Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Earning Favor with the Neighbors

When we bought our house, most of the neighborhood was ecstatic. Those who frequented walking their dogs or jogging past our house would make a point to stop by when we were doing work to exhort us for "making this house beautiful again," and especially for "how quiet the neighborhood [was] now since cops [weren't] here running teenagers or homeless people off the property every other day." The general consensus was that we were two kids just crazy enough to pull this fixer upper thing off.

Fast forward a few months, and some of the neighborhood started scowling as they walked slowly past our debris piles, tree branch piles, and the amount of trash we had accumulated during our demolition days. I caught someone taking photos of our house as she walked her dog three days in a row. The next Monday, the city had notified us that we had one week to remove a pile of tree limbs from our yard. Other neighbors gently hinted that they were sick of the smell of the stagnant pool drifting into their open windows. People must be a little disenchanted about what it actually takes to make a home that has been neglected for two years "beautiful again." After a few incidents in a row, Blake decided it was time to focus on our yard space for a while, in spite of our kitchen needs--whiny neighbors could eventually result in pricey fines, which would further delay our progress.

In the last few days, Blake has essentially overhauled our curb appeal. The only truly hideous thing that remains is our ladder to nowhere leftover from the deck; he has trimmed and removed trees and bushes, replanted some rose bushes, laid mulch, and hauled all of the overgrowth into a trailer to be taken to the dump as soon as possible. Here is a quick before and after:

Unfortunately, we didn't think to take very good before pictures of this particular area. You can tell in the top right before circle that the overgrowth covers the gazebo where you can't look out of it from the inside and see past all of the greenery; all of that has been hauled out or trimmed down. Trees had overtaken the small space dividing the property between our lawn and the neighbors, and Blake removed and trimmed all of that as well. The bottom right circle gives a basic idea of what it looked like from the road. Also, look at that beautiful mulch work! Considering we knew we would be doing Addie's birthday party outside, it was good to finally push back the jungle.

Between all of Blake's outside work and Addie's birthday party on Saturday, our poor kitchen is still empty other than the gorgeous ceiling you saw last week. To console you, readers, and me, who still longs for a kitchen, I will give you all the details of Addie's Beauty and the Beast themed birthday party (and the fact that it all cost me about $60).

Addie got this Belle dress from my parents, so of course she got to wear it to her Beauty and the Beast party. She got a little hot near the end of the party, but this particular dress from Amazon is machine washable, breathable, and stretchy and comfy for playing. 

Really delicious, quickly melted. :(

There were two little snack tables for people to choose from, since Addie had invited girl and guy friends. The first was the "Be Our Guest" table, decorated to look like Belle's dress. Snacks were really simple: watermelon, vanilla cupcakes from a box mix that I iced to look like roses, and graham crackers to use for dipping into "the gray stuff" (like the song: "try the gray stuff, it's delicious!"). This was super easy, you can find the recipe here. Blake's little sister, Noelle, helped me bake all of the cupcakes and make the gray stuff on Friday morning. We also had sparkling lemonade or water to drink.

The other table was "Gaston's Tavern," using decorations I borrowed from Blake's mom. There were "fish & chips" (goldfish crackers, potato chips, and dip) that I set in pint glasses for decoration, and root beer to drink. I got all of the decorations I didn't borrow from dollar tree for about $30. All of the food was from Aldi, other than the here-and-there things they don't have that I picked up at Walmart. Aldi is so awesome. 

Since our house is still a bit of a danger zone (especially for a birthday party), we had the whole thing set up at the little park across the street from our house. Our friends Kane and Rachel came to spend the night Friday, so on Saturday, Kane helped Blake with a lot of outside work that he wanted to get done before people showed up, and Rachel helped me decorate for the party. Blake's littlest sister Charity came over to help decorate as well, and the rest of the Comptons watched Addie so that she could be surprised when she got back. So, that's the secret to a great kid's birthday party--lots of volunteers. :)

I also had lots of fun setting up a little Beauty and the Beast themed photo booth. Being outside, lighting was obviously an obstacle, but it was still really fun and the pictures turned out really cute :) 

She is obsessed with the cape.

After reminding everyone to bring sunscreen, guess who neglected to wear sunscreen? Addie asked if I was wearing a backpack, then said to Blake, "Daddy, Mommy is wearing a silly backpack."

Addie got lots of awesome presents, all of which we had opened by the time we went to bed. She is obsessed with her Belle dress from Nonie and PaPa, and the new Anna and Elsa dress-up dresses she got from Granmommy and Pops. In fact, I told her she could wear whatever she wanted to go grocery shopping today, and she picked the Elsa dress. I also did the best french braid I could manage with the little hair she has. She loved all of the attention. 

