Thursday, February 6, 2014

No Strings Attached

Nick has been working on one of the biggest projects that we've ever taken on. Because of our budget we're doing it in stages, so I won't be sharing the "After" photos quite yet. Mainly because, I don't have any, aaaand the project is barely half done.

Regardless, this project required that we buy a new drill. Nick was working with an old one that he just happened to have lying around his apartment when I first met him, about 4 years ago. So yeah, it was time.

Luckily, the lovely John and Sherry over at Young House Love made the purchase pretty easy for me thanks to one of their recent posts about their 5 favorite power tools. I was reading some of the reviews for the drill that is mentioned in the post (Which can be found on Amazon here) and comparing them to items that were available at our closest Lowe's. 

That's when I found this bad boy...

Black & Decker Matrix 20-Volt Max 3/8-in Cordless Drill

After checking out what was available we figured that we'd rather invest a little bit more now, and not have to buy a new drill within a next few years (hopefully longer!) than to try and skimp and  save. 

Plus, something that we thought was really cool about the new Matrix line is that you can purchase different attachments that fit onto the drill base. Attachments like a Router, an Oscillating tool, a Detail Sander, and a Jigsaw. (Truth: I only know what 2 of those things are used for)After checking online and seeing that they had 13 in stock, we decided to rush out and pick it up that day! 

It had recently gone on sale for 14% off, dropping the price from  $69.97 to $59.98. My grandparents had graciously given us a Lowe's gift card for Christmas that we had yet to use, AND because we just moved we received two 10% off coupons in the mail. Sadly, they can't be combined, but that just means that we'll get to save it and use it on a future purchase! 

So, after everything, we ended up spending a whopping $13.03 on our new power tool!

Now we're even more excited to finish our project and share it with you!


P.S. Our furnace stopped working late yesterday afternoon. With it being only 3 degrees outside, we are less than thrilled. I will be spending the day trying to keep myself and Harper from freezing. Already baked one batch of cookies!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Tiniest of Changes

First thing the other morning, actually while still lying in bed. I rolled over and asked Nick if I could remove our ugly glass shower door. He just kind of laughed at me and was all "sure, Sam do whatever". Not in those actual words, but it was pretty clear that he couldn't care less. So, a few hours later while Harper ran around our bedroom I took a screwdriver to the thing.

I haven't shared any pictures of this room before, but here is the Before.

Then here is the in progress shot, after I removed the door. That thing was way heavier than I thought it was going to be, therefore it will sit in the shower until Nick gets home to haul it outside.

I don't know if you can even classify this as a "Project" because of how simple it was. I took a few pictures though, just incase anyone wants to open up their bathroom as well! 

First you need to look at the track that is holding the door in place, and the one that it latches into when closed to see what kind of screwdriver you'll need. 

Five of the screws were flatheads, but the last one was a phillips. So I went and dug through a box to find the biggest flathead I could, and a phillips that I thought might fit. 

It just took a little bit of elbow grease to get those old screws out of there. They were pretty corroded and rusted from all their years in a steamy shower.

Pretty isn't it? Nope. However most of that black grime scrubbed off pretty nicely, and I just took the flathead and chipped off the remainder of that old dried up caulk.

I then moved onto the other side that had the door. I had originally intended to take the door off of the track before I removed it from the wall. However, those screws were completely rusted and I could not get them to budge, at all. So, the door and track stayed connected and I did the same thing on that side. 

There is that whole, missing-tile-and-screw-holes thing but I figure, within a few years we'll be completely gutting this bathroom anyway. So, for now it is an improvement. 

Err, it will be once I find a curtain rod for that tiny of a doorway! The opening is only 22" across, and it has been a bit of a challenge to find a curtain rod that size. I want to hang the rod as high as I can in that little space, and then put up a plain white curtain. I love how they look clean and simple, and also that they let enough light in to the shower while still giving you coverage. 

