Mini Bunches Turns Three

Everyone told me it would go fast–friends, family, even strangers. When they saw my pregnant belly, they offered their unsolicited two cents: enjoy her as much as you can because before you know it she’ll be grown. And of course I nodded and smiled, but like with much of the advice I received, I took it with a grain of salt and a new parent’s cluelessness that it would be different for me. And it was–in the beginning. The first two weeks of her life were the slowest two weeks of mine–I thought they were never going to end. Maybe because I was awake for most of them? Who knows. But they ended. And the next three years were gone in a blink. Everyone was right–kids grow so fast.



We celebrated her birthday with friends and family this weekend. She loves hosting parties and never wants them to end–having people at her house is pure heaven to her. But people over AND cake? It doesn’t get any better than that.



Mr. Bunches and I marveled at how much our little baby has changed–no longer dependent on us, but increasingly self-sufficient. She was in her glory when she saw that she could reach all of the chips, popcorn, and pretzels herself. She made sure to fill up not just one Solo cup but three with her usually-forbidden treats–if they were there, she was going to make the most of it.

She eagerly helped set-up the party and waited by the front window for her first friend to arrive–running outside with squeals of joy.



We set up an art party–when you fail to make any plans until a week before the event, you go with what’s easy.  So we created a huge canvas on our back fence and let the kids (and some adults) go wild.

20150607_B_Bday_003I loved the end result.

20150607_B_Bday_010Happy Birthday Mini Bunches!  You are an absolute joy every day, and I can’t believe how fast the past three years have gone, but I’m so excited to see what the next years will bring . . .



Do you prefer Dark or Light?

Do you prefer dark . . .

Or light . . . ?

Images from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

I have less than a week to make this decision and I need your help.  See, I know that dark will potentially show more dirt, dust, and pet hair (of course, we don’t have any pets and we aren’t planning on getting any in the foreseeable future–sorry!).  But I also love the richness of it.  And with the light option, well, considering that our floors are 3/8″ thick red oak, I’m just worried that they’ll end up looking too orange-y over time and I know I don’t like that.  But we had light floors in our old condo, and they did hide dirt pretty well.  What to do, what to do.  Sorry to be going over this again, but it’s a BIG decision, and I don’t want to make it too hastily.

Although, I have made one decision at least–the refinishing method.  Most hardwood floors nowadays get refinished with one coat of stain (if changing the color) and then three coats of polyurethane–that’s called a gym-floor finish.  However, back in the day floors were treated with a penetrating oil and then waxed.  Both are good finishes, but the penetrating oil and wax combo has the added benefit of being especially durable.  For instance, if you have stained floors with polyurethane and you somehow scratch your floors, well, since the stain is only on the surface, you’ll have to have the whole area redone.  However, with a penetrating oil, the stain is soaked deep into the wood, so scratches won’t show.  Plus, if the floors need to be touched up, you just have to buff them with a new coat of wax instead of stripping the old poly and applying new poly.  So, with all that said, we’ve decided to go with a penetrating oil combined with a wax finish.  Sidenote: I wanted to use Rubio Monocoat, a no-VOC one-coat finish from Belgium, but no refinishers in the Buffalo area have used it before, and the Mr. and I are not up to doing something this big on our own.  BUT, with that being said, anyone out there used Monocoat and had success?  If so, do share!

So while making at least one decision is most definitely a step in the right direction, that still doesn’t help me with the color decision.  Luckily, our hardwood guy came over and did up some samples for us:

All three of these were one coat of Duraseal Penetrating Finish with a coat of polyurethane (not quite dry yet, hence the blotchiness and sort of wet look in the dark brown option).  Now, he didn’t have any wax with him (nowadays apparently not many people know enough to ask for it, but he used the stain and wax method in his own home and loves the results), so he just used some poly to show me how that looked (this was before I had decided on wax).

The color on the left is Antique Brown.

The middle is Natural:

And the right is either Golden Brown or Chestnut (I’m not sure which and since it’s definitely my least favorite, I’m not sure it even matters):

Compared to the current shade of varnish orange, all are an improvement.

