Harcourt Wedding: Pre-Wedding

I’m going to warn you now, this whole post is going to come out as a cliche. Our wedding day was special. It was magical. It was all of those perfect, heart-warming moments you dream of when you think ‘wedding’ (I’m pretty sure everyone thinks their wedding was something special. So please don’t confuse my words as meaning “better than everyone else’s”).

For those who don’t know, Brendan and I were engaged for almost 2 years, and I spent almost the entirety of it planning our wedding. Not because I was so worried about having my “day,” or whatever… but because I LOVE event planning. I relished in the details, I spent an absurd amount of time researching vendors, and I somehow managed to stay in budget and only do one DIY project.

All of the images below are by Nicole and Teddy Wedding Photography. They were the 1st vendor we met with, and I am so glad we had them at our wedding. Teddy and Nicole are the kind of people you would invite to your wedding as your friends, and their talent is incredible. I really could go on for days about how special they are, so please if you’re looking for a photographer, you should shoot them a message– you won’t regret it.

Some of the Details

The flowers were foraged, arranged and dried by Cat of Westerwisp. I found her on Etsy, and for someone I have never met in person, I feel an incredible bond with her and her work. She cares so much about making your floral pieces special, and true to your vision. She sent me countless updates throughout the year while she foraged for our flowers. In turn, all of the season were represented in our arrangements, and they’ll keep for a very long time, in the exact condition of what they looked like at our wedding.

The shoes, both Bride and Groom’s, are Clarks, the ties are from CyberOptix TieLab, and the gold hair pin is from HatMade.

Getting Ready

We chose to start the day at the Inn at Pasatiempo, they have a series of suites that are perfect for getting ready– even with 6 people in each room and an entourage of hair and makeup artists.

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My bridesmaid, Meg is an excellent bow maker

Our Wedding Party

I can’t leave these pictures out! These people are so special to Brendan and I, I love that Teddy and Nicole took a moment with each of them.

The Groom

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The Bride

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…To the Wedding!

Brendan went first to the venue in this gorgeous classic car from Monterey Classic Limo.

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Harcourt Wedding: Our Rehearsal Dinner

It was very important to us to have our wedding at our home. I drew elaborate drawings for the wedding planner to explain how we would use every inch of our 5,500 square foot lot to host our ~100 guests. I even incorporated renting the lot behind us, currently an open field, as a space for dinner to be held.

Unfortunately the best laid plans rarely come to fruition and the lot behind us was sold to someone who is planning on developing the land. So, we decided that it would be best that we host the wedding elsewhere.

Months went by and the tractors and cranes I imagined never showed up… seems planning their build is taking longer than expected, and so at the last minute, as a consolation prize to our original vision, we chose to have our rehearsal dinner at our home.

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We were also lucky enough to slip away for a few minutes with our photographer team Nicole and Teddy of Lapierre Photography and take a few shots on the cliffs near our home.

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The countdown almost completed, I couldn’t believe we were off to get married the next day! 2 years of planning was about to unfold!

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Grammar doesn’t matter when you’re getting married, right?

I can’t wait to share the wedding with you! Want to see more from our wedding planning process? Head over to instagram #HarcourtWedding

The House of Harcourt: our first year of homeownership

1 year, one whole year… 29 more years of mortgage payments to go! haha What’s a better way to reflect than a few before and after shots!

Before And After of the Landscaping

(still a work in progress)

Back Yard before and after Front yard 1st year BandA Front Yard Before and after year 1

Our Kitchen Remodel

Kicthen Before and After kitchen Before and After 2

And the Living Room

Living room before and after

Owning a home is a continual project. I find it so interesting how tasks like planting flowers,  or picking out cabinet fixtures can become to important and staying home on a Saturday feels like a privilege. Here’s to many more years in the House of Harcourt.

Tesla’s 15 minutes of Fame with AvoDerm Natural

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 6.14.52 PM

Mark Rogers and Tesla hanging out.

