Happy Friday! + Links 5/5/17 (Mother’s Day Edition!)

Happy Friday and Cinco de Mayo to you!  I hope you have black beans boiling on the stove and ripe avocados on the counters.  Mexican food is a THING at our Farmhouse so you can bet that we’ll be mashing our beans and salting our pico tonight!  Or if the day runs long, we’ll be stopping by our favorite taco truck.

Mother’s Day weekend is only a week away…are you ready?!  This year Garrett and I invited our mothers over for brunch and a day of gardening at the Farmhouse.  I’m hoping to spend all day with my little loves and the grandmas and also get a vegetable garden planted.  Win/win 😉

Being that I’m pregnant this Mother’s Day (with my third child…how did that happen?!!!), I’ve been feeling nostalgic about it.   I remember my first Mother’s Day present.  I was 37 weeks pregnant with Wilder, and walked into a hospital in Portland on Mother’s Day (turning down a wheelchair from the attendant who thought I was there to give birth myself) to find the room where my sister was laboring with her second child.  After a long and slow afternoon, a perfect little baby was born, and they named her Gweneth Catherine…after me.  No Mother’s Day gift can compare to that (except for my sister who got to take that sweet baby bundle home), but I’ve done my best curating a gift guide for all you home lovers out there.  My only criteria was finding gifts that I’d love to bring home myself.  Hopefully every dada or kiddo can find something their mama/grandma/aunties/friends would love in here.  I asked Garrett and the boys for #4 plus a day of gardening 😉

The Grit and Polish - Mothers Day Gift Guide 2017

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13

And since it’s Friday, here are a few more links to fill your morning.  Grab a cup of coffee and dig in!

Baking celebratory cakes is a big hobby of mine so I’m eagerly planning our Mother’s Day cake. My mom’s favorite cake is a hazelnut torte and my mother-in-law’s is an angel food cake and I’m not really sure there’s any way to combine those, so I’m thinking about this.

A few mama’s share how they work from home with kiddos.  I’m always curious how other moms and dads find that elusive balance, especially when they’re home with kids and have outside work commitments.  But I’m learning that balance isn’t really a thing when parenthood is involved.

I just found this Insta account last week and this post brought me to tears – happy mama tears – and made me so grateful for the joy of motherhood in my own life.

Have you guys been following the One Room Challenge this Spring?  Check it out if you haven’t yet!  I can’t wait to see how everyone’s room turns out in 2 short weeks!

Happy Friday everyone!

xoxo

-Cathy

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Farmhouse // Moving the Boys into a Shared Bedroom (and how it’s going)

THE FARMHOUSE

A couple of weekends ago, we rearranged Wilder’s bedroom and moved Brooks in with him.  The transition hasn’t been without a few hiccups, but it’s going soooo much better than I ever expected.  The room has become so much cozier with the two of them in here, and somehow I love the space even more than I did when it was just Wilder’s room (you can see what that looked like here).  So today I wanted to show you what the boys setup looks like now.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom 2The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom Wilders Bed 2The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom bed closeupThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom stuffies

sources: overhead light // drapes // roman shade // rug (similar) // rug pad // comforter // duvet cover // striped throw // plant hanger // stuffed animals //dinosaur backpack (no longer available, cute option here) // plaid blankets // table lamp // ukulele //dinosaur figurines // crib // animal heads (no longer available, cute options here)

As I mentioned on Friday, moving the boys into one room was one of those things that I had worked up in my head as a huge deal.  We had tried this transition once before when we first moved to the Farmhouse but failed after a couple of nights.  Looking back, I think we failed because Garrett and I were busy and tired with moving so didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with it.  We knew that we would try again at some point but we kept putting it off and putting it off.  Then last Saturday, Garrett and I were Spring cleaning and one of us said, ‘hey, let’s put Brooks’ crib in Wilder’s room’, and that was that.  A couple of hours later, the boys had one shared bedroom.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom both beds

Both of the beds are now pushed against walls, which should limit any falling out of bed.  Wilder is a very active sleeper and every once in a while he’ll just kind of tumble out of bed.  Just last week it happened, and I found him laying on the floor still totally asleep.  Ahh to sleep that hard!

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom from Door

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about our matching twin bed frames since finding them on Craigslist last year.  I don’t know the story behind them, but they’re definitely antique, a wee-bit on the narrow side for a modern twin mattress (we have to sort-of squeeze the mattress into the frame when we put sheets on), and have a lovely dark stain on them that looks nearly black.  I always planned to put them in one room not only because I love the look of side-by-side antique beds but also because we hoped that Wilder and Brooks would share a room by the time that Brooks was ready for a big-boy bed.  And from the looks of it, we’re just about there!

