Friday, February 13, 2015

A Room for the Family - a.k.a. The Family Room :)

I admit it, I'm not doing well at consistent blogging.  My plan is to post my way through our house renovations.  I want to do that.  Life is just....well, life!  Keeping up with the demands of four children, a husband's schedule which never sees a "normal" week, and everything else, makes it difficult to scratch out extra time.  At least for this moment.

I have been experiencing shoulder pain since the fall.  I was referred to a physical therapist and have been undergoing treatment for an injury to my rotator cuff...due to all the painting we did over the summer/fall months.  So, that has added one more thing to my weekly plate, along with weekend sporting events for two of the children.

This blog is my "hobby," of sorts, and I'll try to navigate better what role it can play during my week.

Without bogging you down with too much detail, I want to show you the before & after shots of our family room.

I didn't take as many before shots, as I now wish I had.  The room was very dark with paneling, a dark stained built-in book case, and old turquoise carpeting.  We saw so much potential though, in this 17x18 space.

The previous owner used the built-in as a desk space.  I saw the potential to make it into an area for our TV, as well as books, video storage, etc.

This room was my project.  Dave was busy working on the kitchen, and tackling more structural projects, so I took on this room.

The paneling had to be prepped before painting.  At Sherwin Williams they recommended a product called Krud Kutter.  It's a liquid that you wipe down the walls.  It cleans the surface and removes the shine to prep it for paint.  This was much easier than sanding the surface of the paneling.  It saved me from cleaning up a dusty mess.  It took me about a day to de-gloss the paneling & 
the built-ins. Once that was done I was able to prime the whole thing.  I must mention that I had help from friends with this stage, and it saved my sanity.  With the built-in and the beams, there was so much detail to cut around.

The finished product - you'll notice that where the TV sits, the wood had a scalloped edge around it that just dated the appearance of the shelves.  Dave cut those scallops off, and rounded it to look like the other shelves.  I am so happy with the results.  The paint color is Sherwin Williams - Lazy Gray.

On the built-in I used an interior oil based white paint.  It was more time-consuming, as each coat takes 24 hours to dry.  But, the result is a more durable finish that will be less likely to scratch.  I still have handles to put on the cabinet doors.  However, as I mentioned before, there are still projects that need some finishing touches.

We (I say "we," but I mean Dave and other guys), ripped out the old carpeting, and had new carpeting installed.  You'll also notice that I left the beams in their original state, and I think the results nicely compliment the lighter colors that this room now holds.

The handles I chose for the drawers - I ordered these in a ten pack from  I had priced other options for buying handles individually, but I could not compete with the price at Overstock.  I'm so happy with the quality of them, and other than some issues with the screws being a tad long, Dave said they were not difficult to install.

So, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed the step by step.  :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

So, About That Wallpaper

I decided to start sharing with you the upgrades we made to the house, by showing you the Master Bedroom first....why?  I don't really know.  No particular reason.  Maybe, because for a few moments this morning there wasn't laundry piled on the bed being sorted, folded, and left until each child picks up their pile after school.  I was able to take a few pictures of the room, without much fuss. Maybe, because I need to start somewhere, and it was as good a place as any to start.  

The first few shots are the before pictures.  This is what it looked like when we went through the home.  The potential was great....the wallpaper was not.  

The carpeting in the room was a beige berber.  It wasn't in terrible condition, but in need of a deep cleaning.  The original plan was to have the rug cleaned, strip the wallpaper, paint, and be done.

See the walk-in closet and master bath?  We've never had a walk-in closet (well, that's not true, our first apartment was only 350 square feet, but it did have a walk-in closet which doubled as a pantry, clothes storage, kitchen storage, book storage, etc., etc.), and we've definitely never had our own master bath.

Oh, but the wallpaper was ugly....

Here is where the plans changed for the room...
Dave did a test on the paper to see how easily it might peel off.  When he did, we realized that the paper came off, but so did the wall behind it.  We had a crumbling mess.  Upon further inspection from Dave, and my brother, we realized that we had a carpenter ant infestation in part of our wall.  Hence the hole in the wall, you are now seeing in this picture.  We hired an exterminator to take care of the ants, but we were left with a hole, damage to repair, and dead ants all over the place.

