Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wickid Smaht

Thanks to snow days, we're deep in the throws of finishing our kitchen renovation.  In fact, I'm sitting at our new giant island as Dave installs our dishwasher!!
Through the drain hole

Woo hoo! I will compile a comprehensive post about the process as soon as it's done, but in the meantime I've been noticing a trend in home renovations that I'm wondering if others have experienced.  It goes something like this:

Person X- Oh I know what you guys are going through.  I had my kitchen/bathroom/coat closet/butler's quarters/whatever renovated last year and I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Me- (in my head) Are you shitting me?  You hired someone and you're complaining about how difficult it has been for you?!  (Out loud) Yes.  This is the exact same thing.

Having work done is not the same as doing it yourself for many reasons.  Both processes are stressful, but knowing that you're responsible for completing the majority of the work brings things to another level.  I get it.  You don't think you're good enough or smart enough to do your own renovation, but you can do this.  All you need to pull off a renovation yourself (if you want to) is some help from professionals and, most importantly,

T.V. Shows!!
A library card and a cable subscription will be required materials too.  I can't tell you how rewarding it is to do these projects.  Who cares if you make some mistakes along the way.  Like what if you caulked (settle down) your entire fabulous new bathtub and tile surround with non-waterproof caulking (settle down)?  Then water soaked the shower grout and the tile floor. You might be really pissed for a few days and then dig out the old caulking (settle down) and try again.

See...It's fine now!

So how did we get so smaht?  Here's a list of shows and websites to help you get your diy on (and some to avoid).

HGTV Shows:
1) Fixer Upper- Chip and Jojo Gaines are too cute!  We love them and their country lifestyle.  They actually seem like they do a lot of work for the show and they have fun doing it.  While watching you might learn a thing or two about designing, decorating and demo and have some lols along the way.

2) Property Brothers- Pros: they involve the homeowners in the process and make them do things like painting, demo, and tiling.  Cons: Their haircuts are too distracting and the brother on brother bickering is a little much.

3) Love it or List it-Can you put up with your current house if it's renovated, or do you want to get the hell out of dodge and buy a new home?  You can cut the sexual tension between hosts Hillary and David with a knife, and the "Are you going to love it or  are you going to list it?" tension makes for some high drama too.  What I've learned- expect the unexpected when you start renovating any house; in Canada it is customary to have bedrooms in the basement; and Hillary and David are totally doing it (and I don't even think he likes girls).

4) Rehab Addict-
This pint-sized dynamo finds awful houses and renovates the crap out of them.  Pros: Promotes a can-do attitude about renovating.  Cons: Sometimes the projects are superfluous.  Do you really need to re-purpose the doors of this crack den and make them into a weird looking counter?  A new one would be a little more sanitary.  I'm just sayin.'

5) Flip of Flop - Holy shit these people are annoying.  In particular, Dave hates Tarek because he never does anything himself and he whines all the time!  He always has his contractor do the heavy lifting.  What I've learned- these people are nouveau riche (all Cadillacs and sequined tops), there are still deals to be had in the valley, and Tarek and Christina are putting a lot of money away in the "Christina's new boobs" fund.

Better Resources:
1) This Old House- Yes, it's OG, but to get the best advice you need to go to the source.  These guys are The Authority on renovating.  Check out their website for actually useful advice.

2) Holmes on Homes and Holmes Makes it Right and Holmes Inspection- Dave's man crush is Mike Holmes.  Can you blame him?  It's probably the overalls.  Holmes is a pro and has taught us what to do and what not to do when insulating, running electrical, flooring, framing, tiling, analyzing building code, and most importantly, being safe on the job.  Dave believes in his mantra "Do it once and do it right."  He is the closest thing we have to a religion in our household.

Dave's face when he realized that our new cable package does not include the DIY network

3) Young House Love (r.i.p.)- These 2 cuties hit blog overload and had to quit us last year.  I know how they feel.  The pressures of keeping up a popular blog, trying to give the public what they want, day after day.  It's exhausting, which is why I only post about once every 2 months.  Their website is great and has lots of resources for diy-ing just about anything in your house.

So, there you have it.  You can do this!  And when you're done you'll be on top of the world, channeling your inner Jesse Pinkman! (Sorry for the delay, we just finished Breaking Bad.  Lots to learn from that show too!).

