Sunday, October 31

The Engagement

I've picked this post up a couple of times, tried to put what has happened in the last...oh...4 months into words. It fails me every time. So here I am, hoping that Brooke will sleep for just a few minutes longer so I can possibly finish this post once and for all!

I know posting has been pretty scarce over here at The Single Sister. I know you all know things have been happening over here at The B&P household. Some of it has been fun, some exciting, some downright miserable. All of it blog material, but it doesn't leave me a lot of time to actually blog about it.

The #1 news at The B&P household. The news that will force me to come up with a new blog title? The news that I'v been doing a horrible job at keeping a secret? Mara put it best, "Worst kept secret ever!"

I'm WE are engaged!

Yeah, I know, none of you are surprised. But that doesn't put a damper on the excitement, right?!? And everyone reading this probably already knows. This is big. I mean, I'm going to have to change my blog name, big. ;) I'm going to have a husband. Big. I'm going to have a step-daughter. Big. Wow, that just sounds weird. Step-daughter. I'll have to process that one later.

When did this happen? Oh, like 4 months ago. Why has it taken me so long to update? I'm lazy. I can no longer use the wait-till-you-see-what-happened-next excuse. Life just gets in the way sometimes. Want the how-did-he-do-it-? story? Here it is:

I knew, I've known for over a year. I knew right away that I wanted to marry this man. We half jokingly, half not so jokingly, had our wedding date picked out in the first week or so that we were together. Ok, so it really did start out as a joke but in the months to come we realized it wasn't a joke anymore, that we wanted it to be reality.

Over the last 6 years or so every time I imagined how I would become engaged for some reason I pictured it being a complete surprise to me. I imagined dating a guy for a year or so, most likely living with him, and having him surprise me with a ring. "What? I didn't know this was coming!"

Yeah, right. Why I thought this fit my personality, I'll never know. I guess thats how I saw it played out on TV and in the movies. I'm more of a take charge kind of gal. I want to know what's coming and when its coming. I wanted to find the one, get married, and have kids. Of course I'm going to know when I meet the one, and I'm probably not going to sit around and wait and see if he feels the same. :)

A month or so into our relationship we started talking about rings; ring styles, colors, sizes, etc. Talking about it turned into internet searches to explain the styles I liked. The concept of halos and emerald cut baguettes were new to him. No Mark, a baguette isn't a crusty loaf of french bread. ;)

Looking online turned to wanting to see the styles in person. The first time we looked was on our trip to Duluth. That trip turned into more trips, a quest to make sure we found the right one. By Thanksgiving I had told my family. By December we put a setting on layaway in hopes that we would have the whole thing paid off by the next fall. I had told Mark early on that I wanted to have been together for at least a year before we were technically engaged. Formality, I guess.

January we took a trip to the wedding fair to see if our dreams of a New Years Eve wedding in 2011 would be possible. Would venues fill up quickly with holiday parties and weddings? Would prices be too expensive since it's a holiday? Things were looking good. Now to just pay off that ring, still keeping that Fall time frame in mind. I always wanted to be able to announce my engagement at one of the family crafting weekends we have in Wisconsin.

Mark kept asking me if it was ok with me that I knew it was coming, concerned that I would feel like I missed out on the big surprise. To me finding Mark was the big surprise, I knew I wanted to marry him. Now I just wanted everyone else to know.

In May we had the opportunity to buy a house, does this make sense? Should we keep renting to save money for the ring and the wedding? We went for it, best decision ever, even after what happened a few days after our engagement...

Ok, so finally the engagement. I knew when the ring would be paid off. I had us on a pretty tight budget to get it paid off. I wanted that ring dam-it! LoL

For a couple of days after I knew that it was paid off, I would frisk Mark as he walked in the door, looking for a ring box, trying to figure out if he would have had time to run up to Shane Co after work. On Tuesday the 21st of September he proposed to me, on one knee, in our living room.

I knew it was coming, I knew the ring by heart, and it was still perfect.

Wednesday, September 1

Baby Shower Cookies

Friend and coworker of mine, Amber is having twins in a few short weeks. Twins! A little girl, Corie and a little boy, Finn. We had a baby shower at work for her today and of course we made it a food day to celebrate in the only fashion we know how, by eating massive amounts of food.

Erin had found this sugar cookie recipe by i am baker and shared it with me when she heard of my plans for Brooke's 2nd Birthday Party (you'll just have to wait and see). I decided to try it out and make ducky cookies for the baby shower. They turned out so well, I had to share.

Aren't they cute?

Know what is even better? They are delicious too! 

Not wanting to leave Corie and Finn's big brother, Gunnar, out I made him a set of cookies that spelled out his name and packaged them up for him. You can't really see it in the picture but the baby frog on the right even has eyelashes and and a pink mouth to be the baby girl frog.

Tuesday, August 17

Our House!

Finally. It's been 2 months since we closed on our house and I have pictures of the things we accomplished on the main level. I call it "Tier One Complete". When we started to talk about what we were going to do to the house we had to come up with a tier system. We couldn't get it all done right away and had to decide what was necessary, tier one.

