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!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The master bedroom comes together

Continuing my spastic two-posts-in-one-day-two-months-apart pattern:

Oh hey I never told you (mysterious anonymous possibly nonexistent internet readers) about how we're actually using the master bedroom as a bedroom now instead of a storage room. Guess what? I have more phone pics!

Ok this is old news, but the 5'3" closet with the skinny 2' door has been opened up and fitted with a wire Closetmaid rack from Home Depot (wish I could use Elfa, but we are le cheap sometimes and Elfa is le expensive and we don't know if we will be staying in le houzze long enough to make it le worthwhile... I will le stop now).

The week before Memorial Day we hit up The Original Mattress Factory and The Mattress Firm and scored a memory foam mattress for sort of cheap I guess; I dunno, they were having sales and I won't break it down but I got a sweet coconut-oil-infused memory foam pillow out of the deal so I'm happy. The mattress is still in plastic here because I was finishing up the stenciled back wall. Oh yeah and our bed arrived and so that was hanging out in the middle of the room. Our bedroom is tiny so it took up pretty much all the space; it's better now but that's why we really needed drawers (see next pic).

The bed has 6 of these big drawers (cedar lined, oooOOOooohhh). Chris gets 2, the extra bed linens get 1, and I get 3. I like how 50/50 is totally not 50/50 when it comes to closets and dressers. I have already fit all of my boots into one drawer, and need to mash the winter comforter in another drawer. Maybe I should get one of those vacuum bag thingies. I have a coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond. Yeah, I'll do that.

So, not thinking out loud anymore... since these pictures were taken (because I am always behind) I have decided on a dresser for the room, side tables, and have purchased sheer curtains and gray curtains for the windows. We're not putting the old blinds back up because they are off-white and look really dingy next to the freshly painted crisp white trim. So, sheers it is. I love that we get tons of sun in the morning in this room; helps me wake up for sure. Oh and the curtains are these from Target. I got 84" originally because the sheers are 84" but they were too short! So I went back and got 96" so they are hung right below the crown molding. Well, they would be hung except the curtain rods I bought (28"-48") are not long enough so I have to go exchange those now. Also I am ironing the curtains before I hang them, which is a pain but sooooo worth it because they look so nice and smooth when they're hung. 

And here is a super-professionally-done screenshot of my Pinterest board where I tried to figure out what dresser and side tables I wanted. Click to make it bigger. Circled in blue are things we have already or have been ordered. X'ed out in gray are things I considered but ultimately discarded. Oh oops forgot a gray X on the quilt on the right and the table in the top middle. I ended up ordering that colorful Georgia print on the bottom from Etsy, but of Texas instead. 
Follow me on Pinterest! I'm anniejw17. 

And that's it for bedroom progress. Once it's all finished I'll be sure to take more pics but with a better camera (haha, my Nikon coolpix, super professional). I also took pics of the kitchen because I realized I never posted finished* pictures of the whole thing. Someday I'll get around to posting those. 

*I say finished because nothing is ever really finished, right? This month I seriously need to finish the mudding and sanding over in the kitchen nook. You can see it in the pic of Hula on Jezza's bed. Gah it's ugly and has been like that for a friggin' year. Annie J. Wyatt, procrastinator extraordinaire. 

Garden update

Over the past few weeks we've sort of been working on the house, but mostly tending the garden and enjoying summer! Here are a few pics (all from my phone, sorry they're kinda crappy):

We went to the Braves home opener on April 13th:

Jezza got her first lake-swimming day of the year. That $30 waterproof back-seat cover was a great investment.  

Hula decided that her new favorite spot to sleep is Jezza's bed. Jezza looks very confused and only sits on the bed when Hula is there if we specifically tell her to. They're not exactly cuddle buddies yet.

Ok, gardening stuff finally! This is what I picked last night. Green beans in the front, snow peas in the middle, and beans/peas we've picked over the past 3 days in the back. Sauteed green beans and peas, yum!

