Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First impressions

I noticed the other day that some of the facing tile is a little off. It's really difficult to cut the tile exact every time, but my twitchy perfectionist side will still be bothered by it.

So I've been thinking of ways to deal with that this morning. I found some corner guard molding online that could work, but attaching it is going to be the pain in the butt part of it. Hmm, I'll put some more thought into this...

While I was looking at molding to fix that little issue, I also started looking at crown molding. Oh how I love beautiful, decadent crown molding. Something about it is just... so elegant.

Our kitchen is still in need of a lot of work. There are a ton of little and not-so-little projects still on the queue and more keep getting added to the list as time goes by.

  • Finish back splash
  • Fix cabinet next to dishwasher
  • Install track lighting 
  • Install iron chandelier
  • Organize and "prettify" pantry
  • Put some sort of "cap" on uneven edges of counter 
  • Take weird cabinet off/take doors off cabinet
  • Cut away weird box/thing from wall and replace bead board 
  • Replace crown molding on that cabinet wall
  • Paint walls
  • Create curtains/shades
  • Create and install reclaimed wood shelving 
  • Replace crown molding (on wall) with something a little more substantial
  • Replace back entry door and molding 
  • Refinish window molding 
  • Create chalkboard menu
  • Tear up/replace flooring 
  • Install new floor molding
  • Build dining-nook
  • Sew/purchase accents for nook
I have a feeling we'll get about halfway through this list this year - up until creating the shelving. After that I'm not terribly sure what else we will accomplish this year. 

While scouring for molding I ended up looking at front doors (we need to replace both our front and garage entry doors) and I found this beauty:
Image from HomeDepot.com

Yeah, I know. It's gorgeous!!! I never thought I'd fall in love with a door. 

It will cost nearly a fortune for them to either have it custom made or to have someone come in and install it in our house properly. Last time we checked it was over $300 for them to come and measure and install a door. With the door being around $500 I can expect that it will be close to $1,000 for them to install a front door for us. However, if we can get it custom built to the correct size, I really think we could install it ourselves.

But look how nice it is! Surely it's worth it right? Well, not right now as we have bigger issues to tend with, but someday... hopefully... 

Yesterday I buckled down and tried to get a hold of the person that installed the shingles on our house 8 years ago. Unfortunately, our insurance claim was denied since it was considered an installation error, which insurance apparently doesn't cover in regards to roofs. 

Our next step was to get the engineer's report (which we have) and find the company that installed it and see if they would be willing to come out and take care of the issue. If not, then the next step was to talk to a lawyer and find out what legally could be done to get the situation remedied. 

Sadly, we're at a stand-still. The company that did our roof apparently was a shady fly-by-night kind of contractor that isn't working with a listed company (or even in the industry anymore possibly). After doing searches on Google and through the Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce, nothing of help has turned up. 

I spoke with the owner of one of the companies that gave us an estimate on a new roof (he did the estimate and also came to the house when the claims adjuster was there) and we discussed fixing the issue at hand. We worked out a deal and since they have a slight lull right now with roofs until next week, he was able to fit us in to get everything fixed this week and for a lot less than we originally anticipated. 

We are still having another estimate done just so we know exactly how much we are going to pay for the job, but the ballpark he gave me yesterday is definitely something we can work with right now and still be okay financially. The other great part of this, is that the work is guaranteed so if something goes wrong and the shingles do come loose again, they'll come fix it for no charge. My realtor also recommended this company and I trust that she knows her stuff when it comes to dealing with contractors and the like. 

We'll see where it goes. I'm hoping that it will at least give me a little piece of mind when the gusts of wind start howling over the mountain-side. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

The addiction that is Pinterest

Hello. My name is Amy, and I'm a pinter-holic. 

I was introduced to Pinterest through a variety of channels, but it was my friend Eithne that sent me that oh-so-tempting invite to join. Little did I know what I was in for.

The legends are true. One can (and will) spend countless hours of their time on this website, browsing little photos other people have "pinned." Images range from silly, sarcastic posters to DIY projects and just about everything in between. There is probably nothing that you can't find on Pinterest. 

It's been a good tool for me to come up with ideas for our house renovation projects - a way for me to "save" little ideas here and there without using up a bajillion gigs on my hard drive. Sure, I still save photos on the hard drive, but the great thing about Pinterest is that if it's an item that you know you're going to buy some day (like that labrador art print I'm eyeballing) it will save the image as a link and then I don't have to hunt down the link when I want to purchase it. That's pretty awesome. 

It's also been useful for me to find recipes. Many a good meal has been found on Pinterest - my online cookbook growing and growing... eventually, someday, I'm going to write it all down. 

Speaking of cooking and Pinterest, something I've been thinking about (other than getting our kitchen finished - a post later tonight on our counter top tutorial, plus some photos!) is kitchen organization. Right now our kitchen is dreadfully unorganized. It pains me (being a rather organized person in general) to see my kitchen in such disarray. I understand that part of it is that I live with two guys and they kind of put things away haphazardly (but at least they put them away, most of the time) and the other reason is that there isn't a clear method for organization. 

I personally like things to match or at least go. One of the biggest offenders in that category are spice jars. We tend to buy what's on sale, which sometimes isn't the same brand. Also, the jars are really "loud" (bright colors, prints etc) and I'd like it to "go" with the rest of my kitchen. I'd also like to free-up some space in that cabinet (where the spices are) and put them on the counter top where they will be close at hand when I'm cooking.

This is where Pinterest comes in handy. I can look up hundreds of organization methods in one search. Easy-peasy. 

Another part of this is the jar situation. Eventually, I'd like to start growing and drying some of my own herbs. I know I'll never be able to grow all of the herbs I like to use (a lot of them), but even if I can grow some of them, that's better than none right? But, the jars have to "go" with the kitchen. 

I'm planning on making a little spice shelf in my kitchen next to the stove where I can keep my (seemingly) countless jars of spices. I also plan on getting some clear glass jars and creating my own labels. 

There are tons of tutorials and templates online, but being as annoyingly DIY as I am, I'm planning on creating my own labels and then printing them. 

One advantage I have is that I have Adobe InDesign - which is awesome for this kind of stuff. Photoshop is good too, but InDesign lets you really play with the text, which is the main feature of these labels. There are only a few examples on Pinterest, but there are tons on the web, plus tutorials. Should be a fun project!

BTW, if you're on Pinterest, feel free to find me at http://pinterest.com/amyk119/


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Seeing Green

And no, it's not the "jealous" type.

We noticed a week or so ago that some of the bulbs that my friend Raine and I planted last fall are starting to sprout. It's a little early for sprouts generally, but considering the climate, it's not surprising that we're starting to see little bits of green poking through the ground.

When we purchased our house back in August, the landscaping was done a little haphazardly. There were shrubs planted too close to the house and the enormous stone planter in front of our small porch was full of overgrown weeds.

It was a multi-step undertaking to get everything to it's present state. We had to cut down a bunch of shrubs, pull up roots, plant something that was safe to put in it's place, lay mulch and the like. The planter though, was pretty difficult.

