I was running around like a crazy person behind her screaming to the vet on the phone begging for help.  Although her last day was not very easy for us, I’m glad she died in a place where she felt comfortable.  Familiar.  Safe.  With her Mommy by her side.  Definitely not alone…
Her last photo

Her last photo

As we try to move on and grieve, every day is a small memory of Maggie and how she would react to the simple things in our house.  Loading the dishwasher.  Watching the UPS man make a delivery.  Cooking a meal.  Watching TV with her on my feet.  “Going to work”.  Picking up my keys.  Listening to hummingbirds.  Chasing bees.  Hearing a doorbell on the radio or TV.  Picking up the laser pointer (which also happens to be our TV remote).  Seeing the leftover remnants of nose art on our windows and doors.  They all bring back so many memories and each time it hits me my breath catches and I think, “Oh, Maggie…”  I’ll be having those thoughts for years to come, I’m sure.  And someday we will get another dog and love the poop out of that creature too.  And we’ll mourn that pooch and cry as well just as we have our previous family pets and critters.  But for today, she’s the one I want to think about and mourn and remember.  She was our first dog as a couple.  She was our baby girl.  She was our Maggie…and she was very loved…
RIP, Maggie.  2005 - 2014

RIP, Maggie. 2005 – 2014

It’s like meeting Aerosmith (or an uber-fan meets Young House Love – TWICE!)

When we first bought our house in Portland, Oregon, I kind of muddled my way through all of the post offer/pre close items on my checklist: negotiating on a price, setting up inspections, buying appliances, etc.  The other thing I did was spend a LOT of time online searching for inspiration to try and decorate our house on a dime.  I was still unemployed at the time and we’d just taken every last bit of savings we had and dumped it into the down payment, so we were desperate to decorate the house beautifully but cheaply, which roughly translated to doing everything ourselves.  I’m not sure HOW I ran across this website, but it was probably using a search string like this:

“before and afters” OR “makeovers” OR “painting techniques”

Lo and behold, I stumbled across the website/blog,  Young House Love

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I’m sure MANY of you know of Young House Love – probably because a crazy friend (might’ve been me) told you about it at some point.  I was one of those stalker people who just found them doing a random Google search back in the day when their website was still called “This Young House” (which they had to change in mid 2009 due to a copyright battle with This Old House – no joke!) and before baby Clara was even a glint in their eye…Yea, I’m a little obsessed, I admit it.

If you’ve never heard of them before, they’re essentially a young (about 31-ish) married couple with a house, a Clara and a Burger (their shenanigan-loving Chihuahua that I want to steal to make puppies with my Maggie).  The kid and the pup are top notch, but their house….mmmm…not so much.  So they decided to do the young married couple thing and renovate not one, but TWO down-and-out houses that needed some serious love completely on their own – i.e. – these people are not professional renovators or contractors.  They’re just a couple of Marketing geeks that know a thing or two about using the internet and library to their advantage and don’t mind getting their hands dirty trying to do it all by their selves!  Couple all of that with their easy-to-follow tutorials, misadventures in renovating, hilarious writing style and personalities and it makes for a pretty good time killer over my morning coffee everyday.

I also credit them in a huge way with inspiring me to start THIS blog.  After finding (and completely devouring) their blog back in 2009 we tackled so many projects that were directly influenced by their tutorials and advice and, dare I say it, balls-y-ness.  Everything from their bathroom remodel which gave us the guts to tackle our bathroom remodel and even painting furniture like our old hutch that needed some serious love and a grody old bookcase were done entirely using their painting method tutorials!  And in a weird twist of life imitating art, I then re-shared my hutch makeover story with them and they featured ME on their blog way back in 2009!  Crazy, huh?

Long story short, to say that I am obsessed would be an understatement.  Hence, the title of this blog post, It’s like MEETING Aerosmith!

Yes, I’ve met them!  And I may or may not have been a little star-struck the first time.  You read that right.  The FIRST time.  I’m a bit of an obsessive fan so I’ve actually met them TWICE!  Once last year when they visited our previously quirky home of Portland and the Portland Home and Garden Show (photographic proof below).

