Flooring Selections

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Today we went to Casey Carpet One Floor & Home in Amarillo to pick out flooring for our new home.  Dustin was super helpful, and we’re excited about our selections.  They had everything we were looking for.

Entryway

We had initially thought that we wanted hardwood flooring in the entryway.  The more we thought about it, the more we decided we didn’t want it.  It’s expensive, and between Tibby going crazy barking at the front door and a house with young child(ren) in it, we figured it wasn’t a wise use of our money.  We like the look of slate, but it’s also pricey and has a bit of texture to it (that would make cleaning not-fun).  We compromised with a slate-look tile (I don’t remember if it’s porcelain or ceramic or something else).  We’re going to use 12″x24″ rectangles.  This will have a tan-ish colored grout.  There was a lovely limestone tile that we really, really liked, but it was crazy expensive compared to this and needed to be sealed every few years.  We just couldn’t justify it.

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Downstairs Bathroom Floor

Bryan really wanted to use penny round tile somewhere, so we chose to use them in the downstairs bathroom.  We’re using a light gray grout.

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Kid/Upstairs Bathroom Floor

I wanted to use a hexagon tile somewhere, so we chose the kid/upstairs bathroom for that.  These are small, 1″ hexagons.  We’re using a light gray grout.

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Master Bathroom Floor

Our current master bathroom has two Monet prints that we bought in Giverny on the wall, as well as two canvas prints of photos that I took during our trip to France (one of the coast of Etretat and one of the Eiffel tower).  We’re planning on using the same decor in our new master bathroom, and we thought that a classic black and white tile would look nice with it.  We chose to go with a smaller black and white basket-weave tile with white grout.

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Tub Surrounds / Master Shower

We didn’t take a picture of it, but we chose to use glossy, 3″x6″ white subway tiles for all 3 tub surrounds and for the master shower.  The master shower floor will be the same black and white basket weave tile that we chose for the master bathroom floor.

Laundry Room

I wanted to use a “fun” tile somewhere, and the laundry room seemed to be the best option for that.  We were excited to find a tile that we liked in warm/brown tones (everything seems to be black/white/gray these days).  This one is going to have a slate gray grout.

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Kitchen/Dining Area/Mudroom/Hallway

For this area, we chose to use Forbo Marmoleum.  We realize that linoleum is an unconventional (super-not-trendy) choice, but we feel like it’s a good option for us.  We LOVE the way it looks.  It’s easy to install.  It’s in the same price range that tile would be in.  It’s maintenance-free.  It doesn’t feel cold.  It’s not hard.  It wears really well.  Recently divers explored relics for the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic and discovered lots of Marmoleum flooring that was still intact in the cabins after being underwater for 100 years!  We’re using 12″x 36″ tiles in the Van Gogh colorway (right) with a walnut border (left).

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Screened-in Patio

We really wanted to use a thin-brick type tile for our screened-in patio.  We’re excited about this one (despite the fact that it may not be easy to keep clean).

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Living Room/Study/Stairs/Bedroom

We chose to install carpet in all of our bedrooms, on the stairs, and in the living room and study.  Yes, we’re weird, and we like carpet.  Don’t worry — I have a good vacuum cleaner.  We will be installing an upgraded pad for extra cushion.  I don’t remember the brand or anything about the option that we picked; the color is “sandstone.”

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Design Inspiration — Porch Columns, Kitchen, & Fireplace

We’ve spent a bit of time thinking about what we want the front porch, kitchen, and fireplace to look like.  These are the parts of our home that we are most excited about design-wise.

The fireplace and the built-ins flanking it will be the focal point of our living room.  We’re using the fireplaces in these two photos as the design inspiration for our fireplace.  We decided to go with tile because it’ll be cheaper than stone, and we like the look of it better.  I want the raised hearth so that we have somewhere to sit (or put our feet) close to the fire place.  We like the tile and the mantel in the photo on the left and the raised hearth in the photo on the right.  We’re pretty excited about the Carreaux du Nord art tiles (we want the evergreen glaze).  The field tile will be Fire Clay tiles (they’re similar but less expensive than Carreaux du Nord) in matte clover.

We’ve thought a lot about what we want the columns on our front porch to look like.  We know from talking with our builder that tapered columns are more difficult (and therefore more costly) to build, so we’ve chosen to go with a square footer.  Half of the column will be a square footer in creek rock (Coronado’s southwest blend), and the top half of the column will be a grouping (we’re not sure on the number yet — 2, 3, or 4) of square wood posts.  We really like the look of the columns in this photo.