When I say it was full of overgrown weeds, I meant it. It was like a little jungle in there. Eventually we pulled everything out and tilled the soil. There were tons of rocks in there too, so those had to be pulled out as well.

Once the soil was tilled we mixed in some top soil  and put in another layer of potting soil on top.

We still had some weeds that tried to grow again, so we laid down landscape fabric until we could get around to planting the bulbs.

It was had choosing the bulbs. Between deciding what kinds of plants would grow, what we liked and then what colors to plant since bulbs are perennials we won't have to worry about planting new things every year, so we plant once and just leave them alone and thin out as needed. I'll admit, this was done out of pure laziness more than anything else.

We're also planning on painting the house sometime in the distant future, so we had to choose plants that would go with the color we're planning on painting the house (a light taupey-grey).

We decided on choosing warm pastel tulips, hyacinths and bearded iris. I think we also planted a snow drop-type flower as well.

This spring  we're also going to buy some white rose bushes for the planter. We'll end up having to move some of the bulbs around, but after this season, we should be able to leave most of it alone and let it grow in a few years.

Our backyard has iris growing as well, although we're not sure of the color. Raine and I just found the bulbs when we were pulling up weeds. There is a small shrine-like area in the back corner of our yard with a small statue of a mermaid. The bulbs were scattered near her, and we dug them up and planted them a little more purposefully around the statue. In the spring we'll probably plant some other shrubs and possibly some lilies as well.

It feels like we're a lifetime away from spring. Today, it is deceptively sunny outside. Nothing would please me more than to be able to sit the back yard and enjoy a mojito. Of course, having a bench swing, a finished firepit and a seeded lawn would add to this fantasy.

Ah well... off to grout the counter top. Tomorrow I'll post a tutorial and photos!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Communication breakdown

And no, I'm not talking about the Led Zepplin song, although I wish I was.

I like to think that I'm a hip, in-the-know, up-to-date, kind of gal, but the more I try to accomplish online the more I realize that I'm slowly turning into one of those crotchety old folks who can't handle change. That's a sad thing to realize at 28.

For the second time in the last two months I've had issues ordering tile from home improvement websites. I don't know if it's me, if it's just ordering tile in general, or some other cosmic issue, but for some reason I just can't order tile online.

The listing said X brand name travertine 3x6 tile (1 sq. ft.) $4.47 EA.

Now wouldn't you think that mean it was $4.47 per sq. ft? Well, I did. So I looked down in the description and it said there was only 1 tile per case that was 3x6.

So what the heck is the (1 sq. ft.) for?!?!?!

Picture me at this time pulling my hair out and possibly banging my head against the desk.


I decided at this point that I'd call the store just to double check, so I didn't accidentally buy the wrong thing (again). 'Lo and behold! The listing was for 1 (singular) piece of 3x6 tile. Now I purchased a whole square foot of this same exact tile at the physical store for that same price. I asked the woman why it was $4.47 for 1 piece of tile online when I can get a whole square foot at the physical store for the same price - and why on earth does it have (1 sq. ft.) on the listing if you're only getting 1 piece of tile? Why include that? If it was left off it would be much clearer that you're only getting the one piece.

When the poor woman on the phone had no good "answer" to any of my questions, I politely told her I'd just go ahead and purchase what I needed at the physical store, that it would just be easier for an old lady like myself.

However,  I did manage to purchase the pebble tile that I needed along with the pencil molding. That stuff isn't cheap! Augh. Every option that made "sense" was relatively expensive. Awesome. Why must I always make things more difficult than they need to be?

With any luck, we should get the materials by the end of next week - so we'll be putting off the back splash until then.

Here's (yet) another board of all the different components:
Tile images courtesy of Home Depot, Labrador Coffee print courtesy of pinterest.com

Still working on the paint color. I may go a different direction than a taupey-green, but I'm not sure yet. We'll see what everything looks like when we get the back splash done.

I also want to add some rough-textured fabric for curtains in either an off-white or a beige color (to match the travertine) and maybe an embellished runner that goes. Add some rattan chargers and a cool (but small, since our table is tiny) centerpiece and we're all set to go.

Also, we will need to add our shelving. Anyone find any cheap, antique-looking shelf brackets? Preferably black iron and a little worn?

I'd also like to make a chalkboard. I have a really cool antique frame that's an odd size that would be perfect for a project like this.

Still yet on the list is to fix the weird hole in the cabinetry next to the dishwasher, get (and install) track lighting and a wrought-iron chandelier, plus organize the pantry! Lots to do on our kitchen list still, but we're working through it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Neverending Story - of my illness and the counter top

It has been over 6 weeks since I caught whatever-it-is that I have. Whooping cough has been running rampant in my neck of the woods and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if that's what it was and my doctor just didn't catch it (or even test for it - weird).

Granted, I was at about 90% over the weekend. "So close..." I said to myself that I was fairly certain I'd be feeling much better by the end of the week when we finished the counters.

Oh, the best laid plans...

Somehow, I managed to catch this horrid head cold, which turned into a sinus infection overnight. I ended up staying home yesterday because it took about all of the energy I had just to make my way from the couch to the bathroom or to the kitchen (both right off of the living room) so I figured work could wait.

The awful part about all of this is that I don't get sick like this. For the most part, I'm fairly resilient and healthy. This year has just been a kick to the gut so far.

Now that I'm done with the whining about being sick - we actually didn't get around to finishing the counter top this weekend. Garry managed to get most of the cement board installed (except for the one back splash spot behind the stove) and we have yet to cut the tiles. I won't get into why it didn't happen because it's still bothering me and I have a feeling that it won't be resolved for some time yet.

Garry has Thursday and Friday off this week so I'm hoping that he'll cut and lay the tile tomorrow while I'm at work, grout it on Friday and then we can seal it on Saturday and finally have our counter top space back to normal.

We're also going to make a little trip to Home Depot on Friday to purchase/order the items for the back splash. The travertine and railing we can purchase, but the pebble tile has to be ordered online. We can, however, install the first few rows of travertine subway tile, bottom railing, and the mosaic in the meantime (which will take a while to do).

Once we're finished I will post a tutorial on how to create a stone tile counter top and aftercare procedures. I will say that the project ended up costing us quite a bit more than we originally planned, but we also had to purchase tools and a new sink, faucet and more thinset and grout than we originally anticipated. It also didn't help that we didn't do all of it at once (it's really ideal to do it all at once) so you don't waste the grout.

Hopefully on Sunday we'll be able to actually clean the kitchen. I'm sure part of my inability to get well is because there is so much dust in the house from the renovations.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Paint shopping

Yesterday I took a little detour while I was doing my bi-weekly grocery shopping. I decided to go to Walmart instead of Wegman's. Mostly out of convenience and not wanting to deal with a million people (Weggie's gets pretty busy in the later afternoon), but also because I wanted to look at their paint samples.

I've been mulling over the idea of painting the kitchen a celadon green. It's a nice, fresh green color that is neutral, but still plays off of the colors in the tile, cabinets and counter top nicely.