John and Sherry 2012

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While we didn’t register a mention on their blog when we met them (we’re sort of low key and shy people), the whole thing was sort of an out-of-body experience because not only did Sherry recognize me and give me a big ol’ glorious hug like we were BFFs, but I got recognized by OTHER bloggers who were there and shouted, “Hey, Tell’er All About It!”  John and Sherry were just as nice as could be and we got to chat with them and compliment them on how much they’ve influenced us to be more gutsy in our renovations.  It was nice to come full circle.  Meeting other bloggers, however, was definitely an out-of-body experience for us.  A few people gushed over our bathroom remodel that had made the rounds in Bloglandia and were excited to meet US – so much so that they wrote a blog post about it on THEIR blog!  Ack!  Now we totally get what John and Sherry say on their website when they get all shy and blush-y with fans.  Dr. J and I felt TOTALLY awkward.  We have groupies!  But THEY think I’m hilarious!  That’s right, naysayers, I AM hilarious :-).

Fast forward to a few weekends ago and we got to meet John and Sherry a SECOND time at the West Elm in Palo Alto for a book signing for their brand new book!  Yes, now they’re bona fide published authors!  So all of you technophobes will now think of me as slightly LESS of a stalker because I happen to like a “book author” as opposed to just a “blog author”, which still doesn’t seem any less creepy, but there ya have it…

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Look!  I’m wearing different clothes in each picture so you KNOW it’s taken on separate days!  Haha!

The best part?  They recognized us from their Portland adventure the previous year!  Which really confused them.  I think it was easy for them to remember Dr. J because he’s probably one of a handful of guys that considers himself a fan (although, I think he just says that to make me feel good).  But their first question was, “Wait, do you live here or there?”  Imagine their confusion when we said, “Well, both!”  Because it’s kind of true – haha!

But onto the book signing!  Because it was a lot of fun!

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It was held on an absolutely GORGEOUS winter California day.  Beautiful sunshine and crisp temperatures.  The line started well before we even got there and we showed up around 10am!  In fact, when we showed up it was looking like this snaked all around the building – crikey!

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Fortunately it wasn’t raining, but it WAS a little chilly.  So the West Elm staffers kept us warm by coming out with trays full of cookies, hot chocolate and other nibbles and bites!  I may have overloaded on these uh-ma-zing turtle bars that were oh-so-friggin-good, though I abstained from the hot chocolate because it just didn’t contain enough calories or sugar – haha!  It was fun chatting to people around me about the blog and to meet like-minded people who if I pointed to some random guy on the street and said, “Doesn’t he look JUST like John?” then they would totally get where I was coming from!  Seriously, there was this guy wandering around who could’ve been John’s brother and it kept throwing me for a loop…ANYway…

The line gathered a lot of attention from passersby in the street and somebody came up to us and asked, “What’s the line for?” to which I responded, “Aerosmith!  Or, rather…the Aerosmith of bloggers!”  After explaining it a little bit more, the guy sort of nodded weakly before walking away shaking his head and then I realized, “He’s probably not the type of guy to DIY his bathroom shower so he wouldn’t really get it.”  This WAS Palo Alto, California after all…

Once the doors opened, we were allowed to snake inside the store (thank goodness – it was chilly for California at like 55 degrees!  Haha!) and wait our turn to get to chat to John and Sherry.  The line took forever, but we were able to get a few snaps of them while we were still waiting:

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…and then the main event was being able to chat with them for all of 60 seconds, get recognized immediately from Portland the year before and then eject the purse and coats so we didn’t look fat (Portland pictures = lookin’ like fatties!) and smile big and wide after they had signed OUR book:

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Lookie, lookie, I got an autograph!

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Thanks, YHL!  It was a blast!  Next time we move, maybe we’ll get to meet you there?

Oh, and just to prove I’m not the ONLY completely obsessed uber-fan out there, check out these blog links to see other fans talking about the YHL run-in!  Click here, here, here, here, here, or here!  Apparently, I’m a little late to the party, but at least I’m in good company!    

Our new pad – ready for some makeovers!

Well, the time has come!  It’s time to show off the new pad in California!  We are so excited to show you what it looks like all empty and ready for our mountains (literally) of furniture and belongings!  We feel so fortunate to have found a rental that not only has oodles of potential but also has everything we need and nothing that we don’t.  It’s a 3 bed, 1,800 square foot condo with a 2-car garage (oh, God bless you, garage!!).  The whole layout is spread over three floors with the garage and a bedroom on the first, bedroom/kitchen/living on the second and the master on the third.  There’s no yard, but Maggie is adjusting very well to having 4-5 walks/day and we could definitely use the extra exercise, so we’re not complaining!

