Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


"Fourth trimester" update and 3 months with Otto

Lots of big changes happening here on the baby front. Otto is now 3 months old, which means I am officially out of the "fourth trimester" of pregnancy, as they call it, plus I went back to work yesterday. (!!)

Otto at 3 months old

First, Otto. He is just amazing! He has been doing lots of "smile talking" and cooing when we interact with him, and he really responds well to faces and talking and playing with us. He did a little laugh a couple weeks ago when my mom was bouncing him up and down from standing on her lap, and then earlier this week while talking to Jason he went off in several minutes of often on for on laughter! Adorable, happy, Real belly laughs, and of course we got some of it on film and watched it again later that day! He did it again yesterday, and finally figured out how to suck his thumb (rather than just the side of his hand).

He has done some 8+ hours stretches of sleep at night, but recently has been back down to 5 or 6. But, at least he is better at going back to sleep after nursing, and he is actually making strides towards that mythical "putting himself to sleep" thing I have read about in the books but was so confused by when he was a brand new newborn and was harder to get to sleep. We haven’t tried any form of sleep training yet, but several times we have been able to leave him in a very sleepy state in his bassinet and then 5 or 10 minutes later he is asleep. And a couple times in the night he has started making fussing noises and then I’ve waited it out, and he hasn’t full-on woken up. I count that as some serious progress toward better sleep!

He is still doing super well at breastfeeding and I am, too; no more pain like I felt the first few weeks, and my milk supply has been totally adequate.

Postpartum recovery

As for the rest of me… I am feeling generally recovered from his delivery, but my body definitely still feels different. The biggest thing is I feel so weak compared to before I got pregnant, when I was strength training regularly, and unfortunately I am now having some pretty bad low back pain. I’m still seeing my prenatal chiropractor but both she and my midwife recommended I find a pelvic floor physical therapist for some postpartum physical therapy. Thankfully I don’t have serious trauma from the delivery, or major scar tissue, and but I am really glad I am seeing a PT now as she's also helping me with the low back pain, which is all related.

It seems like chiropractic and acupuncture are common therapies that pregnant and postpartum women get, but pelvic floor physical therapy is not currently as common and yet probably almost every mom could benefit! I don’t know much yet as I’ve only seen my therapist twice, but even for someone like me who was healthy before and delivered vaginally, it seems like a really good idea. My PT hasn’t needed to do an internal exam, which they will do If you are having a lot of pain in your pelvic floor locally, but instead we are working on re-training my deep stabilizer muscles in my back and hips. Pregnancy completely changes your posture, especially for the last 4 or 6 months or so, and so now I need to relearn the positions that I used to be in that protect in my low back. I have a series of therapeutic exercises to do 3 or more times a week, and have also been cleared for doing some strength building exercises. (I am super happy about that, but it is definitely hard to find time to fit in working out!!)

One really good thing postpartum as I have not had separation of my ab muscles like many women get after pregnancy--diastasis recti. Midwife, chiropractor, and physical therapist have tested my abs and they have all been very impressed! It’s just my low back, so frustrating. Hurts every time I pick Otto up.

Weight-wise... my tummy is still a little squishy but honestly it was always pretty much that way. I haven't weighed myself in a few weeks but last I checked I was within like 4 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. (However, I'm pretty sure some of that used to be muscle and no longer is. Can't wait to start training again!)

Emotionally, I really don’t know where I am, even as I think about going back to work. Lots of feelings, but nothing really solidified. I did listen to one of my favorite real food and mom leaders, Liz Wolfe, on a podcast the other day (episode 52 of the Modern Mamas podcast) and she said something that I really liked about the postpartum period. Something like, there is this whole movement toward the "fourth trimester" and all the self care that moms deserve at that time, but for most of us it just adds another thing to our list of obligations and things we feel guilty if we don’t do. No need for more mom guilt!

