Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 12 Pains of Renovation

With the moving and renovation process, the aches and pains have been numerous. So in honor of the season, here's my parody of that popular holiday favorite!

On the 12th day of home renovation, my new house gave to me:
12 random bruises
11 aching joints
10 ouchy hangnails
9 broken fingernails
8 sore toes
7 split fingers
6 displaced vertebrae
5 knotted back muscles
4 migraine headaches
3 throbbing limbs
2 wrists with carpal tunnel and
1 shoulder with bursitis!

Fortunately, the hard stuff seems to be getting finished (although the to-do list is still long), and a friend lent me an assortment of wrist braces. Christmas is coming so we'll take a short break. Pass the Advil and eggnog!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Old House

The day has finally come that we're leaving our little home and moving to a new one. It's a somewhat bittersweet experience. We're excited for a new place (with more space, a bigger yard, and an extra 1/2 bath) and yet leaving this home is hard because of all the memories we made here.

We bought this house 1 1/2 months before we got married. After my dad helped Bass fix the tub and shower, he moved in until our wedding. After we got back from our honeymoon, I moved in (and brought the furniture!) :)
This is the house where Tenor and Soprano came home to as newborns, where they learned to crawl, walk, talk, read, and ride their bikes. It's the house where they each accepted the Lord. It's where we've prayed, memorized Scripture, had pizza party movie nights, played games, made messes with Play-doh and paint, and spent hours having fun or driving each other crazy. We've worked on this house from day 1 and put blood (don't worry--Bass got a tetanus booster after the sidewalk incident), sweat, and tears into making it not just a great house but our home.

After 10 years, we had finally gotten most of the house decorated and set-up the way we like it so I will miss:
*the gorgeous deep red color of our dining room (Behr Cinnamon Cherry---yummy!)
*central air
*my newish stove (my Christmas present in 2009)
*our redone kitchen
*the family room
*the pantry space
*that I know exactly where all our Christmas decorations go
*the hardwood floors upstairs
*central air
*my dishwasher (*sniff, sniff*) :'(
*the tilt-in windows
*the hydrangea bushes
*all my daffodils
*the big covered patio
*central air (Nope, not a fan of summer humidity. Sorry!)

With all of the memories and improvements we've made, it's hard to imagine leaving but we're ready and excited to make our new house another home filled with wonderful memories.
And there's quite a few things that I won't miss like:
*the bathroom vanity door that we could never get to close properly after I broke it when I fainted during a terrible bout with the flu
*only having on-street parking
*being attached to our neighbor
*the itty-bitty backyard
*only having 1 bathroom
*the 1 kitchen cabinet that doesn't match the rest because we got it as a great deal from the Re-Store and it was 'close enough'
*lugging laundry up or down 2 flights of stairs
*lugging the heavy vacuum up or down 2 flights of stairs
*only having 1 bathroom
*the spot on the bathroom sink that I just can't get clean
*the allergy-inducing, mega-leaf and twig dropping, sycamore tree
*the green monster (aka the living room carpet)
*only having 1 bathroom
*the 4 drafty windows that we hadn't gotten around to replacing
*only having 1 bathroom :)

We've got quite the to-do list for the new house! I'm looking forward to:
*redoing the bathrooms
*using the fireplaces
*painting with some new colors and trying new decorating ideas with our current stuff
*organizing the garage
*doing some landscaping

It's going to be fun (or at least an adventure!)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Designed to Sell, House Hunters, and My First Sale all at once...

Okay, yes, I do watch way too many shows on HGTV (and DIY when we get the freebie previews). And to be honest I've discovered first hand that those little 1/2 hour glimpses into home renovation and real estate transactions are a little misleading. One does not finish all house projects and stage their home and sell it in the space of one half hour. Nor does one find a new home by looking at 3 absolutely perfect properties (all in their price range and desired location) and move in within the next 1/2 hour. But the overall process, though a bit longer, is pretty much the same.

I know some of you know all about our recent delve into the real estate buy/sell process but I need to update a lot of people and thought this would be the easiest way to do it. (Sorry it's not a personal email to you'all!) I haven't put too much about it on Facebook because there are so many variables and contingencies and I didn't want to keep updating my status over and over until things were pretty much settled. So since we're at that point.... here's a brief run-down. :)

We had been thinking for awhile that it might be time for us to 'upgrade' our housing. Micah and I bought this house 2 months before we got married (10 years ago.) We spent 1 month making it more livable and then Bass moved in. After the honeymoon, I moved in (and brought the furniture.) :) We spent the next 9 years redoing the whole thing from top to bottom: new electrical, removing popcorn ceilings, new doors & windows, new moldings, refinishing the hardwood floors, a new kitchen, landscaping, a new roof, new furnace and a/c, etc, etc, etc. It's been fun and often crazy but we're finally at the point where the house is almost completely the way we want it. That must mean it's time to move, right?
We have loved our little home but it's feeling a little small lately. Only having 1 bathroom thus far has been okay, the kids are getting older and taking a little longer, and they could use a little more space outside to play. So since current interest rates are super low, we thought we'd jump in to see what might happen. We figured that if it didn't work out to sell or find a new place, we'd just stay put for a few more years.