This is our little planter box. The mints are doing well (they're in the blue buckets to keep them from spreading). The lavender (foreground) has one or two flowers. I hope it'll get much bigger as it settles into its new home. We have some sunflowers, but the one in the foreground got hit by a frisbee or something and got chopped in half and died. Maybe the ants crawling on them ate through the stalk? I don't know. I hit another one with a frisbee and managed to save it, though. 

 The pepper plants are doing ok. I want to try spraying them with epsom salts. Pinterest says that helps flowers and thus yields more peppers. There's a single pepper growing in the middle right of the pic. 

The beans are very leafy, and it is hard to see the growing green beans, but there are two on the right. If you leave them for a few days, you end up with a handful! It's amazing what 2 square feet can grow!

The snow peas have grown past the trellis and bird netting, so it's easier to pick the peas now. The snap peas are still producing, but more slowly, and are only about halfway up the trellis. I think I'll plant snow peas on the cherry tomato trellis in the fall; they'll have plenty of space there.

We have little baby squash! Or squishes, as we like to call them because we are weird. This plant now actually has two crookneck squash, the other squash plant has one, and one of our two* zucchini plants has a baby zucchini growing.

The tomatoes are starting to produce too. Oh it's so exciting, because I have never successfully grown tomatoes before. This is the roma tomato plant; the flower on the left has since turned into a baby tomato, too.

Here are the cherry tomatoes; they're Sweet 100 variety. Each little stalk has 6 or 7 flowers, and the tomatoes grow biggest closest to the main stem. They're so cute. Gah I love baby fruits and vegetables!

Because tomatoes like lots of sun and lots of water, I made this PVC drip sprayer. It was super cheap and super easy. I used this instructable and modified the measurements to fit my space. We're going to make a stick waterer for the peas and another prong-type one for the peppers.

The PVC has a quick-connect ending that attached to the garden hose leading from our new rain barrel. Now we have two! The other barrel was on the other side of the house and it was a pain to lug the watering can over from the other side of the deck. For this new one we also got a fancy diverter instead of just chopping off the gutter above the barrel. The gutter near the garden goes into black landscaping pipe underground so we didn't want to mess with that. We'll let you know how the diverter works.

When I said two* zucchini, this is what I was referring to. We have two zucchini in the garden beds, but somehow there is a zucchini growing in the middle of the yard. It is doing ok; it's not as big as the ones planted in compost, but we're going to leave it be and see what happens. It's kind of tough to keep Jezza from trampling it as she sprints after the frisbee though. 

I guess this isn't gardening related because we haven't grilled any of our own vegetables yet, but we're enjoying our grill already and looking forward to picking a zucchini and slapping it on the grill, or roasting some fresh bell peppers, or skewering some Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes! 

Oh and here's some other stuff I baked. Fresh peach crumble - recipe from my trusty dusty Southern Living Cookbook from 1987. This is one of my mom's favorite cookbooks, and has the crepe recipe my dad uses (pg. 86, I believe). I snagged one for myself when I saw it in Half Price Books in Houston a few years ago. It has a recipe for squirrel fricassee. Basically it is an all-around awesome cookbook.
Anyway I made this when Chris' dad was in town. He loves fresh peaches so it was great that I had an opportunity to make this because I love fresh peaches, but Chris doesn't, and it's nice to share desserts with people who appreciate them .

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Garden update too!

I am terrible at pacing myself, so if anyone is actually reading this then you get two posts in one day!

This is about our garden plot. We cut down all those trees earlier this year (read: had professionals cut them down for us). Then we had the stumps ground out on a Thursday (I forget which Thursday, but it was in February). Then Chris borrowed a roto-tiller from his boss and we cleared a 20' by 15' section of ground to the right of our deck (looking out from the house). It's behind the garage, and receives TONS of sun now that the pesky diseased tree that was there is gone. It's sort of flat; close enough at least. Anyway over that weekend we hacked out all the remaining tree roots with the cutter-maddock and the axe (that was super annoying; there were tons of surface root clumps). We tilled the plot, and then tamped it down. We laid down 300 square feet of landscaping fabric, and using 8 treated 2"x8"x8's we made 4 raised beds, each 4' square. Then we filled the beds with a mix of topsoil ($14 for a half ton, I think?), Miracle Gro garden soil, mushroom compost, and cow manure compost. I have had a garden plan laid out for ages, and I finally got to start planting things according to the frost date guidelines. We used the mulch from the ground up stumps to cover the paths, and we will probably add a low fence at some point. I have to check with Chris, who has waged a war against the squirrels, but more on that later.
Here's how it looks from the front yard looking over the chain link fence. Not many plants yet; just a few onions. The structures are all in, though. I made trellises out of EMT (metal tubing usually used for electrical work) and remesh (big sheets of wire grid that are used to reinforce concrete). The pea trellis (left) is at an angle; the peas will grow to shade the spinach and kale. The potato towers (far left) are still empty; the cherry tomato trellis (right) is set up but there are no tomatoes yet. 

