Spotlight on the Powder Room

I was watching an episode of my very favorite show – Rehab Addict on HGTV.  And host, Nicole Curtis, did a whole episode on the powder room of her latest house.  She made mention of how this is one room in your house that should really stand out as your guests will most likely visit at one point and have time to reflect on your personal style. 

I got to thinking about ours and how we had big plans for the powder room when we started the house build, but most of them were scratched off the list to save some money because we knew it was something that I could do on my own.  So with Nicole’s words on my mind- I set out on the journey to Jazz it up a bit!  

The main focus of the powder room is a 100 year old gold plated mirror that belonged to my Great Aunt Tina in her St. Joesph, MO home.  The intricate flower design of the mirror just demands a bit of fuss and drama to accompany it.  So we purchased Charleston fixtures for the french pedestal sink and a crystal chandelier to complete the look.  All items that could have been found in Aunt Tina’s house or any farm home built at the turn of the 1900’s.  


Even with these items, the room just felt like it needed something to pull it all together.  Once again, I looked to Nicole and thought about all of the powder rooms that she restores.  And realized that each of them has one of two things.  Wainscoting or subway tile.  Now I am a huge fan of wainscoting, but subway tile will always win in my heart.  There is something I love about tiling – its so easy and looks so great.  So it was decided that I would add some tile to the powder room.  

And that’s where the farmhouse inspiration meets my mother’s french country inspired bathroom – creating my own personal take on decorating.  Last year mom had her powder room renovated and she has one wall completely covered in antique mirrors with flower rosettes in the intersections.  I love the way that the light reflects off the mirrors and makes the whole room feel bigger and brighter.  


I combined the idea of a floor to ceiling wall and my love of subway tile for a floor to ceiling wall of subway tile.  And to keep it authentic I set the tiles in a dark grout – as white grout was not available “back in the day”.  


I knew I wanted to hang three wooden frames that Kelly gave me up in the bathroom over the loo, but had no idea what to put in them.  I feel like you cant put photos of people in the bathroom.  Just feels wrong for some reason.  So I ran this by Charles, and he came up with the wonderful idea of putting photos of the house during three phases of construction in the frames.  We converted them to black and white, and it’s perfect!  I love how when I really get stumped on something – he always has a helpful suggestion.  


The end result is better than I could have hoped for.  Aunt Tina’s mirror pop’s against the tile, the light dances over the tiles and reflects onto the walls, we have the creative photos of the house during construction, and best of all it no longer looks like a standard powder room.  It is full of little things that we love and reflects our style.  

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House Spotlight: The side porch

So – things have been remarkably easy since we built the house.  No fights with builders, no pricing out 2000 sq feet of something, no inner turmoil over the best shade of white paint.  Just a bit of peace and quite…. of course now that I have taken full advantage of that, I am searching for my next project.   

The problem with a new project after you build a house, is that they all seem…. small.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking forward to building another one any time soon.  But its hard to find something that fits the bill.  So until I find that particular item, I will continue to tinker about the house.

I have been taking it “one room at a time” and coming up with the finishing touches for each.  I recently completed the screened in porch on the side of the house and thought I would share some pictures.  

Welcome to our destination for football, morning coffee, and movie date night!
One of my favorite things about the porch is both of our contributions to its creation. I sew the cushions covers for the sofa seat and backs and Charles made the actual cushions with an electric carving knife and some high density foam. I also made the pillow covers for 4 of the 6 pillows and realized that I will never again buy a pillow when they are so easy and cheap to make!
Charles made the table that goes under the TV in an afternoon based off of picture on a website we booth like.  I grabbed some paint and stain we had lying around and turned it from home depot lumber to something “homie”.
We also made the chalk board over the dining table on a whim out of scraps we had lying around from other projects.  Only thing we had to purchase was the chalk board paint and we were set.  Thanks to my youngest niece, we have plenty of sidewalk chalk for custom messages: Today – a salute to Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for their kickoff against Duke at noon.
Radar loves laying on the top of the sofa and looking out at the street during morning coffee. Phoenix is almost always where her people are – at the time of this photo she was sitting next to my feet.
Speaking of Phoenix – she was willing to pose for a picture after all.
A belated Happy Birthday to our baby Radar – He turned 7 this week and reports he is very excited about what this year will bring him in the form of back yard squirrels, birds, and sunbeams 🙂

Where has 2015 gone?


