All I Want for Christmas Ver3

Two years ago I made a list for Christmas - everything I wanted done to the house. Last year I updated the list, you know, crossed off finished projects, added others. And now it's time for yet another update. (This is becoming a yearly tradition now!)

Ok here we go:

1. New Downstairs Bathroom: stand up shower American Standard Champion toilet, small vanity, stand up shower, mosaic tile, river stone floor tile

2. Kitchen: Fix drywall and repaint, new cabinets, new windows plus trim, new (Kenmore or LG) refrigerator - the new double door freezer bottom model

3. MudRoom: reinstall wainscot, laundry cabinets, laundry closet doors, recessed light trim, new rug, dining set

4. Living Room: Fix drywall & repaint, flooring, trim all round, reinstall that one crooked window, new media center, Sony 32" HDTV, carpet pad, fireplace?

5. Hallway/Stairway: finish repainting, new front entrance door, banister, stairway trim, top stair step, stairway track light with dimmer, flooring,

6. Guest Room: Closet organizer from Closetmaid, closet light, Closet doors, window trim, flooring, new wood door

7. Office: Closet organizer, door to the attic crawl space, ceiling fan, bigger area rug

8. Bedroom: new mattress, new HDTV, more drawers for my Closetmaid set, door for attic loft space, window and closet door trim

9. Upstairs Bath: BUILD IT - frame it, electrify, insulate, drywall, paint, design, , pretty tile, skylight, Corner Jacuzzi tub for two, new vanity, stand up shower, American Standard Champion toilet

10. Garage: Drywall and paint, Two garage doors, storage system with shelves, addition on back of garage - built

11. House exterior: new clapboard siding, trim out farmer's porch, window boxes, green shutters, a new mailbox, lampposts, less gross plants and trees, flowering trees and other nice plantings, a shed, chimney overlay, chimney cap, another chimney to vent wood stove, hammock, new driveway (ie, repour it)

12. Basement: finish it off with a bathroom (toilet, vanity, stand up shower), bedroom (twin bed, dresser, small closet), work room, and rec room (comfy dark colored furniture and rug, pool table, air hockey, HDTV and storage unit). And I want my wood stove hooked up down therez.

Slow Progress

Have you ever felt like things are moving out of control around you, yet you're just standing there in slo-mo and can't get a thing done? That's been my holiday season so far. So much to do, so little time.... and I seem to be making no progress no matter how much I get done.

We've been picking away at things around the house - or I should say Mike has. I've been busy making cookies and Christmas cards etc etc. He finished the ceiling and closet paint in the downstairs bedroom. (And yes I did get those outlet covers and installed most of them.)

He installed my magic hanger (for brooms and the like) up in the mudroom closet next to the washer/dryer too. And he's been going around the basement trying to plug up air leaks.

Now that I type it out it all doesn't seem like very much does it? But it's felt like a lot for some reason.

I hate to say it, but I'm sure we'll be continuing to pick away at these small projects into January. There's just no funds for anything else. Winter-time blues at their finest, for sure.

Congratulations - It's Teal!

This week Mike's been slowly painting away. One color one night, next color next night, and the ceiling and closet still to come. I couldn't be happier with the results. The room is so bright and fun and well... teal!

Yes, that left side wall is the lighter Sweet Rhapsody color, it's not your imagination. Lighting just makes it a little difficult to tell in this pic.

Here's the opposite side of the room, and you can more obviously see the color difference here. Lookin good!

Although I've missed painting. I seem to be the only one who can cut in sans tape. (I forced myself to learn after several tape-related disasters.) Mike had to purchase tape - nearly $9 for a roll of scotch delicate brand painting tape. $9 - highway robbery. You'd think a tape that wasn't as sticky would be cheaper than a sticky tape. Not so. I could get masking tape that would pull the drywall off the studs for $2.

That shopping trip was depressing. No coupon this time either.

And now that it's Friday, I can only imagine that Mike will paint the ceiling and closet over the weekend. Not much else we can do at this point around the house. Holidays are waaaay too close. Although the recent slippery weather reminded us that we need a temporary railing up on the porch steps... or else someone is going to slip and fall and get hurt. Most likely - me. And probably while I have my hands full with groceries too. Never fails.

I'm thinking now looking at the pics, I could go down to the deepHo and buy all those outlet covers I need. They're cheap enough. That would really help the walls look finished!

The Painty Smell of Success

Tuesday tends not to be the most productive day of the week. Mike usually has work to do elsewhere after work and I have dance class.

But yesterday I was shocked to discover him home early - sanding the downstairs bedroom. He had it in his head that he would finish up the sanding and put on a first coat of primer. And I wasn't one to argue.

One of the greatest features of that room in a time like this is the door. Really, only our two bedrooms and the bathroom can be truly closed off. None of our other rooms have doors. So Mike just shut himself in as well as all dust and nasty fumes. It was a nice change of pace to our usual most-mess-possible methods.

By morning the door was open and I could faintly smell the primer. Just the smell of it really sent me back to the days before paint. And then the sight of that room, white. I couldn't tell you the last time that room was white. But it made me think of when we lived in there as the rest of the house was still under construction.

Ah, memories.

I would imagine that tonight he'll throw a second coat on there and be able to paint in color by weeks end if his motivation keeps up. I feel bad just sitting around while he's closed in that little room... with paint. But nothing I can do about that, unfortunately.

Turkey Day and Loose Ends

Another long long weekend - hope all of you had a great turkey day! I have to admit, I was a bit shocked and sorry to see my own mother making so many dishes from a bag.... gravy from a bag, stuffing from a bag, green beans from a bag.... I just always imagine those grandmother thanksgivings from years past.

My grandmother actually majored in home economics in college (can you imagine that?) and was an amazing cook until she recently took ill. Her thanksgivings started out with her famous hot crab dip and my personal favorite, a snack we referred to as, "The Cheese Things." These were served with an array of fancy crackers, which it was my job to arrange nicely on a platter.