Dr. J took a few pics with his phone so all apologies to the quality of the images and lack of views in certain areas.  Everything is much more clearly understood in the YouTube video which you can access by clicking here.  Enough chit-chat, let’s get this tour started!!:

First Floor

There’s one bedroom on the first floor and it’s going to be the “flex space” or “Room of Requirement”, used mostly as a man room, den and guest room when needed.  It also has a full bathroom attached to the room with a pretty sizable shower, which is perfect for guests when the room is not filled to the brim with boxes – haha!  You can get a better idea of the bathroom layout in the video tour.  We’re lovin’ the beautiful plantation shutters which are all throughout the house.  We may paint this room down the line, but the color will work with some of our furnishings so it’s not tops on our list to change right away.

So here are two views, one from the door looking towards the front of the house:

..and a view from the window wall looking toward the bathroom door (you can just barely make out the door handle from the hallway on the left of the photo)….

We didn’t get a lot of pictures of the downstairs hallway before it was overrun by boxes and belongings, so we covered the rest of it on the video tour.

Second Floor

You go up the stairs to the second floor (again, the layout is much clearer in the video) and you immediately are in the family room, below.  The colors are sort of a warm honey beige color which we may or may not paint.  It’s a big room that has a great layout and those plantation shutters give it so much architecture and personality.  There’s a small patio off of this room where we’ll set up our grill and cafe chairs for morning coffee and meals alfresco.  Gotta love California!

In the photo below, you can see the stairwell to go upstairs on the left and the opening on the right of the photo is the top of the stairs from the first floor and the hallway leads down to a powder room (just visible) and the office.  The alcove in the center is perfect for a TV (and potential Media Cabinet building project later on – WHOO!) and the floors are an engineered hand-scraped floor that *might* be Hickory or maybe Heart Pine?  Either way, they are absolutely GORGEOUS:

In this photo, you can see the hallway down towards the powder room and office on the left and the opening for the kitchen in the center, which is very, very red!

Kitchen

The kitchen is just off of the family room and is a decent size for one or two cooks.  We have just enough storage for what we need but clearing out some clutter on our parts will make this kitchen work for us in the long run.  Fortunately, the wine bar and pot rack practically doubles the storage and the counter top space, so that’s definitely a bonus and we’re so glad the landlord left it!  The floors are a beautiful rustic porcelain in sort of a taupe-y-gray tone which we are lovin’!  There’s lots of potential in this space and this may be our first makeover once we get unpacked!

Dining Area

We have significantly less dining space than the previous house since there’s no real breakfast bar, but our little dining table fits perfectly in here.  Oh, and those “stained glass” vinyl decals on the windows are already gone.  Haha!  Again, lots of plans for in here.  We can’t wait to get started!

Powder Room

This room is just off of the living room in the little hallway adjoining the living room to the office.  It’s a full bath with a tub/shower so it’s really much more than just a powder room.  This room is also going to get a fresh coat of paint to lighten/brighten the space since there are no windows and it’s a pretty small space.  That same beautiful porcelain taupe-y tile that is in the kitchen is also in here so it gives us lots of potential!

Office

Just down the hallway from the living room/powder room is what we’ll be using as our office.  Since I work from home nearly every day and Dr. J works from home occasionally during the week, it’s vital for us to have a dedicated office space with two work stations so we’re already elbow deep in the building phase of setting it up.  The owners left those cute tic-tac-toe bookshelves which will come in handy.  It’s a pretty tight space so we’re going to have to get creative when it comes to storage and the walls were never painted in here so if we have the energy, this is a space I’d love to amp up a bit…

Upstairs Master Bedroom/Bath

The Master Bedroom and Bath are way up on the third floor and just over the office/kitchen area.  It’s so nice to have it be far away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets below and on the quieter side of the house.  It’s a big space too so our furniture has fit in pretty nicely!  We are going to need curtains for that window and possibly paint the walls, but it’s a great space that’s working out very well for us so far.

