Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where I've Been

Soooooo......It's been awhile since I've "blogged." It's because I have a problem--a very serious problem that seems to have taken over my life. I'm addicted. It's not healthy. It makes me crazy. But I can't stop! I'm addicted to...to...looking at house plans online. Oh, the shame! The shame!

Ok, so there are worse things in life, right? The bad part is that I've seen EVERY stinking house plan that exists out in the world! There's not a house plan, floor plan, house designer, home architect web site that I haven't been to. I've Googled them all! And, boy am I picky when it comes to a house plan! Kevin and I really want to build a house at some point, but I the reality is we first have to "unload" this house which isn't going to be easy (or quick, for that matter) these days. We're surrounded by "for sale" signs already in our neighborhood. Both houses to the left and right of us are for sale, and the house directly in front of us is for sale (it's been for sale for 18 plus months.) It doesn't look promising, unfortunately. But I keep searching for just the right house.

This is my list of must haves:

1. Large, open kitchen with a huge island. The island must be large enough to demand it's own zip code. And I want miles and miles of counter space. I want so much counter space that I'll never use all of it!

2. 3-car garage. If Kevin is keeping the boat, by gosh I'll have a 3-car garage! And I prefer the garage be a side-load on the back of the house. A front-load garage is a deal breaker!

3. Large laundry room. I spend most of my time in the kitchen and laundry room so these two rooms must be up to par. I want a sink and enough counter space to fold clothes on.

4. Walk-in-closets in ALL bedrooms. A must, must, must! I grew up with a big walk-in-closet, and Olivia will too! It's a small luxury I want Olivia to enjoy!

5. I prefer to have a Jack-and-Jill bathroom between Olivia's room and the extra bedroom. A friend of mine had a Jack-and-Jill setup between her room and her sister's room. They each had their own toilet and sink, and they shared a bathtub. So cool! I like that idea. It's not a deal breaker if I can't get the Jack-and-Jill, but, if it can be done, I definitely want it!

6. The master bedroom must be secluded from the rest of the house. In 99.9% of the house plans that exist, the master is directly off either the great room or the kitchen. GAG! I'm thinking of the future. In a few short years, Olivia will be having sleepovers. I can just see it...lots of little girls with their sleeping bags and pillows on the floor of the living room watching movies and giggling. I want to be able to go to bed and not hear that. And not hear them popping popcorn and chitter-chattering. I want to be able to sleep!

7. I prefer not to have a formal dining room. (Go ahead and gasp!) It's true. I would much rather have the big kitchen island that can accommodate at least 6 bar stools and have an informal dining right off the kitchen large enough to accommodate a table that seats 8. Do you know how hard it is to find a floor plan that doesn't have a formal dining room? Near impossible. I've only found a very small handful. And for us, a formal dining room is a waste of square footage.

8. Must have a screened porch on the back. I care nothing about having a deck. We have a deck now, and we're only able to use it a few months out of the year because of mosquitos and the sun beating down on you. Early spring and late fall are the only times of the year that we use our deck. We would really enjoy a screened porch that we could use spring, summer and fall!

From all my searching, I've found that I like a country, neoclassical, traditional style house as far as the outside goes. Kevin and I really don't have a preferance on a 1-story or 2-story house. We like them both. I'm actually more drawn to a 1-story floor plan, but a 2-story is often cheaper to build.

Here are a few plans that Kevin and I like. They all need "tweeking" in some way or another, but they could all work.

The Calandre
What I love:
  • I'm in love with the kitchen!
  • No formal dining room
  • Garage is on back of house
  • Master is separated from great room by the study
What needs tweeking:
  • Add walk-in closests to bedrooms
  • Bigger laundry
  • Style of outside needs changing. I don't like the front of the house on the outside.
If you look at the Lexington, it's actually the same floor plan, but the outside is different (which I still don't like.) But you can see pictures of a house that's actually built. Gorgeous on the inside! The finishes are a little too "grand" for us and we would certainly scale them back, but it gives you a good idea.

The Neoclassical, Country 2-story

What I love:
  • The 3-car garage and work shop!!
  • The style of the outside
  • Walk-in closets in bedrooms
What needs tweeking:
  • Lose the staircase between the kitchen and family room and make kitchen bigger!
  • The upstairs needs an overhaul starting with the bathroom. It could be bigger and much better.
The Randolph
I have found 4 different variations of this same house plan, and each one has something that I like about it more than the others. I actually found this house plan many months ago, and I still like it. You can see pictures of the finished house from two different couples, Tim and Dina and Kelly and Janice.

The Chatham

This is a Schumacher home. It's a big house. Too big, really. But I love, love, love the downstairs!!

What I love:
  • Huge kitchen that's perfect!! And check out that walk-in pantry! Could you just die!? I could!
  • The "Drop Zone" right off of the garage. Absoultely geneous! Most Schumacher homes have this. It's a small area with a desk and cabinets--kinda like a mini home office where you "drop" the mail, your keys, purse, whatever! Our "drop zone" now is the tiny speck of counter space to the right of our stove. That's where all the junk gets "dropped" and it stays there until it rots. Most anoying! I love the idea of a drop zone!
What needs tweeking:
  • The upstairs needs shrinking! It's way, way too big. Let's face it, the whole house is too big. It overwhelms me. It's the 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and the big loft area that puts it over the top for me. It's just too much house. If the entire upstairs could shrink, it would be perfect!
So, these are some contenders I've run across in my many weeks and hours of searching. If I could piece together bits of each of these floor plans I would have the perfect house. And if we're going to build a house, I want it to be perfect for us!

