Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We Blinked........

My kids have started back to school for the 2014-2015 school year.  I'm not sure how it happened, or when it happened, but my kids are no longer "children", they are pre-teens.  Wasn't it just yesterday I was on the floor with them reading "Pat the Bunny", "Goodnight Moon", or one of the many wonderful books by Sandra Boynton for hours at a time?  Our parents told us to enjoy every minute with our babies because in the blink of an eye, they'd be in middle school, high school, and then college.  In another blink, they'd be getting married and having babies of their own.

back to school, growing up, teens, preteens, toddlers

When my husband and I got married, my mother requested a special song be played at our ceremony.  The song was from "Fiddler on the Roof" and is titled "Sunrise, Sunset".  The lyrics express perfectly how I'm feeling.

"Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

I don't remember growing older
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze."

I still instinctively look at my shoulder before I leave my house to see if I have baby food or drool which needs to be wiped off.  When I take both kids shopping for clothes, I have to remind myself to go to the teen/preteen area and not the children's department.

My daughter used to lock her tiny little arms around my thigh whenever we went anywhere because she was so shy and scared.  Now she runs with carefree abandon with her friends and throws back a "See ya later, Mom!" along with a smile.  When did her wings of independence begin to spread?

My son loved to hold my index finger.  Even as a toddler he was so outgoing and energetic.  There were many times when I thought he'd dislocate my finger in his excitement to reach whatever it was he had his sites aimed for.  These days I get a wave of his hand and a "Later! Love ya!" as he hops out of the car in the school drop-off line.

As I think back, the time elapsed from when they were just born to now feels like a few short weeks.  What happened which caused this quick jump in age?  As much as I would like to believe it was time travel, or even a time warp, I know that isn't the culprit.  I think what happened was exactly what our parents told us would happen.  We blinked.

Written by Christie Bielss

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Ugliest Kitchen.......

With the guest room project done, I have been reinvigorated to start getting more of the half-finished projects in our home completed.  Everywhere I look, there's something that was started and then stopped because something else reared its ugly head and needed immediate attention.  Usually by the time we had remediated whatever calamity had occurred, we were tired and were in need of a break.  Since we've now been in our home 3 years this past July, and our house is still full of half-finished projects, we may have taken a wee bit too many breaks.

So, the best way to get a hard-headed redhead motivated is for there to be a deadline........... with photographic evidence that a mission has been accomplished.  Cue the theme to "Mission Impossible"............ no wait!  Let's cue the theme to "Rocky" because once you see the before pictures of our kitchen, you're going to understand why I may go 12 rounds with this renovation.

In case you're wondering: 
1) No.  I have no idea whatsoever the previous homeowner's theme was.  Every cabinet door you open in the kitchen and living areas of the house have (had) the slaughterhouse red paint, including any plumbing fixtures or pipes which may be in the cabinet.

2) Yes, only select cabinet drawer/door hardware was taken when the previous homeowner left.  I guess she only took the pieces from her most favorite drawers/doors?

3) No, we can't just paint over the poopy-diaper brown color because:
a) they didn't use a quality paint and as a result, the brown paint peels off;
b) they painted with carefree abandon...... i.e. lots of weird paint brush swirls in the paint........ not to mention pieces of the paint brushes themselves.

4) Yes, we are having to strip every cabinet door and cabinet base and then sand.  Sadly, they had painted the cabinets the slaughterhouse red color first and did not prime prior to painting the original beautiful maple cabinets.  As a result, the red paint permanently soaked into the wood and cannot be removed, so painting the cabinets is our only option.

5) Yes, a store obviously had a fantastic sale on brick.  And no, I'm not keeping the brick countertops.  They were laid incorrectly and the only way to clean them with the depth and width of the grout line is to vacuum them.  Not exactly sanitary........

So, without further ado, here are the "before" pictures of our kitchen.  You may want to prepare yourself..........