Here are the before and after photos of what we've accomplished on the main level.




New countertop. New stove. New backsplash. New sink. New cabinet hardware.
Newly painted cabinets. Inside and out.

Yes, we went orange. :) We wanted to go bold in our color choices for the house. I think we accomplished our goal. Like my Ikea dishtowel curtains? I love em!

The backsplash project was tedious. We quickly realized the value of a good caulk adhesive.
But I love the results.

More Ikea dishtowel curtains. I'm proud, can you tell?

Close up of the new cabinet hardware. This was a tough choice. We agonized over this choice for weeks, longer than the choice to buy a house! We had 25 doors and 5 drawers to buy for and you could easily spend $6 a piece if you weren't careful of what style you fell in love with. So it was tough to keep to our budget of $3 a piece. The hinges were originally black/gold. I hated them but hated the thought of buying new ones even more so I was determined to find pulls/knobs to both match the black/gold hinges and stainless steel/silver kitchen. Thankfully Mark came up with the idea to spray paint our old hinges. I was skeptical at first but he talked me into it and it turned out wonderfully!

Dinning Room




I'm a little unsure how I feel about the light blue color on the left wall. I'm wondering how it would look in the brown color.

See, I said we wanted to go bold with the color.

Living Room



Brook standing in her diaper watching TV?
As Pioneer Woman would say, I'm just keeping it real. ;)

Samantha solved our question as to what to put over our mantel. It has always bugged her that I never had a clock in my living room, so she gave us one! A super cute one! You can't really see it in this picture but the brown is a vinyl wall decal of branches and a bird with numbers around the outside. Then there is a clock mechanism that you place over it.

We have my old computer desk sitting right behind the couch as a sofa table. We'll do some baskets under there to store Brooke's toys.

As you can see by the naked shelves, I still have some decorating to do. My box of picture frames hasn't been uncovered yet. This blue color is the same as the large wall in the dinning room that I'm not sure about. I do like it in the living room, it make me feel like I'm inside one of those old blue canning jars. But I'm not sure it fits in the dinning room.

What do you think?

What's on Tier Two and Three?
Laminate flooring in the kitchen and dinning room, bar height table and chairs for the kitchen and new vanity and floor in the bathroom.

Hopefully coming soon, pictures of the upstairs complete. We still haven't finished Tier One projects up there...

In Progress

Guess what? I finally have some "after" pictures of our new home to share! But before I do I figured I'd share a few "in progress" shots we took.

Our first task was the kitchen. I knew right away that I wanted to paint the kitchen cabinets white. I've always loved the clean look of white cabinets and since we definitely didn't have the budget for new cabinets, we tackled the process of painting them ourselves. And a process it was.

As we started to take things apart we realized what shape the cabinets were in and how badly they needed painting. The insides of the cabinets hadn't had attention in years. At one point they had been painted this lovely seafoam greenish color.

Shelves and walls were covered in contact paper. Oh how I've come to despise contact paper. It was like traveling through time when you looked at all the patterns they had. The leaf pattern you see below was the 90's edition. We also had the white geese from the 80's, funky bright green floral/clover from the 70's and a classic silver and white pattern from the 50's. The fun part came when we realized that the contact paper on the wall was to cover the crumbling plaster. That white spot you see below? Crumbling plaster. Yay!

Our solution to crumbling plaster? Plywood. I think a few contractors, and cabinet makers out there just collectively shuddered as I said that. It probably wasn't the proper thing to do, but it worked.

Now onto the bathroom. This wasn't so much of a project as an interesting tidbit of information. Here we have our old medicine cabinet. I'm a fan of big mirrors myself and this cabinet was pretty old and dated so we wanted to replace it. Well after hearing what my dad had to say, I was a little timid to replace ours. Have you ever noticed the slot in the back of your medicine cabinet?

Like this?

As soon as my dad saw that he said, "I bet there are a bunch of razor blades in the wall back there." Whaa, why? Apparently my Grandpa always told him that's where razor blades were meant to go when they were dull so they wouldn't hurt anyone in the garbage. At first I wondered how this could be true since, where would they go? Just into the wall? That couldn't be, there isn't any sort of receptacle that they are stored in for easy removal later.

I wondered if this was something that my Grandfather had been told by his father and told my father and was assumed to be true.

Then my coworker found this: The Concept of Away.

I guess it was all true. A designer back in the day thought it would be a great idea to give people a place to put their old razors. Maybe he had been cut one too many times from old dull razors while digging in the garbage? Growing up in the 90's and in the middle of Reduce Reuse Recycle and knowing that away isn't away, this is an odd concept to hear.

And now we come to the fateful moment. Are there razors in our walls? Did the previous owners of our house shove years of dull rusty razor blades down the back of the medicine cabinet?

(Here is where I could show Mark what our walls were actually made of. Living in a 100 year old house is new to him.)

All clean, no razor blades!

The previous owners must have known that away wasn't away. Or maybe their fathers never told them what that slit in the back of the medicine cabinet was for.

For that we are thankful, I'm not sure our tetanus shots are up to date.