Then the meal itself - if you still had room for it - included a huge turkey, always on a bed of parsley, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, scalloped potatoes, squash or sweet potatoes, fresh green beans with almonds.... I think I remembered everything. And all from scratch. For desert the classic pecan and pumpkin pies with homemade whipped cream. While we waited for the pies, we ate After Eight mints and other mint candies and drank coffee.

Even my mother made some outrageous thanksgiving meals over the years - her homemade cornbread stuffing is still the most unforgettable stuffing I've ever had.

But in thinking of all this last Thursday, I realized that I can't just sit around dreaming of thanksgivings past. If I want it, there's no better way than to do it myself. (Especially now that the mud/dining room is together.) All I need is a table and some more chairs and my grandmother's recipe book. Mike's seen how to fry a turkey at least twice on Good Eats and is just dying to try it. So why not?

I won't want to travel with a baby this time next year anyhow - so why not stay home and host? At least try. And you're all invited! Well... maybe not all of you house bloggers. Sorry. House isn't that big.

Well, enough grandiose schemes.

I'm sure you all want to know what we weekend warriors were up to for four days... ur, three not counting the big TD. (Turkey Day)

Well, I hate to disappoint, but really we spent the time tying up some loose ends. Mike finished sanding and then painted the basement stairway drywall. (I had suggested this project after bringing all the Christmas stuff up from under the basement stairs - thus dust, paint, and who knows what else could just fall down there without further ruining any of our stuff.)

Oh and of course I put up the decorations, cleaned, and basically finished all the other chores. Then Mike had some more winter vehicle maintenance to take care of. Ho-hum, right?

The real exciting moment of the weekend (sad though it may be that we're so excited about this) was purchasing the baby room paint at the DeepHo. I had a 10% off coupon - and with drywall well on its way, I think it was just meant to be. And even Mike was a little disappointed that he couldn't paint yet. He was actually in a painting mood... imagine that. Hopefully that will last until the drywall is done.

Speaking of which, the guys are working on it tonight and should have it finished and ready to prime by the time I get home. I can't believe the paint will be done before Christmas.

15 Minute Man

As promised, Rich was over on Monday to help Mike with the drywall in the hallway and downstairs bedroom. And would you believe it only took 15 minutes to fix and get a first coat on everything?!

Rich was just leaving as I was getting home from work - amazing. But, it's as he said - small stuff, easy to fix.


Downstairs Bedroom

The two of them are getting together again tonight, first to put another quick coat on the downstairs bedroom and maybe some sanding in the hallway - should only take another 15 minutes or so. Then they'll go over to Rich's house, where Mike is helping him tape up his Jeep in prep for painting. Everybody wins - I love it!

The drywall, if finished this time around, will have to dry for another couple of days before it can be painted. It may turn out to be an all-paint weekend for Mike, who'll be painting the Jeep and now possibly these two rooms. (Although he may also help his parents, who are moving back to the Cape. If so - paint can wait until next weekend.)

And the big exciting news from yesterday - we both went to my ultrasound in the morning. And it is definitely a boy. =) We're so psyched!


Motivation Strikes Again!

Amazing what a new blog format will do! Proof positive - this Saturday. Mike was pretty busy with winter time vehicle maintenance - you know, winterizing the boat, tuning up the skid steer, fixing the heat in my truck, putting a new chain and sprocket on the 4wheeler.... standard fall/winter stuff.

He came in around noon after finishing up the boat and I casually mentioned the hallway drywall and asked if he wanted to finish it up or if our neighbor Rich could come by soon to do it. (Since it was half done already and just needed another skim before it could be repainted for good.)

Well, somehow this led into a discussion of our downstairs guest room soon-to-be baby room and before you know it, I'm pulling out my paint color scheme and Mike's in the room inspecting the drywall! And wouldn't you know it, soon after that we're taking the old twin guest mattress and the desk out of the guest room and hauling it to the dump!

When we got back, Mike was back out in the garage to fix my heat. But me - I completely cleaned out the guest room. (save for the heavy stuff) Curtains, nick nacks, junk we'd been storing in there - everything.

Of course, it pained me to mess up the upstairs office after just having cleaned all the Halloween stuff out of there the previous weekend! Now it looks like this:

Ok, back to the bedroom:

Then I figured I might want to start a list of things we need in here. A new door for sure - this one was bought as a temp and doesn't match all the rest of the house's wood doors. Plus, it's taken a lot of abuse. We actually lived in this room during early renovations and this door separated us and our stuff from the dusty gross and unfinished house beyond.

Of course we need outlet covers - 5 of them. And one outlet has yet to be installed! Plus two switch covers and one switch for the closet light... oh yeah, and a closet light. Closet doors too.

Window trim and curtains.

Then there's the floors. Unfortunately the floor is super soft in this room. You jump on it and the whole room shakes. You can see the floor buckling - it's terrible.

That evening our neighbor Rich stopped by and of course he got all excited when Mike mentioned drywall. Especially when the two of them came in to look at the room and the hallway. There wasn't much that needed to be done. In fact, Rich asked if he could come over some evening this week! Mike suggested Monday. Great, done deal.

So in one swoop, we go from stagnation to motivation.... it's funny really. When we decide to move - we move QUICK. I think that's what has really allowed us to make such great progress over the years.

Anyway, tonight the guys will be working drywall. I have my dance class, so timing is perfect. Maybe if we're lucky, Mike will be able to paint this weekend. That's a lot to ask for a short week with Thanksgiving stuck right in the middle - but you never know when motivation will strike!

New Look!

Notice anything different about me?! (Me, the blog that is.)

No? Well, no accounting for poor memory or visual impairment. I've spent the better part of the last couple hours completely re-vamping the site!

New template - new customizations - and, hopefully, all the same old features. Unfortunately, to implement all this good and new stuff, I had to delete all the old widgets and recreate them. So if there are any links that don't work or something seems amiss, let me know.

