Welcome to a catch-up. The random life of us.


Here we go:

Book Club
Kyle likes to tease me about being part of a book club. However, I only read one book and it was during the time that we were suppose to be reading the second book. Athough I am behind in participation points, I enjoy the social hour. Last week MK hosted a Tea Party for The Pride & Prejudice.

We used her grandmother's china and ate homemade scones. I know, AMAZING. I did a few extra sit ups that night to make me feel better about eating my weight in scones.







Ark Folk Festival
I shared a while ago how EXCITED I was about the Folk Festival, specifically because Rodriguez was performing. It was this past Friday, and we braved the freezing cold and snow showers to see him and five other artists perform.

My fav: Delta Rae. You can tell they LOVE what they do and it changes the energy of the entire room. They started off their tour here and will be returning to A2 in August! I love discovering new bands, here's their website! 




Rodriguez started the 2nd half of the night and received a well deserved standing ovation from the moment he was escorted on stage. I'm pretty sure everyone in the room had seen Searching For Sugarman, so were were all THRILLED to see him perform.







Auto Show
Disaster of people. TOO. MANY. PEOPLE.
Thankfully we were too cheap to pay the $20.00 for parking, so we paid for two hours on the street and had an excuse to leave the auto show. We were getting claustrophobic and both experiencing hangry symptoms.



The best part of the day of was having lunch with our close friends in Detroit! Budarest Cafe, I like you.


Sunday Funday
We ended up shopping for new appliances on Sunday after church, and it was a bit overwhelming. Did you know there are different colors of stainless steel? Of course the refrigerator we love has a different stainless steel than the gas range. Who knew?

Later on we enjoyed an entire afternoon and evening with homemade venison nachos and friends. It was so nice to have people over while Kyle was home, we miss hosting together. What fun is a house if  you can't share it?!

Speaking of which, how obvious is it that Kyle ended up going to the store with me on Sunday?


I suppose I can't talk, since I snuck these into the cart:


I was too intrigued to let them slip by.
Consensus: by "jelly" they really do mean jelly, so the texture is a bit strange. Almost as if you are pulling worms out of a popsicle. Somehow, still delicious (although I doubt that I could convince you of that since I just compared it to swarm of worms)


Taken 2.
Not a date movie. I am now rethinking our trip to Europe this summer. I heard pepperspray is not allowed on a plane?


Maizy's Apparel
The poor girl has been missing running with me, it's simply been too cold for her. So, I took her out this week for the first time in two weeks since it got up to 40 degrees! She was so wet from the horrible snow/slush mix (then a bath), that she just kept shivering. Solution:



Thank you Target clearance section, although my husband may dislike you, I adore you.


In other news, my mother's birthday is tomorrow! The BIG 3-0.
Happy Birthday, Mom!





Over the summer when we were knee deep in house hunting, one of our agents asked us to consider being on House Hunters. We laughed and immediately declined the offer, thinking it would be ridiculous. She continued to drop hints here and there over the course of a few months, always with a wink and smile.
Our friends just bought their first home, and they were also asked if they would consider being on the show. We didn't feel as special anymore. I suppose a resident, his wife, and moving from out of town sounded very appealing to an agent.


Well, since we all know that House Hunters is filmed after the couple purchases the house, now would be the perfect time for our "return visit". (Wait, you didn't know that? So sorry to burst your bubble...bummer eh?!  Totally changed the way I watch the show now!)
Since I get a lot of questions about the house process, what we wanted, what we got, how we made decisions, etc etc. I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to help answer them as we make our way into showbiz. By showbiz I mean this blog.

We looked at almost 100 houses in the Ann Arbor area. It stopped being fun around the 20th home tour. Truthfully, three houses doesn't even begin to cover the plethora of options and houses we looked at. But the show has rules people, must stick to 3! The three houses below are ones we did look at, including the one we choose :) All pictures are from the actual real estate listing.


