BYE 2017, HELLO 2018

I know we’re about 16 days into 2018 but Im actually just now able to sit down with my thoughts & let you all know what’s happening in our life. First of all, I am so happy that 2017 is over & done with. It was a hard year to say the least. So much happened, so many emotions and just all around was ready for it to end. Once midnight hit, I was ready for the new year to begin.

Im not saying 2017 was bad, it was challenging. I did however get to see & meet some family that I haven’t seen in over 25 years and it was one of the greatest parts of the year. I cannot wait to hop on a plane & see them again this year! A lot of life lessons were learned this past year and I know Moe & I will forever be thankful for them. I turned 29 & have been freaking out that in a few short months, Ill be turning 30! Guys, I don’t think Im ready!! We traveled to places that Ive only dreamed about & will be sharing more on that soon.

Im not one to do resolutions or anything like that but I definitely do make goals. I set same personal goals and then large goals and try and meet every single one of them. This year is no exception. Moe & I have so much in store & planned that we are excited for what this year is going to bring.

I plan on sharing more about our adventures & what happens in our life. I know I started this blog to be real with you guys and to share personal experiences and I promise to bring it to life and do just that.

Now onto some exciting news. If you follow me on instagram (@lululezu), you’ve probably seen my cryptic messages every now & then about a new company that Moe & I started. If you’ve been following me for a while you probably also know how much I love to design & flip houses, it has always been a passion of mine. Last year I flipped the house that I grew up in and craved more. After the horrific Hurricane Harvey rolled through town, Moe & I were presented with an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.

So many people lost everything that they owned. Moe lost his job & we are HUGE believers in everything happens for a reason & opportunities don’t fall into your laps every day. With the support of everyone around us, we dove right into what we love most, helping people. Moe & I started a remodeling/construction company. This has always been something that we’ve always done & something that we are very passionate about doing. We hit the ground running after Hurricane Harvey & haven’t looked back. We’ve enjoyed every bit of helping our clients rebuild their homes and have met so many amazing people along the way!

We’re so excited about this endeavor and hope to continue it in the years to come. If you want to see more about what we do & have done follow us at @reinstarremodels. We’ll be sharing more projects soon! But for now Ill leave you with this sneak peek & will have our website up soon! Be sure to follow along so that you can stay tuned into our projects & everything that we have coming up.

Here’s to 2018 & all that is on the horizon. We hope you’ll continue to follow our journey & the places we’ll be going this year.

xo

layla

We hit 2!

Our sweet baby boy turned 2 this morning! So many emotions running through me today. Id love to tell you why this day is such a significant day in our lives, especially mine.

Let’s back track to about 6 years ago. January of 2011, we received the news that my great-grandmother had passed away. We knew it was coming but at the same time we were all extremely heartbroken, especially my great-grandfather. This year my grandmother would have turned 99 over Thanksgiving. Fast forward the rest of the year, graduated college. My paternal grandfather came down for my graduation and my great-grandfather sent me a gift because he couldn’t make the trip. 2012- January, 11 days before the 1 year anniversary of my great-grandmothers passing, my great-grandfather passed away. I remember how much it broke my heart. He was such a strong man but he had a broken heart. I won’t get into details about it because today is not about being sad. My grandfathers were very close and I remember how much it broke all of us.

Fast forward to August, 2012. I went overseas with my aunt and cousins and remember having such a great time. I spent time with my grandfather and all of my dad’s family. I had never been overseas “by myself” so it was definitely a different experience but a good one. Growing up my dad’s parents would come and stay with us for 6-8 months at a time so we were extremely close to them growing up. Ill never forget sitting on the couch with him watching “Cake Boss” and him telling me, when you get married we’re going to go to New Jersey and he’s going make you a cake. Actually we were really close to all of our grandparents growing up. We’ve always been a house full of generations and I think that says a lot about a family and how close they are. Currently my grandmother, my moms mom is staying with us and I don’t want her to leave!

Back to overseas- I spent as much time as I possible could with my grandfather because I didnt know if he was going to come back to the states anytime soon. All I remember is him tell me he’s tired and that he doesn’t sleep much. My grandfather was one of the strongest men that Ive ever known and it truly hurts every time I think about him. If I had a genie I would wish to spend one more day with my grandfather. Came home, skip to December of that year. I was at a dinner for my friends birthday and Ill never forget getting the phone call from my mom that my grandfather had passed away. I broke. All I could think about was getting home to my dad to hug him because I knew how hard it was going to be. My grandfather passed away December 7th, 2012.

