May 31, 2012

Confessions of a Homeowner

Confession time ... we hired somebody to mow the grass. And we liked it. We liked it a lot.

Actually, I saw a neighbor getting their yard work done as I was driving home last week, pulled over and asked if they would give us a quote. I was desperate, our own lawnmower having been broken down for a few weeks. The landscape company belongs to a neighbor down the street, and we thought his price was more than fair for our beast of a yard, so they came in right away and got down to mowing and trimming.

Ben and I watched in wonder as a team of four (two behemoth lawnmowers and two with weed-eaters) sped around our yard and finished in about 20 minutes, what takes Ben hours upon hours of sweat and hard labor. I can see why people pay for this! We went ahead and asked the company to send their crew every two weeks until we fix the lawnmower. Which may be a while, now that we know how glorious it is it have the yard done for us, and how worthwhile it is for Ben to get his all-too-short summer weekends back for family time. Here's our nicely trimmed lawn with the first of this summer's day-lilies in bloom.

Our neighbor/lawn company owner was nice enough to walk around the whole yard and talk us through things as basic as identifying all of our bushes and telling us when and how to trim them, up to which trees looked dead and should probably be cut down, and pointing out that all of our once stunning rosebushes had been attacked by spider mites and would be goners if we didn't treat them soon. After some deliberation, we decided to have his company go ahead and spray them with a fungicide and insecticide. Though I hate to use chemicals, I'd also hate to lose all of our foliage - and these chemicals should dry up in the summer heat in a matter of days, making them safer than the suggested alternative - Sevin Dust - which scares the heck out of me.

Most importantly, though, he answered my most burning landscape question. What the heck is this pom-pom looking thing growing in the middle of our front garden bed??

Well, turns out it's a walnut tree. When we saw it this spring, we decided to leave it and see what happened, thinking maybe the previous owners intended to plant a tree smack in the middle of the garden bed. This thing grew FAST. I've been calling it our weed tree. No, not that kind of weed, silly.

Anyway, I have since spotted these things growing all along sides of interstates and other wild terrains, and they get big and bushy, so we'll have to be removing our little walnut tree very soon!

So that's the latest on our yard, little by little we will figure out how to manage it :)

May 30, 2012

May: Cookies & Beer of the Month

At the end of each month (how is it almost June already??), I thought it would be fun to share which cookies and beer Ben and I are loving the most at the moment. I promise, we do eat and drink more than just cookies and beer, but I doubt anybody really wants to hear about a mixed salad and filtered water....

Normally, at some point each month I will end up baking a homemade goodie. My most recent endeavor was a batch of low-sugar brownies. They worked for a night-time sweet-tooth craving, but aren't really worth writing home blogging about. Instead, I want to tell you about some store-bought cookies that kind of rocked my world - for the two days they lasted in our house, at least! While perusing Trader Joe's, I overheard a woman working behind the samples counter tell a co-worker that she was going to offer up samples of their Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Butter Cookies (a long name, but they're worth the effort). So like any true cookie-lover would do, I hovered around the sample area for way too long, pretending (very poorly, I'm sure) to peruse the candy and chips and other surrounding snacks that I had no intention of buying. Well finally, the samples were offered up, and she was giving out WHOLE cookies. Boy do I love Trader Joe's. Before I had finished chewing, I'd snatched up a box to take home.

Why did I love these cookies? They are bite-sized and not too heavy - perfect for a warm May evening when you just need that little something sweet after dinner :) And the flavor of chocolate and salted caramel is one of my favorites lately. That salty-sweet combination gets me every time. The only thing that might have improved these cookies for me is if they had dark chocolate instead of milk. But I'm not complaining. Just look at that gooey caramel :)

I'll admit that Ben and I sample a greater variety of beers each month than cookies, and our hands-down beer winner this May is Abita's Strawberry Harvest Lager. Our local beer shop can't keep this stuff in stock and has been taking pre-orders for months, since it only has limited availability. I wondered what all the fuss was about until I picked up a 6-pack and Ben and I poured a glass. This brew is springtime in a bottle. What you taste: a really fresh, ripe strawberry flavor (it's made in Louisiana with Louisiana strawberries) that is smooth and still crisp enough to be refreshing. I'm not a fan of sweet beers, and this is certainly not overly sweet. Ben is better than I am at tasting the intricate flavors in a beer, so I'll stop attempting fancy descriptions and just leave you with this: I loved this lager. Oh, and it's best enjoyed outdoors.

