Well, I think it’s about time we make it “blog official,” we’ve added a new family member to our DIY crew!

Ever since we lost our beloved Scottish Fold, Mel, on Thanksgiving morning 2017, our house has felt a little off. For weighing in at around 7 pounds, Mel was an anchor in our home. He was a part of our family since 2001, was Lulu’s best friend, and was a constant companion to each of us.

We feel like we’ll never be able to find another cat that lives up to what we loved about him, but we’ve been considering adopting a second dog for a while now. The only problem with that idea is the fact that we had to find the right personality to fit in our home.

You see, Lulu is, well, how do I put this kindly, high maintenance? She doesn’t have a lot of friends, doesn’t get along well with others, and has been the only dog in our household for nearly nine years now. And to put it bluntly, she can be a bit of a territorial jerk when interacting with other dogs.

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Have you ever searched for years for just the right piece of furniture, only to find it in an unlikely place?

Well, we have. We spent the last five years or so looking for the perfect sideboard for our dining room, but we had a case of sentimentality combined with utility that kept getting in our way. As a result, the hulking buffet/sideboard from the photo below remained in our dining room, in spite of its scale.

Shortly after we bought our row house in 2003, we discovered the amazing antique and salvage row of Cleveland's Lorain Ave. Nestled just a stone's throw from downtown Cleveland you could find yourself smack in the middle of shop after shop of affordable vintage finds. Whether you were looking for a little architectural salvage or a full room of vintage furniture, you were bound to find something your heart desired.

Today, as Cleveland has undergone an urban revival, many of these shops have shuttered. Victims of the rejuvenation of the trendy Ohio City area and the rising rents, their closure ultimately means progress for a city that had fallen on hard times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But at the same time, the amazing antique resource that was Lorain Avenue, is a dwindling memory from our newlywed and first home honeymoon days. 

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What better day than April Fools to post a long overdue update on our basement progress?

Yes folks, this blog post isn't a joke, so don't worry, you're not going to be had in the last line or two. However, this post is a bit out of character, as it largely involves how closely we worked with a great contractor to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish. 

If you'll recall, back in November we told y'all about working on a major basement overhaul in our Old Town row house. It was about the time of our last blog post that we somehow reverted to the ways of our 20 year old selves and went full bore on renovation work.

Here's the #1 April Fool

I'm talking 8 hour day job work, 8 hour house work, a break or two to eat, some long days, late nights, raw hands, and lots of sore muscles. And though we hired out a good amount of the work we were doing, that certainly didn't stop us from participating as much as if we were doing it all ourselves. 

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It's hard to believe just how quickly this year has flown by, but given that holiday decorations are popping up around town I suppose it really is time to deck the halls for the holiday. Each year, I try to have most of our decorations and two trees up by the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend here in Old Town. 

Many people near and far come to Old Town this weekend to enjoy the festivities, and I like the exterior of our home to be ready for the occasion. 

This year's Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend kicked off on November 30 (the parade is always the first Saturday in December), so it felt super early to be buying our trees. But it also served as a great deadline to get us motivated since we also throw a formal scotch tasting and dinner party on the Friday night of this weekend! With all of the work on our basement project it's been tough to divide our time between fun and function, but by our party that night we were in pretty good shape as far as holiday decor goes.

Just like with our fall decorations this year, I tried to make use of as many fresh greens as possible. Our home in Maryland is a great source for fresh greenery, so I made a quick trip there to snip some evergreens and boxwoods, and cut a few berry-lined twigs. 

I'm not sure what the berry branches are exactly (my guess is some kind of invasive plant that while choking out surrounding vegetation, happens to look pretty this time of year). With my stash from the other house, the branches we trimmed off our live Fraser firs, and two dozen roses and a bunch of berries from the grocery store, I was ready to start making fresh arrangements.

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Have you ever had a project you've badly wanted to work on, but you never thought it would actually happen? 

As long as we've owned our homes we've always had a project list a mile long. Some of those projects are things we are going to work on in the near term, and some of those projects are things we dream about eventually tackling, but have no real concept if we'll actually get to that point. But if there's one thing you need to know about Wendy and me, when we set our minds to something, we don't like to stop driving toward that goal until we can make it happen.

Over the course of the summer, and now into this fall and winter, we've been planning and working on one of those projects we've always really wanted to take on, but weren't sure would ever happen. That project? A complete overhaul of our row house's dark, musty, dirty, crowded, and inefficient basement. You remember this gross space, right? The room in our house that could most easily pass for that of a hoarder's hideaway.

Back when we purchased our home we didn't have any sort of budget to put into the unfinished basement. The walls were covered in failing waterproofing paint, portions of exposed mortar were crumbling, and the ceiling height of the basement ranged from 6'11" at its tallest point in the center, to 6'3" at its shortest at the back wall. 

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