Sincerely,
Leigh

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why I Love Spring


I have really enjoyed the past few weeks of mild, sunny days. I have spent as much time outside as possible. We mostly eat lunch and dinner out on the deck. I slather sunscreen on Olivia and set her loose in the back yard. She loves. I love it, too. Olivia runs around so much (barefooted, of course) that her feet are black and smudged with green grass stains when she comes inside! Aaahh....just like a country girl (minus the country setting.) It takes a lot of scrubbing in the bath to get that little girl clean.

I have always loved spring, but, it seems, I have especially loved it this year. I think it's because the spring season passed me by last year. Olivia wasn't even a month old at this time last year. My days were full of sitting around with my shirt off breastfeeding a baby! My mom told me that I would get to the point where I just wouldn't wear a shirt, and I thought, "Me?? Why on earth would I just walk around shirtless??!!" But I'm ashamed to admit that there were days....well.....you know! A shirt is just in the way when you're breastfeeding. Even if you wear one, it's either open or pulled over your head 99% of the day, so why even bother! Needless to say, I didn't get outside very much last spring. Now you know why I have enjoyed this spring so very, very much!

Here's some pics of Olivia playing outside today. She had a blast!










Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Sunday

Easter 2010

Olivia had a wonderful Easter! See her eggs!



She was soooooo sweet in her dress!


She dug in the dirt in Nana's garden.


We blew lots and lots of bubbles.



Olivia loves to play outside!



Granny and Papa watched Olivia play in the yard.

Everyone had a great day!

Sincerely,

Leigh

Friday, April 2, 2010

What a Perfect Day!


Happy Good Friday to everyone! Today couldn't have been a more perfect Friday. The weather was absolutely gorgeous--sunny, clear skies and not too hot. Just the kind of spring day that I love.

My day started rather early. Olivia decided to get up and going at around 6 am. I got her up, changed her pee-pee diaper and made her juice-juice. She immediately pooped (it must take a clean diaper to inspire one little girl to go poo-poo.) So I changed her diaper, AGAIN! She watched a few cartoons while I worked on her breakfast. She ate, and she pooped....AGAIN! So I changed her diaper, AGAIN! Such a lovely start to a lovely day!

Skip ahead.............We all loaded up and went to Lowes before lunch. Everybody and their mother was at Lowes today--the place was CRAZY! We picked out some "produce" (as Kevin called it) to plant in my "garden." This is my first time planting a "garden." Really, I don't know that slinging a few plants on the berm between our yard and our neighbors yard qualifies as a real garden, but I'll continue to refer to it as my "garden." And who knew there are a billion different types of tomatoes!? There's Big Boys, Better Boys, Rome Grape and so on and so on. I just picked something and kept moving. We also got Italian Parsley, cucumbers, hot banana peppers and several types of lettuce. Aaaahhh.....there's nothing like a salad made with lettuce fresh out of the garden.

Mama and Daddy have a garden every summer, and their garden is the real deal. A few summers ago, they planted lettuce. At first, I thought it was an odd thing to grow, but I was sold as soon as I ate it! Soooooo good! Weird, huh?? I mean, lettuce isn't a food that necessarily falls under the umbrella of foods that I love, but fresh lettuce straight from the garden is totally different that anything you'll get at the grocery store. I hope my lettuce doesn't die!

After Lowes, we came home and made lunch. Because it was such a beautiful day, we ate outside on the deck. Olivia seams to really love eating outside, and Kevin and I really enjoy it, too. We try to take advantage of these mild, spring days while they last before the temperature gets unbearable. Then we lathered Olivia up with some SPF, and we played and played! She was all over the yard. It's amazing just how far her little legs will take her. We played in her playhouse and splashed around in her play sink. She had a blast!

Kevin cut the grass while Olivia took a nap. I got started on planting the "produce" we got from Lowes. A neighbor stopped by and chatted for awhile. Kevin took my car to get the oil changed, and, as a bonus, brought ice cream home! I finished some other yard projects that I've been working on for several weeks now. I replanted some lilies and FINALLY got all the monkey grass replanted. I was tired, sweaty and dirty!

By this time, Olivia was up from her nap. Kevin brought her outside and she ran around bare-footed. She's a true outdoor kinda girl which I just love about her. We did some more playing and running around until time to start dinner. Dinner was simple and the perfect spring meal--grilled chicken, slaw and roasted potatoes. All of the recipes are from the April issue of Southern Living. We grilled and ate dinner outside. I told Kevin that I really enjoyed the day today. We spent a lot of family time together, we played hard with Olivia and we both got a lot of work done in the yard. I'm closing out the day with a great sense of accomplishment, and, that, I just love.

Sincerely,

Leigh