I wish I could show you a photo of a freshly poured, frothy glass, but Ben and I decided to do a bit of detox for a few weeks. This is our last Strawberry Harvest, so I assure you it will be poured into two glasses and thoroughly enjoyed at the end of our health kick.

May 25, 2012

What a {Fri}day for a Daydream

Well another week has flown by, and today as I get ready to head to Chattanooga for a dear friend's wedding, I find myself daydreaming of my own wedding. It's funny, I was never a girl who fantasized about my wedding or my dress, or even marriage in general. But when I found Ben, it just seemed natural. I knew early on that I wanted to marry him, and it never occurred to me that our lives would go any other way. I love that our wedding was so perfect for us that now, as a 30-year-old woman, five years later, it is still the stuff of my daydreams.

Our wedding was on the smaller side - 90 guests - and it was in my parents' backyard. Everything felt so dreamy and ethereal, and Ben was dashing. He had this calm confidence about him that blew me away. He surprised me by taking my hand and kissing it as we rose for our first dance, and I can still feel his steady hand on the small of my back as he guided me, a nervous and giddy bride, onto that dance floor. And he knew.every.move. He led me effortlessly around the dance floor, and I floated along with him, suddenly feeling he and I were the only ones there. (Yes, I'm a total cheeseball sometimes.)

We listened to sweet speeches, danced like fools, ate amazing food and enjoyed champagne toasts under the canopy of a big white tent, with flickering candles and the pool where I spent all of my childhood lit up in the center of it all. I couldn't imagine a more fitting setting for Ben and me. Intimate, romantic and relaxed, surrounded by our best friends and closest family.

And oh, I can't daydream about our wedding without thinking of my dress! I wore a flowy, chiffon Vera Wang gown which I love more than any item of clothing I've ever laid hands on. I had tried it on several times in a fancy bridal boutique, knowing it was far beyond my budget, when low and behold - it became available on ebay and suddenly was in my happy hands!

Is anybody else going to weddings over this long May weekend? Whatever your plans, I hope you have a good one, and I'll be back on Tuesday!

May 24, 2012

Show and Tell

I have a new treasure to show off today!

On Mother's Day, Ben kept apologizing that my gift hadn't arrived yet, and I honestly wasn't too worried about it, seeing as he did so much other sweet stuff (check out more on our day here).

I had no idea what to expect of this mysterious gift, and suddenly a huge box appeared on our doorstep last Friday. Ben insisted on sneaking downstairs to wrap it (and insert the photos), and it was a blast to rip open such a big present, with help from Max and Bosco. Bosco is a champ when it comes to tearing off wrapping paper with his teeth.

Ben found the frame on etsy, which totally impressed me. He's actually been listening to me ramble on about how much I love etsy after all! He custom ordered the frame from Mountain River Images, and their shop is definitely worth a browse. They create some really unique, rustic frames and artwork. It's hard to fully convey in a photo, but the distressing on my white frame is just beautiful. It really makes it feel like a special piece of artwork, and not just a plain cheapo frame like I would normally buy for myself. Ben did a great job on photo selection too - a nice mix-up of our travels (Lake Louise, Denmark, Tybee Beach, and that's me skiing in British Columbia!). I can't wait to get out the hammer and nails and hang this baby up!

May 23, 2012

Dear Neighbors: We're Sorry

I previously mentioned our epic lawnmower sagas ... well right now we are at the peak of the drama. That photo is what our grass looks like this morning. Egads. It doesn't look too horrible from the street - yet. But it will very soon. Oh, it will.

There are two awesome stories leading up to this wild and crazy grass (and weed) growth:

Awesome story #1: While mowing our yard earlier this spring (if you've seen our house tour, you may have noticed that the backyard is fairly uphill), Ben got stuck in a weird spot near a tree, so he hopped off to take a look at the terrain. Thank goodness he hopped off, because a second later the mower went rolling right down the hill! I love how this man can stay calm in almost any situation. He walked into the house and said to me nonchalantly, "something just happened, you may want to come look." I walked out to find this:

The lawnmower had cozied right up to one of the railroad ties at the edge of our garden bed and we had no idea how long it would hold there. We both stood and stared at it for quite a while, and our conversation went something like this:

Ben: "I have no idea what to do."
Jenn: "Well I sure have no idea what to do."
Ben: "I just don't know what to do."
Jenn: "I know nothing about lawnmowers."

