Friday, August 26, 2011


Wow, I really don't tend to take these hurricane predictions seriously until it's most certain something is going to happen. We went to the grocery store on Wednesday and I went to find some bread and I thought it was the oddest thing that almost every bread of every kind was gone. Don't they stagger these bread delivery trucks. And then it hit me, "oh yeah, crazy hurricane people getting their bread and milk."

Looks like it's not going to hit us direct so I figured we'd just get some rain. My mom removed all the patio furniture at her house yesterday. I thought, "what a waste of time." But I was just sitting here watching television and all hell broke loose outside. What the heck? I could hear the wind and rain and the birdhouse was knocking so loud against the house I thought it would dent it. I threw on some flip flops to try to at least take the hanging stuff down.

By the time I got out there the rain band had past. I put all the hanging stuff on the patio floor anyway along with all the pots. People must be driving by thinking I'm the biggest moron, I had the US flag still out!

Now the question is how far to go, do I leave the furniture on the porches? What the heck can I do about the standard rose (rose tree). I can't really do anything about it, it's already leaning over from all the rain. I'm sad that I might lose that tree. If we had more regular storms it would just be known, hey you can't have a rose tree here, crazy person. We haven't had a real storm since a few months before we were married, that was in 2005. I remember crying while watching a wall of rain pour down the wall in the downstairs bathroom. It looked like a water feature just pouring flat down the wall about 8 feet wide for the whole freaking day.

I guess our trip to Ikea is cancelled. Bummer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Full Sized

I've been known to DIY my own headboard and let me be the first to tell you, it's difficult, time sucking, and more expensive than you think it would be.  This bed started out as a $10 bed I found at a thrift store.  I removed everything down to the wood, which gave me blisters, and then realized it was old school 70s and too short for todays thick mattresses.  In came the handy man who added height and legs.  I ordered foam over the internet and it was exorbitant in price!  I took over a week to get here and then I had to let it "rest" for 48 hours to expand to it's full sized.  I had to cut it to match my frame with the wrong tools, I wasn't buying anything else darnit, I had to get batting, more money, and fabric, more money, and an electric stapler, more money.  I took a 100 years to put it together and I didn't pull the fabric tight enough, which is unfortunate with 1000 staples, I'm not pulling all those out, and I realized it would look better with buttons but I didn't save enough fabic to make buttons, once again I didn't save any remnants, sure to be my downfall.  Save your tile, save your fabric, save your eggs.

Still, I can't remember what it cost me, $150 or so, cheaper than you can find anywhere else, and I'm ALWAYS on a budget so a girl does what she has to do.  All in all, I really like it, I was so tired of the iron headboard.

Before this whole switching houses business one of my main goals this fall, around my 40th birthday, was to exchange the french daybed that I bought in my mid 20s for my future toddler, to a full size, ready for guests and putting the past behind me bed.  I've been keeping my eyes open, believe it or not, looking for an iron headboard or one of those swirly wood headboards I could paint an interesting color.  I was messing around on the internet and found this bed on Pottery Barn Teen.

The full size is on sale for $250 and I have a 10% off coupon.  I just don't think anything like this is going to come around this cheap.  The office chair we use in the same room is chocolate brown and I could keep my lilac and white striped curtains (I love brown and lilac together).

I'm going to think hard on this one. I don't want to pass up the right bed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blue House Budget

I put together the budget for the blue house the best I can with the information I have.

The weirdest part of the budget are where I have *. These are items not on the estimate given to me by the handy man. For light fixtures I just used the price for other light fixtures. To move electricity I really just pulled that number out of a hat keeping in mind how much I'm usually charged for things like this. I think he left off countertop installation and water line for refrigerator on accident. Countertops are related to the kitchen cabinet install and he'll already be doing a water line for the dishwasher. I could be wrong though.

I told Brian right off I thought I would need about $10,000 for renovations. He wanted it more like $7500. I cut some things we can do later like the front porch and a shed but I was still at my original budget. I also wanted to go with nicer cabinets but it's just not in the cards. This will be difficult to pull off as it is. We settled our debts with more money than we thought we would but wanted to pay down as much as possible to put us in the best shape. I've been trying to store extra money because I only have about $8000 left. The good news is a lot of this stuff has already been bought so I am probably right where I need to be for money. But things always change and budgets aren't rigid so it's good to have extra padding. Worst case we wait on buying a washer/dryer. That will be the last thing we buy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hurry Up, and Wait

Geez, talk about your hurry up and wait, the tenants will be moving on the 1st so we won't get in the house until the 2nd.  Originally the tenants said out the weekend of the 25th, funny because the 25th is on a Wednesday but now, moving on the 1st, that makes sense.  We're just kind of in a holding pattern here, ready to wield a sledgehammer.