Designed to Sell
We had some minor things to finish up before listing the house: a piece of missing trim here, a room that needed to be painted, a broken window pane to replace, and I needed to pack up some of our extra 'clutter.' (That extra clutter was 9 huge boxes that we had to lug to the attic!) We got all that done and put the house on the market on 9/17. We had 2 showings in that next week and received an offer on 9/27. We accepted which then gave us 2 weeks to find a new home. Eek!

House Hunters
We had previously seen about 7 properties and actually bid on (and lost) 2 of them. Inventory in our price range was a little low so we were really praying that we could find something. The night we finalized the deal with our buyers, we got an email that a new house had come on the market. We went the next day, loved it, and made an offer that night (9/30). We found out Saturday that we got the house! The new house is off of Old Philadelphia Pike near the Rt. 30 ramp in a little neighborhood of brick ranch houses behind the Tom's gas station. Or you can get to it from Lincoln Highway (by Amelia's/Rita's.) It's super convenient to everything but it's tucked back on a little cul-de-sac and is actually very quiet. We're now a little closer to LCCS where the kids go to school too but it's only a few extra minutes for Bass to get to work. It's a cute little brick ranch with 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, full basement (unfinished for now), walk-up attic, 1 car garage and it's very own DRIVEWAY! We're quite excited about having off-street parking!! It also has a nice sized yard in the front and back---perfect for the kids. It's very un-updated and needs a ton of work but it has loads of potential and we're ready to make it Bathtastic with lots of Sweat Equity. Bass just might need a few more Cool Tools, especially when we tackle creating a Garage Mahal or Man Cave. The Kitchen isn't Impossible but at some point we'll need to redo that too. (I think I just made this a contest to see how many TV show names I can work into this post.) :) When we officially close I'll start putting up 'before' pics.

Real Estate Confidential
Those TV shows don't always show all of the back-and-forth with the realtors. All the waiting to hear about inspections and appraisals and mortgage approvals. All the stress wondering if your house has major issues that you weren't aware of or if your buyer will back out unexpectedly. But we know that the Lord is working out His plan for our life and while it's been a month of appointments and paperwork and waiting, everything has gone very smoothly.
Our inspection had 8 really, really minor issues. The buyer asked us to fix 4 of them. We fixed 6 since the total cost was about $10 for all of it. We appraised higher than our asking price and didn't require any additional FHA repairs. With the new house, the inspection was pretty much what we expected but we were able to get a little bit of money back in closing cost concessions because of all of the repairs needed. It's quite a mess but has some Hidden Potential. Our bank also didn't require an appraisal there because it's priced so low, which saves us some money. :)
We got our mortgage approval and our buyer's just got theirs this week. So now we ready to set a closing date.

Design on a Dime
We just heard last night that it looks like (although it's not totally set in stone) closing will be on Friday, November 12. Our buyers have agreed to let us 'rent-back' for the following week so we'll be able to stay in our current house and not have to find something For Rent but have a week to work on the new one before moving. Our moving date is most likely going to be Saturday, November 20. Hence all of the boxes piled up everywhere! :)
Packing is going well---I have about 2/3 of the house done. All that's left is the everyday stuff: dishes, kitchen stuff, food, about 1 box for each bedroom, the linen closet, and clothes closets. Most of which can't really be packed until we get within a few days of actually moving. As we work on the new house, we'll probably take loads of stuff over each time we go to minimize the big move. It's been fun to think of how our current furniture and decor will fit in the new house and think about what we want to do with the bathrooms, kitchen, paint colors, etc. I've been to Home Depot and Lowes so many times that people are starting to mistake me for an employee. Hmm... could I get a discount for that?? ;) When the new house is done, I'm sure I'll be a Design Star.

So that's where we're at. Or where we will be at, I guess. It's bittersweet to think of leaving My (our) First Place but we're excited for all that comes next! Once we're set up you'all can come Rate My Space. :) Pictures of the whole adventure coming soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hydrangeas and Harmony Disclosure Policy

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. 

I will give my honest opinion and assessment of all the products that are submitted to me and experiences I may be given. I reserve the right to opt out of publishing a review if I do not feel that I can be fair about my opinion.

As the owner of this blog, I may accept forms of cash advertising or sponsorship. There might also be paid topic insertions. I will and do accept and keep free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics, or posts made in this blog.