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve had a couple of hiccups since moving the boys into one room.  The first being that Brooks has almost completely refused his crib since making the transition to a shared room.  I’m not entirely sure why that is, but after 20 minutes of crying on Saturday night (in my arms and in his crib), I finally laid him down in his big boy bed and he was instantly quiet.  So I tucked a blanket over him and watched from the door as he dozed off.  We hadn’t planned on having him in a big boy bed at night so young (Wilder made the switch at 2, and I thought we’d repeat that), but if he keeps sleeping through the night then he can sleep wherever he likes!

The second hiccup is that bedtime now takes a good hour plus.  Both boys are so excited to look across the room and see each other, and there are giggles and squirms for way too long.  Of course, I find it soooo sweet, so even if it means an extra hour at bedtime right now, so be it.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom both bedsThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom Blackout 1

For the Spring we have light comforters and duvet covers from Ikea on the beds.  Garrett and I are really careful to keep fire retardants out of the boys bedding and PJs, so natural linen duvet covers were an easy choice, even if they’re a little more expensive.  Of course Wilder already got green marker on his duvet cover, but thankfully they are are two sided so we’ll just have a ‘bad side’ for everyday and a ‘good side’ for photographs and guests 😉   I also bought these summer throws for the boys’ beds during West Elm’s one day sale a few weeks ago (and they’re still on sale!).  I’m not sure they’ll be heavy enough to have on here with a sheet alone, but Wilder runs hot (soooo hot…and soooo the opposite of his mama) that it’ll probably be enough for him.  If not, I’ll layer them with a simple white cotton blanket.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom books

Probably my favorite part of finally having a shared bedroom is shared story time.  When the boys were in separate rooms, we read stories to each of them separately before tucking them in.  But now we shut the blackout blinds (an essential with these longer Spring days), snuggle up in one bed and read a couple of stories before tucking the boys in their own beds.  And I love it!  There is something so special about spending this time together, and it makes this mama’s heart very happy.  I know there will be nights when one of the boys is not happy, and I’m tired and this whole situation is totally exhausting, but right now it’s everything.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom cribThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom stuffies 2The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom

For the record, I hung that plant up for the shoot.  I’m going to have Garrett relocate the hook over the nightstand so the plant is not over a bed (because it’s heavy and plus I don’t want to risk water draining onto a bed).  I’m on the hunt for an alphabet poster or paper tiles for the space as well.  Wilder is finally getting into letters, so it’d be fun to have a spot for him to see them!  I haven’t found one that I love yet, but I’m looking…any suggestions?!

The closet is probably both of the boys’ favorite space in this room, so I wanted to give you a peek.  I’ve mentioned before, but this space has been basically a storage ground for Wilder’s collection of ‘stuff’.  We finally hung up costumes and boxed up a lot of Wilder’s stuff so this space is at least a step above an eye sore now.  Someday I’d like to turn the far end of this closet into a kid hangout spot with cushions and pillows and everything comfy but for now there are a few boxes and stacks of books back there and that’s just fine.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom Closet 1 The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom closet 3 The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Shared Bedroom closet 2

So that’s our experience thus far with our two boys sharing a room.  I’d love to hear any tips or stories you guys have about shared bedrooms….seriously!  Growing up I shared a bedroom with my twin sister until high school, and I still have fond memories of laughing the night away.  Sure there were plenty of arguments but I think it taught me a lot about compromise and living with others.  At least, I’d like to think so 😉

The one thing I haven’t mentioned yet (and have been dying to!) is that the nursery is now empty!!!  I’m chomping at the bit to get started transforming that space for baby girl.  But since she’s not due until July (and will sleep with us for a few months afterwards), I’m trying to keep my focus on thePorch House since we still need to finish that renovaiton and sell it, hopefully before baby girl arrives.  Honestly I’m trying not to even think about the nursery, but somehow that hasn’t stopped me from buying plenty of things for that space 😉

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. how we deal with Wilder not sleeping through the night.  Wilder’s room at the Ravenna House and his room at the Dexter House.  The latter was also featured on coco+kelley last year.

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Master Bedroom Update // How We’ve Survived Our ‘Not So Good’ Sleeper

THE FARMHOUSE

In honor of last weekend’s Daylight Savings – the bane of every parent’s existence – I thought I’d share a little peek into the minor change we’ve made to our master bedroom that has made all the difference in how our toddler sleeps at the Farmhouse.  Spoiler…he and we sleep much better!  I’ll be back back next week with Wilder’s Farmhouse bedroom reveal as promised.