He also did a patch of just bare wood with polyurethane (instead of first using the Duraseal Natural and then poly):

It’s pretty similar to the current condition of the floor, although not as orange, but more honey-colored.  Still, over time, I’m worried that it will become orange.  UGH!  I can’t decide.  Here are some more angles:

So what do you think?  If you have an opinion, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  I need all the help I can get on this one.

The Befores

Doesn’t that sound like a cool name for a band or something.  Oh wait, I just googled it and turns out it is the name of a band . . . who knew?  Well, maybe people in San Francisco since that’s where the band’s based out of.  But I digress.  This post is not about Zareen and Humbert (yes–those are apparently the names of the two individuals that comprise The Befores.  Not sure what to say about that, so maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut); instead it’s a quick run-down of the before pictures of our home.  We’ve been so busy with making changes that I realized I never did a proper post to show you what it looked like on closing day.  So here goes, quick-and-dirty-like:

The exterior (which we’ve already massively changed–see more here)

The kitchen (from multiple different angles)

And the eating area next to the kitchen:

View from the eating area to the kitchen (and you can see the hallway to the rest of the house on the left side, and the folding doors are to the laundry area):

View to the dining room.  The door on the left goes upstairs.

The laundry room:

The combo living and dining room (the room is pretty dark, so the slow shutter speed I needed to get this much light meant that the Mr. was a total blur):

This angle shows how you can see all the way into the Master Bedroom on the far right . . .

The outdated half bath:

The entry vestibule (yeah–we’re fancy like that.  We have a vestibule.):

View from the vestibule into the house (basically the living room):

View from the entry hallway to the second bedroom (far doorway), half bath (right side), and living room (left side):

Second bedroom:

Master Bathroom (more on that in our already-mentioned first demo project here):

Master Bedroom:

The family room (aka panel dungeon):

And now moving on up (upstairs that is):

The walk-in cedar closet (possibly the only room in the house that I don’t plan on changing at all):

Bedroom #3 (and what will be the Mr.’s office):

Bedroom #4 (aka the room with the stolen light from Pizza Hut):

The upstairs bathroom:

And finally, the patio (off of the sliders in the paneling-laden family room; for more info about how we’re demo’ing this, check out here, here, and here):

Alright, so there are the official BEFORE pictures.  These are now a far-cry from what the house looks like, and all week I’ll be trying to post updates . . . we’ve been painting, cracking concrete, fixing walls, and tearing out carpet so stay tuned to check out our progress!

Patio Paver Possibilities

Try saying that three times fast!  Here’s a post warning for you: this one’s long, and mostly about this:

So for those of you looking for goats, or boats, or hoodoos, or secret canyons, well–I’m sorry.  This here post is about patios.  With some garages, rot, and stones thrown in for good measure.

Yep, we haven’t even bought the Holy House (once we move in, I think it’ll lose that name, but since the church still technically owns it, that one’s sticking for now) and yet we’re already making decisions about redoing the patio.  If you remember from this post, then you know that we have a slight issue with our patio and garage.  That issue has caused this:

So what’s the problem?  Well, here’s a quick and dirty diagram that I drew up to explain:

See, the current patio is located directly behind the garage, but not on the same level as the garage.  Instead, it was designed as a straight walk-out, so it’s essentially sitting on a pile of dirt behind the garage.  The brick wall shown here is the back of the garage:

And the family room sliders open up right out to the patio:

Why is this important?  I’m getting there.  See, even though the current concrete slab patio is angled correctly away from the house, there’s still water that slides right down that brick wall that’s the back of the garage.  And since brick is not water-proof, when there’s lots of moisture sitting against a brick wall, then water will make it through that barrier, and over the years (in this case 49 years) it will eventually cause the wood wall to rot out.  And that’s how this happened:

So basically it was a little design flaw back in 1962 that we now need to fix.  Why?  Well, that wall of the garage is a structural wall.  It holds up the second floor.  And we don’t want our second floor to become a first floor.  Get it?  Okay, good.