Fast foward to 2014, December 28th got married. Fast forward to April of 2015, found out we were pregnant. Due date was December 8th. Monday, December 7th went to the doctor for a check up to see when our baby would make his grand entrance. The doctor told us it could be any day now. She said it could happen in the next couple of hours or it could be up to a week. I remember going home and finishing up some work and I started to get really uncomfortable. Went and laid down, about 2 hours later I told my mom it was time to go. Of course everyone was in a frenzy and Im like I can drive if you want. Walked into the hospital, get situated about 4pm and of course had to answer a million and one questions from the nurse while having contractions. about 730pm little Qais made his grand entrance into the world. Let me tell you that kid had to be pulled out because he was so stubborn and didnt want to come. Qais was born on December 7th, 2015.

This day is bittersweet. Bittersweet in the sense that I miss my grandfather but amazing because we brought our son into the world on this day. I see mannerism that my grandfather had, his strength, his stubbornness, his loudness in my son. I hope he grows up to be just like his great-grandfather and loves unconditionally.

To my son on your second birthday. I love you with all my heart and know that your babe (dad) & I are going to give you the moon, sun all the stars in the galaxy. We hope you have the most amazing day and you know how much you are loved. You changed our world forever and I hope you continue to change the world.

Hurricane Harvey

i can’t, i just can’t. my heart hurts, i get happy for two seconds and then i look at the news or at social media and it starts all over again. its just getting worse. thankfully, my family and us are perfectly alright, safe and dry. we’ve got about 15 people currently in the house all going stir crazy so we took turns going around our area to see the devastation. this is so surreal, so unreal, can we just wake up from this bad dream and it all be over already? i know our city is strong and will recover but its so sad to see where you grew up to be destroyed and basically gone. places i go visit weekly, gone. people who are so near and dear to me loosing everything and having to leave their homes with their little ones. I’m so happy that everyone is being strong but I’m feeling helpless sitting at home waiting for the roads to clear to do something.

my brother, bless his heart, went out with his kayak and helped as many people as he could. he almost got taken by the current but thankfully he made it safe and sound back home. he can’t stop wanting to go out and help as many people as possible. they are asking that people be smart and safe when they are going to help victims and make sure that you get them to a safe area with other people. if you think you’re going to get hit, start clearing your most valuable and important items. leave everything else on higher ground, put it in bags in your attics but do not try and take it with you. material items can be replaced but your life cannot.

please stay safe, help your neighbors and stay strong. we will get through this. we felt the southern hospitality this morning when we went to the grocery store. even though the lines were wrapped around the entire store, everyone was so calm, so orderly and so helpful. there wasnt a sour soul insight and we are thankful that people are still being human around here.

just to give people perspective, we are in southern part of the city, just past NASA and before Dickinson. our area is okay to somewhat maneuver around but only if you have a big car. please be smart if you want to explore, either don’t do it and wait or be with people in a very, very high of of the ground car but even then 18 wheelers are under water. everything north of us is completely submerged.

i do not know what will happen of the city but i will try and keep everyone updated as much as i possibly can. I’m only sharing the information that i find. please be safe, stick to your curfews and keep the emergency numbers handy and keep your phones charged if possible. i can only urge what i am hearing from everyone else.

we have the national guard, cajun navy, red cross and so many relief efforts in town but thats not enough. we have tons of people opening up their businesses for shelters but thats not enough. we are going to need so much more. we are going to need supplies for people in need, they are going to need anything and everything you can think of. people of all ages, children, infants, elderly-everyone is going to need our help- so whether you want to pull from your own closet or you want buy and donate, donate money anything is going to help. just like NOLA had Katrina, we have Harvey and its nasty.

ill be posting relief hotlines below. shelters are everywhere, george r brown, gallery furniture, churches, masjids, hometown heroes, and so many other places. if you need shelter don’t be afraid to ask.

here are some photos from our area just a couple of hours ago, its much worse now.

Relief efforts:

Red Cross Houston 713.526.8300/Beaumont: 409.832.1644

Evacuation Routes: 800.452.9292

Elderly & Disabled: Call 211

City of Houston Help Line: 311

Centerpoint Energy: 713659.2111, 1.800.752.8036 (24 hour reporting)

City of Houston Office of Emergency Management: 713.884.4500

Harris County Flood Control District: 713.684.4000

Houston TranStar: 713.881.3000

FEMA; 1.800.621.3362

Texas Attorney General: 1.800.621.0508

Disaster Relief Donations:

Diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies.

www.texasdiaperbank.org

Salvation Army Hurricane Relief: 1.800.SAL.ARMY

Red Cross:

Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation

United Way for text donations,

Text UWFLOOD 41444

i will try and keep everyone updated as much as i possible. stay safe.

