Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Let me start by saying this- I can and have handled a lot of things. I am good with stress and great with deadlines. This move however, is getting to me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the house we are moving out of looks like this:

And the one we are moving into looks a bit like this:

That's our bedroom by the way...

Move day is now three days away. THREE. When we left the bay area to move here I was heading up a remodel of a middle school office building. The final day of the remodel was also the same day we left for Redding. I literally spent three days simultaneously packing my own house, tending to a new born, and running a remodel. I had to put a fair amount of trust in Nolan and our family and friends to get everything loaded in the truck, because I literally hugged my co-workers goodbye at the end of the night, loaded up the kids, and followed Nolan in the moving truck for the four hour drive to Redding. Looking back- that was nothing. You know what is seemingly impossible (not a word I throw around lightly)? Getting a dumpy dirty hippy house livable while raising three little people under the age of 7, and packing our current home. Our days look something like this:
7:30am- wake up, shove coffee down throat. Nolan leaves for work, I begin packing while caring for little people. Did I mention one had what we were pretty sure was pink eye? Insert trip to pediatrician here.

10:00am- Run around and fetch building supplies and or packing supplies. Also drive through coffee joint.

12:00pm- Remember to feed children

1:00pm- Put Lola down for a nap, find some sort of occupation for the other two, brew more coffee, continue to pack. This continues until Nolan get's home from work and I realize I haven't thought of anything for dinner. It then occurs to me that although I have thought to feed the children, I have been on a diet of strictly coffee. I am suddenly very hungry and annoyed that I haven't thought out dinner better.

6:00- Head to the new house to paint/repair/replace any of the endless things that need painting/repairing/replacing.

12:00am (midnight)- Head back home, have a quick snack, and fall into bed. Dream of painting and prying out stripped screws from the built in closet door hardware (not even kidding, that's what I dream about now).

7:30am- Wake up to Jax insisting I open a LEGO package and asking why I "sleep so much." I beg to differ son, I don't sleep nearly enough. Mommy just turned 31, don't you know she's old now and needs more rest?

I am tired, and cranky. I should be packing more right now, but quite honestly I can't stand to look at another box at this moment. Happy new year everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Christmas Gift to... well, us.

Nolan and I have been looking for a house to buy since late August. We looked at quite a few, but pretty quickly came to the realization that we are weirdly picky about houses. Let me explain-
Redding is FULL of houses that all look like this:

Not that there is anything wrong with a brand new cookie cutter home, in a neighborhood full of the same five houses duplicated repeatedly. This is absolutely the right choice for a lot of people, just not us. Our style is more along the lines of this:

or this:

We love vintage homes. The character and beauty of these homes just cannot be duplicated. The real problem in our home search was that the first (mid century Eichler home) simply doesn't exist in Shasta County. The latter generally exists only in old town, which is less than safe and mainly populated by drug addicts. There is quite literally ONE neighborhood in all of Redding that we had any desire to buy into. ONE that wouldn't feel like settling. Homes in our target neighborhood rarely come available and when they do sell for quite a bit more than we were ready to spend. So we waited... and spent a lot of time trying to talk ourselves into homes we didn't really love. We submitted an offer on a piece of property with the intent to build, only to have the sellers pull it off the market because they were missing proper documentation to sell it. We were feeling deflated and somewhat bitter.

Then this beauty came along:

Okay... "beauty" might be a bit of a stretch. I'm not delusional, I see that it's actually pretty hideous from the outside. Believe it or not though, there is a lot of potential here! She's definitely a fixer (and not like HGTV make your house pretty in an afternoon fixer, I mean a REAL fixer. Like "contractors special" kind of fixer). Luckily we aren't easily frightened (although maybe we should be...)! This baby popped on the market as "coming soon," which meant that for a solid month it taunted us, and we stalked it, waiting for it to become an active listing. Our minds were running wild, it was a vintage fixer, in our target neighborhood... what would they price it at? How bad off was it? Was there enough room for our family of five? Finally the day came when we were able to see the inside, and we instantly fell in love.

Front Door/Deck

These windows sold it for me.

Possibly the weirdest kitchen I have ever seen. Have no fear, it will all go away soon!

Wow. Just.... wow.