Just wanted to take a moment a celebrate Miss Tesla’s success story being featured on AvoDerm Natural‘s website. Tesla has had some skin problems in the past… she started itching a lot when she was about 6 months and by the time she was about a year she had chewed most of the fur off of her underbelly. Her tummy skin was pink and had little red marks on it from where she had been frantically chewing. Avoderm tesla success story dog food allergies photo by Mark Rogers

It was pretty frustrating because we were feeding her top line food: $60+ bags of organic, grain free, chicken free, corn free, whatever else free, we literally tried it all. Most of the time she would stop itching for 1-2 weeks and then she would get right back to it. I kinda thought, well, she’s just one of those breeds that tends to get skin problems, so maybe she’s just going to be like this no matter what.

One day I was at work and we came across the topic of dog foods, and my boss said her dog was on AvoDerm, and she really couldn’t say anything bad about it. She suggested I give it a try, so we went to the store and bought a bag of lamb and brown rice and started weaning her over to AvoDerm.

Tess is Golden looking gorgeous photo by Mark Rogers

Two weeks in we were blown away by the results- no red skin, scabs were healing, fur was even growing back. I thought “well, let’s just see how long this lasts…” but I can now say we are 6 months in and still going strong. PLUS way, way less shedding, and softer coats for both Finn and Tesla. It’s just a really awesome blessing to have her scratch free AND THEN to have her be a success story on their website is just too cool (plus, how cool to have your dog professionally photographed!)

I took this one :-) She totally knows there's a camera in my phone. What a goober.

I took this one :-) She totally knows there’s a camera in my phone. What a goober.

Speaking of that, I also wanted to tell everyone about the Facebook Photo Contest they’re doing called Glow and Tell. The grand prize is a photo shoot with the same guy who took Tesla’s photos for their website. So good luck to everyone and I hope you too can get some great picture of your pup!

Glow and Tell Photo Contest

The House of Harcourt Remodel: The Bathroom

Finally moved in, and ready for its debut, here is one piece of our new home!

Background: We purchased our 860 sq ft,1940’s farm-town bungalow from a woman in her 80’s who had lived there for 35 years! Her realtor told us she would’ve stayed, but the few stairs between the kitchen and bedroom spaces were hard on her arthritis. She loved her garden, and told many people that she hoped whomever bought it wouldn’t scrape the lot and build a giant home (like many people in this area have). Lucky for her, Brendan and I fell in love with the existing home and its lush gardens, we never considered destroying it… but it did need a HUGE facelift.

The first piece of the project we will be featuring on the blog is the bathroom. This is the smallest room in the house

Here are the pictures from the listing:


Looking in from one of the bedrooms, you can see the majority of the bathroom. The shower is just to the left of the vanity. One of the huge challenges of this house was this bathroom because it is so small and has two access doors, one for each bedroom.


All the contractors we brought in to look at the project all paused when they saw the shower. It appeared to be only coated in stucco with a sealant. No one had seen anything like it before.

I’m not going to lie, I kinda loved the 60’s flower power wainscoting, the mustard counter top and matching vent… but no one loved the flooring.

The bathroom also came with the most inspection issues: we had dry rot in the floor under the sink, toilet, and shower (so basically the entire room), the wax seal on the toilet was desperately needing to be replaced, the walls were made of plaster, and we were really not sure if the shower was actually water tight at all.

So we demo’d the entire thing, down to the studs.


mmm… old glue

Once the wainscoting was off the guys began in on the shower and discovered that it was built like a bomb shelter: stucco, tile, 6″ of concrete, chicken wire. The wall had to be smashed with a sledge hammer, then the individual chunks had to be cut free by clipping the pieces of chicken wire… it was a pain in the rear end.



Next the plaster was removed from the walls

In a moment of exuberance, Brendan smashed the wall with such a mighty blow that a huge chunk of cement flew off and broke the bowl of the toilet, the only piece of the bathroom that we weren’t planning on removing. SIDE NOTE: if you ever break a toilet, be very careful the shards are EXTREMELY sharp and will cut your hand, limiting the amount of demo you can do that day, and possibly sending you to the urgent care for stitches. In our case we just used super glue, no stitches were “needed.”

and before you know it… we were down to the studs. IMG_0996 IMG_0984While the house was barren, we had all the pipes updated to current code so the shower and the toilet would be good to go for another 20 years. Then we rebuilt. 

photo 3746 photo 2photo 20948photo 31] photo 4


We included a secret laundry chute; covered by a medicine cabinet mirror (pictured in the next photo).
photo 1[121]photo 1[11]photo 41]photo 4[35]

