Good bye 2014 and Hello 2015!


Garden/Walkway Planning

Yay, my blog got a facelift! I sat down one day and just started messing around with the blog template. After few hours of tinkering, it finally came together. I am pretty happy with the new look.

We are going on our fourth year living in this house and we are finally going to get our yard done this year. At least that's what we are hoping to accomplish before the end of the year. So far I've gotten one estimate and waiting to meet with two other landscaping companies. I had some idea of what it costs to redo our yard from talking to a neighbor couple of years ago who has a landscaping business. Our first estimate came in at over $21,000, more than doubled what we wanted to spend.

This is not a project that we can easily do it ourselves especially with two small children but the bulk of the cost is in labor. Get this, the estimate does not include demolition of the old walkway and disposal, that's another $3000-$5000. So it looks like we might have to do the project in phases to save up for each stage. Getting a new walkway is our priority so we'll get that done first.

I am super excited to get the work started but am also hating the fact that it's going to cost so much money!

Here are some inspirations I've thinking we could use in our garden make-over. I am such a sucker for the cottage garden look, with flowers, textures, colors, basically I want plants all over in every nook and cranny. It's funny because I prefer my interior surroundings to be minimalistic but when it comes to the outdoors, I am such a maximalist.

This walkway is done by using broken up concrete. I am looking for ideas to save money on the concrete disposal and cost of material. Flagstones maybe be natural but they don't come cheap.
Here is a patio built with repurposed concrete, also known as urbanite.

Before and after of a path made with urbanite. 


It's Good to be Back!

I took a hiatus from blogging due to a busy life...work, a new family member, and general lack of time. Anything new with the house reno? Why yes! We had mouldings and baseboards put in finally, but that's kind of old news because that happened almost a year ago. Without further ado, here are some before and after pictures. We feel relieved to have this project out of the way, next up on the agenda is the hardscape in our yard. But who knows how long it will take us to get around to break ground in the yard. 

That's a lot of priming. Two coats on both sides, window & door trims, baseboard for living room and the master bed room.
Got my painting outfit on. About 3 months pregnant so not showing yet.
Rosettes for the doors.
We live with the unfinished windows and doors for close to 3 years! You kind of learn to not pay attention after a while.
Talked to several carpenters and this window was the trickiest to make the trims work. It was partly due to the improvisational nature of how it was "fixed" by the carpenter who worked on this house during our big renovation.
Finished but before I patched the nail holes and gave it a coat of Benjamin Moore's Simply White to finish it off. 
Looking much more presentable. 
The "carpenter" who put this door in was kind of in over his head and left gaping holes on top on half of our doors. I felt embarrassed to have people over to our unfinished house.

Yay! The bedroom door looks almost finished. It even closes properly now, all that's left to do is get the doors refinished. I tried to do that myself before but the layers of paint from the past 100 years are on there pretty good. Still deciding on how or where to get them refinished and what to do about not having doors while they are being refinished. It just never seems to end right?
The window had cracks that let in ants during rainy seasons. So happy to not see the raw drywall edge and insulations sticking out. 
Another look at the unfinished windows that I tried to hide with the curtains 
Bam! finished windows. I got rid of the curtains and put up roller blinds from Ikea. It looks much better now. 
With the roller blind installed the look is cleaner lines and diffused light. The blinds were very inexpensive and were easy to cut to the right length, perfect DIY project for a novice.
Weird window in the front. 
Before caulking and painting.
After caulk and paint.
Patio door before.
Patio door after.
Nice view of a loquat tree out the window
No baseboard but who notices anymore.
I took on the job of caulking the gaps, patching nails, sanding all the patches and painting all the trims. Well, I did get some help from the husband. It was not so easy when your stomach is growing by the minute and super tired all the time. Why don't I just sit down and nod off for a minute or two hours.


Goodbye 2013

So the triplex behind our house finally sold. It came on the market last October with an asking price of $549k, we were a little shocked by the price. This house was sold for $250k two years ago. We went to the open house and saw that this place needed major work so there was no way it would get the asking price. After two priced reductions later it sold for $400k last December.

I haven't seen the new owner yet and the current tenants are still around a month after closing. About a week ago, we saw a big dumpster dropped off in front of the building and it was filled to the rim with trash within 3 days. The past several days, the previous owner, who lived on the property was seen packing and moving his stuff with the help of movers. We chatted with him briefly and found out he bought another house in East Oakland with more room for him and his son to live in. I saw the unit he and his son lived in and it was super cramped and cavernous due to the bad layout.

I wonder if the new owner will remodel the place, keep it as a rental or will they actually move in. And more importantly whether the new owner is an investor looking to do a flip which I wouldn't be opposed to because it would take a lot of money to bring the house back to life.

Speaking of new neighbors, the warehouse across the street from our house is finally being put to use again. The owners of the warehouse have been fixing the place up and putting in offices many of which have already been rented. Our street is seeing a lot more traffic now a days and I haven't seen any illegal dumping at least on the block where this warehouse sits. They even planted some trees along the side of the building.

There has been talk of building condos on the vacant land across from our house but the architect fell ill, so the plan has been postponed. We are just hoping if the condo plans gets the go ahead we can negotiate with the developers to put in some sidewalk on our side of the road. It's a long shot but one can dream...

Oh and by the way, we welcomed a new addition to the family last November! Little D is now a big brother. Tiny "N" was born on November 9th at a healthy 7lb. 9oz and 19 inches long, just one ounce lighter than her older brother when he was born. She's been a pretty good sleeper so far, knock on wood. Besides a little bit of the sniffles she's been getting bigger by the day. She's so sweet and cuddly sometimes I find it hard to put her down. Little D has been a great big brother and he just can't stop kissing and hugging her all the time. I can't wait until she's old enough so the two of them can play together.

Born at the same hospital as her brother, Alta Bates medical center, Berkeley, CA.
Here she is at 2 months old. Look at those cheeks!