Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And the Monkey Threw a Greasy Wrench…

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My Doctor told me to slack off the Home Improvement yesterday.  At least that’s what he said…

What I heard was that I have to wear these little pretties while working around the house.

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Stupid Monkey and his wrench.  Do you like the paint speckles I’ve contributed to the hideous bondage device?  I might paint them lavender and sprinkle glitter all over them. Maybe even add a lace trim.  Hummm… turn them into Fairy Godmother secret compartment gloves…you can never tell what I might add that will stick to all the Velcro... and my mind wanders… must be all the paint fumes.

So this whole de-hoarding, home improvement journey might take a little longer than originally planned.  I’m not quitting, I just have to take the home improvements slower and make sure I back off if what-ever it is I’m doing aggravates the tingles.

The Stupid Monkey wrench… Possible Carpal-tunnel something nonsense.  All I know is that my fingers are numb during the day, and often my wrists are in pain (the kind that can wake you up at un-heavenly hours), especially at night.

Last night after I spread the joyful news, that my hands might need to back off some of the intensity of our home redo, the boys stepped up big time.  Their task was to prime something previously crusty and old in the kitchen.  And I’m so itching to show you how amazing it’s looking already.

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I’ll have to post the whole kitchen process when it’s finished.  But it involved a lot of heave-ho and out-you-go, to stuff we never use.  Lot’s of cleaning, sanding washing, priming, painting, etc.  It’s like the kitchen vomited out of itself and into the dining room and family room.  So I’m extra motivated to hurry and get the painting process done so that we can reclaim the rooms it overflowed into.

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Here’s an ugly glimpse at the messy in-between phase.  You know the phase where we pull everything out of the cabinets and you hear exclamations like…

‘Wow, I never knew food could grow that much hair,’ or…

‘It expired in 2006?  Are you kidding me?’  No officer, I’m not trying to poison my family.  The expired food was buried so far back in the cupboard there was no way possible for some starving child to find it.

‘And what does this contraption do?…  Honey, which infomercial did you buy this hunk of junk from?’

‘Really, darling, over forty knives – Five of which were, exactly the same, for cutting bread.’  Apparently, I’m not the only hoarder in the family.  Prince Erik hoards knives.

‘Are those shriveled raisins under the stove???  or…. No… don’t taste them… I really think they are dung from the attack of the R.O.U.S’s (monster rodents) that we fought off two years ago.’  Plenty of shudder’s emanated from all of us on the discovery of an old rodent’s nest under the stove. 

‘I never knew the bottom of that cooking oil shelf was painted yellow?… oh, you say, it wasn’t…  What? it’s really old layers of balsamic vinegar mixed with drops of every oil known to man.’  Quick open a can of elbow grease – see if that will help dilute the hazy layer of muck.

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Am I making you sick yet?  If so, don’t say anything, just congratulate me for not being in denial anymore, and more importantly, for doing something about it.

To be fair the bottom of this shelf was well above eye level and had I any idea of how nasty it had gotten I would have tackled it um, Years a long time ago.

Have you lost your appetite yet?  Decided that this blog is too much of a biohazard of mental proportions to risk ever visiting again…  Suddenly overwhelmed by the the urge to go clean a shelf… Well if one or more of these thoughts have crossed your brain – welcome to my MIND.

Stick around the Makeover is amazing.  Want a little proof.  Look at one of the project’s I redid last week.

From Blah Brown… to Beautiful Blue  (Looks 100 times better in person.)

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See how I did this by clicking Here.  So monkey, take that wrench and do what you will, but beware, you’ll not slow me down.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dust Doilies and Do Not’s.

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The Dust Bunnies are having a holiday around our house.  It’s still snowing remodeling dust in a consistent manner.  Nearly every day, I could probably pull up doilies and still have a decorative design left behind.

My lesson this week - When you try and cut corners it will come back to bite you in the who-ha!  There are no short-cuts in quality home improvement. I’m learning this the hard way.  So my advice to you is to read the instructions – Twice.  Oh, and then follow them.  Precisely!!! Don’t skip steps. 

So I laid out this beautiful tile floor a week ago, and on Tuesday I grouted it.  Wow it was looking nice.  I sponge washed it off, just like they said, but I didn’t dry rub off the hazy glaze left on the tile right away, like they recommended.    Big mistake. – Huge mistake.  I did cover it with plastic and occasionally spray it with water (part of curing the grout), thinking I could wipe up the haze later.  Last night I took off the plastic and was preparing to wipe the floor and then seal the grout.  But the darn glaze wouldn’t come off.  See the streaks?

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So with some wonderful helpers, (Prince Erik, Grandma, T-rev, Abner and myself) we had to put in some really good elbow grease time.  Maybe a combined 8 hours of scrubbing that tile hard enough to remove the glaze.  I’m thinking if I ever had to get fingerprinted, they’d have a hard time seeing anything other than smooth.  So FINALLY – Today, I was ready to seal the deal, or the grout.

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It’s finally done and it only took us 16 days from start to finish.  Probably 3 of those days were muscling up the mistakes.  My wise bro-in-law pointed out that the good thing was that we aren’t likely to ever make the same mistakes again.  Next time I’m removing the glaze – dry rub style right away.  The other good thing is – I can actually see my arm muscles.  Wa-ho!  I’m going to be a buff dudette when this is all said and done.  And sixteen days later I have a kitchen floor.