We have a contractor (Steve–the same one who actually came to the inspection and found the problem) who’s going to start on rebuilding the wall (just the inside–the bricks on the outside stay put) and tearing out the old patio.  Our new plan is to dig the patio down to ground level so that the underlying cause of the water damage doesn’t repeat itself.  And that finally brings me to the point of this post: we’re putting in a new patio!   So say goodbye to this:

Putting in a new patio, though, means that we have to pick out patio pavers.  No problem, right?  Well, not quite.  Did you know that there are approximately 12,834 types of patio pavers?  Yeah–that’s an exact number.  Cuz I counted ’em.  In my free time.

Okay, not quite.  But there are a lot of options.  And I knew that the actual paver store would be an overwhelming place to start, so I decided I should at least narrow down what I thought I wanted.  And when looking for design inspiration, what’s my go-to?  Pinterest of course.  Upon poking around, I found that I was drawn to these:

Clearly, I found myself drawn to large pavers, clean lines, and square slash rectangular shapes.  I also thought that it would work well with our new home.  One could argue that with all the brick, we should maybe go with a softer patio shape and maybe try to make it curved, but the Mr. and I are both drawn to a more modern look and so straight lines appeal to us.  What can we say?  We’re sort of straight-shooters (hardy-har-har.  I know it’s a lame joke, but that’s how I’m rolling these days.  Deal).

But, of course, that’s just my personal preference–there are definitely lots of other styles of patios out there that look amazing.  We actually got to see our friends’ new patio (that they practically did themselves!) and it’s AWESOME:

Braden and Amber's Patio

(What you can’t see in that top picture is their pool–again, totally amazing.  If only we had that much room in our backyard!)

So are you starting to see my dilemma?  There are clearly a ton of great options out there.  But, now that we were armed with a sense of at least the direction we were heading, we decided to actually head somewhere.  To Weckesser Brick in Rochester.  They had a great outdoor display showcasing a ton of the 12,834 paver options:

After spending about 40 minutes poking around both inside and out, I finally decided that I did indeed like the larger pavers (I know, I know–I supposedly had already decided that, but like I said–there are a lot of things that look really good, so I like to weigh all the options).  Anyways, in the end, I liked these best:

Those there are the Hanson Abruzzo Stone Tiles in Caramel Ferrous in a 3-tile herringbone pattern.  The largest square is ~24″ wide to give you a sense of the scale.  And this image brings up another point: not only do you have to decide on what size pavers you want, but you also have to pick the colors and the pattern!  Again–lots of decisions.  Can you blame me for having a tough time with this?!  I wasn’t entirely sold on the Caramel Ferrous color, or the pattern, but at least I had narrowed down the pavers choice, right?  I tried to convince the Mr. that we were making progress, but I’m not sure if he was buying what I was selling.

Upon going to Weckesser Brick, we also discovered that we liked the idea of a wall.  We both thought it was a great way to automatically have seating in the patio, as well as create at least some sort of break between the patio and parts of the backyard.  So we decided we should add a wall to our new patio plan.  Of course, that meant we had to pick out wall pavers.  Oh boy.  Again, there were a TON of options:

From that last pic, I think you can tell which one we decided on . . . that’s the Hanson Antique Kassel Wall in Walnut Blend.  The Mr. liked that it looked like a castle wall (that was even before he knew its name), and I liked the simple geometric pattern.  Plus, it was already next to the larger pavers that we had chosen and they looked good together–yet another selling point for us.  We also liked that the top pieces were 14″ deep, which allowed for a larger seat than the other walls which were all only 12″ deep.

So now that we had the tiles picked out and the wall pavers, it was time to pick the color.  Of course, there was no way for me to do that without actually taking samples to the house.  So guess what we did?

We got samples.  We took them to the house.  See how that foreshadowing worked out?  Thrilling, I know.  But, since this post is already over 1,200 words, we’re going to save the actual picking of the colors for the next post.  So stay tuned . . . I know, I know–you’re on the edge of your seats.

Anyone else have the same dilemmas when redoing a patio?  Were you as shocked as I was by the 12,834 options?