I've been trying to settle on fabric for the living room curtains.  I think I've ordered like 20 samples and I don't like any of them.  I mean they are okay but not good enough to entice me to sew 4 panels.  That's a lot of sewing.  I just ordered something else today, hopefully *fingers crossed* this is the one.

I've also been thinking about a color palette for painting the blue house.  I'm unsettled and really want to see the rooms after the wall is down and the sliders are in.  The house, from what I recall, is painfully dark, and I really want to paint a room, preferably the dining room, a dark color, like navy blue, but I'm on the fence about it since the room is so dark.  I'm hoping with the wall coming down that will bring much needed natural light and I also lose a wall when the wall comes down, the other wall across is a big arch wall into the living room, one wall has double windows that take up most of the wall and the other wall leads into the hallway, so there's a lot of space that won't be painted so maybe I can get away with it, I don't know.  I like a moody dining room, the idea of painting it some light color, I can't picture it.  I also am not lost on the fact that I'll be painting a middle open area a dark color and that might not work either.  I might have to go dark in the living room and match the dining room and kitchen or go neutral in the dining room to ease the transition.  So much to think about without having anything to look at.

Friday, August 12, 2011

TCB - "Taking Care of Business"

Not everything is about pretty things and decorating when it comes to moving. 

We have 2 major issues to deal with when it comes to moving.  a) Bugs and b) Asshole cats and electrical cords

Bugs are just an issue here.  It's the south and the air is thick like cream.  You can talk to anyone rich or poor, city or county, clean or dirty and they all know about the giant cockroaches.  I myself, have a disorder, a phobia, and I don't even like to go outside at night in the summertime.  They are hanging out on the sidewalks and decks and anywhere else I might be walking or standing.  And I just can't deal.  It's just a fact.

I pretty much take care of the bugs DIY.  At the office we have an exterminator come out every 3 months.  They have a jumping spider problem at work and I really can't deal with flying bugs or jumping bugs.  But at home and even when we were at the big house I use this stuff my mom gets from her exterminator.  If you are under contract you can call them whenever you see a bug problem even if it's between the 3 months.  I guess she called so much he started giving her her own cans of what we call "the good stuff." 

I don't really go crazy with the stuff.  There's too many cats in a small amount of space so I stick with corners and thresholds and near the a/c vents, under cabinets, appliances, anywhere plumbing comes out, and big cracks.  I spray the front and back porch really well.  When we bought the yellow house it had a termite problem and the bug guys came out and went under the house and sprayed every part of under the house.  It took them all day and I had to be there.   The entire bathroom flooring was removed and you could see the ground.  Never saw a bug in the house.  Of course as time has past we've had some bugs but it doesn't feel like it was anything like the old house.  We had a spider problem two years ago and I read everything I could and everything said you had to spray directly on the spiders, residual spray doesn't work like it does on other bugs.  So I went around with a caulk gun and caulked any place that had a crack I could caulk.  And it really seemed to work. I also kept things active, I vacuumed regularly and dusted, moved things so spiders couldn't really settle in.

The blue house has had problems since the first tenants.  I remember while the yellow house was being sprayed underneath I walked in the blue house the first time since we bought they house and there were spiders everywhere.  I ended up having them go in to spray for spiders because I was too scared to go halfway into the living room.  And during renovations I didn't have any problems.  But the first tenants had problems and it looked like a real bug problem, not an occasional giant cockroach problem.  I had someone come out and use gel and other bullshit and the tenants never really brought it up again or asked for them to come back but if you asked them they'd be like, yeah they are still around.  But they didn't want the bug guy to come back.  And all the tenants have been like that.  No one wants an exterminator.  Crazy people.

The last tenants brought it up and we offered to have someone come out but she was worried about her baby.  They did want us to seal a hole behind the stove, which the handyman pretty much thought was a joke and not going to do anything, but we did it anyway.  So now that we are moving in there, the crazy bug house, I'm really worried. 