From This sliver-full, redneck, uneven, stained plywood floor (which we’ve seen for the last three years)…

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To This (A real honest-to-goodness, professional looking) Kitchen Floor…

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Makes every hammered thumb, chemical thin-set rash worth it.  Oh yes, another rule I should have followed – wear gloves while mixing and spreading thin-set.  It burns the skin.  Another reason why I don’t have fingerprints anymore.

Right before the floor was sealed T-rev was walking across it with a jug of concentrated juice.  I warned him not to spill it or it might stain the new floor.

‘I know mom, and if I stained the floor, you’d kill me,’  T-rev moaned.

‘Nope, because then I’d have to deal with blood stains.’  I replied. 

He smiled and said, ‘Good one, mom.’

It was a tough week, the washing machine died and spewed it’s guts all over the laundry room floor.  Abner kindly took this mountain of unpleasant smells to the Laundry-mat for me.

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The furnace died too, on the day of the snowstorm.  Maybe all the dust burnt out it’s igniter.

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What is it with my appliances?  Luckily, Prince Erik fixed the furnace, and we bought a reconditioned washer, with a warranty, from a little small-pop appliance store.  It’s worked like a miracle for the last two days.  In the past, two bumps in a road like that would have totally sent me to the fridge for some comfort food, or some escape-from-reality movie.  But I’m doing so well at not letting the hiccups slow my progress.  It feels good to power through.  And the rewards, well, look at how huge of an accomplishment the kitchen floor is.   Wowser!  Things like this make the speed bumps insignificant.

The best part of the week was Pompa and Grandma came for a visit and didn’t whine about the construction mess.  Oh, and Lea and Prince Erik both celebrated birthdays.  So time marches on.

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I am overwhelmed at how much harder this transformation process really is compared to what I thought it would be.  It’s physically, and emotionally grueling.  TV shows make it look like one hard week or two of work and snap a beautifully Done project.  Today is my four month mark.  Nine truck loads to the dump, and the truck is filling up with number ten as I type.  The thrift store calls on a weekly basis to see if I’ve more to donate.  It’s exhausting, but so rewarding!  Never in a million years could I have realized just how hard it is to de-hoard.  But I’m so determined to see this through.  Even though I’ve still got mountains of clutter in maybe 5 more rooms, I know I’m past the half-way mark.  That light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter every day.

So dust bunnies – enjoy the construction snow while it lasts because winter is almost over and I’m nearly ready to sweep you out of the house once and for all.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What was I thinking?

Home Improvement Projects always seem easier than they really are.  Case in point… My husband and I took an Excellent Tiling Class at Home Depot.  So excellent in fact that we decided to tile something ourselves.  Here is the ‘What was I thinking?’ part.  So for our First-Ever-Tile-Project we decided to tackle… are you ready for it?… the Kitchen floor.  160 square feet of pure Madness.  I guess we should be grateful that our first project wasn’t the Master Bathroom.  Just sign me up for the Looney Bin Now!!!  We have been constantly working on that dang floor for over a week.  And aside from cleaning, grouting and sealing I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at our kitchen.  I know I should wait until it’s done but I so relieved it turned out.

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Here is some wild, short-haired creature laying the finishing touches at 2:20 A.M.  Because that’s how long it took.  Three stinking days to design, layout, cut, then thin-set in all those pieces of tile.  And that doesn’t include the previous week of a day spent prying up the particle board floor, then another day spent scraping all the liquid nail/particle board remains off.

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What a nightmare.

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And you can’t begin to believe the dust layer that now covers my entire home.  The dust bunnies are very happy, it’s like snow to them.

Oh and before I forget, it took yet another day to add some self-leveling floor muck to all the dib-bits we hacked out of it.  Plus who makes a perfectly level floor anymore? – not our builder.  Then tack on another day to lay down the hardy backer with more thin-set.

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What’s the count up to. That’s right forgot to mention that while all this was going on, we were also working on other areas like hanging some refinished chandeliers.  I seem to be refinishing everything.  But it’s looking so good.

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I also had to take a wee break right in the middle of tiling to take the three girls out for their Christmas Present that Santa gave them.  Instead of typical presents from Santa they got tickets to Great Wolf Lodge.

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It’s a pretty incredible indoor Water Park and Hotel.  Here’s my darlings fashionably wearing their so momma won’t be paranoid of drowning suits life jackets .

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How’s this for a Gi-normous fireplace?  And this is a picture of just the bottom quarter of it.

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And honestly no matter how upset I was at Santa for interrupting my floor project with such ill timed tickets – I have to secretly and profusely thank him because my muscles were howling from all the lifting, scraping, and mucking I’d been doing.  The sort-of rest was just what I needed to come home a tackle the rest of the tiling.  And that wild, short haired creature?  Let’s just say I wanted spring so bad that I shed some fur.  Some really heavy because it was so thick and long, and always-in-my-face-when-trying-to-do-home-improvement-work, hair.

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Whew, no more pony-tail headaches. At least until it grows out again.

Sorry I got distracted.  Here’s the sneak peak.  Erik’s motorcycle turned into the chunk of rock you see on the right and my handwork is on the floor below it.  See how the border design ties the two pieces together?

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There’s still tons left to do besides the floor.  Need to refinish the cabinets as well.  They are starting to look their age.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t take me another week and a half to finish the floor.  Oh, and if you ever consider tackling a ‘What-was-I-thinking-project, don’t let me dissuade you, with my previous grumbling.  It is SO worth it, just plan on it taking three times longer than you originally thought.  Plus it’s a great work-out.