Of course, now that I've decided to repaint the kitchen, I'm thinking maybe I'll want to repaint the living room something softer and more organic as well. Maybe a shade or two darker than the kitchen, but something a little less girly. I feel bad for Garry sometimes, he really does just let me run wild with some of my decorating "adventures" even if it does mean that he'll end up in a light aqua living room for 6 months.

So I grabbed a bunch of paint swatches yesterday and this morning (because it's one of those rare sunny days where I live) taped them up on the wall in my office. It's really funny how different they look when you're looking at them in natural light opposed to the lighting they have by the paint swatches.

The lighting in my kitchen is similar to in my office. Little direct sunlight and dim overhead light - meaning a lighter color will be preferable, otherwise it will end up looking too dark like our kitchen is now with it's olive-green walls.

Once I narrow it down, I will take them home and put them up in the kitchen, or go one step further and paint a small area just to be sure (sometimes the swatches aren't really big enough to make a difference in the way it reads, especially when there's a stark contrast).

In the running right now, I have:

From Glidden view these colors at www.glidden.com:

  • Shamrock White
  • Granny Smith White
  • Cool Cucumber
From Colorplace (Walmart brand) 
  • Luminous Aurora 
  • Full Spectrum White
I also found some colors for the bathroom too (also from Glidden) 
  • White Sage
  • Polished Limestone
And from Better Homes and Gardens...
  • Willowy White
With any lucky my counter top will be finished (or at least close to it) by the end of the weekend. If all goes according to plan, we will also have our back splash finished and the kitchen painted by mid-March. 

Then again... I do have a three-day weekend. :-) 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Week of Cleaning - or Full of Fail

This week was supposed to be the "Week of Cleaning," which really has turned into the "Week of Wishing My Cats Would Learn to Clean the House" yes, I know it's pathetic and unrealistic.

However, yesterday I did manage to get some laundry done and actually put away instead of just thrown in a heap at the foot of the bed. So we'll call that progress.

The kitchen is still pretty messy, however Garry and his friends are planning on finishing the counter top this weekend so I'm not getting too worried about cleaning up that mess (at least they moved the wet saw to the garage this time).

Our bathroom is looking a little dire straits too. Oh, what I would give to come home and have it be clean. The biggest problem in there is that we didn't have a vent and with three people taking showers, well, let's just say we ended up with a slight mold situation. That's going to require some bleach and serious scrubbing (we recently had a vent installed too).

The tub has also started chipping recently (boo!) but luckily we found some products out there where we can reseal the tub for relatively cheap. Plus, our tub is a weird off-white color and when against the white bead board it just looks... weird. So one of our other small projects is to clean the mold, refinish the tub and possibly repaint in there (the paint could definitely use a little touch-up). I'm thinking of a really light taupe color - that will contrast really nicely against the bright white bead board. Once we get some artwork in there (in some dark frames) and maybe spray paint our towel bars oil-rubbed bronze... but that will take some time, a girl can dream right?

There is also a small drywall patch we need to make and replace a small chunk of bead board where they had to move the light switch.

Our bathroom does need a little love - it's the only room in the house that hasn't received any attention (aside from moving the switch and installing a vent). Once all of that is taken care of, our bathroom will look a million times better, but we won't be done there. We have some BIG plans for our little room that will require some repeat visits from contractors - but for now we're going to hold off until some of the more major projects (like the attic and finishing the kitchen) are complete.

There are some days that I wish all of these projects would be complete by the time I get home from work, or that the HGTV folks will come in and send Garry and I (and the kitties) for a spa weekend to come home to a completely remodeled and finished house. Yeah, that would be nice.

But, that would take the fun out of all of this right? Besides, I know I am WAY to controlling just to let random people come in and do stuff to my house that involved how it looks. Unless it's David Bromstad. He can do whatever he likes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If it's free, it's for me!

Oh, the immortal words of my dear co-worker Heather.

One day, we were sitting in her office gabbing about this, that, or the other and something came up where she responded "If it's free, it's for me!"

I've been finding that entering my vocabulary more and more often lately.

As much as I love to decorate my house and am no stranger to buying a million yards of designer fabric at Joann's (with a coupon of course, but it's still expensive!) it gets, well expensive. And trying to cut down the cost of not only renovating a house, but adding little bits of personality to it here and there (so I don't feel like I'm renovating someone else's house) makes my bank account cry.

Luckily, I love to take photos.

Not just photos of renovation projects, or the random things my cats do, but of beautiful things and moments.

For instance, near our house there is an old carousel. The day before we closed on our house I had some time to kill, so I went to the park where the carousel is and took some photos. They actually turned out really nice.



Wheeeeeeeeee!

Two of those prints (the first and third ones) I had printed in 16x20 size for my living room. I have yet to hang them up (need to get mats and frames) and since our kitchen tile project is taking up more resources than originally planned, it may be a while before those beauties go up on the wall. 

I'm not really a "horse person." I mean, I like horses - but I never had one (well, my grandparents did when we lived next door to them when I was very young). Carousels are actually a big thing in my town, we have tons of them. I have a few really great memories about the carousels from when I was little (before we even moved here) and I thought it would be nice to remind myself of all of the good things about this town when so many people are just trying to get out.  

In the meantime, I've been looking for free things to decorate the house with. We have a TON of random little things here and there or that can be turned into something, but it's just getting around to doing it. Since we have so much going on in the kitchen, it's been hard to focus.

I also received an email from Snapfish today that I would get 20 free prints. Woohoo! So, I'm uploading photos from our wedding to be printed. We have a weird hallway (it's not really a hallway, it's more like a hallsquare) that is begging for some art. Some of the photos would look great framed, plus I can include some other artwork I have that I've done (and there's quite a bit - oddly enough). On top of this, my mom just converted a bunch of old slides from when she was young (and before) that are really cool. Some photos are from when my grandfather was stationed in Italy during WWII. There is one of my mom and her dog, Sam, that I really want to print out. It's a really cool photo that would look really nice in our house, I think. 

I guess I inherited my "let's take photos of everything" gene from him. There are pictures of all sorts of things. Back then, not as many people had cameras (usually more wealthy folks, which they were not) but he worked as a machinist for a camera company so that's how that happened. 

I think having some really cool old photos (that are of my family, or taken by family members) would be really cool to have around to show to my future kid. 

Decidedly, our future kid will think we're nuts, or really cool, but probably nuts.

Working toward spring

Garry and I aren't really the type of folks to get all mushy over any particular holiday. Not that we're "anti" anything, just we don't get all wrapped up in anything that isn't really personal to us. It keeps things less "forced" and more interesting. Folks scoffed at me (no really, they did) when I said all I wanted to do was have a quiet evening at home, watch a movie with Garry and drink some hot cocoa. There are plenty of days we can go out to dinner without dealing with all of the crazy people. Besides, I had an amazingly delicious grilled cheese sandwich last night (that I forgot to take photos of, whoops). 


Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese
  • 4 slices thick-sliced Italian bread (or, really, any bread - that's just what we used) 
  • 2 slices colby jack cheese 
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 tbs fat-free cream cheese 
  • 1 jalapeno - seeded and chopped
I'm going to assume that most folks reading this know how to make grilled cheese. So basically, you add the cream cheese and chopped jalapeno on the inside of the sandwich and cook as normal. It's an incredibly tasty way to have jalapeno poppers without having to deep fry anything. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, you could add some cooked bacon into the mix. 

Grilled cheese is Garry's comfort food and at one point we were going to have it served as appetizers for our wedding. So, I guess you could call grilled cheese romantic in our household... comfortably romantic. 


So, yesterday our dishwasher was installed. Finally. After waiting 5 1/2 months, we now have a working dishwasher. No longer does it sit in the box in our garage collecting dust. No, my friends, it is installed and cleaning dishes like a champ!

It might seem like a mundane thing, but after washing dishes by hand for 5 1/2 months with three adults on different schedules living in the house (and a constant stream of people coming over) it was getting to be a little ridiculous because there was never enough room in our little dish dryer to do all of the dishes (even as we did them as we used them. I'm hoping now our kitchen will look a lot neater. 

We're planning on finishing the counter top this weekend. It already looks a million times better, but having the facing and all of the counter top finished will definitely make a big difference. Oh, if only we had better lighting to take an appropriate photo to share!

When I arrived home yesterday I also noticed that some of my bulbs are starting to sprout! I'm a little worried because I think it might be too early for them to start sprouting and because I'm increasingly more convinced we're going to have horrible weather in March to make up for the rather mild winter we've had so far, I'm afraid that they'll die before they get a chance to bloom. 

We planted a mixture of hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, bearded iris and I think some sort of snow drop. From what it looks like, the hyacinths are the ones that are sprouting with a few of the tulips following suit (based on where we planted everything in the fall. 

I know it's going to be another 2 months before we really see any sort of changes outside. I guess that's what is so frustrating about living up north. The winters here are long. Even if the weather is mild (like this year), it still feels so long because the trees are bare, the grass is brown and everything is still "asleep." 

But, seeing those little green buds yesterday gave me hope. Hope that winter is nearing an end and spring will be here soon. Hope that the days will continue to get longer and warmer and the buds in the ground and on the trees will continue to grow. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nothing says romance like appliances

I've realized that in our home we tend to give gifts of appliances. It's not a bad thing, as sometimes we need them, but today I'm quite thrilled to announce that we will finally have our dishwasher hooked up and working. 

YAY! Happy Valentines Day to us! 

We've been counting the days that someone could come in and install that sucker (we needed plumbing and electric run in order for that to happen) since we bought the dishwasher in September, right after our wedding.

The kitchen is coming a long way. Garry is planning on finishing the trim on the counter top this weekend and start on the other portion of counter (on the other side of the stove) as well. It will be a while before the kitchen is completely clean again, but for now we're making some progress. 

While all of this is going on, I'm trying to figure out what color to paint the kitchen. The current color is REALLY dark
Okay, so it doesn't look as dark here, but above the cabinets? Imagine the ENTIRE room painted that color... because it is.

I like the idea of green, but have it be a lot lighter. I played a bit in Photoshop to try and come up with a color that worked with all of the other elements we are adding in. 
Images that aren't color blocks are from the Home Depot website

It's almost like a light celadon, greeney-grey color. I found a few colors that match up on the Benjamin Moor site, but I will have to see them in person and do a swatch test before I can even "go there" I like this color because it's not just beige, but it's neutral. It also plays nicely off of the pebble tile without being too stark of a contrast (like blue would be). It's also a color that can be easily carried into the living room (which yes, means repainting and some tweaking). 

We're going to wait until all of the tile is up before we start painting, which won't be for about another month. Add to that craziness the fact that we are very probably getting a dog in the spring (meaning we need to take care of the back yard as soon as we can) and we have a very busy spring on our hands. What we'll need to take care of in the meantime? Well, I'm hoping to get this list accomplished before mid-May. 

  • Kitchen counter tile
  • Kitchen back splash tile
  • Base cabinet built (on other side of dishwasher) 
  • Extra wall cabinet taken off, doors taken off to create open shelving
  • Wall "bump" taken down
  • Kitchen painted
  • Living room painted (maybe)
  • Curtains made/bought for the kitchen and living room (part of the tweaking)
  • Brush and tree debris cleared from backyard
  • Tree stumps ground
  • Pine tree taken down/stump ground
  • Fence installed 
  • Front and back lawn seeded 

It's a pretty heft list to accomplish in 3 months. However, trying to accomplish it with a puppy will be difficult, so getting it done ahead of time will be easier than trying to do it with a little furry ball of love trying to get involved. Our other projects like the attic and basement we can work on any time of year and because there are doors closing off those areas it won't make much of a difference working on it with or without a puppy. 

I was hoping to get some more plants to put in the backyard, but I have a feeling that will have to wait until next year. The original plan was to try and get some Leland cypress trees from a local cooperative exchange (you get them for dirt cheap, haha) and use that as sort of a privacy screen for the back yard, but it turns out they didn't have them. Although - they do have forsythia (which I love) so the jury is still out on if I want to use forsythia instead of the cypress.

We're still a long way from planning our back yard garden. We have a few plants there (mainly iris) that we want to expand upon, but until everything is up and blooming it will be hard to tell.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week of cleaning

I'm hoping that the plumbing contractors are coming in today to install our dishwasher and get the old appliances and pipes out of our basement. That will conclude our adventure in having multiple contractors at our house at the same time. I can tell you, I never want to do it again. I really liked our contractors and they did an excellent job, however, having three sets of people coming in and out of my house every day made me kind of nervous on a lot of levels. 

So, I think from now on, if we ever hire a contractor for a job it will be a one at a time kind of deal.

Looking toward this week, I realized that it's going to be the Week of Cleaning. Our kitchen... oh, our sad, dirty kitchen... is in desperate need of cleaning - along with the rest of the house. Considering that we've had three sets of contractors in and out, plus company over and doing all of that tile, our house needs a good scrub-down. 

There are a lot of different kinds of cleaners out there. Now that we have the granite tile counter top (which isn't sealed yet so we have to be extrasupercareful) we need to use a different cleaner than we used before. I've said this before, but personally I'm a fan of Method cleaners, and luckily they make a granite surface cleaner. 

As much of a fan as I am of natural (homemade) cleaners, I find that some don't work for me. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? I'm not sure. I tried making homemade laundry soap and that ended in disaster and little white flecks of soap getting stuck to my clothes. Although, anything with baking soda and vinegar I highly recommend, especially when cleaning out window tracks that haven't been cleaned in a while (or ever, as it looked to be the case in my old apartment when we moved in).  

So, I use the Method cleaners. It's not crazy expensive, nor do I have to worry about it not working. I'm sure to burn through quite a bit of the stuff this week as we scrub the house top-to-bottom, catch up on laundry, and all of those other fun things. 

And yet, I look outside, the sun is shining and all I can think of is to go home and take a nap. 

