Home-Free

02/29/2012

Home-Free. That’s what I’m calling this combination of being homeless and debt-free. Last week we moved the rest of our belongings out of our house into storage and we closed on the sale of our sweet little green mid-century ranch. (I just updated my blog header, sniff, sniff.) I miss that house already. I’ve been driving past it everyday, just because, and I consistently have an impulse to check the mail or stop at the end of the driveway to pick up the paper. I have to remind myself, it’s someone else’s home now. We’re not really homeless. We have a home at my parents’ house for now, but it feels funny after owning a home for 7 years to no longer have a mortgage. Which brings me to…

We’re debt-free! We made a little money off the sale of our house. We put the first bit towards paying off the last chunk of our school loans and the rest we’ll set aside for the new house we’re building. I’ve been hearing for years, “The borrower is slave to the lender” but it’s still surprising to me how freeing it feels to no longer have any debts! And we’re soaking up the feeling because we’ll be taking out a construction loan soon. But you know, for the moment, we can shout a good ol’ Dave Ramsey style, “WE”RE DEBT FREE!”

Fun fact: Jason was out of town so I had to sign for him at the closing. Instead of just signing “Martina Ahlbrandt” on every page, I had to sign, “Martina Ahlbrandt, Jason Ahlbrandt by Martina Ahlbrandt his Attorney in fact.” And anywhere I had to initial for him, it was “JA by MA his AIF.” Isn’t that nuts?! I think he owes me a hand massage or something.


Eliza’s First Birthday

02/28/2012

My first-born niece turned 1 on Friday.
It doesn’t feel like February 24, 2011 was so long ago.

On Saturday, we celebrated her birthday party out at my in-law’s house. It was a fun party.

Ginger makes the best birthday cakes.

Dan, Ginger and Eliza

Mmm… strawberry cake!

Aunties and couzies. Yeah, we’re nerds.

This sequence was funny. We were trying to get a good picture of the three 2011 babies together. Jaron started fussing…

Precious offered him her thumb. Works for her!

Jaron made a disgusted face. Precious looked at her thumb like What just happened? Eliza was impressed.

Three little buddies. Four months old, seven months old, 1 year old. Chocolate, Caramel and Vanilla.

Happy Birthday, Eliza! Glad we could celebrate with you!


Mushroom Shakers

02/27/2012

Look what Jason brought me back from his journeys around the country—thrifted vintage salt and pepper shakers shaped like mushrooms. And they’re green! Carved on the bottom is “Pat ’76.” There is nothing in the photo for a good size references; they’re about 5 inches tall. I love them.


Phone Photo Friday

02/24/2012


Front Elevation Photoshop Mock Up

02/23/2012

We’re waiting for our architect to finish up the construction documents so we can find the perfect contractor and get started on our new house. In the meantime, I decided I’d take Ryan’s front elevation drawing into Photoshop and have some fun with it. I used a photo of the property from October (when the trees had leaves) and then added colors, textures and landscaping.

I don’t know how accurate this mock up will end up being but it sure does get Jason and me excited!


Precious: Monthly Portrait 7

02/22/2012

Ali-gator. That’s your new nickname from our first vacation to Florida (and a hint at your real name). In your seventh month you flew on an airplane for the first time when we went on a fun mother-daughter adventure to Tampa and Sarasota to meet up with Daddy for a few days. You are a great traveler and such a joy to be around. You were called a happy machine because of how you affect everyone. Your first time at the beach was a disaster when you face planted into the sand. Sorry baby! But the swimming pool—another first—was refreshing. I am really excited about swimming with you this summer. You have been trying new foods all the time. I’m thrilled that you will eat just about anything and seem to especially love broccoli and bananas. Speaking of eating, your first two teeth came in within a few days of each other at 6.5 months old. You’ve been dealing really well with the discomfort and gnawing on everything, especially your hands or our thumbs if we’re not careful! Sometimes in the morning or after a nap I hear you babbling or cooing in your crib. When I go in to check on you, I see you’re playing with Little Lucy, the stuffed cocker spaniel Daddy and I bought a year before you were born—a special gift for our first baby because it looks just like our dog, Lucy. I used to hold Little Lucy and pray for you—before I even knew anything about you. It makes my heart happy to see you enjoying it. This month we moved out of our home and in with Grandma L and Grandpa. We’ll be here for a few months while our new home is built down the street. It’s exciting to think that our new home will be the one you grow up in and probably the only home you’ll remember from your early life. You get to see a lot of Grandma L and Grandpa now, and Grandma K has been babysitting you more lately, too. I’m so thankful that you get to grow up with your grandparents nearby. Also noteworthy, Daddy’s first solo album came out this month. It’s called Acoustic Lullabies and it’s dedicated to you!

You are a month behind on your check-up and vaccination appointments so you just had your 6-month well baby visit on your 7-month birthday. You are 26.5 inches long and weigh 18.25 pounds—our beautiful, healthy little girl!


Acoustic Lullabies

02/21/2012

The CDs have finally arrived! Jason’s brand new instrumental guitar album, Acoustic Lullabies, was released last week. But, since he was on the road, he had them shipped to Arkansas. Now that he’s back I finally have a physical copy in my possession! Actually, we have hundreds of them. Which brings me to…

Acoustic Lullabies is on sale now at JasonAhlbrandt.com!

