Monday, September 3, 2018

Our New Home

Our house. Front yard.We are still in the process of settling down, so it is still hard to find the time and energy to actually sit down, write things up and prepare pictures. Things are changing in the house on the daily basis as we’re making it cozier and homier.

Back yard from the far edge.The house that we ended up buying is located in Ridgefield, not Redding. We are quite happy that it worked out this way in the end.

Back yard. Flat grassy area.The schools are stellar. Ridgefield has a lot of nice benefits for residents, including a decently priced pass for a town lake and all year round access to town pools among other things. It has a great, big, modern library. The schools are simply excellent — from elementary to middle to high. All are rated 9 and higher. Really top notch schools.

From the side. Our garages.A small aside — all the pictures were taken in our first days in the house, so nothing is close to done or orderly. It’s a complete mess. And there are a lot of places for improvement — giving an evil look to the closet. But hopefully future posts will illustrate more and more transformations as we get settled in. It is already looking very different as I write this post since we have put our personal touch on things.

Our driveway.We’re located centrally between the centers of Ridgefield, Redding and Bethel, although I think Redding doesn’t really have much of a downtown of any kind. Town lake and beach is a 2 minute drive from our house. The lake is situated in between the mountains and is very picturesque.

Patio.The house itself has 4 bedrooms — this was one of our requirements. One for us, two for kids and a guest bedroom — so our parents could come and stay as long as they wanted. It also gives us an ability to host people with overnight stays. In addition to that there is a lot extra space for inflatable mattresses and such.

Covered porch.Out all the houses that we have seen this was the only one that actually had both — a covered porch and a nice patio. We’ve been eating a lot on our porch. Not going to get a lot of use during the winter, but during summer month it’s been very pleasant to dine in the open air. And just several days ago we acquired a nice wood-burning fire-pit that kids cooked marshmallows on.

Covered, screened porch.Even though bedroom are on a smaller size it has three large living, family rooms. We decided to use the fireplace room for our main TV watching air. Our bottom living room is going to be a playroom for the kids and will house our Peloton. And we’re not quite sure what to do with the last one yet.

Grill on the uncovered part of the porch.The house has a huge kitchen — at least compared to what we’re used to — with a nice L shaped bar stand that we can eat at as a family. Alёna can be doing stuff in the kitchen and be with us all at the same time — this is a great feature.

Empty family room with a wood-burning fireplace.As I said, our very first purchase for the house was a grill. We opted in for Weber Genesis II propane grill for the easy of use as opposed to coal. In fact in our month and a half here we’ve used up a full tank of propane already and are on our second one now. It has actually been a pleasure to host friends and family for full weekends with sleepovers — something that we never could do before.

Our kitchen with granite counter tops.First major project that we did was replace the whole septic system. It took a week — we had a full crew of people working from 7 to 4 daily. The new system has a life time of 40 years. Full concrete install with leaching field being built right on the edge of the woods.

Bar top kitchen counter and living room.That’s one thing that we won’t have to worry about ever, hopefully. They did dig up pretty much most of our front yard and backyard. Grass seeds were placed after the work was done, so our yards are still recovering, although new grass did come in fairly quickly.

Bottom floor, right after the move.The photos in the post have been taken right after our move, so a lot of stuff is in a complete disarray. But since then we’ve made a lot of progress in settling in a getting things in order. So I have a lot of material for future posts.

Bottom floor living room -- play room for the kids.Also as I mentioned the house has both a patio and a covered porch. There is also an uncovered portion of the porch for the grill, which is a very nice touch — something that we haven’t seen at other houses we looked at. It’s nice to be able to cook and talk to the people at the same time — not being far away with the grill.

Main bathroom.When we originally looked at this property it had a built into concrete basketball ring and it had a trampoline in the back yard with a hole under it. Although trampoline had a rip in it, which I thought might not be fixable. But we still were excited that our kids will get to play with all that.

Our brand new trampoline. Kids love it.The basketball ring is still there, but we discovered right before the closing that the trampoline is gone and a hole is completed filled in.