When the kids offer to help, we give them jobs like - vacuum up the dead ants all over the floor.  Alayna did a great job....but I'm not sure she volunteered for any more jobs after that.  :)

This is where I don't have any pictures....we were so busy "being in the moment" of house renovations, that I didn't pause much to take pictures of the process.

A good friend of mine volunteered a day of her time to help me strip the wallpaper.  She had done this several times, and to this point, I had only ever removed wallpaper one other time.

We used a solution of white vinegar and warm water, and a scoring tool, like this one.

We scored sections of the wall, then used large sponges soaked in the water/vinegar solution, and ran it over the area we had scored.  Then, using a putty knife we scraped the area we had soaked down.  The wallpaper didn't always rip in large sections, so it was a lot of scoring, soaking, scraping, repeat... I need to mention that keeping the vinegar water hot/warm was key.  As soon as it turned luke warm to cold, we did not have success.  We just kept changing out our water solution, and it worked great!
When we finally removed the last piece of wallpaper, we used TSP Cleaner (mixed with water, using the directions on the box), and with a clean sponge, wiped the entire wall surface down.  This removed any remaining glue residue.

Because of the damage from the ants, and other factors, 
we chose to rip the old berber carpet out, and replace it.  We're so happy that we did.

Dave repaired the hole in the wall, and I went to work painting the room. We were so thankful to have friends & family volunteer time and help us with some of our projects.  From painting trim & doors, to ripping out carpeting, we couldn't have accomplished what we did in three weeks time, without the help we received from others.

I wanted all the doors and trim painted white, then we did the walls in
Sherwin Williams - Universal Khaki, satin finish.

The wall, now paper free!  Oh, and the hole in the wall is gone, too. :)

A side note about our furniture....we bought most of our bedroom furniture almost 14 years ago at a great store in Albany, NY called Huck Finns Warehouse.  We bought it unfinished, and Dave finished it.  Almost fourteen years later, it's still in great shape, but I'm tired of the stained wood and I have plans to re-purpose, when I do, I'll share that with you.

My little splurge...I wanted a "statement" chair, and found this on
I love it!

I had a model for this picture...she wanted to be on my bed, and I wanted to let her.  :)

The new makes me very happy.

We still have plans to renovate our master bath, and when we do, I'll post the process.

I hope you enjoyed the tour, and the tutorial on what we did in this room.  We're happy with it, and I look forward to sharing more rooms with you.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Back At It....With New Inspiration

I realize I have taken quite the hiatus from this blog.  For good reason, and lack of inspiration, I decided to sign off for a while.  We were neck deep into a very busy season in our lives.  We were selling our former home, house hunting, and ultimately purchasing a new home during the spring/summer months.  

We had known for some time that the sale of our home would happen, we just didn't know the exact time frame.  From the time we purchased our last home, we knew there was a possibility that we wouldn't live there long.  A local company was interested in purchasing our entire block from the start, and it all went through in June this past year.  

I loved our former house.  My dad had completely renovated it into a beautiful little three bedroom home, which we were able to purchase from him when he completed it.  But, the looming thought of "will this be the year XYZ company wants to purchase from us," left us in a spot that we didn't want to make any changes to that home.  We wanted to finish a patio in the back, and landscape our back yard, but why bother when we might sell any time.  

We have no regrets in the former home, and we loved the memories we created there, as a family. But, this past spring the ball was rolling to sell, pack, & move.  We spent several weeks with our Realtor going through home after home.  We scoured Zillow for homes that might interest us...went to Open Houses....drove through neighborhoods, and on and on.  It was a fun, and exhausting, process.  We were seriously considering making an offer on another home when our Realtor called and said she had one that just came on the market, it would sell fast, and she thought it was exactly what we were looking for.  We called my dad and asked him to join us at this home.  With his vast knowledge of homes, carpentry, etc., we wanted him involved when we made a final decision.  As soon as we saw the inside we were excited.  We knew the potential was endless, but many updates were needed.  It had great "bones," but needed to be brought into the 21st century.  