I believe in honesty and integrity; therefore, I will always give my personal opinion whether or not it shows a product or company in a favorable light.  Compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics, or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space, or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own. I do not claim to be nor make an effort to be an expert on any certain topic, product, or service.  I will only endorse companies, products, and services that I believe, based on my own experiences, are worthy of endorsement.  All product or service claims should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Was Featured!

How cool can one possibly feel when their project/craft/idea/decor is featured on another blog? I don't know for sure, but I feel pretty awe-some!
I've been featured here:

24 Cottonwood Lane


Organize and Decorate Everything

It's OVerflowing

Thursday, September 23, 2010

K is for.... (altered wood letters)

K is for Kayla

and L is for Lindsay....

2 sweet girls who are just starting their freshman year at Houghton College. I altered these letters to send up for their rather bare dorm room in celebration of Kayla's birthday. I saw pictures of the matching comforters they had gotten for their room and tried to pick papers to match. Each is similar and yet different to try to reflect their unique personalities. I hope they like 'em! Love ya' girlies!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jewelry Show Set-Up

Here are a few pics of how I set everything up at my last show. I think it turned out nice. I love using baskets and various antique-y pieces for display.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Craft Show tomorrow!

My first outing as 'Hydrangeas and Harmony' is tomorrow morning! I'm participating in a craft/yard sale at Hosanna! a Fellowship of Christians in Lititz (click here for directions). There are tons of vendors and yard salers participating and there will be food. :) If you're looking for a bargain or some new pretties, stop by! The sale is happening from 7 to 11am.

My cute little business card holder.

I'm taking lots of stretchy bracelets and this pretty dish for display.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wherever You Are

This morning, I had the great privilege of singing with 2 dear friends. (I begged them to sing this song with me and they agreed!) This was the last week Tom will be on stage and the last time for a long while that I'll get to sing with him. Next Sunday, the Fords will be around and then they're off to China for 2 years. This song, sung by The Martins, has always been a favorite and was quite appropriate for different things that we are each going through right now. I'm thrilled I could sing it with Tom and Sharon!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Varied Interests (ie. I'm Complicated)

I hear this question way too often... "Is there anything you can't do?" Ummm... juggle?
Seriously though there's plenty of things that I can't do but I have a lot of different interests and love to try new things and take on new projects. They don't always turn out the way I first envision them but I get excited when I find a new hobby or get excited about a new use for an old one. So as far as artsy-craftsy stuff, here's what I do:

My first foray into actual handiwork: sewing!
Other than little crafts in art class at school or in Brownies (Girl Scouts), I didn't do much when I was young other than coloring. I loved to color. I even won a coloring contest when I was in 2nd grade. Somewhat reflective of my type A personality, I always colored in the lines. :) Anyway... I grew up close to both of my grandmothers. Both extremely talented women! My dad's mother was a china painter and doll maker. She painted florals and birds on ceramic decor items and jewelry. Her roses and pansies are just beautiful! She passed away a few years ago but I still have earrings and pendants she painted for me when I was young. A fruit clock she painted as a wedding gift hangs in my kitchen. And I have precious paintings for each of my children that she made for us. I gave ceramic painting a try around 6th grade but let's just say I didn't inherit the painting gene. My mom's mother is a quilter and sewer. She made clothes for us all my growing up (complete with matching outfits for my lovey 'Honey Bunny'.) I think it was the summer I was 12, my grandmother took my younger sister and I to a fun little sewing store for lessons. We made a pillow and a T-shirt/shorts outfit. I learned a lot and while most of my clothing projects now are major 'fails', I can do some basic home sewing like pillows, curtains, table runners, etc. I also used to do counted cross-stitch quite a bit and can do basic embroidery stitches. When I sit down with a hoop, I feel very Jane Austen-y. Maybe I should start stitching project and put in 'Pride & Prejudice'?

My next love and first real 'grown-up' craft also was started by my maternal grandmother. After my grandparents moved to Florida for their retirement years, she got involved in a Creative Memories scrapbooking group. I think as a birthday gift when I was in junior high school, she gave me a box of supplies to get started. I wasn't terribly interested and set it aside for a year or two. But then I learned that my best friend from high school was a scrapbooker and after seeing her albums, I dug out that box and got started! Oh those first pages..... *ouch*! I can't even show them to you because they were so wretched, I went back and redid them! (I know, I know, you shouldn't go back and redo but I wanted to do a more complete scrapbook of my childhood and I only had about 3 pages worth in that first album. Now I have 4 full --and finished-- albums that go from my birth up until our wedding.) I'm not a big photo album person so everything goes in the scrapbook. I have our chronological albums, a Christmas album, and a home album. I also put together 2 albums for my husby about his 3-week trip to the Holy Lands. (They still need journaling and embellishments but the pictures are in!) I'm about 6 years behind but it's a process and I love working on them when I have the time.

