Disclaimer: we aren't professionals

Thanks for reading our silly little blog! As the disclaimer says, we aren't professionals in either blogging or house stuff, but we try. This is mostly to let our friends and family know what we've destroyed so far in the house. We post irregularly and usually forget to take pictures, so thanks for your patience, and please feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Assorted side projects

I uploaded as many pics as I could find from Chris and I's cameras, and am organizing them and figuring out how best to share them.

For now, here are some side projects that I did this summer/fall.

First, I knew I was going to have a lot more kitchen stuff to store after the wedding. I bought a dresser off of craigslist for $40, then sanded, repainted, patterned, and poly-ed it. The stencil came from a metal radiator cover from Home Depot. It was kind of tricky, and some areas have some blobby parts, but that's ok. Overall I love it!

In the kitchen, I got some frames from Ikea to fill the end wall where the table is. I got a desk calendar with vintage dessert illustrations on sale at Sam Flax, a local art store, when I was in buying stationery for the wedding. I cut the picture up and framed a few, and the other vintagey drawn things are from the back cover of Cook's Illustrated, a bi-monthly magazine I get.
I realized they were art when I got the crabs one, and I love crabs, having grown up eating them when we visited my dad's family in Baltimore. So, the crabs started it all. Now we have winter squash and pastries, too, and the Jan/Feb issue has limes on the back cover. I'll frame it as soon as I'm done reading. 

  In the laundry room, we rearranged the initial layout. The cabinet was so high I couldn't reach anything in it, and the shelf was too low to hang dresses or tights to dry. So, we angled the washer/dryer, then moved the cabinet to counter height. This adds the benefit of hiding the dryer vent pipe, and creates a nice surface for the detergents. The shelf is higher now, perfect for hanging things. The space in general is more open, and open-ness is critical in that cramped 5 by 4 foot room.

We also opened up the closet in the master bedroom. I wouldn't call this a "side project" technically, because it did take us several weeks to cut, repair, trim, paint, and install the closet system. But, it looks great, and just seems so much bigger than the closet in the bedroom we're currently using, which is technically larger. However, we won't be doing this in any of the other rooms because of the locations of the closets. We'd lose too much wall space and they'd be the first thing you saw when you walked in. Yuck. Here, when you walk in, the door covers half of the closet, and you're looking into the room, away from the closet. So it works. We haven't hung a curtain in front yet, or moved clothes in (except for my dressy clothes and off-season dresses). 

 We also rearranged the office when I brought my old dining table from Elise's house. It's now my craft desk. The layout is more open, and leaves room for Hula's cat tree and a bookshelf to store my crafty things on the left wall (not shown).

In the corner of the picture above (between the computer and the TV) you see a framed thingy. That's another two desk calendars from Sam Flax, maps and vintage travel posters, that I put in a big multi-picture frame from Ikea. Sorry the picture is blurry; I was trying to avoid glare from the plastic. It's cute, and has old airliner posters and one from Hawaii (which was awesome, btw).

Finally, I got around to dyeing the Henriksdaal chair covers for the dining room table. I wanted them a teal color, so I bought 3 Royal Blue and 2 Emerald iDye packets at JoAnn's. Each packet dyes 2 covers, and I bought 2 extra chair covers (in case Hula destroys the current ones... she's been good about using her cardboard scratcher, though). I also had a white ottoman cover for an old Ikea ottoman ($6 for the basic white Klippan cover; I couldn't resist). Note: without the covers on, the chairs are pinkish. The picture isn't off-color, I promise.

Anyway, I threw all of the covers into the washer, added the recommended amount of salt and the dye packets, and let 'er rip. There are tons of dyeing tutorials out there that I followed, and it worked great!
 The color wasn't as blue as I had hoped, but they're still a beautiful turquoise, and go fine with the placemat that was my inspiration.
Maybe I should have ironed them. Hm. Or maybe that marbling is just normal when you cram 6 chair covers and an ottoman cover into a washer. I should go home and check. I think they're smoother now, after being installed for a month.

