my house

The Living Room Bookcases are Almost Done

Hi! 😀 I hit 366 days straight of blogging on April 11 and then I decided to break my streak to avoid accidentally starting to aim for two years straight. I had to really break it by not posting for the last several days so I would get over it, and you have no idea how many times I almost blogged. But it’s broken for good, so I’m back now. Hello.

So, I think I’ve shared this photo here before, but this is what my living room looked like when I bought my house and the wood floor was waiting to be installed before we moved in. It was mostly original to 1960, except that inset carpet had been replaced I guess, but that didn’t make it any less horrifying.


When we first moved in, I filled the shelves with as many brightly colored and pretty things I could find around the house to bright up the very brown room and hide those mirrored backs while I waited for the chance to update the room.

Then we covered the floors and ripped everything out to get new drywall installed and bookcases built in around the fireplace.


And ta-da!


The fireplace brick is gray now and it has new all-black doors. I’m waiting for the paint on the shelves to cure so I can clean it all up and fill the bookcases up, and oooooh, I love it so much even before I get to put my books away. It’s so bright over there (and in the whole room) now.

I’ll share the room (in color!) once I can fill up the shelves. Because the other side (with my beloved teal sectional) is looking pretty fantastic now too.

about sarah, life

Saying Goodbye to My Grandma

On this day seven years ago, I sat with my grandmother while she died. My mom and I held her hands, comforted, and waited. She’d been moved to hospice the day before and we knew it was almost time, but knowing that and watching it are two very different things. Those weeks, that day, and especially the several hours surrounding her death changed my life.

When she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, I was living 5,000 miles away in The Netherlands. She was given a few months at most to live, so I went home to Texas for a while to be with her. Pancreatic Cancer seems to be mostly very harsh and doesn’t leave a lot of time to linger in good health, but often goes very bad very quickly, as it did in my grandma’s case. She died within several weeks from finding out, and the last few of those could hardly be called living.

My mom lived next door to my grandparents at the time, so I claimed my old bedroom, revived my library card, and spent several weeks in a haze of sadness and books. While my mom and aunt cared for my grandmother, along with the eventual medical staff, I lingered around the edges, trying to support my mom after each long, difficult day. The best I could do was to pause my reading to make sure my mom remembered to rest and eat something, to try to spend time with my grandpa, who was losing the partner he’d been with since his teens, and just try to keep it together. My life was on pause, while my grandmother lingered in a strange space of being very ill and knowing she would never recover, but still being alive. Death really doesn’t look like it does in the movies.

Over those few weeks, I read at least one book every day, and usually more. I visited with my grandma, this formerly bold, strong woman who I grew up running across the street to visit. She was always there, for as long as I could remember, not just on holidays or when we made a special trip to visit her, but right across the street, with the swimming pool and watermelon, cookies and milk, and someone to tattle on my mom to (much to her amusement). After I sat with her, watching her slowly die a little more each day, I cried and cried and cried, until I had to stop. And then I read, slept, and repeated.

And then she died. In the hours right before, she hadn’t seemed to be very aware of things around her or able to respond, but she opened her eyes and inched her hand toward me, as I was the only one in the room at the time, and said she loved me. After that, we waited, and it didn’t take long. She gasped a few last breaths and then she was gone. And when people die? They look dead.

The thing about watching someone die is: there really isn’t a way to anticipate what it will be like. You may recall random movie death scenes that seemed realistic at the time, back when you didn’t know what it looked like. Or you may think someone so close to death looks dead, but they don’t… not quite, at least. It’s a strange, heartbreaking experience, but when you watch someone die, you see them leave that space, exit the room, and just be gone from this world and it’s an odd thing to see and feel and accept. It hurts your heart so much to watch it happen. Being there, though, is important. That experience felt like one of the most important things I’ve ever done at the time, and still.

Even though I watched it happen, I still can’t believe it’s been over seven years since I spent hours chatting with my grandma, or laughing at her schemes to dress down when she went to the bank so no one would realize how much money she had, or sitting in her kitchen eating beans and cornbread.