We’re selling physical CDs for just $10 with free shipping. That’s the same price as a digital download on iTunes or CD Baby. Amazon appears to be selling it for a dollar less…$8.99. Gotta love Amazon! But I know you want to see the lovely package design in person, right?

Those are Precious’ chubby little hands (and drops of drool if you look closely…) on her daddy’s guitar. There is a picture of her watching Jason play on the back and some more photos and a sweet album dedication to her on the inside of the CD package. You’ll have to buy it to see for yourself. 😉


House and Home Update

02/20/2012

• This week movers are coming to clear out our old house. Everything that we don’t antipate we’ll need in the next 6 months is going into storage. We sold our big IKEA living room sofa sectional so we’ll be couch hunting in the next couple of months. We also sold our IKEA MALM bed frame. We’ll also be searching for new furniture for our master bedroom, preferably vintage but we’ll see what we can find. We have a lot of hunting to do this year at estate sales, thrift stores, yard sales—and I’m really looking forward to it!

• Our architect is finishing up our house plans so we can start getting bids from contractors. We’re getting antsy, excited! We close on our old house on March 1. Once we close we’ll be completely debt-free! For a few days, at least. Until we open our construction loan. Haha… but it still feels freeing. We have just a tiny bit of debt right now besides our mortgage and with the little money we’ll make off our home sale, we’ll get rid of the last (less than $3000) we owe on our school loans. The rest of the profit will go straight back towards the new home.

• We don’t know the construction timeline yet because we haven’t settled on a contractor yet. That will depend on who can give us the best price and is someone we can trust and want to work with. I’m not really looking forward to the contractor selection process… Pray it’s an obvious choice and we find the right guy (or lady, I suppose.)

• Precious just turned 7 months old. She got her two bottom teeth and has been trying lots of new foods. (Pictured eating broccoli for the first time above—she loved it!) I’ll give a more thorough update once I edit her monthly photos. She is a beam of sunshine on these gray winter days. We’re still waiting to hear from our attorney on the court date for the adoption finalization. I’m eager to know because I want to plan a big adoption day party!

• Jason just wrapped up a busy two months of travel and he’ll be home a bit more now. Travel=work=pay so these past two months have been great. But I’m also happy that the longer stretches are done for a little while. The awesome thing about his job as a traveling musician is that he gets to spend a ton of time at home when he’s off. He calculated it once, just to prove it to himself, and even with the number of days per year he’s traveling, he gets to spend more time at home with Precious than he would if he worked a 9-5 job. We feel like it’s the best of both worlds. He gets to make a living doing what he loves and he gets to spend a lot of time at home with us.

• Jason’s Acoustic Lullabies album is finally OUT! I am über proud of him. It’s selling well on the road and we’ll have it up online for sale soon. More about that coming soon.

And lots of pictures of Precious, just because…


Phone Photo Friday

02/17/2012

Yes! She is finally big enough to sit up in the grocery cart. (Puffy coat helps!)


Altering Jeans: Bootcut to Skinny & How to Hem Jeans

02/16/2012

Recently, I was shown how to turn a pair of looser fitting jeans (flared, bootcut, straight leg, wide leg, etc.) into skinny jeans with a simple technique. I decided I’d give it a shot and combine that with the hemming technique I’ve done once before for shortening a pair of jeans.

I’ve had these jeans for years. They’re bootcut and too long. I have hardly worn them because I always felt like they were a little boyish fitting, even if I cuffed the bottoms. The waist and hips fit fine—I have a feeling that’s key in this technique working well.

To start out making my loose jeans fit like skinny jeans, I laid out a pair of jeans that fit well on top of the inside-out ill fitting jeans. The pair on top are actually a little too short but that doesn’t matter at this point. I lined up the inner leg seams and the crotches.

Then, I pinned along the outside edge of the template pair. The goal is to gradually meet the existing side seam of the loose jeans. This can even happen at the base of the pocket, as long as the rivet still shows.

Once both side seams were pinned, I was ready to sew along my pin line.

I didn’t take a picture of the sewing. You can imagine what that looked like. Just a simple straight stitch up the pinned line. I decided to sew a second stitch to give the new seam a little extra reinforcement. Cutting off the excess material is optional, though it makes for less bulk inside the pant legs. I left my edges unfinished where I cut and I don’t have a surge machine. That’s another benefit to having two stitched seams, in case the denim frays back after being washed several times.

Time to try them on! They were still way too long at this point so it was hard to tell if the fit was better. Cuffing is no longer an option because of the extra material or unfinished edges.

I folded up one pant leg to the length I wanted (my left leg). See the difference? The right leg is about 2″ too long. The length is a personal preference. I like for the back of the pant leg to just barely touch the ground when I’m wearing a pair of flats. If you where heels a lot, longer is probably necessary.

There is a neat trick to hem a pair of jeans while maintaining the original stitching at the bottom of the leg. The extra material was folded upwards, inside the pant leg.

Then, I stitched around the fold, as close to the edge as possible but making sure the tan threads of the original hem are still visible. I used light blue thread because it was already in my sewing machine. A little darker blue would have been even less noticeable.

Close up it looks a little strange but after ironing the seam and once they’re on, it’s almost impossible to tell they’ve been hemmed.

The finished jeans:

It’s a subtle change (made even more subtle by my poor DIY bathroom mirror photography…) but I feel like I got a whole new pair of jeans for free.