From this vantage (which is taken in the opposite corner to the photo above), you can probably pick out my biggest pet peeve of this space, which is that the bathroom has no door except for the water closet.  This is kind of a pain since we both wake up at different times in the morning so when Dr. J is showering and singing at the top of his lungs (haha!), then I am desperately burying myself in the pillows to go back to sleep.  We may have to address that issue, especially when the dark days of winter are fully upon us, but for right now we’re just living with it until we decide otherwise:

Overall, the master bath is a great size and the shower is deceptively large, which we are loving!  We have a frosted window in the shower that gives us plenty of California sunshine and ventilation, two sinks and lots of storage.  We have a few plans up our sleeves to make this space slightly more functional for us, but overall, it’s really perfect for our needs.

So that’s the house!  We also have a video tour, here!  Dr. J took this with his phone before we officially moved in and before I physically saw it so his dialogue was really directly addressed to me and the quality isn’t awesome, but it should give you a rough idea of the layout.

Believe it or not, I never saw this place until the night before the moving truck showed up (!!).  With Dr. J and I both working full time and needing to wrap up our house in Portland before moving down, there just wasn’t enough time for me to run down to California and take a look at it.  Also, we’ve found out that real estate in California is hot, hot, HOT!  So if you don’t jump as soon as possible, then you’re probably going to miss out.  We learned that lesson from previous experience so Dr. J jumped on this place as soon as he heard about it.  Also, I actually kind of trust my hubby, so that helps too :-).

So I’ll bet you’re wondering what changes we’re going to tackle first?  Well, we do have a few small plans that we’d like to tackle – most of them involve just getting unpacked enough so that we can move around our space without tripping over boxes and debris – haha!  And since I just saw this place for the first time a few weeks ago, I’m still in the “live with it first before tackling any projects” phase, though I do have a few changes in mind, as always.  Honestly, I’m most looking forward to just painting a room or two.  We haven’t painted anything seriously since we painted the master bath in our first house a whopping year and a half ago (!!).  So to say that I’m itchin’ to get behind a paint brush again would be the understatement of the century.  We are also still trying to figure out the whole “function” thing in terms of making things work for us, which is part of the fun of moving into a new house!

So there ya have it!  Lots to do to get the house even remotely put together enough to actually show a home tour with it furnished.  Every day it’s a little bit better, though.  Hopefully we can get things roughly in shape by about the 1-month standpoint so stay tuned for that!

Empty and ready to rent…

Well, I promised a posting with a few pictures of the house all empty.  I didn’t take pictures of all the rooms, but this is to just give you an idea.  And, for good measure, I’m including some  pics of when we first moved in just to give you an idea of how far some of these spaces have come…

Here’s the family room prior to us moving in three years ago:

…and here it is when I snapped a few pics of it before we closed the door that last time.  It’s amazing how much more homey it feels with curtains:

Our dining room/front hallway when we moved in:

…and here it is after lots of paint and a new chandelier:

The room of requirement, looking pretty dark and bleak at move in time:

…and here’s what he looked like the day we moved out.  With storage and love to spare (and a complete 180 degree turn from the original photo above):

The Guest bedroom, looking pretty sparse on day 1:

..and here it is three years later, with beautiful crown molding and beadboard that we installed ourselves:

…and the Laundry Room, way back in 2009, sans washer/dryer and cabinetry:

…and loaded up with storage, lighting and cabinetry galore that we installed awhile back (more on that project here).  We also purchased a couple of used appliances to be used for the future renters that might call this place home:

…and, of course, last but not least, the Master Bathroom back in 2009, all grody and boring and foreclosed upon:

…and here she is all beautiful and gleaming and glamorous.  You’re welcome, bathroom.  You are definitely proof positive that sometimes things do improve with age:

It was an emotional walk-through.  Mixed feelings doesn’t even begin to describe it.  When you put so much of your blood, sweat and tears into a house, it’s hard to see it as “just a house”.  At the same time, I’m also super excited to be tackling a “new” project down in California, but since we’re only renting, it will be interesting to see how we can manage that without, ya know, tearing down walls.  This house was most definitely ours so tackling a massive project like the bathroom or the laundry room required only the limits of our imaginations and our pocketbooks.  Le sigh…Goodbye, house!  You were lots of fun, lots of Maalox and lots of Painkillers…but you were worth it.  :-)

We’re looking for a renter for this house.  If you live in the Portland area and are interested in renting it, then feel free to email me privately at tellerallaboutitATgmailDOTcom (replace ATs and DOTs with you know whats) and I’ll put you in touch with our Property Manager.  You can see a full house tour here and even a video house tour here.    