Monday, September 12, 2011

OMG COFFEE seriously it makes me hyper

Hey, I keep meaning to update this but I keep forgetting to take the pictures off of Chris' camera and put them into the Dropbox folder so I can edit/update from work (haha I am so glad I am not salaried technically and so I can work a "full week" of 13-15 hours and still have time to sit at my desk) and oh my gosh this is a run-on sentence.

I promise that I will update with pictures. Bullet summary:
  • We got married! ... almost a month ago. Well like 3 weeks ago. And the house has been cluttered with leftover stuff and gifts (oh such a hardship) ever since. It's slowly getting better. We're still not done writing thank you notes though =(
  • I bought a nice solid wood dresser off of craigslist and I'm almost done refinishing it. It's really cool; I used a radiator grill as a stencil that just happens to match the pendant shade over the dining room table. Bwahaha. It's curing outside; I poly'd (polied? polyed?) it on Saturday and I want it to be totally not-tacky when I put the drawers in. Yesterday we got drawer pulls using some Home Depot gift cards. They are super snazzy! Then we'll move it into the living room where we will store dining stuff and other things.
  • Chris is doing an awesome job tiling the bath/tub surround in the master bathroom. We got this fancy travertine tile on sale at The Tile Shop at $3/square foot plus an extra 10% discount because of http://www.younghouselove.com/. Yay! It's really pretty. Pictures would help a lot here. 
  • We demolished the closet in the master bedroom. Well actually, we took down the walls blocking the closet from the room. It's a 5 foot wide closet that had a 2' door. It's shallow, so it was really hard to get the clothes in the back corners. Not that we've ever had clothes in it, but this is our experience with the closet in the guest bedroom (currently our bedroom). Anyway we are taking out the front walls so it is open to the room. We will hang a curtain in front. It's not like our clothes will be on display when you open the door though because the door to the bedroom actually opens to hide half of the closet. Anyway the closet looks huge, and we're going to get a 5' closet kit from Home Depot like this: 
and it will be awesome. 
  • Finally, there are a bunch of little projects that happen here and there. Chris and I are going to start building my mountain bike together. The fall weather is just setting in, where it kind of gets cool in the evenings, and it's going to be sooooo nice to have a lightweight bike! 
  • We got a TV as a wedding present (it's not here yet though) and maybe I can actually get cable before the fall TV season is too far underway! Maybe. If the stars and planets align just right. NBC and ABC (and HGTV!) have iPad apps where I can watch new episodes easily, and Lifetime has Project Runway online, but oh man to just flop on the couch and watch tv... it's something I took for granted. I miss it. 
  • The week before we got married we got a new stove from the Sears outlet. It was about $250 off of full price because it was a floor model. It had no scratches or anything! Well, until we scraped up the side when taking it home sideways in the back of Chris' FJ. Fortunately, I just sanded it down and we had to run to Home Depot anyway to get a new power cord for it and so I picked up some black enamel and it looks almost as good as new. I had actually forgotten about the scratches until I wrote this, so that's good. The enamel made a nice smooth shiny coat, and I doubt any future house purchasers will notice. The stove is awesome; it's still electric, but it has a smooth glass cooktop, and the two front burners have variable sizes, and the oven is convection, and it has a closed bottom so the heating element isn't exposed. Overall, it is very easy to clean, and it satisfies my OCD because now all of our appliances are updated Maytags and they all have the same buttons for "on" and "off" and it is awesome. I no longer feel like I have this brand new kitchen but a junky old stove with only 3 of its burners and a nasty dirty oven. Yay! Oh it's so nice. It really is. 
Ok those bullets were really long. I'm terrible at bullet-ed lists. I should do actual work now that it is almost 9 am. I'm never going to graduate if I never work on my thesis! Or work on finding a thesis... Right. Hmm maybe I should drink more coffee? *twitch*

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pictures of very poor quality

In my hunt for pictures, which was limited to my desktop at work, my external hard drive, and my cell phone (I don't have the cord to connect my camera to my computer), I found these. They are all from my cell phone, so I apologize for the quality and randomness of them.

