Archive for the ‘House’ Category

$500 Kitchen Finale

…again with the dangerous word, finale! I realized I never included pictures to conclude our $500 Kitchen Redo II post…so here we go…


Painted cabinets, relocated dishwasher, subway tile backsplash, and homemade light!


Vintage island spray-painted red and we added castors for height and mobility…most used piece of furniture in house!


I would be remiss to not mention these smart under-cabinet LED lights that Jim installed. The lights came from IKEA but when you’re looking into the kitchen you don’t see these flat little housings at all but you see their nice light cascade onto the tile. Jim routed the cords behind the subway tile and here’s the kicker–the switch for them is INSIDE THE UTENSIL CABINET! All of the ugly wiring and electrical is totally and blissfully hidden. The nice thing about starting from scratch is that you can hack the hell out of something and you don’t mind ripping out new dry wall or new anything for that matter. Excellent job as always, Jim, in jiggering and making a dollar out of ninety-nine cents.

Are there a million more things we’d like to do? Sure. A new stove? Yeah, that would be nice. Preferably one with a built-in microwave and exhaust fan…I’m sick of having to open the windows when I really want to crisp up my perogies…but since that wall the stove sits against goes to the back mudroom / stairs to basement it’s a bit tricky to get that exhaust installed. I’d love a farmhouse sink and a soapstone counter…but for a debt-free, weekend warrior effort we are damn proud of the result!


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Driving in the car our 9 year old spontaneously quips, “Momma I hope that you don’t turn into a meditation teacher.” What?!  Having no idea why she would ask me this in the first place, she told me that I would constantly be asking her “if and why” she was mad. Really? At 9, she’s pretty good about vocalizing her radically shifting emotions just fine on her own…honed meditative powers aren’t really necessary to decipher her ups and downs.

She is onto something, however. I am halfway through a 15-week meditation class at the local community center. My intention is Connecting with my Inner Joy. And that Joy is a bit hard to find. I feel it, lurking in my solar plexus, and at times it radiates a bit paler yellow than I’d like to admit…but it’s there. This class is taught by a Shaman named Melissa who is a patient and gentle soul healer. My therapist told me she may be the best thing to have happened to me. There are times I shake my head, sadly wondering why I require so many pillars…my meditation Shaman, my therapist, but then I look at the life they are supporting me to create and figure I’ll keep forging my path.

Through meditation class I met a homemade herbalist who invited a handful of women to learn the art of tinctures and concocting homeopathic medicines from weeds, herbs, and plants. How energizing to learn how to heal our bodies and offer natural, holistic remedies for anxiety, ointments for cuts, or simply crunchy toppings for salads…So today starts my path toward micro greens. I logged onto Johnny’s Seeds and sprung for 4 ounces of two varieties of micro salad greens: mild and spicy. Spicy micro greens? I’m sold!  Addy recently sprouted a six inch Oak tree from a silent, unassuming acorn.  Our future homegrown botanist with her daily water spritzes and overseeing eyes will introduce us  to our very own square foot of organic farming. We’ll see where these next weeks of germination takes us.

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In an old home, it’s a dare to use the word, Finale. But as the concrete trucks’ lumbering whirl of cement is a far distant memory, “finale” is the absolute right word for this Project Driveway,

The home inspector’s car door slammed shut and he drove down Pine a few hours ago leaving behind a Yellow Sticker of Approval: our garage and driveway signed and (not quite yet) sealed. We are both thrilled to not have to shovel the gravel this next winter!

Whirly twirly cement trucks have fascinated me since I was a kid so I’m not sure who was more excited to see the big series of trucks come rolling down the gravel: me or the girls!



We had about three cement trucks roll on in…

….At the last minute we made a judgement call to add a curvy path to take us from the garage right to the back door. The old step was the root of many of our basement water seepage issues so we had that replaced with two new steps leading to the new curvy path.


