Thursday, December 31, 2015

Finished Kitchen

What a kitchen nightmare! With the baby here and getting ready to crawl, we decided to remove the old ceramic tile floors that had been badly damaged. Well, now we know why! They were laid overtop of uneven subflooring, on top of 6 other layers of floor! 

The guys pryed them up and found a ghastly mess near the island - water had been leaking for many years. Behind the paneling, the cupboard backs were rotten, the floor was rotten, and the 5 layers below were rotten, too. 

What started as a few hundred dollar, save yourself some money, DIY project had now turned into a cash disaster. We had to replace the entire island, all of the subflooring, the countertops (because we couldn't save the island counter and who wants a mismatched mess?), and the cupboards in the center.

The guys got to work cutting and patching the floors (which will never be level by the eay, because the room is comprised of an addition and another room where the old barn used to be).

We put in vinyl floors with the click and lay kind of panels. They look like wood but are waterproof and flexible to fit an uneven floor like ours.

Note to the wise: do not use staples on your subfloor. They pop thru the vinyl and make a mess. 

The sink also had to be replaced, so we opted for Delta products as they carry replacement parts here in town and are very sturdy. 

After the sink came the tiling of the island, and finally the other countertops. We went with tile with redgard under it, because quartz would have put us back a pretty penny. 

All told, this entire project (including the new sink and range) ran us about $3,500.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Parenting For Newbies: Blog One

Here I am, that person who told you I didn't want your unsolicited parenting advice. It's true. I don't. What I do want, though, is your attention. I want to share some advice with you.

You see, we went into this with a LOT of research. We went in with me being afraid to bond with a baby and my husband being incredibly over-eager. We had the baby, a nice, big girl, and then the fun began.

Everything I read was conflicted. I had no idea, even after the lactation specialist left, that I needed to use the breast pump every 2 hours. I had no idea how to even use one!

So, in the spirit of being a total moron and learning everything as we went, I'd like to start a slow progression of Parenting For Newbies blogs. Perhaps this will help my cousin and my niece, who are both each expecting a new arrival in 2016. 

I'll tag the blogs as Parenting for Newbies as I go. I hope they help someone out there because there is so much left to be learned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kitchen Update and Spring has Sprung!

Spring is in the air, so once all of the cupboards had been sanded and given a new coat of poly, we turned our attentions to the great outdoors. We'll come back to the kitchen later with new floors and countertops, but it could be years before we get those and a backsplash put in.

For now, here's our yard projects!

Let's begin with the patio. It's a big project. Basically, our yard consists of two lots and those two lots are "separated" by a small hill (1-3 foot at most). The pool runs along the edge of this hill. The issue we have with the yard is that our huskies LOVE to dig along this hill as well. The hill is directly out our back door and is trampled, so it's a great spot to get right into the dirt.

As you can see, it's a bit of a muddy mess. This is only a shot of one of the 5 giant holes that had been dug there. It was impossible to keep the girls out of this area, so we decided to add a retaining wall and build it up, covering it with patio stones.

First, we used the cinderblocks my Dad had purchased at a yard sale, and hubby had been toting in his truck for ages, to build the base of the wall. Then, we went to The Home Depot and picked out more cinder blocks. While we were there, some lovely ladies needed a truck load of pavers hauled to their home 6 miles away and gave us $25 to do the job. Hubby lifted and hauled, as I'm incapable at the moment, and we walked away with just enough cash to pay for the cinderblocks.

Funnily enough, that morning, hubby had hauled some other items for a friend and had been paid $30, so this was put into the paver glue and a larger paver for the end ($20). We still had the worry of what to put on top, but I called the local salvage store and they held some long pavers for us until we could get to them. This was a further $11. We ended up spending only $1 out of pocket on the wall.

Dad kindly invested in some lumber for the stairs and also purchased a paver cutting blade for the saw, so we were able to make a nice angle on the paver and cut extra pieces to fit where needed. This has come in extremely handy for the pavers on the actual floor of the patio. So, next the boys dug out the upper side of the yard to be able to match the lower side of the hill. This took a bit of doing but in the end it looked brill! I asked for the steps to span across the yard and be "inviting" into the upper area.

Next, in went the wood. I gathered 12 pavers I had in my garden and we used those as the preliminary look, then went to buy more pavers to match them once we were sure they were what we wanted. The pavers were $0.98 each at The Home Depot. They weren't great quality and I don't recommend them. Tamping them made some of them break. They just weren't made for this kind of thing, I don't think, but they were affordable and that's what counts.

See the big terra-cotta pot? FREE! Our neighbor is sadly moving away but she gave it to us. Dad picked up a magnolia for it, and we will leave it there until it's big enough to move into the ground. It smells wonderful.

