Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Running Secret

I've been keeping a secret.... the last six weeks I've been following the Couch to 5k Program.  It's a 9 week program designed to help you get from being a couch potato to running a full 5k.  (I asked B if he wanted to do it with me... he said he'd take care of the couch part.)

With two friends training for marathons - that they discuss frequently, and still feeling the "newlywed nine", I was looking to get myself into decent shape again.  I've never enjoyed running, and would never dare to call myself a runner.  I played sports - soccer, basketball, rugby, and I swam.  There's an amount of running required (well except for the swimming), but beyond that it was never something I enjoyed.  Over the years I've tried to run, it always seemed like a good idea, but I would come home in pain and convince myself my body just wasn't built to run. That I have bad knees. That I have a bad back. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But, then I looked at the Couch to 5k Program.  I'd never followed any programs before, I'd just go out and run as much as I could.  I told myself I would follow this program, and not overdue it - which always leads to me feeling awful and not wanting to do it again.

Well, this is week six.  I've completed all of the trainings so far, in order and not gone over (at least not by much).  It also happens to be the week of the "Rush Hour 5k Run" at my place of employment.  I figured what the heck.  One of my crazy marathon friends works in the same location as me and said she'd run it too.  Perfect.

The race was today.  And I finished. And I ran the entire time (minus about 5 seconds of tying my shoes).  And I wasn't last. Not even close. In fact, I passed several people in the last quarter-ish mile.  I did pick up my pace a little too soon - didn't realize the last loop was so long!

My "unofficial" time - i.e. when I crossed the line what the clock read - was about 30:25.  It was a chipped race - meaning they gave us ankle bracelets that track you specifically, so they'll have the results based on exactly when I crossed the start line, and exactly when I cross the finish line - so I'll have an official time in a few days hopefully.  And, for those who are metrically challenged, a 5k is 3.1 miles, and 30:25 is under a 10 minute/mile pace.  Which is pretty decent for a beginner runner - at least from what I know.

I'm really proud of myself, and will continue to finish off the training plan as is, in hopes of being able to push myself a little harder.  I had fun, even if I was a bundle of nerves (cause I mean, my boss, Mr. something-like-7-time-Boston-Marathon-runner was running too), and am excited to get back into a competitive sport - even if the competition is mostly with myself.

Big thanks to Kristin (check out her photography site Focused on Life) for running it with me, and helping me push myself.

So, I might be doing some more running, but I'm still not calling myself a runner...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Craigslist: Friend or Foe?

I think we've all looked at things on Craigslist. Maybe you've even bought something, or looked at an apartment you saw listed.  But have you ever listed anything for sale?

It's creepy, exhausting, and slightly addictive.

I signed up for " an account", so I can easily track what I've posted and delete things once they're sold.  I've posted about 18 different times since yesterday - whoops.  A few of those were listing the free things at the end of the driveway.  So many posting in such a short amount of time = e-mails, phone calls, and scheduling pick ups.

I've gotten a few strange emails that I didn't bother responding to.  And a few people emailed back and forth a couple times and then disappeared.  One guy e-mailed asking about the kid's tennis racket we had listed on the yard sale posts.  I told him it hadn't sold, and he was here within an hour to pick it up for $5.  Cool.

We sold our Weber grill within four hours and some soccer equipment as well.  Today B sold a tree stand.  We had someone look at our shower doors, but they weren't the right size. (Note to self: Post dimensions in the next listing, prevent wasting our time with people who won't buy them.)  We have someone coming to look at my parent's Thule car container thingy tomorrow night, and another person is buying the bar height chairs we had in the old kitchen.

Even though its been a pain, we've more than doubled the money we made at the yard sale.  I got a little flack from B for posting my phone number in the ads, but I figure if someone is willing to call, they're more serious about the purchase.  Like I said, its creepy, but slightly addictive - major immediate gratification when you get an email that's followed up with a wad of cash.

Now if someone would just buy the stupid stove and microwave...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Yard Sale: Success?

It's all said and done.  I would call it moderately successful.

6:00AM - Alarm goes off.
6:10AM - I stop pressing snooze and drag myself out of bed for some coffee and open up the garage.
6:15AM - B gets up and heads out to post a few more signs, and check on the ones we put out last night. (A few were torn down. Who does that?!)
6:30AM - Our first visitor... and thankfully, at least first sale.

Yes, our signs and Craigslist ads had the time - as 8-2 - but whatever.  At least she wasn't creepy right?

Oh wait, she was INCREDIBLY creepy.  The general conversation and my thoughts went something like this...

Crazy Lady: You're so pretty, you don't even need make up.
S: Um, thanks *sips coffee* It's 6:30am, I'm hardly awake lady.
Crazy Lady: Are you excited to be having a yard sale?
S: Sure. *sips coffee* I will be at 8am when it STARTS.
Crazy Lady: How did you meet your husband?...Oh so you like him?...What kind of vacuum do you use?
S: Um, I think its a Bissell. *sips coffee* And no its not for sale...
Crazy Lady: OH aren't those the best? Bissell's are great. I have an Oreck. My boyfriend doesn't like it but I think its great.  How old are you?
S: Uh, 25. *pretends to sip coffee because cup is now empty* Please B, come home...
Crazy Lady: Wow. I'm 56, look at these wrinkles. You don't have any wrinkles.  Why are selling... (insert any random item we had)

It continued like this for at least a half hour. And just as she was done, my parents arrived.  Thank goodness.  She bought some gloves and a little "Believe" book or something - ya know, the kind you get at the Hallmark store - Total: $5.25

The rest of the day was a little less weird... who am I kidding, it was all weird.  Such as the man in a bathing suit and wife beater that did not cover his pregnant looking stomach enough...if it all.  He bought 3 fishing poles ($1 each). And his Asian wife (g/f?) found a stuffed toy of mine from when I was little.  It was one of those dogs that have a hard leash thing that you push, and it makes this barking/yipping noise.

I explained you push it, and she did.  And she then let out a totally joyous giggle and shoved it in wife beater tummy man's hand and made him push it.  Bigger giggles, "How much?", we tell her 25 cents.  She breaks out some change - we see quarters... she says hold on, runs back to the truck - giggling the whole way, and brings us a different quarter.

Whatever does it for you I guess.

Also, who knew there was so much butt crack at a yard sale? Just sayin'...  We only had one incident of attempted translation, so that was nice.  And no car accidents. Almost, but not quite - thankfully.

We sold a fair amount of items, but a lot of the big stuff - like TVs, oven, my parents cameras, a Thule rack, etc - didn't sell, for whatever reason.  I thought we had a pretty awesome selection, but I guess everyone didn't agree.  We were also shocked in how little some people haggled...

Shopper: "How much?"
S: "$20...?"
Shopper: "I see..." Walks away and gets in the car.

Just offer me $10...please?  I'll probably counter $15, and you'll end up getting it for $10 anyway if you try again.  Really, I'm not good at this, take a shot!

We sold the air conditioner for a little less than we wanted, but the women was recently put on disability and seemed to really need it.  We offered to let her take anything else she needed for her new apartment - and she  took like 1 pan.  Oooook, at least we offered.  Then there was the couple that bought a few VHS tapes to bring to the nursing home... I wish they had taken more, we would have just given them away at that point.

Unfortunately it did rain... hard... for about 45 minutes.  I think that hurt us some, but we were lucky to bring in most of the items that wouldn't survive in from the driveway.  And people did come after it rained.

Last customers - around 4pm?  Yea... our signs said 2.  But again, ooook. One couple bought some videos, candles and an adding machine, Total: $10.  Another couple came and looked around, and left.  Thanks.

For the big stuff, to Craigslist it all goes, hopefully we can get some more cash out of it.  And yes, there's a pile of 'Free Stuff' at the end of our drive way right now.  Otherwise, the small stuff remaining like glassware, housewares, etc will probably be passed on to younger family members just getting their own places.  We'll donate the books, and anything else that's left unwanted we'll donate - maybe some comforters to the animal shelter, housewares and clothes to goodwill...etc - you know the drill.

Between our stuff, my parents, and B's parents, we made around $300, which really isn't that much, but we've got a few bites on Craigslist, so we'll see where we end up.  I'm definitely motivated not to buy much stuff for a while now...it accumulates way too much.

B said it best...

"Well, I guess you don't get rich from yard sales"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yard Sale: The Day Before

Since we decided last minute that we'd be having a yard sale, a lot of the organizing and major work had to be done today.  Earlier this week B picked up some boxes from his parents, and Friday my mom made a few trips over.  We've made several exhilarating Craigslist posting with thrilling photos such as:

Makes you want to come by and spend lots of money, right?  That's what I thought.

Left over supplies from the kitchen remodel had to be moved, we took two trips to the dump, my parents brought over 3 more car loads of stuff, and everything had to be moved up from the basement.  It was fairly overwhelming, and I discovered B has never even BEEN to a yard sale, never mind had one!  Boy is he in for a treat tomorrow!!  There were some stressful moments, debating on the best way to tackle everything, but we had a good time getting organized for the most part.  Especially when my mom whipped out this beauty:

I know it says Tart... but really, that was a poor font choice...

Tonight, we've got a garage FULL of stuff, with tables and items that have to be pulled out tomorrow into the driveway, along with few items to bring in off the porch.  It'll be an early morning and a long day, but we're looking forward to it and hopeful that it goes well.

Ew. Uh yea, its a little fuzzy, sorry. But you get the idea.

Anyway, we get a bunch of signs out, in the dead of night. (Ok, it was 10:30, but still, we felt stealthy about it.)

The actual signs are a little more detailed (i.e. have our street name), but we'll put this one in front of the house.  I know its pretty obvious when people are having a yard sale, but we have a lot of people in the neighborhood who walk, run, and bike, so this way they'll know that they can come back a little later.

We'll be heading to bed shortly, up early to make another Craigslist post and get everything ready - prepared for the early birds!  Hopefully I'll be all smiles with some extra cash by tomorrow afternoon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yard Sale: Mental Preparation

First, thanks for the tips! And keep 'em coming!  I love the idea of boxes/prices/areas that are designated as one price, makes it a lot easier than pricing out each item.  And we'll be ready for the early birds - and I'll have to remember to get change - I didn't even think of that!

Second, this is harder than I thought.  It's not just making piles and slapping prices on stuff.

It's just stuff, right?  So why, when I looked up the Craigslist ad that B posted last night and saw "Disney VHS tapes."  I immediately emailed him at work. WHAT VHS tapes are selling?!

A friend tried to talk some sense into me:
K: "Do you even have a VHS player?"
S: "I think so. Maybe. We could always get one. We'll want those tapes when we have kids."
K: "You can buy your kids DVDs. They'll be cheap. You can get them at yard sales."
S: "But..."
K: "There's some little girl out there whose parents only have a VHS player and can't afford a DVD player. Those tapes could make her birthday."

Aw crap. Fine, we'll only keep the ones I *really* like.  This evening B was showing me the stuff he pulled together last night in the basement.  He pointed out a fire place screen with matching tools.  What did I say? "But I like those."

Um, HI, reality speaking, you don't even have a fireplace anymore! Get it together!

Then I was talking to my mom and she mentioned she had a box of stuff from old yard sales that didn't sell.  I relayed this to B.

B: "That's sad, they're like the misfits."
S: "Don't do that. Don't give them personalities."
B: "They're like the misfit toys!"
S: "No, stop!! I can't handle it!" *runs out of kitchen, cookie in hand*

Yesterday he asked if we could sell some bowls and utensils I had in college.  For a good 30 seconds my brain was in overdrive trying to come up with a reason to keep them.  Why? Because I liked them. Maybe we'd need them some day. You know, if we broke all of our real plates and someone dumped all of our utensils down the garbage disposal?

B has called me a pack rat about 40 times.

I try not to be attached to stuff, cause its just stuff, right?.  I mean, my life will not be any different if those bowls and utensils aren't in the under the bed storage in the 2nd bedroom.  The world will not come crashing down if I no longer have a fireplace screen, for a fireplace that no longer exists.  And my future children will not resent me if they don't have a 80's VHS tape of The Little Mermaid.

Really, I'll be okay...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Yard Sale Time!

We're having a yardsale.

This weekend.

And yes, today is Tuesday.

And no, we haven't been planning this.

See, we've been wanting to have one for a while, because with only two years in this house, we've got a lot of crap stuff we don't need or want.  And our plans for the weekend (a Brooks and Dunn concert) were rescheduled to August.  So, why not?

My parents will also be bringing over some crap nice stuff, so we can call it a multi-family.  And we literally having everything - including the kitchen sink - for sale.  Something for everyone, I'd say!

Hopefully not like some other traumtic yard sale experiences I can remember.... like when I three(ish? maybe older, I don't know) and my mom sold my little push lion. I chased it down the street crying.  And then when she went and sold an entire crate of vinyl records (ya know, nothing good, just some original Beatles albums and other classics) for a dollar! Yup, someone made out pretty good on that deal.  Then there was something about taking apart a computer for a guy, and I think my stepdad fell off/thru the chair? I laughed. He didn't. Not good. (Love ya!)

Anyway, we've decided on Sunday, even though the weather is supposed to be better Saturday.  We've got a two car garage so I figure even if its raining we should be okay.  There's two or three churches at the end of our road, and we're less than a mile from the center of town, so a few well placed signs, a couple days of spamming posting on Craigslist, and I think we should be good.

Any tips yard sale out there?  Should I even bother with prices, or just let people make offers? If I price should I over price since I know they'll talk me down anyway?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer!

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER!  I hope its been as beautiful wherever you are as it has been in New England. (Ok fine, we had some rain yesterday, but we can deal with that.)  It's been sunny and warm and great here - and I've got the sunburn to prove it!

I also hope all of the dad's out there had a wonderful Father's Day yesterday! We were lucky enough to get time this weekend with both our families, which was awesome.  Saturday was spent at my grandparent's lake house (aka probably one of my favorite places in the world).

There was some digging in the sand...

PLENTY of swimming (by M!)

Some talk-to-the-hand diva moments from B...

Playing lifeguard...

My parents got in some kayaking with their dog - Z - who happens to be M's best friend!

We were also able to get the dock in, which is always interesting.  My Grandpa built it himself, sometime long ago - probably before I was born.  It's withstood many summers of tanning, reading, grandchildren, great grandchildren, diving and jumping, successful (and unsuccessful) fireworks shows, high waves, hurricanes, and even the time Grandpa forgot to untie the motor boat and went to pull away... and almost pulled the whole thing down.

Saturday evening we drove from there to B's parent's lake house - about 3 hours south from where we were.  They purchased their cottage (on an island!) the year B and I started dating and have done an incredible amount of work to it that I'll have to show off sometime - it's really amazing what they were able to do with a cottage that has no power, no plumbing, and had been essentially abandoned for something like 50 years.

Anyway, there was of course, more swimming, some fishing (but no fish this weekend), and general relaxing.

Ok fine, it was more than relaxing. It was all out napping.

M swam *literally* all day Saturday and Sunday.  I think she's still recovering.

Well, that was our relaxing, no work weekend.  Couldn't ask for much more could we?

We would just like to say a HUGE congratulations to our good friend/tile guy/wine opener assistant and his awesome wife who welcomed their itty bitty 4lb 14oz baby girl this weekend!! (Pretty awesome Father's Day for him, huh?)

We'll get back to some regularly scheduled kitchen and home updates soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kitchen Renovation: How It Came To Be

Even the day we put the offer in on our house, we knew we would want to redo the kitchen at some point.  It was pretty awful.

But we knew it would be a big project (i.e. mucho $$), so we didn't expect to do it right away.  And then there was the whole wedding thing that took up a lot of time and money.  Well, the tax man was pretty good to us this year, so the discussions of what to do with our sudden "fortune" ensued.

We threw around a few ideas.  Pay off B's truck so we have no car payments? (Paid mine off as my Christmas present to myself - woot!) Save it? Buy me a new car? (maybe that was just my idea...) Redo the basement?  Kitchen renovation?  So many choices...and only enough $$ for one (or two).

B is always on the lookout for sales of things we'll eventually need, and noticed that Lowe's was running a sale on in stock Hickory cabinets.  We had looked at them in passing before and at that point decided we liked the style.  So we figured it couldn't hurt to at least go in and see what we would be looking at for cost.

After an exciting 3.5 hour Friday night date with the kitchen designer at Lowe's we had a quote - and a less than thrilling design.  It was essentially the same design we had previously. Which we strongly disliked.

We hosted our first holiday this year - Easter - and mentioned to my grandparents we were deciding between the kitchen and the basement for our next project.  My Grandpa said "Do the kitchen. You see it everyday."  The next major house project was decided.  But should we do it now, or pay off the truck?

A friend (happens to be our tile guy who also made an appearance in the wine/screw/vice grip fiasco) said "there's plenty of time left on your truck, just do the kitchen." YES! Thank YOU!

So, we needed better options, cause if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right and the way we wanted.  B stopped by our local lumber store - yard? whatever - and dropped off the dimensions of the kitchen with a designer there.

A few days later, we received an e-mail with two brand-spankin' new designs that we LOVED.  The part we didn't love? The price.  So, being the bargain shoppers we are, we called Lowe's to make an appointment for some changes.

Lowe's: "The person you worked with isn't here, she's working the day shift now."
B: "Well that's fine, we just want to make some changes, we'll work with anyone."
Lowe's: "Uh you can't do that. It doesn't work that way."

A letter to corporate and call from the manager later and we had some apologies on our hands.  Lucky for them, Home Depot was less than forthcoming with a quote.  After asking the dimensions she said something like "between $3,000 and $10,000".  Right. Thanks for being specific.

Now to wrap it up: Met with local lumber store/yard/whatever - price was higher than we liked. Told Lowe's we could get a better price - aka kind of exaggerated the truth - they upgraded us to all plywood (which is apparently a really good thing *shrug*) and gave us 10% off.  We told them HD was having a granite sale (100% true!), and got ourselves 10% off that too.

We still ended up spending more than we wanted I'm sure, I haven't even bothered to add up all the receipts.  But I don't regret it.  I'm happy when I look at my kitchen, I enjoy being in it - cooking, doing dishes, standing there staring at it in all its glory - whatever.  Maybe the novelty will wear off, especially with the doing dishes part, but I we truly love it and I don't think we could have asked for more.  It's completely us and there's no doubt it added substantial value to our home.

All the remains of the previous kitchen is what amounts to maybe one sheet of drywall, and the garbage disposal. (Ok fine, and the ceiling and skylight. But still.)  Not knowing when it'll be 100% finished, here's a couple before and afters from approximately the same angles.

So much more 2010, so much less 1960s.

(See me struggling with these side by side pictures? Yea, I'm working on it... bear with me, please? I'd rather get posts up at this point, we're working on the getting it pretty thing.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kitchen Renovation: The Drawer Handle Saga

So, as I said the other day we got all the handles put on the cabinet doors, but not yet for the drawers.  Why? Well, thanks for asking.  Reason #1: The screws supplied in the little bag with the handle... were too short.  So, B's dad drilled the appropriate holes for us, and we were just one quick stop at Lowe's away from having handles!

That night we headed out to make the other necessary returns (which came to like $200 - sahweet!), and to grab some baseboard and the screws for the handle.  A nice guy in the screw department (I'm sure there's a better name for it than that...) who looked about 16, walked us over to the handle section where they have a handy-dandy display of knob screws people usually buy when the ones supplied with the hardware are too short. Score! (Or eeeaaaasy peasey as the captain of our cruise earlier this year would say - over the loudspeaker - while we were stumbling through the hall because of the larger than normal waves.)

We excitedly (maybe that's an exaggeration) came home to install the handles.  Reason #2: It took about 5 seconds for B to realize that yes, they're actually still too short.  Right.  Well, at least Lowe's is just down the street, and we had errands to run the next day anyway.  Next morning we dropped B's truck off early for some maintenance and swung by Lowe's again.  We returned the previous screws (cause hey, its $5) and made our way over to the screw department and the same young man-boy was there.  We let him know they were too short and he helped us find longer ones.  Sweet.

Long day of shopping (and new tires on BOTH cars - yea, sure cleaned out the credit we got on our returns) later, and we arrive home, again excitedly(!), to get those silly handles attached.  Well, the screws were plenty long in fact, Reason #3: They were too long.  We also realized that we had returned the "wrong" handle earlier - one of them was a slightly different color.  Lucky for us, some friends wanted to go to dinner at a restaurant right next to Lowe's, so we finished our Saturday night date passing through the self checkout at Lowe's one last time, with spacers for the screws and a handle of the correct color/finish.

Phew.  So here we go.  The before, can you find the drill holes?

B workin' hard to get them just right:

And of course, the finished products:

I wasn't sure on the whole "in the middle of the drawer thing" for the handles, but it's grown on me, and I like it, even if it means bending down that extra 2 inches to open the drawer.

Even the goofy skinny cabinet I still haven't decided what to do with got a cute little brushed nickle handle:

And probably my favorite thing that happened when B's dad came up last week, was the attaching of the dishwasher to the counter.  This was a huge reason as to why I wanted a new kitchen in the first place (small problem, big solution.)  So here's the old setup, versus the new one.

It is UNDER the counter, and attached. Every time I open it, it doesn't threaten to topple over on me.  Nor is it the world's greatest crumb catcher anymore.  *AWESOME*  It's flush with the cabinets, so a little under the counter, meaning it doesn't stick out and get in the way of my life. So I *love* it.

Now, the dilemma came on how to attach it, since we weren't exactly going to drill into the granite, cause I can't imagine that would end well.  One idea was to use a strong adhesive to attach the wood piece, and then screw the dishwasher into that.  Probably would have worked just fine.  He ended up screwing the wood piece into the cabinet on one side and the filler that was on the other.  Works just fine as well.  Then of course, he screwed the dishwasher into the piece of wood. 

Really all we have left at this point is having the cabinet doors straightened, and the pendant lights installed, so I'm thinking a full before and after might be in order soon?  We shall see :)

Anyway, let's end on an adorable note, with M all cuddled up in her blanket watching TV.

Monday, June 14, 2010

You Have GOT To See This...

But first, a few administrative-y things.  A few days ago (last week? something like that) I added a "Blog Roll" to the left side.  These are some of the blogs I personally read, so feel free to check them out, they're funny, creative, and talented people.  Also, in my "About Me" section I added a Contact B&S link, so you can email us if you feel the need/desire about... whatever.  Lastly, I know my layout and format aren't exactly *awesome*, but its simple and easy for now, and I'm just trying to master the art of side-by-side photos, mmmkay? Someday I'll make it prettier.  So feel free to share any tips or tricks to awesome-ize my little piece of internet? kthanks.

Now, onto the hilariousness.  On occasion, when I've got some downtime at work, I check out the local real estate market - come on, who doesn't? Sure, I love our house (most days) and we don't plan on going anywhere for a few years - especially after all the work we've done lately - but its cool to see what's out there and I have friends who are looking, so I look too.  And send them stuff, cause I'm helpful.

A few months ago, a little place caught my eye.  But not for the typical reasons.  For its purely ridiculously hilarious photos. I had myself a chuckle and made a mental note to check back whenever I needed a laugh.  A month or so later I checked it out again, and OMGoshyouguys, it got even better.  My co-workers and I were crying laughing and I decided I HAD to submit it to Julia at Hooked On Houses for her Bad MLS Photos because she has some awesomely ridiculous photos, but I was sure no one had seen anything like this before.  She loved it, and it got it's own entry on her blog: A Real Estate Listing With Unexpected "Extras"

And seriously, just before I left work today, something inside me said to go look again.  And just when I thought it couldn't - it got even better and I feel the need to share it with every person possible.  Please, please, PLEASE *on-my-knees-begging-you-wont-be-sorry* take 30 seconds out of your day/evening/life and go check it out, i mean, only if you like laughing

And then come back and tell me you peed your pants laughing. Or at least that you had a little chuckle.

P.S. Yea, I'll fill you in on the drawer handle saga tomorrow, I pinky-promise. But this could.not.wait.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

You Should...

always know where your corkscrew is.  After over a month of kitchen renovations, sometimes its hard to find... and you have to improvise...

... and when you have to improvise, a screw and a vice grip come in handy...

Do what ya gotta do.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kitchen Renovation: What We Did Right

In any home renovation, there's things you do right, and things you do wrong.  We usually have plenty of each.  Here's the stuff we did really right:
  • Keeping expectations in check.  When we discussed doing the kitchen, B kept saying "We could flip it in a weekend!" I half believed him.  Once the time came, we were realistic about when it would be done, and tried to plan it in a way that our helpers wouldn't be overwhelmed, and luckily ended up with only one really late night.
  • Planning the renovation for the warmer months allowed us to leverage our grill for meals and not have to eat out *as* much - although it was still too much for me.
  • Having a microwave let us make some food - granted it was my mini-one from college and took about twice as long as a regular one - which was better than any more Subway!
  • Shopping around before making our purchases.  It might be completely and totally exhausting and frustrating, but I'd say we saved several thousands of dollars by pitting Lowe's against our local lumber store, and Home Depot against Sears on our oven.  The key is to ask, to be honest that you think it's too much, and ask if there's anything they can do. Chances are, there is.
  • Using people. Ok, that doesn't sound right, because we weren't really using them, they were helping us.  And they were all willing - I swear!  We're really lucky to have quite a few friends with some useful skills, and trust me, our bank account appreciated it!  And don't worry, we'll be ready and willing to help them all out in return any time!
I'm sure there's more stuff I could list, but I don't want to brag or anything :P Don't worry... there's a list of what we did wrong coming shortly as well!

Kitchen Renovation: Hardware and Details

Yesterday B's dad came over to help finish up some of the detail work in the kitchen.  I'm pretty excited about the difference it makes having trim around the window...

No more insulation hanging down! Looks better huh? We'll have to decide if we're going to paint it or leave it as is or what - but we'll deal with that later.

He also installed (most) of the hardware....

And before anyone freaks out - YES they are *not* even right now.  The doors need to be adjusted on almost all the cabinets, but he measured them all out the same.  If you look at the bottoms of any of the cabinets, you can see that they don't line up.  Those will get done at the time we get around the putting the soft close do-dads on.  We were more concerned about just having handles to use.  There are a few drawers that did not get done (hence no pictures) - that's an ongoing saga I'll share another time.

He also put on those panels I had mentioned a while back - the ones B bought without my knowledge - they go on the peninsula to make it look more "finished".  I don't have a good picture of it from before, but you can get the idea in this one:

See how the closest side of the peninsula is just... a single panel(ish thing)? Didn't look too bad in my opinion.  B thought it looked cheap, and that it was flimsy.  Whatevs. Here's the after, with the panels that look like cabinets doors:

I'm not so much in love with this. Also, see how each one has a dark side? I had a plan of how I wanted to have it laid out - and this isn't it. (B works from home Mondays and Fridays, so here was here, I was at work, he couldn't remember.  Well, and I can't remember now either, but still.)  BUT, since it can't be changed at this point, I'm working on getting used to it.  I guess it probably gives it a more upscale look... or something.... I don't know... what do you think?

We also finally got around to returning the incorrect baseboards Lowe's had sent along with some excess materials - and they took them back without any real questions - so that was nice at least.  We checked out some stools today at Target.  There's been somewhat of an ongoing battle about the height we need.  I felt the shorter, 24 inch ones would be the correct height, because I don't feel like the counters are very high.  B said the higher ones (29 inch).  We looked at both today at Target.  I was convinced it was the 24 inch, and while I was sitting on it B said it was a mini stool.  He set up a "mock counter" using some of the stools and displays at the store and gave me one to sit in.

Me: "Yea, this is perfect, see."
B: "Right, its perfect."
Me: "Wait... did you... give me the bigger one?"
B: *all laughs*

I believe I called him sneaky, and admitted I was wrong. Or something like that.

Anyway, these are the ones we checked out:
But they look JUST like the ones my parents have.  Which isn't really a bad thing, but I'm just saying.  I did just find them in a "swivel" option, which sounds like it might be nice (or course the "swivel" is more expensive and I'll have to justify to B why it'll be worth it...)

I'm also still trying to come up with a storage solution.  I didn't see anything I was interested in at the bajillion (Ok more like 4 - Target, Christmas Tree Shop, Bob's Furniture, and Costco) places we stopped today.  At least nothing at a low enough price!

Might be time to hit up some yard sales and/or Craigslist...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kitchen Renovation: The Stupid Shelves

Well they arrived - finally.  I have pantry shelves.

 Top Cabinet: pastas, soups, popcorn, broth, oatmeal, with chips and saltines up top.

Bottom Cabinet: peanut butter and other sandwich spreads, applesauce that will go in the fridge once its open, nice big cereal shelf, canned goods.  And yea, that's Chef Boyardee and Spaghetti O's. And no, we don't have kids.

*Sidenote* Before shopping I always ask B what he would like me to get for lunches, etc.  One day he said Spaghetti O's. Okay, that's fine. Spaghetti O's with calcium were on sale (I don't know if they're all like that now or what). Apparently he really meant Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs, and refuses to eat the Spaghetti O's with calcium...

Anyway, I've got some fine tuning of my organization to do, but I'm thrilled to not have all of our food in the same closet as the dog bones anymore.

And that's all for tonight folks - cause I've got some Celtics to keep my fingers crossed for - Let's get it goin' Boston!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not Much of a Kitchen Update

Nothing new to report on the kitchen today.  I'm just dreaming about all the things I want to buy to finish to it off, such stools for the peninsula, some kind of storage unit/hutch/table, and something to take up room in the dining room.

I know, I shouldn't need *anything* because we just redesigned the whole kitchen to our needs. But here's the thing... all of our kitchen stuff fit in our old cabinets. All of our not-quite-kitchen-but-needs-a-place-to-go-stuff fit into the peninsula... like vases, cook books, candles, tablecloths were on the lower cabinets, and paper, pens, batteries, light bulbs, etc in the drawers on the top.

All of our kitchen stuff fits in our kitchen cabinets.  But...the vases, cook books, candles and tablecloths are currently sitting on the table and futon in the 3rd bedroom (aka M's room).  Everything in the drawers? Well, still in the drawers, just stacked on an old entertainment unit that is for some reason still hanging out in our dining room.

We're lucky enough to have a china cabinet, to house all of our... china (duh), wine glasses, serving platters and other things we don't use on a regular basis.

So, I'm really just brainstorming at this point, spending more money at the moment doesn't seem smart, so it gives me some time to think about what we want I suppose.  When I start thinking more seriously maybe I'll post some pictures and ideas.

Otherwise, my stupid pantry shelves are supposed to be here (and by here I mean Lowe's... so I get to pick them up, convenient eh? (Ok, so it is cause its on my way home from work, but its still annoying)) tomorrow, so let's all keep our fingers crossed hmmm?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fun Kitchen Purchases

This weekend, while exchanging my brown shelf liners for tan (which B thinks are the same... but they are NOT at all), I made a few purchases.  Certain items in our kitchen just were not going to live up to the new kitchen.

For instance, old drying rack vs new sleek and easily hide-able drying mat:

See, much nicer.  AND it folds up and goes away when there isn't anything on it:

(there's at least one use for that drawer...
and yes M is down there trying to figure out what to do with the other shelves, she's a good helper)

The "Original Drying Mat" was a $4.99 purchase from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was in one of those stands right when you walk in, and I fell in love, as much as you can fall in love with a drying mat... anyway, so far, so good, two days of dishes and I'm pleased. Also, it's machine washable. So what's *not* to love?

I then found some goodies for the utensils, see the old utensil holder and spoon rest versus the new ones:

Generic black, round, barely-big-enough utensil holder that just blends into the granite and the somewhat ugly red spoon rest (yea, we had a red theme going in the apartment - red spoon rest, red drying rack, and red pots and pans - not so much anymore), versus wooden, rectangular, plenty-of-room-for-all-the-stuff-we-use utensil holders and large spoon rest with a message (Live life passionately, Laugh out loud, Love unconditionally).  Also, the utensil holder has a REMOVABLE bottom for easy cleaning. Thank you Wal-mart for your fantastic wooden innovation - for $7.97. I still have the label on the other side, cause B seemed unsure, but I've decided its not going back. Spoon rest: BB&B, $6.99.  I think they give a more put together and thought out look.  Ok fine, they make me feel like a grown up. Don't ask why, because I don't know. But I'm glad to be done with the red spoon rest.

*Sidenote* A fun tip when dealing with flat top electric ovens: Don't put the spoon rest on the oven.  You will inevitably lay a spoon across an unused burner, and then accidental turn on the wrong burner when trying to boil water. And it will be the one you put the spoon over. And your spoon will start smoking, and you'll have to grab it and run it under cold water. And then your spoon will forever have a new texture, and you'll have to scrub the cook top (only with the special scrubby that came with the stove!).  Don't ask me how I know this.

I also bought some bright and fun place mats (for if I ever clean off the dining room table again...).  Our table is very dark, almost black but not quite, so I wanted something to brighten it up and break up the darkness.

Fun, no? If you don't think so, that's fine. They were ONE DOLLAR each. So I'm not worried about it.
Anywho, I'm done with my classes this term (too bad its only 5 days until the next term starts...) so I'm going to get to cleaning and *hopefully* picking paint.  Friday B's dad is coming to put the trim on the window, secure the dishwasher, add the panels to the peninsula, straighten the doors, add the softclose to the cabinet doors, and install the handles and pulls.

Ok, that's what I hope he's doing. The only thing I'm sure of is the window trim, but a girl can hope, right?

Oh, and here's a cute picture of M, because I love her:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kitchen Renovation: Day 32 - The Microwave & The IT Genuis

I only titled it that because I don't think my step dad thought I actually would.  But, the microwave, yes, its true, has been installed.  So, here's the before:

Big empty white space, just waiting to be filled by our beautiful microwave that has a start button that works! (Remember, the last two years we have cooked in the microwave by hitting the 'Add One Minute' button, and if it wasn't something to be cooked in increments of a minute, we'd just kind of have to remember to stop it.)

So, B and my awesome step dad (the IT Genius, clearly) got to work again.

Of course it wasn't long until B stripped the screw, and we got a little held up while he manually had to get it out of the wall.  And then, I had to take control and read the directions, since no one else seemed to want to.  I will say, it's more complicated than you'd think!

After more work than I think we expected, the microwave is safely hung.  We also adjusted the feet on the oven so its even with the counter.  I think it looks awesome and really, couldn't be happier with the way everything looks :)

Just a few more finishing touches (and those damn shelves from Lowe's) and we'll be good!  Tomorrow is my last day of class for the term, so I'm hoping maybe later this week I can think about painting...