Guess I'll have to keep searching!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Easy Peasy Wallpaper Removal

A while ago I hinted towards the fact that I had removed the wallpaper in our little breakfast nook. Saying that the wallpaper was dated is putting it pretty nicely. It was bad.
I hadn’t planned on removing it that afternoon, I actually was just curious. So, I lifted up a corner at one of the seams, annnnd

it peeled off like melted butter. (Is that a saying? It sounds like a saying.) It came off the entire wall in huge sheets, only tearing at the seams where the pieces met. I could stand on the floor and just pull and the entire section would come off! Hooray! I thought that this would have been a much more labor-intensive process but honestly, the whole thing only took me 20 minutes tops.

However, peeling off that old paper did leave a pretty rough surface. All of the adhesive was still stuck onto the wall. I used a spray bottle that I found lying around and filled it with some white vinegar diluted with water. Working in small sections I would spray with the vinegar solution, scrub with a rough sponge, then rinse and wipe with clean water. This process took a lot longer, and didn’t seem to make a difference until the section I had been working on was dry. Once dried it felt all smooth, like butter you guys. Seriously. (The color is pretty close too.)

Removing the old wallpaper was a great start to this room. However, the surface underneath was in pretty rough shape. The wallpaper had been used to cover lots of flaws in the plaster. Cracks, chipping, dents, you name it. Luckily, none of it was too bad that it couldn’t be fixed with some heavy duty spackle. Which is what I did. Spackling definitely isn’t a job meant for perfectionists, like myself. I want to just cover the entire wall with a skim coat so that it is completely level, but Nick thinks that is a little unnecessary.

So instead, I focused on the obvious flaws. I still have to go back in and sand it all down. That was put on the backburner once we started the actual moving process because we didn’t want all of our stuff to be covered in dust. I am planning on getting to it one of these naptimes though, and hopefully making use of the wet sanding sponges that Nick bought to keep the mess to a minimum. Then it will be ready for paint! (Yellow just isn’t really our thing) I think we’re planning on using the same blue/grey that we want to eventually use for the kitchen, because after that dividing wall with the window gets knocked out it will be one large open space. Yay for modernizing!

I really lucked out with this room so far! Have you had any great experiences with wallpaper removal? How about any, not-so-great ones? I have a feeling our master bath wallpaper isn’t going to be quite so easy! I’ll probably need some tips. Leave ‘em in the comments below!


Monday, January 27, 2014


I know it has been awhile since I've posted. So Sorry! My dad and older brother made a trip down with their trailer in tow and helped us move. We've been officially in the house for just over a week now. Still stepping over boxes and pushing things out of our way occasionally though. 

We're in that stage of unpacking where all (ok, most) of the necessities have been taken care of and it's just the things that are left. This house is so much larger than what I'm used to living in, and I have a decent amount of space to work with here. It is a little daunting trying to figure out the "right" place to put everything. 

Also, Nick and I have both been trying to be better about getting rid of excess stuff. Tossing it. Donating it. Whatever. I just want it out of the house. No extra clutter for this girl! I type that as I am sitting in a living room that is littered with STUFF. It is definitely a process, and a long one.

Since we have moved in we have been busy, busy, busy! Lots of little (and not so little) projects have been started. We have finally found a home services company (Shout out to Green Leaf Home Services!) that is helping us out with some of the things on our long list that need to be completed before we can reschedule our city inspection. (5 months and counting, people!) Nick has stepped up his DIY-game and is even familiarizing himself with the Home Depot that is only a few minutes away. (thanks free handy-dandy Home Depot App!)

I would like to dedicate a post to each of the changes that we've been making. Sadly, I am a terrible blogger and have spaced on taking that many pictures. Actually, it is less that I forgot to take them and more it is hard to stop a project to snap decent pictures when you only have a short time between dinner time and bath time with a toddler. So please forgive me! I will get around to posting actual pictures of the projects that we have gotten into so far, but for now I'll share list so you can see how much progress has already been made!

