Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WARNING: DIY Projects or Stupidity MAY Cause Blindness

Hello, my friends.

No, I haven't fallen off the planet.

I've just been so freakin' busy doing all kinds of nothing it seems!

School started this week. Boy WHAT a change this year from last year. Do you remember? I was a mess. An absolute mess trying to decide whether or not to send our oldest or homeschool.

I still have those moments of pause, but I discovered that if you endear yourself to the teacher, offer to help in the classroom and really make it a point to keep communication open, you don't have to worry as much.

I mean.......I still TOTALLY DO worry about him. All day. All the time.

And now I have TWO to worry about since our 5 year old started kindergarten.

But it's in God's hands, right?

Anywho...on to today's post.

This mammoth credenza I scored for FREE on Craigslist.

These pictures really don't do justice to how large this thing really is.

So, I took a pic with my hand on one of the handles so you can get an idea of scale.

Is this a credenza or is Sir Lancelot behind that door?

This handle could easily double as a weapon in a pinch.  Or a dumbell.

Here are a few other shots of the whole thing:

Nice upclose shot of the wood grain on top...and my tootsies. Sorry bout that.
It really wasn't in that bad of shape. It was just ugly. To me.

Plus I saw this amazing buffet redo on Recaptured Charm and I was dying to give it a try. Why not try on this? It was FREE after all...

I read and re-read Lisa's post at Recaptured Charm. I gathered my supplies and was ready to dig in.

The down side was that I forgot to get primer at Lowe's, so I decided I would just paint the white base over and over until it covered. What would that be...maybe 3-4 coats?

Um, try about 10 coats. No exaggeration. I actually lost count, there were so many.

It was about the 8th coat that I remembered we had all that leftover paint in the garage (from previous owners and previous projects). I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I spied a small can of primer in the back.

I disregarded the rusted, mildewy looking lid (which was domed, I might add) and the fact that it sounded like there was water inside.

Instead, I shook that b---h like there was no tomorrow since it sounded like it had separated. I didn't have a stir-er handy so I figured I was saving myself a step.

I grabbed the paint opener and BARELY had it under the lip of the lid when there was a LOUD POP and that friggin lid BLASTED off and nearly took my head off. Old, nasty, separated primer flew up into my eye.

I was stunned and just stood there for a minute. Then I raced upstairs, waiting for the burning, pain and blindness to set in, and ripped my contact out of my eye, shaking like a madwoman.

Then I decided it was time for a break.

Here's how far I got before chickening out for a day or two:

And the rest is yet to come...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Strike-Vacation- and a Dog

I sit here in a much better frame of mind since my last post.

I have promised myself that even though things are looking up I won't forget the important lessons we learned because of the situation we were in a couple of weeks ago.

My husband was on strike.

It sucked.

We were without a paycheck for 15 days.

It might as well have been 15 years for how it felt.

Especially since we had absolutely no idea how long the strike would take.

Even though I was ready to jump off a cliff, I did meet some amazing and terrific people. We banded together and worked things out to help one another.

It was a wonderful feeling and one I hope I don't lose as we get back to business as usual.

Anywho...we decided to take a little minivacay to see my family who live by a large body of water. Our kids had never been to the beach before, so it was awesome to see their little faces as they splashed around in the water.

It was also so nice to reconnect with family and friends I haven't really talked with in years.

It was a balm to our wounded souls.

And now we're back to reality and back to work.

This could happen all over again in a month, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Oh yeah...and we got a dog.

Because I don't have nearly enough poop around the house to clean up.

He's a stray and he's wooooonderful!

His name is Dexter...after my fave television serial killer.

And that about sums up our week.

 Strike-vacation-and a dog.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Things You Learn in a Crisis

Oh how I would love to be posting about the dresser and credenza projects I've been working on. But there are other things going on that are sapping me of my desire to DIY right now. I don't want to get into details, but we are, once again, at a crossroads of uncertainty about our future.

It's so easy to be in my own little world with my carefully thought out  beliefs and ideals. I'm safe inside my suburban picket fence, looking out at everyone else from relative safety and comfort.

This past week, mine and Joe's beliefs on a few levels have been challenged and outright changed. Those people we thought we were--the people we thought were represented by checking off a box at election time--has taken an amazing about face.

