Saturday, September 13, 2008

Open House

Our landlady stopped by today for the first real visit since we've lived here. We needed to get together anyway to pay her this next three months of rent (we pay quarterly), so I invited her to come by and see all the repairs we had done this summer. The last time she'd been in the apartment was when I was away, so I wanted her to see it when I made sure it was clean and when I had everything organized (visiting when Chris is here on his own is NOT desirable...).

We've been so worried about not having our lease renewed, so I wanted her to see how much care we've put into the place, and how it really is our home.

Needless to say, we had a very nice time with her. The girls were so well behaved (THANK YOU, GOD!) and she loved the lemon bars I'd made. She liked what we've done to the apartment and I feel quite confident that we'll be able to stay here as long as we're in Moscow; she said many times how much it meant to her family to know that their apartment was being in lived in by a family that loved it and considered it home. She also said how good it is that the elementary school is within walking distance. PHEW... She even invited us to visit her at their dacha (where she lives full-time now) tomorrow; it will be great to spend a day in the forest. 

Her husband died of heart failure this July... And she has been battling cancer for a year and a half. She said she'll be in the hospital next week, but didn't want to talk about it any more than that... I really pray she's OK; she's such a kind woman... I'm about to head to the grocery store(s) with the girls so I can bring a big lasagna for her tomorrow. 

Back to the whole "open house" theme...

Rachael did a virtual open house a while back, and this, frankly, is the first time I felt ready... Considering how long I cleaned to get ready for today's visit with the landlady, this is about as a good a time as any!

Let's start with the entryway. Kind of scary, I know. There aren't any closets in the apartment, and there's no storage of any kind (no basement, attic, covered balcony, etc)... So this is where we have to store all coats, bags/backpacks, gym bags, out-of-season clothing, all shoes, sports equipment, cleaning supplies, all of my craft supplies (sewing, scrapbooking, painting, knitting), all of the girls' art supplies, gifts to have on hand for other people's birthdays/my girls' birthdays/holidays, Christmas decorations (including our fake tree), gift wrapping supplies, tools, lightbulbs, candles, suitcases... You get the picture

Then you walk into the dining area. The short hallway contains most of our games and a bookcase with my cookbooks and the girls' homework/current artwork. I've hung all the sculptures they've made over the years at Mir Dyetstva from the ceiling. The girls' favorite artwork is framed on the walls. The picture of the hallway is taken once you're already in the dining area, looking back towards the entryway. Once we get a piano, we'll get rid of the play kitchen and keep it there.

Above the table is Katya's painting of Fairytopia.

I love these pictures by Natalia from last year... They depict such a happy, carefree little girl... "The flawer is byootiful. The girl is me. I am looking at the byootiful flawer... I am byootiful. I am a fashion girl. I like fashion stuff. I am a prittiy girl... I am holding babiy cats. The babiy kitis are cyoot. I am going to a ball."

The shelves are decorated with favorite vases and pottery from our wedding, plus Katya's own pottery.

This dining area is between the entryway, the girls' room, the bathroom and the kitchen.

While we were gone this summer, the walls in the entryway and dining area were painted white. The place is so much brighter now! Broken floor tiles were repaired in the entryway, kitchen and bathroom. Broken drawers in the kitchen were fixed. The bathtub was reinstalled. The tub was fixed so the jacuzzi functions -- and there's no more mold build-up in all the tubes (it had never worked since we moved in and the mold was BAD). Here are the girls thrilled to discover what the jacuzzi feels like! (This picture is from our first day back from America in August). 

Here's the kitchen. When we first moved in, I painted the walls yellow and sponge painted them with a darker shade of yellow. I also made the provencale curtain. The fridge is new to us, bought from another expat who was moving. Ours had been dying over the past year. The girls love their "Kids' Magnetic Poetry" in English. We have a tiny "balcony" outside that door, but "balcony" sounds much nicer than it is. It's very run-down and we simply use to store out-of-season tires. We keep the door locked at all times for safety and security.

Here's the girls' new room. I had the Madeline murals painted over (have tried in vain to find when I've posted pictures of those old murals so I could link to it, but I can't find anything right now) while we were in the USA. As soon as I have the time, I'll paint fairy forest murals on the walls. The girls chose the new color scheme and their bedding has fairies. A fairy curtain is coming, backordered from The Company Store until the end of October. This room was our real splurge and the most work. Their beds used to be bunked; we now removed the lower bunk from Natalia's bed and converted it into a loft bed. We got Katya a new (and slightly higher) loft bed and placed the beds on either side of their window

The girls really like these leaf canopies I found at IKEA. Gotta love IKEA... All of our furniture is from there...

Under each bed is a private area; they have been craving a place of their own. Plenty of kids share rooms, but our apartment itself is rather small and they can't go outside and create private play spaces under trees in a yard, for example. I added curtains to their beds so they can shut them and be by themselves

Katya's area has a desk and bookshelf.

Natalia's area has a bookshelf, egg chair and doll space.

I also found  the slipcover for their couch, adding the quilt for some color and protection from the cats claws and fur

Their mirror and dress-up area was moved to the back wall, Katya's broken bureau was replaced, and I completely reorganized all their toys in the cubby wall

Here are some more views. Note the cool sun light fixture on the ceiling, another fun and cheap IKEA find

Now we'll go back through the entryway to the living room. The only new things about this room are the slipcover on the couch -- which we had SORELY needed since our our unfortunate misadventures with a drunken houseguest last December -- and another large bookcase. (Mom -- look! Talia's wearing the colonial gown you made her!)

Here's one last picture, a quick peek in our bedroom. The rest of the space is taken up right now by a huge drying rack, so I didn't take any photos of the two closets we added.


Rachael said...

The girls' new bedroom looks great! I don't know that I'd have been able to paint over that Madeline mural: it was SO cute! But I LOVE the fairy forest idea. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Anonymous said... i am "homesick"..... for those that haven't/will never see tamara's apartment, let me assure you it is super cool! the best part, however, which she doesn't mention at all, is the "smell" of the place...oh man, i remember many nights standing in the kitchen with the window open, slight rain outside, the smell of her famous chili, our girls giggling in the bedroom....memories...!!!!!

miss you!!! jeannie

Tina in CT said...


Please email Tamara and ask her for my email address as I need your last name and mailing address.


Tina in CT said...

Everything looks so wonderful, fresh and oh so organized. I miss seeing Madeline in the girls' room though. I hated it when Katya outgrew Madeline as that meant Natalia would follow suit.

Anonymous said...

Your apartment looks so nice and inviting. Thank you for showing it to us,

Annie said...

Well, that was certainly fun! It makes me want to be in Russia. Well, what doesn't? I love the girls' room. The combination of those big leaves and the sun fixture is just so adorable.

The landlady should be pleased. I would be. You are lucky to have girls. My boys have - well, let's say, the house is not quite so well-preserved as it was before their arrival.