Monday, September 20, 2010


Anxiously Awaiting Baby Rogers Arrival....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Brown and Blue for Baby Rogers

I am so blessed with such a wonderful extended family! They threw me an amazing shower. It was all the wonderful details that made this day so special.

These cupcakes are too cute for words. Little birdies in their nest? I LOVED THEM!

I didn't want to post this one, cause I wasn't sure I wanted his name posted on everything just yet, but how could I NOT post it? Adorable letters!

I can't wait to put these other letters up somewhere in his room!

Each table was decorated with it's own adorable settings!

Not to mention the presents of course were wrapped to match! You can all imagine who did these ones, Martha Stewart herself, my mom!

This cute little dinosaur, made by my talented cousin Tara, was the hit of the party!

Everyone did such a good job with wrapping! Our family secretly has a wrapping competition at all events!

Karly and Kirsten did a good job with wrapping too! Thanks to them, Baby Rogers is all set for bath time!

Grandma Ondarko sent a quilt along from Minnesota!

All the adorable bows!
So many great gifts from a great family! Baby Rogers isn't allowed to come just yet, but at least we are a little bit closer to being ready.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Day Off is a Day Deserved

One weekend a month, I have to work 8-5 Saturday and Sunday on-call. Then, the following week, I get any day off that week I want, which of course I always choose Friday! I am a list person, so of course I had a list of things I couldn't wait to finally check off. Before I even begin my day, I have to say that this day is surrounded by visits to businesses only in the Kalamazoo area. I constantly remind myself how thankful I am that God brought me here to Kzoo with Jason, as I had never imagined leaving Grand Rapids. I couldn't be happier to support the local businesses that I love!

So first I had to go to the Social Security office (ugh!) to get a new soc card. I am not the one who usually misplaces things, but at some point in time I realized mine was missing. I got there ten to 9 since they open at 9, and of course there was a huge line! I had an appointment at 10, so I was praying that I wouldn't have to wait and then leave without being called. Somehow, my number got called before anyone else's anyway!! I was in and out in 10 minutes! Thank-you Lord!

I was going to be early for my manicure and pedicure at Willow Day Spa, so I parked downtown and walked to the coffee shop for a hot caramel apple cider, my favorite fall beverage by far! I walked to the spa and had a wonderful manicure and pedicure! They had these adorable clay bowls you put your feet into, rather than a bathtub. It felt so good to have my feet taken care of since I can barely reach them without hurting my belly!

After the spa, I had to return a bazillion cans at the grocery store and pick up some groceries. I just happen to be paroosing by the shoes when I saw some adorable sandals on sale for Baby Rogers for only 3$! I couldn't pass them up for that price!

After the grocery store and on my way to the used bookstore, I HAD to stop at Taste of Heaven. One of my patients recently gave me a bag of caramel corn from this place, which is to die for! I also found out that the store is basically a fundraiser for Youth for Christ which is extra special since my cousin Kate works with YFC. I opened the bag shortly after getting in the car, and pleasantly ate chocolate drizzled popcorn throughout my daily errands.

I had a stack of books to return at the used book store. I only return books that aren't that interesting or that I wouldn't plan on lending to someone else to read. I can go through a book a week if it's good, so I had to pick up some more for myself. I also have a rule now that when I buy a book for me, I have to buy a book for Baby Rogers. I love going to Kazoo Books because it's a cute used book store with this big fluffy cat that always comes to say hi!

I picked out a Thousand Splendid Suns since I have read Kite Runner in the past and really enjoyed it. I grabbed one one other book that just looked good and then of course two from the kids section for Baby Rogers. One on dinosaurs and one that's called Zug the Bug, but of course since it rhymes there is a dog in it named Pug. I can't pass up anything having to do with a pug!

After the bookstore, I had to drop off all the cellphones and cellphone accessories people have been giving me lately, since I collect them for Cell Phones for Soldiers. Everyone always has old cell phones and chargers laying around and what better to do with them then to support the troops!

On my way home, there is a car wash on Sprinkle Rd. that is only 5$. What is special about this place is that the guys wipe down your car afterwards to get all the extra drops off! They are always so nice, so you can't help but tip them for going that extra mile!

I stop home quick to let out and feed Lily, chat with Jason before he goes to work out, and then head out to the door to my last minute hair cut. I hadn't planned on getting my hair cut but my girl just happens to be in town today with an opening! She moved to the east side of the state a while back but continues to come to Kzoo once in a while since she has clients like me that are willing to tip her well for coming back! Today's a good day for a trim since I have my first baby shower tomorrow thrown by my family. I can't wait!! Jason and I will head to Qdoba for dinner, we go at least once a week it seems. Then probably back home for Jason to work on the closet addition and I will get to sit around and do some more relaxin'! I couldn't ask for a better day off!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Little Bit of 922 Ira Ave. History

I had an afternoon this past weekend where I finally got over to the Kalamazoo Public Library to try and find out anything I could on the history of our home. Turns out, that unless you live in a historic neighborhood, it's a lot harder to find information and documents. But, thankfully they have city directories going back into the 1920s. We didn't have any idea how old our house really was, and the library doesn't keep any documents like deeds, so I had to just pick a year and start my search. I started at 1950 and found our house documents back until 1931.