The world is not black and white. There are so many gray areas. I hate the concepts of group think and assumptions, and I am learning first-hand how ignorant it can be to follow along with a set way of thinking without really digging deep to understand what it is that you believe...and why.

There is no teacher like Experience. Experience yields wisdom. I wish we could have received the Cliff's Notes version of this particular wisdom, but God seems to like to use (or needs to use) the direct approach with me as far as learning a lesson. I am not always someone who can learn from someone elses mistakes, so I often find myself in the front seat of an amazing and scary and life changing situation. Like now.

I'm sorry if you came here to read some light-hearted humor about our crazy life. How I wish I was in the frame of mind to offer that. This is one of those times when my reality can't be softened with some witty banter and funny analogies. This is the cold hard world landing on my front doorstep.

I'm embarrassed that I have for so long held to ideals and beliefs without really understanding the stance I was taking. I was the product of group think and maybe wanting to fit into a group that seemed like they had it all together. It seems a consistent theme, though, that I have to re-examine what it is I stand for and how I intend to represent myself and others. It's amazing...Christ never changes. He is who He is, yet, my perception of Him is changing all the time. Just when I think I've got Him...figured out, something happens and I realize I had it all wrong.

Those who I thought were in our circle are now (seemingly) the ones to bury their heads and hope it all just goes away. Those who we would never have thought we'd stand shoulder to shoulder with (simply because we had different viewpoints or just didn't move in the same circles) are now our closest allies.

So, I am challenging myself to think about...really think about..what it is I stand for. And then back it up with my actions.

So that's where we seems you never stop learning life lessons. And this one is a doozey.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Charge{er} It!

I am totally hooked on this new crafty/DIY thing.

After linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's Before & After Party (and having almost 300 people --in ONE DAY!!--visit my blog and read about my kitchen makeover!) I have found a new love.

I have always loved my home and try to make it as attractive and homey as possible. But I didn't really think I had a "knack" for it. Now I'm realizing that if I like the way it looks and my family feels homey and happy in it...that's all that matters.

Yesterday was like Christmas in August at our house. Whenever I watch shows like Cash in the Attic or any other makeover show on HGTV, the designers come in and "find" a bunch of stuff in the homeowners' home and they repurpose it for other projects. I always think to myself, "That's a load of crap. That was either planted or the designers knew it was there before-hand. That kind of thing never really happens..."

Well...I stand humbly corrected. It happened at our house yesterday.

I was given a small dresser by a neighbor recently. It's hideous in all it's 60's splendor. It's been used for the past 40-something years and has all the cobwebs, scratches and dings to prove it.

I loved how it looked though. Despite the weird pulls. The "handle" was along the bottom of all of the drawers and it went the entire length of each drawer too. Weird.

I knew I wanted to paint it, hack off those old handles and put on new hardware, but I really didn't want to spend much money on doing it.

My husband and I were hanging out in the garage when we re-discovered all the gallons of paint the previous owners left behind. About 15 gallons.

All different colors.

One of the gallons had never been opened and never was black.


That is exactly the color I wanted to paint the dresser.

Not only that...we found the paint to our front door (which we've decided needs a new paint job after 6 years) and to the living room (which is a faux finish that we will never be able to duplicate). It was amazing.

That dresser project is yet to come. Hopefully tomorrow when the last coat of poly dries.

Today though...I present you with a new project I am working on...

I have 12 gold plate chargers. I bought them for a Christmas themed dinner at my church. I was responsible for decorating one of the tables. The dinner lasted 2 hours, but I have these chargers for a lifetime. I really don't want to get rid of them or throw them away...they're kind of pretty.

But I have NO IDEA what to do with them.

Before you suggest the obvious...we don't use fancy plates here at our house. Considering at least 2 kids end up winging or "accidentally" knocking it off the table at every using them for their intended purpose is not happening.

Here's a pic of one.

 Remember I have 12 of these...they're slightly bigger than a dinner plate. I don't have to use all 12 of them, but it would be nice to use as many as possible.

I'm willing to paint them or Modge Podge them (whenever I figure out exactly what Modge Podge is, Ha!)

But cutting is out since I don't have those kinds of tools.

I am willing to glue them to some kind of board or somehow affix them to something to hang on the wall......just not sure how to go about all that.

I took some inspirational pics off Pinterest.

Here are a few:

You can find  this photo on Pinterest HERE

You can find this pic HERE on Pinterest

And this one is HERE on Pinterest.