Movin’ out+Movin’ in – aka why I didn’t answer my phone last week…

I’m not gonna lie.  Leaving the house in Oregon was pretty difficult.  It was a very bittersweet goodbye not only to the house, but to Portland, Oregon in general, a city so quirky that even I fit in!  Add to that my overall exhaustion last week of getting the house prepped and ready to move plus a missing Dr. J for some of it (he was still in California for a portion of the madness) and there were a few emotional and tearful nights for me.

On the house itself, though, I’ll be back later in the week with more of a “goodbye, house” post.  This one is just to show you the madness that we had facing us during the week and some pics for good measure.  It was a sprint to the finish line.  We both took the whole week off and we hauled ass from sun-up to sun-down *every*single*day*.  Here is the basic rundown of our week last week Here is a 2,384 word rundown of our week last week:

Sunday – Dr. J was still in California, so I had a mountain of things to do on my checklist and a lot of it I couldn’t do with just two hands (or reach with all 5’2″ of me).  So I put a plea out to all of my friends in Portland and I had a house full of eager volunteers at one point.  To those of you that showed up (Jill, Katie, Whitney, Amanda + family, Al + family, Keri & Phil), I just gotta give a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you!  By the end of the day, we even got to the point where there wasn’t a whole lot left to do and so I fast-forwarded to my weeklong checklist (like clean up dog poop in the backyard) and Amanda gladly volunteered!  I mean, talk about dedication!  God, I love that girl!  I was almost in tears because everybody was so generous with their time!  It was so great to be able to have people there with open arms and willing to help and made both Dr. J and I feel truly blessed.  Sunday night was unfortunately pretty restless for me, though.  I think I got maybe two hours of sleep because there was still *so*much*to*do* in the morning….

Monday – The packers showed up bright and early and I was already exhausted.  No sleep, no coffee left in the house so I didn’t get my morning caffeine until at least an hour after they showed up.  *Groan*….  There were five packers working ALL DAY LONG to pack up roughly 110 (_HIO!) boxes of everything from dishes to clothes to decor items.  I calculated that 5 people working from 8am-5pm with only one hour of breaks total = 40 total hours of packing.  And these are professionals!  So you know that they packed like fiends.  Regardless, they were a good group of people, we had a lot of laughs and they even came to my aid in a major way when one of my nosy neighbors stopped by to tell me that it was, “against HOA policy to post a FOR RENT sign in your window.”  I just about spit in his face I was so mad.  Do you SEE all of these boxes?  Do you SEE that I don’t have time for your busy body ways?  I mean, there is a tactful way to approach somebody about this situation and this simply was not it.  One of the packers stepped in (without me asking) and told him to leave and quit heckling his customer.  There was yelling.  There was shouting.  It was epic.  And I’ll love that man forever for doing that!    After they left, I ran Maggie over to a friends’ house because she was already a nervous wreck just from packing and sat pretty much with me all day in a manner like so…

I.e. – she sat in my lap while I watched the movers do their thing OR she was underfoot to the point that I was tripping all over her.  So she spent Monday night and all day Tuesday at their house getting sexually harassed by their dog, Dexter:

It was always meant to be…

Then I drove home to an empty house (no Maggie and no Dr. J) and only a bunch of boxes around the house to keep me company:

….and then Dr. J arrived home later that night and woke me up from a dead sleep to say he was home.  Talk about relief…

Tuesday – Loading Day!!  Big day!  Dr. J and I woke up early and had some last minute things to take care of, including trying to pack up boxes and suitcases filled with our “emergency supplies”, which may or may not have included some 24 odd bottles of Whiskey and Wine:

…again, we just tried to stay out of the way but also be available.  It was so nice, though, to have a partner in crime.  At least since there were two of us here, somebody could make a coffee run while the other one was busy doing other stuff.  Monday I had no such luxury.  There were a few odd repairs that needed to happen like fixing the door lock mechanism on the stove so that we could self-clean it.  This repair was a highly scientific process of jiggling the door until it locked – who knew?!?!  We did a lot of running around the house, cleaned out the fridge, patched holes and touch-up painted before they loaded the ladders into the truck (this was one very highly coordinated dance, lemme tell you).  Speaking of highly coordinated dances, check out MINE:

We also tried to keep the movers informed/happy.  I accidentally stole one of their “spare parts” boxes to load up one spice cabinet that the packers forgot (it happens) and then I was on the loaders shit list for most of the morning as a result.  Haha…le sigh…though they said I was surprisingly easy/low key by comparison to a lot of people they move, so that made me feel pretty good.  I blame the Valium…

…but through it all, I didn’t really have any time to feel sad or upset.  I was just too busy and plain exhausted.  But they got pretty much everything loaded onto the truck and then we both took one last shower in our bathroom as kind of a ceremonial “goodbye” to our favorite renovation in the house.  Then we headed over to our friends, Trish and Rylan’s, to be re-united with The Magster and to spend the night at their house for a few days since our house was essentially empty.  Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe it…

Wednesday – With the house empty, we really didn’t have much else to do aside from letting the cleaning lady in to do a final clean-out and then packing up all the leftovers into the cars.  My cleaning lady, Shari, has been like a second Mother to me in Portland so she got us a card and even a goodbye “Prayer Plant”.  It was so sweet.  While Dr. J worked on his master packing skills, including unpacking all of the boxes of wine that I had crappily packed the other day and just loading them into the half dozen or so empty suitcases that we had to fit into our two cars for the drive down, I finished up more touch-up painting/repairs and oversaw a rental showing of the house in the middle of the day as well (still no word yet!).  **Update:  We also oversaw a delivery of a new washer and dryer as our set had been loaded into the truck the day before.**  We ran to the recycling center a few times to drop off mounds of extra boxes and trash, transported our Compost Bin across town to a friends’ house and made sure to put the trash out at the end of the day.  We also gassed and loaded up the Mazda full of everything we needed, parked it in the (now empty) garage and got it all ready for the drive to California.  Shari took a moment at the end of the day to take an exhausted and sweaty picture of Dr. J, Maggie and I in front of the house one last time:

I ran through the house and snapped a few pics of the house empty (*sniff*) and then we left the house that night – empty and alone.  And this is when exhaustion just took over me and I started to cry.  Thinking of leaving the house and leaving Portland and moving to another state (which, let’s face it, California may as well be a foreign country) and all of the great friends we’ve made over our four years here.  Blerg!  It was just a lot to take coupled with the stress of moving (which, I guess, is essentially the same thing).  Even though I knew I would see the house again in the morning (SUPER early, in fact), it was hard to leave it and just think of it as bricks and mortar.  I could see so much of US in that house.  And every little reno that we did over the past three years just brought back memories of projects both good and bad.  But it was bittersweet.  Because I was also so happy to be leaving it in a better state than when we found it.  It’s so improved over what it was when we purchased it.  I always knew it could be beautiful.  But not without a lot of work, duct tape and spit polish.  But enough about that.  I didn’t have time to mourn….

Thursday – Our last morning in Portland and we were up WAY before dawn.  We had to be at the house prior to 7am (and we were coming from the Eastside which ended up being about a 45 minute commute) to let the carpet cleaners in.  This was a HUGE relief to us, actually.  We were really afraid that the carpet cleaners wouldn’t come until late in the day and one of us would have to stay to let them in and not be able to drive down to California until Friday – blerg!  Fortunately, we called ahead of time to get them scheduled as early as possible and they were in and out in less than an hour.  It gave us enough time to snap some pictures of the house from the car while we camped out across the street with the dog.

…then our neighbor (the one I like!) came over before she left for work  and gave us a Panera gift card and a goodbye card and lots of hugs.  So good to be able to say goodbye in person!  And that Gift Card came in handy later on…

Then the carpet cleaners left and we walked thru the house to survey it cleaner than it had probably ever been!  Haha!  We also closed all the windows and drew the blinds, turned the heat WAY down (we can’t shut off the utilities until the renters move in), took a few more pics of it one last time:

…loaded up the cars…

…loaded up the Maggie (her face echoed our sadness)….

….and said our goodbyes.  I shed one tear in the car, but then driving through rush-hour pretty much jolted me out of my emotional stupor.  We had to run a few errands before we left Portland (dropped off our cable modem and gassed up the Audi) and then we were on the road by 915 or so for the 12 hour drive down to San Jose, California.  It was a pretty uneventful drive for me.  Dr. J had Maggie in the car with him and I had the plants in the car with me.  They don’t make very good conversation partners, but that just meant I could listen to a good audio book (Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, if you’re curious).