Sweden

Part 1 of our 3 country European tour.

Sweden- Let me preface by saying this trip was a complete surprise and none of the family we were going to visit knew we were coming. This is family that we hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Two of my uncles that we visited lived here in the states with us while my brother and I were younger and then came here with their families. 3 of my grandmother’s sisters live here, the majority of their children and grandchildren. Lots of family to see in 3 days and since it was rainy most of the time we were there we didnt do much site seeing. HOWEVER, Im counting the days until our next trip! Hopefully soon because I miss everyone so much! You know how you meet someone for the first time and it feels like you’ve known them you’re entire life, yep that was pretty much everyone we met while we were there.

My brother and I always joked with our cousins here that we don’t look like them. We’re the darker ones and everyone here is super light. People have actually questions my cousin and I if one we’re really related and two how we’re related because she’s light skinned and Im dark, we just laugh it off and say yes we’re really related. When we met certain family members here, we were in awe of how much we resembled them and how my brother and two of our cousins could pass for brothers or triplets! It was crazy. Don’t worry the picture is in here to see for yourselves.

This is one of my uncle’s family that we stayed with while we were there. He lives out in the country area and its breathtaking. It reminded me a lot of Idaho when I visited a while back for work.

By the way, this kid decided to X the bottle on the first day we were there. Ill be doing a post about traveling with active toddlers later.

The sunsets here were magnificent. A photographers dream! But it also doesn’t set until 10pm. So theres that.

Jet lag at its finest.

Everywhere is so lush and green!

These are my uncles that lived with us in the states. Let’s just say that my uncle in the middle was shocked when he saw my dad.

Day 2:

We did a little more sightseeing on day 2, drove around and went to a couple of different places in between going from house to house.

Everything is very Scandinavian and so unique, every house looks different with the pointed roofs and colorful housing. The art history/designer nerd in me was really happy.

We went to a huge mall, turning torso and a local park that went on for miles. It definitely rained the entire day but we didnt care. Hopefully next time it won’t be raining.

This was inside the mall. Let’s just say our malls need to step it up. All natural and so lush. Think of the emerald city from the Wizard of Oz inside of a mall.

So my cousin, pictured below, his grandmother (dad’s mom) lives here in Sweden. We were all going to Italy at the same time but the day he left and go to Italy just wouldn’t add up. Well someone not only surprised his grandmother but surprised us as well and it was such a great surprise.

My beautiful aunts

Incase you were wondering, yes we grew up eating big family meals like this. Trust me its the best way to eat.

This kid is always in someones pantry.

Here’s the picture I was telling you about.

Day 3:

Day three was our last bittersweet day. The fist day was filled with happy tears seeing everyone and the last day was filled with lots of laughter, hugs and we’ll see you soon!

My dad meeting some of his cousins for the first time.

Until next time Sweden! We’ll see you soon!

My latest design project

Oh my goodness, I cannot express how happy I am with the way this project turned out. Not only was this the house I grew up in until I was 13, but I have envisioned the way we would remodel this house for years. Im so excited to be sharing this with you, my readers, and as bittersweet it is to be letting it go-I am excited for the next family to start their traditions and family here.

Before sharing the before and after’s I want to just touch light and say good-bye to this house one more time. I remember having a kiddie pool in the front left side lawn when I was younger, doing cartwheels & prating my gymnastics on the right side lawn. Riding my bike with my brother up and down the driveway or working on our rollerblade skills. I remember playing teacher in the garage but never once did I want to pursue a teaching career in college.

That right window was my room when I got older, started off as my dad’s office with a day bed. That left window was a shared room with my brother where we would jump on the bed to attach the glow in the dark stars to the ceiling so we had something to look at before falling asleep. I remember lounging around in the backyard in the hammock that sat between the trees while our german shepherd ran around and then one summer we built the deck with my dad.

We used to have a white swing that sat in the driveway where we used to sit with my great-grandparents talking about just about anything. We used to have a silver cement basketball goal on the left lawn, if you look closely you can still see where it used to sit.

