Browsing Category: about us

New Year’s Updates and Announcements

Hello and Happy New Year to all! I don’t know if it makes sense anymore to say I’ve been taking a blog break when I am breaking about as often as not, but in any case, it’s been a while. I hope everyone had a healthy, happy, and safe holiday season, that you shopped in your pajamas, that you ate the requisite amount (or more!) of pumpkin and peppermint things, and that you’re jazzed and ready to go for 2016.

I’m not sure whether I’m ready for it or not. I turned 30 in 2015, and I realized recently that I only ever really thought as far as the year when I turn 30. So 2016 feels like uncharted territory. It’s a new decade, and I’m excited and nervous to see what it brings.

So what have we been up to lately? Personally, I have been eating a lot of candy. And I’m not just saying that to make you feel better about what you’ve been eating. I feel like I need to confess it to someone. For someone over the age of about 12, it’s been a really astounding amount. But as far as the house goes (which seems a little more relevant to this particular venue), we have been working several labor-intensive and frankly not very exciting projects.

Like fixing this big patched area in our upstairs hallway.

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And starting work on our front entryway, tearing out the tile and beginning to refinish the stairs.

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I’m so excited for the green paint in the entryway. I’ve gone with more neutral paint in most of the house, and this little bit of drama feels exactly like what I’ve needed.

I’ve also been scraping popcorn wherever I can, which you can see on the hall ceiling above. Do I love the scraping? NO. I do not. The mess is crazy, and it makes me crazy. But the more I do it the more I realize that I gotta scrape it all. It makes that big of a difference.

So now that I’ve filled you in on what’s been going on around here (scraping, patching, tile demo, painting, candy eating) and justifying the break to myself if not to you, I want to mention a couple of things that are coming up on the blog horizon.

First of all, staring NEXT WEEK, I’m participating in an exciting New Year’s room refresh with a few other awesome bloggers.

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Clearly I need to get motivated in the new year, and I’m really glad to have these ladies to get me moving in a meaningful direction. It’s the perfect time to do a little somethin’ somethin’ to cheer up a neglected space. Not all-out crazy time like I tend to do during these room makeovers (hello One Room Challenge) but something smaller-scale and more doable.

Finally–and this is the big one–though Jellybeans will remain my muse forever and always, I will be retiring White Dog Vintage and migrating to a new blog at the end of this month. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but have hesitated to put a plan in action. Part of this been uncertainty about what I wanted to the new blog to look and feel like, but another big part of it has honestly been fear of losing all you lovely people who read here but–who knows?–may not make the leap with me to a new site. I’m staying with WordPress, so if you follow through WordPress or an RSS feed, you will automatically be following the new site when it switches over, but if follow through Bloglovin’, Feedly, Pocket, or another platform, you will probably have to add the new site with the new address, brittkingery.com (don’t bother checking it out just yet–there’s nothing there at the moment), and I hope you will.

I’ll be posting more about the move before it takes place, so you will have other reminders. But just to give a sneak-peek, here’s a look at the in-progress interface of the new site.

 

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Nothing is set with it yet, and it doesn’t look super realistic because there isn’t any content in it, but I think I hope this gives you some idea of the direction the site will be heading. It’s a little more sophisticated and professional than the site I’ve been using, which I hope will get me feeling enthused to post here more often. Hey, it could happen! I read that people who love their blog design actually do publish more frequently. It could be true, or it could be a ploy to sell WordPress templates. In either case, I was clearly buying.

So that’s the update! Don’t forget to come back next week for the beginning of our room refresh challenge, and stay tuned for more new blog news.

What Color Is This? & Other Little Things Couples Disagree About

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When Justin and I were first dating, I wore a shirt that brought out a long-standing and recurrent disagreement between the two of us. The shirt was obviously blue, except that Justin was completely committed to the idea that it was purple. Ever since, we simply cannot agree on the colors of things. Case in point: last night we were evaluating the paint I picked out for the dining room. I was going for a shade between blue and green, but when I got it on the wall, I wasn’t sure I liked it. It’s SO blue, except that Justin insists that it’s really very green.  (The color is  “Geyser” on the middle of the front swatch.) The argument doesn’t always involve blue, though–pink or orange, black or navy, gray or muted green–name two colors that could be confused for one another, and we have debated them.

I imagine that all couples have these insignificant topics of contention they simply can’t agree on. Aside from color, Justin and I routinely disagree about whether/what preparation is needed before getting in bed at night (it’s never already made, which enables this conversation to continually occur). I absolutely have to straighten and smooth all the wrinkles from the sheets; Justin climbs in regardless of the level of disarray and makes himself comfortable. When he goes to bed before me, a conflict of interests (his need to remain comfortably arranged vs. my need to straighten and rearrange) inevitably occurs.