Sunday, July 4

Dear Sir,

I'm sorry Mr. Neighbor, but I'm not going to shovel up the bunny nest in my yard with three tiny baby bunnies and dump it in the gutter.

I appreciate your concern for our yard. I understand that the "soil will die" and our grass will be brown in that spot. I understand that we are over run with bunnies and many people see them as pests. But the hippy in me can not stomach the thought of shoveling breathing, living, baby animals into the sewer.

While I'm not going to go to the extreme and bring them into my home and bottle feed them as Samantha wanted to do. I'm going to put the nest back together, leave it to nature and hope that the mother will come back despite Henry's* scent all over the place. Google says that the mother will in fact still come back to care for her babies even though the nest has been tampered with.

On a side note. I know I've neglected posting pictures of the house. I was going to do a big "before" post. But now I think I'll do before, and after pictures in the same blog post. That seems more fun. ;)

Stay tuned!

(yes I feel better after my mini rant)

*Samantha and Chris's black lab

Tuesday, June 1

Hopefully this will be the last.

That is, the last rent check I will pay to a landlord. (I have to add the disclaimer that Mark is actually paying this months rent, so technically the last rent I paid was in....April? This way we don't have to give the mortgage people an explanation as to where that random sum of money in my account came from when mark deposits money for the months bills. Nothing like having your checking account watched by big brother. Thankfully Mark works with our Mortgage guy so he's been taking care of this aspect.) Anyways, the point is, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

No more rent!
No more rent! 
La La La, La La La!

Yes, we bought this house. This lovely 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 2200 sq ft house built in 1912. With a three season porch off the front, large dinning room, living room, and kitchen on the main level, original woodwork, brick fireplace (non working), half finished basement, fenced in side and back yard, and a 2 stall garage in the back.  

Yay!  We close in the middle of June and plan on moving the last weekend in June.  Yay!

I didn't really want to bore you guys with the suspense of house hunting, offer making, inspections, appraisals, etc like I did last time.  Although that would have given me something to blog about in the last few months instead of leaving you guys hanging.

Long story short, I've been tired of paying rent for a while now. Tired of not having a yard for Brooke to play in, tired of taking my laundry to a laundry mat (correction: tired of sending Mark to the laundry mat), and most of all tired of not being able to do what I want to my surroundings. 

A coworker happened to be looking online at houses for sale in Owatonna one day and I thought, hey, I can afford that. And with the deadline of the $8,000 tax credit looming Mark and I jumped into house hunting. I believe it was our second day out looking we found a house that I fell in love with, and after a few minutes of convincing, I had talked Mark into it. I really fell in love with this house. I even started mentally decorating it. So we made an offer. They countered. I continued to mentally decorate. We made another offer. They countered again (Here is where I put in a mini rant about how they kept countering higher than their original counter and at one point had their counter offer over the asking price). It essentially came down to the dang barn garage and the couple thousand dollars that it was going to cost us to repair the roof to satisfy FHA financing appraisals. We backed out. 

A couple of days later we did find our house. Coincidentally it's only two blocks over from the first house we put an offer down on, same house number even, and on the same street that we live on now. Initially it didn't have the same charm for me that the first house did. But it quickly grew on me when I looked past how they had it decorated and laid out to how I would decorate it and the thing we would do to it. 

We made an offer and they accepted. It was inspected and nothing major was found. Thankfully the inspector put Mark at ease with buying a 98 year old house. He said it was a very structurally sound house and he even knew the previous owners who had it for 30+ years.  The appraisal happened with only a slight hiccup when it came to the garage roof. He wanted to see the damage to the south side of the roof repaired.  Mark and I chose to just have the south side replaced and the sellers agreed to pay the cost. So now the south side of the garage roof doesn't match the rest, but we'll worry about that in a few years. It doesn't look tooo horrible. ;)

Now that just leaves us with packing up, closing, and then we'll start some painting projects before we completely move in at the end of the month!  

I'll post some "before" pictures when we close and even more "after" pictures when we complete our projects.

Ok, that ended up not exactly being a short version of the story.  Sorry. :)

Sunday, April 4

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend is hardly half over, but I couldn't resist sharing some cute pictures from the first part of our Easter weekend.

Saturday turned out to have some sunny warm moments so we took advantage and headed to the park.

Brooke thinking she's pretty funny.
She's right.

Saturday night the Easter Bunny came and left a fun looking basket.

Sunday morning Brooke had fun discovering what was in it. When Mark first brought her into the living room and set her down, she did her trade mark "Zzsssat? Zzssat?" pointed, and ran....straight past her basket to the remotes on the couch.

Well, not the reaction we were looking for but she soon saw the goodies that waited for her and had fun pulling each thing out.

We spent the morning playing with bubbles,

eating yogurt covered raisins,

and bunny fruit snacks.

Now it's off to Forest Lake and St. Paul to see our families. I see more food and more candy in our future.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, March 12

Miss Brooke

Just a few shots of Little Miss Brooke taken with my new (to me) camera. They aren't perfect, but it was fun to play around with some photoshop brushes and Pioneer Woman actions.