She had her little lemon birthday cake, as per Addie birthday tradition, but we had to pretend to blow out the candles since it was too windy to light them. She will get another chance tonight, because today is Addie's actual birthday! I can't believe my baby is three years old. The past two months we have watched her transform from true toddler to little girl. She's potty trained, unbelievably articulate, kind, friendly, cuddly, silly, and curious. She loves trains and airplanes, and princesses and dress-up. She is the cleanest toddler I have ever seen, and I frequently find her lining up crayons or pens in perfect rows (clearly takes after her Daddy). She can be sneaky and ornery, but the second she thinks she has disappointed you, her little eyes tear up (clearly takes after her Mommy). She loves learning about Jesus, and begs everyone she meets to read her little pink New Testament to her (despite the lack of pictures). She has a Jesus Storybook bible, but I think this Bible makes her feel like a mini grown-up, which coincidentally describes her very well. Adeline is like a mini grown-up. She wants to cut her own food, set the table, help do chores, dress herself, and will ask for help only when she hasn't figured out a mini-way to accomplish her task. My favorite thing about her at this age may be how thankful she is. We may remind her to say thank you for compliments or being helped, but with no prompting whatsoever she will offer sincere thanks. "Mommy, thanks for taking me grocery shopping with you!" "Thanks for playing a game with me, I had lots of fun!" "Thanks for making me dinner, it's good for me!" She is also convinced that everyone in the world is her best friend as soon as she knows their name. To be fair, she might be right. 

Happy Birthday, darling. You are my favorite kid ever, ever. <3 Tonight we are going to celebrate with the dinner she has requested, fruit and mac 'n' cheese. She also has asked that today we paint, take a bath, read princess books, and put on makeup. This week we are working on getting air conditioning working, and hopefully laying tile for the kitchen floor. See you back here soon! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Kitchen | Scrapes, Sweat, and the Ceiling

So far, our family's "screen fast" has proven effective in at least one area: removing distraction from renovating our...all of our house.

Yesterday, Blake and I finished installing the ceiling panels, and Blake also finished the crown molding. Y'all, it looks SO GOOD. We managed to finish it up in just two hours while Adeline napped. I used the nail gun more than once without wincing, and only fell off the ladder one time; which, considering my lack of coordination, I will count as a huge success. The scrape on the knee which absorbed most of my fall is mild, but the bruise I can feel forming behind it is still throbbing a little bit. I was working so fast and getting so much done that my feet literally couldn't keep up. Come on, feet, get with the program.  Blake only laughed at me a little bit, which considering his lack of sympathy is also a huge success. ;)

Dat ceiling, tho'. 

In addition to our kitchen work yesterday, Blake has begun what he hopes will result in working air conditioning via the basement, now that it has started to be noticeably stuffy and hot in the house this past week. This is also why we got the ceiling done as fast as we could, because we were so ready to shower. Every time I have my first big summer-sweat, I rediscover places I didn't realize would sweat, and rediscover how not built for Oklahoma heat that I am, despite the fact that I've lived here my entire life. Only 43 days until I'm sitting on a beach.

Blake also continued to clean up the backyard this week; we want to do at least a little more work before we show you a before and after panorama. More accurately, a before and during panorama; all of the things we want to do to the backyard will take much more time and money than we will have in the near future. Also, he trimmed up the grass that has started to grow in place of the small, decaying lawn in the backyard behind our master bedroom. I bought my first succulent last week, which I have a feeling is the gateway to other, larger succulents that will eventually cover large portions of our landscaping. Whatever we plant will have to survive in spite of my laziness.

Try to visualize a little swing set and bench seating wrapped around the tree. *insert heart eyes emoji here*

Stay tuned, because next week I will most likely be taking a break from the fixer upper blogging to over-blog about Addie's third birthday party. :)

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Backyard Saga | Conquering the Scrap Mountain

Way back when this Fixer Upper blog began, you may remember me showing you some scary, rainforest-esque photos of our backyard. Our house sits on a corner lot, and the amount of yard space is impressive. From the left of the house, wrapping around to the right, is a large front lawn, a gazebo, a (stagnant) pool, brick pathways, a garage, a smaller backyard off from the master bedroom, a sidewalk through more lawn and around the house, and a small front yard containing fairly over-grown small rose bushes. There was once a sad excuse for an addition that was demolished long ago, the remains of which formed the large base of our Scrap Mountain. The rest of the mountain consisted of debris from gutting the kitchen, and various other project remains. Scrap Mountain was hidden from public view by a set of rickety, haphazardly nailed 2x4 stairs. These stairs used to lead to a deck attached to the addition, but this deck was also torn down and hauled off long ago. On one hand, our backyard is huge, amazing, and will some day lend itself well to large backyard parties. On the other hand, I have avoided looking at it at all costs to prevent stress headaches.

