Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Our Kitchen Evolution

Quite awhile back, as in last Fall, you may remember our crazy saga with discovering a water leak in our dishwasher drain line that destroyed several of our kitchen cabinets beyond repair.  While we had dreamed of remodeling our kitchen since we bought the house back in the Fall of 2013, we put that off when we found out that I was pregnant.  Suddenly, we had many other expenses to worry about.  Nonetheless, when the water leak and the extent of its damage was uncovered just 2 weeks after our baby was born, life forced our hand to remodeling the kitchen sooner than expected.

The process with insurance adjusters, construction companies, and approvals took months.  We got the mold remediation and cleanup completed quickly, but replacing the cabinets took much, much longer.  Finally, the project began to move forward... in December.  That's three months after discovering the mess.  

After working with the adjuster and insurance company, we chose a construction company with experience in insurance jobs and a willingness to work with our budget for upgrades.  Many construction companies weren't--they wanted $25k+ for a kitchen remodel, which I couldn't guarantee.  The company we chose was great about that, though, and was fine with advising us on the price of each change to ensure that we were making the best choices within our financial constraints. 

For finishes, we chose Shaker-style cabinets in a dark espresso stain with simple crown molding and modern stainless steel cabinet handles.  We also chose a white granite with gray and brown tones, which worked well with a backsplash tile we found.  It all came together so well!  The backsplash wasn't exactly what I'd initially had in mind, but with warm and cool tones, it allows us a lot of future flexibility for changing our decor and color schemes.  It also adds more interest than plain white subway tiles.

Now, no kitchen remodel would be complete without Before and After pictures.  I've shared some of the Before shots here previously, but I'll humor myself and share them again because they were so bad...

Here is a historical timeline of our kitchen...

Phase 1 - The Sad Face Era

This is what the house looked like when we bought it.  I'm not sure which I hate more:  the bad faux finishing on the walls, the brown trim and doors, the fluorescent lights, or the spectacular clutter.

Phase 2 - Classing Up the Joint

We made a few changes... like fresh, light paint, new lighting, and stainless steel appliances. All entirely necessary.  There's also a pendant light over the kitchen sink, which you can't see well in these pictures.  After the kiddo was born, we also added a new sink granite and brushed nickel faucet, but I don't have any great pictures of those.

Phase 3 - Accessorizing Is Everything

We knocked ourselves out by adding hardware to the cabinets, which we planned to keep for awhile.  We also added cute rugs in our busiest areas, which matched the decor of the living room.

Phase 4 - Oh Happy Day!

Finally, in February and March, we arrived at our finished product.  It finally feels like our home.  The light countertops make the room feel so much lighter, even with the dark cabinets.  We feel like that made a huge difference in the feeling of this room.  We also swapped out some old outlets for new ones with USB ports for charging our devices on the island, and that's been so, so helpful!  We also traded out the old double-basin stainless sink for a single-basin metallic gray granite undermount sink, which is perfect for us.  It's one of the most complimented parts of our new kitchen, and it's fabulous for giving our kiddo a bath.  The kitchen's footprint, appliances and flooring remained the same to keep things cost effective.  We may eventually get a new window treatment over the sink, but for now, it's fine.

Those are a lot of changes in the past year and a half!  It's hard to believe, but living through each phase has made it feel like a darn eternity.  We're just so pleased with how it all turned out.

Have you remodeled a kitchen before?
Was it as stressful for you as the process was for us?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Life Lately + What's Coming Up

Hooray for a new installment of Life Lately!  I realized the other day it had been awhile since I did one, so here goes.

   +  Avery is 8 months old now!  Where has the time gone???  She's adorable, she's crawling, learning to walk, starting to talk... All fabulous!  (I'll be posting pictures soon.)  However, she's not the snuggle-loving baby she once was.  Her new priorities are focused less on snuggling with mommy and daddy and more on figuring out how to be bipedal and get to our geriatric Miniature Schnauzer.

   +  I feel like my life has been a bit of a No Fun Zone recently with the stress of many things.  However, I've found much-needed time for a few joyful activities.  Hubs and I are going to a concert this weekend, I'm seeing my family for my first Mother's Day, and I'm starting a reorganization project in my master bedroom closet.  YAY!

   +  I bought some new makeup and hair products recently that have rocked my world!  Totally amazing stuff.  (Remember, "totes amazeballs" doesn't exist in my vocab.)  I am working on a post about all of my recent finds, so expect that to be posted shortly!

   +  I've been working my way though my good ol' beauty stash and using up products.  I'll have an empties post coming up soon to talk about which products I liked and those that I'd gladly give away to a good home.  I found some real winners hidden away, and a few major stinkers.