Pop quiz everyone, how much is that mid century fire place worth? Google it... :)
By the way, this is (or used to be) the garage... it will be returning to a garage in the very near future!


Windows looking out into the backyard.

Bigger than she looks, isn't she?

Who's seen Fight Club? The lower level of this house reminds me so much of that house...

Just ew. I will spare you from the REALLY bad photos. 

Again, I know she doesn't look like much, but we were in love none the less. Believe it or not, most of what you see is cosmetic. The bones of the house are good, and that's what's important when all is said and done.  
Here's how the house breaks down:
4 bedrooms + office, 2 bathrooms, somewhere around 1700 sq ft., built in 1949. The bottom level of the house which I call the Fight Club floor, is completely separate from the upper level. The house was split into two units, the bottom illegally sublet to a horder, and the top rented to a hippy. You actually have to enter the bottom level from the backyard, as there is no staircase connecting the two floors. The seller originally had the house priced at $179k. WAY too much for this house...
So we waited, and continued to stalk it. We watched it drop to $169k, and then $159k, and decided to make our move. Unfortunately because of the condition of the home, a bank would not loan on it, and we were left with only one option- a cash offer. Thanks to our amazing lender we were able to locate a private investor who was willing to loan what we needed to make an offer. We went in with our very strongest offer, still more than what we wanted to pay for the home in its condition- $140k. I wrote a letter to the seller explaining our offer and telling her a little bit about ourselves, hoping to appeal to her softer side. Thankfully she accepted our offer and 45 days later we officially purchased our home (which we have since nicknamed the "Golden Turd.")

This remodel will happen in several phases. the first of which (phase 1a) is to get the top floor livable so that we can move in and avoid paying rent and mortgage at the same time. Then we will refinance into a bank loan (rather than the loan through our investor) and start our remodel. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but when all is said and done, we will own a home that is designed to OUR standards, in a neighborhood we adore. Most people think we're completely insane, and we can accept that... it's going to be amazing when it's done.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Welcoming Hannah Rae

I'm just going to go ahead and state the obvious here-
Life with three kids is exhausting. And hectic. And EXHAUSTING. Did I mention exhausting? I'm sure there have been at least two major holidays since the last time I posted anything, and at the very least I need to post pictures of the kiddos in their epic Halloween costumes. I'm getting there... promise! But in the time being I want to take a second to honor my very best friend and her little girl (due in January). 

Annie and I met the very first day of kindergarten on the school bus. As she recalls it, I sat down next to her on the bus, gave her my full name, and asked if she wanted to be my best friend. The rest as they say, is history. The type of friendship we have is one most people never have the honor of knowing, and I feel incredibly blessed to have known it for 25 years. This month I felt especially honored to throw my best friend a baby shower to welcome her first little one- Hannah (my middle name, and also a reference to Hannah, from the book of Samuel). Annie flew in from Texas and spent eight days as our guest. Living in different states has proved challenging, but we have made it our goal to alternate visiting each other a minimum of once per year. She was there when Lola was born, with any luck I will be there when Hannah arrives or shortly after.

I laughed more in the last eight days then I think I have all year. Anyone listening in on a conversation between Annie and I would have to assume we are crazy. 25 years of friendship has provided a lot of strange inside jokes, and often times our conversations consist of multiple jokes strung together to make a completely illogical sentence, usually ending is the both of us laughing until we can't breath. One of the highlights of this visit was getting to listen to cassette tapes we made of ourselves using my sister's karaoke machine to host our own radio shows. Not only did we DJ, we also sang. The very first tape we made is from 1994, we were ten. Annie's dad also sent along a copy of our eight grade drama performance, were Annie and I were two of the leads. Such a throw back! On Sunday I saw Annie off to the airport and we all returned to our normal lives. Even though we talk everyday, there is nothing like being able to sit down with your best friend and have a cup of coffee. I miss her already :(

This is an attempt my mom made at taking a posed photo of the two of us. We couldn't control our laughing long enough to get a decent shot, but I have to say I adore this photo. This is us in our natural state.

While I was setting up decorations, I banished Annie to the back room where I had booked two of my other favorite people to come pamper her. My very good friend Michelle (who is also a MAC Pro artist) did her makeup, and my friend Joanna (who is an incredible hair stylist) styled her hair. By the time they were finished decorations were up and I was able to surprise Annie with the full look of the party.