Though Scrap Mountain was disguised well from the eyes of passers-by, we had a majestic view of it from our bedroom window. It was somewhat convenient to help protect the neighbors from accidentally seeing any of us undressing, but otherwise, it menacingly loomed over us, hiding secret mouse habitats and assuring us our backyard would forever be for evading, not enjoying.

The man who had cleared our front pile (the one picky joggers snapped pictures of on their phones before complaining to the city that it was an "eye sore," rather than saying, "Hey, Comptons, thanks for buying this house and making it look livable instead of like a jungle habitat; we understand that this house is a huge project, take your time with your debris piles, we will totally give you grace," but, you know, I'm not bitter) had cleared it for an affordable price, but took a long, long time to finally achieve. We had called to ask him to look at Scrap Mountain and give us a quote, but he hadn't shown up any of the times he said he was going to show up. We didn't have the time or the resources to begin the slow eroding of Scrap Mountain, so there it stood.

Last week, Blake's brother, Caleb, wanted to find a way to earn a little extra money once finals were over at OBU. When Blake offered to pay him a lump sum for removing the mass from our yard, he and Blake's other two brothers, Micah and Nate, agreed to work for us.

In just three (or maybe four?) trailer loads, plus a dumpster full of what wouldn't stay on the trailer, Blake and I arrived at our house to find that Scrap Mountain was no more.

This morning, Blake spent time shoveling away the decomposed leaves that had once taken refuge under Scrap Mountain to reveal brick paths and a gas line that will lend itself perfectly to an outside kitchenette. 


Blake had a little furry cheerleader to watch him work this morning. :)

For the summer, our family and the rest of Blake's family have agreed to partake in a "screen fast;" while we are all allowing for time online and on social media for work (or, in my case, blogging), we are forgoing mindless social media scrolling, television and Netflix and Youtube binging, and otherwise fruitless screen time that would eat up our opportunities to spend time with each other during these summer months. Hopefully this will also aid in our house renovation goals (and especially getting this kitchen done)! When you hear from me on Instagram and Facebook, it will only be in regards to the blog. Have a good summer, everyone! See you soon (I hope).

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Kitchen | Paint & Panels

This photo is not staged! I successfully used a nail gun!
Okay, real talk. I'm writing this at the end of day four of potty training my toddler. I have been so vigilant that I am a little bit brain dead, so I want to update you on how the kitchen is going, but I am also not really on my game with this whole words-into-sentences thing. 

My brother is getting married this weekend, and Blake has finals next week, so I don't have a true gauge on how much more we will get done this week or next, but Blake and I hustled on Sunday and got quite a bit done (even with me having to break every five minutes to make sure no potty-training related accidents had taken place). 

Cutting in.

You can slightly see the color variation between the chimney (in the middle of the photo frame), which is white, and the walls, which is a very light gray.

Gray wall contrasted with white door frame at the right of the photo. The contrast is slightly more noticeable in person; there are design elements yet to be introduced that I think will tie it all together more. 

I don't know how well the color is going to show up on your computers/mobile devices, but we kilzed and painted the walls in the kitchen, as well as the rock from the old chimney (from when the furnace used to be in the basement). The kitchen is a very light, bright gray, and the old chimney and door frames are/will be painted white. 

It was pretty late by the time we got this far, but I don't want to take a picture showing off the paneling until after the whole ceiling is done. :)

We also started our ceiling, covering almost half with tongue-and-groove paneling. As you may have noticed in the earlier photo, I used a nail gun! Go me! Blake used it much more, but still. I can cross that off of my fixer-upper bucket list. 

Next on our kitchen list is laying the tile for the floor. Hopefully that will happen this week, but I can't be certain. I can assure you that I will be taking a blogging hiatus for two weeks to prep for the wedding as well as giving my full focus to potty training, and between these two things it is unlikely that much will be happening in the kitchen. 

If we can get this kitchen done by the end of May, I think we will truly be seeing the light at the end of the fixer-upper tunnel. Kitchen reno is not for the faint of heart, and no other project in the house feels as overwhelming as this one. Upon completing the kitchen, that will put us at about halfway done if counting by the amount of rooms done; if you're counting by square footage, I think it would not look quite as close. Thank you all so much for all of your continued support and words of encouragement! 

When I got my haircut today, my stylist found paint in my hair. #fixerupperproblems