So, in sharing all of that, I've decided that I want to use this blog to take you through the "before" and "after's" of our home renovation.  We have a ways to go, so there will be plenty of things to keep me "inspired" for a while.  We spent most of June, and early July, renovating as much as we could before we moved in.  I painted by day and packed boxes by night.  Dave took two weeks off and worked from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, on the new house, for those two weeks. 

Dave & I love tackling DIY projects....most of the time.  We have many man hours in this home, and we're still enjoying the process.  There are many "almost" done projects, and many "yet to start" projects.  Stick with me, and I'll share what we've done, how we went about it, and what we're going to do next.  

Our "new" home

Friday, May 23, 2014

Celebrating During Busy Times

I mentioned in my last post that we're really busy right now.  Well, nothing's changed, and we'll be busy for at least the next two months, if not longer.  Right now it's all the little detail stuff that has to take place when you're getting ready to sell a home and purchase another one.  Run to this place and drop off that paperwork, sign this and send it here, read through this e-mailed document and reply with a yes or no, go to the bank and make sure they print, stamp & sign what you need, now take it to XYZ place.  Oh, and in the middle of it all have a giant yard sale and try to reduce your belongings as much as possible.  Well, you get the idea.  Things are busy, and that's life.  Not complaining - in fact, we're excited!  

This morning we paused for an hour and celebrated this special guys pre-school graduation.  Joel turns 6 in less than two weeks, and Sadie turns 1 in less than a month.  During the busyness we hope to pause a few times and celebrate these special occasions.  Joel will begin Kindergarten in the fall, and this one extra year at home was exactly what he needed.  He's ready.  He's excited.  And he's bored with me.  :)

I haven't updated in some time regarding my weight loss, so I thought I'd take a minute to share and celebrate. For the past month or so I had plateaued at a 20lb. weight loss.  Not too shabby, but the scale just wasn't budging past that mark.  We had been so busy that my eating habits slipped a bit.  I was still careful at home, but not as careful when we went out.  But, I am happy to report that as of yesterday I am down 25lbs!  I have tried to re-focus my priority to eat a low-carb, low-sugar diet (more whole foods, less pasta, bread and desserts).  I have also added a natural supplement to help reduce cravings and increase energy.  It is helping, and I feel like I'm back on the right track.  I need to celebrate that, because I get easily discouraged on this path.  

So, life is busy, but what else is new?  Whether we were moving, or not, life would just be busy no matter what!  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Catching Up

I realize I've been very lax in my blogging lately, but for good reason.  We are insanely busy.  We're in the process of selling our home, buying a new one, and closing on both at just the right time.  It's been a whirlwind of excitement, exhaustion, and extreme energy (like how I used only "e" words...clever, huh?). We are under contract for the new home, but it will need some updates in the kitchen, flooring updates in several rooms, and lots of painting, once we take ownership of it.  We're excited...but have I mentioned that we're exhausted?

This weekend we are having a huge yard sale, along with several neighbor's, as I've been organizing a neighborhood block sale.  This task alone has me very busy.  It's a nice feeling to part with unnecessary items that find their way into your home, and suddenly begin occupying space in your attic.  The kids are anxiously planning a lemonade/doughnut stand.  I'm not sure how much profit will be made, but I have a feeling each child will be going to bed Saturday night with a belly ache.

I have some things on my mind that I hope to blog more about soon, but for tonight I just wanted to play catch up a bit - let you know I haven't forgotten about this blogging thing.  Some things have had to be set aside for the time being (like cooking dinner) while we focus on other things.  Life will eventually settle down again, and things like blogging and social media will resume their place of the meantime, if I forget to wish someone a Happy Birthday, or "like" someone's status, I'm sorry  :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mom's Sewing Trunk

Today is day one of my clean out the attic project.  When we moved in to our house four years ago we put everything we didn't know what to do with, in the attic.  Guess what?  We still don't know what to do with it, and it's still in the attic.  It's an attic that keeps me awake at night.  The space up there is big, and it's easy to get to....but that also makes it easy to put more "stuff" up there that we don't know what to do with. Anyway, you get the idea.  Big attic.  Too much stuff.  Cleaning it out.