Front Porch

photo from This Old House

The design inspiration for our kitchen has largely come from the photo below.  We’re hoping to be able to procure the same linoleum flooring that they have (it’s Marmoleum’s Van Gogh tile).  We’re also planning on having soapstone countertops, white walls, lightly stained cabinets, and a green subway tile backsplace (Fire Clay’s Sea Green tile).

Kitchen

photo from New Bungalow Kitchens

Light Fixtures, Doors, & Windows

There’s not much to see on our lot yet — the pad for the foundation has been prepped, and this week they’re trenching for plumbing.  In the meantime, our builder has had us choose all of our light fixtures, and today Bryan went to Amarillo select exterior doors and windows.  I don’t feel comfortable stealing pictures from the manufacturers’ websites, so there aren’t any pictures in this post, but there are a lot of links.

We didn’t initially set out with the intention of having a home that looks like a traditional bungalow on the inside.  We figured that we’d have the bungalow look on the outside and then would just do…whatever on the inside; however, that didn’t really sit well with us.  We really want to have a somewhat cohesive look.  Bryan has purchased several books on the interiors of traditional bungalow homes, and we’ve discovered that we can easily recreate that look without having to spend more money than we would otherwise.  We’ve always loved that look and are hoping that it’ll age well and we’ll still love it in 30 years.

For exterior lights (I’m super excited about these) I chose to go with lights entirely from Maxim’s Coldwater collection.  We’ll have two types of their wall lights and one type of their “close to ceiling” light.

For interior lights I chose to go with schoolhouse-style light fixtures.  We’ll have two sizes of this light fixture — smaller ones in our entryway and bigger ones in our dining area.  We’ll also have schoolhouse fixtures in our bathrooms — 4 bulbs for the master bathroom and 3 bulbs for the other bathrooms.

The other fixtures that I’m excited about are these stained glass fixtures that I picked out for the living room.

For windows, Bryan chose to go with Quaker Brighton windows.  Our house has 39 windows (we’re excited about all of the natural light we’ll have), and we’ll have a mix of picture, single-hung, awning, and casement windows.  They’ll be Quaker’s “redwood” shade (a deep red) on the outside; we’re still trying to determine whether or not to just stain the interior or to paint them white.  We’ve chosen wooden exterior grids in a 3-over-1 pattern.

Our front door is going to be a Therma-Tru door with arborwatch glass.  We’re purchasing the door un-stained so that our builder can stain it to match the color of our garage door.  We’ll have an identical door (though we may go with a plain glass option) going into the front of our mudroom (this door will be at the front of our house).  The doors going into the backyard from the garage and the house will all be much plainer (half glass with built-in blinds; no grids or muntins).  

Our interior doors are going to be Masonite Winslow doors.  We’ve chosen to use solid doors for the bathrooms (so that hooks can be installed on the back of them) and hollow-core doors everywhere else.

We are going to have a few columns on the front of the house and one in the backyard.  We’re currently planning on using Coronado “Creek Rock” in the southwest blend colorway.

For the garage door, we’ve selected a Clopay Canyon Ridge Collection, Ultragrain Series in design 12 with top 11 in “ultra grain cypress walnut finish.”  It’ll basically look like a big/brown version of our interior doors.

At this point we’ve also picked out our shingle color, bath tubs, toilets, faucets (kitchen and bathrooms), and a kitchen sink.

 

We’re Building a Bungalow!

This post has been a long time coming.  Earlier this year (around April or so) we started working with a designer to create a home for us.  During that process Bryan started researching what makes a “good” home, and we decided that the house that the designer was creating for us wasn’t actually what we wanted, so we went back to square one.

Bryan came across The Bungalow Company.  We really liked the look of their houses, so we decided to figure out which of their floorplans would work the best for our needs/wants.  We settled upon The Columbia.  It has the enclosed breezeway connecting the garage to the house — a feature that Bryan really wanted.  It also has a large living room, a walk-in pantry, space for my arts & craft room, and two walk-in closets in the master bedroom — features that I really wanted.  It was also really important to me that all of the bedrooms be on the same floor — another box that this floorplan checked off.  We both really wanted a large front porch and a covered patio — check and check!  There were a few things that we didn’t like about this floorplan, and we worked with a designer from The Bungalow Company to make those changes.  We got rid of the Jack and Jill bathroom between the two kids bedrooms on the second floor.  We also made some changes to the entrance of the master bedroom and the layout of the master bathroom.  We moved the laundry room upstairs (seemed to make more sense since the bedrooms are all upstairs).  We also had them flip the house, so that the garage will be on the left, and the living room will be on the right.