Music for Today:
1) Frank Turner "Polaroid Picture"- A repeat entrant in this blog, Frank Turner is a genius.  There is a language barrier, as his British accent is quite thick.  It's only taken me a year of listening to this song to figure out that I actually like it a lot.  As he says in the intro, "Remember the moment, be proud that you were fucking there and then move on and find new moments."  Preach, Frank.  You might need to look up the lyrics so you can sing along.

2) Shakey Graves "Dearly Departed"- All I know is that Shakey Graves is a person, not a band, and I love this song.  The end.

3) Sleater-Kinney "No Cities to Love"- Sleater-Kinney is back!  These 3 women have always been innovators in the indie rock and riot grrrl world. The whole album is streaming here:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Winter of Our Discontent

Two months and no blog update.  I know.  It's bad.  We have been really busy doing the kind of work that is not blog-worthy, and certainly does not photograph well.  From the naked eye the house pretty much looks the same as it did two months ago, but behind the scenes things are coming along quickly.  None of these jobs have been fun, and their lack of big-impact has been, well, depressing, leaving us feeling like Ethan Hawke from "Reality Bites."

All of these boring and messy jobs got us closer to the end of our to-do list, and included fun things like:
1.  Wiring the entire house for lights and electricity
Hello down there!

 2.  Replacing and repairing the sub floor
Good thing Dave likes puzzles

3.  Staining the front door and polyurethane-ing it a bajillion times!
Picture that green stuff covered in cedar clap board

 4.  Building a window seat for the living room

Ok, so it's mostly for our cat.  It's normal to add design features to your house just for your pet, right?

5.  Framing out all of the lower level walls
6.  Insulating the whole house (walls and ceiling)
The Jewett boys in their holiday best.
Prepping the living area for insulation

Insulating the new "lighthouse."

The master bedroom is looking gooood.

All along we have been living in the house, which has been surprising to all that have come over.  "Oh, wow.  You have a lot of work going on here.  Where are you staying?"  Why wouldn't we want to stay in our mostly unheated house that has limited kitchen resources?  At least we have our "dorm room" which has all of the luxuries of home- a bed, tv, sofa, recliner, piano bench that doubles as a dining table/desk, and a closet!  Our latest joke is a play on everyone's favorite fortune cookie saying...I paid all of the bills bed.  I finally graded those bed.  Just finished writing out the Christmas bed.  Let's look over our to-do list and find that there's nothing to cross out, only more stuff to bed.

Please allow me to pull back the curtain (ok, it's just a paint drop cloth) to show you how we've been living at our house while it's under construction.
Just step through this curtain and you'll be in the lap of luxury.  Maybe more like the bumhole of luxury.  You're not allergic to insulation, are you?

Here's another fancy view of the musictorium and our curtain to Narnia.

Our dorm room, our cute cat, and the only thing that keeps me going- new episodes of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."  Team Kyle!!

At least we have our partially heated, partially finished bathroom to make us feel squeaky clean after all of our dirty jobs.
Just plug in that space heater and things should warm up to a balmy 55 degrees in no time.
Kind of messy shower area.  I still <3 that tile!!

Back in September I thought we would be hosting Christmas Eve at our house.  What a lofty goal!  We will be lucky if we get the drywall and plaster before Christmas Day.  When that is done (by professionals) we'll be ready to paint, put down flooring, install our new kitchen, put in some more heat, and start living life outside of the dorm room!

What?  We're totally ready to host Christmas Eve dinner...2015.
Hopefully the kitchen will be updated before December vacation is over.  I'm so excited to see how things will come together.  We purchased a lot of the kitchen items without actually seeing them in person.  For example, we bought Ikea kitchen cabinet bases and used Semi-Hand Made for our kitchen cabinet doors.  So far, Semi-Hand Made has been great to work with and we were actually able to afford something we really wanted- Flatsawn Walnut!

We also purchased our kitchen floor tiles and a light for over the island without ever having seen them in person. Here's a little kitchen inspirado board that highlights some of our choices.

Here's to hosting Christmas Eve 2015!

Music for Today- Jenny Lewis edition:  Jenny Lewis is a former child star turned musician.  She has worked in a number of bands and is now a solo artist.  Her jangly guitar, pretty voice and thoughtful lyrics are evident in these songs...
  1. Rilo Kiley, "Silver Lining."  This is from Jenny Lewis' former band, Rilo Kiley.

 2.  Rilo Kiley, "Breakin' Up."

3.  Jenny and Johnny, Scissor Runner." 
4.  Jenny Lewis (solo), "One of the Guys."

And a few holiday favorites from the Jewetts:
  1. The Organ Beats, "This Christmas."  Two of my most favorite things- The Organ Beats and Christmas music= perfection!