Our script would look a little something like this:
 
The show would have started off with us walking up to our agent on a sidewalk in a neighborhood full of tulips and spring colors, and as we wandered we would have chatted about "our list":

3 Bedrooms
2 Full Baths
2 Car Garage
Fireplace
Large Yard (at least one acre)
Basement (finished or unfinished)
Good "bones"
 Around 1,500 - 2,000 sq. ft
Within 10 minutes to downtown area and hospital


Continuing with the shows pattern, we would see three houses, which may or may not fulfill our list.


House 1: "The Character Home on The Neighborly Street"

4 bedrooms
1 and 1/2 baths
1 stall garage
Great neighborhood and location
Clean basement, unfinished
1,300 sq. ft.
.2 acres


The living room had a lot of natural light, but this was the only communal space in the home.


That window seat had me at hello :)



The owner had turned one bedroom a "getting ready" space. They installed a sink and multiple storage units as there wasn't a closet in the room. We discussed the idea of knocking out the wall from the master to this space, and making it a walk-in closet and full bath.



Then, we would have had a discussion in the back yard of the home that would have gone something like this: 

Meredith: "I'm in love, it has the cutest curb appeal. Look at this street - adorable!, full of character and a very safe neighborhood. I could get over the 1 bath, and only 1 garage stall. We could built an entire edition over the garage. Yes, the yard is small, but Maizy is small too!"

Kyle: "There is only one garage, our neighbors are too close (they can probably hear us talking right now), way too small of yard, and only one full bath. I don't think "adorable" can trump those hunny."

Meredith: "Can't you see me walking babies up and down these blocks"

Kyle: "Can't you see everyone else through all of the neighbors windows?!"

Then, we'd talk about what we agreed on:
 
Agreed: Great relative location; we can walk to the stadium, multiple parks and the store. You couldn't hear the highway, which gives this home additional points! There's a big draw to not having to do a lot of renovations and having it "move-in-ready.


House 2: "Small ranch in upscale nieghborhood"

3 bedrooms
2 full bathrooms
unfinished basement
1,600 sq. ft
1 acre lot
Fireplace

We really liked this open layout from the kitchen to the fireplace area. Great for hosting!





Obviously the view was wonderful :)


Then, we would have had a discussion on the back porch of the home that would have gone something like this:

Meredith: "This is the location we love, and the yard is beautiful. The open kitchen/fireplace area layout is great, and that the master had a bath (however, quite small). I'm not crazy about the front of the house and lack of curb appeal, but we could fix that. I think it's completely overpriced"

Kyle: "Agree, we love this area, but it's overpriced. Great neighborhood, large lot, 2 car garage and little updates needed. Smallest house on the street which is great for retaining value. But it is small"

Then, we'd come to a conclusion:

Agreed: It's a small home. The 1600 sq foot included an unfinished basement, so the top floor was around 1,200 sq foot. The biggest issue: It was also severely overpriced. The owners had purchased it in the real estate bubble and were trying to regain some loss. Our agent estimated that it would appraise for around $50,000 less than the asking price. However great the street, you could hear the highway from the back porch.


{At this point, in real life, we NEVER thought we would be able to get everything on our list. For various reasons, from A2 not having large city lots, garages being hit or miss, the lack of homes on the market, the list continues.)

House 3: "2 acre ranch with privacy"

3 Bedrooms
2 and 1/2 baths
1,700 sq. ft
1600 sq. ft unfinshed basement
Fireplace
4 car garage
2 acres



 It was obvious that the owners had not updated or decorated since they built the home in '91.




The backyard was so peaceful!


Then, we would have had a discussion in the sunroom that would have gone something like this:

Meredith: "It's was a blank slate of things that we could update. I loved the yard and location,  Hate highly dislike the color of the home and lack of landscaping"

Kyle: "You're getting much better at seeing potential! I'm pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness, large rooms and layout (we didn't have high hopes for this house because the real estate photos were so bad!) We also have the fireplace and the basement that we thought we wouldn't get. Let's not forget, 4 car garage?!! 2 acres? YES & YES. {insert head nodding profusely}"

Meredith: "We're not buying a house based on a garage."