Our toddler has never been much of a sleeper.  I can probably count the number of times that Wilder has slept through the night on two hands (plus maybe two feet) and he’s 3 1/2 years old!  Lack of sleep is one of the things that Garret and I have struggled with the most as parents, especially in Wilder’s first year, but we’ve finally found a way we can all survive.

The Grit and Polish - Sleeping Bag 2

sconce / cord coverbed frame / velvet pillow / accent pillow (similar here) / sheet set / rug / curtains / lion / books: Pajama Time, Lama Lama Nighty Night, The Little Blue Truck / sleeping bag (no longer available, but my favorite alternatives are at the bottom of this post!) / paint: BM Simply White

Yes, that’s a sleeping bag on our master bedroom floor.  I didn’t exactly include that in my master bedroom One Room Challenge reveal, but it gets used Every. Single. Night!  Somewhere between midnight and 4 am, Wilder slides out of his bed, crosses the landing, and tucks himself into his sleeping bag next to Garrett’s side of the bed, where he proceeds to sleep the rest of the night.

And that right there, is the best thing that happened to my night of sleep since becoming a parent!

Let me explain how this all came to be.  Sometime last year, we were at our pediatrician’s office, and the doctor asked us how sleep was going.  After I stopped laughing, I launched into it: Wilder has never been a “sleeper”.  Wilder has woken us up almost every night of his life.  At 5 months old he was sleeping in his crib and waking up 5 times a night, and though sleep got better as he got older, Wilder has never taken to the all-nighter.  We’ve read and tried just about anything, including sleep training, but nothing seemed that helpful.  At 2 1/2, we were putting Wilder down in his own room but he was sneaking into our bed sometime in the middle of the night, and it worked okay, except that Wilder was a restless sleeper, often kicking us and steeling blankets.  Once Brooks came along, our bed was too full and our nights were too short.  The doctor heard us out and then surprised us by saying that she had similar issues when her sons when they were young.  She recommended we put a sleeping bag next to our bed and teach Wilder that it was his own (and *only*) special sleeping place in our bedroom, when he needed it.

It wasn’t a new or particularly creative solution – I’m sure many parents have done something similar in the course of history – but it was a respectful solution we could all live with, and one that had a profound impact on our family’s sleep and thus our lives.

The Grit and Polish - Sleeping Bag 3

The first couple of nights were rough (Wilder really wanted to get in bed with us), but soon his middle of the night antics were reduced to tip-toeing into our room and quietly tucking himself into his sleeping bag.  The best part was that he didn’t even wake Garrett and I up.  It’s worked so well that the sleeping bag is still our policy for Wilder today (thankfully Brooks has proved to be a happier sleeper in his crib), except when he’s sick or needs cuddles after a bad dream.

The Grit and Polish - Sleeping Bag 7The Grit and Polish - Sleeping Bag 4

So that’s the minor change to our bedroom that has made our household majorly happier.  I’m a big proponent of doing what works for your family and your child (because goodness knows they’re all different) when it comes to sleep, so please don’t take any of this as advice.  It’s just fun to show you guys the full story of how we use our bedroom space.  And if you’ve come up with your own creative kid sleeping solution, I’d love to hear about it!

Wilder’s shark sleeping bag (a 2nd birthday gift from Nana) is no longer available, but I found some fun alternatives.  Check out the roundup below.  I’m thinking about getting number 1 or 2 for Brooks (for traveling not for our bedroom floor!).  Or maybe 4.  Goodness, they’re all cute!

The Grit and Polish - Sleeping Bag Roundup

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

I’ll be back next week with Wilder’s bedroom reveal.  In the meantime, you can get caught up on what we’ve done to his space at the Farmhouse here.  For all you parents out there, I wish you an easy Daylight Savings transition.  But if it’s not, you can sign this petition to end Daylight Savings or this one to stay on summer time permanently, aka Daylight Savings time…just saying.

xoxo

-Cathy

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Wilder’s Farmhouse Bedroom // Progress

THE FARMHOUSE

The Grit and Polish - Wilder's Bedroom 4

This is Wilder’s bedroom at the Farmhouse.  It’s a space that I haven’t shown much of on the blog, and I’m not entirely sure why.  But I aim to fix that.  Over the next two weeks, I’m going to show you how we took this space from dark and carpeted to light and comfortable.