Front of the house.So soon after our move we ordered a brand new 15″ trampoline1. Although we had to wait for quite a bit for all the septic work to be done. But now it is constructed and kids and their friends enjoy it very much.

Master closet. Original form. Separate post for transformation is coming.Another surprising thing was how all the neighbors started coming over and introducing themselves. We have amassed a collection of wine from all these visits. It was very unusual having come from Brooklyn to experience it. We seem to be surrounded by nice people.

Arosha's room. Original form.So having been here for a month and a half we’re enjoying it very much. I keep saying that we live in “a vacation” kind of deal. Obviously there are more things to deal with as opposed to an apartment, but I think we’re adapting nicely, so far.

Hallway to the bedroom. Fairly ugly staircase light, before we replaced it.

  1. Skywalker 15-feet round trampoline and enclosure with spring pad — $329.99. []
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Sunday, August 12, 2018

American Dream — Part 2

Most of our backyard.In the previous post I stopped at us meeting with our agent, Laura, and seeing 5 houses in Redding and Ridgefield. Three of the houses were in a rather bad condition and needed a lot of work — that is something that we were not prepared to do at all.

Two out of those fives houses were in a pretty nice condition, but one was out of the range of the prices that we wanted to pay and we didn’t really give it a serious look. And the last house that we saw seemed to fit the bill. It looked pretty nice inside with very big bedrooms. We really liked it. So we made a “lowish” offer, the sellers came back and eventually we agreed upon a very decent price.

The next stage was a series of inspections. One thing that I didn’t really realize was the fact that vast majority of towns in America actually don’t get any utility services from the city beside electricity. No water, no sewage, no natural gas. Nothing. I heard that some people had private wells before, but I thought it was a fancy choice of those owners. Turns out it’s because there is no other option. Continue Reading
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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

American Dream

Our Connecticut house.It’s time to finally post an update and a reason for the long silence on the blog. It took us months and months of sweat, stress and hard work, but we have realized a long standing dream of ours — we have bought and moved into our very own house!

Now, in more details. We started seriously thinking about doing this at the end of last summer. We had many reasons why we wanted to change our living situation. We were really running out of space in our smallish junior 41, single bathroom apartment. Continue Reading

  1. A two bedroom apartment where one of the bedroom is very small. []
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Arosha’s Desk

VIVO Height Adjustable Childrens Desk & Chair Set.Just a short note on our new home improvement. Arosha has outgrown his old work desk that was given to us by Zhanna. It has gotten a LOT of use. Alёna did some research and ordered a new desk and chair set made by VIVO. It has a lot of good reviews and both pieces are height adjustable. Arosha has a lot of use for the desk and hopefully it will serve him for a long time.

Arosha's old desk. Taking in March of last year.This school year he has 2 hours or so of homework on daily basis. This is the first grade of Gifted and Talented program. Sometimes it seems that Gifted and Talented stands not for more challenging or interesting work, but for simply more. I’m sure doing a lot is beneficial and will surely put him ahead of his peers outside of the program, but for the first grade it just seems like an overkill.
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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Compulsory TV Upgrade

New TV. Samsung UN50JU7100.Unexpectedly for us we had to upgrade our TV. The whole thing started somewhere in the middle of August when our daughter decided that our TV needed some cleaning. With the use of a glass of water and her toothbrush she managed to do a pretty thorough job by the time we noticed it.

At first a thick vertical gray line appeared. Then everything got covered by fog. Then lines started to spread. And eventually in a course of a couple of days the whole screen turned to pretty colorful lines and nothing else was coming through. Our 46″ Samsung TV that we bought at the end of 2009 was done.

Our new TV.After doing a bit of research I decided to settle on 50″ Samsung JU7100 — 4K TV. Another choice was Vizio M series, but the best screens are used on 55″ and bigger units and 50″ was the biggest we could fit. But on both Wirecutter and CNET Samsung came highly recommended.

Over the last six years the UI of Samsung has improved significantly. Everything is fast and responsive. The old was completely useless. Although we still watch most of our content through Apple TV which is also about to get significantly updated by Apple. We’ll probably upgrade it eventually as well. We bought our TV at P.C. Richard & Son where we got a good deal on it, as always.