I spent about an hour yesterday researching options and ended up buying some kit for a DIY pest place.  The funny thing is last night while I was reading in bed on the ipad I looked over to see Zimmy and Fox staring intently at a spot near my shoulder.  I flipped out and was out of the bed in like 1/2 a second.  I found a spider in the bed and killed it and spent the next 3 hours with the lights on thinking for sure something was on me.  And of course, we had to shake out and inspect all the covers.  It was just great irony to be searching for a bug solution for next door and find something IN THE BED.  I haven't found a bug in my bed since the centipede of '93.  I don't think I ever recovered from that experience.

My plan is once the tenants are out, go batshit with "the good stuff" and when my other stuff comes in the mail hit it all again a week or so later.  I also wanted outdoor stuff to get between the house and the house on the other side really well.  I don't know how affective this will be but it's worth a shot.  I used to use granules outside at the old house all the time and I don't think it did anything.  I have this gel stuff the exterminator used and I also have this stuff that's supposed to make them infertile.  Oh the irony continues.

The cord issue drives me crazy.  Crazy crazy.  I bought some bitter apple spray and hit every cord in the house I could find.  I put some cords in covers but the ones I bought from Lowes were really big and expensive so I used them behind the television and in our bedroom (the bedroom is a big problem).  I thought the apple spray was working.  I would spray it on a papertowel and then wipe the cords with the wet towel.  The spray seeps into my skin and doesn't wash off and I taste bitter apple for a few hours on my skin even after washing my hands really really good.  A couple weeks ago I hit the cord to a radio outside.  And then about a week ago I noticed someone was chewing the cord.  It's one of the tiny cords, the cats favorite.  I rubbed my hand on the cord to feel for cat bites and then noticed I had the bitter apple on my hands.  So I know it's still on the cord but whoever it was didn't care about the spray the cord was far too important. 

Then the other night the ipad was low on battery and the only place in the bedroom to plug in is the other side of the room but I have a long cord so I plugged it in.  I noticed Andy down there and called for him to leave the cord alone and he walked away.  About 10 minutes later I felt a tug on the cord and Andy was down there secretly chewing the cord, he was almost through the damn $30 cord (I know how much they are because I've replaced them 3 times!).  I yelled at him and unplugged the ipad.  We have a charging station on the bookcase where the cord is protected so I just put it back there.  I was so mad!

A couple days ago someone had a post about cats and cords and linked to a place where you can get flex tubing all sizes and colors and I bought a lot of it, 30 feet I think in white in a small size.  I also ordered some white electric tape.  I'm going to try taping cords to the wall and baseboards and see if that works.  From the earthquake putty that stops the cats from knocking down nick nacks and lamps to the electrical tape, nothing is going to move in the house, it's going to be like living on a sailboat.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wish List: Kitchen Island

One of the things I'm in search of for the new house is a kitchen island or something that can be transformed into a kitchen island.  I haven't had much luck.  I don't think a readily available wood island cart would work because the cabinet style would be different and I think stand out too much.  I was thinking of a butcher block island but they are very expensive.  I was looking at some stainless steel islands, which I like but I don't think they are pretty enough in a room that will been seen from the front door to the back door.

Then I came across this from Crate and Barrel:

It's bigger than I was originally looking for, almost 5 feet long, but hey I'm going to need the prep space.  But with a price tag topping $1400 with shipping and tax, I don't think I'm going to be able to buy it.  I've been looking for a cheaper version and haven't come up with anything.  Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Meet the Cats Series - Aidan

I thought I'd start a series of introductions to the cats.  Aidan is the oldest so I'll start with him.

A long long time ago I lived in my mom's garage apartment and had a Himalayan cat named Ally.  Ally was not what you'd call an affectionate cat and I really wanted a lap cat so I went to the pound to find a kitten.

The crates were all lined up on one wall, I think there was 16 of them and in one of the center crates was this little gray kitten all by himself howling to the top of his lungs.  I took him out and cuddled him and he stopped howling.  When I put him back in the crate he started howling again.  I figured no one was going to pick him because he was so loud so I choose him.

I don't have many kitten photos because these were the days before digital cameras.  But you could tell right away he loved the outdoors.

And he loved to terrorize other cats:

Aidan's first nick name was Boogie.  I have no idea why but the term "Boogie in a Box" is very popular around these parts as well as "Boogie in a Basket."