Currently, we have an entire low patio section to fill, a triangle between the pavers and brick, and a triangle between the upper and lower levels. We're debating over more pavers, pea gravel or cement. I'll keep the blog posted.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Garden Edging

A while ago, I spied a bunch of 12" deck board cuttings in the wood pile and yesterday I told Dad what I wanted to do with them. He made it happen! No more junky cement flower bed edges. ;D

Wood pile: 

Before and After:

Looking Good!

The cabinets are coming along well. Everything is a mess but aIso looks so much brighter than before.

Regarding the new drawer front, I did all the measurements myself and hubby doubted my source quite a bit, saying nothing looked the same. I argued with him about it and finally he conceded. 

After a few brief emails - the company was so helpful about mitred edges, angles and measurements - I placed this order. Shipping was free and it cost under $20 for this beautiful slab front. 

It arrived FedEx today and I was NERVOUS. We tore open the many layers of packaging and Dad was shocked by the exact match I had made. It's not even 1 hair longer. I am one chuffed lady! I love maths. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Well, today was not a particularly great day in the world of cabinet refinishing. We found out that the bottom cabinets do not have solid oak doors and are instead MDF with a thin oak veneer. Ugh. This means we'll have to order or make new doors.

In good news, hubby is working on a shelf feature area made from rough cut oak he got at the mill last summer. It looks great! We'll stain it and it will make the stove area brighter and more functional.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Slow and Oaky Wins The Race

Oak-y doke. It's been busy around here. Hubby's been working 10 hour days and dad's been busy sanding cabinet doors. I think he'll be sealing and installing the rest of them tomorrow. Man, we aren't even close to the middle of this cabinet project and I am already missing my kitchen.

Hubby has attached the oak veneer to the cabinets but in the process he discovered that a few of them were "blown out" (my words, not his) and we had to add some 2" x 2" pieces to shore them up. The edges were falling apart. We really can't afford new cabinets right at this time so we'll lose a few square inches inside the cabinets and salvage them. It's not pretty but it works, for now.

The veneer was a giant pain in the butt. I do NOT recommend it. There is literally no other way to attach solid oak veneer to 29 year old MDF cabinets other than to use liquid nail. It was terribly difficult for the veneer to hold and sometimes it took two solid attempts to get one piece of wood up. The secret is to sand the contact paper off the MDF or rough it up. Spread the liquid nail over the panel and clamp the living heck out of it.

I really like the open space left where the oversized microwave cabinet was and so have decided not to install cereal shelves there. I am keeping it open. It really looks lovely.

Another dilemma was the grill fan. It literally served no function. The fan went to nowhere! So, grease, grime, dirt and decay were just sucked up and remained lingering with no access and no way to clean them. Disgusting and useless.

We aren't investing in a vent to the outside right now, nor do I think we need one. The kitchen window is so near the stove and we hardly ever have greasy yucky food that needs venting. We mostly eat out of our garden in the summer and pantry in the winter. We have decided, after cleaning up the grease, to run the wiring from the grill fan behind an oak panel. Hubby cut a hole in the solid beam just big enough to pass the wire through since it was previously hiding behind a plywood makeshift spice rack.

So, the bottom line is where the paneling will end. The top is where it will begin. Then, we're going to put some oak shelves in for spices. Finally, a place where spices won't constantly be falling on me when I reach for them. Yay!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bathroom Jars and Spring Cleaning

Well, it's that time of year again. Time for spring cleaning! I have made it my vow to tackle the bathroom. All brick-a-brack and junk must go. We installed a beautiful new oak mirror that matches our trim. I'll post photos when I'm done cleaning. For now, I found a blog from Aunt Peaches about how to clean out old candle jars and reuse them. I am using mine for q-tips and I'll make another later for cotton balls.

I hot glued a bit of ribbon around the jar for added flair. The whole process took around an hour. You can find the blog with instructions here:

Right now I have a snowflake lid but I can swap to plain silver when the new Bath and Body Works candles come back into season. ;)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Hector the Drawer

Of course, I equate everything to song. This time it was Morrissey lyrics. Hector was the first of the drawers with a brand new drawer box and the first to go back into cupboard spaaaaaaace. Don't ask. I've lost my mind.

Anyway, new drawer boxes would have been $27+ apiece so hubby is building them now instead. The first one got done today. 

Oh, and the veneer has begun. Yippee!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just Let Me Vent

The awful vent has been removed. I can't remember using it once in the last fifteen years. It's been there for 29. This is what was behind it. Yep, we are definitely going to have to buy a tile backsplash. Yuck!!! I'm not OK with grease saturated walls. Gross.