It feels great to finally have a site that's not... well, the same 'ol blogger template. Makes me proud to show off the 'ol blog again. I was beginning to feel a little shabby after recently reading through several awesome blogs.

Feedback welcome! Ideas welcome!

Now I just need some new projects to post about.... Oh Mike!.....

Sweet Rhapsody

Sweet Rhapsody, Mirage Lake, and Star Shine... oh yeah, and the blue is Coastal Mist, but I doubt I'll use that one.

I couldn't resist checking up on boy/girl neutral colors at Behr.com. Teal has been in my head since the beginning - I'm not a pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys kind of person... and I'm definitely not a yellow kind of person either. So when I saw this color combo, with my main color's name of "Sweet Rhapsody," I just fell in love.

Behr has sample rooms you can point and click your paint into to experiment with. I have to say I also like the idea of doing an accent wall in the darker Mirage Lake teal color. The Star Shine would go on the ceiling - appropriately.

Of course here I am thinking about paint when I should be thinking about the logical first step in that downstairs bedroom - drywall. It has yet to be fixed. Then there's the hallway, right outside the room, with drywall half done. All that should really be taken care first since it takes so long - the mudding, the drying, the sanding, the dust everywhere.

I don't know if I want to hassle the neighbors into coming over again to do it this time. They've done so much for us this summer. Although if they find out that Mike did drywall on his own, we'll be in big trouble. Don't ask - I'm guessing it's some drywaller perfectionist pride or something.

One step at a time.


Let me tell you - it's tough to throw a party pregnant. Especially one so involved as our 6th annual Halloween bash - think about it, 6 years worth of accumulated decorations, creepy-theme treats to make, a costume to get yourself into, and then of course there's all the normal party prep including cleaning, yard work, rearrangement of vehicles, shopping....

I've barely yet recovered. And honestly, I had trouble relaxing during the party because I was just so pooped by the time it got started! Not even the virgin jello shots could cheer me, but they did help.

Anyway, as promised, pictures!

Our graveyard tablescape featured spanish moss, gravetones, and creepy skulls and hands reaching out from the moss.

Ghosts in the graveyard - actually white chocolate covered strawberries decorated with black icing.

Mike made the cheez pumpkins - semi soft smoked cheddar shaped into balls with a pretzel stick stem and crushed peanut rocks underneath. The lines on the pumpkins were drawn with a toothpick.

The jello brain - substitute vodka for the cold water in the jello recipe and make sure to spray the brain mold with non-stick spray!

Me in my 40's girl costume, complete with victory rolls.
(All thanks to this great 40's hair in 5 minutes tutorial from You Tube!)

Mike in his zoot suit with John G

Best costume went to my girl Keely - she's a tree! Complete with bird, squirrel, and tire swing!

And here's some people out in the living room, dancing with jello shots. That bright light back there - that's the strobe.

Now that the party's done, I'm happy to be able to relax. As of yet I have no plans for the weekend either - and that's just fine with me.

No Budget Transformation!

Remember the other post when I said I was going to steal some furniture and a rug from my guest room for the mudroom - temporarily of course, for the party?

Well - if it sounded a little bizarre to you, it did to me too and I had no clue what the consequences would be. But despite my misgivings, I did just that Saturday. Mike gave me a hand in the AM and we brought in the white rug and my little teal couch and a coffee table. The rug was a bit too long, but I hid one side with the couch and had to admit, it looked pretty good and comfy!

Then I put up the curtain rods - and let me tell you, the make-your-own-double-rod idea came out fabulously and easily!

Since the windows aren't trimmed out yet, and I know window treatments should be at least 4" up and 4" over from the window trim, I measured out 6" (2" trim) and installed the brackets.

To create the second rod, I just installed the smaller second rod brackets butt up to the first ones. This way, when I finally get curtains, they'll hide the brackets.

If you remember, I had already bought my sheers at the Linens 'n Things closing sale, and boy was I psyched about getting those up. And the minute I got down off my chair and stood back and looked at the room, I just couldn't believe it. The transformation was incredible - it looked awesomely comfy and the sheers were perfect and the rods were straight.

You don't want to know what my guest room looks like, but since we lock the cats up in there during the party - no one will have to look at it anyway.

Best Day Ever

Friday night was just terrible. I won't go into detail - but I will say that someone got very doom-and-gloom and then lashed out needlessly and pushed us all down in a hole. Anyway, it wasn't a good scene and by the time I got home, I just felt like sh*t.

Plus I had to break the news about the necessity of the washer/dryer... and man did I feel terrible about it. Just call me slave driver, cracking the whip on the sick kid.

But amazingly, Mike was in high spirits and feeling pretty good. He even offered to do everything that very second and started right away. My jaw just dropped and all I could manage to say was, "Ok!"

There was one small hole in the drywall, but rather than taping and patching and mudding and then waiting 24hrs for it to dry, Mike decided to use bondo. (An automotive body filler that hardens within minutes.) For a small patch, it was probably a pretty smart idea - though the smell of it was so strong I had to open all the windows and freeze the night away. I could even smell it a bit into the next day, but it disappated in the early afternoon.

Anyway, that hardened quickly and Mike had the closet painted before dinner. Then he pushed the washer into place and hooked it up. He even wanted to lift the dryer on top all by himself, but I stopped him there. (We wrangled our neighbor into helping lift it on Saturday morning and I successfully did a couple loads of laundry by Saturday's end!)

The next morning came and after a night of bad-Friday related dreams, I still felt off. And then there came the icing on the cake. So I was standing in the bedroom getting dressed. Our silver tabby was sitting on the bed next to my pillow when all of a sudden she just exploded - 1/2 her weight in projectile vomit - everywhere.

And I just lost it. Completely lost it. It's funny now just how upset I was. Mike cleaned it up for me and then I managed to calm down enough to go with him to the dump and then out for breakfast. I suppose I should thank the cat because it was good to get it all out... well, good for me. She, it turns out, had eaten a giant bug, which seems to have made her sick.