Vintage lace and vintage Pyrex- what could be better?

Lace umbrellas and beautiful bead raindrops.

Pinwheels by Jealous June, cake by me :)

Favors were home made pink lemonade sugar scrub in little mason jars, game prizes were OPI "It's a Girl" nail polish. We played classics such as "guess how much candy is in the baby bottle" and guessed the flavor of baby food based on taste alone.

In a recent turn of events I have been diagnosed with Celiac's disease, which gave me the added challenge of creating a beautiful and mostly gluten free shower, without any one knowing the difference (and no one did!). The menu was as follows-

Gluten free vanilla cake with buttercream frosting and strawberries between each layer. I made many practice attempts in the weeks leading up to the shower to be sure I had perfected the perfect gluten free cake, that didn't taste remotely gluten free. I think the end product was pretty amazing, people were raving about how delicious it was, and not one of them knew it was gluten free.

Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Basil Vinaigrette For this we substituted for the tortellini for gluten free three cheese ravioli, it was just as delicious and no one was the wiser!

Fruit Salsa with cinnamon and sugar pita chips (the chips unfortunately were not gluten free, but the dip was!)

Gourmet Bagel Sandwiches (deli bagels sliced in half, cream cheese, roast beef, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Super simple and delicious! I bought a package of gluten free bagels and made myself a separate one)

Personal size Kettle Corn bags

Ice Tea
We can't wait to meet little miss Hannah!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Manhattan Trip - Now including notes from lazy Tracy ;)

I know it's a little late getting these on here, but here is our trip that we took to New York City. We had a ton of fun and would like to go back in the winter to see the city in the snow. -Nolan

Even later to the party (is it seriously October already?!), here I (Tracy) am to add my notes about our amazing vacation. Nolan and I took FIVE blissfully kid free days to ourselves in New York to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. TEN! I couldn't be more proud to say that! It truly makes me so thankful that after ten years, countless moves, three kids, two very high risk pregnancies, college, career changes, learning to live debt free, home ownership, loss and love, we are stronger than the day we tied the knot. We are lucky and blessed to be navigating this world together! Quite honestly was our first real vacation since our honeymoon to Belize ten years ago, which left much to be desired. We were well overdue for a re-do.  

After multiple delays, we're finally on our way to NYC! 
This is essentially the entire room. It's New York after all, space is limited! But how cool are the lights under the bed?!
Our view
Tmes Square!

Ferris wheel INSIDE Toys R Us.
Of course we had to ride it!

The Hulk, made entirely of LEGOS.

In front of The Majestic after seeing The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. 

Seriously one of the coolest things we have ever done. I've seen the Phantom three times (two in SF), but this was by far the most AMAZING production. 

Something I have dreamed of seeing since I was 12.

Incredible ceiling. 

Street art.

Little Italy!

One of my favorite places in NY.

Cheesy I know, however, this place made the most phenomenal cannoli EVER. Seriously I took one bite and almost fell down it was so good. We went back the day we left to buy a half dozen for the flight.

One of the many spectacular courthouses we walked by. That's my on the steps at the top. It was HUGE.

For such massive doors, they had such tiny hinges! 

New World Trade Center

There was something so peaceful and somber about this memorial. I honestly didn't expect to be as moved by it as I was.

A legit NYC rat. It ran right by my foot while I was sitting on a park bench.

Empire State Building.

View from the Empire State at about 1am

One of the places we had brunch at near our hotel.

Giant chocolate egg.

Central Park.

Another thing to check off my bucket list. A trip to the Guggenheim, designed by one of my favorite architects- Frank Lloyd Wright.

The ceiling at Grand Central Station. It took my breath away!

Rockefeller Center

Radio City Music Hall

View from the "Top of the Rock" (Rooftop of Rockefeller Center)

Trump Tower

The London Hotel, where we dined at one of Gorden Ramsey's amazing restaurants. 

View of Manhattan from our boat tour.

Brooklyn Bridge, we passed under it which was amazing.

Katz's Delicatessen, a MUST

Where Harry met Sally :)

Last night before we headed home.