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.

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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.

Adventures in Croton

(Edited to add an intro, because this post started somewhat abruptly.)

Hello! I’m collecting information on this blog about all of my houseplants, mostly for my own reference/memory. But I also hope this will be helpful for others, since I’ve discovered that keeping plants alive – like sewing – is simply about accumulating and applying knowledge.

December 14, 2015
When you speak up in defense of white chocolate....

I posted this on instagram with a joke about that chocolate, and a friend complimented my croton. Until that point, I do not believe I knew what any of my plants were called, but this piece of information was galvanizing! “This is a croton.”

At some point in the spring I started an epic email chain with myself, attempting to identify my office plants by their REAL NAMES, and collecting information about their watering and sunlight preferences. This was referred to as the “stripey colorful one” since croton wasn’t yet a word that would stick in my mind.

August 5, 2016
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At this point I’d done some more research and observation about this plant. I’d noticed that it would DRAMATICALLY let me know when it needed watering – at least weekly, or the branches and leaves would all droop significantly – but it would always recover within a few hours.

My favorite houseplant resource told me that it didn’t like too much direct sunlight, so I kept it away from the window. I was proud of the fact that it had grown taller, though I wished I could do something to make it more dense.

October 17, 2016
Someone missed me. #dramaqueen

I’d been sick and missed my regular watering day. I think this was taken 3 days after the usual watering day. This is the most extreme example of the drooping leaves I’d seen so far, and even when it was watered again, the plant had a wan appearance.

Instead of giving up completely and tossing the sad sad plant (which, I forgot to mention, I bought at Trader Joe’s and had assumed wouldn’t last past the 2015 holiday season) I decided to do something bold.

October 18, 2016
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LOOK AT THAT PITIFUL PLANT!

Okay, actually, this isn’t the plant. It’s a number of branches that I cut off the original, and somewhere I read that trimming back the leaves might help these cuttings to root. (It did not work. These sat in some soil in the window for a week or two, and nothing happened.)

But the pruning of the original plant turned out to be EXACTLY what it needed! The little note in my houseplant resource about pruning (“Trim the stems of your Croton to encourage new growth to keep the plant bushy and full.”) was the secret to success!

Of course, I didn’t know that immediately.

November 2, 2016
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For many weeks I kept a close eye on this guy. I moved him next to the window (because I realized that the leggy branches AND the faded leaves probably meant it was sun-deprived), I stabilized the stems so they didn’t flop over, and I watered more frequently so that the droopy leaves never had to beg for it.

[My favorite way to check if this plant needs watering – pick it up. If it feels light, barely the weight of an empty planter, I water it.]

AND THEN…

December 1, 2016
Look at those baby branches! 😍

…THIS HAPPENED!

Do you see those bright green nubs at all of the branching places? THAT IS NEW GROWTH!

But wait, it gets better, because I’ve been studying them every day, wondering what was hidden within each of those nubs…

December 9, 2016
Leaves! #watchingplantsgrow

…and each one is more than I had even hoped! LOOK AT THOSE LEAVES! I think there are four leaves growing out of that one section alone!

So, I pruned 3 stems of this plant down to the lowest level of leaves (or the second lowest, because I couldn’t stand to have a pot with just three leaves sitting on my desk), and each of those cuts led to new growth in 2-3 more places. Once all of these leaves and branches develop, this plant is going to be SO DENSE!

That’s all for now, but I’m obviously excited to see how these leaves grow out, and I’m curious to discover how quickly it happens.