TV remote with Wii-like controller behavior.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Storage Upgrades

New expanded Besta unit.With the arrival of kids we were acquiring more and more kid related stuff and our apartment was getting kind of buried under it all. Enormous piles of kid books, toys, board games, clothing and on and on and on. Something had to be done.

Billy bookcase full with kids' books.So now that Alёna’s mom is here we had a chance to go to IKEA without kids. The reason why we needed to go without kids was because we had to take out the car seats in order to convert our SUV into a load carrying truck. We wanted to do these furniture expansions even before we had our SUV, but there was no easy way for us to get this stuff home.

My work desk.We did two major things — expand our IKEA buffet in the living room into a full height cabinet and replace our half length book shelf into a full wall one as well. And that’s exactly what we did.

Books before.IKEA got rid of the red colored doors for some reason for their Besta sets, but luckily we had 3 already and 2 more in our hallway. So we used those to make it look nice and modern. Otherwise the big black brown set would look pretty gloomy. They also got rid of Billy color that used to be a perfect match for our bedroom, so we had to go with a darker one.

More books.Overall it all came out looking nice. We have a lot of new storage space, so we cleaned up our apartment and made it look cozy again. And Billy bookcase fit almost all of our books for kids. The rest went into my office desk that also got some new space from us moving all the non-book stuff into our new Besta.

Desk mess.And to finish it all off we put up new curtains in the living room. Alёna’s mom brought us a set from Minsk. They look really great and fit really well with our room design. We would’ve had to pay around $2,000 to get something like this here. The place is looking good.
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Arosha’s Room

Arosha's new room.When Arosha was one year and three months old we discovered a secret to him sleeping through the night — we stopped sleeping in our bed in the same room with him and moved onto a futon in our office. Eventually we replaced the futon with a queen sized mattress that we borrowed from our bed and so we lived. Until last Saturday.

Another wall.Two weeks before Arosha’s 3rd birthday he finally gets his own room. We ordered a custom cut carpet with a pattern and a padding to go under it. We also ordered a custom built bed for his room. Most beds just wouldn’t fit into the space that we wanted to put it in, but in the end we found a store that did it exactly to our dimensions with Arosha’s favorite colors.

Tree right after the completion.We also moved two paintings into his room that he likes — one is a print that I won on a cruise another is an actual original painting by a successful artist who my dad is friends with painted specifically for Arosha. Originally we were thinking to get some kind of wallpaper for the room, but later on gave up on the idea and decided to go with cool looking decals instead. I think it came out looking really nice.

Almost ready state.We plan to replace the ceiling lamp, probably will add some curtains and a couple of other things later on. In a year or year and a half Arosha’s sister will join him in this new kids’ room of ours. As for us — we moved back onto our own bed and my office desk had to move to our living room. Huge huge thanks to Misha and Lenny for basically doing the whole move for us. Took them five hours of hard work.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Bedroom Curtains

New window curtains in the bedroom.When my mom came to visit, she brought us some gifts from Belarus — national crafts, some jewelery, clothing. What she really wanted to get us though is the curtains for our bedroom. I kept saying that we’re fine as is and that our whole bedroom needs redesigning and we’re not willing to spend the money at the moment, so she gave up on the idea. However, before she left, she measured the wall and the windows and said that she will get us new curtains after all.

The thing is that it’s impossible to find good European-design curtains for a reasonable price in New York. At least we were not able to. There are a few curtain stores in Brooklyn, held by USSR expats, which have a good selection of modern curtains, but the prices are over the roof. We paid something close to 1K for our living room curtains, and were not willing to spend this much money again. My mom was very surprised by the prices and the lack of choice in American stores, since in Belarus you can choose from literally hundreds of designs. She laughed — at least there is one area where Belarusian stores are ahead (she was very impressed with US stores otherwise).

Closeup of the curtains.By the way, when she was looking for the stuff for our bedroom, she actually found the ones that we have in our living room — they were selling for the equivalent of $16 per meter (so it would have cost us a bit over $100 for material + around $50-100 for work if we would have bought them over there).

