Baldwin Bedroom Remodel: Part 1

It’s been a long time coming, but the Baldwin’s are finally doing some home updating!

When we moved into this 1950’s ranch 4 years ago, it was literally in pristine condition. Well- 1950’s pristine condition. Nothing had been updated at all. There was no dishwasher, microwave or WASHER AND DRYER! The former owners were the original owners and they did a beautiful job maintaining their home. We were honestly ecstatic to find a home in such great original condition.

Since we were new homeowners on the verge of starting a family, we didn’t do much at all. We painted and…. actually, I think that’s all we did. Painted. And for the time being it really was enough.

But now, we have 3 kids and a (very) small amount of cash so we decided it was time to update. The first intention we had was to completely redo our kitchen. I’m not talking about new cabinet faces. I’m talking about tearing down walls and moving the where the sink is-type renovate.


But since, like I said, we only have a small amount of cash, that went by the wayside and we decided to tackle a smaller, but equally important project: the bedrooms.

Before we get into this new bedroom stuff, you must know four important things:

1. We are on a budget. Budget means- not a lot of cash and only cash, no loans of any kind are used during this process. 2. I am not a professional anything, let alone decorator or designer. I just do what I like and hope it works. Oh and I usually ask Amanda what she thinks and that’s about the extent of the professional help I am getting. 3. We are DIYing this whole shebang. If we get a professional in here at any time, I assure you it will be some kind of therapist and not a contractor. 4. Nothing is perfect and I think it will be a while until all this is done, so hang in there if this kind of stuff is your jam.


Here is what renovating the bedrooms in a 1950’s house looks like:

  • New wiring – including adding new outlets and making everything 3 phase wire (this basically means that the outlets have 3 holes instead of 2. Think about that time you tried to plug in your Mac somewhere and you couldn’t without an adapter. That’s the difference.)
  • New texture on all walls and ceilings
  • New paint
  • New trim
  • New windows
  • Adding lighting in closets and showers
  • New light fixtures
  • New interior doors
  • New door hardware

This is what I mean by boring. These are all actual images that Andy took during the electrical-update phase of this project.


This is how we lived for weeks. These extension cords ran from our kitchen to the bedrooms so the kids could have lamps on. Talk about living on the edge…and I know you see that mess. It was the real deal!


This is about what we saw of Andy for quite some time-his feet while he did electrical work in the attic. Behind him are two babies huddled up after a bath.

Unfortunately, the renovating part of this project is rather totally and completely boring and quite dusty. It was a lot of days of hours (and hours) of work (for Andy mostly) and seeing no progress. I mean switching over to 3 phase wiring is not an exciting thing at all. It means hours in the attic and pushing wires through various places and having Andy yell from the attic to the basement, “DO YOU SEE IT YET?” about the yellow wire. The most exciting part of this is new outlets; a 1950’s house has approximately 1/2 as many outlets as a modern home should have.

As unexciting as this whole first part was, it was actually kind of fun for us. I managed to keep my cool around all the dust and mess and we lived without electricity in the bedrooms and bathroom for a while. We made the most of it and basically all slept wherever we could and lived in partial darkness for so long that once we did have lighting we forgot to use it!

Our house was a total mess. New texture meant bedrooms had to be emptied of all their stuff and so almost everything was moved to the living room. This was actually great because it gave me a chance to do what I like to call Kon-Mari 2.0 : basically, get rid of more shit- and keep the shit I love and I loved it!


Now, for the actual real exciting part of this- here are a few photos of our new doors, windows and hardware. Remember what I said earlier, though, nothing is complete yet. It’s all still in progress, so don’t ask why the trim isn’t up in the hallway. This is a sneak peek.

We opted for Craftsman Style when it came to door handles, trim and fixtures. We’re going to be adding in lots of Mid-Century touches and clean white pieces as we decorate. It’s actually a bit tough for a couple reasons: 1. money, 2. we actually have people (and children) who live here and 3. our house is not large. It’s 1200 finished square feet upstairs, so we’re having to make adjustments to our wish list. But stick with me because I think you will enjoy our before, during and after!