In honor of Towel Day, May 25, I baked a rhubarb pie that reads "Don't Panic!" and has a towel next to it. Yes, I am a dork. But I am a dork that can make pie crust from scratch!  

One of the Ikea options for a buffet-like storage system for the kitchen. It's probably not going to work out.

This is a print I saw in Target that I think is cute and that I could totally reproduce myself (using the fancy GT library printers) without paying $20. 

I finally finished the cover for my Roomba, whose name is Goomba. Here he is in action at work:

The backyard! I loooooooove the hammock that Chris' dad got me for my birthday last year. We grill, we play with the puppy, and in the background you can see where Chris burns stuff (like trees that he cuts down - I have a video somewhere of the chainsaw in action) and you can also see his teeter for mountain biking and dog trick training.

At the Dogwood Festival, I got four little dogwood saplings for $10. It supports the Friends of Piedmont Park, and we need trees anyway. One has died, but one has lots of fresh little leaves, and the other two are still green and growing leaf buds. I hope they'll survive! They're all in their own planters, too, until we can put them in the ground. 

Hula is a typical cat. "Clean laundry? Now it's hairy laundry. You're welcome."

I took this after the guys did the first coat of stain. Omigosh it's so pretty! 

Here's after the first coat of poly. We'll have to get some pics of it now. It's not quite as shiny (because this was taken when it was wet, and they actually used a satin finish topcoat instead of gloss because the floors in the rest of the house do not have a gloss finish)

Again, I apologize for the quality of the pictures, and I promise that we'll round up some more this weekend. 

Sort of update, haha; wood floor refinishing, etc.

Hello hello!

We really are terrible at this blogging thing.

Chris has been spending most of his time working on the HVAC still, but I think he's working on the last return duct today. On Wednesday he turned on the AC despite the incomplete ductwork and it was aaaaaawesome. As in we both went "ahhhhhhhhh" and really really appreciated the cool air coming from the vent in the living room. It's so close to being done! I'll let him post pictures and a summary if he wants when he's done.

One big thing I guess we haven't updated all 2 of our readers on is that we got the floor in the corner bedroom (future office) refinished. This is the room that had the rot originally, and we (Chris and his dad, really) replaced the floor joists, wall studs, parts of the hardwood floor, and then put up drywall again. The wall has been ready to go for a while, but the floor was sanded a bit and then we hadn't gotten around to renting a heavy sander and doing the whole room and staining the whole room and trying to get an even coat of poly on the whole room.

It was time to call in the professionals! I called at least 4 people, ended up getting 3 quotes, and although we didn't go with the cheapest, we definitely went with the best. I was really impressed with the original guy, who called me within 5 minutes of my 2nd quote request via ServiceMagic (a contractor-finding tool, free and pretty handy, with reviews). The 1st quote request yielded 3 contractors, 1 of which didn't do small jobs, 1 which kept flaking on coming out to give an estimate, and 1 who said "tell me what the other guys say first" and wouldn't give me an original quote. The 2nd quote request yielded the people we ended up using (S & S Flooring), another guy who just came in, gave a price, and didn't elaborate at all on details, and one guy who didn't contact me until after both other guys had called me, given me a quote, and I'd agreed to go with S&S. If you want pricing, let me know, but in this case the cheapest was definitely not necessarily the best.

Anyway the guys were really professional, and we had the job done two weeks ago (May 12-13). They worked half a day on Thursday (sanding, staining, 1st coat of poly), and came out Friday to finish the other coats of poly. Then Chris and I conveniently left for my brother's graduation, and came back to a perfect floor. They did the whole room, all the way up to the drywall (I'd removed the baseboards), and it looks great! Now we just need to paint, and we can make it an office! I think I'm going to try and get that done this weekend. That is my goal.