This bedroom is the smallest of the three upstairs rooms at the Farmhouse, but Wilder claimed it as his immediately.  His decision had little to do with the bedroom itself and everything to do with the attached giant “closet”.  With low sloped ceilings, no windows, and no heat/AC/insulation, this closet is just the kind of space kids go gaga over 😉

When we bought the Farmhouse, Wilder’s bedroom had pretty great bones.  There are 9′ ceilings, architectural windows, wood moldings, and so much potential if you could almost look past the carpet and purple curtains.  Almost.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Boys Room WindowThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Boys Room Closet DoorThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Boys Room Closet

When we first moved into the house, we threw a couple of mattresses into this room to make sure Wilder had a comfy spot to sleep while we settled in.  It didn’t take long until Garrett and I found time to work on this room.  Wilder got to camp out on our floor while we took down the curtains, painted the walls and ceiling with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (the same color as the master bedroom and nursery), replaced the lighting and electrical sockets, and ripped up the carpets.  We had hoped for pristine hardwood floors underneath, but that’s not quite what we got.

The Grit and Polish - Wilder's Room Painted

These floors are actually in much better shape than the other upstairs bedrooms (you can check out what the nursery and master bedroom floors looked like), but they still needed a sand and refinish.  Anyone who’s refinished their own hardwood floors knows that it’s a big, dusty job and we just weren’t quite ready to tackle it.  We were still busy moving into the house and enjoying the warm weather outside, so I threw a big jute rug down and put off the refinish for a couple of months.

During the months leading up to the hardwood refinish, I continued to decorate Wilder’s space.  First we installed the matching vintage bed frames I had bought on Craigslist (for $150 if I remember correctly), which Garrett retrofitted with slats.  And if you are wondering why there are two beds in here it’s because this space has always been intended for both Wilder and Brooks.  But Brooks is sleeping so well in the nursery that we’ve been reluctant to move him into this big boy room just yet.  Of course now that we have a baby girl on the way, Brooks’ move is inevitable…

The Grit and Polish - Wilder's Room Curtain Hanging

Decorating continued with a new overhead light fixture – my favorite schoolhouse pendant from Rejuvenation with blue stripes – along with new linen blackout drapes and a curtain rod.  Otherwise, most of the furniture and decor in here are things we’ve collected over the years or found in storage.

The small chairs are from my parents storage barn (apparently from my elementary school).  That vintage school map is one that I bought a couple of years ago and have been looking for a good space to display it ever since.  Wilder made the T-Rex and Pterosaur with Nana (the later of which has sadly since broken) and the books are an ongoing collection kind of thing.  Of course all of the furnishings and decor we put up had to be taken down when we began the great floor refinish of 2016 a couple of months later.

The Grit and Polish - Wilder's Room Map Install

Before getting into the hardwood floor refinish, let me explain why I went to the effort of decorating Wilder’s bedroom for two months, just to take everything back out.  This is Wilder’s 4th bedroom in 3 years – a statistic that I’m not proud of, but one that was necessary to make our retiring by 35 a reality.  If you have young kids, you know that change can be really hard on them and Wilder is no different.  In fact, his sensitive nature might make change even harder on him.  Wilder has always felt such big feelings and been so sensitive to his environment, making our previous move from Ravenna to Dexter very hard for him.  We didn’t want to repeat that when we moved into the Farmhouse.

Okay, on to the hardwood floor refinish.  We tackled this project at the same time we did the master bedroom and nursery floors.  It required that Wilder and Brooks as well as Garrett and I move out of our bedrooms, and sleep hungajunga style in the guest bedroom for a couple of weeks.  The set up was not ideal, but the floors were definitely worth the sacrifice.

The Grit and Polish - Wilder's Bedroom FLoor RefinishThe Grit and Polish - Floor Close Up

Refinishing the floors was a big job that we DIY’d ourselves.  I won’t go into the nitty gritty here since I posted about it last year (you can read about the process here and see what it cost us here).  We opted for no stain on the floors, just the natural wood color, finished with a latex sealant.  I’ll show you the finished product next week along with what Wilder’s space looks like now.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear if you guys have ever moved with young kids, and if so, any tips to helping them adjust?

xoxo

-Cathy

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A Valentines Day Surprise

THE FARMHOUSE

Happy Valentines Day!  We’re celebrating the holiday with lots of chocolate and cake and extra snuggles with my little ones.  Speaking of little ones, I wanted to share some exciting family news with you guys.  I mentioned last week that Garrett and I have come up with the perfect use for the nursery (once Brooks moves into Wilder’s bedroom)…a nursery for our baby girl to be!!!

The Grit and Polish - Me in Nursery

That’s right, I am thrilled to announce that we’re adding a third baby to our brood and she’s due in July.  We found out the gender super early this time with a DNA test (at 10 weeks, I think), and let me just say I AM THRILLED to be having a girl.  I absolutely love having boys, but I’ve always wanted a daughter too and since this is *probably* our last baby (I only said probably to appease Garrett…I’m like 99.5% certain we’re done), I was really hoping for a baby girl that could be my partner in crime forever.

