Posted by: Kristie | January 19, 2011

We Have a Nursery!

Our kitchen may be torn up, but at least the baby will have a nursery. When we first bought this house, we knew the third bedroom would be best as an office or a nursery. No closet, pretty small. Since I got pregnant 2 weeks after we moved in, it became slated for the nursery. Unfortunately, we are having trouble locating a before photo, but suffice it to say, it’s a decent transformation.

We removed the carpeting with plans to put in a cork floor. Instead we discovered the original pine wood floors were in pretty great shape. So Brett rented a floor sander and stripped it down to the bare wood. To keep this room as environmentally friendly as possible, we went with TimberSoy Natural Wood Stain, a soybean-based stain with zero VOCs and practically no odor (which was pretty amazing if you’ve ever worked with traditional stains). We topped the floors with AFM Polyureseal BP Satin Finish. We weren’t as happy with this choice. Although the finish itself is nice, it left a milky look to the floors. But since the majority of the floor is covered with furniture and a rug, we’re not worrying about it now.

As with the rest of the house, the original wall color was an off-white. We chose Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint due to its lack of VOCs in both the paint and the tint. It went on smooth, covered well, and barely had a smell. The only downfall is the price. At $50/gallon, it’s definitely not a bargain, but it is a quality product. To break up the color and add a small design element, Brett put up the chair rail. It was much more of a bitch than he expected, but he did he did a fabulous job.

I still need to add curtains and maybe some shelves or wall decor.

I absolutely love wall vinyl decor. Easy to put up, easy to take down.

As for the furnishings, we got some great bargains. The wardrobe, changing table (including the changing pad/covers and baskets), and glider were all a steal on Craigslist. The crib came from a co-worker and was exactly what I was looking for. The only thing we bought new was the rug – a flokati from Ikea.

Overall, I think we created a cozy and soothing room for this baby. Here’s hoping she feels the same way!

Posted by: Kristie | December 24, 2010

New Year, New Name

In an effort to revive this blog, I decided it needed a new name, new photo, and new theme. Haven’t gotten to the theme part yet, but it’s a start. When we first began this blog  more than a year ago, we were chronicling our travels through Europe. Now we will be chronicling our travels through life and the various paths we’re heading down from farming to renovating to raising a family.

We tend not to take the easy route, but that’s the way we like it — if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Posted by: Kristie | October 21, 2010

And 80 Years Later…

I’m writing a blog post. I know it’s been forever — I would apologize but I think at this point there’s really no one reading this.

These past several months have been absolutely crazy and we’ve had some big changes happen in our lives. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • I got a full-time job. I’m the communications coordinator for Tickets for Kids Charities, a great non-profit organization that provides tickets for events and activities to low-income children.
  • I got knocked up. That’s right – we’re having a baby girl. At this point, it’s not exactly news because I’m 6 months pregnant but still felt like I needed to officially announce it on the blog.
  • We started holding a farm stand every Saturday morning.

The combo of all of this has left me pretty exhausted and, frankly, leaving me with little desire to type up anything lengthly on the computer. Not to mention we’re sloooowly trying to continue to work on this house.

But finally things have calmed down a bit. Work is a little less stressful, I have a ton more energy than my first trimester, and we’ve closed down the farm stand for the season. I hope to put up some posts about the couple of house projects we’ve managed to handle (or rather hire someone else to handle) this summer — rewiring the house, painting the trim, and updating the bathroom. We’re about to head into the big kitchen renovation which we’re hoping to have done before the baby comes at the end of January so I’m sure I will have lots to share about the trials and tribulations of home remodeling.

Posted by: Kristie | July 27, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago, Brett and I signed the closing papers, packed up the last of our belongings, and left Texas for good. I can still remember sitting in the truck, getting one last look at our first house. This was the house where Brett proposed, where we came back to after our wedding, where we held our annual crawfish boil — and many other incredible memories. It was a bittersweet moment – sad to leave the past, but eager for the future.

So in honor of today, I give a shoutout to the two things I miss the most about Texas.

The People

We have some amazing friends in Texas. Childhood friends, military friends, former coworkers, neighbors, and lots of acquaintances. Having this great support network is what I miss the most — playing rock band with Laura & Chris, having lunch (or drinks!) with my favorite coworkers, watching UT football while drinking homemade margaritas with John & Tracy. Thank goodness for email and Facebook — and blogs!