…Last weekend we had 8 cubic feet of DIRT and 4 cubic fee of MULCH delivered so that Jim could properly grade and fill in all the edges so that we’d pass our failed inspection. WE PASSED! It’s been a huge, enormous project and we’re so glad that it’s done!



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I’m so excited; we are starting Phase II of our $500 Kitchen Re-Do Challenge today. Now, don’t be confused–the avid 1 or 2 followers of this blog might think, Sharon, didn’t you already do a $500 Kitchen RedoII? Yes, we did back in 2004. It just shows we liked what we did the first time and simply have to do it again! Someday, perhaps, we’ll have a “real” bonafide kitchen with granite surfaces like Adults. Maybe.

Phase I: Paint Kitchen Grey (completed)

Phase II: New counters, etc.:

  • How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets was our inspiration for painting our cabinets
  • Replacing the white two-pieced-together kitchen counter with an off-the-shelf Menard’s counter (if you turn your head, close one eye, and squint it looks like quartz, honestly)
  • Painting our upper cabinets grey
  • We purchased awesome cabinet hardware from IKEA
  •  Replacing our lower cabinets with off-the-shelf econo models from Menards & painting our new cabinets
  • Relocating the dishwasher to the opposite side of the sink

The kids are at Jim’s folks house, my dad is here, and I’m on “clean up and make sandwiches duty.”

14 years ago we went to a demolition derby, met friends, and drank beer to celebrate the completion of a hard day’s work. Today we woke up at 6, took an 8 year old and 3 year old to Jim’s folks for the day, and will cram 2 days of work into the few hours we are free. If I can finagle it, I think we’ll order sushi tonight to celebrate. It’s not quite the free life we had 14 years ago, but it’s sure a full one.

IMG_5685Here’s my dad sipping his coffee in 2016….and here’s my dad drinking his coffee in 2004…

The walls have changed, the address numbers have shuffled around, but by the grace of God we are all together just like we were in 2004.

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Red Like a Barn?

We painted our old garage red like a barn. A barn was indeed our inspiration when we (Jim) designed our current garage and it came out all tan-like  now…It’s like Beige came over and had a Painting Party at our house. So the question is do we keep it Consistent or do we Spice up the Pine Hideout with a big-red-barn in our backyard? Is Big Red a bit too much? Or just enough cinnamon to make things interesting?

Beige Garage

As it exists today…


…as it COULD exist, tomorrow.

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Last year at Christmas time I was very judgmental with the Christmas decorations. This year I had a very liberal “open” policy and as a result every bulb, candle, or anything slightly resembling holiday cheer was unearthed from its newspaper wrapping and set OUT. Note the folding chairs around our dining room table…sigh.

Living Room, First Christmas

Living Room, First Christmas

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First Pine Hideout Winter Fun

Annalise woke up at 6:00 AM. That is my first memory of this First Snowfall Day on Pine. This was a very early winter day, prior to Christmas decorating pressure and I ran outside promising the Little One that I really would be right back…but she followed me to the door just to be sure as I clicked this picture.

Little Leasers Watching

Little Leasers Watching

The first snow often feels like a new beginning. Much like the snow covers the chipped paint on the stairs, we’ve yet to dread winter’s bitterness.

One of my favorite winter crafts is decorating with evergreen boughs and scraps. I’m familiar with circling Home Depot’s Christmas Tree Cast Off bin and registering for $34 Park District programs to learn how to make the “perfect” warm holiday arrangement. Now on Pine my Christmas Craft has met its match. Our new house is flanked by two large pine trees in front and the entire side lot is filled with various conifers. So up we bundled and started what may very well be a new tradition: hunting for pine cones. We filled up two baskets and even loaned some to my sister for her own projects. Now the only question was, would I have time to dig around on Pinterest to figure out what to do with these puppies? A quick search taught me something new: if you want to successfully work with pine cones you have to ensure they aren’t sticky and the best way to do that is fill up your oven with woody pine cones. I lined four cookie sheets and stuck them in a 250 degree oven for about an hour –two times!


Baking Pine cones

Baking Pine cones

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