I'm rambling a whole lot, but here's what else has been happening:

  • We found carpenter bees eating our pretty mailbox post. Chris killed them with brake cleaner and I'm building a carpenter bee trap. See this hilarious video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g2TRanAkSA (I love Southerners. These folks are from Alabama)
  • Haha actually I just found a video with an easier way, so maybe I'll just do this. I've hit a "bottleneck" (womp womp womp) in the construction process with what bottle fits the hole in the bottom... anyway here's another carpenter bee trap http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD5ExhmaZA8
  • I decided to make Jezza an elevated feeding box, where we'll put some stainless steel bowls in there and she can eat up higher and Hula won't have to stick her whole head in a deep pail in order to get water (to clarify, Jezza's water is in a pail right now, and my cat Hula drinks from the pail, but she's little so if the water level is low she sticks her entire face, ears allllll the way back, in the pail). 
  • We got a slidey thingy for under the coffee maker. Now that the tile backsplash is done (still needs to be sealed, though), the coffeemaker and toaster live on the counter in the corner. Chris has had to pull the coffeemaker all the way out every morning, and then it just stays there, and that's no good, so we got a fabulous AS SEEN ON TV product called the Handy Caddy from Amazon. It works well for him so far, I think. 
  • We made a compost pile from green plastic fencing, and shoveled part of the leaf pile from last fall into it. That stuff has been decomposing already all winter. If it was cold out while we were throwing the frisbee, Jezza liked to lay on the pile because it was warm. Someday we'll have a garden and we'll be glad we have the compost pile. It's movable, too; all you do is pull up the plastic circle (about 3.5 feet diameter), move it somewhere else, and shovel everything back into it, except now the leaves and stuff are all mixed up. 
  • We did try to grow tomatoes and peppers from seeds. I started a bunch inside in March, but they were only 4 inches tall or so and they all died when we put them in the planter box. I had hardened them off on Elise's porch for a month or so, but squirrels kept digging them up. So, we had the tomato cages in place already, and Chris wrapped some leftover green plastic fencing around the cages to protect them. Still, we were down to two feeble little plants, so we were like "well let's see if we can buy some at Home Depot". So we found out that 4-packs of 8" tall seedlings were only $1.68. I say, forget ever trying to grow from seed again! It's so not worth it! It's not like we're trying to grow organic or anything, so I will make the extra $0.68 investment beyond a $1 pack of seeds and get happy young plants. We got 4 tomatoes and 4 jalapenos, and planted them in the planter box (with fencing protection) and hope they will grow big and strong in time for a harvest this summer! 
I think that's it for now. Sorry this is so long. I'm going to fish around for some pictures that I can share to show you. I'll check with Chris this weekend to see if he has any, and if not, we'll take some. Happy Memorial Day weekend! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

This weekend: potting bench & pegboard organization!

This week, my Kreg Jig came in the mail. It makes pocket holes soooo easy! So before I use it to make the console table for behind the sofa, I wanted to learn how to use it properly. Also, there was a potting bench plan on Ana White's website, and it used pocket holes to attach the shelf boards to the supports. Here's the plan:

I used treated wood, and bought some 2" and 2.5" coated deck screws (and then Chris bought a 5-lb box of deck screws later, womp womp). The wood was probably $30 (plus interior primer for the office at $15, and another $15 for the screws makes the total bill about right).
I cut all of the pieces, but alas, Chris had taken his impact driver and both batteries to Blankets Creek to help with a trail there, and I was drill-less. I did have my Black and Decker drill, but its battery was dead, and even after charging it, the highest torque setting was barely enough to drill a hole successfully.

Anyway, that's when I started organizing the tool shed part of the garage. It had gotten a little messy, and I felt we needed to clear the table top and cabinets and start over. I also wanted to build some shelves into the exposed studs to store paint cans, so I made the measurements and started cutting for that.

Chris finally returned, bringing his batteries, and work on the potting bench eventually resumed. Chris helped me finish it, and it is very sturdy! I'll eventually put it out by the rain barrel out back. That's the side of the house where we'll eventually put a vegetable garden, so I think it will be very convenient.

Anyway, I didn't take any pictures of stuff in progress; only after it was dark outside and we'd closed the garage door did I remember. So I'll just add them here without further ado. And if anyone reading this ever comes over to the house, you will know exactly where to find whatever pliers, saw, caulk, tape, or other tool that you need.

Paint shelves, immediately opposite the door to the storage room. All made using scrap 2x4s taken from the studs of the house.