My first day back at work was good, everyone was excited to see me and made me feel welcome. And I feel good being able to do more projects and work that I know I'm good at. But it is very weird to be so independent, able to eat or work or talk or do anything without a baby crying at any time! We'll see how this next chapter goes!
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Backsplash and tiling tips for walls!

I am so into backsplash-tiling! What a great way to update a kitchen, even a nice or newer one, with a custom look. They're not that expensive, minimal tools are required, you just have to know a few things on how to do it!

We're talking about doing your own backsplash or tile wall (vertical tile application) on the Your Home Story podcast this week and I really hope this episode is helpful!!

Tiling is a great starter DIY project that can make a huge impact, and doing it on a wall is a great look for a bathroom, bar, or kitchen! Ashley and I have both done tile wall and backsplash projects and there are some tricky things we wanted to share with you. In this episode we share our experiences plus tons of installation tips and design considerations.

Resources we mentioned:
  1. Ashley’s beginning in tiling her kitchen.
  2. Ashley’s electrical extenders and finishing the tile
  3. How Ashley tiled around and installed heavy duty open shelves
  4. My straight herringbone tile tutorial
  5. Post about using an orbital sander to remove grout haze (though from the comments it appears this method is controversial! Some commenters said you shouldn’t need this much effort, just a grout haze remover product.)
Here's my biggest experience with this--we did the whole wall on one wall of our last kitchen, plus the backsplash on the opposite wall under the cabinets we kept. This is a "straight herringbone" pattern out of basic, budget subway tiles (these).
Photo by Arthur Garcia-Clemente for Apartment Therapy

Listen here or in your podcast player!
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525 SF 1940's apartment tour!

If you've been following along, you know we sold our last house so we could buy a very special historic home in the neighborhood I grew up in... but it didn't work out exactly as we planned. The sellers weren't ready on their original timeline so we lived with my parents for a few months, but then it looked like the house definitely wouldn't work out soon or ever, so we moved into a cute, 1-bedroom, 525 SF apartment a block from my parents so we could have our own space when Otto was born and as we house-hunted for what could be a long time.

At first, moving into the apartment felt like a huge defeat. I was feeling really discouraged about house-hunting (it is hard here, and we wanted a very specific area) and wondering if we had done the right thing selling our house! Plus it was overwhelming and frustrating to still have so much of our stuff in boxes in storage.

But very quickly, I was feeling so comfortable and happy in the apartment. It had all the space we needed for the essentials, and tons of big windows so we could watch people walk by to the farmers' market or whatever downtown. (No dishwasher or microwave, and had to go outside to get to the laundry, but besides that it was great for us!)

I wanted to take some nice photos of it looking its best to document before we moved. So here they are!

525 SF Apartment Tour

The building was built in 1946 and is a 1-story brick 4-unit building with basement underneath. There are two other buildings on the lot, with nice lawn around. There are also garages in separate buildings on the opposite end of the building, so we stored the rest of our stuff in a garage we rented, too. Of course, we sold a TON before moving.

The main space is a nice living room with fireplace and a whole wall of windows--we were on the east side of the building so got great sunlight in the mornings.

(I should add--I took these photos minutes before we packed up and moved the big furniture on moving day! So it is tidier than it ever was when we lived there! We never did a ton of organization/tidying since we knew it would be temporary.)

Through past the living room we had a ton of storage in the hall closet. Coat closet, broom closet, two big, deep shelves above, and some huge shelves we used for linens and Jason's clothes.

We had Otto's dresser/changing table (DIY here) in the living room which was SO convenient! Everything was steps away.

Through to the right down the hall was our bedroom. It was very small! But we had two closets (not pictured).

We normally kept Otto's massive bassinet/swing immediately in front of my side of the bed there, but had already packed it when I took these photos.

We definitely did not have the interior designer-recommended clearance around the dresser, but hey, few options.

To the left down the hall was the bathroom. Great light, fine size, but NO storage at all!!! Just the medicine cabinet. So we kept most of our things in the hall closets or in those canvas zipper pouches on top of the toilet!