Shortly after we moved into this house I acquired many things that belonged to my mom, that I just didn't know what to do with.  Or, I just wasn't able to part with it yet.  My mom's sewing trunk was one of those items.  It sat in my parent's bedroom for as long as I can remember.  It contained mom's sewing boxes, material, patterns, and any item we needed mended.  Well, here's the mom stopped sewing sometime in the mid-80' the occasional button, hem, or zipper repair.  As I began cleaning out the trunk it became very clear that my mom also had not cleaned out this trunk since the mid-80's....perhaps even the 70's.  It made me laugh to go through this stuff.  As a kid/teen I used to joke that if we put anything in the trunk that needed repaired, we might as well kiss it good-bye forever, since she wasn't quick to get things fixed.  I inherited that trait.  My poor kids.

Here is a sample of some of the material I came across while cleaning out the trunk.  The gold, rust and green upholstery is perty, huh?  It was from an old rocking chair that I have since recovered, to bring it up to date.  A box of sewing patterns from the 70's and 80's.  Mom's sewing boxes.  A jar of buttons, and a "congratulations on the birth of your new son" card that was lying at the bottom of the trunk.  The envelope says, "To Little Dougie."  I'll have to pass that on to "Little Dougie," who's now a 33 year old man.  Oh mom....I spent more time chuckling as I went through this trunk today, rather than having any heartache. Yes, I miss her, but going through the things she saved, made me laugh.  I wonder if she even realized how many brand new zippers, and packages of elastic, were in this trunk?

I've decided to make this trunk a "keepsake" trunk.  I will keep her sewing boxes in here, along with some of the material that's still usable.  But, I have added in the baby clothes of mine that she hung on to, as well as the baby clothes of my kids, that I am hanging on to.  Someday my kids might go through it and laugh at the things I thought to save....or the things that I forgot I even had.  

Thanks for the laugh today, Mom!  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wheat Update

I have a few ideas/thoughts I am considering talking about at some point this week, but I'm reminding myself to live by the mantra of "think before you speak," so those thoughts might end up being non-post worthy after all.  We'll see....  I've peaked your interest, haven't I?  :)

But, first I decided that it was time for another reduced-wheat update.  I was asked by several people over the weekend if we are still eating wheat free.  Yes, and no.  As I stated before, we've not completely eliminated all wheat from our diet.  Doing so would cause great distress on our bodies if, & when, we decided to reintroduce it.  And by "distress" I'm pretty sure I don't need to expand on what the means.  But, the answer is mostly, yes.  We are still working hard at keeping wheat (heavy carbs) out of our diet.  I, for one, feel so much better, and I notice an increase in energy in our kids.  You don't even realize that you're bloated, until you are no longer bloated.  Make sense?  On the occasion that I do have a heavy wheat-filled meal, I usually end up feeling lousy and very uncomfortable (details spared).  Yesterday was a full-on, eat very unhealthy, day (calories don't count on Birthday's)...but, the difference is that I don't want to eat that way all the time.  I want to make good choices the majority of the time, so I don't have to feel terrible when I indulge on the rare occasion.

We are a little over six weeks into our healthy eating lifestyle, and I am 14.5 lbs. lighter.  I know it's making a difference.  I do weigh myself daily as I want to know what foods affect me the most, and keep an eye on those weeks where I have plateaued.  My clothes fit better, and I'm back in jeans that I couldn't wear post-Sadie.  I have a ways to go, but this is the right direction.  I've started tracking my food on My Fitness Pal, as a way to watch calories, carbs, sugar, sodium, etc.  On the days that the weather is above 40 I head out for a long walk with the kiddos.  I'd walk alone in temps below 40, but, well....I'm NEVER alone.  :)

Here is a picture from Valentine's day, and a picture from last week.  I can see a small difference already, and that makes me happy.