Living Room:

  • Tear up carpeting
  • Chip off and spackle peeling paint 
  • Hang Curtains
  • Paint walls
  • Paint trim
  • Build tripod lamp

Dining Room:

  • Tear up carpeting
  • Remove asbestos tiles
  • Paint walls
  • Paint trim
  • Build dinner table
  • Tear up carpeting
  • Paint wood paneling
  • Paint built ins
  • Build a new work desk
Breakfast Nook:
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Spackle uneven surfaces
  • Paint walls
  • Replace blinds/hang curtains
  • Remove drop ceiling
  • Get new oven installed
  • Install light fixture/remove fluorescent light
  • Replace faucet
  • Repair garbage disposal
  • Replace water cut off valves under sink
  • Paint walls
  • Paint ceiling
Wow. And that is only the list for the Entry Level not including any of the bathrooms or bedrooms! Also, it doesn't include any of the decorative things such as, "buy a new sectional" or "build a coffee table"! We also need to paint the hallway that connects all of those rooms and goes upstairs. Eventually we want to refinish all of the wood floors throughout, but I know that it is going to be quite a while before we can fit that into our budget so for now, it gets left off of the list.

Nick and I are going to sit down one of these nights and make an in depth list of what we want to get done and set little goals so that we don't get too far "off track". Here's hoping that we can tackle the Living Room trim sometime this week!  


Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 Goals

We are already (almost) a week in to the New Year already! I’m not going to be totally cliché and say how it feels like “just yesterday” we were starting 2013, because honestly it doesn’t. This year has been crazy. Looking back at pictures, mainly of Harper, it does seem like it went by very quickly. I’ve shed a tear or two thinking about how much she has grown in such a short amount of time. But so many amazing (and not so amazing!) things have happened in a year, as a family we are so far from where we were last year! I wanted to share some of my personal goals for this year. Settle in with that hot drink, this is going to be a little word-y.

i. This may seem like a silly goal to most/all of you, but I seriously NEVER made the bed growing up, like, ever. I hated doing it. I probably just spend too much time looking at pictures of other people’s bedrooms (creepy?) but it makes the room look so much more together. If I can walk into a room and not feel the chaos, it’s a win in my book. So, 30 days makes a habit, and I’m going to try and keep it up!

ii.      This one isn’t a diet related goal, at all. It’s more of a financial/stop-being-a-gluttonous-pig goal. Nick and I both eat crazy serving sizes! Like, if an extra large pizza can barely cover dinner, you’ve got a problem. Well, we have a problem. We just really like to eat! I want to start cutting out seconds, and having left-overs to save some money (ok, and it will undeniably help the waistline but that’s 100% afterthought!)

iii.  I need to get better at this too. I like to read, but I’ve found my attention span just isn’t what it used to be. I need to work on focusing more, and I think reading a good book is a great way to do that! I’ve read a few in the past couple months that are part of a series, so I plan to continue with those.

iv.      Harper and I actually went on quite a few walks, especially when it isn’t -8 degrees out! Once we’re moved in and live in a neighborhood instead of off a busy freeway, I’d like taking walks to be a daily thing.

v. I love Belle Isle! I actually only went, maybe, 5 times this year. I’m excited that it is now owned by the state. Hopefully that means the bathrooms will be open! Ha! I’d like to get a bike seat or trailer for Harper to ride on, so that we can ride around the island. Definitely would like to go at least once a month this year.

vi.      This is an ongoing goal for me. Notice the earlier mentioning of how I need to “work on focusing more”. Yeah. I am the best at finding projects that I want to do, and starting new projects. Just not so great at finishing them. I think part of this is if something isn’t turning out the way I had pictured, I have a tendency to abandon it, but not get rid of it. I’m getting better at letting stuff go and therefore having less unfinished projects lying around.

Well, there you have it! I’m sure there are a bunch of other things that I’ll work on changing throughout this year, but these are things that really stuck out in my head as far as personal growth goes. Obviously, this list doesn’t include any of the house projects that we’re planning. Save that for another day.