So my sister and my mom went to two stores, took lots of pictures of the samples that they thought would be a good fit and emailed them to me. We liked quite a few, and chose curtains which were made in Germany. After consulting with a designer which works in curtain department of the store, they’ve decided that having only one type of curtains will be boring, and got a brightly colored solid curtains to hang in front of the walls. The total they paid for the whole deal was around $200.

OK, I think I just made too big of a post about curtains. But I wanted to say that I appreciate the gift very much. I know they spend a lot of time trying to buy something nice for us (and my mom’s monthly pension is around $200 — at least it used to be before the Belarusian ruble got devaluated a few weeks back) and wanted them too look good. I like how it all came out.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cooking Together

Alёna and Arosha cooking.Aroshka and I cooked lagman today. Well, he was mostly observing, but I am sure he would have gladly participated if I only let him!

Still cooking.His presence made the cooking process more fun for me — I was narrating all my actions and singing songs along the way (Danya was watching him when I was cooking meat and onions though, since I did not want to accidentally touch the baby with dirty hands).

Lagman.Lagman came out well — the last time I cooked it, it was a bit too bland, so this time around I added lots of red pepper flakes, garlic and cumin. It was yum-yum spicy! I used a combination of Tatiana’s recipe which I previously posted on our blog and Mrs. Mansurov’s recipe which she posted on her blog with great pictures illustrating the process as always. I did not bother with hand-made noodles, but substituted with store-bought egg ones, and they were almost as good.

Local Toys "Я" Us.Yesterday we finally went to Toys “Я” Us and got a safety gate to separate the kitchen. Aroshka is not trying to get there yet, but I wanted to have everything in place by the time that he does. For some reason, we bought an extra-tall gate, so after Danya has installed it, we got slightly worried if Shublik will be able to get in and out of the kitchen.

Our new kitchen gates.Luckily, our cat is very agile and can jump over it with minimum effort. We keep the door open for now though — no point to go through the hustle of opening it every time we visit the kitchen. And yes — I go there pretty often, since I am one hungry breastfeeding woman! I just hope that when I am done nursing, my appetite will go back to normal. There is no way I can eat like that and not get fat (while not being Aroshka’s field kitchen at the same time).
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Aroshka’s Crib

Aroshka in his new crib.Everyone can congratulation Arosha on getting his own real bed or rather crib. The bassinet that we got him originally is too small for him now. He tends to knock his hands on the sides a lot and wakes up from that, hence the upgrade.

Crib in our bedroom.Alena did some serious crib research and picked out a pretty great model1. It’s made from real wood and has 4 different configurations. As the kid grows the bed changes with him. We hope it’s going to serve him for a good amount of years. For now we put it into our bedroom and eventually it will go into his own room.

Arosha sleeping.We also got a really nice crib set2 consisting of comforter, bumper, sheet, dust ruffle, diaper stacker, window valance. Even though the price was somewhat higher than other similar sets and we don’t really need the last 2 items the reviews were high for good quality and comfort. And it does feel nice and is made well.

Now we just hope he likes sleeping in it, but so far so good.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Home Sweet Home

New bedroom carpet.We keep adding or changing small things at our place. Wanted to post a couple of shots of the latest changes. Luckily for me and not so luckily for him — Andrey was staying at our place for this modification. We are very grateful for his help.

Padded carpet covering 100% of the floor of our bedroom.The first one is done in preparation for family expansion. We decided to cover 100% of our bedroom floor with a thick carpet and padding. This should cut down on some noise and if the neighbors are still not happy — it’s not our problem anymore — we’ve done what the rules require. Even though it might not look as great as hardwood floors we think it gives us a peace of mind and that’s more important. Plus it actually did make the room cozier.

Half of the mirror installed. You can see how big the difference is.Another one is a small improvement to the living room wall unit. We inserted a pair of mirrors into the areas with glass doors. This was my parents’ idea and it sure made the whole interior look much brighter.