The house in its original "foreclosed" condition

Yeah, that red jumps out and grabs you

You can see the pantry (behind the open utility room door) which is a set of 6 cabinet doors.
It has nowhere near the amount of storage space that it looks like here.  It's tiny.

If you touch it, it will peel........ and you can see the lovely
swirl pattern in the paint here too! 

EEK!  This will wake you up in the morning.  Are you
impressed I found a bucket to match???

Nearly every hinge has been stripped.
Sassafrassing, grumble, snarl......

Now that you've seen the degree of ugly we are tackling...... let the renovation begin!  What's your best guess on how long it'll take us?  I'm figuring 2 months because I have to pick out a new sink and there's so many to choose from it's boggling my mind.  Any tips or hints you can share??

And as a PS:  A very big THANK YOU! to all of you who have prayed for my dad and my family this past month.  My dad's health has returned, albeit he still is regaining energy.  And if the health emergency wasn't enough, some thieves acquired his banking account information and stole a lot of money from them.  We are very pleased with the response from Bank of America and their fraud department.  They are hot on their trail, along with the corporations who were also defrauded of money through this theft, and we hope they are soon brought to justice so no other families have to experience this situation.  Your well-wishes, thoughts and prayers have meant a lot to me during this time and I greatly appreciate it!  May God bless you all!

Christie Bielss

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Big Reveal.....Well, Sort Of.......

It's here!  The BIG reveal...... well, sort of.  I had it all planned out right down to the last detail .......and then a few obstacles jumped in my path.  With any project, I know there are going to be obstacles.  I expect them and even try to plan for them.  But this time, I obviously didn't plan well enough.  The obstacles ate up every bit of the extra time I had built into the renovation project timeline.  Much like those DIY'ers on the show "Renovation Realities", I guess I should have built in extra time for those things I had not thought of.  I did, however, succeed in buying the furniture items for the room at great prices either on Craigslist or at garage sales.  The total amount spent will be revealed at the end.

The original piece that spurred this whole renovation was my desk.  My desk for years has been a computer armoire.  It served a great purpose for the occasional computer user, but because I am now spending many an hour in front of the computer, it was making me claustrophobic.

Not only did I have no view, but little view I did have felt like a cave, and the armoire had little to no storage.  I constantly had papers scattered everywhere, making my brain feel somewhat scattered.  I also had no flat surface area to even write anything down.

It became obvious that I had outgrown the part-time usability of the armoire.  I decided I needed something which would allow me to spread out, have some storage space, and even give me the ability to place the desk where I'd have a view out of a window so I wouldn't feel so hemmed in.

Day after day I searched online for the look I wanted.  I spent hours scouring Houzz, Pinterest, Better Homes and Gardens,  and tons of other websites.  I thumbed through magazine after magazine in search of the perfect office/guest room combination.

After an exhaustive search, I finally found the look I wanted with a desk that I had to have............ until I saw the price.  $1,500-$1,800....... before tax and shipping.  ugh.  I was totally deflated.  My husband liked the look I'd decided on though and encouraged me to search Craigslist in the hopes of finding something similar at a more reasonable price.

It took about 2 weeks of non-stop shopping.  One day I clicked on a brand new listing and my jaw dropped.  It was the exact desk I'd fallen in love with.  There it was before me, and for a price that made me wonder if it came with legs and drawers.  I quickly sent an email and the seller responded immediately that it was available and it did indeed have 4 legs and all of the drawers.  I bought it right then and there.  Oh, I was happy, happy, happy!

With that super-win under my belt, I then started shopping for a daybed.  Months passed with no luck.  I was completely frustrated and with hopes dashed, I gave up on renovating the room.  Then a friend emailed and asked if we'd host a couple while they were in town training.

A spark was lit within me again and my energy was renewed.  As I showed renewed interest in completing the project, I shared my budget with my mother.  She scoffed at the price I I had budgeted to for a daybed ....... even at Craigslist prices.  Challenge this redhead and you'll be amazed at how dedicated I can become.  Not only did I find a daybed that mimics the curves of my desk, but I bought it for a pittance of what she thought I'd have to pay.

