Weighing In // The Business of Blogging (Or the Lack There Of)

About a month ago, a reader comment got me thinking.  The comment was well intentioned and kind, but left me feeling anything but good.  I guess you could say the comment struck a nerve.  So I wanted to talk about it and give you guys a look at what goes on behind this blog.  The comment went something like this:

The lack of sponsors and ads all over the place makes your blog a pleasure to read.  It’s one of my favorites!

Nothing ground breaking, right?!  It’s complimentary and honest.  But the reader implied that they like the Grit and Polish because I don’t have sponsors and ads.  They like reading this blog because I’ve pumped thousands of dollars and thousands of hours into this blog and never received a dime in return (well, there was that one free rug pad ages ago, but you know what I mean).  In the context of the larger discussion going on in the blogosphere right now about blogging and compensation, this comment was a wake up call for me.  Because I don’t think of myself as a good blogger.  In fact, I think of myself as a bad blogger.  I’ll explain why in a second.

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I can’t begin without saying that I appreciate your support and do not take it for granted.  You make the choice to read my work every time you come to the Grit and Polish, and I can’t thank you enough for that!  There is no shortage of  home renovation/design/DIY blogs out there to choose from, so it means the world to me that you chose to spend your precious time with me!  I LOVE writing and curating this blog, but without you guys reading it, I wouldn’t keep it going.  The Grit and Polish has always been a creative outlet and a way to share our work.  And for the past 3 years, I’ve chalked the costs up to an expensive hobby.  But then I quit my 9 to 5, and I found myself wondering if this blog could become more than that, because the Grit and Polish is SO MUCH MORE than just a hobby to me.  I listened to this podcast, read this post, read this post, and listened to this podcast (all of which discuss blogging and compensation) and wondered why I wasn’t asking for something in return for my work.  Content takes time to develop and good content takes a lot of time.  So like any good math nerd, I took stock of the hours it takes to run this blog and here’s what I found:

1-3 hours styling, photographing and editing photos / post

2-4 hours writing text/post

1-2 hour editing/post (thanks sis!)

Subtotal = 4 to 9 hours/post –> 2 posts/week = 8 to 18 hours/week

But that doesn’t count the time spent behind the scenes:

1 hour/week scheduling, organizing, and maintaining the blog (and probably more because my sis helps)

1 hour/week responding to comments (including social meda too)

1 hour/week honing my wordpress/Photoshop/photography skills

2-4 hours/week creating Instagram and Pinterest content

Subtotal = 5-7 hours/week

In total, it takes 13 to 25 hours/week to create the content you see on the Grit and Polish (and social media) and keep the blog running.  These numbers aren’t exact, but they’re in the ballpark.  And that is before you take into account the time we spend renovating and designing the spaces shown on the blog, which totals up to approximately one gazillion hours/week.

So how could all this unpaid effort possibly make me a good blogger?  I don’t think it does.  I think it makes me a bad blogger.  One who helps perpetuate the idea that bloggers should eschew compensation and create free advertising for companies, because that’s essentially what I’ve been doing.  I buy products at retail prices and provide photos and links to those products and show it to tens of thousands of people.  A very bad blogger indeed.  One who isn’t asking for her own worth.

So…it’s time to make a change here on the Grit and Polish.  I’m at the prepecise of turning my once-hobby into a job (or at least a venture that generates enough cash-flow to pay the babysitter).  This is a long time coming, and a change I’m really excited about.  You won’t see ads littering the site, but I am searching out partners (and maybe eventually sponsors) and looking into afiliate links.  Next week, I’ll be announcing my first partner, one I think you guys will really like, and I hope there will be many more.  My content won’t change – the projects, ideas and recommendations will be my own, as always – and I will take great care to select only partners and products that I can stand behind 100%.  The changes you will see on the blog include more renovations, better photos, and a much-improved/better-curated blog.  And I think old houses will champion for it.  Hopefully, you’ll be as excited as I am for these changes, but I understand that some people will be apprehensive, so I will do my best to take it slow and explain things as I go.

Okay, that’s the whole business (or lack there of) behind the Grit and Polish.  I’d love to hear your opinion.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think about this new leaf for the Grit and Polish.

More than ever, thanks for being here!

xoxo

-Cathy

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What Architectural Features we Keep in a Remodel // On Apartment Therapy

We are deep in the trenches of refinishing our hardwood floors, but I waned to pop over and share this Apartment Therapy article with you guys.  I wrote about how Garrett and I decide which original features stay and which go when we’re renovating old houses, something I think a lot of remodelers struggle with.  For us, the decision is oftentimes a little bit of a debate, but like all things in marriage, compromise creates the best outcome.  Usually…

Check the article out here!