Both parts of the mirror installed. Hard to capture on the photo because glass reflects as well.Turns out there are tons of mirror shops around and we got ours cut precisely to 1/8th of an inch several blocks away from our place for something like $90 or so. I think it’s a big improvement.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Hallway PAX

Reflection in the mirror.Here’s a follow-up to my previous week’s post about some furniture updates that we’re doing to our apartment. We’ve put everything in the hallway together over the weekend and even made another trip to IKEA for some internal organizers, since PAX wardrobes themselves come completely empty.

Hallway PAXI ended up with way too many pictures, but it presents the new house “mod” from all the angles.

View from the living room.Overall we added 3 PAX units — a pair of 2-doored ones and a single slim 1-door unit. In between these we added a BESTA unit, similar Internal organizers.in style to our living room setup to keep keys, mail and sunglasses on once you come in.

We also ended up replacing our chandelier that we had in the hallway. One of the doors would not open fully with the old one. Also because of the size of the PAX wardrobes one part of the hallway became quite dark. We ended up getting a set of 5 lights arranged in a pretty much straight slim line. This way we can direct the light evenly throughout the hallway and it resolved the problem with the door not opening fully.

Another angle. Looking through the mirror.We also added a big nice mirror, something that Alena has dreamed for quite a long time now. In the old place of ours we had a pair of weird, wavy mirrors on the wall, but they weren’t very good and we managed to lose them somehow during our move.

Little PAX for little-one.As you can see this adds tons of storage space. Finally we don’t have to keep shoes all over the hallway in massive disarray and have a place to hide all kinds of miscellaneous junk that we had lying all over. The little closet is going to be fully dedicated to the little one that is arriving in a very near future.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Storage Space

New IKEA Besta unit in one corner and the table in the other.We’re at it again — apartment redesign. This time though we’re just adding some finishing touches to what we started in October of last year.

Corner looks empty without the new unit. And the curtains add a lot too.We wanted to fill up the corner that was occupied by our monster TV earlier, but now with the expected arrival of a 4th family member we figured we need to better utilize the space in our hallway as well. And as the last time we started with some planning in Google SketchUp.

Planning sketch.Then with a huge help from Misha over the weekend we started implementing the plan. Misha drove us to IKEA in his minivan and back and helped me carry all the stuff upstairs. Some of it was just incredibly heavy that there is no way I would be able to do any of it by myself.

Hallway with planned IKEA PAX units.At this point the living room is updated and the hallway is waiting for its turn, which is going to be this upcoming weekend. The table has also been relocated to its new place in the living room.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Living Room Curtains

Living room with new curtains.One of the last touches for our new living room is a set of modern curtains. I think they look great, but we paid way too much money for them. You just know that when your curtains cost nearly as much as your whole wall unit or your new 46″ TV you’ve been screwed. But you either get something ugly, get nothing, or pay. That’s why we are sticking with blinds in the office and cheap, $90, Bed, Bath & Beyond curtains in the bedroom.

Curtain rod and curtain rings.We picked them up on Sunday and I custom cut and installed the curtain rods myself because the curtain people wanted another $120 for 30 minutes of easy work, freaking con-artists. There hasn’t been a sunny day in NYC since then, so the photo that I have has a rather gloomy look outside.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old Painting

Painting by Takefumi Hori.Last weekend we finally decided to hang an old painting that we had up in our old apartment in the living room. Ever since our move it’s been rolled up, collecting dust behind our couch.

Custom frame.After the redesign in the living room that space on the wall in the hallway seemed empty and it proved to be an ideal spot for our painting. And it looks good with our old custom frame.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Living Redesign

IKEA wall unit, Giormani leather sectional sofa.Big day today. Had two deliveries of new furniture and then we had a pickup of a donation of our old stuff to a Jewish organization. The new sectional sofa and a table are awesome. Huge upgrade. We really lucked out on the sectional deal1, I think.

New Giromani leather sectional sofa and coffee table.Our old couch, armchair, TV and the stand are gone. It’s somewhat sad, but I’m glad I’m not the one who had to move that stuff out. Poor guys barely moved that TV and then I saw2 poor bustards unload it on the wrong floor, before reaching the bottom level, by mistake. But they seemed to be laughing when they realized.

  1. 25% cheaper than all other places, and when the price is in the thousands it really means a lot. []
  2. Internal building video feeds. []
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