Another victory was now in the books and was lighting the fire under my feet to get this room finished......... not to mention the rapidly approaching arrival of guests who needed a place to stay. 

With the major pieces for the room purchased, I started by painting the ceiling.  That was much more of a job than I had planned.  I made the B-I-G mistake of picking up paint at a different paint store than I usually use, simply because it was convenient.  The ceiling required 3 coats of paint.  The cheap paint I'd bought was not covering the ceiling and at the rate I was going, it would take 5 coats of paint to cover it evenly.  I finally gave up and went and bought paint at my regular paint store.  Not only had this eaten up 2 additional work days but it also ate up more of my budget than I'd planned for since I had to buy the better paint. 

I learned my lesson and did succeed in a couple of areas with paint:
1)  I bought the better paint for the walls the first time and even spent a lot of time picking out just the right shade.  The result: I absolutely love the wall color.  Could not be happier than I am with that.
2) I somehow was able to get paint between my toes......... with my shoes on.  I still haven't figured that one out since I pretty much lived in my shoes from the moment I got out of bed until I took a shower in the evening.  I'm thinking my dog may have played a prank on me to get even for me not allowing her to romp through the paint trays and decorate the floors of my house with paw prints.

I did run into another unexpected issue: I couldn't find a comforter locally.  Who knew daybed comforters were so hard to find?  I ended up having to order one online and when it arrived (the day before our guests were scheduled to arrive), I discovered the lovely soft shade of blue I was expecting to see, was actually gun-metal gray. Talk about a reality check. Had the comforter been for a bed shaped like one of the US Navy's battleships, it would've been perfect.  Since it was for my woman-cave, it didn't work out so well.

I quickly went through all of the old comforters I had stored away and discovered a white down puffy comforter.  It's not perfect, but it works for now.  And it's soft and cushy to sit on when I want to sneak away and read a book.

I tried really hard not to get too frustrated or panicked with each set back, but the closer to "Reveal Day" I got, the more stressed out I became.  In a house full of half-finished projects, all I wanted was to be able to finally say one room was finished.  For it to be my room was just icing on the cake.

While I don't have the room completely finished at this time, it's close enough that I've decided to show the bits and pieces.  So, without further ado, here are the before, during, and after photos of my newly renovated guest room/office.

The final dollar amount I spent on furnishing the room?
Desk:  $200

Wrought iron daybed:  $85
Bookcase:  $5
Bedside table:  $5
Lamps:  $40
Amount spent on paint and other things:
Ceiling paint: $75
Wall paint: $58
Spray paint (for the bed and bookcase): $32
Acrylic paint for bathroom mirror:  $3.50
Kleenex tissue holder:  $10
Bathroom jewelry tray: $12
Toothbrush holder: $5

Now it's time to decide whether to start on the guest bathroom, since I painted the concreted mosaic mirror frame, or finish the other half of the kitchen.  hmmmm......  Which would you do?

By Christie Bielss

The dark and ugly ceiling color.  This photo makes it look much
brighter than it was.

The ceiling after we scraped the popcorn texture off.
Not sure why it became this golden color, but that was the
true color after scraping.

The ceiling after 2 coats of paint and
the lovely poopy-diaper colored walls.
3 coats of paint later, the ceiling is done.

Priming the walls and you can see a small portion of the junk in this room

My BEAUTIFUL desk!  I LOVE it!

It has a hand-tooled leather top

Yes, I really can be organized and I do like my label maker!

Bought this bed and painted it a metallic brown

Bookcase my wonderful husband painted
Ok, now I know this bathroom mirror isn't in the room, but
it is the guest room bath and I couldn't take the mosaic tile color any more.

With a tube of silver acrylic paint I covered that ugly mosaic.