Ever since we found out baby’s gender, I’ve been dreaming of how I’ll change up the nursery.  I’m thinking touches of pink (it’s never been my favorite color, but after 2 boys I’m obsessed with it) and feminine dresses hanging on cute hooks (even though I’ve always been more of a jeans kind of girl) and a dresser that’s low enough for diaper changes and wide enough to fit all my nieces very cute hand-me-downs (thanks Auntie Terr for hanging on to them!).  The full-size bed is slated to go to one of our rentals, so I’ll likely fill that space with a new antique daybed – I’m thinking a twin-size spindle bed – or some fun toys like a play house or tall stuffed animals.  There’s plenty of time to decide on the nursery since baby will be in our room for quite some time after she’s born.  But oh goodness, I am EXCITED!

The Grit and Polish - Baby Girl Dress and Pig

dress | pig (old; equally cute hippo here) | quilt

For those of you into pregnancy and such things, I’m 18 weeks along and finally out of the yuck stage.  I was definitely sicker with this pregnancy than the previous two.  And tireder.  And I’ve had way more food aversions.  For those reasons, I had a feeling we were having a girl.  Luckily, both Garrett and I are home right now, so I’ve been able to take it easy; naps and baths have been my salvation.  Of course, we’re about to start a brand new renovation (aka the flip house), so life will get hectic once again.  But that’s nothing new.  It seems that we just can’t renovate a house without a baby on the way 😉

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Brooks’ birth announcement and my pregnancy with him (Wilder was born before I started this blog).

p.p.s. We’ve been reading this new sibling book with the boys. We’ve had a few such books, but this one is definitely the cutest!

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Our Story // Renovating Old Houses and Early Retirement

The other day I was explaining what it is that Garrett and I do to a total stranger, and it got me thinking, have I ever really explained it here on the blog?  Sure I share all about the houses and our family and the before and after photos of our renovations (and I’ll get back to it next week), but there’s a whole other story in the background.  The tale of why and how we do what we do.  Why we buy old houses.  Why we spend so much time renovating them.  Why we lease them out as rentals.  And why we’ve been working so hard for the better part of a decade.

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family photos by Ryan Flynn

To answer that, let’s rewind to 2008 when our renovation journey began, long before our band of renovation gypsies numbered four.  It was just Garrett and I back when we bought our first house, a 1916 craftsman “fixer” with an unfinished basement, a unique detached cottage/workspace in the backyard, and tons of potential.  In a desirable Seattle neighborhood back then, old and in-need-of-work cost you a whopping $445,000 (that number is now substantially higher…eeech!).

At the time, I had just started my engineering career and Garrett had returned to school to pursue his PhD (which he completed in 2015…biochemistry, the smart guy!) so we planned to live in that house pretty much forever, while we slowly fixed it up, had a couple kids, and worked away at our careers.  But you know what they say about best laid plans…

Well just 8 months after buying our first house, I got laid off from my oh-so-short engineering career, and life went into a tailspin.  With a big mortgage to pay and no job in sight (there weren’t a lot of jobs for newbie structural engineers in the building downturn of 2008 and 2009), I suggested we finish out the basement, rent the main house, and move into our 400sf backyard cottage, which at the time was lacking a kitchen and even a bathroom sink.

I told myself that small-space-living would be an adventure, and Garrett went along with it because he’s a real trooper.  So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. The only problem was that we didn’t really know that much about renovating.  So we learned as we went and asked for help from pretty much everyone we knew (especially our folks).  Sure, we made some mistakes – like that pink tub…oh goodness why did we buy that pink tub?! – but three months later, we had turned our 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom house into a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house.  We got renters in the main house then moved out to the cottage to start that renovation.

Essentially, we were house hacking, before the term actually existed. If you’ve never heard of house-hacking, I like to explain it as getting-someone-else-to-pay-your-mortgage-so-you-can-do-what-you-want-with-your-life.  But more on that in a minute.

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We spent three years in that cottage. During that time I got a job, we cut expenses, we lowered our mortgage payment by refinancing, and we raised the rent in the house. Suddenly we weren’t just living rent free, we were actually making money on the house. Our house-hacking endeavor had turned into actual income and it felt good. We saw this whole other path open up before us and although the destination was a little fuzzy, we called it financial independence.  Our goal became to make it there – to financial independence – by the age of 35.

