About Us

Sonoma County, California
We are two teachers in love who took on an enormous renovation project over three years ago. In the words of the inspector, "This house has been abused." When we're not educating young minds or working on our place, we are busy with many other interests. Dominic could blog with authority on the following topics: zombie infestations, home-brewing, origami, medieval recreation, and surfing. As for me, my blogging repertoire could include these topics: breastfeeding, guitar for the musically disinclined, bellydancing, and the quest for the perfect matzah ball. This is our story.

Friday, November 30, 2007


So, is the house done? Not exactly. Will it ever be? We hope so, but for now we’re just relaxing and enjoying life in the happy little home we’ve created here. We've come a long way from where we started, and there are so many cool things that we want to do, with the house and beyond. Most of the indoor projects that we have left involve trim and paint, so we consider ourselves lucky. Sure, we’ll break out our toolbelts, screwdrivers, and cool painting hats again at some point, but for now, we’re fortunate that Ronan is not too particular.

The New Boss

The new guy in charge has a different idea of work. When Ronan Alain sprang onto the scene on March 7, 2007, he had some new ideas for this place. House priorities would now include comfy spots to nurse, furniture that hid stains, rugs that softened falls, and gates that contained little explorers. Everyone wanted to know if we would have enough space for a baby, and, yes, it’s just wonderful to share our home with him. Not surprisingly, we haven’t put too much work into the house lately. Instead, we’re spending time napping, chasing each other, and looking at goats. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Motivation / The Cave II

While I was enjoying my hiatus from home improvement thanks to the best excuse EVER, Dominic and the men in his family returned to conquer the cave. First Dominic went to work on our faux foundation, sort of smoothing over our questionable stabilizing measures with a more solid-looking exterior. The new windows, though dangerous (I was still nursing my finger back to health), added so much light, and Dominic’s brother, dad, and brother-in-law all helped hang the drywall, beginning with the ceiling that we had raised. This time Dominic did the texturing himself, beginning in the closet that would someday house our stackable washer/dryer and shelving (it’s always smart to begin a new project in the closet, don’t you think?). It looked great, and he later trimmed out the windows (though they have yet to be painted). We added sconces for light, laid another pine floor, and the central beam across the top of the room will look even better when we really do cover it with pine to match the floor. We were creating some necessary lounge space.

A Little Distracted

After we returned from our European adventure, we were a little distracted. We found ourselves unable to focus on the many final touches of our remodeling project. We would alternate between this contented apathy and a frenzied quest for completion. We were sort of schizophrenic do-it-yourselfers during this phase of our lives, but very, very excited ones too.

Don't Wait to Go to Europe

As we’ve previously asserted, we don’t believe in letting life pass us by, even if we’re not done with the house and even if we’re low on money. When we got the chance to visit friends abroad during the summer of 2006, we took it. We had a newfound appreciation for European drywall, trim, and plumbing traditions, and we had a much-needed break.

The E.R.

My finger

Dominic's finger

New Side Window

Dominic shows our neighbor the window that led to my demise

Okay, I admit it. I wasn’t using OSHA certified paint-scraping techniques when I was cleaning the caulk off of our recycled windows, but still, I was unprepared for the flash of pain (note to self: point the paint scraper away from the hand that is innocently holding the window steady).

Though I was grateful to get an excellent deal on gorgeous windows, it was annoying to begin a project with clean-up and as a result, I was in too much of a hurry. Dominic rushed me to the E.R. (yet another milestone in our relationship), where no one was in much of a rush at all. After the four-hour wait and two stitches, all agreed that I was very brave. For comparison, I’ve posted a picture of Dominic’s bruised finger from our floor installation days. The results are clear – I win in the category of “bodily sacrifice to the house.”

The Cave

We did want to use the additional 120-ish square feet in the back of the house, but we were also afraid of it. A dark, illegal addition (though my friend Mike prefers the term “unpermitted” instead) and home to many rodentia, the back room wasn’t something that we initially wanted to deal with. However, once the main part of the house was inhabitable, we dreamed of making the cave into its direct opposite – a sunroom. It needed work on the inside and the outside. We planned to open it up with bigger windows, which we’d already scored at garage sales. We also wanted to create more space by getting a smaller, stackable washer and dryer, and replacing the old water heater with an energy-efficient, on-demand Takagi water heater that would be externally mounted. As with everything else, there was some leveling that needed to be done. Dominic got started using the jack and the skills he’d honed replacing the floor joist.