Yep… the toilet didn’t come with a toilet seat… photo 2[9s]

At this point, we moved in. The kitchen was not done, the lights hadn’t come in for the bathroom, but we had running hot water, and that was more than we could say the week beforehand. photo[7876] photo 5[4456]

I would like to say that since finishing the bathroom it’s been smooth sailing… unfortunately it has not. The shower fixture we purchased began leaking, 2 plumbers later we found out the part that needs to be replaced isn’t made in the US and now we are waiting for it to come from China. If I could do it over again, I would not overlook where the replacement parts come from as the shower has now been leaking for 2 weeks and the part has yet to arrive. :-/ Great way to conserve in a draught.

We also hit a snag with the glass shower door and for sometime we had a makeshift shower curtain. Then the door showed up, but it was scratched. Finally, when they replaced the door they didn’t line up the weather stripping on the bottom, so our shower leaked out onto the bathroom floor whenever you took a shower (the golden retriever was in HEAVEN).

As with any new renovations, the house has begun settling into the remodel and we have had to re-grout and caulk sections of the bathroom as well.

What I’m saying is: being a homeowner is really just asking for endless amounts of tasks to be added to your to-do list. :-)


Hope you enjoyed this little section of our remodel!

-The House of Harcourt.



How much does a puppy cost? An anecdotal review of our first year as “parents.”

In December of 2012 I was given a very kind end of the year bonus from my employer, instead of spending it on Christmas presents for the ones I loved, I bought myself a dog named Finlay.

Teething pups need their sleep <3Our sweet puppy would arrive on January 10th at the age of 10 weeks old. He had purebred papers, one ’round’ of shots and came with a baggie of dry food, a carrier, nylon collar, and leash. Everything else would be my responsibility.

In addition, in March of the same year (because we are insane human beings) we bought a second puppy, Tesla. At 8 weeks old, this backyard-accidental-litter-golden-retriever-fluff-ball came with no shots, no papers, just a naked puppy and a hand shake.

Tesla in Brendan's Jacket

Obviously there was a price difference between acquiring these two family members, but purchase price aside, there are many factors in caring for a dog (or two) that people forget about. Just like owning a car, every pet has upkeep, maintenance, and hidden fees lurking just around the bend from your initial purchase. These follow up expenses are something we didn’t really think about when a waddling pack of fluff-balls ran towards us and one ‘picked’ me as their owner — but perhaps my expense tracking, once I regained my sanity, may help you decide if you have the time and money it takes to own a dog for the next 15+ years.

Below are the full disclosure financial statements for each of our dogs. Please note, that we recognize our data as being anecdotal and though we’ve done our best to keep full record of all purchases, some may have slipped through the cracks. I will add in extra notes where it seems important to justify spendings. Enjoy!

How much does it cost to buy a Puppy and Pay their Basic Vet Bills?

As I mentioned, I purchased Finn with my Christmas work bonus. He cost $1500.00 and had one round of shots. We decided not to neuter him, but he still managed to rack up $708.26 in standard puppy shots, exams, and flea/heartworm medication (If we had planned to get him neutered, you could add an extra $300.00 to the vet bills.)

Tesla on the other hand was a different can of worms (pun intended, and you’ll see why). We purchased her for $300. We thought we were getting a deal, however, Miss Tesla had worms…which she ended up giving to our healthy Beagle puppy as well. We spent $880.00 on Tesla’s basic shots, her spay, and her dewormer and other medications.

Overall, two healthy dogs for the most part.

How much does it cost to purchase a dog and care for it?

Tesla on the left, Finlay is the larger bar on the right.

We spent $1180 on Tesla and $2208 on Finlay, for a total of $3,388.00 to purchase and give basic vet care to our two pups in their first year of life.

How much money do you need to have a Happy* Dog?

So this section I’m going to start by addressing the asterisk after Happy. What I define as happy and what you define as happy might vary. For my dogs to be happy they need the following things: food, toys, treats, a place to sleep, a bowl to eat out of, basic training and a person to walk them when I have to work long hours and cannot let them out to potty mid-day. You’re going to perhaps think we spent to little or too much in some categories, but here’s our chart:

What do you spend on a dog in the first year of owning it?