We finally resolved three things - (1) we should move the car to the lower part of the driveway so it wouldn't get smashed by a careening lawnmower; (2) I needed to photograph this awesome moment in time (Ben thought I went rushing into the house because I had a solution, but nope, it was just the journalist in me wanting to document this craziness); and (3) we should call my dad, who would probably have some thick rope and enough lawn-mower know-how to help us out.

As it turned out, my parents were headed to our side of town anyway, so they threw some rope in the car, Ben and my dad secured the lawnmower to a tree, and they rolled down the railroad tie and steered the lawnmower off to the side. Or something like that. I was too nervous to watch!

Awesome story #2: When Ben mowed the lawn two weeks ago, he mowed two stripes down the front yard, and to his surprise - off went one of the front wheels. According to Ben, the wheel rolled down the yard, into the cul-de-sac, and all the way down to the end of the street before he could wrangle it back. I love the mental image of that wheel just rolling away on a little joyride. So here's where we owe the neighbors another apology - the lawnmower sat where it had broken down, in the middle of the front yard, all weekend long. When a rain storm came in, we threw a tarp over it, which really improved the situation. (No, actually it looked much worse.) Unfortunately  - or maybe fortunately - I did not manage to document this particular segment of the lawnmower sagas. Just know that Ben eventually pushed that behemoth of a mower up the driveway and into the garage! (Oh, and he trimmed back the rest of the front yard with a weed-eater.)

He ordered the necessary parts to fix the wheel, made an attempt, and something's still not quite right. And so, as I keep kindly offering to call a lawn service just this once, Ben keeps insisting he can fix the wheel. And I believe he can. I just hope it happens before the neighbors offer to send their own yard people over :) In the meantime though, we'll just be hangin' in the tall grass!

May 22, 2012

The Inner Yogi

Who doesn't like yoga? Ok, well I'm sure there are people out there who don't, but how can you argue with stretching, relaxing and finding the peace within?

best place I've done yoga: early morning on the water, at Hornby Island, a teeny island off the coast of British Columbia

After an intense couple of months with Ben's uber-long work hours (his "busy season"), I was feeling depleted. I don't have to tell any moms that as much as we love our kiddos, being the sole caretaker for a toddler from sunrise to sunset every day can make you feel a little ... frazzled.

So when I saw the opportunity to do a yoga bootcamp a few weeks back, I jumped on it! It was scheduled just for us pulled-together and motivated frazzled moms (and some dads too), who can only manage to sneak away from the family if we rise before they do - 6am to 7am every day for one week. I am NOT a morning person, but I figured I could make it work for five days. And I really needed a boost. And some time to drive in the car by myself. (Does anybody else find that to be a luxury as a stay-at-home mom? Driving alone with music blasting and windows down?)

self-care at its finest: quietly reading a book at Hornby Island!

Turns out yoga bootcamp - hosted by a fabulous local mama, Jennifer Derryberry Mann (check out her excellent blog all about self care) at a fabulous yoga studio, Steadfast and True Yoga - is one of the best things I've done for myself in a while. The class is focused on being kind to yourself, loving yourself, things I initially thought I was doing an average, though maybe not stellar, job of. Now that I am taking inventory of my body, emotions, breathing, and all that good stuff, throughout the day, I realize that I spend a lot of my day with anxiety and tension.

In my ongoing efforts to relate to my 18-month old, to react to him constantly and let him know that I get his emotions, I find that I'm also taking on his emotions, and letting myself stay in almost a frantic state all day. Not good! But yoga is all about not judging myself, it's about accepting. So that's what I'm doing. Acknowledging and accepting, letting go of fears and judgements, and hoping that as a result I will breathe more, slow down and enjoy the moments of each day more richly.

ahhhh, namaste

One moment from the bootcamp that has really stuck with me, and helped me be a better mama, is when our teacher Jennifer showed us a back bend. Then she showed us how to walk back and forth while in a back bend, and it looked like no big deal. However, when I got into position and tried to walk forward and backward on my OWN hands and feet, I found my brain did not want to cooperate with my body! It was so darn difficult! So when Max gets frustrated with small things lately, I remember that feeling, of knowing what I want my body to do, and not being able to make it happen. I think that must be what much of life is like for a toddler. It's just plain hard being an 18-month old in a big world!

Yoga just rocks my pants off sometimes. I always learn a little something new while practicing it.

Namaste, friends :)

May 21, 2012

Start Your Engines

Because this ride is just beginning! (Or as Max would say "vroooom vroooom!") This morning I'm jumping back in time, to last April, to the very first project ever done on this house (since it came into our hands, that is). Possibly the most urgent and important element of my updating plan was paint. And lots of it. You may remember these photos of our kitchen and den, looking rather dark and a little bit country.

