...because home doesn't happen overnight.

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.*

Over at the Underdog we’re trying to get it livable so we can move in. But one of my favorite parts of home decor is adding personal touches. Monograms, photographs and and custom artwork can all work together to make a house feel more like a home. And that’s what this giveaway is all about!

Amanda over at Our Humble A{Bowed}D started off making art prints for her own house…a 1960′s rancher that she and her handyman of a hubby have slowly tweaked into a bona fide home with the help of their two lil’ boys. {Sound familiar?} She now offers several original prints in her Etsy shop.

All pieces are customizable so photos, initials, names and colors can be personalized to match your household and decor.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Hint: Valentine’s Day gift.

Wanna know how you can get your mitts on some personalized artwork? Great! Here are all the details:

  • PRIZE:  $50 credit to Our Humble A{Bowe}D Etsy shop
  • RULES:  You must be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. or Canadian shipping address {no P.O. boxes please} to enter. One entry per email address.
  • HOW TO ENTER:  Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “LET’S GET PERSONAL!”
  • DEADLINE:  Enter before Thursday, February 2nd at 9:00 p.m. EST. One winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced on Friday, February 3rd.
  • WHILE YOU’RE AT IT:  Tell me something personal that makes you, well, YOU! Do you have a rare talent? Do you have a unique physical characteristic? Any irrational phobias? I’ll go first. 1 – As a toddler, I walked with my feet turned outward – almost backward – and had to wear a cast on each of my legs down to my toes to correct the problem. The treatment didn’t fully cure me but it came to my advantage later during ten years of ballet training…my feet still turned out more than normal and I had learned to walk on my toes very well because of the casts. 2 – I have a random patch of freckles on the left side of my chin just below my lower lip. Growing up, my grandma always mistook the patch for dirt and would try to scrub it off to no avail. 3 – I’m afraid of birds. The smaller they are the more scared I am. It’s totally the beak that freaks me out.

Check out Amanda’s lovely home over on her blog and “Like” her on Facebook!

images: Amanda at Our Humble A{Bowe}D

01.27.12 / More Floor

First of all, thanks guys. Your words are encouraging. Your stories are inspiring. Couldn’t do it without you! I’m accepting the fact that a few things have to come before blogging right now – no matter how much I’d like it to be nearer the top of my priority list. Instead, I’m jotting down a bunch of ideas for future posts {a recurring ‘Ask Handy Hubby’ post?} and coming up with post ideas that could easily be cranked out in a short amount of time {weekly ‘Steals and Deals’?}. Like always, a challenge is inspiring ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

But today I have a quick flooring update. HH finished up the bedrooms last weekend! As tedious as this flooring install has been, we both like the floor more and more each time we see it so it’s definitely worth it. The flooring is dirty, the wintry Ohio day makes our yet-to-be electrified Underdog feel dreary, and no baseboards or register covers are installed but hopefully you get the idea. {We have electric turned on in the garage for project usage but have yet to turn on electric to the interior until all switches are installed and outlets are properly covered and safe for kiddos.}

{HH and Everett taking a break to play Toss the Painter’s Tape Ball – we have to get creative with playtime at the Underdog!}

The only hardwood left to install is on the kitchen side of the great room. HH did a bunch of research and decided it’d be best to install our base cabinets and island in the kitchen first then install the flooring around it. Apparently, issues can arise when securing base cabinets to a floating wood floor so we’ll be installing the floor around the base cabinets to avoid expansion/contraction problems. Hardwood will run under the refrigerator, dishwasher and gas stove/oven. At first thought, we were banking on finishing the master bathroom before the kitchen but we’ve decided to install all the lower kitchen cabinets and island first so we can officially complete the flooring. Then we’ll move onto the bathroom. In fact, HH has already started assembling the island cabinets!

Can you tell we’re trying to prioritize what things need to be completed in order for us to move in? I’ve said all I need is one bathroom, a refrigerator and a microwave. HH says we need a full kitchen. We’ll see what happens.

I’m so happy that the engineered hardwood extends into all of our closets {except for the mechanical room}. It definitely makes our small living space feel more cohesive.

This is the view from the kid/guest bathroom looking into the hallway…

There’s a small linen closet off to the left. Back down the hallway…

The nursery…

I mentioned before that I plan to use fabric panels instead of doors on all the bedroom closets. I love that the hardwood extends into the bedroom closets so when the fabric ‘doors’ are pulled open the closet will feel like a part of the room.

Keeping the flooring in the bedrooms consistent with the hallway makes for a continuous view across the hall. I have a thing for room-to-room views. The view from the nursery looking into the master…

The boys’ bedroom…{HH was finishing up the last row when I took this picture}

The master bedroom…

View from the master bathroom…

View into the master bathroom…

And some more room-to-room views to show how keeping the flooring consistent throughout helps with the flow of the small house. Looking into the boys’ bedroom from the master…

Looking into the nursery from the master…

Back down the hall towards the great room…

Finally, a few close-ups…

Someone asked why we chose the handscraped hardwood. Personally, we like the wide plank, beveled edge and slightly textured surface. We like the look and we like that it’ll patina well from all the dings and dents that our family is sure to give it over the years. A smoother, shinier surface would show every mark. Although we have a ‘no shoe’ policy in our house, I’m not going to be a stickler about any scratches or dings that occur. Those are just signs of life.

I grew up in a home with some solid hardwood floors and nearly 20 years later my dad has yet to have them refinished. I think the wear and tear gives them character. Imperfect perfection if you ask me.

That’s the latest and greatest at the Underdog. Once all the flooring is installed I’ll write up a post on how we DIY’d it.