These silly disagreements always remind me that no matter how well you know a person and how many weighty, important issues you feel exactly the same about, there is always still a fundamental, insurmountable divide between you and someone else. Knowing that Justin and I stare at the same wall and see two different things–and that I literally cannot ever see it through his eyes–feels baffling to me.

It also seems like knowing how to resolve small and unimportant issues is maybe the real art of making a relationship work. Odds are a relationship where two parties don’t agree on foundational topics like politics, religion, money, work/life balance, etc, won’t get too far anyway. But working out which tool is the correct one for washing a pan, how plastic bags ought to be stored in drawers, whether it’s acceptable to play a musical instrument while watching television with another person (this has really been discussed on multiple occasions in our house)–these are the questions life is made of.

Do you have these silly sorts of disagreement with your significant other? If so, how do you resolve them?

Our Yard Transformation

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One of the things I’ll miss most about our current house is the beautiful yard filled with roses of many colors, tulips, peonies, lilies, hydrangeas, and other flowers that we got to enjoy every spring and summer.

Gray bungalow with a yellow door

I say that now, but beautiful was about the last word I would have used to describe our yard when we moved in. We bought the house in January, when the garden was dormant, and the yard in general was a neglected mess of sticker balls among some questionable landscape design.

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For the record, there was not a blade of grass in the entire yard. The green stuff is just moss that eventually grew on the dirt because of the damp, cloudy winters we enjoy here in southwest Missouri.

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In fact, the previous owner warned us that grass wouldn’t grow in that yard, but lo and behold, Justin put down some seed, and look what sprang up! The grass made a big difference, and with a some reconfiguration of the garden area and better arrangement of the stones, the little front yard really turned out  nicely.

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The backyard was an even bigger project than the front. For one, you had a view of this contraption from the side yard. Now, this fort looked fun at first, but I’m positive that if there are any safety standards for lofted kid forts, this thing was wayyyy below them. It actually had a working light bulb in the underneath area, though I have no idea where the electrical came from.

That said, Justin still managed to sell it on Craigslist. An older couple bought it for their grandkids; they came with a moving truck and a shirtless friend and hauled it off. This really happened.

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The backyard also had an abundance of sidewalks, which aren’t necessary in backyards purely by definition.

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Painting the greenhouse apparently became too strenuous about five feet up.

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One of the yard fixes that caused Justin the most grief was the abandoned Koi pond.

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It had been stagnant for some time, and the water was, shall we say, none too fresh. When he punctured the liner and drained it, it turned out to be several feet deep, with a cast iron tub in the bottom. It took a year’s worth of yard waste and debris plus several loads of dirt just to fill it enough to make it level with the rest of the yard.

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Oh yeah, and no grass in the back, either.

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It took Justin two summers of hard work to get the yard whipped into shape (I know–I watched it all through the kitchen window), and even so, he still had more planned for this summer.

Last July, we finally reclaimed the full yard space by removing the sidewalk areas. This entailed Justin and his brother busting up the concrete with sledge hammers, and a team of the two men, two women, and three children (myself, Justin’s sister-in-law, and our nieces) loading the pieces onto a trailer to be hauled away. Justin’s brother also cut a remaining piece of sidewalk for us to make it flush with the rest of our patio, and I feel very lucky to have a brother-in-law who owns and knows how to operate whatever equipment it is that can cut concrete.

Then we were mostly left to clear out the gravel as best we could.

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Put down dirt.

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And try to grow some grass. (I say “we,” but my involvement really ended with the gravel.)

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It was the end of the season by then, and the grass didn’t come in 100% as Justin might have hoped, but considering what we started with–or even not–I’d say there’s nothing too shabby about our yard transformation.

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(PS – I’ll be excited to show you our new yard, because it has some interesting parallels to the “before” of our current yard. But you’d better believe it already has grass.)

Lucky Dog! Fatty is 7

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Fatty was my first dog. Growing up, my dad was allergic to furry things; he told us the only kind of pet we could have was a camel. My dad knows more about the hypoallergenic properties of desert animals than most people, apparently. We did have some indoor/outdoor cats through the years, as well as some hamsters and a guinea pig, but never a dog. In fact, I was pretty afraid of dogs for most of my childhood/adolescent years.

When I met Justin, he had a 160-lb English Mastiff named Bilyeu who was way too sweet and goofy to be afraid of for long, but Bilyeu was never my dog. He only listened to Justin and liked to make a fool of me when I took him on walks. Fatty was the first dog that was mine–that I had as puppy, that I named (I did a great job, eh?), that I could take care of as better than anyone else, and that loved me as only your own dog can.

You can’t do enough good in the world to deserve a dog like Fatty. He’s just the funniest, handsomest, most loveable dog there is. Since puppyhood, Fatty’s been known for being super awkward in social situations, but that’s part of his charm. He’s also been voted best smile for 7 years running (you’ll see why below)!