We thankfully managed to time our trip such that we missed rush hour (mostly) in Portland, somewhat in Sacramento and entirely in the Bay.  I don’t remember what time we got in, but we managed to have enough time to unload the cars somewhat, walk the pup, take showers, and crash on the air mattress on the floor of the new master bedroom never having grabbed dinner.  No rest for the weary, though….we had to be up (again) before dawn to wait for the movers…

Friday – the movers show up (geeze, they booked it!) and managed to introduce us to the neighborhood by blocking every single garage on the street…

Haha!  Hi!  We’re your new crazy neighbors!  You have NO CLUE what’s coming your way…muwahahaha…

Now when you are moving with a professional moving company, they have you “Play Bingo” with the checklist.  There’s a “Box list” and an “Everything else” list.  We had roughly 110 boxes and approximately 200 items..  As they load things into the truck, they assign stickers with numbers.  My job is just to sit there and check the numbers off as they come off the truck.  However, we learned one lesson the hard way when we did this the first time (moving from Ohio to Oregon) which is essentially not to TOUCH anything until they leave.  They need to be sure that everything gets off the truck and if there is a missing number (which almost always happens) at the end of the day, we need to go searching for it through the house, which can be pretty tough if you’ve unloaded a box already and thrown it away.  So I sat outside all day with the pup while Dr. J directed traffic inside when needed.

By the end of the day, this is what our kitchen looked like:

…though we did have just enough time and energy to unload the bedroom enough to be able to sleep in our bed..

…it was a very nice ending to a REALLY stressful week.  And now we’re in San Jose, California, desperately trying to unpack boxes as much as possible, although now that we’ve got the kitchen, office and master bedroom mostly functional, we’ve cut back to about 1-2 boxes/day (hehe – we sound like smokers!).  I’ll be back later with some pics of the new house empty and possibly a video tour as well.  But for now, I’m signing off.  It’s been a stressful summer and, boy, am I glad there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

Peace!

I’m not gonna mince words – moving blows!

Welp, last week was a bust in terms of “vacation”.  I took the whole week off from work and I busted my butt from sun-up to sun-down for 7 whole days and, MAN, is my body ticked because of it.  I don’t remember hurting this badly since my freshman year of Band Camp at Ohio University.  And Homecoming every year after, but who’s counting?

I’d love to provide some pictures but my camera battery is dead and I can’t find the cord.  Office, maybe?  In a box?  Likely at the bottom of the pile…?

Needless to say, everything went about as smoothly as it could go if things like this CAN go smoothly (that’s arguable).  Moving is always a stressful time, especially when you are moving across state lines.  Now that we’re here, it’s a sprint to get our cars registered, new IDs, etc, etc.  I’m just hoping that the written driver test here is easier than it was in Oregon.  Dr. J failed it the first time around and I barely passed.  Awesome.  Let’s just schedule that ahead of time as an entirely lost afternoon when I get around to it.  Maybe I can drive out of the city and find a really quiet DMV?  My other biggest concern was around voting.  We’ve decided to absentee vote in Oregon this year and we’ll register in California after the election.  That way I can say I’ve voted in three states!  And not illegally either!  As a total legit resident!  Beat that!

I’ll be back soon to give you some “empty” shots of the house in Oregon.  That seriously pulled at my heartstrings, lemme tell ya.  But that’s another story for another day.  We’ll also be giving shots of the new pad with a rundown of “plans” that we have including painting and maybe a few minor changes – with our landlady’s permission, of course :-).

Other than that, we’re all doing well.  Maggie is probably doing the best since she was able to finally catch up on sleep this weekend while Dr. J and I busted ass to get the kitchen, office and bedroom mostly functional.  The house is still a box graveyard but at least we can get up and down stairs now.

More to come!  Stay tuned!

If Gumby taught me one thing…

…it’s that it’s important to be flexible.  Here’s a rundown of all the things we need to do in the next few weeks:

  1. Hire movers/moving company
  2. Hire Property Management firm to manage our old house as a rental – *sniff
  3. Sign lease, put down payment on new pad in San Jose, California
  4. Clean out the house of hazardous chemicals and cosmetics and leave enough space in the cars for two people and a Maggie
  5. Re-finance the house so we can afford both rent AND mortgage at the same time (you read that right – we’re seriously masochists)
  6. While we’re at it – schedule an appraisal so we CAN re-fi…
  7. Schedule clean-out crew for our house.
  8. Patch holes, touch-up paint before we…
  9. …hand over keys to the Property Manager
  10. Drive to California (in two cars, mind you)
  11. Be ready to “catch” all of our belongings and then move them into the new place….