So first you have to look up your address. Then you can find the people listed under that address. Then, you can look up the people in that same book, and it will list their family members, along with everyone's occupations. So I had to look in each book for each year, and this is the story I can come up with......

Arthur and Nina Blanke bought this home in 1931. He was a machinist for the Sutherland Paper Company. Kalamazoo arguably could have been nicknamed "The Paper City" since there were many paper mills that thrived for the first half of the twentieth century here.

Arthur's wife Nina was a stenographer (today they are usually called court reporters) for Allen Electric and Equipmant Company. They lived in the house until 1942 but I continue to follow them in my journey and you will find out why. In 1942, an industrial engineer named Jack Blanchette moved in and the Blanke's moved to Vicksburg. In 1947, the Blankes moved back in!! This is when Arthur was listed then as a stoneman, still working at the Sutherland Paper Company. Nina's job also changed to an office secretary at the same electric company. This time they had listed a son Jack as "student". Things changed in 1953, as Nina was listed alone. Turns out that Jack became a teacher and lived with his wife just one street over. However, I had to search to find Arthur.

In 1950, Arthur was listed under the Kalamazoo Gazette. So I had to go back to old records on Microform, where you have to put the reel of film on the machine and spin it to find the right page. Arthur had an obituary that stated he died suddenly at the age of 51. Nina was listed as the owner until 1957 when the house was listed under Carlton Sweetland. When I looked him up, turns out that Nina remarried to this Carlton character!! Carlton was listed as a commercial artist. Just one year later in 1958, he also owned Carlton Sweetland Studios, although I couldn't find any documents of this place of business. Once again, Nina moved out of the home with her new husband in 1960. The house then was listed under James McDonald who was a machinist at Brundage Co. This detail is important because in 1964, sure enough the house was listed back under Carlton and Nina! Nina was listed as an office secretary at Brundage Co. so you wonder if James and Nina had known each other and discussed the home. How is it that Nina managed to move back into this house for the 3rd time?

It wasn't until 1967 that I found the house listed under a William Tokarchick. When I found Nina, she was listed seperate from Carlton. Turns out Nina and Carlton got a divorce! I can't imagine what that was like back then since it wasn't as common, and sure enough it was listed in the paper. The house ended up being two apartments in 1970 which explains why when we moved in, there was a kitchen upstairs and downstairs. Nina's obituary wasn't listed until 1989, when they said she had MS and donated her body to U of M medical school. Way to go Nina, helping the medical students learn!

The afternoon I spent at the library was incredibly interesting and exciting. I wish I had more pictures or documents to share, but this story is enough for me. If only Nina would see this house today and how much we have changed it. I am sure if she was alive, she'd try to move back in for a 4th time.  Whomever moves into this house next, will certainly have bought what I consider, a diamond in the rough.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The ONLY picture we have of the old kitchen, and of course I had to take a picture of the picture since I only have a hard copy. These poor cabinets were painted over and over again....if you take a look at the lower right portion of the photo, the cabinets are a light blue. The light blue was under the crackled off-white color, which at first I tried to scrape off, but ended up sanding down.  These cabinets are ceiling high, so it was very difficult to get things down without me jumping up on the counter or grabbing a step ladder. Already in this photo, the window has been replaced. At first there were two windows, but once again, Jason was so fast at demo that he replaced the window too fast to even get a 'before" picture.

Once again ,sorry about the bad photo, I can't find the originals. So here you can see we sanded down the cabinets and then tried to stain them. I say "tried" because all the cabinets were different kinds of wood, so they all took to the stain differently, leaving us with different shades. Check out that stainless steel sink, priceless! It is all one peice and was easy to clean, but sorry, not my style!

We kept the kitchen as it was in the photo above for a few years, before a tornado came through our neighborhood. What does a tornado have to do with a new kitchen you may ask? Well, our neighbor's extra-large tree branch fell onto our one-stall garage. When we got the insurance money for the garage, thanks to Jason and his handywork, we were able to build a brand new two-car garge AND put money into a brand new kitchen! Sooooo, then the demolitian began!

There are many changes in this photo, but I wanted to point out that we are SO incredibly thankful that my parents have come to help us on just about every project with this Money Pit. We repainted the ceiling white as well as painted the walls a new tan color. Due to Jason pulling down the cabinets to a more reachable height, he built a tray ceiling. The tray ceiling is one of my favorite parts of the new kitchen, it creates such wonderful ambiance when everyone congregates in the kitchen in the evenings.

Here you can see the light from the tray ceiling. It's a rope light! You can see the new cabinets which again were unfinished and stained by Jason....picture to come later in the blog. New tile backsplash, new countertop, and new sink (so thankful to get rid of that old one), and new stainless steel appliances.

Now to the other side of the kitchen.... barely any space to store anything on this side, especially with no cabinet doors to hide everything. The old appliances desperately needed to be replaced.