After those three years in the cottage, we used the money we had saved up and bought a second “fixer” house. And shortly thereafter, a third. We moved into each renovation project and loosely followed the BRRRR model (which is apparently a thing although we had no idea at the time): Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat.  And although we were saving all along, we had to get creative to find enough cash for down payments and renovations (this is Seattle after all and houses don’t come cheap).  Over the years we’ve utilized traditional financing, a FHA loan refinanced into an 80/20 loan, cash-out refinance, HELOC, personal loans from family, and cash-purchase-turned-delayed-financing. Finding time to renovate our properties was tricky. Garrett was in school and I was working full-time, so we had to renovate on nights and weekends, often turning down social plans to get dusty and bang on walls. Of course, we love old houses and renovating, but we love our friends too.  While the sacrifice has been well worth it, these choices were often hard ones to make.  Once the boys came along, our renovation pace slowed down, but we kept at it. By then, our goal was crystal clear: make enough income from our rentals so that we could “retire” and spend more time with our family and working on our own projects.

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By the time we rang in 2016, we had four houses plus the cottage in Seattle, and we projected enough income from the rentals to bankroll our life (granted, not a lavish life, but a modest, happy life for our family). So when we found our dream home, a farmhouse on 3 acres in our hometown, I quit my 9-to-5 and we moved to the country. Garrett and I were both 34.

Our “retirement” is in it’s infancy, but we are excited for what we have planned. We will still spend a lot of time as landlords and of course as parents, but also plan to dedicate time to outdoor activities, fresh-food cooking, country-dwelling, and renovating any old house we can get our hands on.

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So that’s the story of how this little family house-hacked our way from first-time home buyers to full-time renovators and landlords. How we turned our love of old houses and renovating into income and retirement plans.

I should note that being a landlord is not really retiring.  Nor is being a parent of young children.  These things can be hard with a capital H.  But the first affords us the luxury of having more time to do the second and provides us the lifestyle we want without having to work more than a few hours a week, hence we call it “retirement”.

One other note, I’ve hesitated for a long time on whether or not to get so personal on the blog, especially about a topic as touchy as personal finances.  This is, afterall, a renovation/home blog.  But ultimately I thought about our younger selves, that 27-year-old couple who had just moved into a cramped cottage without a bathroom or kitchen, who had no real income and struggled with the weight of their debt. Those two would have been really excited to hear a story like this. So I hit publish.

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We are really excited for what comes next in our story! Thanks for being a part of it.

Also thanks to Ryan Flynn for these family photos!  He had the patience of a saint and a shutter speed fast enough to catch even the wildest of toddlers 😉

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Love all the feedback on the interior of our farmhouse from you guys and over on Instagram. Sounds like there’s plenty of folks out there who wouldn’t paint their millwork, either 😉

p.p.s. I’m absolutely in love with this vintage London apartment.  It’s ethereal and beautiful and so well styled.  Kudos Ms. McAlpine!

p.p.p.s. This kitchen. I loved it when I saw it a year ago, and somehow it’s gotten even better.

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Features and Mother’s Day

THE DEXTER HOUSE

The Dexter House kitchen was featured on Apartment Therapy this week!  It was so fun seeing our little space on their site!  I am really proud of what we accomplished in this kitchen on a limited budget (limited by gut-kitchen-renovation standards, at least).  More on the kitchen renovation, reveal, and budget and resources if you’re interested.

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen

I can’t let today go by without saying happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas, grandmas, aunts, sisters, girlfriends, and mamas-to-be out there.  Somehow, amazingly, this is my third Mother’s Day since becoming a mom myself.  Just saying that makes my heart swell, because being a mama is the best!  Totally challenging and exhausting, but still the best.  And I feel just so damn honored to get to be Wilder and Brooks’ mama.  I don’t want to get too sappy on you guys, but goodness I just want to dig my heels into the dirt and slow this life down.  Because, guys, this is it.  These are the days.  And I know that there will come a time when Wilder won’t ask me for kisses as a cure to all ailments and someday those pitter-pattering feet in the middle of the night won’t belong to a toddler about to slip into bed with us.  Someday Brooks’ face won’t light up like a Christmas tree when I come home and he won’t giggle like a fool when I play peek-a-boo or blow raspberries on his tummy.  So…this Mother’s Day, I’m going to sneak in a few extra cuddles and breathe it all in.

Dexter House Master Bed with Boys

Speaking of Mother’s Day, did you see this easy and fun DIY on coco+kelley?  Or this ode to my own mother on 702 Park Project?

The Grit and Polish - Clean Eating Pancakes 3

What will you be doing on Sunday?  Garrett and the boys are going to make me brunch (hopefully these polenta, oat, and currant pancakes, which sound kinda weird but are soooooo good!) and then we’re back to work on the fence project.