HH gets back from a business trip to Las Vegas today. The boys want to have a ‘welcome home’ party for him. Cake and balloons are a must. HH will be home for the weekend working on putting together more of the base cabinets in the kitchen. I have to work at the pharmacy Saturday but hope to lend HH a hand on Sunday. Maybe I’ll have some preliminary kitchen cabinet shots to share with you next week!

Happy weekend!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

FYI – All images in this post were designed by James Radin, the famous ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ set designer. Other than the title, this post has nothing to do with the designer or movie. Carry on.

{love the upper glass-front cabinets and symmetry in this kitchen}

I have a feeling I’ll regret starting this post at 10:44 p.m. But that seems to be the only time I have to blog nowadays – late at night. Most of the time I choose precious sleep over typing since my body is getting more fatigued as my due date inches closer.

I’m a few hours away from working full-time at my day job as a pharmacist {loathe the job, love the coworkers}. Ever since our first was born nearly seven years ago, I’ve always worked part-time. However, in recent weeks my hours have increased due to volume. It’s draining me physically {standing for 10-12 hours at a time with maybe one bathroom break and one fifteen minute break to shove something to eat down my throat} and mentally {it’s sucking all inspiration out of me on my days off}. On top of my day job, we’re renovating {duh!}, preparing for a baby {oops!}, and trying to keep our two boys’ lives as ‘normal’ as possible. Handy Hubby is traveling more than ever for work and it’s throwing our reno/moving schedule all off.

This news isn’t meant to bring on a pity party. I’m grateful I have a job and thankful that HH was promoted even if it requires him to be away from us. Instead, this is more of an explanation as to why I’m not posting as much as I normally do. Unfortunately, House*Tweaking is taking a back seat to life.

{love the recessed TV, striped chairs and tongue and groove ceiling}

It irks me because this is what I really want to do. Write, design, answer emails about decorating conundrums, etc. You know the saying, ‘There’s no time like the present.” Well, I do believe that. In fact, I have a few non-H*T projects in the works that are design-related and I’m super excited to share them with you when they come to fruition.

But for now, I’m in this transition period where I feel I’m doing a little bit everything and not doing any of it as well as I could. And that irks me too because I have high expectations for myself and my work. I’d much rather be focusing on one or two things at a time and giving them my full attention than be pulled in so many different directions that no one/nothing is getting the best of me. It kills me to not be able to answer every single email that comes my way and to not be able to help every single person who asks for design advice. I want to say ‘yes!’ because I love seeing the potential in any space and bringing it to life. I love improving things.

{love the grasscloth on the walls paired with white, teal and green}

So, I’m asking that you be patient with me. I’m on the cusp of a big change. A big change for me anyways. A change that I’ve been working towards and yearning for for a long time while waiting for the correct timing. But until that time comes, I have to suck it up and fulfill my duties at my day job and put my family and my health above H*T. Something’s gotta give.

This doesn’t mean I’m quitting H*T or anything like that. I could never do that! But my ideal goal of 4-6 weekly posts isn’t realistic at the moment. I have a vision of where I’d like to take H*T if I had the time. I have so many ideas! I sort of feel like a caterpillar in a cocoon growing wings and preparing to start a different kind of life. I’m excited and extremely scared at the same time.

Stick with me. H*T’s not going anywhere.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a total meltdown while folding laundry in the middle of the living room floor a few weeks ago. Poor HH. One minute I’m sitting there cross-legged folding away and the next I’ve got tears streaming down my face because I let the gravity of our situation get to me. I’m an ugly crier. My face gets all contorted and red. My nose snots up. My eyes swell shut. But things could be much worse.

We’re so lucky that we’re healthy, that our boys are healthy…and loud!…and rambunctious! We’re lucky that we’ll soon get to see another lil’ guy or gal grow and change right before our very own eyes. We’re lucky that we have a ton of friends who are graciously giving us baby stuff since we got rid of ours thinking we were done-zo with kiddos. We’re lucky that a very thoughtful H*T reader selflessly donated her fashionable maternity wardrobe to me just as I was outgrowing my non-maternity pants. {That really did happen!} We’re lucky that we have a safe haven away from our renovation. We’re lucky that we’re getting to renovate an old house into our own home. We’re lucky that the only pressure on us to get into our Underdog is the pressure we put on ourselves. We’re lucky that we have jobs that need us. We’re lucky that somehow this entire experience {selling by owner, downsizing, renovating, unexpectedly expecting #3, moving to another city, meeting more demands at work, etc.} has made us closer.

We’re downright lucky.

What about you? Got anything that you feel especially lucky about? Any big changes coming your way that you’re crazy excited-scared for? Have you had to put something you love on the back burner for a while and let it stew until the timing was right? Had any laundry folding breakdowns lately? C’mon, I can’t be the only one.

images: all James Radin

Handy Hubby gave me the weekend off from renovating to meet some deadlines and rest. I’ve been down with a minor cold and trying to take it easy since discovering my iron levels are low. I seriously thought I was just getting old and weary, so I was kind of happy to find out I’m anemic. I’m on the mend…taking an iron supplement and eating burgers. ;)

Today I took the boys to the library while HH was working over at the Underdog. Here’s what I came home with…

I went into the library with the goal of finding a book on natural childbirth but came out with these instead. I think it’s official. I’m nesting.

Nope. We don’t have a name picked out for baby #3 yet. Heck, we don’t even know where {apartment or Underdog?} we’ll be living in 2.5 months! But I’m preparing for both…baby and small space living.

What about you? What are you reading nowadays?

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking