Girls’ First Halloween Night-a Special Video

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Thanks for watching!  Happy Halloween!

Snow Pea/Sweet Pea-Year One

Capturing Little Ones on Halloween-Crazy Parents!

Capturing Little Ones on Halloween-We are some Crazy Parents!

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What’s this Mommy?

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Hey you look like Me?

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No Audrey, I’m first!

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I love you Camera!

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Who Me?

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Where’s the Candy man?

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It was worth every frame!  Happy Halloween and make those special memories happen!


Our Pawling, New York House-Loved it-Our Deal-Adding the Landscaping

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My Scrapbook Page! Love at First Sight!

The ad above has been deconstructed into a scrapbook page.  It was the ad I saw when we found this incredible house on the internet.  With new baby twin girls at home and only a couple of months to find a new home, I thought this was an equally fine choice.  Patrick was living in an executive condo in Stanford, Connecticut and we missed him.  I had not a clue as to where to live in New York. We knew New York City was out.  We had two dogs so living in a small apartment in the city was out of the question. We looked in Connecticut but that state was out of our price range for what they offered.  In my searches, this home just kept popping up so it was begging for us to come see it.

With my babies courtside….I kept talking on the phone to real estate agents associated with the properties I was interested in, combing a 60 mile radius.

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Look at those adorable faces!

In talking to these various real estate agents (who are naturally biased) I was told that a two-hour commute to the Pawling home was doable. Okay, well do I really want my husband working all day only to drive home in city traffic and burned out by the time he got home?  No. We talked to more agents and they said it could be done in an hour and a half and there was also the train that boarded at two close spots to the homes’ location (my husband never took the train).  After looking at various properties just a stone’s throw away from New York City, it became abundantly clear, if you wanted more bang for your buck and some privacy, move here.

One solid weeknight the phone rang and it was my husband and he said he was going up to look at the house and that he would call me when he was finished.  I’ll never forget that call.  I had just put the girls to sleep and was sitting on the floor in the living room in the dark.  I remember Patrick’s voice when he said, “this is your house, you’re going to love it.”  He described everything to me in immaculate detail: the size of the rooms, the trees that lined the driveway, the mudroom.  I said I’m coming up to see it right away.  I left that weekend and headed up with my girls in tow to Connecticut.  This was May of 2010.  We took a back road through this beautiful part of Connecticut and arrived at the home in an hour.  We entered the protected wildlife community where one mile later we still hadn’t seen the house. Okay enter frightened. It wasn’t until this private lane that we started our decent onto our new home to be.

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When I arrived this is what the house looked like-no plantings-just a big house in the woods.  I sat the girls down in their heavy car seats and took the photo below because I just knew I found the one. I loved the property, I loved the trees, I loved everything about the house just like my husband said I would (he’s so brilliant).  The kitchen wasn’t ideal because it wasn’t set up to entertain but I could live with that.  When Patrick and I arrived back at the condo in Stanford, I had him contact the owner/builder of the home. I had already decided to add my landscaping skills to the repertoire of the home.  The owner of the home and I then made arrangements that I would landscape the grounds if he would forgo the security deposit.  He agreed and I was elated.  Oh did I leave any parts out?  Yes, we would be renting this baby while my hubby commuted into New York City for work.  Maybe Patrick would take the train.  One could only hope.

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Patrick and the Realtor

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The Girls and their new casa

To be continued.  More photos of the landscaping jobs to come.  How we started it and what it looked like when we left in 2014.  Thanks for staying tuned.



How we Winterized our Porch and Upper Deck and lived to tell about it!

Backdeck-Jan. 2014

Yes this is what our little home looked like when we came back from New York.  The yard was never fertilized and completely eaten alive by the various dogs our renters had (according to our neighbors there were up to eight dogs in our home at any one time).  We currently have one small dog Belle and she occupies the whole house!

Back to our house.  Here’s what we discovered: the yard was amass with holes and dead grass, dead trees, old chewed up dog toys that we found for months and flower pots galore. There are some you see stored underneath our deck but there were many more on the side of the house and in our neighbors yard; these items included trellises, pallets, stakes, and various garden accessories and in general trash. There was hoards of stuff!

Once we settled in and took stock of everything they left behind, we gave much it away to interested parties, including the forest green bird bath they left in the front yard.  What a relief!  Back to the porch, the boards were left untreated and looked to be in bad shape.  Wood was splintering and we wanted a smooth surface because we knew how much our daughters would be going up and down the steps to play outside.

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This photo shows a clip of our family dogs face but also shows a glimpse of the condition of our deck.  Not just dirty.

The rails were left in good shape thankfully so fortunately for us we didn’t need to replace those.  We really pondered how involved we wanted to be in staining this deck on our own.  We rationalized we would have it professionally primed and stained later so just giving it a color was the first line of defense.  I leaned toward a grey finish that would pull from the pavers in the patio, unifying the color scheme.