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. technically this advice is from a dad and it’s mothers day, but it’s still a good one!

p.p.s. I heard this story about the blind and awesome Daniel Kish last year and I still think about it.  His mother takes ‘amazing’ to a whole new level.  Seriously, you’ve got to listen to it!

p.p.p.s. This Pinterest board kinda sums up what I want for my kids’ childhood.

p.p.p.p.s. And one more for all the young moms out there.  Because Olivia, you are awesome.  And your taste in wallpaper is spot on.

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What Family Means to Me

The Grit and Polish - First Family photo 2016

Happy 2016, friends!  We had a really lovely and relaxing break over the holidays.  We left the city and the Dexter renovation behind to play in the snow and the wide open space at Nana and Papa’s farm.  We’re back in Seattle now and ready to tackle a few lingering projects on the main floor of the Dexter House and then start the basement remodel.  But before we dive into all that, I wanted to share a little bit about what I was most grateful for in 2015: my family.

In 2015 we added the sweetest, happiest little boy into our crew, who looks a bit like me, and smiles even when he’s crying. He entered this world 9 days late, but made up for that by having the most peaceful and special birth that a mama could hope for.  I am incredibly grateful for that little boy. For his brother. For his daddy. For the family we’ve created.

After many years of graduate school, Garrett completed his PhD in Biochemistry at the end of 2015 (yay! phew!). And I am SO proud of my husband.  It’s been 7 years of classes, tests and endless research – a true test of endurance, especially when coupled with 4 full-house remodels – but these last couple of months have been relentless.  While preparing for his defense and then writing his thesis, Garrett was as stressed and exhausted as I’ve ever seen him in our 15 years together.  From this experience, I’ve been reminded how special it is to have a partner in life. To have someone to lean on, dream with, and be in the trenches with. Someone to do the heavy lifting when you just don’t have the motivation (like, say, demolition) or make you dinner when you’re too frazzled and stressed out to think about food. For my amazing partnership, I am incredibly grateful.

And that brings us to Wilder.  Our wild child.  Two’s have been trying for this little soul who feels such big feelings.  There have been tantrums and hitting and mean words far more often than I’d like.  And I often find myself asking, “what happened to my sweet little boy?!”  But even through this trying age, somehow – miraculously – Wilder is growing into the most amazing little kid.  He is fun and helpful and curious, and always, always busy.  Wilder may be a bit of a hellion, but he also has a sweet streak.  And it’s those times when I catch him “reading” to his brother or giggling with his father or whispering “mama, I love you,” that warms my heart beyond measure and makes all the trying stuff melt away.  For this big boy, I am incredibly grateful.

And I’m thankful for my extended family too.  The sister who keeps me grounded every day; the grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends that enrich the boys (and my) life so immeasurably; the nieces and nephews who show me what fun is; and especially in 2015, for my inlaws who have been here with us in the child-rearing and renovation trenches day after day, showing me what selflessness is.  For these people, that make my life so full, I am incredibly grateful.

As I remind Wilder almost daily, family is forever. And we take care of our family.  These are the people who are always there for you. Especially when you need their help but also when you need someone to celebrate with. Someone to hear you. Dream with you. Love you.

That’s what family means to me.

I wish you and your family the best in 2016!

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. More renovation posts are on the way, but in case you missed it, we found SNOW over our holiday break!  This is one of my favorite photos from Nana and Papa’s farm.  I caught Wilder and Papa doing chores, which means feeding the horses and chickens and shoveling show.  Wilder refuses to smile anytime I have a camera out, but I assure you, he was having a blast!  (More photos from our break are on Instagram.)

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Happy Holidays & A 2015 Recap

Happy holidays everyone!  I hope you get to enjoy time with all who are dear this holiday season and maybe if you’re lucky, they will help you with a house project or two:-).  We’ll be heading over to Nana and Papa’s farm for a little break as we soak up our first holiday season as a family of 4.  But before I go, here’s a few of my favorite moments from the year:

Poshusta Year in Review 2015 Collage

Brooks’ birth. Because babies trump all things.  Always.

Moving into the Dexter House (before my due date)

Our Ravenna kitchen on BobVila.com

Replacing the Dexter kitchen floors

Filming a mini TV-pilot

Dexter kitchen drywall and cabinets

Building a new fireplace and tiling it

Wilder’s second birthday

Refinishing old radiators

An antique-quilt teepee

The mudroom, because it’s a fun space

Our tiny master bathroom, before and after

The smallest sink. Ever.