Here is an excerpt of my plan. This is always subject to change, and will evolve as we harvest spring and summer vegetables and replant with fall veggies. 

This was taken March 31st, the day I had been using as my spring frost date. Technically it's April 14th or something, but whatever. It's been a warm spring. Never mind that today is April 12th and it was 40 degrees last night...
Anyway, the near bed holds squash and zucchini. I still don't have plant markers finished (I'm spraypainting paint stir sticks yellow on one side and chalkboard painting the other side to write in varieties) so I forget which are yellow crooknecks and which are zucchini. Oops. I guess we'll find out in a few months! Chris bought too many pepper plants so he tried to salvage them with the white buckets. The orange bucket holds carrots (which grow too deep for our shallow raised beds). You can see the peas starting to climb the trellis on the left. The potato towers are growing well (they've gone nuts in the past two weeks, too, it's awesome!). The tomato cages are assembled to the right; I got organic tomatoes (some heirlooms) from Pike Nurseries, so I have 6 different types of tomatoes growing. I can't wait to try them all! I have 4 in cages and the 2 cherry varieties will go up the trellis. I planted shortest in front, tallest in back (or shortest to the west, tallest to the east). They will all get tons of sun, regardless. 

We volunteered at a Crop Mob (weekend gatherings of volunteers to help a local gardener or farmer with specific tasks in the fields) and I got some cuttings of a lemon balm plant. It has since died and I shelled out $3 at Home Depot to get a replacement. I planted it in a bucket to try to control it, as well as the two mint varieties. They are known for taking over gardens. I also tried to grow lavender from seed (hah, how ambitious) but that failed too. The mint and lavender I got at half off, though, so $1.50 each. Not bad. I can't wait to make homemade popsicles with fresh sweet mint! 

Here are my tomatoes. We have:
Juliet (cherry)          Sweet 100 (cherry)
Brandywine               Red Strawberry 
Park's Whopper                 La Roma II
 I made an oops, and La Roma II is actually a determinate variety, meaning it bushes; the others are indeterminate, which is what most people grow in cages. We'll see how it grows, though. This garden is one big fun experiment to me! 
 I planted two squash in each quarter, but will thin one so I have a total of 4 plants. That's still kind of crowded, but I used scraps from the tomato cages to make a trellis, and we'll see if I can train them to grow over that. The buckets are for watering. Fill the bucket, let the water soak into the soil through drilled holes. That's how one magazine said to do it so I'm giving it a shot. The squash have sprouted, so I'll probably thin them this next week. Survival of the fittest!
 I totally had fun with google+'s photo editor while making these pics. The herbs are pretty self-explanatory; the cilantro has died and I probably won't try to grow it again. Everything else is happy, though!

 The potatoes have gone nuts since this photo was taken. The little sprouts out the side have grown out and up and leafed out a lot. The 3 planted in the top have exploded. They seem to be pretty happy potatoes. I'll just water them and leave them alone until harvest in the fall. Also yes, I misspelled potatoes. Oops.
 This is the kale/spinach/peas bed. The kale have red arrows pointing to them. Only one is really doing well; the rest are still tiny. Hm. I should water more? The spinach are growing but are still skinny. The squirrels have gotten some of them. We replant, though, and we'll just have staggered harvest that way. The peas are growing, and I help them along by weaving them through the remesh when their little tendrils have trouble finding the trellis.