Do you bother to make New Years Goals? I guess lots of people think that they’re silly, or are you like me and you like the idea of “starting fresh”? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Off To Work We Go

Harper doesn't watch television or movies yet, but I've been singing that song from Snow White to her for the past few days. We've been knee deep in projects over at the house. Trying to get everything some things ready before we move in. We've already found a handyman who is going to be moving into the spare (moldy) bedroom in the basement. Not really, but seriously he is going to be helping us out with a ton of projects/repairs that we have planned. I think Nick feels a lot more comfortable having a professional take a look at things and give us the thumbs up before we start doing things like chipping off paint and ripping down ceilings. While I have more of a "dive in head first" approach, but I'll get to that in a minute.

So, yesterday Nick took Harper and dropped me off around 8:30 am, and didn't come back until after 3 pm. Oh boy did I get some cleaning done. At least the kitchen is livable now! We also got a little excited and tore up the carpet in the living room. We just could not wait to see what was under there. Drum roll, please.

Hooray! Nick and I both gave a sigh of relief when we lifted up the corner and saw wood beams staring back at us! I think we were both waiting for there to be something wrong with them (think giant burn mark, stain, or gaping hole) but they have been protected by the gross carpet and are in great shape! The tearing up was the easy part. It took us no time at all to roll up the carpet and then the crumbling padding underneath which is stapled into the wood floor. After reading some not-so-great things about tearing up the stables, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there really weren’t that many! I was able to tear up most of them with needle-nose pliers and Nick got the remainder with a mini crow bar.

Then came the less easy and exciting part, tearing up those tack strips. The carpet is held in place with these strips that have nails (or tacks, eh?) sticking up. They are then nailed down every 6 inches or so. The two longest walls in the room had two tack strips, one that was thin and new, and the other a little thicker and obviously much older. The thinner one was nailed down ever 4 inches. Every time I could get my crow bar under it, the thing would splinter and crack everywhere. It came up in a million little pieces, and I found it was fastest/easiest to leave the nails in the floor and then go back and rip them all out after I’d cleared a section of splintered wood. 

As you can see in the picture below, the older tack strips came up in big long pieces. Super easy, and 100x faster than the new ones. Things just aren’t what they used to be, I guess.

I only let myself work on that room for about an hour, because my mission of the day was to get that kitchen clean! So after I snapped these quick pictures on my cell, I moved in there to start scrubbing. I didn’t bother to get any pictures of that, I’m sure you don’t want to see the dirty fridge anyways. 

I got a tiny bit distracted in there though and may or may not have torn down the hideous drop ceiling and started attacking the wallpaper. (Hint: I totally did both of those things! Sorry Nick!)

Things are starting to look up and we’re feeling a lot better about where we stand in this house. We’re really excited to turn it into our home. Can’t wait for this clean slate (in the form of a really, really dirty house) and all the exciting things that 2014 is going to bring!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Roller Coaster of Emotions..

I didn't get a chance to pop by yesterday and with everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope that you all had a fantastic day with the ones you love. I know we had a wonderful low-key day with our little family. 

Now, on to the really exciting stuff!

The title says it all, really. We have been on a complete whirlwind of emotions with this short sale. There has been a lot of crying (mostly me) and quite a bit of arguing (that one is on both of us, this home buying stuff is STRESS-FUL.) 

Well, all of this waiting has finally started to pay off! We heard from our relator and our offer was (finally) accepted. There were some stipulations that went along with it, of course, but we are happy to oblige. Okay, maybe a little bit less than happy, but we still obliged.

We had a few issues, it being the Holidays and all, with the city inspection. But Nick worked some magic and we managed to put that on hold for the time being. That along with one other, kind-of-huge, issue popped up before we were able to schedule a closing date. 

Nick got the phone call this morning, and we officially have the green light, GO GO GO! 

It feels like we can finally breathe again. *sigh* Feels good. Obviously we're both ecstatic and can not wait to bring in the new year with such huge changes! 

I took a screenshot off of Google Street View of the house. We don't have any pictures, but don't worry, once we're in, there will be an entire Virtual House Tour and floor plan reveal. 

Can I get a HOORAY?!