 I'd really love any feedback/suggestions from those of you who know more about this type of stuff than  I do (so...about 99% of the population!)

But keep in mind that I am a little craft challenged. I can spray paint with the best of them, but as far as painting delicate or intricate designs...well, that's a little above my pay grade, if you know what I mean.

I welcome your input. Thank you!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Anatomy of a Date

Joe and I did the unthinkable Saturday night.

We went on a date.

Without kids.

We were almost as giddy as on our first date.

There was the usual deliberation of where to go (and what's still open since we haven't been on an honest to goodness, bona fide date since the Bush Administration.)

We settled on PF Chang.

We announced to our server that we were on our first date in forever without kids. Just to warn her.

Yes, we were that couple.

We ate our body weight in amazing food and I drank 4 glasses of wine. Ridiculous. (and no, I wasn't driving.)

Then, to commemmorate the event, we decided to snap a quick pic with Joe's iPhone.

Unfortunately, we got a wonderful shot of the hostess stand since we forgot to reverse the camera.

By the FIFTH shot, I think we got it.

For your viewing pleasure:

We both cracked up when the iPhone's interrogation SPOT LIGHT flash went off. 

Joe's "CHEESE"

All of Joe's chins showed up for this shot. And what's up with my flaming cheeks??

My cheeks are still flaming...but I think we got it.
Mission Accomplished: Date Successful!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Reveal...My Kitchen

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath...

Finally the kitchen is [mostly] done! (Save a few minor tweaks.)

Here's what we started with so many years ago (Sorry, we weren't in the mindset of "before" pics, so these are actually pics with family and friends in them. Just look at the background.)

Look at this sweet laminate, peel-n-stick "parquet" flooring.

I wishI could blame this horrid color choice on the previous owners, but...well...this was all us. And notice that portable dish washer (with the microwave on top) in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Maybe the color wouldn't have been SO bad...if it was an ACCENT

Believe it or not, we actually LIVED like this for over a year...hideous color and NO cabinet doors!

This monster fridge was in the garage of this house when we moved in...
Later we thought, "Hey...there could have been a body kept in this thing and here we're using it for food..."
It was GROSS! Rusty, it "bled" something gross and black from the bottom and made all kinds of weird groans and noises.

Here's the sliver of room we had to squeak through to get down to our finished basement.

How dirty and unattractive.

One can never have too much laminate sheeting counter top...and chipped at that. Nothing says home like fake butcher block.

I got a little demo happy one day and decided we'd remove the tile backsplash. I made it all the way through the plaster and lath.
No, I'm not proud of THAT or of this patch job done by yours truly.

Beauty shot...the underneath of our sink and the broken garbage disposal.

Then we got a hair up the bum and decided to rip off that nasty peel and stick and see what was underneath. Here's what happened with that:

Oh this is just awful. It's reminiscent of the floor tiles in the nurse's office at school. But look at the lovely pattern they came up with. And notice the water damage that had obviously seeped through layers of old flooring. Our portable dishwasher overflowed one night and flooded the kitchen. I'm sure that wasn't the FIRST time that had happened.

And then Joe set out to peel every single one of those suckers up. He worked for 3 days straight.

And this is what we were greeted with. Tar paper. The left over glue from 3 layers of linoleum, peel and stick & vinyl tiles.

As far as the eye could see......and why would they have taken up the first flooring when they could (and did) just  throw down the new stuff ON TOP OF the old???

So...that's what we lived with for so very long. We actually had a path of throw rugs on the floor to keep the kids from walking on that tar. I can't remember exactly how long it was like that, but I know FOR SURE it was too long!

We exhausted every avenue to remove the tar paper...we rented a commercial sander and tried every chemical known to man--both organic and poisonous. We interrogated every Home Depot & Lowes flooring employee and stalked many discussion boards online.

Nothing worked.

Finally, we decided to give locking laminate (non glue) flooring a try.

Joe camped out in the garage with a borrowed table saw and a hack saw, cutting the laminate pieces.

And swearing.

A lot.

I was convinced that he would come screaming into the house with a severed limb.

Thankfully, he didn't.

I found this really cool idea online on how to put a faux finish on your laminate countertop. It involved sanding, priming and painting your existing laminate. And then sponge painting the look of granite. Then, you pour a special food safe glaze over the top, allowing it to self level and using a blow torch to pop any bubbles.