Now that we had our plans finalized we went to work finding a builder, which is easier said than done when you live in the middle of nowhere.  We settled on one builder, and felt confident that he was a good fit.  He spent all summer putting together a cost estimate for us…and it came back prohibitively higher than our budget.  We were really frustrated at this point because he knew what our budget was.  We were disappointed that he wasted our time rather than telling us early on that it just wasn’t going to work.  When we approached him about the cost estimate he was unwilling to work with us to get the cost down, and told us to take it or leave, so we left.

One of the things that didn’t seem to work with our previous builder was our desire to use hardie plank on the exterior of our home, so we started looking at new homes being built in Amarillo to see if any of the builders were using it.  That’s how we came across HOME by Lyons.  Chris worked really hard to make sure that our cost estimate was as accurate as possible.  The process took a little longer than he expected, but we anticipated that given that our home is so different from the majority of homes being built these days.  The quote from Lyons came back within our budget, so it was time to tackle the construction loan process.  That process was confusing, and I’m glad that Bryan took an interest in learning about it (I had no desire to do so).  We closed on our construction loan last week.

Cheers to building our bungalow!

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We took this photo at our lot the day we bought.

God “Nose” What You Need

Margot typically naps from 1.5 – 3 hours a day, and I’ve been using every bit of her nap on fruitless, earthly pursuits (cleaning, trying to find the perfect pink ink, browsing sewing patterns, sewing, looking at clothing online, reading, etc.).  Last night, as I was saying my prayers in bed, I prayed that God would help me with my current lack of discipline — that He would create in me a desire to spend time with Him.

He answered that prayer quickly and in an unexpected way.  The nose for Margot’s Mr. Potato Head has been missing for a couple of months, and it’s been driving me nuts.  This particular set came with several mouths and sets of eyes, but it only came with one nose, and he has this super adorable handlebar mustache that is useless without his solitary nose!  This afternoon, Margot opened a tin, and there it was — the missing nose.  I was elated to find the missing nose!  I was thinking about the FOUND nose, and the FFH song “You Found Me” (from way back in 2003) popped into my head, and it was just this blatantly obvious prompting that could have only come from God — reminding me that He has already FOUND me and that I was made to commune with Him.  And I knew that during today’s nap I HAD to spend time with God.

I gave my friend Christine this book of devotionals geared towards moms for her birthday, and I mentioned that she needed to tell me if it was good so that I could know whether or not I should buy it for myself.  She did one better than that and bought me my very own copy for Christmas — and it’s the perfect thing for this season of life.  The entries are short but insightful, and there’s a place at the end of each entry for self-reflection.  I opened it up today, and the title of the lesson was A Place of Peace.  The point of the lesson was that, as moms, we’re called to be peacemakers in our household; we cannot be peacemakers when we’re not filled with His peace…when we’re not making spending time with God a priority.  This lesson being the next one in the book was no coincidence — it was definitely God-ordained (just like the resurfacing of Mr. Potato Head’s nose).  The lesson led to me diving into Bible verses about peace:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and
the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19

How can I build my daughter and husband up when I myself am not willing to pursue God’s peace in my own life?  By not making him a priority, I’m doing both myself and my family a disservice.  And I feel convicted.  I know that going through seasons of spiritual drought is normal, but I take no comfort in that.  I pray that my newfound conviction lasts.  I am so thankful that Margot found Mr. Potato Head’s nose — through it, I found God again. My very own proof that God meets us where we are.

A side rabbit trail…did you know that “God works in mysterious ways” is not a Bible verse?  I was researching that saying as I was preparing to write this entry.  It is actually from a poem written in 1773 by William Cowper called Light Shining out of Darkness.  It’s a beautiful poem, so I wanted to include it here.

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God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
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Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sov’reign will.
3
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
4
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
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His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
6
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

Margot did this all on her own while I held the potato for her.

My 21 Day Facebook Fast

Each January members of our church are encouraged to participate in a non-mandatory period of fasting.  I typically haven’t participated but felt called to take part in this year’s fast.  Since having Margot I have felt like I “don’t have time to do anything.”  The one aspect of my life that was suffering the most from me “not having time to do anything” was my relationship with God — I don’t remember another season of life when He’s felt so far away.  My prayer life was good because I spend an hour each day bouncing/swaying/walking Margot to sleep, and I use that time to pray, but I was struggling to spend time reading the Bible.  Reading scripture has always been a crucial part of me feeling God’s presence in my life.  I knew in my heart that I was wasting a lot of my time on my cell phone, particularly on Facebook.  My heart was convicted, and I knew that God was calling me to embark on a 21 day Facebook fast.