    2.  Juliana Casablancas, "I Wish it Was Christmas Today." From a beloved SNL skit...

    3.  The Old 97's, "Here it is Chritmastime."  An alt-country take on Christmas...

    4. TeamMate, "I Won't be Home for Chanukah."  The cutest holiday video...

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What's Going On

Dear patient blog reader,
   It's been over 2 months since I last posted, and it's not because I didn't want to, it's just because we have been so busy helping to build the house of our dreams.  It's hard to remember exactly what has happened since July 31st, but here's a little run down of the major stuff.
  • All exterior walls of the pitched roof were demolished
  • The new walls went up and the rooms were framed
  • The roof and strapping were put on, and the new windows went in
  • The lower roof was removed and replaced
  • We painted and stained all of the exterior siding and trim so it would look pretty when it went up
  • The siding and exterior trim are up
  • The front door was moved form its crazy angle to a normal spot and a new front door was purchased
  • The new back door was installed, letting in 3 patio doors worth of light
  • We purchased a new kitchen, but it's not here yet
  • We purchased the flooring for the main living space of the 1st floor and most of the second floor
  • We tested 5,000 samples of bluish, grayish, greenish paint to put up on the exterior to break up all of the siding.  In the end, we mixed our own out of the colors "rocky coast" and "flint" (flinty coast?) by Benjamin Moore. 
   All along we have been living in the house, except for the 2 weeks we were in Hawaii (Yes, again.  Congratulations Mom and Paul!). There was a significant amount of leaking and mopping when the roofs were not on the house, as you can imagine.  Luckily, our renovated bedroom, office and bathroom made it through the construction without any real damage.

   We've had a significant amount of Looky-Loo-age.  For those unfamiliar with this term, let me give you some context.  Lookey-Loo (noun) as in,
  • Me: "Hey Dave, why is that car stopped in the middle of the road with the driver's face pressed against the window?"
  • Dave:  "Oh, that's just another Looky-Loo.  You should have seen they Looky-Loo that was parked on our lawn this morning.  That guy was an Mega Looky-Loo.  He didn't even respond when I said good morning!"
   It's getting pretty weird, to be honest.  I'm not sure why, but these Looky-Loos also will not engage if you try to start a conversation with them.  That's not in their DNA.  Alls I'm sayin is, if you are parked outside my house and you're taking in a good long look, is it too much to ask that you might say hi back to me when I say hi to you?  Maybe they're just blinded by the awesome power of our house. That's understandable.

   When I see people that I haven't seen in a few months I am often greeted with "What is going on at your house?!"  I don't know if they mean "What the F is going on at your house" or "Wow, what's going on with your place because it looks great!"  Our neighbors have also told us that there is another faction of Looky-Loo, the Looky-then Hatey-Loo.  I guess that in a sea of colonials, you can't please everyone...I can't blame people for stopping to look.  The place looks amazeballs.

Take a look for yourself:
Missed a spot on that trim board!

Suck it, looky loos!  I mean, check out our hard work!!

View from the back, where no Looky-Loos dare to tread

Back door with interior stair photobomb

Imagine that those windows on the first floor are larger, have black trim, and aren't from 1955.

 The inside of the house is a different story...

Wow musictorium.  You have really let yourself go.  Kitty litter?  You may as well be wearing sweatpants during the daytime.  Wait, I'm wearing sweatpa...Oh...No, these are work pants.  You can tell because they have paint on them!

Stairs to the second floor with messy musictorium in the back

Stairs going down to the basement with second floor stairs above, kitchen in the back

We'd love for you to come visit, but we have only this one chair.  We sold everything else to pay for the renovations.

Seeing the whole picture with the living room to the left and dining room to the right, followed by the kitchen.

Things on the second floor look less messy...
Second floor- shop vacs and compressors.  This is the landing at the top of the stairs.

Looking down on the kitchen from the second floor landing.  We call this the light house.

Looking into the bathroom on the second floor. 

The master bedroom and it's sweet window corner.  I call dibs on the side of the bed that faces the windows!!

It has a great view of the dumpster...for now

Master bath.  Picture a stand-alone tub under the windows.

Slightly askew master closet.  We def need to go shopping since we only have one lonely pair of knee pads to put in this massive closet.