At breakfast we went back and forth on what to do - this was the first day in months that Mike had to spend with me and me only. No work to do - no neighbors to help - no nothing. But despite that fact, we were completely at a loss at what to do after breakfast. Finally we decided that we may as well just do the hardwood in the mudroom. Mike honestly said he wouldn't mind doing it - we already knew how to and it was an easy thing and a small room. I had no better suggestions and wanted it done, so who was I to argue?

All we had to do was hit home depot and rent the floor stapler - simple. Then we just got to work and soon enough we were back in the groove. I laid out the peices and cut them while Mike stapled. We had the whole job done within a few hours and were able to return the stapler within the 6hr minimum charge period... although they still charged me for the full 24hrs. God I was pissed but I didn't want to go back and argue at that point because we wanted to grab dinner before we went home.

The room looks amazing - so much warmer and larger. We had fun and we got something done by ourselves, just like the olden days. It felt great. Plus we had just enough hardwood, and even a little leftover.

We were going to purchase the closet doors as well, but they only had the 80" height and we needed the 78.5." Too bad - another time. Maybe this weekend?! Who knows - oh yeah, it's Friday. I keep forgetting.

My weekend goal is to put up my curtain rods and try to figure out that whole make-your-own-double-rod plan of mine. We'll see how that goes. Other than that, I'll be just doing some party related work - T-minus 7.5 days until the annual halloween party. I think for now I'll get a cheapo rug for the newly wooded mudroom (I may even steal the one from the guest room) and put the loveseat and coffee table from the guest room in there. That will complete mudroom party preparation with minimal budget requirements.

No Clothing!

It's Friday and we've officially been stepping on the new tiles since yesterday. It's great to finally be able to come in and out of the correct door, but now there's a new problem.

Mike hasn't been able to paint the closet and get the washer/dryer back in. He's come down with this terrible cold and should be home in bed right now. But no, he's been going to work for the past couple days despite feeling absolutely terrible.

Unfortunately, I'm leaving for a business trip to FL (woo-hoo warmness!) and I really need to do laundry before I go. Not mostly for me because all my warm weather gear is clean, but so Mike will have sweatshirts, socks, and underwear while I'm gone.

I'm so frustrated because I'd love to just paint the closet. I keep thinking, well what if I wear a respirator and open both windows and both doors... but I know that's just stupid. I can see myself with the doctor now...

Dr. - Well, these birth defects could have been caused by exposure to dangerous toxins!
Me - But I wore a respirator and opened both windows and both doors!
Dr. - Well, it just wasn't enough.

This is why all this stupid stuff just needs to get done ASAP - it all gets so frustrating when your body is so susceptible to, well, everything! Ah I remember the good ol days, vacuuming up bat sh*t and taking a hammer to horse hair plaster.... then there was the cutting of insulation to fit in the non-standard wall holes, burning of old wood in the back yard, taking down of the asbestos siding, digging out the basement, tarring the foundation, painting everything, demo-ing the old chimney, inhaling all that drywall dust.

When I start to think about it - nothing is really safe.

Anyway, I'll have to see how Mike feels tonight and tomorrow. I was hoping we could just chill out all tomorrow... but the whole laundry thing is just out of control at this point.


All my concerns about grout color flew out the window last night when I got home and saw the awesome awesome results. The tile looked incredible - the grout color was perfect, and even my dad commented that it was a great choice.

Just a couple more days to dry and we can officially cross mudroom tile off of the project list. It's nice to have a quick and painless project once and a while, don't you agree?

This pic was taken this morning before I sponged down the tile. You can see the dried grout dust mostly in the corners of the tiles. Shortly after this was taken, I wiped them all down with a damp sponge and then with a dry dish towel to get rid of that.

Here you can really see how great that grout color matches up with the tile. We're really happy with the look of it all. It's perfect.

Next order of business will be to get the washer dryer back in... laundry is piling up already.

Summore Floor!

Dadoo came early early Saturday morning to start on the mudroom tile. Mike had borrowed a tile saw from a friend of ours, and my dad brought the rest of the tools and materials, so after moving the washer, dryer, and everything else, he could start right away. And he didn't want any help, which was fine because Mike had to head over to TJ's place anyway to finish up his driveway. Me? I set upon the task of getting out all the Halloween stuff out of the attic and pulling out a few select decorations.

Here's a shot from around the middle of the day. We went with three rows of tile by the door - so you can get a good couple steps in on tile. The laundry closet would be completely tiled. (On the right hand side of the picture - but you can't see inside the closet from this angle.

Because we're transitioning from tile to hardwood, we were very conscientious about the meeting point between wood and tile. We wanted to make it as smooth as possible without having to use a threshold piece. So my dad picked out a tile adhesive as opposed to the traditional grout, which can be very thick. And it seemed to work, the tiles laid pretty flat as far as I could tell.

Despite the small amount of tile area, it took all day to get it down - till about 5. We locked the french doors to prevent accidental entry through that door - before grouting between the tiles, the adhesive would have to dry all of Sunday and Monday at the least, especially in these colder temperatures. (No, I haven't turned on my heat yet - I'm really trying to grin and bear it until it's freezing.) But at least the pitter patter of cat feet weren't enough to upset the tile, because it's always impossible to keep those two away from the action.

(We call Kamikaze "The Inspector" because he always has to survey all home improvements carefully.)

Here's the inside of the closet, all completed. Notice how the tile comes to the center of the closet frame, this way, when the bi-fold doors are on, they will completely conceal the tile when closed. Coo, huh?

Also, and I hated to admit it with Mike being as busy as he is, but the closet needs a coat of paint before the washer and dryer go back in... and I can't paint right now. (Which is so frustrating because it would be so easy for me to paint some night this week!) Anyway, we have a limited time before our clean clothes run out, so unfortunately for him, it needs to be done ASAP. You can even see in the picture all the scuff marks and lint grossness from moving stuff around in there so much.