A weekend of accomplishments and ghosts

At long last, we finally have a working sink.

It took a while to get there, there was a lot of tile cutting, thinset and grout to get through, but now that's all been taken care of all we have to do is wait for the plumber to come and hook up our dishwasher so we can finish the project.


Grout, it also looks like grey frosting

The most annoying part of this project was actually waiting between parts of the project in order for the thinset and grout to cure properly. We also found out that we shouldn't seal the tile until after it's cured for 3 days. We figured once the dishwasher is installed we would put the facing on the counter top, let that cure, and then seal everything. In the meantime we just have to be exceedingly careful. 

Sheet cake anyone?

It's hard to believe how much better the counter looks. Well, I mean, it's not really that hard to believe, but it's still pretty amazing what a difference it made. 
Grout gets really messy

It's also nice that Garry knows what he's doing when it comes to tile. That's reassuring. 

Over the weekend I went to visit a friend of mine in a neighboring town. We went to a reunion event of hers and I ran into my old high school band teacher. It was really nice to see him again. I had completely forgotten that he played with a local orchestra. 

My friend and I watched smartly dressed elderly couples dance across the floor. Ghosts from my past were taking form and showing me glimpses of what "could have been." The music and the couples swirled around the room in a sea of red and black. 

Despite the lovely trip down memory lane, I never once regretted the decisions I have made, or even wished that I could "go back." Those beautiful memories have shaped who I am today, and I am quite thankful for the experience and the ability to recall those moments. 

Something that has come up in conversation many times with my dear friend is that we are "spirits trying to understand what it is like to be human." That statement echoed loudly through my mind this weekend. 

Last night I returned home and found this: 
Ooooh shiny!

Yay! A sink!
Good morning beautiful counter top

The guys had installed the sink while I was away. Finally, now I can do dishes somewhere other than the bathroom. The kitchen was also vacuumed and cleaned up a bit. It's going to take some heavy-duty cleaning in order for the kitchen to get back to where it needs to be, but it's a start. 

Once we get the facing finished and everything is sealed, we're going to start working on the other part of the counter top. We'll get to the back splash sometime around the end of the month. 

Oh, and we moved the wet saw to the garage. Figured it was better off in there than in the kitchen. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Inspiration

Before we even bought our house I was already dreaming of renovating whatever kitchen we would end up with. I made numerous trips to Home Depot and Lowes and hours of time on their websites, looking and lusting over back splash tile. I know it sounds a little silly, but a girl has to get excited about something right?

On one of my trips I ran across this beauty:
Why hello beautiful - from the Home Depot website
It was love at first sight. I actually hugged the mosaic to my chest as Garry and I walked through the store. I looked like a little kid with their favorite teddy bear.

Of course, at the time it seemed silly to purchase tile before we had even bought a house. I just hoped that when it came time, it would still be available.

The time came and I'm sure as you've read in previous posts I had a few ideas of what we were planning on doing about the tile situation. The granite counter top is curing as we speak, ready for the grout application this evening. I initially had my reservations about black granite, but because the granite is so glossy, it reflects light really well. Since we're going with a light back splash, it will reflect that as well.

The counter top project ended up costing more than we originally expected (as most projects do) and with the roof situation still looming over our head, we decided to opt for a less expensive back splash idea (as in, something that didn't cost $11 a square foot). Finding that was going to be really hard to do considering anything more than just plain ceramic tile is usually around $8-$9 a square foot (at least in anything that I liked).

Also considering the ordering snafu I ran in to with Lowes last week, I decided that I wasn't going to order anything online from the big box stores anymore. The sad thing is, my sister-in-law ran into the same problem, only they wouldn't let her return her order. Thankfully she only bought one tile though so they were only out $10. But, it's the principle of thing.

So here enters my gorgeous mosaic again. When I went to Home Depot to pick up the granite tile, the mosaic section caught my eye. I knew it was still there so I held it up to the black granite. It looked so good with it. I found a wood sample that was close to my kitchen cabinets and I fell even more in love. Not that love-at-first-sight kind of love, but that "we've been together forever and I want to get married" kind of love. Of course, all of this is happening in the tile section of Home Depot.

The only problem was what to put with it. I wanted something light, natural stone, and that would match. The hard part of this equation was finding something that matched. The colors in that mosaic were just "off" enough to cause some issues with using some of the natural stone that was available. I didn't give up, and came to a decision!
Aww, a match made in heaven! from the Home Depot website

On the screen, the color doesn't quite seem to look like it would go, but in real life it is that warm creamy color in the background of the mosaic. It will look lovely. 

My love for pebble tile will also be incorporated as well - only a little less than before. We're going to run a strip of it through the middle of the back splash with some sort of decorative railing or something to frame it on either side. It will look really pretty. We're also using a different pebble tile from before. 
A little darker, but still gorgeous - from the Home Depot website

I think it will add a little balance. Also, it brings in the black from the counter top, the dark brown of the cabinets and some of the greys in the mosaic. I may end up pulling out the reddish-tone stones and replacing them with another color (meaning I'll have to buy extra) because I wasn't really planning on having red in my kitchen (or orange for that matter). 

By the time we're done it will look gorgeous and rustic without being over the top. It will probably be a while before we get started on the back splash (after we get our tax return back most likely). We're still making some decisions on what we want to do for the framing molding (I love the idea of a rope style, but only if I can find it in a color that goes and so far all I can find is copper, which I'm not really too keen on in this instance). 

I also found this really adorable print: 
It's cute because it's relevant - we're hopefully getting a chocolate lab in the spring.
Also, I completely forgot where I found this! I'm so sorry!! 

At some point I'm going to see if I can track down where I found this print because it's really adorable. I think it was on Pinterest somewhere. It takes three things I love, vintage advertisements, chocolate labs and coffee and rolled it into one! Awesome! The only problem is figuring out where the heck I'd put it. 

The engineer person is at the house now. No word from Garry yet on this front. I'm decidedly quite nervous about this, and to get my taxes done later. It would be nice if we got some good news before going to do that. 

Oh, we're also getting our living room overhead light and some lighting in the sunroom done today! Sweet! 

Dreams of cooking

That's all I've been able to do folks... dream of cooking in my kitchen again. 

Over the last few years, I've been trying my hand at cooking food more complicated than mac and cheese from a box and luckily I've found a great joy in cooking and I might even go so far as to say a talent for finding (or changing) delicious meals. 

Once upon a time, I had a blog called "Adventures in the Apartment Kitchen." Although, not necessarily relevant now (now that we have a house), I forgot how tasty some of those recipes are. Over the last 6 months or so, I've fallen off the wagon so to speak, in regards to my inventive cooking. Living with someone with a limited taste palette does that I suppose. While trying to make meals that pleased everyone, I lost some of what I enjoyed about cooking - experimenting. 

Now that our roommate has been taking care of his own grocery needs, Garry and I are slowly creeping back into that realm of cooking inventive meals, or even just finding some that we really loved and for one reason or another, haven't made in a while. I can only think of so many variations of lasagna before we get sick of it entirely. 