Kyle: "Man Cave!!"

Agreed: The home was in great condition as the owners built it and maintained it meticulously. It needed updates (such as the flooring), but nothing was mandatory in order to move in. Great "bones," with a great yard. Neighbors were close enough but far enough away, and the location was close to town and both of our workplaces. You also couldn't hear the highway!


WINNER: Surprise, Surprise! House #3 
(just humor me and say you didn't know)


Now, for the "Return Visit." 

The host would walk into the house after trampling through snow and slush, bundled in five layers of coats and hats:

We'd apologize because Michigan weather is so hormonal you don't know what you're going to get, then we'd talk about our purchase. We'd tell them that is is finally feeling like ours. We did major renovations (with lots of loose ends still to go), but all of the major work is complete. We are down to 3 color choices for the exterior, which will be painted this spring, and I'm in the process of planning the landscaping and front porch renovation.


Cue the music!


 



Well, we've had one for a few weeks now. I'm just failing at blogging the home progress. This is my attempt to catch up!

I now describe tiling as adult arts & crafts. Instead of scissors you get to use a wet saw, and instead of paint you get mud. Adult life rocks!!

Here's what the kitchen looked like the day we started demolition. We ripped out the formica backsplash that was connected to the countertops, leaving behind that ripped-up-dry-wall-border:





Although the wall was painted, that border stayed like that over the next 2 months:






We had been really indecisive about the backsplash, which is why it took a few months to install it. We ended up choosing to go with travertine tile right before Christmas, with no realization that the time of year would delay its transit. We were teetering between glass and travertine, and in the end decided we didn't want the backsplash to compete with the fireplace (since the layout is so open). We also love the texture!

Once it arrived, we laid them side by side and ran a sponge over them with stone sealant. Then we were ready to install!



I arrived home from work and my brother was hard at work. He taught me how to mud, place the tile and use a wet saw, so I was able to continue to another wall. Tiling is my now my new favorite hobby so I've since been searching for other projects around the house to play tile.(the half bath is calling my name!)







Instead of spreading the mortar across the entire wall, we did each tile individually. It prevents a lot of mess! There were a lot of areas to work around (outlets, window, corners, applicanes), which means lots of measuring and cutting. It was easier to take our time with each one rather than spread the mortar across the wall and be forced to hurry and place the tiles before it dried on the wall.




It also helped when we began to grout, as we did not have to worry about sanding down mortar that would have squeezed between the tiles.







These spacers, an occasional level, measuring tape and pencil kept the subway tile installation consistent. We found that one area of our countertops had a slight height difference that would have created a wall of subway tile that would have been slanted down! To fix the problem, the bottom tiles had to be laid slightly higher in areas, creating more space for grout between the countertops and tiles. Thankfully you can't really notice until you have a microscope, but you'd certainly notice an entire wall of uneven tiles!




We let it dry for 24 hours, then began the grouting process. (This just happened to be fun because Hannah and I got to spend an afternoon together while my brother and dad finished up)




It's personal preference as to whether or not you grout the entire tile or just in-between. We decided to only grout in-between each tile, not on the tile (a sponge wiped off any extra that is on the tile surface, like the picture above).  Travertine is very porous, and we really wanted that texture to show (Grouting over it would have covered up a bit of it). Since the tile was sealed three times, there was no need to grout unless we liked that look.








Once the dust settled, it looked like this:
(we still haven't put the outlet plates back on! Just being honest ;)





And if you I turned the camera away from the tile, you'd see this. The beautiful kitchen disaster that takes place!



This is your first view of our kitchen! How embarrassing, not tidy at all!  It's certainly not presentable in this form, so you'll be getting a prettier view later this week (with the full details of the cabinets!)






Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Looking forward to sharing a finished kitchen with you in a few days :)



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