Back to the main space... through the living room was the "dining room" which we used as a messy, cord-filled office and plant storage area.

I recorded lots of podcasts here!

We had no bookcases, but acquired some new books like Jason's massive textbooks so we added a piece of finished wood to the bottom of that console table temporarily.

The kitchen was very, very small. I was always dropping things when preparing food or getting a snack at that IKEA cart.

(Oh, sorry, it was just too messy on moving day so I took these after moving and cleaning! So it is mostly empty.)

Check out the wall-mounted faucet... not a designer upgrade in 1946!

We kept our knives out on the counter above that missing cutting board. We kept coffee stuff like the hot water kettle on the other side. Otherwise, our kitchen stuff is packed, so everything fit in the cabinets.

That's all, our sweet little apartment! It was so good to us and we are so grateful we got to live there just for four months.
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Tips for shopping vintage online!

I hope to be doing a lot of this myself soon!! They say every room needs at least one cool vintage piece, right?!

This week on the Your Home Story podcast, Ashley and I share about finding great vintage pieces from the comfort of your home. We talk about which pieces we’ve bought online, how to search and buy online, what to expect to pay, and what sites are the best to look at. Ashley is pro at this and shared some really good tips.

Resources we covered:
  1. Ashley’s sources and tips for finding AMAZING deals on rugs.
  2. Homestead Seattle
  3. Kyla from House of Hipsters and her amazing art collection (she has vintage shopping tips, too!)
  4. eBay
  5. Etsy
  6. Chairish
  7. EBTH

Here is one of Kyla's rooms with vintage decor looking great!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast player!
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BEFORE tour! Stanley Tudor Revived

Hooray! Here is a photo tour through the whole house, as it looked the day we got the keys. We have already gotten to work so it doesn't look like this anymore!! and I tried to get a ton of photos so I can look back and compare in the future.

I will also share the video "before" tour when I get a chance, I had so much fun with the video tours for the Stanley 90's Reno! (See my YouTube channel with all of our reno videos here.)

The front is very hard to see from the street, so here's a pic from within the big forests of hedges.

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We now own the Stanley Tudor - Revived!

W have been dreaming and hoping about this house for more than a year now!!

Now, we have the keys and our name on the title! I'll spare you the details of the scares we had during the closing process (I hear going realtor-less in a for sale by owner transaction can be tough, and this house had some unique challenges), though we will be doing a Your Home Story podcast episode about buying houses soon and I will share more there.

We got to work right away earlier this week, here are some scary photos!

We will mostly be living in the downstairs portion of the house for a while, so we are prioritizing getting that area move-in-ready first. The house is a "fixer upper" in some ways but nothing is terribly broken, bathrooms and kitchen are mostly functional, etc. However it hasn't been lived in for about 2 years so there were a lot of cobwebs. And, we want to start with a clean slate and paint the walls white before we get all of our furniture in there.

First step was removing ALL of the curtains and hardware from the walls we will be painting! Most of them are from the owners before our sellers, so pre-1987!

We had planned to hire out the painting, which I was really excited about! and would be great cause we have a tiny baby and are tired. :P But, I had a hard time finding an affordable painter who was available in July, so we decided to see the bright side (saving that money--maybe for a new kitchen?!) and do it ourselves. That does mean it will be slower and we will have to do the upstairs room by room/at a later time.

I also will do a post about why we decided to paint over the wallpaper. I know that probably sounds terrible but multiple contractors told us that if you do it right, that is the best way to get a painted look over ancient wallpaper. And we have a LOT of it.
Choosing our white paint

You can see all the posts about the Stanley Tudor Revived here, plus:

I will try to get the "before" tour up here soon--can't wait to share!! This house is huge and has so much, er, potential!

I will also be sharing a ton on Instagram stories and a few posts, in real time, so make sure you follow me there!
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