I will live so much more of my life without her here, than with her, but her presence has shaped my being in ways that even decades without her won’t change. When falter and I almost give too much of myself away or hide from a challenge, I remember her and am better at being myself and loving myself because of her example and advice. For that, I owed her everything I could give in her last days and am glad to have had the chance.

about sarah, automattic, happiness engineer

Thanks for the memories, Timehop.

Thanks to Timehop, I realized a year ago today is when I had my Matt Chat, which wrapped up my Happiness Engineer trial at Automattic, and led to the job I currently have and love.

My tweet from when I got the first Slack ping from Matt and the chat began:


And then about six hours later when it was done and I’d landed the job:


I spent the rest of the day (and the next few days, if I’m honest) in a haze of excitement. After yesterday’s blahs, this was a perfect reminder of something that has gone (and is going!) great in my life, so thanks, Timehop. I appreciate your perfect timing. This day last year changed my life in an amazing way and I’m glad to remember it.

I’ll celebrate the official one year anniversary of my first day on the job later this month. I marked six months very happily here. <3

about sarah

The April Blahs

I’m feeling pretty blah today. Foot pain and bathroom remodel delays are taking their toll. I feel pretty useless at solving either one right now, so please enjoy this adorable puppy gif:

puppy learning trust gif

So cute, right?

And no worries. Nothing keeps me down for long, so I’ll rally and be back to normal again soon. Because honestly as soon as my foot feels better, who cares if my bathroom is or isn’t done yet? It’ll get done.

Plus, the weather is lovely and I’ve got cookies.

my house

Front of the House: Updated To Do

In an effort to keep myself honest about progress around the house, I’m sharing an updated to do list for the entire front of the house (minus the kitchen). I originally shared the list last November here, when I first made it. I’ve since added to it and recently have crossed several things off.

Seeing this progress happen (the living and dining rooms are soooooo close to being totally done!) while also working our way through a full master bath remodel feels great. Even when the bathroom is stressing me out, at least I can look around other parts of the house and feel good about the work. We’re making great progress and I love my house more and more.

So! Here’s the list…

Living Room:

  • Add sectional.
  • Finish up & paint built-in bookcases white. (Finished, now paint!)
  • Install & paint trim around small doorway. (Installed!)
  • Install & paint baseboards. (Installed!)
  • Add new rug + rug pad.
  • Move coffee table & TV stand into living room.
  • Set up TV stuff & surrounded sound.
  • Put books & things on bookcases. (When the paint dries!)
  • Decorate the fireplace/mantel. (Halfway done.)
  • Setup fireplace stuff, including tools (check!) & log storage.
  • Add trim around large doorway & paint.  (Installed!)
  • Plan/shop for/hang wall art.
  • Install curtain rod & curtains at sliding door.(After paint is done.)
  • Paint trim around sliding door. (This week!)
  • Shop for/build console table for behind couch.
  • Paint end table.
  • Shop for chair for near sliding door/fireplace corner.


  • Replace tile & baseboards. (Probably June.)
  • Replace trim around doorways.
  • Convert old door into Living Room into open doorway.
  • Paint & install new coat closet door/hardware.  (Friday!)
  • Have painters repair/texture/paint. (Probably in June.)
  • Clean out & organize closet. (Soon! I swear.)
  • Replace overhead light. (After paint.)
  • Hang mirror or artwork.
  • Update light switches. (After paint.)

Dining Room:

  • Move out the temporary living room setup, so it can be a dining room.
  • Add dining table.
  • Order dining chairs.
  • Create coffee bar. (In progress!) 
  • Install shiplap to wall behind coffee bar. (Friday!)
  • Hire electrician to move overhead light & add outlets. 
  • Install curtain rods & hang two layers of new curtains. (Hemming!)
  • Move sideboard into room & setup.
  • Plan/shop for/hang art. (In progress!)
  • Update switches & outlets.


  • Have painters repair/texture/paint. (Probably June.)
  • Paint new linen closet cabinet doors & add knobs.
  • Replace all doors, including hinges & knobs. (In progress!)
  • Hang gallery wall of photos. (After paint.)
  • Replace overhead light.
  • Replace doorbell.
  • Update light switches.

We’re working on getting lots of these things crossed off so we can start on the kitchen later this year. It’ll require its own giant list though. 😉