So we all know what happens when scrapbookers have extra bits of paper and supplies lying around.... they start making cards! And we all know you can't make cards without rubber stamps!
 Introduce the next hobby: rubber stamping! So this hobby happened by accident! (Honest, honey!!!) A friend invited me to tag-along to a Stampin' Up home demonstration. I hadn't seen her in awhile and figured I'd go just for the fellowship. I did not 'do' rubber stamping; I was not good at rubber stamping (as evidenced by previous attempts); I did not want the expense of buying rubber stamps; etc, etc, etc. Well, I loved the party! I learned how to stamp and it actually looked good! I left that evening and immediately started looking into signing up to become a demonstrator (so I could get the discount, of course!) In my research, I was introduced to The Angel Company and loved their images, loved the unmounted cling system, and loved their low sales quotas. So I signed on and jumped in with both feet. (Honey, if I make all the cards we send, I can save us money. *giggle*)

Well, having all sorts of papercrafting supplies and tons of rubber stamps, I started altering things. I love making everyday things a little more beautiful and creating pretty packaging for gift-giving.

A couple of years ago I hosted a craft show in our living and dining room and invited about 10 friends to participate. We had a great time selling together and I loved the opportunity to try lots of different craft ideas that had been in my 'idea' folder. I made altered picture frames, stitched prim style sayings, decoupaged decorative Christmas blocks, made bath products like soap, milk bath, and bath salts, made card sets, and more.

My newest love: beading! My great-grandmother was a beader. She made little beaded dolls and bells and some jewelry, I think. I have a collection of her bells that I put on their own little tree at Christmas time. Jewelry making was a hobby that I was again determined not to get into. I knew if I started that I'd get sucked in. (I was right!)

Even though my kids are both past the age for me to participate in a MOPs program, the gals at church invited me to their 'Mom's night out: Jewelry night'. We made a pair of earrings and a couple of necklaces. I wasn't very adept at finishing the pieces off which just cemented my feelings about not starting a new hobby. But.... I had a dress that I wanted to wear to church and I didn't have any coordinating jewelry. I couldn't find anything in a store (at a reasonable price) that would work so hmm.... I'm crafty, I think to myself, I'll just make something. Thus a new *cough, cough* obsession has begun. The only problem... a woman can only wear so much jewelry at once and one can only give away so many gifts. I'm hoping that I can maybe sell some pieces at local craft shows or flea markets. Simply to make room for new projects!

So that's what I do! I've tried basket making, ceramic painting, quilting, and tie dye. I don't knit, crochet, sew clothes, do fine painting, draw, make dolls or teddy bears, altered collages, or woodworking. I'd love to try felting and making purses. But I've already got a lot going. :)
(And I certainly don't juggle!)
I hope you find time today to 'do' what you do!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why Hydrangeas and Harmony?

Naming a blog has got to be one of the most difficult things ever! I told my husby that creating this thing would be so much easier if I had just one main interest or hobby. But... I have so many things that I love to do, so many crafts that I like to dabble in, and so many things that inspire me, it was hard to narrow it down.

I decided on Hydrangeas and Harmony because I want this blog to be about my whole life, not just the craft aspect, not just family news, not just being involved in our church. At church, I have the great privilege of being part of the Worship and Arts Ministry Team -- I get to sing on the praise team, with the mixed ensemble, with the adult choir, sometimes with the ladies ensemble; I get to play the piano and keyboard (and sometimes handchimes and even the djembe!); I get to co-direct the children's choir and the youth ensemble; I get to just be super involved with all things music! I love to sing and am so blessed that I get to use the gifts the Lord has given me on a regular basis. So that's the 'Harmony' part.

The 'Hydrangea' theme sort of represents our home. I'm not quite sure why we chose it, but we used hydrangeas for our wedding flower. The funny thing is I didn't even like hydrangeas all that much back then. In honor of our special day, we've ended up with 5 hydrangea bushes in our gardens. (4 are blue; 1 is pink.) We have wedding decor leftovers dressing up our master bedroom and in season, I love to have a fresh arrangement on our dining room table. So to illustrate home and family, I came up with 'Hydrangeas'. And now my blog name is alliterated. I love alliteration. It just flows. Ya' know? 

(My blue hydrangeas are really droopy because of the oppressive heat. But my little pink bush --see above-- is doing okay. It has just a few blooms but they're so pretty.)
So there you have it.... why I went with 'Hydrangeas and Harmony'. (And about 10 other names I tried were already taken. *giggle*) Thanks for stopping by!
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