While we were still in Calgary, finalizing our move and finishing up Ben's work contract, my amazing parents took charge of getting some things done for us so that we could move right into a fixed up kitchen and living area. (Yeah, did I mention my parents are amazing??) With the help of a painting crew and carpenter, they got to work on a few key projects:

1) Paint cabinets white
2) Remove those two large cabinets over the peninsula, to open up the whole kitchen area
3) Tear down wallpaper and paint walls
4) Sand down and paint over wood paneling in den

These are all projects that CAN be DIYed, but with an infant, a massive move and Ben's work schedule sending him out of town pretty quickly after moving back, it was more than worth the money spent to pay professionals to do some of the more grueling work! This was all very labor-intensive and time-consuming stuff, and we knew we'd have our hands full with plenty of other projects soon enough, anyway.

We decided on white walls in both rooms, since I've been digging that bright, clean Scandinavian vibe. I trusted my mom to choose a nice white color, and she did not fail us! She picked out Delicate White from Porter Paints, and it looks fabulous. Here's the kitchen and den after wallpaper removal and priming:

Here's the kitchen after it was all said and done. You may notice that my dad managed to peel away the harvest gold back splash behind the cook top - massive improvement! The laminate countertops and other harvest gold appliances will eventually be swapped out. We ultimately did away with that decorative panel over the sink as well.

Here's a peek at our bright new den, looking into the kitchen. (I know some people would prefer to drywall over the panels, but I think they're cozy and add character and charm to the room!) My dad told us afterward that he spent hours and hours alongside the painters sanding down those panels to prep for painting. The trim around the windows and doors in both rooms also got a fresh coat of bright white paint. I am one lucky duck to have parents who are so willing to help a gal out!

So there you have it, phase one of updating the House of Cookies & Beer! Just to recap, here's a before and after, side by side. Yippee, we're making progress!

May 18, 2012

What a {Fri}day for a Daydream

Fridays are usually the time when I start to lose focus, let myself start winding down, and allow my mind to wander. My mind wanders all over the place ... like most homeowners, I'm sure, I like to think about all the fabulous renovations I'd do if I had buckets of money. Or being a travel-lover, I frequently fantasize about our next big vacation - Italy, anyone? Norway, perhaps? Or if it's Friday afternoon, I'm probably eagerly daydreaming about Ben getting home from work and all of us kicking back as a family for the weekend (family time can be hard to come by)!

So I thought it would be fun to dedicate my Friday blog posts to sharing what I'm daydreaming about at the moment. Things could get a little crazy with this. My brain is random.

Today, with the hot weather starting to hit Nashville, I am daydreaming about the beach. A big, white, sandy beach that goes on for miles, and the sound of the ocean waves, and the feeling of bobbing in the water that sticks with you for days after leaving the beach - and of course those beach sunsets. Are you there with me yet? If not, then let's just keep imagining: reclining in a lounge chair, holding a chilled Blue Moon Belgian White beer with a squeeze of fresh orange. Or a pina colada, whichever floats your boat (they both float mine when I'm at the beach). Are we getting closer? Saltwater showers, sand everywhere, fresh shrimp at a dockside restaurant, and no timeline or agenda. Ahhh, I'm feeling the island spirit now!

Last September, our little family, including Bosco, packed up and drove to Tybee Island, Georgia. Some good friends joined us for a few days with their toddler, and we got so into that island spirit that we extended our trip by several nights. Max was on the verge of learning to walk and loved everything about the beach. It was pretty heavenly, walking to the ocean every morning and playing with Max, then back to our condo for afternoon happy hour while the little man napped, followed by dinner on the balcony. Isn't it funny how quickly you fall into a vacation routine?

Ben and I were reminiscing yesterday about this amazing trip, and debating whether we could pull it off again come September, considering that we've thrown most of our money this year into our house and buying a second car. But a girl can dream! Who knows, maybe we'll find a way to make it happen!

Well, is everybody feeling relaxed now for the weekend? The beach is always my happy place when I need a mental vacation. Where do you escape to when you need a brain break?

May 17, 2012

Vitals Stats

No, this is not a birth story (although I love a good birth story). Don't worry, that will come once I get to know you guys a little better... in the meantime, here's one of my all-time favorite photos of my boy when he was just a little wee-man, at one week old.