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Dexter House kitchen remodel

Hope your week is going well!  If you find yourself in need of a little more reading material, you can catch my first article for Apartment Therapy (7 tips to saving money on a remodel) here.

xoxo

-Cathy

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My Money-Saving Tips on Apartment Therapy (and links to projects shown)

the-grit-and-polish-dexter-main-bathroom

I’m over on Apartment Therapy today, sharing 7 money-saving tips for renovations that Garrett and I have learned over the years. Check it out here!

And if you don’t recognize the bathroom above, that’s because I’ve never shared the ‘after’ photos before. It’s the Dexter House‘s main bathroom, which we refreshed just before moving out. I shared a couple of details about the quick and inexpensive makeover in the Apartment Therapy article, if you’re interested.

All of the other photos that are in the article are from our projects too. I’ve included links below: the-grit-and-polish-apartment-therapy-projects-collage-text

Projects: 1. #6daykitchenreno | 2. Dexter Mudroom  | 3. Dexter Kitchen | 4. Dexter Master Bathroom

xoxo

-Cathy

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Farmhouse Granola Recipe (its Naturally sweetened!)

THE FARMHOUSE

We take our breakfasts seriously here at the Farmhouse. Sometimes it’s brioche french toast with whipped cream and berry compote. Sometimes it’s farm-fresh scrambled eggs with crispy kale and bacon. But more often than not, it’s something quick and healthy like a yogurt parfait with homemade, naturally-sweetened granola.

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I must give credit to my husband for this recipe, who masterminded the naturally-sweetened part. We’ve been working on minimizing our refined sugar intake this year (except in our desserts because….yum!), so we sweeten this granola with apples and pomegranate juice. And I swear, you don’t miss the sugar!

He’s a genius like that 😉

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We use full-fat, plain yogurt in our parfaits because full fat is just So. Much. Better. Trust me! And for the fruit, we grab whatever is on hand. Yesterday morning, it was cantaloupe, local apples, banana, and nectarine, which we tossed with diced spearmint. And yes, I know spearmint is not a fruit, but it grows like a weed by our stream and I can’t get enough of it. It adds such a light and fresh flavor so it’s been going into everything lately!

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Depending on what’s in our pantry, this granola recipe changes a bit. But the batch we made yesterday morning was as good as we’ve ever made, so it’s what’s I’ve written down below.  If you don’t like almonds, pecans, or raisins (or maybe just don’t have them on hand) they could easily be swapped out for your favorite nut or dried fruit.

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Farmhouse Granola

Makes two pints of granola. Store in mason jars with airtight lids for easy use though out the week!

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.

Add together in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup currants

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut

1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

cinnamon, to taste (we use 1 1/2 tsp)

salt, to taste (we use 1 1/2 tsp)

Mix together in large bowl until everything is coated in oil.

In a food processor or blender, puree:

1 large apple, cored

1/4 cup berry juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

Once pureed, add the apple mixture to the oat mixture and combine with a few swift strokes.

Spread granola onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola and put back in oven for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat this step 2 times or until granola is evenly browned. Granola should appear lightly toasted and dry.

Leave granola on the baking dish to cool slightly before serving or cool all the way before storing in an airtight mason jar. But my recommendation: dig in! Because granola is extra good when it’s still warm!

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I’d love to hear what you guys think of this! If you make it, post a picture on Instagram and tag me in it or leave me a note here. Pretty please 🙂

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Speaking of baking…I’m dreaming of these decorated cakes. My nephew, George is turning one next week and I’m going to bake him a doozey!

p.p.s. Loving Studio McGee’s webisode series! Check out this one on kitchen styling (…they nail it, of course!).

p.p.p.s. I really resonate with this concept of one hour of focused work a day.  Thinking I’ll try it to get some writing done!

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Renovating with Toddler: Work Clothes

When it comes to getting a toddler interested in working with mama and dada, it helps to have special duds for the occasion.  I mean, what kid doesn’t love dress up?!  And Wilder is no exception.  When ever dada puts on his work boots, Wilder dances around, begging to put on his own work boots.  And if we set his Carhartt overalls out, oh man, you had better watch out!  He will drag us out the door to get to work.  Work clothes help get our toddler excited about working, plus they have the added benefit of keeping him dry in the Seattle rain and owee free!  Here’s a rundown of the clothes we’ve found are essential for a work-loving toddler.

Renovating with Toddler: Work Clothes

Carhartt Overalls, Amazon – work pants are essential for a busy toddler, especially when you’re working outside.  These overalls are our favorite – they’re easy on and off and really durable. A good pair of thick jeans would work too.

Rain Coat, K-Way – we found Wilder one of these jackets on clearance at J.Crew last fall.  Since we live in Seattle, a rain coat is an essential kids item, but it really came in handy while we were building the shed this winter.

Flannel Shirt, J.Crew– Wilder has a few flannels he wears while working.  I buy them from J.Crew when I find them on sale because you can’t beat the quality but he also has some handmedowns from his cousin Walty too.  In the summer months, we substitute short sleeve shirts or tank tops for these.

Kids Work Gloves, Home Depot – Wilder loves his work gloves and he shows us by wearing them around the house. All. The. Time!  And when we’re working on projects outside or in, these are perfect for keeping his hands owee free.

Wool Socks, Smartwool – these wool socks are essential when we’re working outside in the rain.  They keep Wilder’s feet dry and warm.  I’ve been wearing (and loving) Smartwools for years, so I was really excited to find they make kids socks too!

Timberland Boots, Zappos – sure, these boots are spendy (I think we paid $65 for them), but they are worth every penny!  These boots keep Wilder’s feet owe free when he’s hanging around the nails, wood, and tools at our construction sites.  We bought the boots extra big so there’s room for Wilder to grow into them plus they’re so durable that they should last for baby #2 too!

Catch part 1 of Renovating with Toddler here.

xoxo

-Cathy

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Renovating with Toddler: Books

I’ve been asked a lot about renovating with a little one around.  Renovation is hard work and parenting is even harder, so combining the two can be a little confusing, if not downright frustrating at times.  We are still learning how to juggle the two, but we have picked up quite a few tricks during our own renovation journey.  And it is high time I share those tips with you all!  With that in mind, I present to you the Renovating with Toddler series.  This will be a place for me to share tips and products to help get a toddler interested in renovating and keep them safe and entertained while parents get to work.

The Grit and Polish - Wilder in his work boots 22 months 5

Today I’m going to focus on books, since they’re one of Wilder’s favorite things.  We’ve been reading construction books since he was little.  I think books focused on tools and renovating can help foster an interest in kiddos and help them not be afraid of all the loud noises and strange looking tools mom and dad have suddenly gotten excited about.  Books may even help a kiddo get interested in what mama and dada are doing.  Here’s a roundup of some of Wilder’s favorites.

Construction Books for Toddlers

B is for Bulldozer, June Sobel – this is hands down Wilder’s number 1 requested book.  It pairs the alphabet with building a theme park.

The Toolbox, Anne Rockwell, Harlow Rockwell – this is a sweet book about a father’s toolbox.  I’m a sucker for simple, slow books, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, Sherri Duskey Rinker, Tom Lichtenhel – this classic story probably doesn’t need an introduction.  This one’s all about construction machinery from morning to night and Wilder gobbles it up!

Tap Tap Bang Bang, Emma Garcia – this is the other book Wilder asks to read every night.  It has a run down of tons of common tools and what they’re used for and how they sound.  Wilder LOVES this book!

The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton – okay it might be a stretch to call this one a construction book, but any time you move a house, it’s a pretty big project!  This one is a favorite in our house – it’s a bit slow so we only read it when Wilder is rested and patient, but it’s really sweet!

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Apartment Therapy’s small cool contest is wrapping up!  Here are a few of my favorites: 660 sf of creative, 675sf of historic fun, and 525sf of Scandinavian natural.

p.p.s. A laid back, rustic retreat in Kentucky.  I would love to spend a summer here 🙂

p.p.p.s. Perfect for summer camping season!  Rehabbing an old camper is definitely on my bucket list!!!

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A Couch for the Win (Living Room take 2)

THE RAVENNA HOUSE

Well guess who finally got a couch in the living room?  That’s right, this girl!

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Update 4

If you remember back to last year, Garrett and I had a debate going whether or not we wanted needed a sofa in the living room.  I was 100% for. He was 100% against.  Well I don’t want to gloat, but…I won!

Of course bringing a sofa into the space means lots of rearranging and redecorating.  So it’ll be another week or so until I share photos of a finished living room.  Until then, you can imagine me, lazying on that sofa, kicking my feet up, and swelling with victory 😉

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Happy Easter! I didn’t get around to decorating for the holiday much this year (read: at all), but if I did, I’d love a table top like this one.  Oh and we’d definitely be eating our ham off antique china!

p.p.s. Now that Spring has sprung, I’m planning to make this fresh potato salad A LOT!

p.p.p.s. This has got to be the most perfect farmhouse I’ve seen!

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A Beautiful Seattle Fixer (you won’t believe what it sold for!)

SEATTLE, WA

From time to time, I like to show you guys a listing I’ve had my eye on.  And this fixer in the coveted Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle had me pretty excited.  Houses in this neighborhood are expensive even by Seattle standards, so when this 3bed/1bath listing came on the market for $556,000, we had to at least consider putting in an offer (we didn’t).  It has since sold to someone else for a crazy sum of money, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

2218 Warren Seattle House - Front

Pretty house, right?  And it doesn’t look too fixer-ish from the outside.  But the finished 1650sf interior is another story…

2218 Warren Seattle House - Fireplace2218 Warren Seattle House - Kitchen2218 Warren Seattle House - Staircase2218 Warren Seattle House - Pink bedroom 22218 Warren Seattle House - Bathroom

And here’s the real potential for profit…a 780sf unfinished basement!

2218 Warren Seattle House - Basement 2

I check local real estate on a daily basis, so I like to think I have a pretty good handle for what properties are worth in this market.  But I was shocked (SHOCKED!) to find out what this old house sold for last month…

$800,000

Yes, that is an eight followed by five zeros!  And yes, I agree with you, this town has gone crazy.  But I am really excited to see what the new owners do to the place, assuming they have some room left in their budget to renovate!

See the full listing and photos here from agent Mary Ann Fordyce, Windermere R.E. Wall Street Inc.

Update: Nice catch by reader, RLS!  This house was renovated and sold again in November 2015 for…get this…$1,955,000…!!!

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Frances McDormand on aging.  Inspiring stuff.

p.p.s. I’m really into this industrial kitchen style. What about you…cool spaces, right?

p.p.p.s. We’re building a shed (with reclaimed siding!) in the Ravenna House’s backyard.  Hoping to have it finished soon, but in the meantime you can catch updates on my Instagram page.

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House Stalking

SEATTLE, WA

So Garrett and I have been stalking a house for a good year and a half now.  No, it’s not the short-sale that we’re under contract on (hoping to update you guys on that soon…as soon as we hear from the lien holders!).  It’s more like a forever house.  If such a thing can exist for renovation-addicts like Garrett and I.

The house we’re stalking is a short walk away from our current house in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle.  And it’s what Garrett calls the Jumanji house. You can barely see the front door behind all the jungle-like foliage.  It’s a house with ivy growing over most of the siding.  A house with holes in the roof and birds living in the attic.  A house with so much gosh-darn potential.

The Grit and Polish - House Stalking Isn’t it lovely?!

Now I don’t want to be an enabler, but I have to tell you that house stalking is really easy. At least it is in Seattle.  There’s soooo much information available online these days.  Any good gen-x google-user (or maybe even an iPhone-obsessed toddler) can find out a ton of information on a house and it’s owner via the great world wide web.  Should they want to.

Based on the King County website and Zillow, the house we are house-stalking is:

  • 2.5 Stories, 3300sf (900 unfinished)
  • 3 beds/2.25 bath
  • Built in 1909
  • Features: Fireplace, deck
  • And if this house was in good shape, Zillow estimates it’d be worth $750k (yeah this city’s real estate market is crazy!)

Wouldn’t it make the perfect house for us to call home?!

We’ve certainly tried!  Over the past year and a half, we’ve sent polite, introductory letters, facebook invitations, and emails to the owner.  I even left him a plate of chocolate chip cookies.  Not to mention we’ve done a million and a half run-bys, but all to no avail.  He hasn’t responded once.  But don’t worry, we’ll continue to watch this postential-bursting beauty.  I’m only hoping that this house finds a new owner before the wet Seattle-winters turn this old beauty into a true tear-down.

How about you guys?  Any other house stalkers out there?

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. I stumbled upon Nicole’s old-house-renovation blog over the holidays and I am obsessed!  I mean check out this dining room…stunning!

p.p.s. And speaking of newly-discovered blogs…am I the last one to hear about Mr. Money Mustache?!  This guy is awesome!  And full of inspiration and ideas on how to cut down on expenses and retire before you’re too old to appreciate it!

p.p.p.s. Did you guys catch this beautiful Brooklyn apartment tour on Cup of Jo?  Loving those tall ceilings, chunky crown molding, and all that natural light.

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The Grit and Polish New Years Recap

Guys, it’s been a great year on the old-house/renovation front for this family.  We’ve accomplished a TON!   Last year this time, we were spending every spare moment working on the Ravenna House and also juggling a 6-month-old who had just gotten his two front teeth on Christmas day (true story).  The Ravenna House looked something like this at the end of 2013:

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Oh my, I’m glad that’s over.  Renovating is a lot of fun, but so is living in a house after it’s been renovated!  We moved into the Ravenna House in March of this year with the main floor complete and we’ve been finishing up the basement and backyard on a snail-slow pace ever since. Here are my favorite moments from 2014 at the Ravenna House

1. The Kitchen.  Hands down, this is what I’m most proud of at the Ravenna House.  It’s the biggest transformation and the prettiest room to photograph.  The kitchen also happens to be the most popular subject-matter on the Grit and Polish.  But in case you’ve missed it, you can get caught up on the renovation here, herehere, herehere and here.

The Grit and Polish - White and Marble Kitchen and Flowers

2. The basement.  This space used to be scary and black and full of who-knows-what-kind-of bugs and rodents.  Now it’s a family room, bedroom, and bathroom that Wilder does a lot of playing in (how awesome is carpet?!), I do a lot of laundry in, and Garrett does a lot of Gonzaga basketball watching in.  Plus we have a kegerator down there, so you pretty much never need (or want) to leave.  More on that space here, here, here.

Basement Paint and Carpet - exposed beam

3. Removing the garage.  This isn’t a glamorous see-the-finished-space moment, but taking out the old, structurally-comprimised garage opened up off-street parking at The Ravenna House, which is AWESOME in this busy Seattle neighborhood!  So it’s definitely on my top-moment list!  Plus we got to have a “tractor” at the house for a few days which pretty much made Wilder’s year.

The Grit and Polish - garage removal.jpgThe Grit and Polish - garage demo and tractor rides.jpg

4. The upstairs bathroom.  The transformation on the upstairs bathroom in 2014 was pretty monumental.  It went from all-pink and icky (ala the introduction picture above) to all-white and shiny.  Plus finding those hexagon tiles under the linoleum was one of my greatest old-house-loving moments of all time!  More on this space here and here.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t include one item from the Bryant House in this New Years recap.  We lived in that house until we moved to the Ravenna House at the end of March 2014 (more on the move here).  And though we didn’t actually do the renovation this year, I posted on the Bryant Houses’ kitchen so it kinda counts as a highlight of 2014!   Here it is, my last personal old-house highlight of 2014:

5. The Bryant House kitchen and dining nook.  The Bryant Houses’ kitchen is actually one of the most popular posts on the Grit and Polish, and it’s one of my favorite rooms that we’ve ever renovated.  We completed the work in April 2013, just before Wilder was born, and oh boy do I have the sweetest memories of holding my brand new baby boy in that wingback chair at the dining table!  The room is light and bright and was constantly full of family and friends.  More on the kitchen here.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant House White Kitchen Renovaiton.jpgthe Grit and Polish - kitchen renovation with built-in dining nook featuring West Elm lighting.jpg

Okay now that I’ve shown you my favorite me moments of 2014 (at least on the renovation/old-house front), let’s move on to the blogosphere world.  There are a TON of great old house renovation and lifestyle blogs out there and I want to highlight a few of my favorites.  But I’d love to hear from you guys…please please please include your favorites in the comment section!!!!

Top Blogosphere Old-House Moments of 2014:

1. Katherine got a new old house to renovate.  Then refinished the dining room floors.  And I fell completely in love.

2. I found an old-house-lover fixing up a giant southern house and got to follow along every week while they renovated it!

3. Manhattan Nest is written by an absolutely-hilarious old-house lover named Daniel, and its full of trials and tribulations of fixing up a very, very old New York house.  And if that wasn’t good enough, Daniel bought a second New York House (aka Bluestone Cottage).  Two old house renovation for the price of one (blog)!

4. I found This kitchen.  I’m not sure when the renovation was done, but this Jessica-Helgerson-designed kitchen is my favorite for 2014!  In case you don’t remember, I featured this one back in September.

Jessica Helgerson-Alhambra Kitchen

Hope you are all enjoying your last week of 2014.  Happy New Years…I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings for all of us 🙂

xoxo

-Cathy

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