 Here is the final bed; it's pretty well labeled. I have since planted smaller marigolds in the other beds as well. They are supposed to smell funky and keep bugs and other pests away from my precious vegetables.
The beans have popped out of the soil now so we can expect beans in a month or so! They grow so quickly! The squirrels got one of the bell peppers, and last night when I came home from gymnastics I saw some chicken-wire contraption in the garage. I'll have to see what Chris is up to when I get home from work today.
Oooh and we made a super-cheap compost tumbler! This is your standard 32-gallon Rubbermaid trash can. It is $9.88 at our local Home Depot. We used the flat lid from our shop trash can, and bought a bungee for less than $2. I drilled 1/2" holes around the trash can, sides, top, and bottom. I put two cinder blocks together for a base to allow air circulation, and now we fill it with vegetable scraps, rinsed egg shells, and coffee grounds. When we want to tumble it, we roll it along on the ground. It is sooooo much cheaper and easier than trying to find a big 55-gallon food-safe barrel and modifying it! Seriously, 15 minute project, tops. If you are in the market for a composter, don't bother with the fancy, expensive thingies. If you've got a wooden frame made out of pallets, awesome; if you want to keep your compost safe from scavengers, though, this is a great solution.

And that is our garden so far! There was a little monetary investment, on the order of $150 or so, but I hope the returns are worth it. I would love to finally successfully grow zucchini and tomatoes and peppers and everything. I hope our new, sunny garden will bathe our little veggie babies in light and warmth and they will grow big and strong so we can eat them! Nom nom nom.

OMG bathroom update!

It's only taken 3 months!
So, here are lots of pictures to make up for it.
 We like our OXO tension rod holder; it's super easy to clean, and is very sturdy. No rust after 3 months! Well worth the investment, especially because we can take it with us when we move.
 I love the shower with trim tab. The water is always at the perfect temperature. The travertine is easy to clean; just sponge down with hot water. The tub is acrylic so we clean that with Scrubbing Bubbles but we're careful to keep it off of the tile.
 We love our dual-flush toilet. It was the $98 option at Home Depot, and even though it's not Kohler (it's Glacier Bay), it has clean smooth lines and is easy to sit on (a huge improvement over the tiny, low, 70's toilet in the other bathroom). TMI? Sorry.
 I loooooove my hair dryer holder. This is my space for clutter. I have a little earring tree, a jewelry box, and my makeup organizer. I have my own little light, and it's dark in this picture but that's my cell phone camera's fault. I have plenty of light to do my own thing without crowding the sink. It's like we have the buyer-desired two sinks, but minus the one sink. That didn't make sense... We have two spaces to get ready even though we only have one sink.
 Curved shower curtain rod + extra-long curtain on the outside = ooh hotel spa
Also our sink is awesome and huge and I love the faucet and it has the ledge on the back where we put our toothbrushes and the soap so we don't have to worry about the wood desk. *deep breath*
Our Ikea-hacked desk turned out pretty nicely; it's pine, so there are a few small dents, but the spar urethane we used to seal it keeps out any water, and down the line if the dents become a problem we can just add a granite slab on top (between the sink and the desk). The drawer under the sink is not functional but the one closest to the toilet is, and it's a nice spot for face wipes and our toothbrush charger. We store extra towels in a basket under the sink, and our scale lives there too. I just think the open desk makes the space feel larger, which is important because the bathroom isn't that big (9.5' wide x 8' deep)
I also like the tile around the medicine cabinet. It matches the tile in the shower, and makes the whole thing feel less medicine-cabinet-y. It's not perfect, but only I will notice the imperfections. One blog I read puts it: it's not perfect, but if you do notice then good for you! You get a cookie! You are very, VERY observant.

Someday after we fix the other door to the hallway and add some art, maybe I'll submit it to Young House Love. I mean, not to brag, but it is a pretty drastic transformation. Here, let me remind you of our before:

 The shower is in the same location; the tub, window, and fixtures have been replaced and we've obviously retiled.
 The view from the bedroom.
 Note the mirror resting directly on the vanity. The mirror is currently in the garage; the front frame has been spray-painted an avocado green, the sides are going to be painted gold, and then it will hang in our living room.
 The big sink vanity has been replaced by my little cabinet/make-up station.
This corner now has the toilet. Glamorous. 

Anyway, technically we are not done with the bathroom yet because we still need to paint a teensy bit of crown molding on the tub/towel hook wall. We will also replace the door to the hallway with a 6-paneled door. In the interest of full disclosure, we did have a few floor tiles come loose as well. We suspect it's because the leveling system we used has little plastic clips that exert an upward force on the bottom of the tiles, and so if there was any weakness in the thin-set the tiles would come loose. We will evaluate them over the next few months and possibly repair them. Right now they're hidden under the bath rug though, and so we're hoping the plastic clips lose some of their springy-ness and then we'll re-mortar them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bathroom bullet list update

This must be a record for keeping up to date with this. I am a slacker.

Anyway, the old list:
  • fix the vanity in place
  • install drain
  • grout trim
  • find and install mirror
  • find shower curtain*
  • buy and install tension pole caddy
  • finish painting the doors to my wall cabinet vanity thingy
  • paint and hang the new door to the bedroom
  • replace the old door and install a new door jamb/trim
  • make and install thresholds to cover the tile-to-oak transition for both doors 
  • buy and install towel bars and robe hooks*
  • find some art or something to decorate the walls
  • paint the rest of the crown molding and baseboard
The new list:
  • grout trim
  • finish painting the doors to my wall cabinet vanity thingy
  • paint and hang the new door to the bedroom
  • replace the old door and install a new door jamb/trim
  • install thresholds to cover the tile-to-oak transition for both doors
  • install towel shelf/bar over the toilet, this time drilling into studs (tricky installation on these)
  • find some art or something to decorate the walls
  • paint the rest of the crown molding and baseboard
  • repaint the side of the vanity (an end panel that is somehow ever so slightly off white)
  • recaulk around the tub because our sealing strip didn't work (don't use this, it doesn't stick and leaves gunk when you pull it off)
  • find some more bath mats to sort of match the one I already had
The new list doesn't look so great, but I only carried over the un-done things from the old list and added 4 bullets, so it's not too bad.

Also I know it's lame to not have any pictures, so here are the desserts we enjoyed at the Super Bowl party we hosted. "You are not ready"? That doesn't make any sense. That's why it's funny! The football cake is from Publix because I was too lazy to make a dessert and because Publix's cakes are delicious. Seriously, the best supermarket cake I've ever had. Delicious fudgy frosting, moist vanilla cake, perfect texture... yum.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hubs goes out of town - I get things done

Usually it's Chris who works diligently every evening to do bits and pieces of bathroom finish work. It's not that I'm a slacker, just that I usually initiate dinner, and he has a tendency to just go off and start working and I don't know what's going on.

Anyway, he was out of town for work this week, and I don't know what came over me but I decided to install a new garage door opener. One came with the house, but was always unplugged and didn't have the arm that connects the opener to the garage. I suppose I should have plugged it in first to see if it worked, but I ended up just going to Home Depot and getting the cheapest model (with really good online reviews). So it was $130ish for the Chamberlain HD200D 1/2 hp garage door opener. It comes with a safety system and one remote.

Surprisingly, installing the garage door was not that difficult for me. It's a one-person job, really (although two would have made it go faster for sure). I removed the old opener by removing the old wiring, undoing the bolts holding it to the ceiling, and lowering it to the ground while still attached above the garage door. Then you just undo the clevis pin there and boom, done! No more old rusty opener from the 80s.

The assembly/installation/calibration portion of the model was 30 pages long, but I just followed the clear and step-by-step instructions and it went pretty smoothly. I got my workout in using the hacksaw to cut the support straps down to size (they're what you bolt into the ceiling studs/roof trusses and hang the motor from). I also got to lift the motor onto a ladder that was well above my head, so that was fun. And I got my leg workout in from going up and down the ladder all around the garage, using socket wrenches on bolts here and stapling the little sensor wires to the ceiling there.

So, I'm lame because I don't have any pictures, because I was keeping it a surprise for Chris when he got back. I knew if I so much as snapped a pic with my cellphone camera I would send it to him in a moment of weakness. However, I can show you the model we used:
Ooooh exciting.

What is exciting is that I can park my car in the garage now. Chris can have his half for all his tools and bike stuff, but I just want my little Civic to be sheltered from the cold in the winter and the merciless Atlanta sun in the summer. I don't want to step in that giant puddle that forms right outside my old parking spot on the driveway, every single time it rains. I can't avoid it! It blocks access to the sidewalk to the front door! I don't want to step on the mulch bed because eventually we'll have plants there, and the daffodil bulbs I planted last fall are already peeking up and I really don't want to crush my beautiful daffodils.

Anyway, yay! Garage door opener! It only took me maybe an hour and a half to assemble Wednesday night and 4 or 5 hours Thursday morning/just after lunch. Not too bad! And now we don't have to keep saying "we'll install the garage door opener once we finish the bathroom/bedroom/[insert procrastination here]".

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Super motivated mode, engage!

Wow, we killed it yesterday on the bathroom.

It took several trips - we went to Home Depot (for drain parts) and Bed Bath and Beyond (for the shower caddy tension pole thingy and shower curtain rings), then another trip to Home Depot (for more drain parts and a mirror for my vanity) and Target (for a shower curtain liner).
In the end though, we knocked a lot off of our list:

  • fix the vanity in place
  • install drain
  • grout trim
  • find and install mirror
  • find shower curtain*
  • buy and install tension pole caddy
  • finish painting the doors to my wall cabinet vanity thingy
  • paint and hang the new door to the bedroom
  • replace the old door and install a new door jamb/trim
  • make and install thresholds to cover the tile-to-oak transition for both doors 
  • buy and install towel bars and robe hooks*
  • find some art or something to decorate the walls
  • paint the rest of the crown molding and baseboard
The biggest things were completing the sink/vanity. We are totally good to use the sink in there now. Some things are half-completed, like finding a shower curtain and installing towel bars. We don't have the shelf/bar that we were planning to get for hand towels. It will go over the toilet. 
I did get some towel/robe hooks at BB&B that match our shower fixtures (they're not exactly the same but they're really close, and all made by Delta)
Actually the hooks we bought for $10 ea at BB&B apparently do not exist on the internet, but they are the Addison hook shown above but without the little dimples at the corner of the squarish base. Whatever, I'll post pics soon enough. 
Randomly, while looking for the hook online, I found that they sell the chrome version at Walmart. Here's the description:

  • Robe hook
  • Wood blocking is preferable behind all wall surfaces
  • Tile, masonry plastic, anchors, plaster, drywall and toggle bolts
  • Charming teapot
  • Timeless design is a perfect marriage of both form and function

Did you catch it? Charming teapot? What? Oh Walmart, you crack me up. I was searching their site for shower curtains yesterday and lost respect when I saw multiple curtains listed as "Artic white". Artic? Really? (p.s. it's Arctic, with a c, like the ocean). 

Anyway, speaking of shower curtains, we worked it out so a standard 72" long liner will work, but we want the curtain to brush the floor, a la Sherry and John's at younghouselove, who are constantly inspiring to me. However, Amazon does not seem to have that curtain anymore. Solid white cotton 84" long curtains are shockingly hard to find. I loooooove Target's 100% cotton, really nice heavyweight waffle weave ones, though, so I'll probably buy two, one white and one gray, and sew a short gray border on the white one. My other option is find a table runner I like that is exactly 72" long (to match the standard 72" width of the shower curtain) and tack that on the bottom. I would still prefer to buy only one shower curtain, though. 
Seriously Target, y u no haz any extra-long shower curtains? 

Oh one more thing. What do people with natural stone tub surrounds do for a shaving mirror? Chris tried to suction his onto the wall but it is way too rough to stick. Apparently shower mirrors with hooks to hang on a wire caddy do not exist. Only suction cup ones. He really wants one to be at head height; he has to stoop to shave now because one of those permanently installed washcloth bars is in the way in the current bathroom. We will probably end up buying one with a little stand and place it on the window ledge, but then that's not face height. Hrm. Any suggestions, invisible and probably non-existent readers?