So getting to the point now: I told you all about how I found our house, and that Ben and I decided to take a leap and go ahead and purchase it before we moved back to Nashville. Now for the boring stuff - unless you are a real estate nerd like I am, in which case you will relish these factoids :)

Year Built: 1979

Square Feet: 2,700 (about 1,700 on the main floor, plus a finished basement)

Garage: Yes! 2 Car! This was never on our "must-have" list, but we looove that garage now. Even if it's currently still filled with boxes and furniture that haven't found a home since we moved in last summer.

Bedrooms: 3 on the main floor, plus a guest room downstairs

Bathrooms: 3 full (2 on the main floor, one in the basement - interesting tidbit: the downstairs bathroom has a HUGE pink jacuzzi tub with gold fixtures. It rocks. And I'm not being sarcastic, we really love it.)

Lot: 1.15 acres (lots of mowing and weed-eating for Ben). And oh do we have stories to tell you about Ben's epic battles with the lawnmower and our hilly yard!

Rose Bushes: at least 6 - we were so grateful this house had mature landscaping. Even if it's not what we'll keep forever, at least we don't have to stress about it much until we're ready. I love our knockout roses - we do virtually no maintenance, and have happy hot pink blooms all summer long. I love any (100% free) way to add a little pizazz to the kitchen table!

So there you have it, I think that covers the basics! We don't have a floor plan, but creating one is definitely on my to-do list. Anybody know of a good, free online program that would let me do this? Leave a comment if you do! Otherwise, until tomorrow!

May 16, 2012

Inspiration, Inpsiration

The moment we signed the contract on our house (read all about how the sale went down here), I began thinking about obsessing over decorating plans. Believe it or not, this was all before the days of Pinterest (how did we live without it?!), so I was saving photos into folders on my desktop, and then compiled them into little inspiration boards just for fun. There is nothing more exciting than the prospect of a blank slate, and we had big plans for our funky little ranch house!

My (very rough) concept was for a bright, airy, happy feeling house that would be family-friendly. With my Danish roots, I can't get enough of the clean, uncluttered look and white walls often used in Scandinavian design, but to work with the style of our house, I figured I would also need to keep some traditional elements in play. I have no design background, by the way, it's just something I've loved for a long time. I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to figuring it all out!

Here's a peek at some of the ideas I put together last spring, while cozied up with a four-month-old Max in our condo in Calgary, dreaming of our very own house and yard ... and a spring without snow!

We have gotten started on some of these updates, which I'll get around to sharing with you before long. It will be fun to check back for comparisons along the way, to see how my plans change when faced with reality :)

May 15, 2012

Local Love: A CSA Mother's Day

I hope all you fellow mamas had a fabulous Mother's Day! Ours was rainy, but what better excuse to relax and snuggle up with the family?

Ben played with Max all morning so that I could lay in bed until almost 9am (luxury!) and then take a long, hot bath. Then I was treated to lunch - Ben's picnic plans were foiled by the drizzle, but it was still a hit! We started with an impressive spread of cheese, crackers, grapes and - to my surprise and glee - Sofia Coppola sparkly wine cans with straws. This is not just a cutesy drink; it is actually a quality and very tasty sparkling wine. Ben wouldn't be thrilled I'm sharing this, but he also drank one - straight out of the straw - and thoroughly enjoyed it. Our main course was a yummy veggie chicken salad melt (Ben found the recipe in my "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch" cookbook), a side salad of greens and veggies from our new CSA, and kohlrabi slaw (don't worry, I'll explain in a minute!). This is my kind of meal :) And yes, I have some work to do on my food photography... usually I'm too excited about eating to mess around for long with the camera. Just know that it was all delicious.

click for recipe we used for our Asian Kohlrabi Slaw!

So the kohlrabi slaw ... this brings me to one of my favorite decisions we made this spring. After thinking about it for years but never following through, Ben and I finally signed up for a CSA (aka, Community Supported Agriculture). Basically we sponsor a local farm, and in exchange, we get a fridge full of fresh vegetables every other week (there is also a weekly option, but we wanted to do a test-drive to make sure we can use all of the veggies we get). I chose a local farmer's market for our pick-up point, and this week was our first pick-up. The farmer's market included live music, food trucks, running into friends - and was set in a park with a playground for Max.  I think we'll really look forward to this outing every other Tuesday throughout the summer!