I can't even tell you how many times we've moved the washer and dryer since renovating this house. I bought the set before we even had walls up and they sat in the kitchen in their boxes for months. Then they were finally installed only to be removed several months later when we lifted the house and they sat in the kitchen for months again until we finally got a floor in the mudroom. Then we had to add another layer of subfloor - so the washer dryer needed to be moved in and out - again! And now we had to move them for the tile.... so you can see why we'd like not to have to move them again.

Here's the finished part at the door. I decided to carry the tile all the way to the left wall instead of cutting in with wood just because there's no room to cut in with wood on the other side of the french door - the closet comes right up to the edge of the door. So I figured it would have looked lopsided to only have it on one side. I was nervous about that decision, but now I'm really happy about it - I think it's going to look good.

And I love the tile itself. Mike told me initially that it looked like "old people tile." But when you put it up against the blue of the walls and the white of the doors - it really coordinates perfectly. Plus it will be a great contrast to the cherry hardwood.

Speaking of which:

Look how close the matchup is. The wood is still a little teeny bit taller, but may not be once it's nailed down. As is, I don't think we're going to need the threshold.

Mike and I went last night to buy the grout and caulk, which will be used at the junction of tile and wood and tile and french door flashing. (Allowing for expansion and contraction, whereas grout in these areas would crack.) My dad will be over this afternoon after work to grout. Then after another period of drying - we'll be ready to rock on paint and wood and everything else needed to finish up this room.

Speaking of which, we had an extra extra box of tile leftover on Saturday. (I kept one box of tile in case of broken tiles, and still had one leftover.) So I brought that back to Lowes on Sunday morning. And would you believe, lo and behold, Linens 'n Things was going out of business. I couldn't resist. I high tailed it over there and went straight to the curtain section - where I had been eyeing these cool string curtains for months. They were still in stock, so I grabbed a couple. Then I went to the hardware section and grabbed some rods. I would have gotten the other curtains I needed too, but they were already sold out of the size I needed in the color I wanted.

It was so exciting, and pathetic. But now I had my mudroom curtains and rods! One thing I couldn't find was the double rod kit that I needed... You know, allowing you to hang two sets of curtains on one window with a rod behind a rod. So while Mike and I were at home depot I picked up a couple of cheap brackets and rods for the back rods. I've got an idea of how I can make them work without having to buy a more expensive double rod kit. We'll see how that goes. I can't even attempt it until the tile is finished - the washer and dryer are currently in the way of the windows. But I couldn't resist, I was just so excited after getting the curtains I had been wanting - at a discount!

And the Halloween decorating? That was fun. I got all the lights on the farmer's porch and most of the ones around the living room, kitchen, and hallway. Plus some of my favorite pieces.

The Microwave

The Kitchen Window Sill

The Hallway (Looks like it's on fire!)

A Good Sign

I may be jinxing myself here - but I haven't received any callbacks from the home insurance co after placating them with a couple tasty improvement morsels. I really expected them to schedule another visit, but no news is good news in my book.

And I'm sorry to say that despite last weekend's three day length, nothing much got accomplished. Mike has more work to do for everybody else that's been helping us out this summer - fabulous trade offs, I love it. But that means now that our roof and porch are done, it's time for him to really spend time with our neighbors and friends. And that's ok.

I managed to clean up the rest of the roofing mess from around the yard and tidy up tools that were strewn around the house. So everything looks kosher, and I feel good about that.

Dadoo will be over this coming weekend for some mad tiling. I think it'll just be he and I, as Mike has more obligations to fulfill. That's ok - it's not a lot of tile and we'll manage just fine. As for the wood portion of the show, I'm not sure. Mike's been so tired from his misc jobs every night and weekend of the week, I feel horrible asking him to do anything. I might just wait until next weekend, or even after that, depending on how he feels.

Like I said, the room is small, so I imagine we could even bang out that floor some weekday evening. I'm not too worried about it. We already have the wood, and the home depot rental department is just minutes away for the stapler. I will be upset if it's not done by the Halloween party on Nov 8th though.

I'm not even worried about the closet doors. Although I have a 10% off coupon at the home depot that expires tomorrow. I was really thinking about using to at least purchase the doors. Again, I can't do it without Mike, so if he's tied up or tired out, I'm just going to let it go. He's really just been exhausted!


The roof is finished - 100% done. The guys finished it up over the weekend - even Mike worked his butt off, despite looking like a chipmunk and feeling very shitay. I must say it's quite a relief. We still need to do some cleanup around the yard - small stuff. Luckily one of the guys had a magnet, so I think we managed to get most of the nails out of the yard.

And as if on cue, I got a call from the home owners insurance company, checking up on our progress. I was proud to tell them they could come by whenever they wanted. True, we were not able to complete everything on their list - but we put $10,000 or more into the house this summer, so I don't think anyone could argue that we've made no progress.

Let's see, the roof alone was $2700 total - materials and labor. The farmers porch was at least $6,000. Interior stair railing materials came to $1,000. Then there were little things like paint for the garage, misc home depot trips, storage stuff, etc. that probably add another couple hundred bucks. So, yeah - $10,000 is a pretty reasonable estimate. Wow - isn't that crazy? We would have never been able to do all that without the sale of Mike's motorcycle, all Mike's side jobs, my injury settlement, and psychotic winter saving.

I am just so proud! I can't wait to really show everything off at the upcoming Halloween party.

And in case you were all wondering, I was able to make it over to dadoo's house on Saturday with my one tile and pieces of hardwood for him to inspect. The good news is - we think it's going to fly. He's going to try and make the tile as flush as possible with the wood, so we're going to use a tile adhesive instead of traditional grout, which can be thicker. Unfortunately, we don't really know how it'll turn out until we do it. So much depends on how you lay down the adhesive and all that too. But worse case scenario, we'll just have to put a little wooden transition piece between the tile and hardwood.

So we scheduled that install for the weekend of the 18th! Purchasing the tile is no biggie, since it'll only be for under the french door and in the laundry closet. Turns out, we don't even have to rent the tile cutter - our friend TJ has one that he'll probably let us borrow for the day. Too coo! We'll definately be able to crank down the tile in a manner of one day - probably less.