PATIO

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This was a photo from my family baby shower in 2009.  This was six months into living in the home and that summer we had a patio customized to our lifestyle where we would host barbecues and family gatherings.  The pavers shown gave me the gusto to go with a weathered gray semi-permanent wood stain.

I wish I had a photo to showcase the work my husband and I put in to make this happen.  We stained both lower and upper decks and literally I was hanging off the upper deck, hoping I didn’t slip or fall by accident.  I started by layering the lower deck with old sheets and towels to keep the lower deck free from the dirt, mildew, and leaves that would fall as I was prepping. This would also cover any stain drippings when I began that process.

With a tire scrubber with attached handle and medium-sized bucket, I applied two parts bleach and four parts water and got to work!  In between the rails was a bit harder, where algae from the trees had taken root so I used an old toothbrush.  This took me one full week I’d estimate.  Scrubbing it twice was the prescription and once done, I reeked of bleach.

The staining process was set in motion with an extension paint rod and one small mini roller to get in between the rails and on both sides of the rails.  Like I said I really wish I had photos of this process.  Once we began, we were intent on finishing and it was messy so grabbing cameras took us backwards, literally.  It was late summer 2014 and the kids were due back in school.  A lot of preparations were needed.  The heat was on.

I did use a paint brush for hard to reach spots because I believe this lends precision and in the case of the underside of the rails, this was a must.  I finished staining the upper deck just before sunset.  I loved the grey look of the deck.  With some potted plants or Mums, it would help give the freshly stained deck some polish and friendliness.  For the upper deck, a friend gave me an aluminum table that I painted white and I bought an end of the year patio umbrella to complete the look.  I placed a pair of old Adirondack chairs that I refinished (a gift from my mother in law) on the upper deck so Patrick and I could catch a glimpse of the Severn River. Done.

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These photos were taken on nice sunny days but it shows an improvement over the last two years.  We plan to expand the garden and screen in the porch, someday!  One step at a time!  Thank you again for taking time out of your day to read my posts.  I wish you the best success in all of your home improvement projects!


How we Transformed a Small Kids Bathroom from Outdated to Pretty

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The Girls Bathroom, 2nd Floor

This is the size of our twin daughters bathroom, petite. There really is no need for another photo because you get the idea.  There’s a builder grade mirror opposite the towel rack, that’s it.  When we were choosing the finishes, we really just wanted to get done and move in the house.  I’m afraid to say we only upgraded on the door finishes and went with a brushed copper, which we love.

On with the girls’ bathroom.  When we originally painted it, we went with a sort of tropical blue thinking that would warm the room up, considering I also went with white tile for the floor, it all just became wrong for a room without windows.

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I can’t believe in 2008 I chose this color.  It really made a small bathroom feel even smaller.  The color swatches I bought were in soft pinks with a hint of silver.  I wanted to feel transported while in this tiny bathroom brushing the knots out of my daughter’s hair, so it had to feel calm.  We knew it didn’t matter at that time to change the existing light fixture.  It would work for now.  Dollars saved.  We knew we also wanted to remove the builder grade mirror and take down the towel rack.  We went with paint by Behr once again and I’m sorry I don’t remember the shade because it took every bit of 2 gallons to cover that hideous blue!  The two door hooks also serve each daughter, giving them their own towels and wash clothes, keeping germs to a minimum.

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Here is what we got.  We were so happy with the results!  We had an old mirror lying around we weren’t using and flipped it on its side to give a dramatic effect and make the room look longer.  We added inexpensive hooks to substitute for the towel rack and bought new towels for the girls.  Small changes can make a big impact!  So even though you might think it’s not worth it to approach a small bathroom, a new coat of paint and a few small accessories can make a HUGE difference!  Happy Decorating!!


How I updated the Rooms in our House on a Budget, from Construction to Now

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You’ve had a chance to read the blog and where we began our journey as soon-to-be parents, but here are the photos of the rooms bare bones and what they look like now.  Between the years of 2008 and 2014, the rooms were pretty bare.  NO artwork, no curtains, just the basics: the furniture essentials to live on, a sofa, maybe a coffee table (actually we used a plant stand for a while).

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The house as it looks on a sunny day. Here are some of the rooms at project start.

The Kitchen

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This is my favorite room in the house and the one most frustrating. You can relate right?  It gets the most traffic and the most junk mail.  Here is how it basically looks today and on a good day.  We painted the walls Sandstone Cove by Behr in Flat Matte. I usually go with a flat matte because it gives off a soft look.  I usually also mix up furniture finishes so that’s why the cabinet finishes and bar stools are different tones.  I wanted espresso flooring in hardwood but that choice was vetoed due to budget concerns. I’ve learned to live with the pine stain look and accent it with darker rugs.  I still have to tile the back splash and will update you when that is finished.  I may get to it in nine months!