I found this recipe that I got from Rachel Ray's website a few years ago, I think it's time to resurrect it. 

Black Bean Stoup and Soutwestern Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – chopped (seeded if you don’t want a lot of heat)
  • 4 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 3 ribs celery – chopped
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
  • 3 cans black beans (this is where I goofed. I only bought 1 can, but luckily I had a can of black eyed peas and a can of kidney beans so I used that combo instead)
  • 2 tbs cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbs coriander
  • salt and pepper (I omitted the salt)
  • 2-3 tbs hot sauce and 2 tsp hot sauce (divided)
  • 1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can diced tomoatos (I omitted this too)
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2-3 scallions chopped

Directions:  
  • Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add olive oil and add bay leaf, jalapeno, garlic, celery and onions and cook 3-4 minutes.
  • Add red peppers and continue to cook.
  • Drain 2 cans of black beans (or in my case the black eyed peas and red kidney beans) and add to the pot.
  • With your last can, add juice to the pot and half of the beans. Then take a fork and mash up the rest of the beans in the can.
  • Add the mashed beans and season with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and 2-3 tbs of hot sauce. (It will smell SO good at this point)
  • Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream (I used fat free) to your stoup
  • Sprinkle chopped scallions on top
Now to make the Monte Cristos. They're basically a fancy hybrid of grilled cheese and French toast with a dash of extra yummy.
  • 8 slices of sandwich bread (or 2 per person)
  • 1/2 C chili sauce
  • 2 slices honey baked ham (per sandwich)
  • 2 slices pepper jack cheese (per sandwich)
  • 2 slices smoked turkey (per sandwich)
  • 2 eggs beaten (if you’re only making 2 servings, you only need one egg)
  • Splash of milk
  • 1 tbs butter
  • Spread a thin layer of chili sauce on one side of each piece of bread
  • Have your sandwich innards ready to go (2 pieces of ham, 2 pieces of turkey sandwiched between 2 slices of cheese)
  • Beat eggs with milk and 2 tsp hot sauce and heat a non-stick griddle or frying pan over medium heat
  • Melt butter in skillet
  • Dip the chili sauce side of the bread in the egg mixture and place in pan (egg mixture side down of course), add your innards and then dip the chili side of the top piece of bread in the mixture and set on top (egg mixture side out). You know, kinda like grilled cheese.
  • Cook for a few minutes (no more than 4 minutes) on each side.


Doesn't that sound delicious? If reading that didn't do it for you - here's a photo: 
Om nom nom...
I know, that looks amazing. 
I used to be very diligent about cooking and posting my recipes, after a while it was really hard to keep up with a new recipe every day and my blog just sort of... meandered off into me whining about moving from my tiny little one-bedroom bachelorette pad to a 3-bedroom apartment in a nicer neighborhood. Although, looking back and reading through some of those entries makes me incredibly thankful for our house. Sure, there may be issues here and there (some of them bigger than others admittedly) but our home is infinitely nicer than any of the apartments either of us have lived in. 
BTW, I'm really sorry folks. Every time I copy and paste from one of my other blogs it does this weird formatting thing where it highlights all the text white. And to be honest, I'm too lazy to re-type everything. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Don't take it for granite

Okay, we're finally caught up to the present day.

We're on the "cutting the tile" portion of our countertop journey and so far it's coming along. The little wet saw we bought from the big HD is working out pretty well. There are a couple of nicks here and there, but once we grout and fill in those little areas with caulk, it should be fine.

One thing we didn't realize is how messy using a wet saw is - and we thought our kitchen was a mess before - now let's add granite mud to the mess. This is going to be awesome to clean up tomorrow!

They are almost done with cutting the tile, only a few more to do before we can apply the thins.et and actually lay them. We are so close to having our kitchen back... and yet, so far at the same time.

The kitties are decidedly annoyed with all of the noise. Wet saws are also not known for being the quietest of tools either. Between this and the contractors coming in and out of the house for the last two weeks, I'm sure they're fairly certain we've lost it. I'm starting to agree with their assessment of our mental stability.

At the end of the day, it will look awesome and all of the hard work will be worth every painstaking moment. The counters will be glistening and gorgeous I will be able to use my kitchen again, and we will have a dishwasher so the counter won't pile up with dishes.

If we get to bed before midnight tonight it will be a miracle.

Tomorrow we're getting our taxes done and admittedly I'm a little nervous. Since this will be the first year that someone else will be handling our tax preparation (I always did my own by myself, as did Garry) it should be interesting to see how this works out for us. We decided this year that we would have someone do it since we had so much happen in the last year, like buying a house and getting married. I'm not sure if it's going to work out in our favor (as in a "higher-than-normal" return) or not, but at the very least, we'll know that it's done correctly and I'll know what we need to do for next year (so I can do ours myself).

The forensic engineer is coming tomorrow to inspect our roof and find out exactly what is going wrong with it. I'm really hoping he will say that it was wind (or otherwise weather-related) damage so the insurance company will cover reshingling our roof. Depending on what he finds (and at this point, knowing the way my luck has gone in these things so far) I'm fairly certain he'll say it's an installation error, meaning we go after the installer to have it fixed. The problem becomes that most warranties don't transfer when you sell the house and the work was done just beefore the previous owner bought the house. Womp womp. Let's cross our fingers and hope it all works out. It will eventually.