If I can motivate Mike a little, I might be able to get him to install the hardwood the same day. All we'd have to do is rent the stapler again and I'm sure once we get our hardwooding system down again (he staples 'em, I cut 'em and lay 'em out for him) we'll have that one small room done in a matter of a couple hours or less!

I mean, come on, we did the entire upstairs in just two days - and the only reason it took us that long is we had to keep moving furniture around as we completed the rooms. Plus we were new to the whole process, so it took us a while to really get going with our system.

This weekend hopefully Mike will get to have a break and do something fun. Either that or he'll be working at TJ's house. Either way, I won't make him do anything after this past weekend... well, I might make him take out the window air conditioner....

Officially Oct Reality Check

Happy October 1st. Can't say that I'm all that happy about it. This week is all about it's own crazy end. It's like the world is imploding around me. And it all starts tomorrow!

Mike's getting all four of his impacted wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow morning. Lucky for me, his mom could take him and bring him home, since I have my own first baby-related Dr's appointment at 2:00. So he's been nervous about teeth complications, pain, and the thought of eating nothing but oh-so soft stuff with no beer. (The no beer will be the toughest part, I'm sure.) Meanwhile I've been nervous about my own appointment - what if they tell me something's wrong? What if it's multiples? What if I can't go to Czech for Christmas? I'm preparing myself for the worst of bad situations.

Then there's the roof. The guys are coming by, starting today, followed by tomorrow, and then the next day and possibly the weekend to finish the final side. Mike and our neighbor Rich set up the scaffolding last night, but after tomorrow, Mike will be of no help and feels terrible about it.

Friday night, right after I get out of work, we have to high tail it to a bday party... that is, if Mike even feels like going. Even if he does, we'll be a barrel of fun since neither of us can drink. Double Designated Drivers - WooHoo! It's almost funny! Normally, I'd say forget it under these circumstances, but this is a very very very good friend of ours. Even if Mike can't make it - I will definately still go.

Then Saturday morning I've got to grab my Halloween invite supplies and go back down Cape to meet up with my gals so we can get these things done and in the mail.

While I'm at it I should grab my single tile I bought last weekend. Yes, I bought a single tile from Lowes to see how it would match up in the mudroom and to see how it would line up with the 3/8 hardwood flooring we have. Good news, it matches perfectly. Better news, it appears as though after the grout is in place, the tile will fit perfectly with the hardwood. But seeing as how we're no experts, I have to have my dad look at it. So maybe Saturday is just the perfect time to get that taken care of.... and perhaps schedule him to come down and do an installation?! I would just love it if he could come, say the weekend of the 18th? That would be ideal!

Now, of course, with the roofing finished this weekend, the next order of exterior business becomes siding. The usual questions come into play - how much, how much money, how long etc etc. Against my normal procedure, we'll probably have to Home Depot the siding. After the roof, our savings is pretty much nill. (Except for that approx. $5,000 cushion I hold in there - that's in case of emergencies and I don't advise anybody to ever empty themselves completely. It's just not a smart idea.) Plus you have to remember that the holidays are fast approaching, and we've got a Halloween Party in just over a month, a possible Thanksgiving trip to Baltimore, and of course the big Christmas trip to Czech.

The next three months are going to be soooo tight. After the siding and the mudroom floor and in place - that's IT until January. We may be able to finish the rest of the stair railing because we already purchased the materials for that - but seriously, no new projects. In addition to the money, Mike needs a break. He's been working like a dog all summer - home improvement projects, helping friends with their projects, working mad side jobs.... he's exhausted and asking for some R&R time.

When the first of the year hits, we've got to start worrying about the baby room. We need to put in a new floor, fix the drywall, and paint in there. (When I say "we" I mean Mike because I'll be completely useless at that point.) Nevermind stuff like furniture and other supplies. But I'm not going to even worry about that now. My goal is to make it through the rest of this year - get as much done as possible and have as much fun as possible on all our trips.

Rainy Weekend Blues

And now for your local on the blog: Windy with bands of heavy rain showers along with some thunder. Low 59F. Winds E at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 90%. 1 to 2 inches of rain expected. Locally heavier rainfall possible.

Tonight's forecast? Same. Tomorrow's forecast? Same. Sunday's forecast?
We're sorry, the page you requested was not found on weather.com. So Sunday has no forecast!

Obviously, not roofing weather. But the good news is, the guys were nice enough to come over on Wednesday and Thursday after work and finish the farmer's porch roof. Thus leaving the house water tight and ready to survive the weekend. I haven't even been able to grab a pic since it's been getting dark earlier and earlier. But I was able to stand under the porch this morning on my way out and not get wet! A good sign.

The rest of the weekend is obviously going to be a wash out. Mike promised our neighbor he'd work on his tiller and make pickles on Saturday. Meanwhile I've got the girls coming over in the evening to make halloween party invites. They'll be staying over into Sunday, so I'm sure we'll just continue to hang out and do... stuff. I don't know yet.

I'm still trying to get over the fact that this is the last weekend of September. It's not easy.

We Interrupt this HouseBlog for an Important Announcement

I made the official myspace announcement just a couple days ago... so I figure it's time for the next step - official blog announcement. Let me begin with a demonstrative aid:

Does that say it all or what? I made this announcement on myspace and posted the following blog, which I will paste here:

Well, if the profile pic didn’t give it away – here’s the big exciting news: I’m pregnant.

I feel more than a little awkward making an official announcement like this – on myspace of all places. But it’s the quickest way to announce to everyone I don’t get to talk to or see very often, if ever now adays. And really this avoids all gossip and friends hearing it from friends of friends and not from me.... You know how those things go. Then I get about a million confirmation calls or the old, “Hey, I just heard the weirdest thing...” So, for everyone who thinks this is bizarre, me included, that’s your reason.