The Food

Coming in a close second is the wonderful world of Tex-Mex. Sure I can make my own breakfast tacos, guacamole or enchiladas, but it doesn’t beat the ability to pop through a drive-thru and get warm delicious queso and homemade tortillas. Or stopping at one of my numerous favorite restaurants and scooping up fresh salsa with a warm, crunch tortilla chip.

Even though we’re meeting new people and definitely enjoying lots of delicious Pittsburgh food specialties, a piece of our heart will always remain in Texas.

Posted by: Kristie | June 9, 2010

I Love Twitter

I would like to publicly acknowledge how much I love Twitter. I love Twitter.

Ok, let me explain. First of all, if you still don’t know what Twitter is, it’s a social networking and microblogging service that currently boasts more than 100 million users increasing by 300,000 per day. A couple months ago I wrote Five Reason to Start Twittering geared toward businesses. But now it’s become personal.

I have two accounts on Twitter. I created the first one (@kristielawler) for professional reasons. It’s where I interact with various marketing and communications professionals, learning from them and hopefully offering some value in return. My tweets are rarely personal and geared toward my industry. It’s been an invaluable resource while freelancing and searching for a full-time position; it helps me keep up with trends, new technologies, and the latest industry news.

My second account is @pghfoodie, which I initially created as a way to promote my Examiner Food articles but has morphed into discussing all types of food topics, sharing recipes, and discussing restaurants. It’s been a great way to expand my culinary appetite, while at least attempting to offer up the little I know about food.

And finally Brett is also on Twitter as @pittsburghfarm, where we both work to keep people updated on what’s going on with the farm.

And now that you have all of this information, I’ll tell you what happened a couple weeks ago to make me fall even more in love this social media service. Somebody that Brett follows on Twitter, retweeted (which means forwarding or sharing) a tweet about a Pittsburgh foodie get together. The original poster, Lindsay, hosts the Confessions of a Human Vacuum blog and decided to gather foodies in honor of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week. Since we still don’t know many people (ok, we practically know no one, but we are trying!) we decided to join the party. Before we could think about how awkward this whole thing could be, we signed up and found ourselves sharing a table with eight other people at Church Brew Works, an awesome brewery/restaurant housed in a historic church.

We spent the next couple of hours meeting these wonderful people with various backgrounds and interests, who all shared one common interest, food. Everyone was friendly, there was no awkward silence, and we enjoyed tasty food and beer.

And the fact is, we never would’ve met these people if it wasn’t for Twitter. So for all those skeptics out there who think Twitter is just about random updates like “I’m running to the store,” it is so much more, and I continue to learn that more every day.

Posted by: Kristie | May 27, 2010

Surprising Things I Love About this House

The regular wonderful sound of old church bells.

The sun rises facing our bedroom – a wonderful welcome from our old dark bedroom.

Speaking of our bedroom, our bed actually fits! I’ll post photos down the road.

Super nice neighbors. One even made us brownies on moving day. How sweet is that?

Sounds of laughing children and lawns being mowed.

Posted by: Kristie | May 25, 2010

Tearing and Gutting: Deconstructing the Basement

Because we didn’t want to jinx this closing by scheduling the movers in advance, our stuff wasn’t delivered until a week after we closed on the house. But we sufficed with fold-out chairs, an Aero bed & watching movies on our computer.

Drinking champagne in a plastic glass, in a foldout chair, in the enclosed porch. Pretty swanky if I do say so myself.

In an effort to be productive and tackle projects that would be much easier without all of our stuff, we headed to the basement.

The stairs leading down to the basement had this dirty indoor/outdoor carpeting nailed into the wood. I wanted it gone – ASAP. Unfortunately that carpet was secured by 80 million nails and they were a biatch to get rid of, taking a lot longer than I expected. But I did it and although it may not look that much better, it’s a lot cleaner.


Brett took a picture right at the end, but really I did a lot of work.

After - Still needs work, but first stage is complete.

The previous owners had also nailed cork ceiling tiles to the rafters in the basement – possibly trying to “soften” the area. Regardless, now they’re just nasty, falling apart & god only knows what’s behind them. They had to go and Brett took on the challenge.