Here Jason is mudding the walls after tearing down the weird cabinetry. Also the unfinished cabinets are up, so much more storage! We also added some cabinetry and a countertop in between the fridge and the stove, with custom pull out drawers for pots and pans.

We chose a very dark chocolate almost black stain, after trying out so many different colors.

And the final product!

This little bistro table from Target (like that Carla?), is in the far right back corner. I once again told Jason I would use it to eat breakfast and yada yada, which I don't. But it actually gets good use since we always come in the back door, like when Jason comes in to take off his army boots.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Upstairs Bath

As you walk up the stairs to the 2nd floor, you walk straight into the upstairs bath. A nice sized porcelain tub sat just around the corner. Unfortunately, we were not the type of people who wanted to try and refinish it, or go without a shower in our larger bathroom. And who doesn't love that yellow linoleum flooring?

Since it was way too heavy and wouldn't fit out the door, Jason just had to destroy it, to get rid of it. So Jason took a hammer to it!

And now in that space, you will find our vanity. We bought unfinished cabinets, along with a stain that also contained polyurethane for one-time coating!

As you walk up the stairs, you would look straight ahead at this over-sized cabinetry and window.

Out came the cabinetry and we decided to cover up the window in order for Jason to go with his vision of a custom built shower.

The beginning of the custom built shower!

And now when you walk up the stairs, you see the shower. It is built in a way where you walk in to the shower and a few steps to the right is the space to wash up, which is nice because you don't need any type of door. We found a nice tile to use for the flooring and the shower. Jason built a nice little seat/shelf in there too!

Here's a pic inside the shower for a closer look.

The back right of the bathroom, laughably glamorous.

Much better! In the end, this bathroom was one of the biggest changes. Thanks to Jason for his hard work on the demolition, custom-built shower, tiling of the floor and shower, plumbing, painting.....I could go on. I think my work on this part was staining the cabinets, taking the photos in the frames, and picking out the paint color....but hey, we're a team!

Dining Room

I don't have a real good 'before' picture but you can get somewhat of an idea here by looking into the dining room from the living room.

You can definitely notice how bad those old wood floors were underneath the striped carpet.

This picture below I chose to add in since you can see the laminate wood flooring we went with. Even though that's not our top choice in flooring, it matched what the owners before us had already put into the kitchen.

Thanks to my cousin Kate, we have new and much improved lighting! I love the olive colored paint we went with. All the old wood trim was painted white, which again, just gave the space an updated look. The peice of art is one of Jason's favorites, Kandinsky.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sunroom/Living Room

Such a great transformation here! I am so glad we have these old pictures because sometimes we demo'd faster than we could take "before" pictures.

The walls were a dark awful purple....and talk about your awkward layout! I think you just need to have a vision when you walk through a house with furniture because it seems so impossible.....but we turned it into possible very quickly!

I couldn't wait to add one red wall since we decided to paint the rest a tan color. The awful striped purple carpet was replaced, thank goodness. The wood floors underneath were under such terrible shape, there was no way we could try to fix those. Jason still reminds me that I never "use" the sunroom like I said I would, but at least it looks good! We found some bamboo blinds that just happen to fit the windows perfectly, much better than those awful drapes!

So there I am trying to tape down cardboard since we were making such messes and dragging it through the house....also it was easier for painting purposes.  Some of you may wonder what I am doing wearing a camo mini-skirt while working on the house, others may just say, typical Abby! Get a good look at that striped carpet cause it was hideous!

We painted all the wood trim white, which really updated the look quite easily. This layout just seemed to work so much better than what they had. Also, you can get a peek into the dining room which will have to be another blog, on another day!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

922 Ira Ave: The Beginning That Never Ends

Jason and I bought our first house in May of 2006. We had until August of 2006 that year before we tied the knot and officially moved in....moved in to construction that is! A bonus to my marriage was marrying someone that was so handy...which I never knew. I remember watching one of my favorite movies, The Money Pit, and wondering how similiar this house would be to their house. The picture below may look like brick, but don't let it fool you, it's terrible brick-like shingles!

You must take in so many things when you look at the above picture. Take note of the tiny, leaning garage to the right....this will soon be changed by a Tornado that I secretly prayed for! Also, look at the landscaping and those awful bushes up front. I have to say I miss Jason's Audi TT convertible, that you see here too, what a cute fun car that was.

So now you can tell we changed out that single car garage with dirt flooring for a two car garage with cement flooring. Those awful bushes out front were replaced by hydrangias, along with some much needed landscaping! The biggest change of all of course, is the khaki siding. Even though there no longer is a TT in the driveway, I love my beemer!

Take a look at that half wall on the front porch, this disappeared quite quickly. I feel like these pictures are comparable to the ones you find in magazines or newspapers where they ask, "what is the differences between the two?" Look below to see what I mean....

New front door, new windows on this side of the house, new column with address numbers, no more half wall on the front porch, and way in the back you can see the new addition. Jason is actually working on the roofing for this addition as I blog this, and then he can side that portion to match.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Under Construction

Trying to figure out how to even set up a blog page is a lot harder than I expected! So this may take some time for me to get this up and running!!!
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