Here are a few of my favorite Fatty pictures throughout the years.

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A lot of these pictures are not super high quality, but they’re basically our old family photos, and being blurry and chaotic is what makes old family photos wonderful and special. Part of what makes Fatty special, too, is that he’s been with us since wayyyy before we had a nice camera. He’s been with us through everything–our first year together, moving from Missouri to North Carolina, three years as grad school ragamuffins living life on a Wal-Mart futon, moving back to Missouri, his two sisters joining the ranks (I know he’s thankful for that daily), and more houses and apartments than he can count.

Happy 7th birthday, Fatty! Glad we’re the lucky dogs who get to be your owners.

New Year, New House

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Happy New Year, friends! Hope everyone is settling into 2015, that you have your new calendars hung, and that any resolutions you made have lasted at least this long.

2014 ended with a lot of excitement here at the puppy palace, but now that several trees worth of paper have been signed and we could probably be sued for backing out, I’m really happy to share that we are moving to a new house!

We always knew that our current house would be more of a short-term home. Part of the reason we picked it was for its potential as a rental once we got another place. Still, I think we are a little surprised to be moving on so quickly (we are just approaching our second anniversary as homeowners). We weren’t exactly house hunting, but as I explained when I started this blog, I’m a pretty hopeless real estate window shopper. For a while now, we’ve been feeling the limitations of our current house, primarily in terms of space. So naturally, I’d been doing a bit of MLS cruising, trying to get a feel for the inventory in our budget and desired neighborhoods. Justin and I both know we’re not people who could decide to move and pick the best option at the time. We knew we would have to buy when the right house found us.

That brings us to the night of Saturday, December 13. I’d spotted a sweet little place in an adjacent neighborhood, less than a mile from where we currently live. I told Justin that even though “I’m not saying we’re going to buy it” (that’s my favorite line), we should go to the open house scheduled for the next day. He agreed, because the place looked nice and we had nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. It probably goes without saying that we both loved it. It’s bigger, brighter, more open, and even older than our current house, and I can see it meeting our needs for a good long time. By Wednesday of that week, we were under contract. Life moves really fast sometimes! Day by day we plug along trying to make a little progress, but more often it seems like change comes in currents and waves that carry us forward unexpectedly. I have to say, I credit my window-shopping ways for helping me find and recognize a good deal, but I also think I need to stay away from the MLS for a while. As a hobby, it’s starting to get expensive.

Here’s our new place! It’s another bungalow, this one built in 1921.

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Like our current house did, it’s coming to us with a white exterior and off-color trim, but don’t worry, we’re going to fix that up as soon as the weather gets warm enough. Leave no house unpainted–maybe that’s my mission in life.

2014 Family Christmas Pic

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For several years now, we have been taking a yearly family Christmas portrait with the dogs. I am writing this morning away from my regular computer, or I would share them all for comparison, but I can tell you that this year’s picture is probably the worst one yet. I think we have proven that the maximum number of dogs that can effectively be photographed with a camera set to a timer and a photographer who also has to be in the photo is two. Because with Pepper added to the mix this year, we were simply unable to get any picture in which all the dogs were looking toward the camera. That’s why our official family picture this year looks like an outtake, but it’s actually the best one! Our usual strategy is for Justin to throw a set of keys across the room toward the camera right when the timer goes off to get the dogs’ attention, but this year they were just too interested in each other. They also seemed to disagree on the mood and style of the photo, which is why I think:

  • Pepper is posed like the subject of an 18th century portrait
  • Fatty looks like a brooding author on his book dust jacket photo, and
  • Beanie has the expression of a cheeky ’80s teen movie heroine.

Meanwhile, we’re smilingly oblivious to the whole thing.

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Once our photographer got back behind the camera, we did manage to snap a picture with all the dogs at attention.

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Merry Christmas, friends! Hope your holiday is filled with good food and good people.

Oh Christmas Tree! A Yuletide Mystery

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Last year, we had a big, beautiful, real tree that sadly made me claustrophobic for about 6 weeks and then decayed in our backyard for another 6 months. Though lovely, this tree got in my personal space.

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This year, I wanted something smaller and more compact that would not have to be laboriously disposed of later on. When I saw an Alpine tree in a store display, it seemed like the perfect alternative. After some research, I ended up ordering one online from Target.

This afternoon, I was all ready to write up a review of said Alpine Christmas tree. I was going to mention how it’s super light and easy to assemble, that I set it up last Thursday in about 20 minutes, and it’s a huge space-saver that’s perfect for our small-ish living room.