We’ve put together a grand total of 5 blog posts this year. That is pretty sad considering we put out at least one a week for 2 or 3 years before 2015, and that doesn’t include anything we put on So what happened? Well for starters, we built our dream house. Somedays we are just sitting around marveling at how wonderful it is. Other days we are busy doing all of those things that “they” tell you will take up your time as homeowners. And on all of the days in between, I’m not sure I could honestly tell you what we’ve been up to. What I can tell you, however, is that we have been on a roller coaster of super busy and recovering from being super busy and have totally neglected the blog.

The last thing I put up here was that I had left Cloud Sherpas and started a new adventure at a company called MobileMind. At the time I had only been there for 2 weeks and things were chugging along nicely and not much has changed since then. There was some drama with my original technical colleague, which could not have turned out better for me. I was forced to be the sole technical resource for a couple of months, giving me the runway to prove myself to the company, and 2 weeks ago we hired one of my good friends Pete. He is another ex-AirWatch guy and could not be a better fit for what I needed from a 2nd in command. All of my strengths are his weaknesses and vice versa. Time will tell how this adventure will actually turn out, but as of today I am still very much enjoying myself and things are still looking way up.

As for the house – we have officially moved onto trying to get the outside to look as good as the inside. During the designing and building phases of the house, we had always just assumed that we would work on the outside of the house ourselves. Partly so we could save some money at that time, and partly because we had no idea what we actually wanted to do and we were already overwhelmed with decisions. Now the time has officially come to get that show on the road, and let me tell you, it is a lot of work. Even something as simple as getting the grass to grow and look as good as it can is a constant struggle. I am sure that doesn’t come as a surprise to all of you long time homeowners out there, but you really don’t appreciate it until you live it, and that’s just the beginning.

Our current major project is to put in a flower bed in front of the house so it doesn’t look quite so barren. After meeting with a potential landscaper (who was WAY too expensive), we took the good parts of his plan and turned it into a plan we can execute on our own. Or at least try to. Last weekend we started down that journey by taking up the necessary grass with a sod cutter, tilling out all of the existing dirt, covering the entire bed with over 1 ton of compost, and then re-tilling the new bed. Mulch was supposed to be delivered this past Monday so we could cover up the bed, but it rained everyday this week so we were stuck waiting until Friday to get the mulch in place. And now that the foundation of the bed is 100% done, we are focussing on the actual arrangement of the plants that will go in the bed. Or should I say that’s what Jes is doing while I am writing this post. We aren’t sure if we can plant anything right now in the hight of summer, but at the worst we can plant in the middle of fall. And to be perfectly honest, it might be a welcome break after the amount of effort it took to build the bed in the first place. 

Hopefully however things have died down enough to be more diligent with putting items on the blog, so we can put the planting plan on when it is done. And keep you up date on Phoenix as she starts preparing for agility competitions, starting this Tuesday. Or any other random musings that happen to come along. Until next time.

Good things come in threes too

Let’s see…. when was the last time we posted – about anything? Hold on, let me check…. January 17th. That was almost 3 months ago to the day. What could have possibly happened that caused us to go so long without a single post? I honestly wish I could tell you, but looking back on it the only thing that I can remember is one giant blur. Let’s take a look at the highlights though.

Number is obviously the house. Oh the house.The typical day for the past month or two involved waking up in Midtown, driving to the house to check on progress, driving to work, driving back to the house again later in the day, and then driving back to Midtown. Fighting traffic every step of the way. The house has provided a constant stream of both excitement and frustration, but we are crossing the finish line this weekend! We got our official Certificate of Occupancy late in the day yesterday. The only things left to do before we can start moving in are another coat of sealer and poly on the floors (happening today) and the cleaning crew needs to work their magic tomorrow. That doesn’t mean it’s done of course, but that we can start moving in. It looks incredible and it is definitely “our” house, and hopefully life will start to slow back down once we are officially moved in. We have plenty of pictures to show throughout the process and one day we will get around to actually posting them.

