Friday, January 26, 2007

Great Realtors in the Twin Cities

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile to give kudos to two very important people- our realtors. Finding a good realtor isn't easy, especially if you're new to an area or are a first-time buyer. So, please allow me to introduce Jay Theriault and Ruth Hjelmgren, the husband-and-wife realty team that assisted us in the purchase of the home you are reading so much about.
You can find their resume, etc at their website, but here's what you really need to know, from a real person who has worked with them:

* They know the Twin Cities, and especially St. Paul, like the back of their hands- they have been doing this for a long time and understand the local market very well.
* They live in an old historic home that they restored themselves, so they know a thing or two (or a million) about old houses.
* They really do listen to your needs and wants. They help you prioritize. And, they are realistic and pragmatic about the pros and cons of a property, new or old.
* They have the "know-how" to guide you through every step of the way. They have even been a resource to us after the sale, above and beyond the call of duty... Calling to make sure we filed our important tax paperwork with the county before the year's end, and helping us trouble-shoot house disasters, like our sudden loss of hot water.

We've had a lot of experiences with a variety of service providers on our house-restoration adventure so far, and when we find really good people, we feel like you should know.

Monday, January 22, 2007

R.I.P Dining Room Scaffold

Some of you probably have dining room tables. We, on the other hand, have a dining room scaffold. The dining room scaffold is the first piece of "furniture" we moved to the house. Originally, it served the purpose for which a scaffold is intended: providing a safe and efficient way to work on high spaces. We put it up to work on the dining room ceiling project, which began several hours after we closed on the house.
Now, exactly seven months later, the scaffold has become a permanent fixture in the room. We have eaten on it, rested on it, stored things on it, had nervous breakdowns on it... in fact, it's hard to imagine the dining room without the scaffold, since we have never lived in the house without it there.
Now, I'm not so fond of the scaffold. It is the most obvious indication that our house is on the verge of being zoned a construction site. But I've come to tolerate its existence in the dining room.
(Ironically, we do also have a dining room table. It's just presently living in the living room.)
And now, the dining room scaffold days are quickly coming to an end.
See, the old drop ceiling has come down.

The damaged plaster (read: entire plaster ceiling) is gone.
There is new electrical wired for new dining room lights.
There is new plumbing in place between the dining room ceiling joists (for the upstairs bathroom).
The new drywall is up, taped, and skim-coated.
The nifty textured wallpaper designed to look like a tin ceiling is in place.
It's now painted with a cool bronze-copper color, thus achieving the tin ceiling effect.
AND the crown molding is stained, poly-ed and starting to go up.
Yes, we are in the very very final stages of need for the dining room scaffold.

And very soon it will rest properly in the basement, until called upon again. And I will once again be happy-dancing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Food for Thought

A completely un-house related post:
This signature line on an email resonated with me today...

"We are living in a time of unbearable dissonance between promise and
performance; between good politics and good policy; between professed and
practiced family values; between racial creed and racial deed; between
calls for community and rampant individualism and greed; and between our
capacity to prevent and alleviate human deprivation and disease and our
political and spiritual will to do so. What can we do about it?"

~ Marian Wright Edelman

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

5 Things You Never Knew...

I've been "tagged" by Andrea at Litterbox House. (Thanks for thinking of me! :) I didn't realize this, but "tag" is a blog game where you have to reveal 5 things about yourself that other people probably don't know. I feel like I blab about nearly everything here, but I'll try to think of some new material for ya'll. (note: this is "5 Things You Never Knew About Nadja"- Sean would have to write his own...)

1) I've never driven anything other than a stickshift (manual transmission). And I actually have a hard time driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. I nearly put my left foot through the floor trying to find the clutch that isn't there. And when I'm stopped, I forget that if I don't keep a firm foot on the break, the car creeps forward. ("Hey, why are we moving? Oh! Wait! DOH!")

2) The only place I have been overseas is Sweden. (I feel WAAAAY undertraveled after reading some of the other "tags"!). After college, I had a roommate from Sweden. It was one of those things where I posted an ad on the internet, she answered it, and we ended up becoming great friends while living together. When she went back to Sweden, I went to visit for three weeks- one of the best vacations I've ever had. I felt like a guest- not a tourist... Her 4 year old nephew taught me Swedish, we borrowed a car and drove for 10 hours down the coast, we stayed up all nite and the sun never set... it's a beautiful country- I highly recommend it. Perth, Australia and Tuscany- Italy are on my "places I need to go before I die" list.