Learning the lessons of someone else's mistake


oday I am feeling much better, but over the weekend, I’ve been a milisecond away from having a panic attack at a moment’s notice.
Friday our contractor came to the house to start on the insulation project when he noticed a leak in our roof. So, he went up on the roof to see what was going on and noticed a small leak. No big deal right?
Wrong.
It wasn’t just a “small leak.” It was the vast majority of the shingles on our roof sliding off. Garry walked around on the roof and took some pictures and it wasn’t pretty. Most of our shingles are sliding off to the point where you can see the tar tabs on them. They’re all misaligned and if it isn’t fixed soon, it will cause even more leaks and can seriously damage the house.
Our contractor told us that the shingles look brand-new, like they were just put on within the last year. The disclosure we receieved from the listing agent said the roof was 10-years old… in other words, someone lied.
Now, there isn’t really anything we can do about it from a legal stand-point (probably), but I guess it’s more of a “We know you screwed up the roof and WE are spending the money to have it fixed properly FYI.” Not that the previous owner really cares (I doubt it considering the way the landscaping looked), but yes, calling her out on it (without expecting anything from it) is another.
We ended up filing an insurance claim. They are sending an inspector to look at the damage on Friday. Our contractor told us that the shingles weren’t nailed in properly and with the significant amount of wind storms we’ve had this fall, it caused them to tear away from the nail and slide.
At this point, we have no idea what’s going to happen. We’re really hoping our insurance will cover this, but then again we have no idea. We also don’t have $10,000 just lying around to use to replace the roof. Unfortunately, this means our insulation project will be put on hold (well, not sistering the joists, but actually putting in the baffles and insulation) until we can get our roof situation under control. We don’t want to risk any more leaks getting the insulation wet and possibly having a mold issue down the road.
On the bright side, the insurance company said that they may be able to cut us a check for damages on Friday. If it’s enough to cover it all (or at least most of it), we can just pay our current contractor to do the work (which would be ideal) and he could get to work (hopefully) right away.  Otherwise, it could take 1-2 weeks to get everything figured out.
Some other good news – the plumbing people are coming *hopefully* on Wednesday to install our new furnace and water heater. The dishwasher also may be installed by the time Super Bowl weekend rolls around – which would be completely and totally awesome. Not that I’m having a party or anything – completely the opposite for once. I’m planning on some nice, quiet alone time with Garry since we haven’t had much of that lately. Our weekend is pretty packed solid from going to try on bridesmaid dresses, classes, parties and a bunch of other things happening ALL AT ONCE. At some point, I’m going to need a *real* vacation away from everyone. It’s not that I don’t love everyone and appreciate company, but I’m getting kind of burnt out.
I guess that’s the other thing. It’s winter, I’ve been sick for almost a month now, and I’m getting burnt out. I’m tired of dealing with the reprecussions of other people’s problems. I don’t mind helping people with problems, but when I have to deal with the consequences when it has absolutely nothing to do with me, well that irritates me.
I also wish I felt more respected. It’s a bit too personal to go into on here, but I’m just not feeling respected right now and it really blows.
Other than all of this, I’m trying to keep an optimistic outlook. I know it will all work itself out eventually, but that doesn’t keep me from the worry. That knawing little voice in my head that says “Everything is going to turn into a disaster if you don’t figure out 5 different contingency plans RIGHTTHISSECOND.” And, of course, that sends me into a panic-attack because “I can’t think of something off the top of my head!” For reasons being anywhere from something reasonable like: ”I don’t have enough information yet to make an informed, well thought-out plan” to “I’m fat and ugly and that means I can’t do anything right.”
Being in my head is sometimes like a crazy, keliedoscope rollercoaster. Sometimes you feel like you might throw up from all the whizzing and chaos, and other times everything moves in sync and some beautiful things happen.

The art of compromise


(originally written January 25)
If it’s one thing I’ve learned to be fairly good at, it’s compromising. Not that I compromise myself into a situation where I’m not happy, but more like learning to let go of my obsessions over something that is unrealistic or that Garry isn’t 100% head-over-heels in love with like I am.
Case in point, I desperately wanted to paint the cabinets in the kitchen white and install glass tile. Garry was very much against either of those two options so we butted heads on it. At the time, it seemed like all the options that he “approved” of would only make the kitchen into even MORE of a black hole than it already is, but I decided to run with it.
In the process (somehow) I managed to come with black granite tile (yeah, I know – who would’ve thought?) and white and aqua pebble tile.
Do I still wish that Garry would’ve given into my idea for white cabinets and glass tile? Not really. Painting the cabinets would’ve ended up being a LOT of work and could have possibly been disasterous. Besides, he brought up an excellent point – the cabinets and hardware are in great condition (they just need to be cleaned with a degreaser) so why fix something that “isn’t broken?” Good point – and why spend the money when we have a billion other projects that need to be taken care of?
But, the glass backsplash was a little harder to swallow. More so the reason because glass tile is much cheaper in some instances than stone (and he was fairly adamant that we use some sort of stone) and, to be honest, I really loved the look of it.
So I took the time and looked for other ideas out there that would be unique and to his liking. Eventually I came around to the pebble backsplash, which I totally love. It will be expensive to do though – the tile alone costing well over $300 – but when we’re finished it will be worth the extra cost since we both will be happy.
Another instance, was that I found a gorgeous mirror at Raymour and Flaningan. It was enormous (4 ft diameter) and round. I fell in absolute love with it… except for the price tag. I wasn’t about to pay $200 for a gargantuan mirror (it wouldn’t have fit where I wanted to put it anyway without completely rearranging a bunch of stuff which I wasn’t to thrilled about doing. The shape and design of it was what I was really drawn to - so I started looking for something more affordable and smaller.
Of all places, I found what I was looking for at Joann Fabric on a mission to get some embroidery thread. It was the perfect size and only needed a little bit of spray paint to give it the gold color of the R&F mirror. I picked up that sucker for $15 guys! Sweet!!!
I also found two metal stars – one was bronze with a raised leaf print that is similar to our bedding and the other is a mirror star with a worn bronze border. Those will be hung in our bedroom once I find my hooks.
All of those were 50% off - and I ended up spending a little over $50 for everything (including my embroidery floss for another project) I think that’s WAY better than spending $200 on an enormous mirror! AND – I can finally start getting some stuff on the walls. It’s actually rather bland in my house, nothing really of personal interest is hanging up except for in the living room and in the guest room.
While we’re waiting for our grant renovations to begin, we’re still working out how we want to make the attic master suite function as we have to keep that in mind while they’re working on some of the major projects. On top of that – now I’m wondering what we’re going to do with the other two bedrooms. AJ will be moving out sometime this spring – so that room will be available again. What I’m thinking is that once we have the master suite up and running (which may be a year or two) we turn our current bedroom into the guest room (and eventually the baby room when we decide to have a kid) and the current guest room into our home office.
Once we have a kid we’ll need to figure out some other sleeping arrangements for guests as the current guest room isn’t necessarily “big enough” to harbor the amount of desk space we want along with a bed. The other idea was to turn our current bedroom into the office/guest room with the smaller bedroom (and attached sunroom) belonging to future kiddo. That would make more sense since our current bedroom is a lot bigger and with more wall space to put a large desk, filing cabinets and the full-sized bed. The closet is also much larger for added storage space. And let’s be honest – what kid wouldn’t  want a sunroom attached to their bedroom? Once it’s insulated properly, it would make an awesome playroom… I’m kind of jealous just thinking about it.
Time to bring my head back from the clouds though, and focus on the tasks at hand – insulating the attic, getting the grant renovations completed and finishing the kitchen.

Building equity


(originally written January 24, 2012)
Imagine me twirling around singing that to "Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLaughlin. I really just did that (in my head) just now.
While the housing market is still fairly wobbly in our area, Garry and I are still planning on building as much equity into our home as possible without pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood. Luckily for us, we bought a solid house in a neighborhood full of nice houses.
Currently, our house is a 2-bedroom 1-bath with a little over 1,000 sq ft of finished space. It doesn’t sound like much – but even with three people living in the house it’s not that cramped so long as everyone picks up after themselves. (Which I’ll admit, doesn’t always happen.)
If we end up doing everything we’re planning – we will end up with 3-bedrooms and 2.5-baths when we’re finished. One of those bedrooms will be a master suite.
It's a lot bigger in person folks... honestly
Even though it means adding more projects to the list, I am actually really excited about the possibility of having my very own bathroom that I only have to share with Garry. I’d really like to have a glass wall shower with pebble flooring (just like the backsplash we’re putting in the kitchen) and create some built-ins for bathroom storage. Maybe add some skylights in there too.
The bedroom probably won’t be as large as our current one (as far as useable square feet goes), but there is quite a bit of space to build built-ins in the eaves, so  that will help some. Once we get everything insulated (this weekend!) and drywalled we’ll have a better idea of how much actual space we have for a bedroom and if it’s worth making it into a master suite. If it’s going to end up being tiny, then we won’t bother. 
According to multiple sources, converting attics into master suites (or even just liveable space) is becoming incredibly popular and will garnish a much larger return on your investment than some of the other projects. Also, by using space already available (such as an attic or basement) you’re not increasing the footprint of your home and it’s generally much less expensive, which also increases your return.
We’re hoping that by turning that into, at the very least, an extra bedroom and by finishing the basement and adding a half-bath, that we’ll greatly increase our equity. Considering we shop sales, use coupons, and try to do as much work as we can ourselves (and it certainly helps that Garry gets a veteran discount at some of the larger home improvement stores!) we think we’ll end up getting a good return on all of our renovation projects if we ever decide to sell the house. And who knows – maybe we won’t – at the very least, it will make OUR lives comfortable and happy – and in the end that’s worth all the fuss.

