Tuesday, March 09, 2010


From this five years ago...

to this last fall...

to this a few short weeks ago.

Moving a kitchen to another room...

can cause a lot of headaches...

but well worth it.

These last few pictures were taken seven weeks ago.  Right now, we are in the home stretch.  At the beginning of the remodel we decided to move in with my sister.  How glad I am that we did.  We spent seven weeks there.  Thank God we have her and her husband to put up with a grumpy dad, nervous mom, three stir crazy boys, and one territorial dog.  I made dinner only twice.  Can you believe it?  Don't worry, they plan on having dinner here a lot for a VERY long time.

We still do not have a functional kitchen, but it's close.  Oh so very close.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hey! Did you know we are getting a new kitchen?!?

It has been four weeks of decisions, dust, and depression.  We are at the halfway mark of our kitchen remodel.  Things are on the upswing now.  Sheetrock is going up, the painter and floor guy is on stand-by.  It is starting to take shape.

Almost one year ago, The Deputy and I came to the conclusion that a new kitchen was necessary.  Well, he thought a new garage was necessary, but I sat him down and explained our priorities.  For example, we had only two and a half feet of workable counter space.  Another example, the kitchen floor in the winter time was at a consistent temperature comparable to the arctic tundra.  The final example, stuff was starting to fall apart.  Tada!  He agreed.

So, we met with a kitchen designer.  She was nice, but didn't have great ideas.  We have a VERY small kitchen.  She could not come up with a plan that would maximize usable space in the kitchen area.  Then one day our plumber was over pulling small toys out of our sewer line and we got to talking about the new kitchen.  We told him we couldn't figure out how to get a better work layout for our existing kitchen.  He suggested we move the kitchen to another larger room in our house!  I laughed at the crazy thought.  Did he think we had a money tree out back?  I know I call him on a regular basis to pull items out of our drains, but really, move the kitchen?!?

Two days later our persistent plumber showed up on our doorstep with three different kitchen plans he drew up.  I politely explained to him that this idea he had would be too costly and we already had a set budget.  He politely explained to me that he would have to replace all the plumbing due to the age of our house and it would make no difference if he replaced it in the existing small kitchen or the huge empty room we rarely used.  Then, I started listening to him.   And this is what I got.

A kitchen that is almost triple the size of my old one.  HELLO!  While, yes, our budget did go up, only slightly though, we are getting everything we (I) want in a kitchen.  This room originally was a half bath, walk-in closet, and my sewing/computer room.  The original kitchen was to the left of the new kitchen.  What you don't see on this plan is what we will put in the old kitchen area.  A bathroom with a shower and laundry area AND a small sewing area for me.  Well, a sewing nook.  A person has to give and take.  I decided to give my sewing room to take a new kitchen.  I still will have a decent size work space, but I will miss my old sewing room. 

So there you have it.  A year in the planning and eight weeks of craziness.  Our house is a complete disaster area.  We even have dust on the toilet paper.  Instead of hairballs, our cat is hocking up dust balls.  Our kids look like ragamuffins.  Okay, you get the point, remodeling is rough.  In the end, it will be worth it.  I hope.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Plants are taking over!

Well, not in a bad way. In a very good way. The front and south side of the house flower beds have finally started to fill in nicely. Two years ago it was my goal to have all perennials in the beds around the house. I am about 95% there. For a few bare spots I bought Wave Petunias for fillers. Hopefully, in a couple of years, I will only buy annuals for my pots and that's it!

We purchased all of the bushes from Lowe's Nursery department. They have all done very well, except two hydrangeas. I think those were favorite spots for our dog Max, if you get my drift. Most of the perennial plants were purchased, but quite a few were given to me. While picking the plants I focused on bloom time, size, and cost. Some plants worked well, some not so well. We have a good variety of hostas. Also, there are spirea, hydrangeas, weigelas, sedum, shasta daisies, iris, tulips, lavender, mums, and some others. In this process, I have found out that I actually like gardening. Huh. Imagine that.

Since I FINALLY have time for a little blogging and pictures, I thought I would share with you all. Our new bed will be in the back of the house. I can't wait to get the sod cutter!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Windows. I hate deciding what to do with a window. Curtains? Blinds? Full-blown drapes? I go back and forth for months, sometimes years before I make a final decision. A huge factor in the decision process is cost. If the price isn't right, I forget about it and start the entire process over in six months. In our house, the downstairs alone has 15 windows. Four in each the living and family rooms. Three in the kitchen. Two in the dining room. One each in the bath and sewing room. That's a lot of windows folks. Too many windows to think about!