Before - Notice all of those ceiling tiles

In process - what a mess

And the final result. Nice clean basement rafters.

Posted by: Kristie | May 23, 2010

We Have a House! (Way-Delayed Post)

Nine months after we sold our house in Texas to the exact day, we closed on a new house. When we packed our bags and left the Lone Star State, we never expected it to take this long. But sifting through Pittsburgh’s endless neighborhoods/areas, house hunting in the dead of winter, and a massive failed closing on one house all added up to six months of living with parents.

But it all worked out. We found a 1930s home in an excellent school district, roughly 15 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and 45 minutes from Brett’s mom’s house where we’re starting up a farm.

The only catch is that it’s a little bit of a fixer upper — but it has plenty of character and plenty of potential. And man, is it SO nice to have our own space again. As we progress, I plan to post tons of before & after photos, lessons learned and major triumphs. Let the games begin!

We almost didn't look at this house because of the horrible, horrible paint job. Getting rid of that god awful trim is one of our first major projects - not to mention removing the plastic mailbox and covering up that yuckyyellow on the door.

The backyard is a hill and a bit of a mess -- but in the winter you can see the Allegheny River, so, you know,we practically have waterfront property.

Here are some of elements that I love about the house: the open entryway, the beautiful woodwork and the French doors.

And the open & bright enclosed porch and hopefully a little reading nook for me one day.

Tiny, tiny and very outdated kitchen. Definitely will be a major remodeling project in the near future.

Posted by: Kristie | April 13, 2010

Pittsburgh Food Examiner

You are looking at the new Pittsburgh Food Examiner for Yes, that’s right folks, I am getting paid to eat…oh, and write too. It’s a great little gig because it gives me an actual excuse to get to know Pittsburgh’s food community (not that I really need one), which will also help create connections for our farm. And what I’m finding, I am liking! So far it’s been a blast and it’s something I can continue to do on the side, if and when I get a full-time job.

My focus is local food and I profile area grocery stores, events, and recipes. I know most of you who read this blog don’t live in Pittsburgh but still look at my page and check back regularly. I try to write at least two articles a week, but hoping to up it to three to four. Maybe it will encourage you to visit us, if Brett and I’s adorableness is not enough of a reason. On second thought, maybe you should wait until we have an actual house. ONE DAY WE SHALL LIVE ALONE AGAIN! But I digress.

I’ve also included my Examiner badge on this blog’s sidebar in case you forget the address. Hope you enjoy and as always would love any feedback!

Posted by: Kristie | April 3, 2010

WTF Starbucks?

I was driving by Starbucks last week and I realized I can’t remember the last time I have sipped a frothy Starbucks beverage. This was kind of amazing seeing as I used to go there at least once a week when it was just around the corner from my work.

With this in mind and looking for a change of scenery, I decided to pop in to do some article writing.

Now I have to stop here and backtrack for a second. All of our coffee travel mugs and all of my water bottles are in storage. Since we will have all of that stuff back one day, I’ve been sucking it up and going without. But now that we have no idea when we will be in a house to actually get our stuff out of storage, I couldn’t take it anymore and went to pick up one of each. So I popped into Target ready to buy some shiny, new travel bottles and EVERY single one was Made in China. Son of a…the ol’ “not buying things made in China declaration” rears its ugly head. Since we don’t have a house yet, we haven’t been buying many things so it’s been fairly easy. I walked out of Target empty handed.

But then I walked into Starbucks and like the heavens parting (ok, that’s a little dramatic) I see this:

Recycled, BPA-free and not just made in the USA – made in Texas! And it’s a nice pretty green to boot. I grabbed it, purchased a $4 frappucino (damn – I forgot how ridiculous those prices are) and was happy as a clam.

And then I got home and turned it over so see a tag that reads: Made in China. Well that can’t be right, it must just be talking about the tag. The little sticker is made in China, not my pretty cup from Texas.

I take the tag off and stamped in that lovely recycled plastic: MADE IN CHINA!

Are you freaking kidding me!! WTF Starbucks! I’m not even sure what to do. Take it back and bitch to the cashier? Send a nasty letter to corporate? Write a blog post bitching about it and hope everyone forwards it on and maybe it will become an Internet sensation and Starbucks’ web of lies will be revealed? Ok, I’ll start there.

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