In Transition

A lot of changes at our house lately.  We currently have 2 of the 4 common rooms in the downstairs torn up and everything from those two rooms piled in the dining room.  So we’ve been spending a lot of time in the living room.

Dining/storage area

Dining/storage area

Kitchen:  Towards the end of last year I got a quote from Lowe’s to have our kitchen countertops replaced.  I about swallowed my tongue when he handed it to me and I promptly decided this was a project I could put off awhile longer.  Our kitchen had the original white laminate countertops that came with the house when it was built in 1988.  They we in OK shape, only a burn ring from a previous owner next to the stove.  The thing that really drove me nuts was how poor the workmanship was done when they were installed.  The corners didn’t match up to the cabinet corners and the lip around our peninsula varied most of the way around.

After stewing on this for a few months, my Mother -In-Law suggested I look at a surplus store that she was checking out for her new floors.  On a whim, since it was a gorgeous day and I didn’t want to be stuck inside, I headed out to see what they had to offer. I found a piece of granite that I liked and asked for a quote.  It was less than half of what Lowe’s had quoted me for a quartz countertop.  I visited with the owner for a while, found out that he was originally from Kansas too, brought Jay back the next day to get the double OK and we ordered them.

So we had those installed with a new sink and faucet about 2 weeks later (could have been sooner, but we had to wait on the sink we ordered).  We LOVE them.  Right now, Jay is in the process of installing the tile backsplash, which is tedious and time consuming.  But we’re planning on finishing up the kitchen this weekend and truly enjoying it.

Before

Before

After new counters

After new counters

Sunroom:  When we got our new countertops, we decided we wanted to replace the white tiles (also original to the house) in our sunroom, dining room, kitchen, and laundry room.  So Jay has pulled up half the tile in the sunroom, chiseled away the mortar, and left  a fine dust on everything.  We’re planning on doing this project in increments:  sunroom, then dining, then kitchen, then laundry.  Several of the tiles were broken throughout the space and we couldn’t find replacements.  We also wanted to update it since we have this fabulous new kitchen now.

Sunroom demo

Sunroom demo

After we complete these projects, we’re done in the downstairs.  We have a deadline of March 14th.  My mom and brother will be coming down to visit and we would like to have as much done as possible.  I can hear you laughing at our 3 week timeline, and we know the floor tile project may not be done, BUT we will have a Fabulous kitchen! Since we moved in 2.5 years ago, we have accomplished the following downstairs:

1.  Updated the half bath-new paint, new vanity, some new tile

2.  Replaced all the brass/glass fixtures-2 ceiling fans and a chandelier

3.  Installed plantation blinds in most of the windows-none of the windows in the dining room or sunroom had blinds or curtains

4. Made and hung new curtains for the sunroom

5.  Painted laundry room and installed new cabinet

6.  Stained cabinets and updated hardware throughout kitchen

Soon to be added to that list will be:

5.  Replaced countertops and backsplash

6.  Replaced tile in sunroom, dining room, kitchen, and laundry room

A new TO-DO

I used to make fun of my mom when I was little because she would make lists for everything.  And apparently I am turning into my mother as I am now making lists for everything.  While some might label us as “Type A,”  I prefer to think of us as efficient and effective.  I make a list at the beginning of each week for work outlining everything I need to get done.  There’s the perpetual grocery list-Jay and I have found an app called “Couple” that lets us share lists and we can add things to the grocery list as we think of them on our phones.  There’s always a to-do list, usually generated on Saturday morning and may not be completed until the next Saturday morning.  And there’s always other random lists that pop up and lead me to buying lots of post its and note pads to keep my lists on.  I need to have that satisfaction of putting a check mark by something accomplished.  You don’t get that good feeling when you just click a button on a phone for a digital list.

Anyway, this post was not intended to be about to-do lists in general, but a very specific to-do list.  I’ve been lacking the motivation to get started on several projects that last couple of months, so I figured if I put them on here I would be more accountable.  Plus mom’s coming down in a few weeks for a visit and she can help me knock out a few of these projects.

Sara’s Fall TO-DO list (to hopefully be accomplished by mid-November so I can start a “Sara’s Winter TO-DO list”)

1.  Make curtains for the dining room.  I have bought the fabric and the lining.  I know how to do it, but lack the walking foot I need to complete it.  Here’s where mom comes to help.  She supplies the walking foot and the project goes a whole lot faster when two people are doing it.

Chevron curtains to make the sunroom

Chevron curtains to make the sunroom

2.  Stain the bench that Jay helped me make back in June.

Needs a walnut stain

Needs a walnut stain

3.  Strip and stain the coffee table and 2 end tables.  I bought these used off a friend back in college and they’re pretty sturdy.  I want to strip and stain them a walnut color to match the other furniture we have downstairs.  This will be my first stripping experience, wish me luck!

They're starting to show a lot of wear.

They’re starting to show a lot of wear.

4.  Re-frame the full length mirror in the bedroom.  Yes this is one of those mirrors you can buy at Wal-Mart for $10.  Yes that is exactly what I did in college when I acquired this piece.  I want to re-frame is in some molding to make it look nicer.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, you're starting to look aged.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, you’re starting to look aged.

5.  And last but not least, I want to paint my counter tops in the kitchen.  I mentioned this back in May but it has not been accomplished.  This is something I want my mom to help me with when she comes down.

 

So if all goes as planned, I will have new counter tops and new curtains after mom’s trip the first weekend of October.  Jay conveniently has a conference that week in Galveston and won’t be back until Saturday.  I think he secretly planned that to get out of helping with the kitchen counters.   We’ve got weddings the next two weekends (one of them in KC) so I probably won’t get a chance to work on much until October.

 

But here’s to making lists and crossing things off or sometimes crumpling them up and throwing them away because you didn’t get anything done!

 

 

Fix It Weekend

After settling in from our France trip, we decided to tackle a couple of projects on the to do list.  Mainly installing the new fan in the Sunroom.  A couple of days earlier, a lip from the laminate wood flooring on our stairs had popped off, so that was on the to do list as well.

I forgot to take a before picture (again!), but the fan in the sunroom looked pretty close to the fan we took out of our bedroom.

Brass & Glass Fan

Brass & Glass Fan

We are getting rid of the brass and glass fixtures in the house slowly, but surely.  When we moved in I think we had 5 B&G fans, a hall light where our dining room chandelier is now, and the master bathroom is still circa 1988 with its brass lighting.

So down came the fan:

With high ceiling, you need a good ladder (and a husband who's not afraid of heights).

With high ceiling, you need a good ladder (and a husband who’s not afraid of heights).

Jay working hard

Jay working hard

complete!

complete!

Now I know is sounds like Jay did all the work, but I was a trusty little helper assembling things before he needed them.  Let’s just say without me, this project would have taken a WHOLE LOT longer!

I was also working on our stairs while Jay was trying to avoid being electrocuted .

The glue had just worn off and the lip popped off

The glue had just worn off and the lip popped off

I removed all of the old glue with a screw driver and hammer, came off pretty easy.

Glue removal

Glue removal

And I used my trusty Gorillas Glue to stick it back in place.  Hooray for leftover grad school books.  I knew they would come in handy when I bought them.  Just didn’t know it would be three years after I had graduated.

my "clamping" technique

my “clamping” technique

We also replaced a light switch, but no pics of that.  I’m so glad I have my handsome handy man for all of my home projects!

French Cruise!

We got back from a wonderful vacation to France about two weeks ago and have been playing catch up ever since.  My family (Mom, Dad, Clint, Jay and I) went on a river cruise in France starting in Paris, down to the Normandy Beaches, and back up the Seine to finish in Paris.  Here are a few pics from that amazing trip!

Sidenote:  Jay and I have decided we are going to move to France, but he clarified that not until we’re retired so we don’t have to learn French right now.

The trip was beautiful, I would highly recommend river cruises as a way to see a new country.  We used Viking River cruises, but there are a few others that are great as well.

Base of the Eiffel Tower.  It is SO big!

Base of the Eiffel Tower. It is SO big!

Notre Dame-celebrating 850 years

Notre Dame-celebrating 850 years

See all those figures on Notre Dame?  They represent the Kings of Jerusalem, but during the French Revolution, the people thought they represented the Kings of France and decapitated all of them.  All of the original heads were found at a later date buried in a nearby church, in chronological order as they had been on Notre Dame.  The heads on the figures now are replicas.

Monet's Gardens at Giverny

Monet’s Gardens at Giverny

Cathedral in Vernon

Cathedral in Vernon

Yummy chocolates called "Tears of Joan of Arc."

Yummy chocolates called “Tears of Joan of Arc.”

Macaronos in Rouen!

Macaronos in Rouen!

Gold Beach in Normandy

Gold Beach in Normandy

German bunkers and guns on the way to Omaha Beach

German bunkers and guns on the way to Omaha Beach

At the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach

At the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach

A light show projected on the cathedral back in Rouen.  Beautiful!

A light show projected on the cathedral back in Rouen. Beautiful!

Jay and I at Versailles.  It was so packed with tourists inside.  But we still made it in and checked out the elegance.

Jay and I at Versailles. It was so packed with tourists inside. But we still made it in and checked out the elegance.

A castle on our way back to Paris.  I can't remember the name but Jay toured it.

A castle on our way back to Paris. I can’t remember the name but Jay toured it.

Dad and I being ornery in a church.  You can't tell but both of us are pinching each other.

Dad and I being ornery in a church. You can’t tell but both of us are pinching each other.

Cruising on the River Seine

Cruising on the River Seine

It was a wonderful trip!

Window Cover

One of the great things about our master bedroom is that is has three big windows and a large halfmoon window that let in a lot of light.  One of the worst things about our master bedroom is that is has three big windows and a large halfmoon window that let in a lot of light.  Soon after we bought the house, a priority was to install blinds on windows.  The bedroom was the first to get them.  Otherwise the only thing blocking a view of our bedroom were sheer, linen curtains.  That helped a lot, but this summer we decided we need to find a fix for the half moon window.

We had some options, the papery, folded cover you can buy for about $20.  I hate those.  They collect so much dust and I rarely ever see a clean one.  Or we could buy a custom wooden one that could open and close.  The problem there was it would cost about $250, more than we had spent on the blinds for the big windows underneath.  I wanted something removable.  In the winter, the sun rises later and sets earlier and the light is not a problem.  In the summer, the light starts coming in before 6 AM and if heats up the master bedroom, making the AC run more in the upstairs.

Nice, bright window

Nice, bright window

So in order to save sleep and money, I decided to make a cover for the window.

First I measured the window, it was 4 feet long and 2 feet high, a lot bigger than I originally thought.  I hopped on over to JoAnn’s and found piece of 2 inch foam.  Hint:  Always use coupons or buy foam on sale.  It can be a little expensive. Originally, I wanted to cover the foam in burlap, but since burlap is such a loose woven fabric the green foam would show through it.  And I didn’t really want to sew a liner to go under the burlap.  I found a brown faux suede fabric on the clearance shelves.

Have them cut the foam to your desired length.

Have them cut the foam to your desired length.

Once I brought it home, I sketched out what I needed to cut off the foam to fit the half moon shape.  By tying a marker to a string and holding the string in the middle of the foam, I was able to draw the shape I needed.  I checked the fit in the window and trimmed it down a few times before I got the perfect fit.

Handy trick

Handy trick

Then I laid the foam on top of my piece of fabric with the flat edge in the middle.  By using the fold, I saved myself some sewing.  I marked a little over and inch around the foam on the fabric.  Then folded it in half, right sides together, and cut around that mark creating an oval.

Padme decided to help

Padme decided to help

Once it was cut, I laid the foam back on and situated it how I wanted.  Using a hot glue gun. I glued one side of the fabric to the foam all the way around the arc.  Before I did, I tested the hot glue on the fabric and foam to make sure if would work.  It you use thin or light colored fabric, the glue might show or it might melt the foam.

zig zags cover more area to help the glue stick

zig zags cover more area to help the glue stick

I then pinned the other side with the edge tucked under around the foam.  I decided to slip stitch the second side for a smoother look and better finish.  I also think it will hold better than gluing.

Tough pinning on thick fabrics

Tough pinning on thick fabrics

It finished off great and looks good!

All Done!

All Done!

Once done, I popped it in the window!

Yay for sleeping in!

Yay for sleeping in!

We’ve already noticed, and appreciated, the reduced light in the mornings.  I’ve also noticed the AC doesn’t run as much.  In the winter, we will probably take it out to let sunlight help warm the room.

CSA meals of the week

I mentioned a bit ago that we had signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share at Earthwise Produce.  This has given us some great fresh produce and allowed us to broaden our horizons on what we eat and cook.

The first week had a box including: eggplant, onions, cabbage, celeriac, tomatoes, potatoes, basil, and carrots.

With all that we were able to make some tasty meals this week.  Now we always plan out our meals before the week to help with the grocery store trip and meal prep.  With this added produce, it makes me get creative and look up new recipes to try.  This last week we had:

Yummy produce

Yummy produce

BLT's using home grown and CSA tomatoes plus roasted carrots.

BLT’s using home grown and CSA tomatoes plus roasted carrots.

Homemade Pesto

Homemade Pesto

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Parmesan crusted steak topped with pesto, celeriac and potato mash, and a carrot/cabbage salad

Parmesan crusted steak topped with pesto, celeriac and potato mash, and a carrot/cabbage salad

Homemade tomato and mozzarella pizza with a pesto base instead of marinara sauce.

Homemade tomato and mozzarella pizza with a pesto base instead of marinara sauce.

Biggest surprise of the week?  We LOVED the celeriac.  I cooked it up with potatoes and added a little cream and butter and it was delicious, no other seasoning needed.

This week’s share:

CSA week 2

Any ideas for rutabaga?

Laundry Room Makeover

I was able to completely makeover my laundry room for less than $35! By using paint left over from other projects, the only thing I actually spent money on was the cabinet. I snagged it from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $32.50

Before/After
Before/After

So much cleaner, so much brighter, I love it.  And it gave me a chance/forced me to organize everything I had stuffed on the shelves.

$32.50 for the cabinet!

$32.50 for the cabinet!

Nice shelving inside

Nice shelving inside

I used paint leftover from the half bathroom downstairs for the cabinet.

When we took down the old shelves, it looked like laundry detergent (or something) had spilled down the back of the shelves.  While they had painted over the spot on the wall, it was very apparent where it had puddled behind the shelf.  And you can see the difference between the new paint and the old eggshell color.

Halfway done

Halfway done

The new paint was leftover from a failed project in the spare bathroom upstairs.  It is a Tuscan Finish paint.  You first apply a base coat, then apply the finish coat in crisscross sweeps all over the wall.  After is dries for about 10 min, you lightly scrape the wall opening up pockets of paint to add more texture.  I have a strong aversion to anything off-white, eggshell in color.  To me it just looks like a dingy white.  I would rather have crisp, clean lines.

All done!

All done!

I would like to add a shelf across the top from wall to wall for additional storage and hang a tension rod from the cabinet to the wall to hang clothes on to dry.

Now I only have 4 projects left on my downstairs checklist:

1.  Install crown molding on cabinets (happening this weekend)

2. Paint countertops

3. Sew curtains for dining room

4.  Hang new fan in the sunroom (it has been bought, but not installed)