Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Home: Before & After (Part 1)

Last November, Jason and I decided to start looking at places to buy. The lease on our apartment was up in February, so we thought we should start the search process. 

We quickly realized we probably started looking at the worst time of year, as the holidays are not prime time to put your house on the market. The market was sparse, especially since we were only really looking in two different cities. We did find a few places that we really liked, but alas, they did not work out in our favor. 

At the end of January, one week after we found out I was pregnant, a place came out on the market in one of the neighborhoods we really wanted to live in. Our realtor was out of town in Europe, but she was able to arrange for one of her realtor friends to show us the place. We were adamant about seeing it right away since a previous home we loved (and saw on the second day) had already been snatched up the day it came on the market! 

So, we got in on the first day and were the first to see the place. It definitely needed a lot of work, but it was exactly what were were looking for! Prior to seeing the place, we already had our offer written up (and a letter to go with it to try and convince the owners that we should get it). We didn't want to loose another place. 

A few days later, we found out that we were one of three contending offers. They needed to do a financial background check and ensure that we were qualified. The next day, we found out our offer was accepted. Yay! 

We closed escrow in the middle of March, but moved in with my parents instead. We wanted to fix up the place first and living there was not going to be feasible during that process. Our goal was to get in the first weekend of April so that I would then have my Spring Break the following week to unpack and organize. 

The process was definitely not fun at times, as I felt nauseous through the whole 'mini-remodel'. I would be exhausted and sick after work, but we would spend our evenings running around to Home Depot, Lowes, Carpet One, paint stores, and granite pick out all the fixings for our place. But, it all got done...and just in the nick of time to get us in when we wanted. 

Here are the before and after pictures of the kitchen, family room, and master bedroom. We are still working on the office, nursery, and bathrooms, so those pics will come as we fix those rooms up more. 

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After
In the kitchen, we kept the original cabinets and just had them painted out and put on new hardware. Jason demoed the tile counters, which were replaced with granite. A new stainless steel sink and faucet replaced the originals. We put in a new dishwasher because the original did not work. (We will hopefully replace the other appliances within the year). The lanolin tile floor was replaced with engineered hardwood. We also added molding along the peninsula and pantry cabinets.

Family Room Before

 Family Room After
In the family/living room, we (Jason) ripped out all the original carpet (smelt like cat and old Jason is allergic to cats), and we put in engineered hardwood floors throughout. The entire house was a butter yellow, which we had painted out in Wise Owl. We also painted out the oak French doors to match the kitchen cabinets. New baseboards were also put in throughout the house. And, we made sure to get rid of the nasty curtains the previous owner left us and had blinds installed instead. One of our next projects is new windows (hopefully sometime before the baby comes or in the early Fall). Would also love to add crown molding...but that can wait :) 

Hallway Before and After

The hardwood runs down the hallway, too. On the left is our washer/dryer, but one of the doors was missing on the closet, so we had the second door put in. We also re-painted all the doors in the house and replaced the original knobs from brass to brushed nickel.

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom After 

We replaced the carpet in our bedroom and had the yellow repainted to gray. The lovely brass wall lamps that the previous owner left for us (because 'they are so nice to have') were also taken down.  

More to come in the next months. The nursery is our next project to tackle.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


My mom gave me and Jason some great advice shortly after we told them we were pregnant. She told us to find a week to get away together before the baby was due. 

It was hard to fathom the idea of a vacation at that point in my pregnancy, as I felt extremely nauseous. But we were hopeful that my the first week of by third trimester, I would be up for something fun.

I was. 

So, last week we headed off on our babymoon. Felt like we had just taken our honeymoon...oh...we had...just a little over a year ago.

We decided to keep it somewhat cheap and simple, so we did a So Cal sail. We knew ourselves...and knew we would get bored in one place the whole time, so we had three stops along the way.

Our first stop was Orange County on Saturday. First thing we did after checking into our hotel: Coffee Bean (the first of five stops at Coffee Bean). That has to be one of the best things about Southern CA.

Two years ago we had done an LA trip and Jason took me to Downtown Disney for the first time. We knew we wanted to revisit there and eat at one of our favorite restaurants: The Jazz Kitchen.
This place definitely is on our top 5 for best ambiance and food! I think we both ordered the same entrees as last time too: Jambalaya for Jason and Pecan Crusted Salmon for me.