In total, we spent $5,375 on keeping our dogs happy, well behaved, and peeing outside. Money, that in my opinion, was well spent.

How much did you pay to house your dog?

Like most young couples, at the time of purchasing our pets we rented an apartment. We were lucky enough to find a place that would allow not only a large dog, but multiple pets– but it came at a cost.

Between pet rent and deposits (and let’s be honest, you’re not going to get that deposit back if you’re raising a puppy in an apartment) we spent $1,312

Did the dogs destroy anything?

Sigh… these two monsters! Oh yeah. They destroyed a load of stuff, most of which happened during the teething phase, and when our lifestyles changed (like the week we let someone stay in our master bedroom, and we slept on the couch… so the dogs ate the couch, and a pair of my shoes, and a hole in the carpet under said shoes).

When people ask me what it’s like to own a puppy I always tell people to visualize their favorite, most prized possession… maybe it’s a really nice pair of heels, or an expensive one-of-a-kind coat… and then imagine coming home after a very long day at work, just the worst day… you open the door, and there’s your prized possession ripped to pieces, in a pile of pee, and your seemingly adorable fur-ball is wagging at you, completely unaware of the irreparable damage they have done — and they need a walk outside, and it’s raining. That’s owning a puppy.

What? I destroyed something?

In their first year of tender, sweet, thank-god-you’re-cute-or-I-would’ve-drowned-you-by-now life our dogs created $1405 pile of destruction, displayed in this lovely pie chart. I broke it down by instance, so you could truly appreciate the amount of times I came home to see collector’s edition books ripped to pieces all over the floor.

A pie chart of all the things our dogs destroyed in their first year


What does it cost to cleanup after your dog?

So finally, the last expense category for us: poop, pee and barf cleanup. This isn’t an expensive category, per say, but an important one. Your dog is going to be disgusting, it’s just a fact. They’re just figuring out the rules, and they won’t know that they’re not supposed to drink a ton of sea water at the beach, or that they shouldn’t puke it up everywhere once they get back inside.

Responsible dog owners need three things to conquer this category: Nature’s Miracle, Rags/Paper Towels, and Poop Bags.

I really should write an entire post about why you should always carry a small container of Nature’s Miracle with you as a pet owner, but let me just tell you, this stuff is the only thing I recommend to clean up pet messes. Doesn’t matter what they have an accident on (Finlay once peed all over my shirt in his sleep while we were watching the Super Bowl at my in-laws) you’ll need it to get rid of the odor and any stain, and it helps remove the pheromones animal waste leaves on surfaces (scents that puppies use as a guideline for where they should go).  It’s great stuff, we still have it around under the counter for the occasional oopsie, or a new doggy playmate who may get confused about where it’s okay to pee.

In total, we spent $180 in poop bags, and Nature’s Miracle for the first year (which means we went through A LOT of it).

So All Together, What Did We Spend on Our Dogs in their 1st Year?

When I saw this number I was in shock: We spent $11,268 on our two puppies. 

The full cost of owning a puppy

Was it worth it? Yes.

Were we ready? No.

Would we do it again? Not right now. 

So there’s all the facts. Take ’em or leave ’em.

You may notice some expenses were not on here, for example, we didn’t go on any vacations in the 1st year, so we never had to board our dogs (a cost we now know to be ~$60 a day). We also have dogs that do not need to be groomed, but many breeds need frequent trips to the groomers.

Also, as I mentioned before, our dogs were very healthy and our vet bill were as bare bones as we could possibly make them, without skipping any of the important vaccinations or medications for living a long healthy doggy life.

One Last Note on Purchasing a Puppy

I wrote this piece not to discourage people, but to empower them with the information needed to make an informed decision. Puppies are adorable, but they are a HUGE expense, and need a lot of time and attention to turn into good dogs. As most of us know, there are a TON of lovely dogs who end up in the pound because owners purchase an adorable puppy and do not understand the commitment they are making. A much younger me had to surrender a dog to the humane society and it is something I am still incredibly guilty about.

Please make sure this is a commitment you can take on for 15-20 years. If you can’t promise a dog that much time, either don’t purchase one, or adopt a senior dog.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope this post will help you find the right answers for your own unique situation.

-Kris, Brendan and the Furry Children