Yea….we’re a little busy.  It’s all for a good cause, I promise!  Meanwhile, Dr. J is splitting time between California and Oregon.  He’ll be back this weekend for a week, gone the following, back in Oregon the next week, then we’re BOTH down to California permanently the week after that.  Does your head hurt?  Ours does too!  I’ve stopped explaining it to most people because it’s so unbelievably complicated that it’s just not worth going through all of it again.  Not only that, but there are new developments almost *every*single*day*, so if you’re not a flexible type, then this is an absolute nightmare.  Hence my latest mantra, “Gumby, Gumby, Gumby!”  It’s also one of those things that makes more sense to DO rather than to EXPLAIN.  So that’s what I do!

One nice thing about this whole mess’o-move’ia is that next week we will officially be able to move into our leased Condo in San Jose.  Phew!  Big relief!  Finally we will have a home base in California as opposed to staying in hotels and crusty apartments (more on that in another post).  Dr. J will be down there, cleaning it up and getting it ready for the Magsters and I to join him two weeks later.  When we left our old apartment down there, we put most of our things in storage and so Dr. J has enough to survive for a few weeks without the full complement of furniture.

So if you’re curious about move dates, here’s what you need to know (and this is mostly for my mother who keeps asking – and subsequently forgetting):

  • Saturday, September 22nd – Dr. J flies down to San Jose to collect the keys to our new leased condo (pictures to come) and get it prepped for move-in.
  • Monday, October 1 – Dr. J *drives* back up to Oregon to help with the move
  • Monday, October 1 – the movers come to “pack” everything – L-blogger will be project manager on this one.
  • Monday, October 1 – we spend our last night in the house together *sniff*
  • Tuesday, October 2 – the movers come to load everything onto the truck and we stand by to load up any remaining items into our cars and then we’ll move in with friends in Portland for the rest of the week.
  • Wednesday – Thursday, October 3/4 – mad dash to get the house cleaned, picked up, patched, and ready for showings and future rentals
  • Friday – Saturday, October 5/6 – somewhere in there, we will be driving down to California.  Not sure when – just depends on when we get things finished at the house in Portland.  Dr. J may end up driving down a day sooner than me – we’re just trying to be like Gumby here – all flexible….
  • Friday, October 5 – Monday, October 8 – the movers will be dropping off our items in California.  We have a three day window for drop-off (not including Sundays) with a 24-hour notice and we need to get that furniture as quickly as possible.  At best, we hope to get everything by Friday.  At worst by Monday as we both need to be back to work that day….that should be interesting…Gumby, Gumby, Gumby…

So, yea…needless to say, there’s a lot of pressure on us to get things finished.  Fortunately, we’re taking full advantage of our movers’ ability to get us all packed and moved.  the only things we are really responsible for in this move are:

  • Transporting our own household chemicals, cleaners, cosmetics, etc (they won’t take them)
  • Transporting our own house plants as they can’t guarantee that they’ll survive.  Hah!  I can’t guarantee they will survive under my charge
  • Digging up the garden out back – we may leave the Rosemary, Thyme and Sage for good measure.
  • Dumping the compost bin – maybe the renters aren’t as green – either way, Composting is a little like owning fish – requires a small bit of maintenance and if that’s not your thing then you’re going to have some problems
  • Removing all of the pictures and hanging items from the walls.  Fortunately, they will pack these up nice and safe, but we need to get them prepared.
  • Emptying all drawers of “hard” items in big furniture pieces.  We have a few china cabinets, so we’ll empty those and stuff with blankets, pillows and towels (a very smart tactic I learned from my Mother in Law).

Can you tell I’m needing to write all of these things down more for my own benefit than for yours?  Haha!  Moving is such a pain in the @$$.  I’d rather have a hot poker up the rear than to deal with a move.  Fortunately, when you hire good movers, a lot of the stress is really gone – as well as the time.  We’ll detail for you another time all of the things we learned from our previous move and why this move is going to be slightly easier than the last one…

It’s all for a good cause.  Gumby, Gumby, Gumby….