All of our original interior doors were hollow wood with gold handles and hardware. Now we’ve got clean, white, craftsman style, solid wood doors and handles with bronzed hardware. The difference is amazing!


Craftsman style trim and new windows! Hello lower heating bill!!

If you want to follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got tons of inspiration boards made as we work through this project!

Stay tuned because next time I’ll share some redecorating!



Marriage: A Message from the Trenches

I don’t have anything figured out just yet and while I do act like an expert, I am certainly not one. So this blog is my letter from the trenches of marriage, where I’m always learning- never an expert.


But I can’t talk about the trenches of marriage, without talking about the trenches of rediscovering myself and growing up. Because marriage is made up of two people in their own trenches who are either digging toward each other or digging away from each other.

Right now, we’re both dirty and weary from the shovels and all the digging, but we’re digging toward each other.

First, an update from my own trench. Recently, I’ve …… come to rest. Relaxed. Let go. Eased up. Worried less. These attitude changes have made a HUGE difference in my life (consider my Type A perfectionist disposition). There are 3 things that have been the catalyst to my newfound peace (plus God- everything is plus God, and I’m not saying this lightly. I’m stating the facts. God.)

1. Anti-depressants. Anti-depressants have caused me to relax in a way that I could not have without them.

2. Kon Mari. I’ve already blogged extensively about the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but again this weekend I saw how wonderful it has made my life. We’ll call this abbreviated Kon Mari: House Renovations Edition. My husband “destroyed” two bedrooms in our house in the process of putting in new windows. For the first time ever– I was able to see the new windows part of that sentence before I saw the destroyed part. Because I knew the destroying- house part was temporary and was only going to take me a few minutes to clean up and I knew at the end I’d have new windows. There was no fighting or stress to be had between my husband and I. If you have known me more than say, 5-6 minutes then you know this is a true MIRACLE! This is because of Kon Mari. My house is in such a state of perfect order, that two destroyed bedrooms still only takes me a few minutes to normalize. And in the end, I have all new windows.

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3. Brene Brown. Besides reading Brene’s genius works, I’ve been attending a small group where we talk openly about our personal struggles. This safe place has become a place of healing for me as I walk through my past and present struggles.

So- that is one of the big things that has changed in my marriage: me. I’m not bragging, I’m stating facts. The fact is: I might just be growing up a little bit. Andy, though imperfect, has always been steady, loving and ready to serve. I have not always been so gracious in my dealings. Recently, after relating some story to my friend, she looked me in the eye and said this, “Celina! You are letting go!”. I hugged her and immediately turned to Andy for confirmation (he confirmed).

Here is a special chart I created to sum up the changes in my general disposition. As you can see, I have a long way to go, but I’ve also come a long way:



Andy is digging his own trench. If he had a blog you could read about it. work-boots-gloves-shovel-dirty-rubble-red-clay

As a couple, we’re making positive changes. From the trenches of our marriage- here’s one: I mentioned earlier that when we went on vacation, Andy and I didn’t really do a good job connecting, but we did work it out in the end. We decided from the missed connections on vacation that we needed to be super intentional about connecting- even for just five minutes a day. (Look at us! Learning from failure and moving on with positive changes instead of wallowing!) In the busyness of day-to-day life: working, schedules, parenting- marriage is often the thing we are too tired to work on and it’s something we take for granted. We worry about the soccer schedule and not the emotional state of our mate and frankly a few days/weeks/months of living like that makes marriage feel like rooming with someone you used to love.


In response to that,  Andy and I have been doing daily aBc Scans. aBc Scans are short, but they can be as long as we have time for, but basically after we get all the kids to bed, we sit down for at least 5 minutes and chat. From “how was your day?” to “how are you feeling?” we put it on the table. If we’ve hurt one another, we discuss that. aBc Scans begin and end with a hug. A hug communicates love and that we are on the same team. Sometimes, we discuss Baldwin Current Affairs (BCA) and sometimes we just sit together and talk about our day. Usually I relate a funny or mind-blowingly frustrating story from my trench of motherhood, and Andy shares from his trench of corporate America. What we are doing is something all of you emotionally healthy people probably already do, but we’re working hard on “healthy” and connecting emotionally is difficult. So together, we are wading the uncomfortable waters of true connection. We are listening, hugging and loving each other unconditionally. As painful as it can be, it’s not nearly as painful as us digging our trenches away from each other.


Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we still dig in opposite directions- or who am I kidding, I dig in the opposite direction, but we’ve come so far it doesn’t make sense to go another way when what we have is the very best of all.



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Backyard Chickens

Everybody has them and those who don’t have them want them. It’s the latest trend: backyard chickens! Fresh eggs of any color you can imagine, cool little farm animals in your urban yard- a throwback to your childhood spent on the farm. An expertly designed coop perfect for housing those adorable little food producing birds! Low maintenance! Fresh eggs! Animals! Farm life in the city! What more could us trendy urbanites want??

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As an animal-loving, paleo-eater I wanted chickens, too. So, so bad. Andy and I actually talked for years, before it was even a trend because at heart Andy is an Iowa farm boy who dreams of living on a bunch of land. Alone. But with chickens. I loved the idea because my friend Pam (my oldest- not by age, but by length of time as friends) has had chickens forever. She always talked about her chickens and how awesome they were, so when Andy introduced the idea, I got right on board!



So, we talked about it for years. Chickens. Chickens. Chickens. Finally in 2014 we got CHICKENS! I was so happy to finally have chickens.

We started off with little, teeny tiny, baby chicks! They were so cute and the kids LOVED them. Everyday we’d go hold them and let them out of the box they were living in. I’d take pictures and we’d all marvel at their cuteness. Baby chicks were so much fun!

images I blogged on my old blog (which I don’t suggest you read, but if you must..) about the dream fulfilled. A wonderful adventure of getting chickens and you can read it here and here.

But it’s out with the old and in with the new. New blog. New blog about chickens. I still really love having chickens and I don’t regret getting them, but a year into this dream we have the reality. The fantasy has been exposed for what it really is: LIFE. ACTUAL LIFE. FULL GROWN HENS. Egg producing- yes. But full grown hens. And our trendy urbanite dream looks a lot like responsibility.

Here is what really happened to me when we finally got those chickens we always dreamed of:

  1. My dog immediately killed a baby chick, not out of malice, but pure curiosity. Chicken #1: dead.
  2. My kids don’t/won’t/can’t eat eggs. Ever.
  3. My coop looks nothing like ANYTHING you’ve ever seen on Pinterest. Ever.
  4. I have to clean up chicken shit.
  5. I step in chicken shit. And so does the baby, but he doesn’t have the functionality of an adult and therefore does not recognize that he has shit on his shoes and he runs into the house with said shit on his shoes.
  6. When I counted the cost of our chickens I realized that the mathematician and savings-maven that I am, I’m paying approximately $18/per egg. I will never recoup (or recoop) my chicken investment.
  7. My neighbor has had every last one of her chickens killed or carried off by a fox and bear in a two week span. Every. chicken. she. had. Dead or missing. But definitely dead.
  8. My neighbor (the same one who I love- Hi Julie!) told me the story of how while cleaning her coop she accidentally dropped the lid of the coop on a chicken and disemboweled the poor hen. And it didn’t DIE. It kept walking around and she had to have her friend come kill it. Kill it! Her PET chicken.
  9. I have come to realize like an hour-long sunrise that chickens only lay eggs for a couple of years and when they stop laying- MOST PEOPLE KILL THEM- including Andy. ANDY PLANS TO HAVE OUR CHICKENS KILLED WHEN THEY STOP LAYING EGGS.
  10. I then wondered what will be done with the chickens when they are killed and suddenly understood that most people EAT THEM.  Including ANDY WHO PLANS FOR US TO EAT OUR PET CHICKENS.

So yeah, chickens are awesome. You should totally get them. Everybody is doing it.


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