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The Dining Room

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The Dining Room has alluded me for years.  When we started we thought oh yeah we’ll have Turkey dinners in here and everyone will fit (this was before the twins!).  It’s changed at least twice from dining room to home office and back again.  Each Halloween it’s my spookfest room and I love to decorate it all in black. Here’s how it looks today, for the most part.

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This view is from the kitchen side, not from the foyer. Some curtains and chair slip covers in budget friendly tones and I have the start of a good dining room.  The area rug was also easy on the budget; it’s what my dear friend Claire calls “itchy and it hurts” (I love Claire, she’s five).  Sisal would stand up to my daughters romps and it’s a fraction of the cost of wool blends.  It was a no brainer for a room I rarely use; Easter and Thanksgiving.

The Coffee Room

Winter 2009 078This Room has been fun.  I added my Grandfather’s mirror, circa 1950’s that I took from bronze to a white washed finish and added my favorite neutral accessories.

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This is how it looks from the opposite side of the room.  Sometimes I switch the couches.  This is where on the weekends we read and take our coffee and spend time playing board games with the girls. No TV allowed.

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The Foyer

This is the basics without paint, without the stain we added on the steps.

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Here is what it looks like now.

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We stained the steps in a light walnut finish, keeping with the pine floors, just adding walnut for depth.  In New York I finished three collages in black frames; for the first four years of our girls and family photos in the middle.  I wanted the look of this larger foyer to be clean and not too fussy.

The Eat-in-Kitchen

Eat In Kitchen

This was the day of my baby shower so it tells you I was having girls!  So sweet but here it is without all of that pink.  Toned down a bit.  We needed blinds and the bamboo kept the room simple and clean.  I love my farmhouse table. Changed out chandeliers and put the crystal one in the dining room and found this eight sconce one at an affordable price.  I added the burlap cord cover and voila, the dinning room is complete!  Note: you can always switch out the rugs in this house to add an easy update just like I did here. Jute, sisal, and other natural fiber rugs are affordable and always in style. Look for clearance sales at your favorite stores because you never know, you might find last years best and there’s nothing wrong with that!  It’s your style!

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In the next blog or the continuation of this one, I’ll be going room by room to show you how I’ve added and changed the rooms over the years.  Keeping the budget in mind is never easy but this allows me to stay home with my daughters which I would never trade!  Happy Decorating and thank you for reading my blog!


Old New York Farm Table Converted into Pottery Barn look-alike Coffee Table

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Needed to find a home

Pedestal Table

Started Construction!

We bought this old kitchen table in the summer of 2010 in Patterson, NY not too far from our house in New York.  We thought it had good bones so we kept it a while, used it as a kitchen table, and then realized how functional it would be as a coffee table.  When we came back to our Annapolis home, we then deconstructed it, sawed it in half (this took some doing!) and painted it Matte Black by Behr.  By the way, we love all of their paints and use them when we feel inspired. The price point doesn’t hurt either.

Here is the finished result.

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Happy Fall Decorating!!  For fresh ideas for Fall Decorating or to be inspired, please visit my Pinterest pages!



Construction of our First House to bring Twins Home

A New Beginning

A New Beginning

We live here now!  This is the first house my husband and I built together.  Although what we didn’t know is that it would be our first house we would live in together.  We were actually building it for another woman and her two children.  Somewhere along in the process and I would venture to say it was somewhere in the middle, did the woman’s financing fall through.  We were already attached to the home and decided it would be where we bring our twins home. Construction began in, we believe December of 2008 and was completed in May of 2009. Whitehall Building and Company of Annapolis would preside over the building process.

In late 2008 I dove right into picking the interiors.  The original slated owner had chosen the exterior colors which I loved.  I was then ready to choose most of the interior finishes.  I already knew I was on a limited budget with the construction loan.  My husband and I rationalized this wouldn’t be our last home so we chose wisely with multiple owners and/or renters in mind.

My husband walking our dogs, Belle and Brie

My husband walking our dogs, Belle and Brie

With that criteria, I chose hardwood flooring for the main corridors of the house.  When push came to shove on the rooms, we went with carpet. It went against my better judgement but it was a huge savings and we both rationalized that warmth in the rooms was key. There’s something about putting your feet on hardwood that refreshes a childhood memory; cold nights and having to get out of bed to use the rest room and the first feeling you get is yikes-that’s cold!!!  Area rugs just don’t feel quite as cozy to me.