Our old kitchen cabinets, freshly reorganized! Also the great shelves that Chris built to hold all of his cased tools. They're all labeled too. Mmmm labels.

Reorganized paint and drywall shelves, with other salvaged shelves for spraypaint and paint samples.

Mmmm perfectly organized tools. This totally indulged my latent OCD tendencies.

All of our handy, most frequently used tools in one convenient place! 

Safety and saws. Never misplace your safety glasses, respirators, earmuffs, or Sawzall again! 

Monday, April 4, 2011


aka what's been happening around the house

Here we have the completed tile floor, the new kitchen table and chairs, the mudding of the drywall repairs on that back wall, and oh... yes... a puppeh dohg.

Here is the new rug under the table, along with its bench friend. Clearly we do not clean up before taking pictures. =P

I forgot to mention in the last post that I started priming the back bedroom. This is so that the following sequence of events can take place:
room painted --> floor refinished --> stuff moved out of master bedroom --> master bedroom repainted --> master bedroom has bed put in it and becomes a bedroom instead of a storage room

More priming. Bye bye section of new drywall! Thank you for replacing the rotted stuff!

Ok so change tracks now to the kitchen. I had decided that this weekend I would start the backsplash tile. It was pretty easy because the sheet was conveniently the perfect size to fit between the laminate countertop and the bottom of the cabinet. Anyway, that meant all I had to do was cut out the holes for the outlets. 

And lay it out roughly. 

And then slap some mortar on the wall and stick up some tiles! I started in the very back corner where it wouldn't show as easily if I messed up.

Here I've tiled behind the stove too, down to the level of the top of the cabinets. If someone has a flat range someday, there will be plenty of tile on the wall. 

Here's the finished corner (except for grout and stuff). I had to cut down some tiles for where the corner meets, but I just used my handy glass tile nippers and then scooted the rough edges underneath the smooth ones on the other wall. We also went up a little on the sides of the window, so that it's 18" of tile. I think it makes the whole corner look like there is more tile than there is. Like, you would look at it and say "oh, there are 5 more inches of tile behind the wall cabinets!". Or... not. 

So here's how it will look, except imagine some grout in there. I think white will be fine; it's not like a shower where it will get all mildewy. That exposed wire there is for the under-cabinet lighting that Chris can finally install once the tile is finished! 

Here's a view of my gorgeous expanse of countertop. I can't wait until my cherry-red stand mixer is sitting where the knife block is, and I can roll out cookie or pie dough on my butcher block kitchen table. I'm keeping my eye on the prize! Which is Chris, of course, except I am also looking forward to using that kitchen. <3

Speaking of Chris, I thought this was cute. Jezza was all like "phew, I'm tired! but if you open this door, I'll go play some more!" and Chris is all like "omigosh she's actually laying still". Please note behind him the finished glass cabinet doors. I kind of like them unfrosted, actually. Maybe I'll get some fun wallpaper to put on the back wall to make it more interesting. I might also find a new home for all of those pint glasses on the top shelf, too. We have a lot. 

And so that is my photo update for now! I have some pics of the bathroom too, but I'll let Chris narrate those. 

Quick update

This is kind of a summary of the last two weeks, as I am aware.

Chris has been busy continuing work under the house on the HVAC system, and cutting down annoying little trees in his free time. We have quite a wood pile going, and he's burned the brush a few times too. There's a cool pic of him and Jezza in front of one fire that is pretty cute.

I ordered a bunch of stuff online and it finally arrived! I also got some stuff at Ikea.
- We bought a rug for under the dining room table (this one, 5'5"x7'7" in medium brown)
- I got a leather storage bench from Overstock. It's actually REAL leather (not bonded or bicast or any of the other fake ones, sorry PETA). It's huge, and is a great seat for the table. This way we'll get 4 dining room chairs and have a bench keeping it open near the front door. We can sit on it to take off shoes or whatever, and store shoes, hats, gloves, blankets, etc. inside.
- Also from Overstock, I ordered these steel chairs for the kitchen table. They're knockoffs of the Emeco Navy chair, which is > $400 a chair. Ummmm no thanks. These came out to about $70 a chair, which is still expensive, but they are super-sturdy and should last a long time. In the pictures that I'll try to post tonight, you'll see there are only 3. Two of the plastic foot inserts on the 4th chair were broken, but Overstock was good about getting replacements. Then we'll get soft rubber stick-on feet for them too, just to make sure there are no scrapes.
-Finally, the chairs will go around this Ikea table that we are still planning to put a butcher block top on. First, we need a router and a Kreg jig. That will allow us to cut out the top from one of Ikea's countertops ($59, sweet!) and fasten the two semi-circles together from below using pocket-holes. Then we'll just bolt the new tabletop onto the base! (I hope it's actually that easy)