Craigslist Dresser Discovery

Now that we’ve bought a house and have a closing scheduled, I’ve been scouring Craigslist for good furniture finds to not only furnish our new home, but also to give me an outlet for trying out some of the projects that I’ve got rolling around in my head.  So a week ago, I found these two dressers on Buffalo’s Craigslist and I knew they’d be perfect:

Craigslist Dresser 2

The mid-century style was just what I was looking for, and the sizes were right–66″ long for the first, 54″ long for the second.  Clean lines, good storage–what more could you ask for?

The seller was asking $65 each, and advertised them as solid wood, so I went to take a look.  Both were in good condition (the drawers all worked, the legs were sturdy) but they definitely needed to be refinished.  So I offered $100 for the pair, and the seller accepted.  Score, right?!  Well, I thought so too until it came time to get them from Buffalo to Brockport, and that’s when my bubble burst a little.  We could only fit the smaller one in our car, so unfortunately, that was the only one we got.  😦  It would’ve cost too much to rent a truck to try and get the longer one, so it was a no go.  But, for only $50, I was still pretty psyched to at least get one.

Here’s a shot once we got it home:

Good bones, right?  It had dovetailed drawers . . .

. . . but, it turned out to be totally veneered (someone with more experience with furniture I’m sure would have been able to figure this out sooner than I did, but oh well–lesson learned):

How can you tell that a piece is veneered?  Well, if you look at the picture of the top of the dresser, you can see that the edge is clearly a piece of veneer (basically really thin wood) glued down (another hint–it’s chipped; even another hint–real wood doesn’t have seams).  An easier way to tell?  Check out the bottom or sometimes the back of a piece . . .

From the bottom of the piece, you can see that there are pieces of veneer glued to a piece of plywood.  And the veneer is pretty thin to boot.  Bummer, huh?

But, I still had high hopes for my ability to refinish it, and I’ll do a post about my refinishing adventure later this week to let you know how it worked out (it’s currently still a work in progress, but overall I think it’ll be good 😉 ).  For now, here are some shots of my inspiration for this project:

YHL’s nursery dresser . . .

. . . and this beauty from Design*Sponge (which is also available on Etsy for $950) by Matt . . .

Any ideas now where the white belt from yesterday might end up . . . ?

So there it is–think I can do it?  You better!  Or else you might get hit with my new brass knuckles (aka the dresser’s old handles) . . .

Images of dressers from here and here.

Negotiations are Done!

I’ve been very remiss in updating everyone on our soon-to-be-home–sorry!  We’ve just been busy traveling, bargain-hunting, and catching up with our TIVO (we not only had 3 Housewives seasons, but also the Bachelorette, Real World, and America’s Got Talent . . . we’re only human after all).

Okay, but real quick–we had the inspection once we returned from Vegas, and for the most part it went fine.  Our inspector, Doug Manzella, did a decent job and we left the inspection with a substantial reference binder about our home, which I’m sure will prove to be very useful down the road.  However, I fully believe that you have to be your own best advocate when it comes to home inspections, and this time was no different.  So we brought Steve with us–remember him from this post?  He’s our go-to contractor and also just an all-around good guy.  Together, we noted a few areas of concern with the house, although overall Steve gave it two enthusiastic thumbs-up.

The biggest trouble-maker?  This beast:

The back patio.  One giant concrete slab.

You might think the problem is that big wet spot, or maybe the encroaching jungle surrounding it, but no–that would be an amateur’s mistake.  The real problem is this:

Still don’t see it?  Well, that’s okay–that’s why none of you were paid to be our inspector.  (Sis–are you dying to fly out from Cali with your new power-washer to tackle that brick?  C’mon–be honest, I know these pictures must be irking you a little 😉 )  It’s a little tough to explain, but it has to do with drainage.  See, the patio is a few feet higher than our garage (our house is technically a tri-level), so that back wall of the patio (the other side of which is the garage) hasn’t been draining the best it could be over the past ~50 years.  And that’s lead to this in our garage:

Yummy, isn’t it?  That’s one of the inspector’s photos.  So bottom line is this–we went back to the sellers and asked for a credit towards our closing costs and prepaids.  The credit will cover a lot of what needs to be repaired, and Steve is all lined up to do the work as soon as we close.  And the church (the sellers) agreed to our request, so all is well.  Papers have been signed, and now we’re in the midst of securing financing and letting the lawyers do their thang (not sure what that is, but it’s necessary, so we’re letting them at it).

