Thursday, September 18, 2008


I have a lot of thoughts and ideas and words swirling around in my head, but I will spare you that for the moment! Suffice it to say that if you are a mother (or if you know a mother, or have a mother,) please take a moment to go read MollyCoddle's August 17th post titled "A High Calling." It isn't long. It will only take you a moment or two. But it is soooo worth it! I stumbled across it this morning and it blessed me in a great way!

And if you have more time, you may want to ramble through her blog for a while and read more. Lovely, thoughtful, encouraging...a sweet and gentle spirit. So stop wasting your time here reading my babbling and go get refreshed at MollyCoddle's blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Don't you just love the word "free?" I do! Anyway, I hesitate to spread the news because it might lessen my chance to win. However...since we're all friends here, I want to tell you about another blog I recently discovered: Simple Mom.

Simple Mom is giving away a mighty purdy necklace made by Lisa Leonard Designs to one of her readers who leaves a comment. And even if you don't get the free necklace, (because hey, she's going to draw MY name,) you still win since you have found a lovely, enjoyable and thoughtful site to add to your blogroll, right?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Goodbye, Big Blue Monster!

Remember the view from my front porch?

Not exactly attractive. Well...Here is a beautiful sight for my eyes to behold!

Oh, that was a bit is a shot with the flash.

Notice something? Yes, yes! It is empty! 8 feet high by 8 feet wide by 40 feet long, and this baby was totally full of STUFF! There were times when I wished they would just come and haul it off with the stuff still in it. Why do we have so much stuff??? But now it is empty. Everything has been unloaded, moved into the house, tossed or donated away.

Goodbye, Big Blue Monster!

101 Things in 1001 Days

Have you seen the 101 Things in 1001 Days meme? Of course you probably have. However, I just stumbled on it. I am thinking this is a great idea. You set tangible, definable, attainable goals with a specific time frame (1001 days), and start working on the list. It can be anything you want from losing 5 pounds to learning Chinese. So far, I have 69 things written down. I am trying to keep my list as realistic as possible. I mean, I would LOVE to get a Eurorail pass and backpack across Europe, but I know that is not going to happen in the next few years. Some of my goals are on-going, like "Floss daily," but I am trying to have as many as possible with more definable conclusions, like "Clean and organize my craft closet," so that I can feel like I am achieving goals and crossing things off my list.

Go take a look at Day Zero to learn more and to see other folks' lists. Maybe I will post mine when I finish it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Budget Bathroom

As promised, I am going to try to post some before and after photos of the work we did on our house this summer. Remember my cotton-candy, bubblegum pink bathroom? Here, this will refresh your memory:

Well, the first thing I did was remove the ugly medicine cabinet and light fixture you see here:

And then stripped off the wallpaper.

Which revealed really disgusting stuff lurking on the walls underneath the wallpaper:

Then I scrubbed and scraped and bleached like crazy:

Then I primed the walls, and once I got it all white and clean looking, I found I rather liked it that way. Every other room in my house has colors on the walls. The crisp, clean white is refreshing. I decided to go with a black and white and chrome (or brushed nickel) color scheme. I was aiming for something that sort of looked retro and worked with the pink while reducing the overwhelming "pinkness" of it all.

Now I needed a nifty light fixture, a big mirror to go over the vanity and really cool black and white shower curtain. Fortunately, I found this awesome light on clearance at Lowe's...originally about $100, I only paid $20!

Then one of the fellas involved with the work on the house offered me a mirror, for FREE! He had just taken it down from his bathroom and all I needed to do was have it cut to fit my space! A new mirror was going to cost me $70-$80, but instead I spent less than $10 at a local glass company to have it trimmed down. Photos can not convey what a BIG difference the large mirror has made on this small bathroom.

Unfortunately, that is where my luck ran out. I could not find a fabric black and white shower curtain ANYWHERE. I found solid black and LOTS of brown in my local stores. Nothing like what I had envisioned. I also found a couple of vinyl ones, but because I wanted to hang a matching curtain on the linen closet instead of the ful sliding doors that were always falling off, I really wanted fabric, not vinyl. And yes, I could have searched for some fabric and sew one myself, but that would require finding the time to actually sew and I was realistic enough to know that was not going to happen in the near future. Oh, and may I mention here how totally ASTONISHED I was at the cost of shower curtains?!? Yikes! Finally, at K-Mart I found something that would fill the bill and I ed them up. They were not exactly what I wanted, but they were black and white, there were only two left, and the clincher on the deal, they were on sale as well as buy one, get one 50% off. So, for less than $30, I had two matching curtains for my shower and closet. After experiencing such sticker shock at shower curtains that ran $60 and up, I knew this was a good deal!