In the recent months I have narrowed down three items that are at the top of my criteria list. First is consistency. From the house and the street all of the windows should have a uniform look. I am not aware of this rule being in any decorating book, it's only a pet peeve of mine. Second is that this house has most of the original wood trim. This is one of the reasons why we wanted to buy it. I don't want to cover up the window trim with heavy drapes. Third is cost. This whole ordeal has got to be affordable.

Family Room Window

This is a picture of a window in the family room. Most of the windows downstairs looks like this one. We still have install some more replacement windows in some rooms, but you get the general idea. Long windows with gorgeous trim. I love them. Even though all these windows cuts down on my wall space.

Now onto what I have decided. It's been a long road in the decision making process. I think I have placed orders for a half a dozen different items and cancelled them all until now. The orders have been placed. The ball is rolling in the right direction.

Top-down/Bottom-up Cellular Shades

The first layer will be the top-down/bottom-up cellular shades, in cream, from JCPenney. These have been purchased for every window downstairs excluding the sewing room and bath room. Those two windows are slightly different than the rest of the house. Hopefully in a future post I will show how different they are. These shades are going to create a uniform look inside and out throughout the downstairs. They are light filtering so I won't have to worry about the rooms being too dark if left closed during the day. The best part, the price is right. An average of $19.99 a window with a 20% coupon.

Waverly Valance

The next layer is the top valance. I felt I needed something to dress the window up a little bit and keep within the victorian charm of this home. I decided on top valances only because I started that theme in the dining room. The valances I purchased on eBay for 16.99 apiece. These are only for the family room. They are going to look great with my tan walls and burgundy sofas. The best part, most of the wood trim will be showing.

Macrame Lace Tier

The final layer I really debated on. Did these windows need something else or should I go with what I have? See... more decisions. My future sister-in-law has a house similar to mine. Her downstairs windows all have lace panels. I love the look, but I didn't want floor length lace curtains. I found these macrame tiers at JCPenney for $6.99. I bought enough for the family, living, and dining rooms. I am hoping this gives the windows a light airy feel from the inside.

There you have it. My crazy road to window treatments. It has been three years making these decisions. THREE YEARS! Now I sit back and wait for it all to arrive. Then watch the Deputy install them all. I am sure he will be thrilled...


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Trench Digging & Deck Staining

Trench digging and deck staining.  How much more exciting can you get? We like to live our summers a little on the wild side.

First off, deck staining 101. If you open the can of stain and the stain does not look like what you chose off the color sample, chances are that it is not what you chose. Trust me. Don't even think "Oh, I think once I put it on it will change to the color I picked." Sometimes I wish I had someone to whap me in the head when I make bad decisions. Okay, I'll lay it out on the table. I opened the first can. It didn't look like the russet color I had chosen. That's when I didn't think right. I went ahead and put it on the deck. The next day when I was going to apply the stain to the second half of the deck, I opened my second gallon. There was the russet I wanted. Great. I had to reapply the right color over the other crap. Go ahead, I have nothing better to do anyway.

Here is half of the deck stained in the correct Pittsburgh Semi-Transparent Stain, Russet color.

I like how it looks under the overhang better than out in the sun. Though, I could pretty much hate it and still NOT change it. I don't think I will stain ever again. (Don't quote me though, this stuff only has a five year warranty.) I did go on and finish the entire deck in 103 degree weather. Well, it was only 87 degrees, but with the Iowa humidity it's more like 103. At least in my world.

All of our deck furniture had to be stored in our broken concrete, dirt pit below the deck. Isn't it lovely?

Remember when I said we were putting a ground level deck down there? That plan has been slightly altered. We got a quote for the lumber and after we picked ourselves off the floor we realized we might as well have a concrete patio for that kind of money. We had the first contractor come to give us a quote. He gave it, we choked a little bit, then decided we must bite the bullet. The second contractor came a few days later. His quote was $1800 LESS than the first contractor. AND the second contractor has been doing this for over 30 years. The other guy has been only doing it for a few years. Cripes, thank God we got a second quote. So here is a lesson for you all. GET MULTIPLE BIDS! Here end the lesson. Also, nice affordable contractor can be here in three weeks to do it. Even better!

What was The Deputy doing you ask?

Standing around holding a shovel. He's handy like that. Remember the concrete block wall of just plain tackiness? Yes, he dug it out and is prepping it for a new retaining wall. Oh boy, he is having so much fun. Especially when he hit an old cistern. That was the true highlight of his day when he realized he has to shovel a truckload of sand to fill it in. Good times that will be.