Among our bounty of fresh veggies (and strawberries - did I mention sweet, fresh, taste-like-candy local strawberries?!) was this:

cooking suggestion at

Don't think I didn't spend a good bit of time googling "purple vegetable" before identifying it as purple kohlrabi. It's in the cabbage family, which didn't stir much excitement in me, and the recipes I found suggested boiling, steaming or roasting it, which also didn't get me too pumped for purple kohlrabi. Ben had a genius moment once he cut into it though, and said he thought it might make a good slaw. So I got back to my googling, and quickly tracked down an easy-peasy recipe for Asian Kohlrabi Slaw. Man is this stuff good! Fresh, crispy and just a little bit spicy. We've been eating it for days, and now I'm crossing my fingers for more of it in our next CSA basket.

So that was my Mother's Day, and the very drawn-out story of our awesome CSA (Bountiful Blessings Farm for any Nashvillians who are curious).

May 14, 2012

Shop: The Colors of the Rainbow Are Very Good to Know

... you see them eeevery-where yooou go, da da da da...

Clearly, motherhood has gotten to me. Those are the words to a song one of Max's toys sings. Over and over. Moving along, here are my new rainbow-colored latte bowls!

These really do make me want to sing. I've been wanting bowls like these for ages, and when I walked into Anthropologie (on my first solo shopping trip in a while) they were front and center, calling my name. At $5 apiece, I figured I could snag six of my favorite colors without totally breaking the bank. Aren't they pretty? Now I'm fantasizing about open or glass-door kitchen shelving to show them off. Or some of these brightly-colored plates to complement them:


For our wedding, Ben and I only registered for fine china, since we already had everyday plates and bowls, and we figured we would update that on our own eventually. Well five years later, we are still using mismatched dishes, including a set from my college days. I don't hate the pattern of these - they are just thick and clunky, and sunflower yellow's not really my thing anymore.

I wonder if we could find a special place in the budget for some of those lovely striped and floral goodies from Anthropologie...

May 13, 2012

The "Big Reveal"

Every home-geared blog must have, well ... a home, right? This is not going to be a glamorous reveal - I'm warning you now, before you scroll down to the photos. For now, all you get is Casa Cookies & Beer version 1. I mean, this blog is new, so obviously I will need LOTS of projects to post about :)

Quick back-story - baby Max was born in Canada. Once we made up our minds to move back to Nashville, we began house-hunting - from 2,000 miles away! When Max was three months old, he and I left Ben behind and flew to Nashville so family and friends could meet him, and I decided to do some "casual" house-hunting in person. Famous last words.

I know I'm a weirdo - while lots of people fantasize about a shiny new house with upgrades and modern amenities, I was lusting after an outdated rancher that we could pour some love into. After touring a few stinkers, a realtor offered to show me a home that was not yet on the market, but would go up for auction literally the next afternoon. I was skeptical...

But a few minutes later, we pulled into a cozy, older neighborhood of ranchers with meticulously maintained yards full of trees - and then up the driveway to a sweet little brick ranch with a rambling 1-acre hill of a backyard (keep in mind this was in February!)...

Next we walked inside and yowza - old carpeting, linoleum, dark wood paneled walls, gold-splattered mirror tiles, and all kinds of 80s awesomeness. And yet, somehow I was seeing past all of this and thinking, "oh the possibilities!!"

You can see the wood panels to the left and right in this photo. One detail I LOVED was this A-frame ceiling and the fireplace with brick built-ins. I figured if we liked the layout and structure, then we could always do cosmetic updates. This is the family room/tv room.

My parents and I snapped a bazillion photos and posted all of them online for Ben to check out from Canada. The owners (we met the daughter who was selling her father's estate) were insanely kind people who let me and my parade of friends and family re-visit the house multiple times. They left some seriously warm and fuzzy vibes behind in this house. I fully believe a house has vibes! Good energy and bad energy, mojo, not haunted, however you want to put it!

This was the kitchen area:

The formal living/dining room:

And the hallway bath with those gold-splattered mirrored tiles I mentioned:

Based on these photos along with about 800 more, Ben agreed we should make an offer. He was in the middle of a suuuuper busy time at work, and later said he pretty much would have gone along with anything, which cracks me up - but nonetheless, things moved forward. It all happened so fast - our home inspection was the next day, and it turned out to be a perfectly maintained, majorly solid house (aside from a few things being just plain old). Success!!

So yeah, we closed on the house from Canada a month later, and it was all said and done before Ben ever saw the place. And yes, he liked it when he finally saw it months later. I was holding my breath. For like 3 1/2 months. Phew.