Yeah, the blow torch was a little scary, but soooooo cool.

Here's how those two endeavors turned out...

We also painted the cabinets and drawers white.

It actually looked FABULOUS!

LOOK at that shine!

The floor looked fantastic too!

Er...if you didn't look too closely...our house is almost 70 years old and I guess they didn't believe in right angles back in the 1940s.
We lived with it for about 2 years. But the countertop didn't seal right and food started staining it. We just had to hold tight for a bit. After all...we could only afford so many makeovers.

I entered us into many, many HGTV makeover contests, but no luck.

I can't remember when we decided to give it another go. But we did.

Joe took up the laminate floor and we shook our heads AGAIN at the stubborn tar paper.

And then promptly covered it with MORE peel and stick tiles. Ones that looked more like ceramic flooring. It actually looked nice. And we knew it was only temporary until we could afford to lay real, ceramic tile.

And then...I came across an article in This Old House magazine. A lady re-did her kitchen floor and described how she'd used a wallpaper steamer to remove all the tar paper.


Then, in conversation with my Father-in-law, he told me that he used HOT water in a squirt bottle and a putty knife to remove wallpaper.

I chewed on that for a couple of days.

And day I was preparing the kids' lunch in the kitchen, and the corner of the tile I was walking on flipped up and caught my toe.

I saw stars and decided I'd had enough.

I lifted the tile and peered at that nasty tar paper below. Then I heated up 2 cups of water for 2 minutes, poured it into a plastic squirt bottle, and squirted it all over the tar paper.

And waited.

Tentatively, after about a minute, I started to scrape at it....AND IT STARTED TO COME OFF!

This is 6 tiles in. It got so exciting and addictive to watch that stuff scrape right off. Who woulda thunk it...WATER! After all the other stuff we'd tried.

When Joe saw, he got just as psyched as I was and we waged an all out war on that tar paper. For about a week straight, we took turns scraping.

Joe working away...feeling like Ground Hog's Day since he's spent a good bit of his life in this house on his knees in the kitchen.

We could see the fruits of our labor though, so it was so worth it.

And now....we are [almost] finished. and we love it!

And then I sanded the entire floor with a hand held sander.

Here's some before and after action (cuz I'm a sucker for those!)







 More gratuitous AFTER shots...

*sigh* LOVE!

I plan to frost the glass on those cabinets since we don't have "pretty" stuff in there. It will still make it feel more open than a regular cabinet door.

LOVE this rug (on sale at Target for $23) even though the one I found online was slightly different

This one I found online was also about $125 MORE expensive!
 Things we still have to do:

*Fix the quarter round that broke under the toe kick of the sink.
*Frost the glass on the smaller cabinets above the stove
*Add a valance over the window above the sink (I'm going to try my hand at making one using ironed seam tape)
*Buy a microwave cart (to put where the portable dishwasher used to be) to free up more counter space.
*Some kind of decorative moulding to dress up the ends of countertop.

Isn't this spot just calling out for a microwave cart?
Ohhhhh can't wait!

And that was done on a lark when we started hacking up the laminate flooring we'd originally put down. But I LOVE IT! I have SO MANY more plans for moulding in our house now. Much to Joe's chagrin. =)

Here is our ist of supplies/labor:

Counter top: Ikea. Amazingly, we spent less than $130 for two pieces (NOT EACH) that were fit together and the the seam was caulked. Love it! We paid a handyman to cut and install it. Waaaaay above our skill set. The same handyman also replaced those tiles I hastily ripped off the wall.
*My brother-in-law Rick made the cabinet doors and drawers. He was amazing...he came to our house (they live 2 hours away), took measuremements, had me email ideas of what I wanted, went home and created everything, and then drove back a few months later and installed them! $300!

*We bought a new fridge and stove in the meantime. The fridge was from Lowe's and the Stove was from Best Buy. Both were scratch and dent (hardly noticeable) and discounted!

*The light above the sink was bought at Lowe's and replaced by my honey.

*The wainscoting was also purchased and cut at Lowes and installed by Joe.

Just as we were standing back and oohing and awing at all of our work....we thought..."Hmmmm. Wonder what's under the tiles on the basement steps and landing????"

And guess what?

Well, that's to be continued...

I am linking up to Show Us Your Kitchen On Thrifty Decor Chick today!

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