Perfection - the unattainable dream


(originally written January 18, 2012)
Part of the problem I have is that I’m a perfectionist. Considering that DIY never goes as planned (not even with something simple as painting a wall) it’s been a hard concept to learn that everything isn’t going to be perfect, actually it never will be.
Our accent wall in the living room has been bothering me as of late. We put plaster on the walls, but you can still see where the putty wasn’t done quite right and it just looks… awful. The paint isnt’ even either. So, I’ve been going through the options in my head of what we can do that will look better and that will be in our budget and skill set.
I’ve found a bunch of spray texture-type stuff at various places that sell home improvement items, but I’m still not completely sure if that’s going to fix it or just make it worse.
Either way – we’ll have to repaint that wall once we redo the texture on it. I’m sure Garry will be thrilled.
Just another lesson in really planning ahead, taking your time and not rushing just to “get it done.”
While that wall is (hopefully) going to be a relatively easy fix – the countertop on the other hand will be something entirely different. I’m really hoping that we can get that right the first time, as re-doing countertop is not cheap and/or easy.
We’re meeting with the grant person on Thursday to finally sign all of the paperwork and hopefully next week the contractors will start coming in to do the work. About time. I’m getting rather impatient about it, mostly because I’d really like to have my dishwasher installed and move on to the other projects.
My stomach is still bothering me today. I am chalking January up to the month of getting absolutely nothing accomplished because I’ve either been sick or too tired to do anything other than sit on the couch and watch tv. Awesome.
The problem with feeling a terrible pain in your instestines is that getting anything accomplished, at all, is next to impossible. I can’t think straight and when I’m in pain, my body naturally goes into what I call “shut down mode” and I want to take a nap. Do you know how hard it was for me to crawl out of bed this morning and go to work? While I was still in bed I wasn’t in that much pain. Once I got up and moving around, I started the coughing fits (again) and that only made things worse from there.
Augh, I just generally feel like yuck.
I’m wondering what I can manage to accomplish today other than reading a few blog posts and editing a few stories for work. Ideally I’d like to get something else done, but it looks like that won’t happen.
So perfection… it’s not going to happen. I guess so long as I’m happy with the imperfections of it all it’s then “perfectly imperfect” or something like that.
I don’t know, it’s hard to think between coughing fits.

3 Steps forward, 2 steps back


(originally written January 17, 2012)
Yep, that time of year…
I managed to catch whatever “ick” is going around. I’m finally coming out of it, on the mend and back at work. Of course, this has set me back a wee bit. I haven’t been able to do much of anything, like prepare the house for the contractors or paint anything – although I’m not sure what the heck I’d paint – regardless, I’ve felt pretty useless over the last week.
We have to meet with our grant coordinator and sign the original paperwork before anything can start. That’s all very well and good. They give us a deadline and say “it needs to be done yesterday” when we’ve been calling them every single non-holiday work day to get the ball rolling for the last… oh… month? I just keep telling myself that it’s worth it for all the work they’re doing.
We did, however, manage to get some quotes back from the general contractors. Unfortunately they were all WAY too high for us to do all of the work that we were originally planning on, but we did realize a few things in the process:
  1. We can probably handle insulating the attic ourselves. After looking up a few tutorials online it really isn’t that hard. And as far as tools go – the only thing we’d need to purchase (or even borrow) is a staple gun – which is pretty cheap. We could save quite a bit of money just by doing it ourselves.
  2. We may want to have professionals come in and hang the drywall. Drywall = pain in the butt. If it’s not perfectly smooth it looks terrible. I’d rather pay someone to come in and do it perfect than have it be “good enough” and look awful.
  3. Most of the projects are ones that can wait a while and aren’t absolutely necessary to have completed right away. As long as we have useable, insulated space in the attic and the basement sealed, we can chip away at everything not included in the grant renovations one project at a time.
Unfortunately, that means the bathroom project will be on hold for a while. :-(This probably isn’t a bad thing considering it’s a major renovation (cutting an entire section of wall to enlargen a space, running electric and plumbing across the room and replacing the vanity and fixtures).
The more I think about it, the more I realize that if I could have my way (this is dangerous territory here folks) We could really do something crazy and make what is the current guest room the master bedroom with a bath.
Hear me out. We would have to completely redo the addition and bring it up to the same level as the bedroom, knock out that wall and lengthen the wall between our current bedroom and the guest room so that it turns into one big room.
THEN we add another door to the bathroom through the “new” master bedroom.
THEN we extend the sunroom across the entire width of the house with a door coming from what is now our bedroom.
Both bedrooms end up being bigger adding more value to the house. Granted probably not as much as the money we’d put into it, but wouldn’t it be cool?
Anyway… while we’re working on getting the grant stuff done, I’m back to doing some interior design projects in the house. I’ve been working on the bedroom for a while now – so far here’s what I have:
Photos found on Pinterest, IKEA.com, lunabazaar.com, Target.com and Walmart.com
Looks pretty cool huh? The background color is the current wall color. The dressers are from the IKEA Edland series and the mirror and flokati rugs (to go on either side of the bed) are also IKEA. The white stag wall sculpture would hang center over our bed with the monograms printed on some sort of rough hewn paper framed with black frames and white mats hung on either side. The chevon thinggy up there would be a quilt I can make (but with white and off-white colors – which I already have to make the quilt top) and the duvet cover is white with greige paisley. The curtains are similar to ones we have in our living room (and love) that is an open weave fabric. Enough to obscure view, but enough to let light in. I’m still not sure if I want to include the paper star lanterns or if I’m going to just get metal stars and hang them… still thinking on that. I also really love the idea of the canvases with song lyrics on them. I thought it could be interesting to do the song we did our first dance to and somehow include a drawing, picture or something of us during the dance on one of the tiles. Not sure how that will work out, but it’s formulating in my head… Still working on what lamps I want and other little elements here and there, but this is the basic idea.
I also want crown molding. That, my friends, is GOING to happen. Along with a more organized closet and new bi-fold doors. I’d like that to happen before spring.