Also this past weekend, I started tiling the backsplash in the kitchen. I have 3 sheets left to put up, but I ran out of mortar. I'll post pictures of the progress so far later (I have them, they're just on my laptop, and I'm currently on my work computer).

And speaking of work, I should really go study because quals are this Friday. Commence freaking out. Jk, I'm in a good mental state. And then, finally, I will be able to focus on the house (and um wedding planning too?) a lot more instead of having this exam nightmare hanging over my head.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good News!: The Devil Cat Doesn't Scratch the New Karlstad Covering

Annie's cat, Hula, had a fond attraction to the nubbly texture on the old Karlstad sofa fabric. Ironically, this was also one of the more expensive covers that they sold for the Karlstad line. The scratching posts would be right next to the couch and she would still scratch the corners... It brought great displeasure to Annie and me. We weren't sure how the new Karlstad sectional covering would do, but Annie opted for the smoother fabric as a deterrent (also cheaper). If Hula went after the corners of the sectional, I vowed that I would remove her front paws entirely. Annie gave me a big frown after that comment. We are more than a month in with this sectional and amazingly, Hula has gone back to using her various scratching posts. Thank the cat gods (or devils) for pitying us! Moral of the story; if you are stuck with a cat, do not get the nubbly textured covering for the Karlstad sofa unless you want a shaggy look for all of the furniture corners. =)

Monday, March 7, 2011


I skipped posting about the dishwasher install several months ago and finally backtracked to post about it.

The older dishwasher seemed to work, but the drain attachment under the dishwasher was cracked. Instead of dealing with replacement parts on a dishwasher that was over 10 years old, I decided to do some shopping. I ended up finding a dishwasher that I liked from Home Depot. It was a black, top-mounted button model by Maytag. I think I paid under $350 for it. Home Depot currently has it for ~$360. The specific model was MDBH969AWB or the Maytag Jet Clean Plus.

I started by plumbing the supply line and drain hose from underneath the sink cabinet. Basically, I drilled two holes near the lower corner of the cabinet to feed the plastic drain line (that Ts off of the garbage disposal) and the 1/4” copper line (Ts off of the hot water supply line).


Next, I ran the hot water line to get the air out.


You coil the line like that just to make sure that when you push the dishwasher into place, you don’t kink the supply line. The electrical outlet is a standard socket and is not required to be a GFCI outlet because it is located by a major fixed appliance. This outlet did get its own circuit (shared with the disposal) as recommended by code on separating the disposal and dishwasher on a separate circuit.

Here is a shot of the location of the hot water supply line on the dishwasher. It actually made it quite difficult to fish the supply up to that point once I had the dishwasher in front of its home.


I also included a couple shots of me wiring the plug. I used 12-2 Romex because this appliance isn’t one that will be moved in and out a lot. For power tools and hand held kitchen appliances, you use a braided cord so the repeated flexing doesn’t cause the metal to fatigue. I bought the receptacle plug at Home Depot. It was a bit more expensive than I was expecting, but I never could find a lower grade plug.



I hooked everything up and shoved the dishwasher into place. This was where I found out that it was a super tight fit, causing me to have to adjust the insulating every time I moved it back a few inches. Once I got it all the way back, I screwed in the two retaining clips and called it a day.





Overall, I found this to be a fairly simple install. I am very pleased with the dishwasher after about 6 months of use. It is a bit loud, but an excellent deal and looks great with a button-less front.