So now you know what's going on over here at Modern Love.  You can tell your friends and their friends not to bother pulling up our driveway to check the progress.  Ok, maybe don't because we secretly love the attention.  Also, a few PR announcements: We are not commies.  We are not trying to convert the colonial-loving population of our South Shore town to become fans of modern or even (dare I say) contemporary architecture.   So if someone asks you "What the h, e double hockey sticks is going on with that house on &*^% Road?"  You can tell them that we're just 2 weirdos trying build a house we can love.  Live at let live, Looky-Loo.

Music for today:
1) The Bleachers "I Wanna Get Better."  The Bleachers are fronted by Jack Antonoff, better known as the guitarist from Fun! (must include exclamation point).  Also, more better known as Lena Dunham's boyfriend.  If you made it through the summer without hearing this song I congratulate you, but you must now listen to it.

2) Black Prairie "Let It Out."  I don't really know much about this band, except that they are listed as bluegrass, but I think "they" give that distinction to anyone with a upright bass and an accordion in the band.    They actually remind me a little of Bettie Serveert and Belly, both nineties power-pop bands with female singers.

3) Evan Dando "Ride With Me."  I love me some Evan Dando.  This is not the best Lemonheads/Evan Dando song, but it is somewhat relevant.  "That pencil smell reminds me of school..."  Try not to get hypnotized by his beautiful wheaten tresses...and all of the 90's make up/fashion (term used loosely)

Although "Ride With Me" is just a song that I like, this song is one of my favorites of all time.
4) Evan Dando "All My Life."  For me it's a reminder not to get caught up in the material things, which is not easy to do when you're building a massive addition, to try to live more in the moment.  Depending on the day, this song can be either great to sing along to,  "I'm wasting my life away" depressing, or uplifting because it reminds me of how lucky I am.  It also serves as a warning- live the simple life, be appreciative for what you have.  But I don't know if I should be taking advice from Evan Dando.  He is, after all a crazy drug addict.  Perhaps this is a "do as I say, not as I do" warning.

5) The Submarines "You, Me and the Bourgeoisie."  Similar Theme to "All My Life."  I like to listen to it in the morning and do as they say "Wake up, choose love, choose light."  It's also helpful because it puts the stress of renovation into perspective, and makes me feel thankful for what we have.

This band is made up of Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti, two former Boston-based musicians who are also a couple.  Their first album is a gut-wrencher, each songwriter writing songs individually when they were broken up, only to become a band and reunite to create an album of those songs.  The album is called "Declare a New State" and you can find more info about it here.

 Speaking of gratitude (see the 2 previous videos), we are indebted to the great people who worked with us and are still working with us throughout this process- Matt D, Dom, Tom, Brendan, Dr. Dave, Sam, Colin, Earl, Fred and Rose, Uncle Rob and Aunt Lisa, Paul and Mom, and John. And to Joanie and Pete for boosting our spirits!!  Thank you for everything.  We can't wait for the wrap party!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Movin' on up

Hi all.  After much anticipation, things are moving along quickly here.  In the past 4 days we have demolished the pitched roof portion of the house, created a platform for the second floor, and added 3 exterior walls.  I have been painting the backs of the clapboards so they are ready to install once the rest of the second floor is up. 
   Here are some progress pictures

It's getting there!  Here are the interior plans for the second floor.  

That's all for now.  I've got to get back to the mundane task of staining clapboards.

Music for today- 
   Today is my 10th wedding anniversary to this crazy fool...

 So, here are a few songs from our wedding.

1.  Rhett Miller (The Old 97's) "Question."  This was our song, and I'm so glad it was because it was short to dance to, and because it's beautiful and unique (read "weird"), just like us!!

2.  Elvis, "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You."  We walked up the aisle to this, played on flute and guitar.  (By aisle, I mean the masterfully planted garden at Dave's parent's house.)  I'm a secret Elvis fan.  I guess the secret is out.

3.  Damien Rice, "Cannonball."  The wedding party walked down the aisle to this song played by the flutist and guitarist.  There were no lyrics, of course, which is good because they are kind of a downer for a wedding.

Other silly love songs-
Ben Kweller, "Family Tree."  I saw him open for Evan Dando when he was just a kid, and continued to listen to him as an adult.  This is from his first solo album.

Death Cab for Cutie, "I Will Follow You into the Dark."  Don't cry, but do listen to this gut-wrenching song.

The past 10 years have been more amazing than I could have imagined.  I can't wait to see what the next 10 bring...