3) I'm addicted to "Friends" re-runs. Ok, I was addicted to the show when it was on. Now I can watch several hours of re-runs in one sitting, without even realizing a few hours has gone by. In my defense, I am often multi-tasking when they are on.... painting the dining room ceiling, staining trim, cooking stew, cleaning house...

4) I'm pretty political, and I'm a complete news junkie. I like a newspaper, or two, or three every morning. And a jolt of news on TV when I get home. You can find me reading political blogs, doing midnite madness literature drops on the eve of election days, attending lobby days and rallies at the state capitol. But I'm fairly quiet about my opinions on political things unless you say something to really piss me off. :)

5) I want to write a book about my grandparent's lives someday. I don't know whether you would call this a memoir (since it's about someone else?) or just a type of creative nonfiction... but their story is one of the most incredible I've ever heard. While fleeing the Ukraine, they were captured by the German army and worked in German labor camps in captivity until Germany was liberated. They came to the US in the early 50's as displaced persons, and they built a life for themselves and their two kids (my mom and uncle) from virtually nothing. Amazing people...

So, now I tag five other people...
Add to the game when you get a chance.... Adventures in Domesticity, Old Minneapolis House, Emery Restoration, M and C Build a House, and Detroit Woodbridge Duplex

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What the HECK is THAT???

These always crack me up. Clearly, I have too much time on my hands sometimes!!
Take the "This Old House" quiz here!
(fyi- I missed almost ALL of them. How'd you do?)

Happy Thursday... hang on Friday is coming. :)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

We're Engaged!!

Yes, in case you haven't heard, we're engaged.
Here's the story!

As a carpenter, Sean sometimes travels out-of-town for work. In November, he warned me he might get sent to a job over Christmas. Although his company would fly him home for the holiday, he would have to go back quickly and the work would likely extend into the New Year. This was to be our first Christmas together as a couple, and we planned to spend it with my family in Michigan. Living in Minnesota, I only get to see my family twice a year, and Sean hasn’t spent much time with them at all. I was excited for our holiday vacation and naturally disappointed about the work plans. But, as a carpenter, Sean is thankful to have winter work, and I tried to be supportive.

On the day he left for the job- the Thursday before Christmas- I dropped him off at the airport and started my 12-hour drive to Michigan. He was scheduled to fly in to Michigan on Saturday, stay for the holiday, and fly back to work the next day.

When I finally arrived at my mother’s, I got ready to go to “Dad’s Christmas.” My parents are divorced, so my dad plans a separate dinner for us to celebrate with him. Although I had told my dad that Sean wouldn’t be there until Saturday, he scheduled his Christmas dinner for Friday. My dad wanted to go “up north” to his cabin for Christmas as soon as possible. I was really irritated they couldn’t wait an extra day.

As I got ready, my mom said she was going along too. Dad had been by her house earlier in the day to pick up his mail, and he invited her to join us for dinner. “Well, that’s weird,” I thought. Although my parents get along, they don’t spend much time together. But, I thought my dad was being extra nice, since he knew I was mad Sean wouldn’t be there.

My mom and I arrived at the restaurant first- the Fenton Hotel, a very cool historic building that has been operating as a restaurant since the 1800’s. We sat down, while my brothers, my sister-in-law, and my dad and his girlfriend all arrived.

We were pouring over menus when I suddenly became aware of Sean standing next to me- I was so surprised to see him. I stood up to give him a hug and, before I could say anything, he got down on one knee, ring in hand. He said, “I’m here because I want to ask you a very important question- will you do me the honor of marrying me?”

I of course told him an enthusiastic “Yes!”, and then turned around to see my whole family smiling and tearing up, dad included. They all knew about the plan and had helped him hatch the surprise. The work trip never existed! When I dropped Sean off at the airport, he flew to Michigan and spent the day and evening with my dad and my brother getting this whole plot ready. We spent the week relaxing with family and friends in Michigan, and Sean drove back with me to Minnesota. And so here we are, back into life as usual.

The wedding details:
August 25, 2007 at 490 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN (

I'm not much for wedding planning, so we picked a place where they basically do everything for you. Mark your calendars! :)