Monday, February 22, 2010

House Progress

Sorry it's taken so long to post about progress on the house. We've been spending almost all our free time mudding, sanding and painting, so by the time we get home, blogging takes third place behind showering and falling into bed.

Much progress has been made!

The heating and duct work was finished a couple weeks ago, but pictures of vents aren't much fun to post. The electrical has also been coming along quite rapidly. They're putting in the last lights and outlets this week.

Jacque came to visit two weekend ago and helped us make major headway in the painting department. Since we have plaster walls, any cracks need to be dug out, filled with drywall mud, sanded, filled again, and sanded. Then, pick up all the dust with a handy Shop-Vac, wipe down the walls and finally can get to taping and painting. I'm tired just typing it.

At this point, the front half of our unit is done being painted. In my office, we have Toasted Cashew on two walls and High Drama (a shade of red) on two accent walls. [btw...the color quality here won't do these justice]

In the living room, we have Bermudian Blue.

In the dining room, we have the Toasted Cashew on all four walls.

[so you get a sense of how the rooms flow]

I had hoped to have Heath's office done prior to moving in all our boxes, but the week got away from us. Moving day was Saturday and our friends were total rockstars. It's amazing what people will do in exchange for pizza and beer. This image gives you a sense of the insanity that was our truck, carrying both our and the DeCostanza's worldly possessions...

We moved all the boxes in just as demo was getting underway in the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen is taking a little longer than expected as they tear through six (yes, six!) layers of linoleum. Insane!!

Our bathroom went fast, and is already down to the studs.

Also, we had the carpet put down in the attic—the first step to making it the coolest bedroom we've ever had.

So that's the update—finally! It's looking like mid-March for completion. I'll try to post more regularly in the coming weeks.

And by the way...

...we got a car.

Yes, our Suburu hung on for as long as it could, but after a rear-ending a recent snowy day, it was clear that it wasn't going to be with us for the long haul. When the transmission started acting up, we knew it was time to trade in and trade up.

After much research and consultation with family experts, we settled on the Honda Civic as our car of choice. Heath then went in to super sleuth mode to find the best deal in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. This search took us to Lansing, IL—a sad town—and Napleton River Oaks Honda. There—after much cajoling with Frankie, our salesguy, and his bosses—we struck a deal on an '07 model, getting it for a couple thousand less than most of the '06 models we'd seen online.

Here she is:

Oh, and one more fun pic. At this particular Honda dealership, they make you ring a gong every time you buy a car. As you can see, Heath was less than thrilled to participate in this particular ritual.

No more big purchases for a while...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Brighton Park

I am very behind on posting. I have a lot to post about progress in the house and, of course, how we celebrated the Superbowl and Saints' victory. Tonight, however, I thought I'd give our blog followers a bit of a heads up on our new neighborhood: Brighton Park.

[we're highlighted in red]

The Wikipedia entry will give you the bare bones of the history, but none of the intrigue. This entry from the Encyclopedia of Chicago is a little bit better. Here are some of the highlights that drew us to the neighborhood:

1. It is like a chapter out of Heath's thesis. With our proximity to the old stockyards, our new neighborhood bore witness to some of the intense capital vs. labor disputes at the turn of the century.
2. It is home to the (often invisible) people who keep Chicago running. Way back when, that was a lot of Eastern Europeans. Today, it is a predominantly working class, Hispanic neighborhood.
3. It is not gentrifying. While many of the majority Hispanic neighborhoods on the North and near South side are rapidly becoming hipster havens (yes, Pilsen, I'm calling you out), Brighton Park looks to have escaped the eye of most young urban professionals (present company excluded) and the developers that cater to them. This is perhaps most evident by the fact that anytime we tell someone about our new neighborhood, they usually ask, "Where?"

Yes, we are officially south siders. I don't know that we've fully switched allegiance from Cubs to Sox (only baseball season will tell), but as we've been working in the house almost every night over the past couple weeks and most weekends, we've started to find the "spots" that make Brighton Park feel more like home.

Perhaps most importantly, we think we've found a church. Nueva Vida - Los Parques is a Spanish-speaking congregation (yes, it's challenging and yes, we're enjoying it) that has been extremely kind and welcoming to us. Firmly rooted in its identity as a community church, we feel it is the perfect place to build relationship with our neighbors, even if it's not all we'd hope for in a liturgical sense. Tonight, Heath and I attended our first small group meetings which were nothing if not lively. There are many cultural differences (made all the more hilarious courtesy of the language barrier), but it is extremely moving to be embraced so whole heartedly in spite of those differences. It's exactly what we've hoped for and we are excited for what comes next.

Almost as important as our church (almost!) are our new favorite local restaurant and coffee shop. El Rey del Taco is an outstanding place to eat. Even better: It's walking distance from the house! Cafe el Meson is a hidden gem in a neighborhood not known for its coffee culture. Run by a well-connected local Christian guy, it serves good coffee, good food and offers free WiFi. What more could you ask for? Also within walking distance. And, while we may have to wait for summer to take advantage, we are also a hop, skip and a jump from a Tastee Freeze. Heck yeah!

We've had the chance to meet a few of neighbors—Armando and Ecidro from across the alley and Marta from next door—all of whom have been very warm and helpful.

We're chomping at the bit to just finish all this work and get fully moved in. We eagerly await the chance to show you all we love about Brighton Park...we're discovering something new each day.