So if number one was the house, what was number two? Well if you’ve seen Facebook you might know, but if not, Radar has a sister again in the form of another Mini Australian Shepherd named Phoenix. She has been an amazing addition to the family, but puppies aren’t easy. Especially puppies that have limitless supplies of energy. We’ve been doing absolutely everything we could to socialize her to anything and everything she might encounter in her life in the hopes that she isn’t quite as…. socially awkward as Marble was. She’s been exposed to coffee shops, restauarants, parks, other dogs, and a million different kinds of people. Living in midtown has been a godsend for her socialization thanks to the constant stream of action, noise, and people. She’s a little over four months old right now and will be attending obedience classes as soon as she turns six months old, but she’s already got a decent handle on sit and we are working on down. Her leash skills are also rapidly improving since she is just like Marble in that she needs at least an hour long walk everyday or she won’t sleep through the night. We have lofty goals for Phoenix but she’s off to a great start so far.

But wait! There’s more! Two Fridays ago I ended my three and a half year tenure at Cloud Sherpas to join a brand new company called MobileMind. MobileMind was founded by an ex-AirWatch manager and is starting with AirWatch implementation consulting for the EDU space. My role will be as a Senior Mobility Consultant, along with one other ex-AirWatch/ex-Cloud Sherpas guy, and between the two of us we will get to grow our own services department from scratch. My first day was the past Monday and it’s been amazing so far since I love working at a startup when in the course of one day you might go from talking to a school superintendent, to figuring out some technical problem, to building desks and hanging white boards. Everyday is different, and more importantly, everyday matters. How successful the company is ultimately rides heavily on my day to day contributions, since that is 20% of the company’s output currently, and I don’t want it any other way. And as an added bonus, the office is across the street from AirWatch, so Jes and I can carpool again, and have lunch together again, and it’s just been incredible being able to be close to her during the day again.

So those are the major updates, to go along with the usual stuff that goes on in our lives. The current plan is to be fully moved into the new house by the end of the week and to truly start living the life we’ve wanted to for the past year!

Light at the end of the Tunnel

I went to the house yesterday to do a walk through with the builder, and while I was looking around, I no longer saw the problems that we would need to fix, or the battles we would need to have with the builder.  For the first time I was able to see our home!  Sure there were at least 15 men running around with paint cans, cabling, dry wall repair, cleaning supplies, etc but looking past the chaos was finally possible.  And the best part is that I LOVE IT!

All of the decisions that I was questioning along the way turned out to be just right.  All of the things I second guessed myself on turned out great.  All of the things the builder broke along the way – are fixed (mostly)

With all of that behind us, we plan to move in on Monday and are so excited we can’t even stand it.  We of course would have loved to move in this weekend, but they needed to finish the hardwoods last night, and will be sending the official cleaning crew in on Sunday.  I will take some photos after the cleaning crew is done.  The house will never be that clean or perfect again – and its a moment worth remembering.  

With that being said, and our CO in hand, on Monday we can start a new life in a home that was custom built with love, creation, and devotion to a long and happy life together!  I can not wait 🙂

Elevation Evolution

I am going to warn you now – this is not a happy upbeat post.  This post is all about the disappointments of building your own house without any previous experience.  Many things have worked out well – this post is not about those things.  This post is about the downside…

Charles and I looked at hundreds of houses – probably more like thousands – trying to come up with an elevation that we both wanted to pull up to every day and call home.  We found that the houses that we liked generally called for a larger floor plan than we needed, or were a ranch that would have eaten up a lot of our back yard in order to get the size we wanted… but the moment we came across this elevation, we knew that it was the winner.  Debate over.  


The next step was to fit everything we wanted into this floor plan.  One thing that we spent a lot of time on when selecting the lot was finding one that was above grade, but only slightly.  We didn’t want a house on a hill, nor in a ditch. The lot we ended up with was relatively flat, but sloped slightly up from front to back. That gentle slope, combined with the decision to put the house on a crawlspace was perhaps one of our first major disappointments… the house was now too high off the ground.  All of a sudden  – we created our own hill of a problem.  The crawl space was necessary housing for the tankless water heater and down draft venting – two items that were on our MUST have for the dream home.  It is all a game of give and take we told ourselves…. but little did we know this was the problem that kept on giving.

foundation to framing

Another thing that we really focused on was making sure that the front window did not “rise from the roof”.  That look drove me bonkers, but in order to make that happen we had to lower the pitch of the roof and per code, for that pitch, we needed a metal roof.  At the time we were really pleased with that because we loved the idea of a metal porch roof.  As soon as the house was framed we realized that once again, because of the additional height from the crawl space, the street view showed the window “rising from the roof”.  We looked into several options on how to fix this.  Charles sat down with a pen and paper and busted out some high school trigonometry to figure out what solution would be best – bringing this room of the house further forward or raising the window were the two options on the table.  Each with its own downside: per code, the window could only go up a foot, and could not be shortened.  Would this be enough?  And wouldn’t raising it look strange from the inside?  The other option was to bring the entire room forward – the only problem there was the several weeks set back and the $8,000 price tag.  YIKES.  