   +  My feet have changed sizes since having a baby and I realized last weekend that very few of my summer shoes fit me anymore.  Damn.  I guess it's a good excuse to buy new shoes, but I really liked some of my old kicks.  Plus, there were memories in those shoes!  I know ya'll know what I mean.  I attach memories to the strangest things sometimes, but I think women do the same with shoes.  Can you remember the shoes you wore on your first date with your significant other?  I sure can!

   +  My sister is pregnant with my second niece, and seeing her at Easter was so wonderful.  The new baby is due the day after Avery's first birthday!  AND, they need help with a name.  The rules are that it has to be a 2 syllable name, can't start with an M, and can't end in a i, y, ie, or ee.  Send me your suggestions!

   +  Hubs and I just had to replace the air conditioning system and water heater in our house.  Talk about a big expense!  Thankfully, the new systems work like a dream and will probably save us a lot of money on our heating and cooling bills.  And I definitely can't complain about that!

   +  That reminds me, I still haven't posted photos of our kitchen remodel and some additional projects in the laundry room and pantry.  Stay tuned for more on those!

   + I'm now using Weight Watchers to better my health and give me incentive and support to rebuild my healthy lifestyle.  I'm enjoying the journey so far, and I know things will only get easier as healthy eating and exercise become routines and habits.  It gets discouraging at times, but I'm loving the feeling of being on a healthier path!

So that's it for me!  Please drop me a line or support or give me any suggestions or comments.  I love to hear everyone's feedback!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

To Other Moms, What's Your Secret?

I have to be honest with everyone, and I know that this is a place where such truths can be spoken typed.

Life over the past 8 months since previous Avery arrived into our world has been absolutely wonderful and blessed, but it hasn't been easy.  Not that I expect it to be... No, to the contrary, I expected things to be challenging, but maybe not for this long.

Bonding with my baby, feeling joy at watching her grow and develop her unique personality?  That's been SO easy.  She's amazing.

Dealing with sleepless nights early on, teething, crankiness and reflux issues?  That's been difficult.

Handling problems with my condo, our house, my car, my husband's car, shifting responsibilities at home, sick family members, personal illness and health issues, etc., etc., etc.?  Very, very difficult.

I'd also heard from a LOT of people that babies can basically drop a bomb on your marriage.  While I feel like my husband and I are very much on the same team and have the same commitments and style with which we parent our daughter, our entire family dynamic has changed since November. Hubs is now a Stay At Home Dad.  I am the one working and providing for us financially.  I feel more pressure than ever to be excellent at my job, keep my shit together and put on a happy face, even when life hasn't stopped throwing me curve balls.  It's exhausting in every way.

Part of me feels like I've lost "me" in this whole process.  You know, the one of "Work, put baby to bed, make dinner, get ready for the next day, sleep, repeat."  I no longer have the same amount of time or energy to dedicate to managing my finances, reading, blogging, seeing friends, laundry, cleaning, organizing and decorating my home, or even keeping up with basic life essentials (i.e. grocery shopping).  Hubs has picked up my slack in a big, big way, but I very much want to be doing many of the things he's taken over.  (I'm kind of a control freak that way, under more typical circumstances).  Our weekends are not times when we can catch up on things, either.  Avery dominates every minute of our time now that she's mobile and teething.  Keeping her routine in tact is a huge challenge when Hubs and I have oodles of errands to run, things to do around the house, or even have a desire to relax.

So the paradigm has shifted in my casa.  We're all trying to get used to it, but I think I may be struggling most of all.

Who ever enters parenthood and says, "I really hope I lose myself in this process!  I can't wait to have ZERO time for myself or my interests/friends/hobbies!"?   Nobody, that's who.  I always wonder how other people do it.  They seem to have it all, but I know that can't possibly be true.  We're all out there making sacrifices once we have families.

Work has been no different than life at home.  It's one crisis after another, and we're in survival mode too, trying to hire and retain as many people as possible, while facing daily issues and demanding customers.  My coworker and one of my employees have resigned over the craziness, but my job is to right the ship and find a way to keep sailing forward.

So how do I get back the parts of my life that made me feel like myself again?  Do I just give them up and say it's part of having a kid?  Is it wrong to want to still enjoy the things that bring me other forms of happiness?  I'm willing to compromise, of course, but... I don't know how or where to start.

Being a parent and managing my work, relationships and day-to-day crises are definitely the most stressful things I've ever experienced.  I just want to get to a place where "Kari" isn't completely lost in the hustle and bustle of life.  Taking care of Avery's mom (that's me) has to be a priority too, so I can then take the very best care of her.

I'm still just trying to figure everything out.  For other moms out there, what's your secret?

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Tampa, Florida, United States
I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

La Bella Vita

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