I added a small, black cotton rug on the floor and the transformation is almost done.

Here are a few more views from different angles. First, a shot from inside the room looking towards the vanity:

And here I tried to get a shot of the mirror over the vanity which shows the curtain on the linen closet opposite the mirror as well as the shower on the other side of the room. May I just mention how tricky it is to take a photo of a mirror and avoid getting flash reflections or my own reflection in the shot?

Light fixture $20
Shower curtains $30
Mirror less than $10
Primer and Paint about $50
Rug $15

Total cost for cosmetic makeover done by me: $125

This does not include the cost of the electrician putting a new overhead light fixture that includes an exhaust fan and heater. Nor does it include the $475 we spent to have the tub and sink reglazed because the finish was so worn and etched it was impossible to make them look clean. However, if you have perfectly good fixtures that do not need professional help, those expenses would not be necessary.

I thought some art or photos framed in black, or something else of interest on the walls might look nice, and I would like to change the knobs on the cabinet doors and drawers to compliment it better. But otherwise, I am satisfied. What do you think?

Friday, September 12, 2008


I know it is not time for Halloween yet, but look at what I just found creeping around my front porch!

I am pretty certain that is a black widow spider! I am generally a live and let live sort of person and I don't like to kill little critters, but that gal has got to go!!!

And while I am sharing scary photos, here is what was sitting outside our apartment door last month after a particularly large dousing of rain.

I guess if I really wanted to frighten you, a photo of me before my first cup of coffee in the morning would do the trick!

Did I leave you hanging???

Sorry! So sorry! How evil and mean of me to post initial photos of our renovations and then abandon you like that. I did not meant to leave you hanging. However, I do have a GOOD excuse. You see, the renovations were supposed to last until the end of September or middle of October...meaning that when I last updated this blog, I thought I had two full months plus to do all the interior painting and other "cosmetic" changes (i.e.icky stuff like scraping popcorn ceilings, stripping wallpaper, etc.) that I was personally going to tackle.

I getting ready to say something that I have never, ever heard said by anyone I know who has built a home or undertaken renovations -- the contractor had the audacity to finish his work AHEAD of schedule. Yes, you read me right...WAY ahead of over a full month ahead of schedule. Now, you say to yourself, "That is GREAT!" Well, yes, it is wonderful, except for one eensy weensy detail: it meant that I had a full month less to do all the work I wanted to do before we could move back in.

As a result, my August was a frenzy of sanding, patching, and flying paint. I worked often from early morning until late night desperately trying to get it all done. I got painter's elbow. My kids hardly saw me and I don't think I actually cooked a meal the whole month. It's a good thing my 15 year old can cook!

Then we had the big move-in at the beginning of September. (And here a bonus little piece of advice--no charge: Should you have all the symptoms of a UTI for a week and you simply drink more water and ignore those symptoms, telling yourself that the body is a wonderful thing that will heal itself, and then you have a particularly stressful day, like, say a moving day, you may just find yourself on your sofa at 2 a.m., in pain that is right up there with labor pains, curled up in the fetal position, weeping and wondering if you might need to go to the hospital. And should you feel just a bit better in the morning, after staying up all night, do not use that as an excuse to not go to the urgent care center and seek a little medical help, thus prolonging your misery another day -- because you probably need to be on antibiotics and it ain't gonna' just go away. I'm just sayin'.)

Well, once that craziness was over we had to tackle the unloading of the "Big Blue Monster" (see photos in earlier posts). Then, in the midst of all that, we needed to start SCHOOL!!! At that point they delivered the straight jacket for me and tucked me safely away in a padded room.

So, I am home and we are somewhat settled. There are still a few boxes to be unpacked and I have not yet hung much on the walls. The hall did not yet get painted, and even though the wallpaper in the half-bath has been stripped, those walls have not been properly prepped and painted. I will tackle those tasks sometime in the future when the mere thought of painting more does not send me into spasms. For now, but we are trying to get back to "normal," whatever that is around here.

I promise to post photos soon so you can see the transformations..."soon" being a somewhat relative term meaning "today, or whenever I can get to it!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Progress on the renovations...

You can see lots more of the "before" photos in my previous post. Now see the new shingles and replacement windows. Woot! Woot!



And did you notice the pretty new door with craftsman style window and the lovely new exterior light fixture?



There will be a full-view storm door and the outside trim work will be wrapped in white vinyl. I think I will paint the door black to match the shutters.

Check out the progress in the back:



And want to see something TOTALLY gross? Look at the build up of dust and grime inside our old, original 1960 ductwork that has been ripped out:

Makes me start hacking just to look at it!