I remember having a fashion show in our living room for one of my birthdays and my brother being the star of the show as Will Smith from Men in Black. I remember the last birthday I spent here I was turning 13 and we rented a limo that picked up my friends and I from this driveway and we went to Kemah. Little did I know that summer we’d move from the house where so many wonderful memories were created.

Let’s see some before and after’s now

Let’s start with the front. (excuse the fact that we still need to replace the 9, but its lasted at least 15 years). I went with something with a little pop. I love the way dark teal looks on houses and it worked perfectly with this house and the new roof that we added.

I wanted to keep the entrance rugged with a cement feel to it but with a polished look. We found this tile and as soon as we saw it I knew it was exactly what I wanted. I love that it had all of the colors that I tied into the house and that it had a hint of green in it. Let’s see if you can find the other hint of green in the house.

Holy moly! You never realize how small things are until you tear them down! I cannot believe my mama used to cook in this tiny kitchen for everyone. I had pictures under the sink in my rodeo getup, covered in medicine from the chicken pox (yes kids used to get that) & learning how to cook at the stove. But this transformations is one of my favorites.

We loved to start with the bones and work our way from there. So if it’s getting redone it gets gutted!

We initially removed the wall that connects the living room and kitchen and pushed back the wall with the stove. However we found that it was still too small, so we pushed it back even further and cut half of the way to make the entrance grander. OH it and worked.

You can see here where the old kitchen used to lie and how much bigger we made it.

The old ORIGINAL kitchen cabinets from when my parents purchased the house from an older couple all those years ago.

Recessed lighting and shaker cabinets.

A deep open sink is the only way to go, especially when wanting to make a kitchen bigger.

I wanted everything to feel even grander so I went with light, light floors, white countertops & a soft backsplash. I cannot tell you how many backsplashes we looked at. I went out of town and still hadn’t picked anything and a decision had to be made. I found a picture that described my vision to a T, sent it to the husband and him and my dad did a good job on picking it.

All in those details.

Look at how much bigger it looks! I cannot believe this is the same kitchen! Scroll back up if you don’t believe me!

This room used to be our dining room, where we celebrated many birthdays. It then turned into a makeshift room and my dad had this cabinet custom built a few years before we left. We’ve turned it into a couple of different rooms, a study/office, dinning room with an open china cabinet or whatever your heart desires.

Now onto the living room. Yes, think late 1990’s that’s when we left. I have no idea why my parent’s thought this was nice back then but it had to go. My dad ALMOST left it- I laid down firm NO! Take it all off! The floor has an opposite designed on the fireplace. Shaking my head over here. I guess its better than the pink walls we used to have. Yes our walls were pink, I have pictures to prove it. (Wait until you see the bathroom).

I wanted something different and it had to make a huge statement when you walked in because it was one of the first things you saw then you walk through the doors. I am so so please with the way it came out. Exactly as I envisioned and wouldn’t change it for anything.

The top of the fireplace needed to play off of tile in the front but higher, so if you look closely this top stone is a light olive color. Its so pretty in person.

This hallway got a fresh coat of paint and more lighting.

Onto the master bath, remember the pink I was talking about-there it is.

Gut! Gut! Gut!

We decided to enclose the bathroom and make it private. I wanted the archways that are predominate in all of flips to come back to the bedrooms. I loved how we created a subtle enclave here allowing people to have a space to put whatever they choose.

It’s amazing what a coat a paint, new custom cabinetry and flooring does to a place.

Now, if I had to redo one thing in the house it would be the way we laid out the shower in here. I trusted our carpenter to break up the white, I should have stuck with my gut and left it all white with the blue trim. I like for consistency and this was the only place that we didnt do it. By the time I came back to check, it was already took late to change it. Hopefully it won’t bother the new buyers too much!

I think these custom cabinets and that mirror will save it!

Straight out of the 1970s into modern day.

Bedrooms got a fresh coat of paint along with new textured ceilings.

This is is the custom deck that I was talking about. That my dad, my brother & I all built together and Im pretty sure every time I stepped outside I was hit was so many memories. I used to think this backyard was huge, now it’s a decent size and great for a small family. But boy oh boy, I could see a lot of parties being thrown here.

Also, these trees were sticks when my parents bought the house. Now they are so lush and beautiful and make the house what it is, so quaint. If only this area didnt give my such horrible allergies and migraines, I’d buy the house in a heartbeat and keep it in the family. Im having the hardest time letting it go but another family needs to make it’s memories here.

Here is the listing for the house- http://www.har.com/9802-rustic-rock-rd/sale_55718314

Onto the next project!

xo