After much debate and trigonometry, we decided that we would raise the window 6 inches.  The good news is that we got the window raised and re-framed for free!  Remember that extra window we debated about in the office forever?!  Everyone’s vote was to add the window – and we ended up adding it because we thought the elevation would look strange whit out it there.  The down side of this was that it made the room a nightmare to decorate.  There was not one wall without an obstruction of some window, closet, or door.  Oddly, when the framers were building the house – they forgot to put in this window.  100% forgot it.  Due to the height of the house – you could not see it from the street, so we decided to tell them to leave it out.  We were able to barter the fact that they didn’t have to fix that mistake for fixing the window in the front bedroom.  Free solution that worked well for everyone – Finally!!


And remember how happy we were about the metal roof, again little did we know that due to the additional elevation for the crawl space… you can not see the metal roof.  Huge frown 🙁 – this was something we were both so excited about, and as it turns out you cant even see it.  Frustration run a muck…

Now for the really good news – despite all of this – we LOVE the elevation.  Sure, its not what we planned, but that’s okay by us.  Every day when we pull up to check things out – we feel like we just came home 🙂






Inner Monologue

Up until now, almost all of our updates on the house have been about the exterior. And in fact, as I write this, Jes is writing a post on the continued evolution of the exterior. Having said that, today I want to talk about the interior for the first time. We went over to the house yesterday to check on the progress and were blown away to find out that we could no longer see through all of the walls. All of the major pieces of drywall have been put in place, and for the first time ever, the inside actually looks like a house with rooms. It wasn’t always that way though, so let’s take a quick tour through all of the steps that you have missed out on.

The first thing that had to happen was obviously to frame out the walls. That part is easy enough, other than having to move a window three different times, everything else went smoothly. After the walls are all in the right spot, the plumbing infrastructure goes in. This involves all of the pipes that go inside the walls, and also included installing the bathtubs in the two upstairs bathrooms. HVAC followed plumbing, and then electrical followed that. Keep in mind that during all of this time (each took a little less than a week), you can see through all of the interior walls, which means it is hard to get a true feel for how it will look and feel when it is does. Electrical involved a walk through to place all of our outlets and switches, which was a little difficult in the main kitchen/living/dining area because we don’t have any walls. We thought pretty long and hard about where all of the switches should go, so if a year from now we don’t understand why a particular switch is somewhere we only have ourselves to blame.  After electrical came low voltage (phone, internet, cable, speakers, and security system) which involved another walk through, and then insulation. We chose to put in spray foam insulation because it is supposed to be superior to batt insulation.

Which brought us to Thursday when the drywall was dropped off. Our builder told us that drywall would take 1.5 to 2 weeks to complete, but didn’t tell us what the progress inside those two weeks would look like. Yesterday evening we went to check on the house and were blown away that all of the drywall for the walls and ceilings had been put up and taped. Well, everything except the living and dining room, which will get shiplap instead of drywall.

For the first time ever we could walk through the house and get a true feeling of how each room would be and I was blown away.  There was always that shred of doubt of “did we do the right thing” throughout this entire process, but that shred left me as we walked through each room. Almost every room that I thought would be “too small” when I could see through the walls all of sudden looked much bigger. The view from our master bedroom now looks “right” and is exactly what I wanted. Everything really came together with the drywall and I could not be happier. I’m not sure the pictures will do it justice, so hopefully the words will. From here on out it is all about finishes, so it will just continue to get closer and closer to our dream house. 

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Back to the Future

We have finally arrived at 2015. 25 years ago Marty McFly took a journey to the future and found a world dominated by talking trashcans, flying cars, and hoverboards. The actual world of 2015 today doesn’t quite look like what we were promised by Doc Brown in Back to the Future Part II, but it is still shaping up to be a wonderful year. As Jes and I were driving back from Virginia just after Christmas a few weeks ago, we decided to pull up this post and see just how well we had done in 2014. For a quick refresher, the “theme” of last years resolution was learning new things, so let’s take a look at each item.