So the first question after the initial shock is usually, “How far along are you” or “When are you due?” Well, I’m most likely about 8 weeks, though I haven’t even had my first doctor’s appointment yet, so I can’t say anything for sure. I will most likely give birth in May, I would imagine. That’s perfect for me, since pregnancy in the hot humid summer months can’t be fun...

The second question usually involves Mike. How’s he taking it? Well, a lot better than me. You have to remember that I’m a psychotic worrier and general stress ball. At first, I was just freaked out about everything.. Mike, he was just happy. I said to him, Aren’t you worried? And he said, No, I’m just happy! (Easy for him to say!) Nevertheless, my stress and freaking out has calmed as I’ve researched, told more people, and gotten the support of friends, family, and co-workers.

The third question revolves around how I’ve been feeling. In a word: tired. In three words: out of it. My brain has totally left the building. But I’m thankful that I’m not too nauseous. Sometimes my stomach feels uneasy, but never queasy – if that makes any sense. I found I’ve been forgetful, ditzy... Kind of in that I-haven’t-gotten-enough-sleep mindset. I sleep and relax for most of the weekends – this in contrast to my usual busy bee attitude. It’s been quite a change. Friends have said I seem distant, distracted, even cold, but I don’t mean to be, I only often don’t feel like talking or doing anything.

After that, the questions are all over the place. We haven’t got names picked out. We’ll be happy with either boy or girl, but will definitely want to find out beforehand. Our downstairs bedroom will no longer be just for locking up the cats at parties. What else? I think I’ve covered the basics and if I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to ask.

Lastly, why wait to make this announcement? Well, of course many pregnancies end very early on, and I didn’t want to make announcement just have to make a second announcement, if you get the idea. I hope no one isn’t offended that they weren’t the first to know – most everyone who knew early has kind of stumbled upon the news by accident. (My lack of drinking both alcohol and coffee has given it away – you all know me too well!)

Oh and of course through all this, we’re very excited. Even me, through all my nervousness. =)
Thanks to everyone for your support and advice. I truly appreciate it.

*End Blog.

But readers of this blog may be curious to know how this will affect progress around the house. And let me say one thing, it has certainly brought about a more pressing need for stuff to get done. The one bathroom has become a major major problem when I have to pee really badly first thing in the AM and Mike is the first one in the bathroom. Then of course there's the current guest bedroom, which needs to be converted into baby room. And of course all those uncompleted projects littered about the house...

Money and time is as always, not on our side. Energy is a new concern - we both have none! But as always, we try to press on. And of course, blog on.

And Now the After

As promised, here's the after pic of the finished side of the roof. I just love this darker grey color. Previously the roof had been a light grey green color that didn't compliment the house, in my opinion. (I mean, come on, blue house, green roof - what were they thinking?)

And of course, I don't know if I mentioned that these are the 30yr architect shingles. No? Well, they are. Really these things are such good quality that we'll probably never have to touch them again in our lifetime in this house. (We'll probably move to one of those Erickson retirement home communities in the later years. Those places are just awesome! It's like college for old people.)

Anyway - the white strip of trim you see is a type of plastic trim, super durable, guaranteed to also last for life. We'll never need to touch that either.

Rich, our neighbor who's been helping out, stopped by last night. Timmy the roofer wants to come by after work some night this week and bang out the farmer's porch roof. No problemo. All we have to do is turn on the air compressor and leave out the air hose for him. Mike also has to load more shingles tonight - ie he has to carry up 15 80lb bundles. Heavy stuff, but at least it's almost all done.

And with Timmy banging out the farmer's porch this week, that leaves only one side to strip and roof over the weekend.... which is good because the weather does not look good. Rain Friday and Saturday - big storm stuff. Although I can't wait to stand on the farmer's porch and not get dripped on.

Roofing Along Nicely

Mike is exhausted. The weekend was long and hard and I was basically out of commission the entire time; much to his dismay. But the guys worked so hard and got so much accomplished... there were so many people around, I wasn't even really needed!

Saturday the guys began by stripping the very tip top of the roof and working their way down the kitchen side. TJ was there to set the farmer's porch in order, plus Timmy the roofer, Rich and Dana our neighbors, and of course Mike. By the end of Saturday, all of that side was stripped and the very tip top of the roof was, well, roofed! Plus, they were able to easily load all the scrap into the truck.

I didn't even have to unload the truck at the dump - Rich offered to come over at 6:30am so he and Mike could be the first guys to the dump at 7am on Sunday. And they were! (I slept.)

See the tip top portion all done?

Sunday the guys were able to start right on roofing, since everything had already been stripped. They roofed the mudroom and the rest of slanted portion on that side, then ice 'n watered the entire farmer's porch roof.

Mike & Timmy working on the Mud Room Roof

Ice & Water on the Farmer's Porch Thru Screen

I'll have to take an after pic tonight - it was too dark when the guys finally finished up last night. They were over drinking both nights until after nightfall. I'm so glad we decided to get a new 1/2 keg in the kegerator! The guys really enjoyed hanging out with each other afterwords.

Roofing Relief

With "Roofer" crossed off the immediate needs list, Mike and I were off to Morse Lumber on Saturday, roof specs in hand, for an estimate on materials.

Let me tell you, I was preparing myself for the worst... imagining a number as high as $3,000 and just as impossible. As Mike read off the list and our rep and neighbor Matt typed it all in, my heart was just pounding. Whatever it was - it needed to be done.

Then we went upstairs with Matt where his printer was... and as soon as he passed that piece of paper, I nearly fainted with joy. It was more than doable - it was under budget at just over $1500 for everything. I could have hugged the guy, I was just so psyched.

"Go ahead and deliver it on Monday!" we said.

What a relief. I relaxed for the rest of the weekend, my mind at ease. With the materials ordered, and the roofer and our neighbors available next weekend - we had everything we needed and we're going to have it done (hopefully) by the end of Sunday. I imagine it will go quick with Mike, the roofer, our neighbors Rich and Dana, and our carpenter TJ, who will come on Saturday to button up portions of the porch to prepare for roofing and help out. And me? Well, being afraid of heights and unable to lift heavy loads or successfully operate most power tools, I'll probably be sitting this one out until clean up time.

