Archive for March, 2010

Today I submitted a week vacation request. I’ve accrued over 90 vacation hours and considering my work weeks are 32 hours long, I’ve got quite the load of PTO. The last time I had a week off I went into labor so thankfully that won’t be happening on my next week’s vacation: April 12 through the 16. Jim’s turning 35 and to honor that tremendous accomplishment we’ll be cutting trim, staining wood, TSP’ing the walls, and painting our living room! Tonight we will put together a project plan so that we can tackle what we want. We’ll actually develop two project plans: pie in the sky and one based in reality.

After wasting previous precious home-improvement time in Home Depot we’re proactively making our list, checking it twice, and going shopping for materials BEFORE April 12. What a concept. Let’s see what we get done. Here’s my personal make-shift Honey-I’m-Doing-It List:

  • Clean, prep, and paint entrance way walls, living room walls, and dining area walls
  • Cut, sand, stain, and install trim
  • Install curtains on entrance way windows
  • Figure out pattern nightmare and resolve

Out of scope possibilities:  canned lightning in living room and dining room. Oh, and installing an entrance way chandelier from this absolutely fabulous purchase from an estate sale many moons ago: [Interesting years’ later note : this never got accomplished in this house.]

Pretty Cool Lamp. 

Our daughter’s room is so peaceful and tranquil after Jim’s redo when I was pregnant (nursery make-over story to come). Even if the toys are in disarray and there are clothes on the floor, the dark wood trim, fresh walls, and vintage heating vents just make you feel comfortable. We want that for our living room and we’re going to make it happen in a week. We think. We’ll see!


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My latest home improvement obsession revolves around window treatments. We have four sets of double windows in the front of our house which make up what used to be, years ago, the old front porch. We ordered a new front door which is sitting in the garage and I am itching to replace these tacky mini-blinds with drapes. My good friend came over this past weekend and we talked drapes. Drape-talk after numerous libations can be extremely interesting! We decided that one panel of drape for each set of window would look very dramatic if they were gathered in each corner.

As I gaze out the front windows from my spot on the living room floor next to the coffee table, I realize that flanking these curtains and gathering them in the corners would block out numerous eye sores like the streetlamp and the neighbor’s house while leaving snippets of nature left to view.

Obviously I need to go vintage textile for this new decorating venture. There are thousands of vintage textiles online and I always have trouble being comfortable with buying things in the now versus 10 years from the now. Barkcloth is obviously my top choice but I think for starting something like this will do the trick. There are insane vintage prints to be had but then I look at my “Oriental” carpets and think dear god I’m opening up Pandora’s Box of Ugly. I don’t know. Maybe this new settee I purchased after a day of sedatives was a mistake. Who knows.

It’s cute, it’s comfy, I like it.

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Roof II

I have full confidence in my husband’s capabilities. He is my personal Renaissance man who can stir fry like no one’s business and integrate a dishwasher seamlessly into a 1940’s equipped kitchen. But the thing is, I like Jim and I like him having both of his legs. The thought of him up on a roof in unfamiliar territory terrified me. The work? I knew he could do the work. But we had some money saved because we were well aware of the looming roof project so I eventually convinced him to pay someone to do the work.

We sought out two referrals and selected “Roger’s Roofing” for the repair. To a first-time home owner, a new roof is probably one of the first expenses in your home owning experience where you lay out a ton of cash and see relatively nothing in return. Yes, it’s great to have a new roof. Yes, it probably keeps your house warmer. Yeah, it’s great to not have a big ice dam and leaks in your attic. But there are certainly thousands of other things that would be more fun to look at that cost upwards of $4,000.

The shingles were delivered on a very chilly day and here’s a photo that is extremely funny to both me and Jim. It’s not funny for my amusing pose on the stack of shingles, it’s funny because two days later I took a positive pregnancy test and a whole lot more was about to change than a row of shingles.

Who knew 2 days later I’d realize I was pregnant!

“Roger’s Roofing” was a great experience in so much that a) we got a new roof and b) there weren’t any big nails left in the driveway. The roof was done, Jim retained both legs, and the bucket collecting ice damn drains was removed from the attic and placed back in the basement.

Here are photos of before and after. Not much of a difference, right?

House before new roof…

House after new roof…oh, an some window boxes! 

