Archive for March, 2015

Hearts on Pine

My sister brought my attention to how she finds hearts in random places…on the beach, in an ice cube, you name it she’s found a heart in an unexpecting place. Now that she’s got me onto this, I’ve started noticing them too. She believes it’s our mom saying hello to us from above and I kinda like that theory. Here are some recent “heart sightings…”

The afternoon our real estate agent called during lunch letting us know we got Pine...

The afternoon our real estate agent called during lunch letting us know we got Pine…

In the snow on our front porch...

In the snow on our front porch…

Making black bean something or other...

Making black bean something or other…

Not at Pine but at work...still weird!

Not at Pine but at work…still weird!

I've seen a Rubberband but I ain't never seen a house fly...

I’ve seen a Rubberband but I ain’t never seen a house fly…


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Last year at Christmas time I was very judgmental with the Christmas decorations. This year I had a very liberal “open” policy and as a result every bulb, candle, or anything slightly resembling holiday cheer was unearthed from its newspaper wrapping and set OUT. Note the folding chairs around our dining room table…sigh.

Living Room, First Christmas

Living Room, First Christmas

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First Pine Hideout Winter Fun

Annalise woke up at 6:00 AM. That is my first memory of this First Snowfall Day on Pine. This was a very early winter day, prior to Christmas decorating pressure and I ran outside promising the Little One that I really would be right back…but she followed me to the door just to be sure as I clicked this picture.

Little Leasers Watching

Little Leasers Watching

The first snow often feels like a new beginning. Much like the snow covers the chipped paint on the stairs, we’ve yet to dread winter’s bitterness.

One of my favorite winter crafts is decorating with evergreen boughs and scraps. I’m familiar with circling Home Depot’s Christmas Tree Cast Off bin and registering for $34 Park District programs to learn how to make the “perfect” warm holiday arrangement. Now on Pine my Christmas Craft has met its match. Our new house is flanked by two large pine trees in front and the entire side lot is filled with various conifers. So up we bundled and started what may very well be a new tradition: hunting for pine cones. We filled up two baskets and even loaned some to my sister for her own projects. Now the only question was, would I have time to dig around on Pinterest to figure out what to do with these puppies? A quick search taught me something new: if you want to successfully work with pine cones you have to ensure they aren’t sticky and the best way to do that is fill up your oven with woody pine cones. I lined four cookie sheets and stuck them in a 250 degree oven for about an hour –two times!


Baking Pine cones

Baking Pine cones

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Project Hoist

The home inspection of Pine Avenue was nothing more than a cursory, obligatory part of the mortgage process. Surely nothing short of sloped floors caused by improper building of the actual infrastructure itself wouldn’t have stopped us from purchasing this property. Surely.

I still recall Mr. Inspector standing in the middle of our sloping living room, arms wide like he was pretending to model an airplane, expressing it was “natural” for homes of this age to sag on the sides. Very natural! Upon moving in, Jim removed some of the pretty white ceiling tiles in the basement to discover some pretty “natural” structural problems–something to the effect of there maybe probably used to be a wall in the basement that maybe most likely provided much-needed structural support to keeping the center of our house straight and strong. So…Jim is building a wall in the basement to bring things to their rightful shore.

Our good friend John the Engineer visits nearly every Sunday for a couple of hours to help Jim hoist up the house. With each quarter turn of the jack, new cracks breathe relief into the plaster. You’ll hear faint moans as the joists in the walls find their natural balance again. Each week, the plaster in the library cracks like an old China plate–cosmetic paint jobs are no match for 10-ton jacks. The main entrance, living room, and little library are all level now! It’s really pretty amazing.

The coolest thing is that our staircase creaks about 45% less than it did before and despite the crackers of plaster on the staircase wall, our stairs are level!

I’m grateful that my husband has the knowledge to undertake such an enormous project. Quite literally he is moving our house up, straightening out the bones. I’m grateful for the knowledge, once again, of John the Engineer, as we navigate yet another endeavor in Old Home Property Ownership. But I can’t help but feel sorta useless this time around because I can’t physically HELP with this one. Oh, I can take the kids to the park. I can make lunch. I can just stop talking when I feel so nervous that we may have bit off more than we can chew with Pine…because that certainly won’t be a help to anyone. At times the projects seem insurmountable but we just have to do what we can, one dusting of plaster at a time.

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Children with their ferocious two year old smiles and white-washed kitchen walls collide in my mind. Reflecting back on images of refrigerator doors void of elementary school lunch menus and birthday party invitations. Counters absent of lunch preparation, cookie cutters, and pajama’d bottoms of pancake mix mixing helpers. It’s as simple as it’s going to get right now. With every next improvement, complexity is woven into trying to get it simpler. Make it nicer. Make it better. And it all marches along with subtle line-up changes.  How-To Books on nightstands, premonitions of weekends to come, turn into quick midnight online reads in between budget sheets and portfolio site To Dos. We keep walking on our parapet we’ve established, brick by brick, we walk along.

Is it lack of stacks of memories that make our initial years in a place be recalled with fondness? An inference to ten years ago that we were more carefree? When we held onto today not being forever? Now I want each day to have permanence. Moments now seem to solidify more than ever. Will painting the walls, adding a backsplash to the kitchen, or swapping out our counters add more complexity? Ten years from now when I scroll back to our white-washed kitchen in House Number Two, will my heart pang with sentimentality for elementary school days? Maybe we can just keep it all the same and this constancy will be enough to keep our homestead happy, complete, and warm. But what if it’s all better, right now?

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