Replacing the Cabinet Drawers

Once the upper cabinets have been finished and re-seated, we'll be dealing with a whole new monster. Lower cabinets. Not only will these ones be back-breaking, they'll be difficult because the ones with drawers are so messed up and we can't just replace the cabinets. We've been playing musical drawers for the last ten years or so, because the drawer boxes are MDF and easily crack and break. The drawer runners are goners, too.

Today I visited and placed a custom order for a matching drawer front to our current set. It took a while to figure out the specific cut our drawers currently have, but it turned out we needed the E10 edge on an oak slab, in 3/4 thickness. Whew. Glad that's over with. Oh, did I mention that their Customer Service department was VERY nice via email and helped me find the right piece, and also that their shipping is FREE? Amazing. I can't wait to see the finished product. I hope I ordered the right thing.

Now, moving on to the drawer boxes, these suckers are in BAD shape. I looked at the cost of new ones and even the economy line was $27+. Not really in our lack of budget, especially since I just spent $19.95 on a drawer front. OK. Something else is going to have to happen. I'm thinking my husband is going to be making these drawer fronts. He also plans to make some new oak cabinets on top of our existing ones. He has a stash of red oak in 16' lengths, so it should all work out.

Lighten Up A Little

Well, thanks to Dad's amazing sanding skills, all of the cupboard fronts have been sanded and refinished with a first coat of poly. Hubby is working on the cupboard doors and one is already done. Yay! Check out the difference in color. It's really amazing what the tall cupboard looks like compared to the lower cabinets.

The kitchen after sanding had begun:

New cupboard door. Compare to the color on the side. We'll be adding lighter oak veneer to match and get rid of those dreary 30 year old sides.

The cabinet doors before, during, and after refinishing. As you can see it made a big difference just sanding and refinishig them.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Afraid of the Sander

Today my husband finished painting up the backsplash. It looks so nice to have the kitchen walls be matching from ceiling to floor. Some of the original grout is now visible and it's playing on my conscience that 15 years of dirt and residue is still lurking on my countertops somehow even though I scrub them weekly. Any grout masters got tips for bringing back my grout? It may be a while before we install new countertops.

Dad worked on a few of the cabinet fronts and managed to get them stripped by using a Dremel Multimax Sanding Pad. The doors will be sanded in the wood shop.

One small husky decided that 2-3 hours of sanding was enough for her and claimed refuge under my desk. This made it difficult to work since I now had to really reach to hit the desk. I'm getting used to that since I already have a small child taking up residence in my belly. I just moved the bluetooth mouse into my lap and finished out the last half hour of my day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our Outdated Kitchen - The Remodel Begins

Well, it's time for a new kitchen. Ours has served us well for the last 28 years, but we're expecting a child now and we need a bit of modernization.

Problems with our current kitchen include:

•Out of date honey oak cabinets from 1985

•Tile countertops from the 1990s aka a bacteria haven

•Broken and junky drawers and missing drawer fronts

•Broken receptacles/bad wiring

•Oversized cabinets taking up counterspace


•Corner cabinet on countertop acting as a junk catch-all 

•Yucky vinyl wallpaper instead of backsplash

•Gap between stove and countertop

•Unlevel flooring and slopes throughout room

•5 layers of flooring on top of each other so room is a step up in house.

•Cracked, broken, and missing tiles

•No kick guard

•Non-working and nasty grill fan 

•No storage space on top of cupboards

•No pantry space or room for canning

•Awful brown color scheme that clashes with our 1950s Lucy scheme

•Bar stools that are too big for the bar

So where do we begin with this project? Well, we decided to start by trying to save the cabinets. We both work full time and we live with my dad. He is retired and he will be helping us tremendously with the project.

Today my husband removed one cabinet door and sanded it, applied new poly and replaced it. We'll be adding oak veneer to the sides of our cabinets since they aren't real oak on the sides. Ideally, we would have liked new, lighter cabinets, but that isn't going to happen. Oak is oak and saving old hardwood is better than buying new MDF. We will get over the color.

As you can see, the finish is much brighter and cleaner than the old mucky cabinets. It's still oak, so we're going to incorporate wood floors and probably wood countertops with a subway tile backsplash. Once the cabinets doors and front faces have been refinished and the veneer has been applied, we'll begin working on the new drawers. 

For now, the guys have begun painting the backsplash to match the wall color in the room. No more tired yellow stripes! We chose to paint over the wallpaper for now since we'll have to redo it again later when we buy backsplash tiles.

They've also patched a giant hole in the wall behind the old microwave cupboard.

That receptacle used to knock out power to the entire house because a breaker was overloaded. Now that things are on their own breakers, we no longer have that issue.