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The Roof

Right before I got pregnant the ice dam on the east side of the roof caused us to place a bucket under the eave in the attic’s eaves to collect water. The damage was done years prior and we just put a band-aid on the problem. We needed a new roof but we were in a crux of a decision: do we raise the roof and make a master bedroom/bathroom suite or do we just do the roof?

After a few nights deliberation (which is always facilitated by a bottle of merlot) we determined that the location of our house wouldn’t bring us a return on our investment upon resale. So we decided to get a new roof.

Jim’s trips to the library are fantastic predictions of the major home renovation project that’s about to take place. Shortly after our deliberation and decision, books with bad drop-shadowed titles of HOW TO ROOF YOUR HOUSE YOURSELF appeared on the nightstand. These 1970s first print books really took the topic of standing 30 feet in the air on a slanted surface with nails, sticky tar, and heavy-ass shingles lightly because the books were thin. The men photographed in these books looked really comfortable standing up there with tool belts strapped to their waist. Photo-shoots for roofing repair always involve a well-dressed man in too-clean khakis and a sunny day. It’s important to note that the reality of a roofing repair is never quite captured: crews of family who are equally terrified to be on a roof but don’t want to admit it, sweltering hot days OR pouring rain, and a terrified wife shuttling canteens of lemonade to the worker-bees.

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Stainless Steel inside and out. Beautiful. Quiet. $100. Cash.

One hot summer day in August we went to a garage sale and found this GE Profile stainless steel dishwasher for $100.

I didn’t care that seals on dishwashers almost certainly break on used models and one should never purchase a dishwasher from a garage sale (surprisingly this is NOT foreshadowing, that puppy kicked it for about three years) that dishwasher was no sooner loaded in my house than I was getting the receipt and my cash from the ATM machine.

Our kitchen was 100% not set up for a dishwasher. We needed pretty major carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing to make it happen. Fortunately the next day, on our nightstand, was a real page-turner, Dishwasher Installation Made Easy.

Here’s some photos of our $500 kitchen face-lift. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just a non-crazy, non-debt way to introduce technologies of 2004 to 1949.

First we installed a new off-the-shelf cabinet which was my very first staining project!

The good thing about having off-the-shelf cabinets is it’s easy to add more!

We’re getting there! Now we at least had semi-functional dish storage

We shifted the cabinets on the bottom down to make room for the dishwasher.

Next we removed the old counter and sink and figured out how to convert the existing plumbing to accept a dishwasher.

Jim learned everything he needed to learn about how to execute the cabinetry portion of the work. I was really impressed that he knew how to separate cabinets that were joined together for Lord knows how many years with minimal, if no, visible damage! Not only did he handle the carpentry portion of the project, he learned how how to install a new circuit to ensure the dishwasher didn’t turn off the lights and also how to make sure the water from the dishwasher drained down the pipes under the sink, not the floor under the cabinets!

My father came to help (or drink coffee). Thanks, Dad!

Near installation….

Cabinets moved over and dishwasher installed! We’re good to go!

This is our kitchen before.

We’re nearly finished. More space, more functionality, and a dishwasher!

What better way to celebrate that evening we finished than a trip to the DEMOLITION DERBY?!

Nothing compares to busting your butt all day and then celebrating a beautiful summer evening at the Joliet Speedway!

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$500 Kitchen Redo

My friend Asil is redoing her kitchen and it’s a do-it-yourself project and I love that.

Kitchen redos can be one of two things: ball-busting budget breakers or do-it-yourself facelifts. Due to my inability to not only pay for but understand all that is involved with the former, we opted for the latter.

When we first moved in, we had about 12 inches, give or take, of workspace on our kitchen counter. Since most of my culinary skills are achieved via the 12-inch turntable in the microwave this wasn’t really a problem for me. The problem was this odd, ugly box space left in the wall where the 1940s refrigerator once sat.

How bizarre! The former owners of the house took it upon themselves to buy a gigantic new white refridgerator and plunked it down across from the sink. Now typically one would pause at the fact that this big white ugly box is in the middle of the kitchen but it actually forms the only functional thing in our kitchen: the preparatory triangle.

That’s about where the functionality of our kitchen starts and stops. No dishwasher and certainly no garbage disposal (unless, of course, you consider me disposing the garbage). One requisite I always joked was that in order to have a baby we’d have to first get a dishwasher. I’ll never know if this is why we put off getting a dishwasher for 4 years or if cost/logistics played a bigger role….but I digress.

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