Oops. An picture of him working. He will really like this one.

Good thing our oldest son is around to inspect his work. He does look like a little supervisor, doesn't he?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Everyone needs some yard bling

Here begins a very long post, with pictures, that might bore you to tears. Consider yourself warned.

For two years we have been working on the front and side of our house. In the beginning, we had a crumbling wrap around porch. With holes. Large holes. Our first full summer here we replaced the whole sha-bang, with a large deck area off of the rear of the house. That project depleted all of our funds, along with any ambition for more outdoor projects.

Last year, our bank account bounced back along with our ambition. We had a beautiful wrap around porch, but no bling. I'm talking yard bling. Plants. No, not flamingos. I do have standards ya know. (Really, I would probably put one in my yard. Really. Maybe two.) So we spent some cha-ching to get some yard bling. We dug out sod, scooped away decorative rock (shakes a fist at previous owners!), and planted some beauties of some bushes. Along with the bushes I planted a BUNCH of hostas I had to beg, borrow, and steal. Yes, steal. Stole them from my sister's place. She said no, so I took. So there. Call the police. Wait. I live with the police. Forget I said anything.

Now we have a nice garden area around the deck. Time to branch out. Move on to phase... I can't remember what phase I am on. Partly because I am making it up as I go. So tonight I share photos, crappy almost night time photos, of my yard bling. As a special bonus, I am sharing with you the next phase (whatever number it is) of the yard saga. Don't clap all at once.  

This is the front of my house.  All of the hostas were given to me.  Except the three in the front.  They were stolen.

Here is the other side of the front of my house.  See the vast openess of the mulch in the lower left hand corner?  That is where our sidewalk is supposed to go.  Turns out, because we have no street parking there is no point in spending the money to have a sidewalk that goes to nothing.  Also, this means we have spent a bagillion bucks on the front of our house for no one to see but us.  And don't tell me people will see it driving by.  We live on a hill.  A VERY large hill.  No one is going to see it but us.  

Here is some more landscaping on the side.  All hostas were borrowed in this picture.

Here is the side picture right off of our deck.  I have hostas, spirea, wiegella, and boxwoods.  I planted a few wave petunias for a little color this summer.  

Today I worked on a smaller area.  I don't have a before picture, but here is a patch of weeds that looks like the weeds I dug out today.  This is 90% of my yard.  Weeds.  Exciting, I know.

Here is the finished product.  The ginormous planter was already there.  And the rose bush I got Mother's Day a year ago.  Today, I planted a butterfly bush, a couple hostas (given to me thankyouverymuch) and some yellow perennial plant that I will never know the name of.  My four year old got a little over-zealous throwing things away for me.  Including plant tags.  

Here are the bonus photos.  This is the area off the rear of our deck.  This is the path we take to get into our house every day.  A combination of broken concrete, weeds, and dirt greet me every single day.  I won't even go into the mud baths my boys take when it rains.  This is our next project.  It's a ground level deck.  All nice level prettiness will be here soon.  

Gone will be the treacherous stairs of cement block.  

Along with it, the cement block retaining wall.  (Shakes fists at previous owners!)  Just for reference here, cement blocks are not attractive for steps, walls, or anything else.  They are ugly.  Just in case you were considering them for your landscape needs.  


Monday, April 07, 2008

Confessions of a Laundry Room

There is a confession that needs to be made here. The sad state I keep my laundry room. Otherwise known as the dungeon. People, it is scary down there. I do the laundry and hightail it to safe ground. It is also a room where I throw store totes full of nothing, hide presents (because the kids won't even go down there), and ill-fitting children's clothes. This combination along side the fact that it is in the basement, with no decent light, is a formula for dumpiness.

I probably should have done a warning before you looked at the pictures. Yet, you have to see it to believe it. I am letting it all hang out there for you. My laundry room is a hole. A junk filled hole.

All hope is not lost on me. I have a plan. Yes, my little pretties, a plan. I am going to tackle said laundry room/dungeon/junk filled hole and transform it to a place of tranquility. A place where the warm hum of the dryer and the Downy scented air will cajole me into the basement to do laundry. Ah, I can almost smell it now...

So here it is. In the next couple of weeks the transformation will take place. On my strict budget of $100. I will not go a penny over. I hope. No, I won't. Most of my supplies will come from my crap resources I have stored away here. Think I can do it? I hope you said yes, because I don't know if I can. I might need you to cheer me on a little.

By the way, we start gutting out our upstairs next week. The perfect time to work on my laundry room, dontcha think?