And lastly, two big events: our 10-year anniversary and Garrett’s PhD

A huge Happy Holidays to all of you!  Here’s to what’s next in 2016!

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. How the Gaines decorate for Christmas!

p.p.s. Pinterest has had some great stuff this year (okay, every year!).  Here are a few of my favorite kitchens (this one, and this one, and this one with that ceiling), indoor and outdoor spaces (this one and this one), and country houses (this one and this one)!

p.p.p.s. A grand old house. In the Vermont countryside. With a Christmas tree farm attached.  And it’s for sale!.  Be still my heart!

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Filming Our Mini TV Pilot (Yes, really!)

This year has been filled with a lot of craziness and excitement!  There was the new house and a top-to-bottom renovation, 9-months of pregnancy and the birth of baby Brooks, our 10-year anniversary and a momentous graduation, tons of hard work and a whole lot of family and fun.   Even with all that, by far the craziest thing we did in 2015 was film a mini TV-pilot.

Yeah.  That still sounds crazy to me too!

The Grit and Polish - Mini Pilot filming at Ravenna 2

It all started back in February, when we were approached by an LA-based production company who had found the Grit and Polish through our feature on BobVila.com.  She wanted to pitch a show about our family to a large TV network. I’m not going to name names, but the network starts with an H and ends with a V.  The premise of the show was basically what we do on a daily basis: renovate houses and move our family into them.  They dubbed it “Inside Job”.

After a phone call with the producers, we met them via Skype.  They asked us all about our renovation process, our family, and our lives and recorded the whole thing.  Then they sent the interview off to the network.

We heard back a few weeks later that the network liked us and had commissioned a sizzle, which in TV-speak is a 5-minute mini pilot.  We signed “shopping” agreements (contracts giving the producers exclusive rights to us) and began on the process.

The Grit and Polish - filming a mini pilot at Ravenna 3

During April and May, the production company sent two crews up to Seattle to film us for a total of three days.  We started out at the already-renovated Ravenna House where they filmed us doing small projects, touring the house, talking about the early days of our romance, and interviewing us about buying and renovating houses.  You know stuff we can’t shut up about even if we tried.

The Grit and Polish - Filming mini pilot at Dexter with Wilder

Luckily we had closed on the Dexter House a day or two before the first crew came down from LA so they were able to capture us touring the house pre-renovation and then as we gutted the kitchen.  Wilder got to take part too and was pretty eager to show off his skills with a drill.  Brooks was just a big bump at that point 😉

The Grit and Polish - Filming mini pilot at Dexter 3

During our three short days in front of the TV cameras I learned a ton.  Like always turn off your mic before entering a bathroom.  And just how much footage it takes to put together a five minute video (seriously, three whole days of filming!). But I was also surprised by how much fun the process was.  Garrett and I had a blast and were just so exhilarated by the whole thing.  Well exhilarated and totally exhausted.  TV is a quite a business.  My hat’s off to Chip and Joanna Gaines!

The finished sizzle video was super impressive…at least we think so.  It wrapped up everything we do and who we are in five minutes and made us look good doing it!  After watching it for the first time, I said, “Wow! I would definitely watch that show”.  Which sounds kinda conceited, but when it comes down to it, it seems like the kind of thing you should say after watching a video about your own life.

The Grit and Polish - Family Filming at Dexter Small

In the end, the big network passed on our sizzle.  Apparently something to do with the flip sector being saturated.  So we won’t be on your TV screen any time soon.  Which is kind of disappointing, but after such a fun and unexpected adventure, it’s really hard to be anything other then happy for the experience.  The whole thing felt like a mini break from our lives (even though it was all about our lives), like a glimpse at a whole different and exciting path.  But mostly it was just fun.  And we are thankful that someone out there thought what we do is cool enough to consider making a show about it.

So our 10 seconds of fame is up.  Our contracts have expired and we’re back to renovating without cameras around.  But I wanted to share the experience with you guys, since it has everything to do with this blog and you guys and was a really exciting part of our 2015.

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Thanks to my mom for taking most of these pictures!  She and my mother-in-law were around during filming to watch Wilder…how great are grandmas?!

p.p.s. Have you guys watched Andy and Candis’ new show, Old Home Love on DIY and HGTV?  I still haven’t seen an episode, but I’m pretty sure it’s awesome since I love what they do!

p.p.p.s. I’m so excited that our first Christmas as a family of 4 is finally here!  I picked up these monogramed stockings from Etsy to mark the occasion.  When they arrived, Garrett asked me, “do they make more designs so we can get one for the next kid?!”  Not totally sure if that’s funny or horrifying at this point…maybe both! 😉

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