Oh, and as for the pink bathroom...I have decided to go with black and white and chrome and maybe do sort of a "retro" type of style in there. At Lowe's tonight I found a nifty $100 brushed chrome 4-light fixture for the fabulous clearance price of $20!! That will go on the wall over the vanity. I am thinking of painting the walls (what little there is above all that pink tile) with black and white stripes...either wide, or varying widths.

Care to see just a portion of the massive amount of duct work they have torn out from under my house? The heating guy said I had more duct work running under my house than the local community college!

And to close things up, here is what my hallway looked like today. Eek! Between the carpenters and the electricians and the heating and air guys, my house is filthy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Home makeover on a TIGHT budget.

I have been wanting to blog for over a month about all the changes going on around here, but as always, life has been so hectic that my internet time has been virtually nonexistent.

Our family was very fortunate to qualify for a special community rehab program in our area. It provides grants and interest-free loans to home-owners to help with property maintenance and upgrades. The idea is to help owners keep their properties in good condition and as a result the entire community benefits. Improvements are being made to insure structural integrity, bring electrical and plumbing up to code, and to make our house more energy efficient.

At the end of May, we moved out of our 5 bedroom house into a very small 3 bedroom apartment. All of our possessions, including the stuff stored in our attic had to be moved out. Let me tell you, that was a major undertaking in itself. 9 people in one house for over 11 years creates a lot of accumulated STUFF. I spent weeks just sorting and tossing and agonizing over what to keep, store, or toss. Everything that would not fit in the apartment is being stored in a mobile unit parked at the end of our sidewalk:

And here is the lovely view that our poor neighbors across the street have to face every day. You can see our ugly roof peeking out from behind the storage unit, otherwise known affectionately as "The Big Blue Monster."

Presenting the front of our house before any work was started. Please note that before I took this photo, we had already moved any potted plants or outdoor furniture from around our house. It really is a bit more charming and much less spartan with those added touches than what you see here:

And here is what our house looked like after the workers came and removed the lead paint that was on the exterior. It looks like a condemned property:

This is a shot of the back of our house. There is an addition that was built in the 70's with an ugly flat roof that had a tendency to leak. People always comment that our house is much larger than it appears...this addition is part of the reason. It has two small bedrooms, a small den/study and a compact bathroom with a shower in it.

The framing going up to tie the back roof into the front and make it drain better (and look better too!)

A pile of's like cleaning out closets...things always get worse looking before they get better. My poor neighbors really have a mess to look at these days.

This gives a little taste of what my life has been like lately. I have lots more photos to share. There is work going on in the interior as well. And the budget was limited, so there is cosmetic work that I am doing myself, stripping wallpaper, painting, etc., etc. In fact, before I end this post, I will share one project that I would love some ideas and opinions on...our main bathroom.

Yes, that is pink. Very, VERY pink. Even the floor is pink! This is the bathroom that is on our main hall. Unlike modern houses, we do not have a "powder room," so this is the bathroom used by guests as well as my daughters. I plan to replace and move the light fixture a bit higher up the wall and put a larger mirror over the vanity. But I am stymied about color. I just don't know what to do with the pink. Do I go bright and funky? Maybe Caribbean colors? You know, bright blue, lime green, etc. Or shall I do a brown and pink scheme? That seems popular right now. Then there is the option of black, white and pink. I really need help! Here is a shot after I stripped down the wallpaper and removed the dinky, industrial-style medicine cabinet.

Tell me what you think! Any ideas or suggestions would be most appreciated!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Chaos to calm in just 15 minutes...

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all that clutter and mess that surrounds you, but just don't have the time to clean it all up? ME TOO! So, I am tackling my messies 15 minutes at a time. I literally set my timer for 15 minutes and do all I can in that little block of time. It is amazing how much can actually be accomplished in 15 minutes.

Since I just love make-overs with before and after shots, I am going to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you all.

I would like to clarify here that I am not a messy person. I hate messiness and chaos. I love, love, love to organize. However, there just does not seem to be enough time in the day to get it all done, and so in my hurry, I drop things at the nearest spot and run on to the next activity. Before I know it, the clutter has grown and spread like some sort of fungus.

Here is what I see every time I walk in my bedroom. There is a beautiful antique vanity carefully hidden under all that stuff.

Here is a pile of "give-away" clothes as well as my athletic shoes hiding behind my door.

My sneakers are probably there because here is what the floor of my closet looks like. (((sigh)))

So, I set my timer.

And then I clean and tidy like crazy. Here is what I accomplished in just 15 minutes!

I even managed to work in the area behind my door!

I can now smile when I walk in my room.

Next, I tackle the office. EEK!


Related Posts with Thumbnails