house/plant updates

In the new house, Thursday night is plant watering night! This is also garbage/recycling night, and it might also become sweep/vacuum night. (It felt good to remove dust bunnies before they became dust monsters.)

Though I’m fully moved in, and mostly settled, there is still a lot of arranging and re-arranging happening. This week, I refreshed the guest room – moved the bed from one wall to another, shifted around furniture, swapped some old chairs for others.

My sewing room is almost ready to use – though I have to admit it still feels weird to NOT live in that room. I miss having a bed nearby for spreading out fabrics (though I’ll adapt to using the floor) and I finally realized that there are many more comfortable places in the house to watch movies on my computer. (Duh.)

Other things: have I told you about the neighborhood girl gang? They are all in 3rd or 4th grade, which means they’re all 8 or 9, and they were born in such-and-such year even though their parents THOUGHT they’d be born in such-another year. (This is the amount of information you get when you ask a grade school girl how old she is. I did not realize how important all of those details were.)

They said hi to some of my friends on one of the many moving days, asked if they were moving in, and friends said, “No, but our friend MAGGIE is.” Fast forward to every day after that, when I get out of my car and hear “HI MAGGIE!” from down the street, turn, and see a number of children waving. I finally learned all of their names, and told them about my future garden, and that’s all it took to guarantee my doorbell rings every day.

So far they’ve pestered me about the garden enough to ensure I bought dirt and put it in the bed (though they always seem to disappear on the days when I decide to do the work). They have also tried introducing me to music.ally though I HOPE they realized how pathetic I am in front of a camera. (That laughing outtake will probably be shown to their mothers, which will help increase familiarity within the neighborhood.) Also, one of them named her Fake American Girl doll after me, which might become the sweetest moment of 2017.

Okay, that’s enough of a life update. Here are some plant photos!

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These are a few pothos branches that fell off the original plant – I put them in soil to see what would happen, and they seem to be very happy. (On the left, in front of the open leaf, you can see a lighter green shoot that is unfurling a new leaf.) This teapot came from my grandparents’ basement, and I’m so happy it finally has a purpose!

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The lemon button ferns in my kitchen window are finally looking happy – I bought them a year ago, and have been pinching dry branches on a regular basis – you can see a little nub on the end of that center-of-the-photo branch which is new growth!

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This chinese evergreen is my oldest houseplant, and I recommend them to anyone who is terrified of houseplants. It’s huge and beautiful and seems to adapt to any level of light. It’s also sporting some new growth on top!

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Did I tell you I bought a palm tree at Ikea? It’s in the guest bedroom, and in the recent shuffle I have placed it on a chair so it’s even more intimidating.

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Awww! The fiddle leaf figs! You didn’t think I’d leave them out, did you? This one is in the bathroom (morning light, filtered) and I’ve been trying to train it away from that pronounced curve to the left that it developed in the past year. I’m encouraged that the top branch is growing upward AND it’s already started some new growth! One thing I discovered during research is that this tree is essentially dormant during cold weather, but that it averages a foot of growth during warm weather months when it’s healthy.

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And here’s the beautiful, perfectly straight fiddle leaf fig that’s in my sewing room. I think it’s really cute that they both have one giant leave, and I’m guessing this is the one that continues growing during their “dormant” phase.

FYI I have swapped out this rope basket with a metal planter (okay a trash bin because they are cheaper than planters) because it was starting to get dingy – in my experience, these trees hold very little water in the soil, so there’s always a LOT of run-off. That muddy run-off didn’t pair well with this white rope.

That was fun! Maybe I’ll start giving more regular updates like this!

a few photos of my home

I took these photos on the 13th and 14th of March. I was holding them to post a few on instagram first. And then I was holding them because, “That’s not how my living room looks anymore! I’ve re-arranged things.” But I realize that my photos will NEVER be more than just a documentation of one fleeting moment in my home, so here are a few fleeting moments from mid-March.

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I love the differences between night and day captured in those last four photos. More fleeting moments to be shared in the future.

life update

I should have been keeping a better record of this.

It’s been…
-almost two months since I made an offer on a house
-almost one month since I closed on it
-just over a week since I started sleeping there

My parents visited this past weekend, for a 3-day weekend that turned into a 4-day weekend when we were all too excited to wait until Friday. For them, the excitement of seeing my house. For me, the excitement of having two more sets of capable hands to help bring my house dreams to life. Okay, we also wanted to see each other, though that was somewhat tempered by a knowledge that our three strong heads might be butting repeatedly. (They did, but we’ve learned over the years how to manage that better.)

So right now I’m still processing the work that my parents did for me:

My house elves are here! 😍

This is 2pm on Thursday. We’d already gone to Lowes to buy those 12-foot boards plus brackets, drove them home in a Prius, installed the brackets, sanded the boards, and Mom is painting them while Dad is replacing a light fixture. After this photo, we drove to Ikea. Late that night, Dad and I unloaded the car while Mom painted a second coat on these shelves.