But then I got an email from Target this afternoon saying that my tree has shipped. Not arrived. Not arrived 4 days ago. Shipped. So suddenly, my thoughts turned from “Hey, isn’t my tree cool?” to “Where the hell did this tree come from, and how did it get here?”

Here’s the timeline:

  • Saturday after Thanksgiving: Purchased the tree at Target.com.
  • The following Wednesday: Got an email from UPS that a package would be delivered the next day. I was expecting two packages–the tree and an order of upholstery foam–but I’d been tracking the foam and knew it couldn’t be that. The tree seemed to have shipped a lot faster than Target indicated, but whatever–Target is awesome!
  • Thursday: Package was on the porch when I got home from work–it was the tree! Yay! I set it up immediately.
  • Saturday: Got an invoice from a company I’d never heard of for a different amount than my Target tree cost. It was billed to Justin and shipped to me under my maiden name at our address AND a PO Box number I’ve never seen before. Yes, this seemed weird, but it still did not occur to me that the tree in my house is not the Target tree.
  • Today (Monday): Get an email from Target that the tree has shipped. Now it is clear even to an exceptionally dense person like myself that the tree in my living room is not the one I ordered from Target, but I still don’t have any idea who ordered that tree. I have no children, and so far the chihuahuas have not shown evidence of being able to use the internet well enough to place an online order.

The good news (I guess?) is that the mystery tree is cheaper than the one I thought I ordered, and it got here faster. As I was going to say in my planned review, I’m pretty happy with it, so I guess the Target tree will go back whenever it arrives. Normally I would be very weirded out by a situation like this, but in the spirit of the mystical holiday that is Christmas (and not at all to compare the birth of Christ to an accidental online purchase), I’m choosing to embrace what I completely don’t understand.

The tree looks great and is much more easier to live with than last year’s tree. Fatty even got inspired to make an appearance in the photo. Doesn’t he look PUMPED?

7 foot slim Alpine Christmas tree from Target

Because of the sparse-ness of the branches, I didn’t hang all our ornaments, but I couldn’t leave this fuzzy guy out.

Fuzzy owl ornament

Happy holidays, you guys! Here’s to a season that’s full of surprises.

How It All Began

This whole thing started in February 2013, when my then-boyfriend and I bought the craziest looking house on the block.

Scratch that–let’s really take it from the top.

This whole thing started almost 7 years ago, in November 2007. Justin and I had just started dating, and one of the first things we did together was to paint the living room of his rental house a pretty bold apple green. Even though I kind of look back now and think, “That looks exactly like the color a 22 and 23-year old would paint the living room of a rental house,” I still find it to be pretty fabulous in that way.

From then on, we made small improvements to every place we lived, but we also had lots of ideas about big improvements we weren’t allowed to make–and really wouldn’t have made sense in a rental anyway. We dreamed about being homeowners and having the freedom to tear up anything we wanted!

Fast forward to the winter of 2012. I’ve been a real estate window shopper for several years, which means basically that I like to cruise Zillow and the local MLS just to see what’s out there. In late December, I happened to get an idea that one particular thing that was out there was in our budget (nope), might be a good place for us (completely wrong location), and that we should get someone to show it to us. Surprisingly, Justin agreed to see it, and though all of the wrong things about this house became pretty apparent in person, a chat with our real estate agent convinced us that NOW was the time to buy. Suddenly we were house shopping for real!

After about three weeks of relentlessly searching the MLS for a place in our new budget and preferred neighborhood, I had the inventory pretty well memorized when I figured I’d just go peek in the windows of a house I’d seen online several times and decided it is clearly not “the one.” When I got there, I realized I’d actually seen it in person, too, and thought it was a little freaky in a Tim Burton “weird-but-not-sinister” kind of way. It looked like this:

Freaky bungalow with a crazy yard before renovation

Believe it or not, this turned out to be our house after all. Great location, right price, perfect for two people who’d been waiting to sand, paint, tile (and who knows what else!) the hell out of their own home.

Now, not everyone was super on-board. The first time my mother was inside, the real estate agent asked her what she thought and she said, “As long as they like it!” I still enjoy bringing that up.

So we closed on the house in late February, spent a month sanding and painting almost literally every sand-able and paint-able surface in the place, and moved in around Easter.

In that time, we also got engaged! This is me on the Brooklyn Bridge a few minutes before the proposal. Clearly I have no idea that it’s coming or that I really need to practice my “showcase” hand:

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We got married in October 2013 and had the reception at our house. Here we are on the big day:

View More: http://climerphoto.pass.us/brittany-justin-wedding
(Photo credit: Climer Photography)

And that’s pretty much the long and short of it. After being in our home for almost a year and a half, we still love it, and we are still working on it almost every day. BUT, we no longer live in the craziest looking house on the block.

Dark gray bungalow with a yellow door and white trim

Reno pics coming soon!