I'm in charge of clean up. Yay, my fav. Eh, it's not so bad. Whatever helps, you know?

I'm really really looking forward to the completion of the roof. It'll be another major accomplishment that we won't have to worry about again for another 30 or so years. Not to mention the advantages of porch-roof water proofing... Mike and I really enjoy sitting out during the rain storms and haven't been able to yet with all the leaks through the plywood seams.

After this - a little siding and that completes exterior work for this year. Then we're back inside to complete the mud room before the upcoming Halloween party. =)

Estimations and Materials

We've decided to go to Morse Lumber in person early Saturday morning to get roofing pricing. It'll just be easier. Mike already has plans for this Saturday, so we can't start on it this weekend, but hopefully we will be able to next weekend... because by next weekend it will be the beginning of the end of September. Unbelievable isn't it?

Our neighbor estimates that if the guys can really work quickly, they could have the whole thing done in one weekend. But if not, then definitely within two weekends. That's more good news. I'm really looking forward to wrapping this thing up by October.

After that, I have some inside work to be done before the infamous Halloween party... mostly I'd like the mud/dining room finished. Which shouldn't be too tough really. I just have to get my dadoo to help with the tile and then we can install the wood flooring that we already have leftover from upstairs. I'd like to get the closet doors on too, but I don't really expect to be able to do all the trimming out before the party.

The Roof Race is On!

What a wash of a weekend! Saturday morning, Mike and I battened down the hatches for the impending tropical storm Hanna. Then we sat inside and suffered in the 97% humidity watching movies and waiting for the storm.... which turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. But at least we got the scaffolding put away and the plywood downstairs. Not a total loss for our cleaning efforts.

Sunday morning our neighbor's nephew came by to look at and measure the roof. The good news is - he can do it and our neighbor will help out too. He measured it and told us everything we need to get. And the bad news? Well, we've got to order up all those materials. I'm not sure what the cost is going to be, but I'm sure it won't be pretty, whatever it is.

I'm not sure if we're even starting this weekend - considering the forecast already predicts rain all weekend. We'll see - they're always changing their minds mid week.

Hopefully Mike will be able to make a call into Morse Lumber to get a price on and order (if the price is do-able) the materials. The guys estimated it would only take a couple of weekends to get the entire thing done, which is great news. Fall is upon us.

Bad News

We're rooferless. Officially.

Mike went to talk to Chad last night. Turns out he's really busy and really expensive... which was totally unexpected. I think he just gave us a huge price to turn us away. To roof just the high parts, he said if it was all stripped and ready he could do it for $4,000.

That's ridiculous! And depressing. I had to tell Mike to stop talking - I just felt so stressed. Even now as I do some calculations and figuring.... I'm realizing that I don't have much at all left for this job. The end of the summer has just been stripping me bare in terms of cash. And every week it seems that something else comes up that I need to pay big for.... car parts, oil, bills, groceries. It's all adding up way too fast. Sh*t is just too expensive now adays. That's the bottom line.

So now Mike has to go and talk to some other guy.... and I'm wondering if everyone's going to be charging up the ass because of the high price of everything. And it's not even winter yet.... this is going to be a tough one, I can feel it.

Just when I think I'm getting ahead too....


Yes yes yes. I know Labor Day is supposed to be about relaxing, spending time with friends and family, and all that yadda yadda. But - if you're a psychotic home improvement junkie like me, you really get your kicks by completing weekend projects!

Let me tell you about my Labor Day. First off, I woke up a little angry because I slept through Discovery Channel's "Collassal Squid" show. Second off, I woke up super early. Like 6:30am kinda early. Not the normal start to a normal relaxing day off - again, I'm not that normal.

So I got up, went for a walk, came back, showered, and got to work. Mike was still asleep of course. It was still only 7:30. But by the time he got up at 9:30, I had already second coated the exterior window trim on the porch side, second coated the french doors, and painted half of the garage top - as far as I could reach from where the scaffolding was placed. Three coats!

Mike was nice enough to help me move the scaffolding right out of bed. And then we both got to painting the other half. He got all the high parts, of course. Before noon, the garage was done!



Then we moved on to attaching those upstairs railing balusters that we had left unattached for so long. That was a little tedious and took us right up until lunch time. We took a short lunch break and then moved on to the basement!

If you remember our "Lean Mean Cleaning Machine" post - back on 4th of July weekend when the summer started (OMG has it been an entire summer?!) we cleaned out the garage and put all the home improvement related tools in the basement - creating a huge mess down there.

But it was an organized mess, with piles for plumbing, carpentry, electric, etc. All we had to do was build some additional shelves and put everything away neatly. So, we used a bunch of scrap wood and made the most makeshift shelves you've ever seen. I told Mike they looked like sketchy bunk beds. But they were pretty sturdy. And here's how everything looked when we put it back:

See, previously we had only had that smaller shelf on the left and we added the long part on the right. And all the stuff fits beautifully! I couldn't have asked for more... except perhaps a couple more storage boxes. All in good time.

After that was done, we were able to vacuum and clean up everything else down there, making room for all the extra porch lumber, which had been sitting outside for over a month.

Ah, the lumber section.

And Mike brought up an interesting point. We probably have enough extra wood to frame out a basement bathroom. "We should make a bathroom down here before we even think about doing the upstairs bathroom," he pointed out. A valid point. With only one bathroom - tearing down your bathroom leaves you toilet and showerless. I had half a mind to start him building on it right away...

But there's a roof and siding to consider. So this one may just be as well off left to the list of winter projects. Fall's agenda is just too long to list!

Lastly, as night fell on Labor Day, we installed the railing to the basement stairs... or at least half of it. (It's a split railing, and we don't have the bottom newel yet to attach the bottom part to.)

All in all - a very productive, non-relaxing labor day. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.