Actually, finding Aidan sleeping anywhere is a treat.  He'll sleep almost anywhere:

He spends most of his time outside on the screened porch, looking like this:

Sometimes, on hot days like this:

And in the winter, like this:

He also likes high places:

Nope, Higher than that:

Nicknames: Boogie, Boogie Shorts, Boogie Monster, Monster Brains, Boo Bear, Mr Pants

Claim to Fame:

Now he is the oldest cat however he holds the record for breaking the most items in the house.  One infamous night he pulled the vanity mirror out of the holder and it fell on the floor waking us from sleep, certain from a nuclear bomb.   The mirror was broken and I was reduced into tears, my favorite piece of furniture ruined.  Brian had the mirror replaced, which I didn't even realize was an option.  Needless to say it's more secure on the wall now.

And of course the mysterious howl.  It comes out of nowhere some nights like he's lost us.  We wave at him and flick the lights on and off and then he realizes, oh right, you guys are sleeping now and comes to cuddle and sleep.

My Favorite Photograph:

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Outdoor Light Fixtures

I was really starting to feel like I was not going to find any outdoor light fixtures that I really liked.  I even saved a search on ebay for the Restoration Hardware "Hopper" light fixture currently on the yellow house's front door.

I really love the website for period fixtures but unfortunately my budget does not have room for super expensive fixtures no matter how pretty and perfect.

After searching around in the wrong area I found the fixtures on the left.  This is the description for the wall fixture:

A fine Cottage-style porch light, evoking images of Hansel and Gretel's discovery of the little gingerbread house in the woods.

Luckily, you don't have to live behind sugar pane windows or under a cake-tiled roof to use it.

Completely perfect, right?  But at $335 for the wall fixture and $330 for the even cuter ceiling fixture there was no way.  No way.  Hands off the keyboard, no way.

So my quest continued.

Then finally on Bellacor I found the "whimsical" section and there were the light fixtures on the right for $68 for the wall and $73 for the ceiling fixture.  And they came in black.  Super bonus.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hey, My First Mood Board

We went to Home Depot to look at their stock cabinets, which I like tons better than the stock cabinets at Lowes.  I also saw the Martha Stewart cabinets and promptly fell in love.

I went home and did a better mock up with my educated measurement guesses (based on photographs and using my own kitchen as reference, hey you do what you can do) and we went back to Home Depot to get some idea of pricing.  It was about $1000 more.  Then I realized the sale that included $400 of that was over that day, no way we could order cabinets so it's about $1400 more.

Here's my little mock up I've been trying to do for 2 days now.  I hope I get better at these.

My dream plan is to use the white for the upper cabinets and the gray for the lower cabinets.  The Folk Art wall color is the same I have now, I really love it, and the aqua knobs are the ones I have now.  The rug is a very special rug from Anthropologie that I'd love to find something similar for in front of the sliders.  I'd hate to fork out $300 and bitch at every person who tries to wipe their feet, "GET OFF THE RUG!!!!"  Just not practical, but oh so cute.

This leaves open a gap for what to do about countertops.  I don't think black countertops would be the way to go in this direction.  I think, of course, marble would be awesome, we estimated about $1400 for marble not including installation, but something in that family, whitish, grayish.  The counters I have now in the blue house would really work but I didn't see that sample when I was in Lowes or in Home Depot.  I'll have to look closer, I guess.  I can also ask the handyman if I can use the same countertops.  The sink is the problem, if it's bigger or shaped differently so it won't match the current sink hole. 

The thing about formica countertops is my handyman can install them very reasonably and they are already affordable and I don't have to bring in another person.  The issue with these cabinets is they are great, I love the extra detailing that make them special, I love being able to order them in gray.  But every single place I've read about these cabinets they come in damaged and have to be replaced, sometimes over and over, and the damage is coming from the warehouse, the boxes are okay, it's just bad quality inspection and really slows down a kitchen remodel, having to wait 3-4 weeks for each order.  I need to just get the kitchen done, we can order cabinets in advance but if they are damaged it severely messes us up and it looks like from what I've read, they are almost guaranteed to have damage.  This is very disappointing.  Very, very disappointing.

Just to compare I tried finding similar issues with Lowes cabinets and it's nothing like what I could find for these cabinets.  I think we are going back to Lowes to get a quote for the Kraftmaid Shaker style and just see.  Otherwise, I don't know, I think I'm going with stock cabinets.  I can't risk it.  We'll see.  There's a money factor too.  But they are so cute.