It's great to walk around and get in the Disney spirit without having to deal with the chaos of the park. And, ESPN Zone is one of Jason's favorite places.

Did you know they have TVs in the bathroom stalls there? CRAZY!
And, we got a good laugh at this shirt, which will probably be true for our son...
 And, a TV sized version of Fruit Ninja?! Heck ya!
Sunday we went to an Angels game. No, neither one of us are Angels fans, but Jason wanted to take me to this park. We were totally impressed by how clean it us and how fan-centered it is. And, it was a great game - four home runs! Jason was excited to see his guy Mike Trout (learned all about him) hit one of the homers.

On Monday we left for San Diego (after a quick fix to our flat tire). This was the stretch of the trip that I was most excited about. I hadn't been to San Diego in ten years since my senior trip. We stayed in a beach house that whole week then, so we weren't really in San Diego much.
We spent Monday walking around downtown and exploring the Gaslamp District.

Check out the view from our hotel window: We both quoted at the same time, "So, this is how David must have felt..."
Monday night we headed to Old Town for dinner - Mexican food, of course.
Coronado Beach was the agenda for Tuesday. Finally, our first beach day :)

Apparently Coronado Beach is rated as the second best beach in America? I think that is a bit of a stretch, but it was very nice.
We enjoyed the white sand beach and exploring the Hotel del Coronado.
Before heading to Santa Barbara on Wednesday, we wanted to beach it up again, so we headed to Pacific Beach for some sun before heading out of town. After battling LA traffic, we finally arrived in Santa Barbara. So glad we live in Nor Cal...

We didn't arrive until late afternoon, so we decided to head down to State Street to explore and have dinner. This was Jason's first time to Santa Barbara and it did not disappoint. 

It was overcast all day Thursday and only 68 degrees, so we didn't go to the beach. (But we were thankful for those weather conditions compared to the 100+ degrees at home). We did lots of walking around Santa Barbara and Carpenteria and lots of antique shopping.

Thursday was Jason's birthday and a Lebanese restaurant, Zaytoon, was recommended to us by a friend, so we thought it would be perfect for his birthday dinner. You know how much we like our crazy cuisines. 

We saw pictures of this restaurant online and the ambiance looked incredible. It did not disappoint. One of the coolest restaurants I have ever eaten at. I will do a separate post about the restaurant, but here are a few (fuzzy) broke :(

Jason was excited they had hooka.
The sun finally came out on Friday, so we got some beach time in before hitting the road for home.

I am so glad that we took some time to get away for a week. It was just what we needed. Pregnancy and me have not been great friends, so I have therefore not been a very fun person, let alone wife. Since I've been feeling much more like myself the past month or two, it was great for Jason and I to have some quality time together...just the two of us...before our little man joins us :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tahoe Travels

Cartmell family tradition brings us up to Tahoe each summer.

Unfortunately, with my sister and I both being pregnant this summer, we weren't able to coordinate a week we could all go within the acceptable travel window for our pregnancies. 

Thankfully, we had a family wedding on Jason's side in Tahoe that still gave us an excuse to get up there.

Last weekend, Jason and I spent a great weekend with his family in South Shore.

It started off Friday with his cousin Zach's wedding on the beach. It was a gorgeous setting.

Here we are with Jason's siblings and their spouses (and also with Jason's parents). His sister is also pregnant and due about four weeks after I am. So fun to be pregnant at the same time as my sister and sister-in-law.


A bunch of us stayed together in a cabin with an incredible view of Lake Tahoe. The whole backside of the house was windows, so we got to stare at this view all day long.

It was quite chilly and breezy on Saturday, so we spent a lot of time visiting indoors. We did make it down to Jameson Beach for some rum-runners at the Beacon and a visit to Camp Richardson's Ice Cream Parlor (both Cartmell family Tahoe traditions that I loved sharing with Jason). 

With my bubble-gum and rainbow sherbert ice cream. Pregnancy Craving?

And, it's always fun to find a 'Big Daddy' saying along the way. The joke behind this might have to be a separate post one day...

Jason was sad they didn't sell shirts...
No bathing suits or beach for this Tahoe visit, but it was a great weekend with the Baker family.