Initially my Facebook fast was much harder than I had anticipated.  For several years, I have started and ended my days with Facebook.  For the most part, the only time I see someone besides Bryan and Margot is at church on Sundays.  Facebook is a good way for me to keep in touch with people, especially friends and relatives who don’t live near me.  I felt myself wondering how so-and-so’s baby was doing or wanting to share a cute picture of Margot.  There were several times where I picked up my cell phone with the intention of making a post only to reluctantly put it back down.

One thing that I realized almost immediately during my fast is that it suddenly felt like I had more time.  When I woke up before Margot, I would start my day off by reading my chronological Bible.  On days when I wasn’t able to do that, I’d read it during Margot’s first nap of the day.  I dug around the You Version Bible app and found some short devotionals to read through, and that app became my go-to winding-down-before-going-to-bed app.  I was witnessing firsthand the true meaning of James 4:8 —

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

Not only did I all of a sudden have time to spend with God, but I also managed to find more time for household chores and my hobbies.  Clean laundry was folded shortly after it dried (rather than sitting in a laundry basket for days on end).  We ate several new meals (by the way, I highly recommend this cookbook).  I dusted and vacuumed and mopped.

With the exception of Margot’s Halloween costume, I hadn’t worked on any sewing projects since Margot was born.  During my fast I made her a heart-shaped crinkly tag toy (part of her Valentine’s Day gift), and I made myself a pen-roll to store my fountain pens in.  I wasn’t taking photos to share on Facebook; I was just taking them with me, so I used my “real camera” a ton during this period — a change that I intend to make permanent.  I haven’t felt much like “myself” since Margot was born (so much changed so fast, especially with my transition from production engineer to stay-at-home-mom), and my Facebook fast gave me a few glimpses of “me.”  I do not believe that my old self can coexist with Sarah-the-mom (how can they when my responsibilities now are SO different?), but there are hobbies that I do intend to hold on to, and my Facebook fast showed me that that goal is doable.

Pre-baby, time-management was something I only practiced at work.  I kept a to-do list of things that needed to be done around the house, but beyond that, time-management at home simply wasn’t necessary.  My Facebook fast made it painfully obvious how important time management and setting priorities is now that I have a baby to care for.  I learned that I need to put my time with God first; if I don’t spend time with Him the first chance I get, then there’s a high probability that it won’t happen at all.  I also learned that I can get a lot done during the two, 30 minute naps Margot takes each day when I don’t spend the first 15 minutes of each of them scrolling through Facebook.  In addition to all of that, I learned that, no matter how disciplined I am, sometimes there will be days that I feel like I didn’t get anything done, and that’s okay.  Because on those days, I took care of Margot, and she felt loved.  And that’s a big something.

Blue Ridge Parkway – Milepost 85.6 – 176.1

Blog Working Folder10This is now day 7 of our F.A.R.T.!  In order to maximize our time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we decided that it would be most efficient to car-camp in the campgrounds along the road.  We had read in multiple places that October is a very busy month for the BRP, so we made reservations for our campsite well in advance.  We spent our first night on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Peaks of Otter Campground.  Our campsite was nice enough, but the bathrooms and water spigot were out of order in our section of the campground (site B16).  We didn’t receive any warning of this despite having reservations.  We could have moved to another section of the campground, but we had already set up our campsite, so we chose to stay where we were and walk to the other area of the campground.  We made chili for supper that night.  We got up with the sun so that we could pack up our campsite and get on the road before the crowds hit.

The scenery along the parkway is beautiful during the fall!

I’m a sucker for cows, barns, and cemeteries, so we stopped for a bit at the Shaver Cemetery at milepost 136.

The first big stop for this day was Mabry Mill.  We wanted to get there early in an attempt to avoid the crowds, as we read that it is one of the more popular sites along the parkway.  It certainly did not disappoint.  The mill was beautiful and still functional (which was a big plus for this engineer)!

There were several other buildings to see while at the mill.  On our way out, there was a yarn making demonstration being done, but we did not have time to stay and watch.  I did snap a few photos as we were leaving.  We had hoped to eat lunch at the restaurant, but the wait was too long.  We bought some locally-ground grits and hit the road!