Friday morning, I unpacked all of my books and arranged them on the shelves. Dad assembled every piece of ikea furniture while this was happening. After lunch, Mom and I went thrifting and when we came back Dad was watching a video – turns out  he’d pre-downloaded a plumbing video from youtube when I emailed them a description of how my shower handle was incorrectly installed. (He realized that theirs is installed the same way, and is going to fix theirs as soon as he gets home.)

I can’t even remember the sequence of events after this. At one point, both of them were clearing kudzu in my back yard so dense that they found a child’s bicycle underneath. We drew the attention of some neighborhood kids after the second trip to Lowes for lumber, and I now have a team of “helpers” for my raised bed vegetable garden.

I kept trying to feed them. I tried to thank them at least once an hour. I knew that Mom would fall asleep the moment she took a sip of wine, so I tried to pour a glass for her each night. We rented a movie from redbox and returned it on time. 

On Sunday night, my kitchen sink clogged. Dad and I had to drive to the third-closest Lowes because two others were closed. I watched while he fed 25 feet of auger through the pipes, and now I will be able to tackle this project on my own if (when) it happens again. It felt like a homeowner initiation, and I’m so thankful I wasn’t alone for this one.

(This doesn’t even mention the dozens of friends who have helped me before this weekend. Maybe I’ll have a chance to tell those stores soon. If not, these instagram photos are a few examples.)

a few new things

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I kicked off the new year by making an offer on a house!

I took the photo above the day after I submitted the contract, when I realized that I’d need to pack up my multi-purpose bedroom and thought I might want to capture some of its whimsy.

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Of course, these photos also capture the chaos – the nearly constant, relentlessly managed chaos of having a bedroom, a closet, and a sewing room in one open space. I cannot clear a surface without claiming it with a new project within a week.

The excitement I’m experiencing right now is directly related to the excitement of paying off my debt last year, and is only due to the budgeting skills and financial confidence I have acquired in that process and since. It’s also due to some generous money gifted from family, which I am quick to acknowledge because it’s frequently a part of home ownership and often helps to explain why Person X is able to be in a particular place while Person Y is not – generational financial stability, plus the knowledge and emotional support of parents who have navigated this process. I am hugely privileged in this way, and I need to acknowledge that.

Where do things stand now? I’m under contract. (I’m always tempted to say “we” – “We’re under contract!” –  which is partially my own acknowledgement that IT TAKES A VILLAGE and that I couldn’t do this without the support of my realtor, lender, inspector, etc…but I think this is also a piece of my amazement that I’m buying a house as a single woman. This is honestly one of those financial/emotional hurdles that I would actively name in my 20s – I was sad to be single because I didn’t believe I’d be able to own a home by myself. The fact that such thoughts didn’t even occur to me in this process speaks greatly about the maturity and contentment I’ve grown into.) I’ve been sending hundreds of financial documents to my lender, and I just had the house inspection. We’re (my realtor is doing the bulk of the work, so I just can’t claim it) bringing in a few professionals to look more closely at systems, but it seems like the seller is motivated to resolve any issues and to get to closing.

My planning nature has kicked into high gear. I have at least a dozen secret pin boards, gathering ideas and inspiration for furnishing this particular space. I have a google spreadsheet that is tracking my cash balance and my planned expenditures IN ADDITION to my regular budget (which should, despite all this activity, stay fairly stable in the midst of the transition – a bit of a reminder that higher spending should not be contagious across categories). I am immobilized with frustration that I cannot start DOING these things that I’m planning to do, that I have to wait almost another month, which means I’ve also started creating project management charts to track how quickly I can tackle each task once I have keys in my hands. (Perhaps the benefit of a spouse in this scenario would be someone to forcibly drag me away from my lists.)

I’m not sure whether I intended to say anything else, before this devolved into lists of lists (which has always been a deep theme of my blogging) – it just seemed important to mark this moment, to immortalize it in some small way, and to give a slight warning that I might turn into a home decor blogger for a brief stretch of time. (Is there anything more satisfying than a before and after shot? NOPE.)

The house will have three(!) bedrooms, which means I will have space for a sewing room AND a guest room – and will not be forced to magically combine them in one space, which is what I’d expected to happen. There is enough room for the giant table I built last winter. I will not have to share a fridge or freezer with anyone for the first time in ten years!(!!!)

Okay, that’s enough for now.

Adventures in Humility

You guys. I start a blog series documenting my plants, share a triumphant story of keeping one alive, and then THIS happens.

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That is every leaf on the croton, withered and dried and fallen off the branch.

I’m not entirely sure how it happened. I had moved the plant away from the window for a weekend, worried that it was getting too cold/drafty. But I placed it in the middle of the office, where it may have had more direct afternoon sunlight (the same direct afternoon sunlight that forces me to close the blinds every day). So it could have been that. Or it could have been that the cold air near the window had already hit the plant before I moved it.

Or it could be that it decided to drop these old leaves so it could focus all of its energy on the new growth? Those baby leaves still look like they’re alive. Of course now the plant has the pitiful look that I was trying to avoid, so I’ve grouped it with a few others – away from the drafty window, away from that afternoon sun – and I’m going to wait and see what happens.