So when will we own it?  Closing is set for August 5th, and hopefully all will go well before then so we can close on that day.

Okay, consider yourself updated.

Oh, and Happy Fourth everyone!!!

Holy House

Third time’s a charm, right?!  We’re hoping that’s the case since we just made our third offer last night.  Time has been tight these days with the house hunting (we saw at least a dozen more properties just this past weekend alone), long commuting, tons of work, and our upcoming trip out west, so I’ll be brief.

First, of course, the stats:

  • Location: Snyder (yes, the same neighborhood from basically all the houses we’ve put offers on)
  • Square Footage: 2,696
  • 4 Bedrooms, 2.5 Bathrooms
  • Lot size: 0.24 acres
  • Built in 1962
  • 2.5 car Attached Garage
  • Asking Price: $209,900
  • Days on Market: 4
  • Our Offer Price: $209,900

That’s right–we offered full price.  And here’s why: the Snyder neighborhood average sale price is generally $113 per square foot.  That was true for many of the homes we looked at (such as here, here, and here).  However, with this home, the price per square foot is only $78!!!  So yeah–it’s a bargain, and if you know us, you know we love us a good bargain.  And no, it’s not that cheap because it’s falling apart or needs a new roof or has a crumbling foundation.  We’re not exactly sure why it’s priced that low . . . of course, as you’re about to see, it most definitely needs some updating, but the structure is sound–the home is almost entirely brick!  That’s great news when it comes to maintenance.  So let’s get into some pics . . . here’s the open living and dining room combo:

That door up there is the front door–it’s super wide and would probably need to be replaced down the road since it’s a bit ho-hum for my taste.  On to the kitchen which is off a hallway from the open living-dining combo:

That’s an eating area to the right in the kitchen and to the far right above you can see the steps that lead to the attached garage.  There’s also a laundry room off of the kitchen:

Also on the main floor is a half bath . . .

. . . as well as a full bath . . .

. . . that has a new whirlpool tub and separate shower:

The full bath is right outside of the master bedroom which is across from the smallest of the other three bedrooms.  First, the master with it’s wall of closets and snazzy bedside lights:

Oh yeah, and see those hardwood floors peeking out in the closet?  Well, they’re everywhere with only a few exceptions (the kitchen and baths).  And we’re hoping they’re in good condition since the carpet is so plush.

The smallest bedroom across from the master:

Also on the main floor is a family room off of the dining room that I think we would likely use for the Mr.’s office.  It also has sliders to an outside patio and fulfills the Upstate New York requirements for faux wood paneling (come on, you knew it had to be somewhere!):

So that’s the main floor.  Then, there’s a second story above the garage that houses two bedrooms, a full bath, and a walk-in cedar closet.  That floor gets accessed through a door off the kitchen.  Here’s bedroom one with some stylin’ built-ins and a random hanging lamp:

And bedroom two which is almost a mirror match to the one above:

The full bathroom, also with a separate tub and shower, but this time with double sinks:

Oh, and the walk-in cedar closet:

Again, all the bedrooms have hard-wood floors under that carpet, which will hopefully look just as good as the floors in the cedar closet.

The other big plus to the house?  A huge, clean basement with high ceilings (at least 8 feet).  This was what sold the Mr.–he plans to set up some sort of hockey goal thing down here (don’t ask):

Okay, so that basically rounds out the tour.  We’re hoping our full-price offer will get the deal done, and we’ll hopefully know by today.

Oh, and in case any of you were wondering about the post title, “Holy House,” well, that’s because the owners of the home are the Episcopalian Diocese . . . and the former occupant?  Oh yeah, the Bishop!  Stew on that for a bit . . .


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