The next step was to pick the flooring for the girls bathroom (we didn’t know they were girls yet) so we went with easy to clean subway tile in white. Boy do I wish I went with ceramic tile or hardwood because guess what, subway tile shows all the dirt and hair!  When we moved back into the Annapolis house in January of 2014 our house was certainly not the way we left it.  Two general contractors were called in on the hurry and our limited budget renovations began. So much for starting the process of Baby #3; that would have to wait.  Here is our home in late 2009 just prior to bringing our girls home; warm, inviting, and decorated for Fall.

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Below you’ll find the condition of our home when we came back from New York. Although this photo was taken in January, the yard you can tell took a major beating. There were overgrown weeds (that survived the cold!), our perennials that we planted when we built the house were mostly gone, the concrete porch was stained from all of the potted plants they kept on our porch; there were old chewed up dog toys strewn throughout our yard, and it was clear the sod we planted was on its way out. This was just the obvious outside-what we uncovered in hidden places all throughout the grounds was ghastly; fencing, old dirty dog bowls, loads of planter pots, pallets, ornamental garden accessories, and other unrelated junk they had left behind. Your probably wondering if we checked our renters references!  The answer was yes we did but we never thought we would come home to an episode of Hoarders!

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The good news is we stayed the course and dug our heels in and worked around the clock.  The upcoming blogs will showcase the before, during, and after photos of our humble beginnings home. We’re proud to call it home for now.  I hope you’ll stay tuned for these neat transformations!!!  Thank you for reading our blog and here’s how our house looks today.  God bless you.

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Moving on to Next Stage of Frozen Embryo Transfer and the Balancing Act of Parenthood

The Oscar goes to Progesterone!

The Oscar goes to Progesterone

Okay now onto the next phase.  I call this the final countdown!  Last week I was relieved to find out that my lining looked as they say “pretty”.  What they mean to say is my uterine lining looks healthy enough to implant an embryo.  I laughed out loud and said “pretty” really?  Okay that word alludes me but let’s go with it. The cyst on my left ovary has appeared to dissipate with the left still producing some follicles (egg production).  I tried to quiet them with lots of Lupron-ugh……the sonographer, although not privy to give me the last word somewhat told me it wouldn’t be an issue. Okay left ovary-cooperate. Your stopped in your tracks. The goal here is to stop egg production to “trick” the body into thinking it’s pregnant or will be pregnant.  I’d like to quote Dana Carvey’s character, Church Lady in this instance, “Isn’t this Fun?!”

The protocol I’m on calls for 8 more days of Progesterone (that 2 inch needle is for the birds) and Del Estrogen every 3rd night and Progesterone in Oil for the remainder of those days leading up to a pregnancy test.  Don’t give up I say.  It’s only temporary.  Did I mention my blood clotting disorder requires me to be on injections the duration of my pregnancy?  I used Lovenox in my last pregnancy; a very well-known blood thinner to keep the oxygen and blood flowing to the uterus.  This time around, because of my accelerated age (incredulous here) I will be wearing compression stockings which too aids in vein health.

If you had asked me in my 20’s would I be willing to go through something like this to have a child, I probably would have answered Heck No because I never thought of having children.  As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until I met my husband in my early 30’s did I decide that children would be in my future.

Emily's School Trip

Emily’s School Trip in 20008

There I was on a field trip with my stepdaughter Emily (pictured directly behind me).  I’ve always loved having children around but to take on more than my stepchildren, which is a job in of itself, was going to require that I move mountains.  I don’t want this blog to portray that life is easy or that I throw paint on furniture while my twin five-year old daughters watch copious amounts of television. That’s not the deal.  What I do is not easy.  My daughters are out in the garage with me while I work on projects so I have to naturally balance teaching them and work and for me, not anyone else, this takes some major skill sets!!

First you have to be PATIENT and find it in your patience purse to pull back and assess if what you’re doing is more important than missing those precious parent-child moments.  More often than not, I stop what I’m working on and come back to it later.  Sometimes it’s much later and other times, it’s at night when they’re sleeping.  It just depends.  I don’t want to miss a thing but I do want to put out there, I get flustered.

Being kind to yourself and your mother load is very important also, but you already know that right?  For me a shopping trip is just the key to improving my mood (yesterday).  It took some prying on my husband’s part but once I was out the door and in the mall, it was SUCCESS.  Let me just say that flannel shirt that I said I wouldn’t buy because I said I would never wear flannel, we’ll let’s just say the Lumberjack isn’t the only person who looks good in red and black flannel!  I bought it in a large just so if I grow out a bit, I’ve got room.  I will wear it with cozy black leggings in the Fall and duck boots. I will wear it proudly with or without a pregnancy.  I’m nervous about this coming Friday.  I’m now off to pursue a fertility acupuncture treatment.  I’m fortunate and blessed today that my husband is working from home and able to spend quality time with our daughters.  Thank you for reading my blog!  Happy Monday!

A Marshall's Bargain!

A Marshall’s Bargain!