  1. Become a better photographer. At this time last year I had just started using full manual mode for about a week. Today not only am I permanently on full manual mode, Jes is too. We having taken a liking to photography, the both of us, and continue to use it as a side hobby. This one was definitely accomplished.
  2. Improving our wardrobe. Let’s be honest, I was the one that really needed help here, and in early 2014 Jes and I went on a small shopping binge that completely altered my wardrobe. While we didn’t keep that shopping pace up all year, it gave us both a base to work off of and gradually add to throughout the year. I am now at a point where I am more comfortable in a button up shirt than I am in a t-shirt or Polo. Not only that, I have a good idea of how everything can work together to get the specific look I am going for. This one is another success.
  3. Living more in the moment. I think I did an okay job of this, but I am not taking all of the “blame” here. The AirWatch acquisition, which seems like forever ago, forced us to look at our future long term. I think we did a reasonable job of trying to live for today, but that really did get put on hold for almost the entire year. Once the new house is done, this will become a primary focus again.
  4. Healthy living. Another definite victory here. We have done an amazing job of mastering what we eat on a day to day basis, and while we didn’t run the Bourbon Chase, we did complete our first half marathon on Thanksgiving day. 

So to recap 2014, we set out to learn and that is exactly what we accomplished. It didn’t always take the form that we expected it to, but that is the beauty of life sometimes. The best part about all of it is that I never felt like I was pressuring to keep on those goals. If you set goals that are truly in line with what you want out of life, they tend to take care of themselves. As we move away from 2014 and into 2015, I know that life has a way of throwing a wrench in the plans, but that doesn’t always mean its for the worse.

It looks like a house!

I feel like a record that is stuck on repeat, but life has been hectic. I swear it is going to slow down at some point, but it feels like every single day is a whirlwind, just to be followed up by an even crazier day the next day. When we last left you we had a a fully built foundation, the start of a flooring system, and a giant pile of lumber. My house quickly things can change! In those short 2 weeks we have seen such a rapid amount of change it has been hard to document it all, but the end result is our house is totally framed (minus a few small items).

It's a house!

We definitely had a few things along the way that had to be fixed, which Jes will write a more in depth post about, but Branden and team were right there with as to make sure that everything was exactly the way we wanted it. As of today the house is almost completely framed and wrapped, the shingles are on the upper roof, and all of the plumbing rough-in work has been completed. Next up is the HVAC work, and then the electrical and low-voltage rough-in work. At some point in there we should be getting our siding installed as well. I know this is short, so here are a few more progress pics to keep you occupied. Until next time 🙂

1st floor going up

2nd floor and roof

Living Room and Upstairs Office

From the backyard

Let’s Build a House

This past week and the next two will see the fastest visible changes during the entire build. At the end of the next two weeks, our house will actually look like a house. But before that, we have to get all of the framing done. On Monday we had a gigantic pile of lumber dropped off, and it amazes me that it is possible to order the right about of lumber when you need that much. It takes Jes and I 30 minutes to figure out how much lumber we need to build a coffee table, and these guys are going to build an entire house.

Piles and piles of wood

More wood

Jes and Radar enjoying the amazing weather

That was Monday, and the weather could not have been more perfect. We laid on top of our pile of wood for probably 30 minutes just enjoying the day and the peace and quiet. On Tuesday the framers showed up and got to work. The first step is apparently to install the I-beams that will make up the flooring support system, and disperse the weight of the house across the foundation. It really is amazing how quickly these guys work, as this picture was taken mid afternoon on Tuesday:

Flooring system almost done

And since things are happening so fast, we decided to stop by again on Wednesday morning before heading up to Lawrenceville for Thanksgiving fun. They had almost completed the front and side porches, and we finally get a true idea of how tall our front porch will be:

Front porch - about six feet off the ground

Working on the side porch

We were so amazed at the efficiency of the framers, we took a quick video of. Every man has a singular job, and it works as an assembly line. One guy gets the wood from the pile, another guy measures, and hands it to the guy who cuts it, once the wood is cut another guy brings it to where it is going and lays it in place, and finally one guy nails it down. In all it takes about 30 seconds to put each piece of decking down, but don’t take my word for it: