may day!

Hey – I promise I’m still here. I’m just totally distracted by the amazing weather (85 and sunny for May Day? Crazy!) and looking forward to my (our?) egg retrieval tomorrow. Mostly I’ve been outside doing this…IMG_4565gah! my face looks so swollen from huge quantities of estrogen, but I wanted to share this because it’s what we’ve been doing as soon as we wake up every day…


and this, every afternoon


Meanwhile our contractor/best friend Sean has been coming to work extra early (so he can watch Lucy while I go to my monitoring appointments) and also because he’s hustling on the garage/studio. I’m not sure where “babysitting for client’s child during her infertility appointments” falls under our renovation budget, but he doesn’t seem to mind. They are besties.


IMG_4563 IMG_4560This week he added a couple windows above where my sink will be and built a storage loft above the doors (that are being replaced with custom carriage doors.) He added some LED can lights underneath so that the area underneath the loft isn’t too dark and installed an exhaust fan so that I can cool down the space and vent out any fumes from work. Honestly I can’t get enough of the space – it just feels good to be in there with all that bright natural light. Insulation should be going in this week when the weather cools off and then we are ready for plywood sheathing.

On the IVF front… our egg retrieval is tomorrow, which I’m thrilled about because my swollen ovaries are making me look about 4 months pregnant, not to mention being seriously uncomfortable. Hopefully things will go well with fertilization and in about five days they’ll be transferring two babies (embryos officially) back where they belong. I feel… cautiously optimistic? and nervous – there are still a few more hurdles to cross, but right now I’m trying to send out as much love and positive energy I can into the universe. Pk and I are so lucky that we get to try this, so lucky to already have the miracle that is Lucy, and super fortunate to have an excellent doctor. If you’re into that sort of thing, send some positive vibes, wishes, and prayers our way. We’d appreciate it.

xoxo Helen

garage studio update.

Here’s what’s happening folks. Our contractor Sean has been making tons of progress on the garage/studio. He’s entirely reframed it from the inside out –

IMG_4357It was super dark in there (the above pic was taken from the door which was the only source of natural light. He added the skylights-

IMG_4363What a difference just one made! But we added 3 more…

IMG_4388Today he is putting on a new roof.


My back yard is UTTER CHAOS right now, but that’s ok because progress is happening at a break neck pace. The roof will get finished over the weekend and then we will move on to insulation. We thought long and hard about using spray foam but it’s just too expensive for the budget (prob would be somewhere around 2-3k.) Instead we are going to use standard fiberglass batts, but we will probably spring for batts with a higher R-value since adding the interior framing made for deeper joist pockets. We also are thinking about doing a floor like this one – it’s an added expense, but I think its perfect for this application. It’s a floating flooring system so we can take it with us if we ever move, and it insulates the concrete slab floor which will make the space much more comfortable in winter. We still have to add windows looking into the backyard and the plywood sheathing ( which we are using instead of drywall). Sean will install the beautiful carriage doors he built, then electrical (which we are running exterior of the plywood for flexibility) – then done!

Focusing on this stuff is the perfect distraction from our ongoing ivf cycle, I’ve been on stims for about a week and then the real fun (egg retrieval and embryo transfer) will likely happen next week. I’ve had fewer monitoring appointments than I expected, but I have one tomorrow bright and early an hours drive away. Not an ideal way to spend a Saturday morning, but I’m hoping to hear that everything is right on track. My moods are all over the place, but it’s hard not to be cheerful when the weather is this perfect (65 and sunny all weekend long!)

Hope you all are well.


backyard dreams

Poor Lucy was up all night for the second fevered night in a row. Today, after a visit to her doctor and some antibiotics for an ugly sinus infection, we spent the day cozied up in the living room listening to the lighting and thunder outside. These April showers have me dreaming of lush landscapes and hoping we can get going on the back yard sooner rather than later. After talking with our contractor this afternoon we decided that we need to completely regrade our  yard and he agreed that a low deck with a gravel bed  and a swale underneath could help deal with some of our water drainage issues. He reminded me that any deck we put in could be protected from the rubble of our future basement dig out with plywood and that a flat surface would be easier to work from than the rocky uneven dirt pile that’s there now. After our chat my mind is running wild with ideas for our tiny dirt patch! I found some images of beautiful and compact backyards that are inspiring.
small yard
source unknown
I’d like our yard to be a mix of materials – a functional low wood deck with room for the grill and the table by the back door, stone or concrete paths to the garage studio and the gate to the driveway, as well as a patch of lawn for the dog. If we can I’d like to squeeze in a few puppy proof raised planter beds so we can have a little vegetable and herb garden. Our yard is really a side yard, running along the side of our house because of the way our lot is laid out.
Our contractor spent the day cutting new roof rafters in the garage( we basically have to rebuild it from the inside out so it’s a suitable studio space for me) and otherwise reframing the space. I’m so glad that work has started again(there goes that tax refund!) It buoys my spirits to actually see some progress around here. It was also nice to focus on something else instead of endlessly refreshing news websites about the bombing in Boston. I’m not sure if it’s motherhood, IVF hormones, or most likely just being human – but every story from that day has me weeping, and squeezing my loved ones a little tighter.
I hope you and yours are happy and together, wherever you are.

A room of my own

I’m so excited about the studio space in the garage. We’re (or I should say Pk and our contractor Sean) are still doing some framing so the space is quite rough. I’ve been gathering up inspiration images to show them so we’re all on the same page as we go forward. Right now we are reframing the interior so that we can add more space for insulation and make the structure stronger. The garage is original to the house but has had new siding relatively recently. Rather than knock it down and start fresh (which would be a zoning nightmare) we are adding new framing and shoring the structure up from the inside.
We plan to leave the ceiling vaulted like in the above pics and add 4 large skylights. There will be a big window looking into the backyard. Once it’s insulated we’ll sheath the walls in plywood (instead of drywall) and paint the whole space white. Kind of like this, but painted.
Plywood walls are great in work space because you can hang stuff anywhere you want.
The original electric to the garage was super scary overhead lines (think fried squirrels) that we tore down before we moved in. Last year in 2011 we trenched to bury electric and plumbing lines.The space will be plumbed for a sink, a must in a ceramics studio, and we will add special circuits for the kiln and heating/ac unit.
One side (the side with the carriage doors) will have a storage loft for household items. All the other studio furniture (my wheel, tables, cabinets, shelving) is stuff we already own that’s been living in our storage locker. It’s all portable so the furniture can come with us if we move (and the space can easily convert back to a swanky garage.) We may have to add some cabinetry for all of our house tools that will also live out there, freeing up space in the basement.
We’ll be adding a wood stove that we already own to heat the space as well as an electric heating/AC unit so it’s comfy year round.
The floor of the garage is already a cement slab, and I don’t want to do anything to alter that since the space should technically stay a garage if we ever sell. I’m thinking about maybe adding some removable rubber or cork floating floor tiles to add some cushion and insulation though. Whatever we use needs to be able to be mopped.
For lighting I’m thinking six large industrial pendants in white, maybe these? I’ll probably add some task lamps too.
That’s the plan folks! I’m positively giddy at the thought of having studio space again. I haven’t since Lucinda was born and we moved out of old house. The garage studio will basically quadruple the amount of space I used to have. I expect this project will take a few more months depending on Sean’s schedule. He’ll be custom building carriage doors for us out of cedar. That way we don’t lose any space inside the garage to garage door track and it will bump up our curb appeal tremendously. More to come as this project continues!
Happy Monday

things you find in the garage

In order to get the garage ship-shape for a studio we had to open the walls up and add framing on the interior. We’ve found a few interesting things (a ladies undershirt, a tin tray) but my favorite so far is this license plate that Sean discovered.


We gave it a good scrubbing and now it lives above the sink against the window that looks out onto the garage. Can you see the year? 1924. Isn’t that crazy? Our house was built in 1920 we think – did the car belong to the first owner of our house? Or was it even a car? Maybe more likely a work truck in our neighborhood. It’s fun to imagine all the history of our little house. The top of the plate says 35H.P. or less. 35 horsepower! SO fast! Ironically our city wide speed limit is now 25mph.



I like having a little reminder of our house’s early occupants.

Happy Tuesday!


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