Obligatory Update

Well, it’s been a few weeks since the last post so you know what that means: some sort of vague update is in store!  This time it’s a daybook of sorts.

Reading: Too many things, I’m a little over my head in the book department to be honest!  I’m working on The Importance of Being Little which I am enjoying, but it’s also rather damning in regards to some of my beloved preschool routines and activities.  I’m attempting to keep an open mind.  I also have Acedia and Me, which I am a little scared of starting because I know that acedia is my number one vice.  Hence, why I ordered the book!  I also have The Nesting Place waiting for me at the library, so yeah, lots of things to read!  I’m also dying to reread an old favorite, Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher. Does anyone else experience this, like a craving for a favorite food, but it’s a book?

Watching:  Downton.  Duh!  (Spoilers ahead) So, I’ve been very “meh” about Downton for the past few years because it was just getting so ridiculous, but this last season has been ah-maz-ing!  But!  Why oh why did Lady Mary get her happy ending before Edith?  I mean, Edith called it like it is.  Mary is a B.

Thinking: Stewing is more like it.  Has anyone else read this article?  I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to nurse my two, but I also know so many women who greatly struggle for various reasons and eventually need to switch to formula.  I hate these types of articles that impose moral guilt on mothers! [Update: Simcha Fisher responds! Thank goodness!  “Women are more than the milk they can make.” Love her.]

Praying:  For sick relatives, for one pregnant sister and her upcoming move and the other formerly pregnant sister and her new baby girl!  Maura Rose was born on February 8th! I can’t wait to hold her little self!

Eating:  (I feel like the following is a bit misleading because I’m not really a crunchy health nut, but it is Lent and I’m trying to stay away from sweets, so I’ve been focusing more on eating healthfully… believe me, I’d rather be baking chocolate chip cookies…and eating the dough…)  I made these homemade apple pie lara bars to snack on and today I made a big batch of quinoa and roasted veggies so I could have veggie bowls for lunch this week.  Oh!  And I made this spinach bacon chicken risotto for dinner last week like a boss! It was so good and so easy, you have to try it!

Playing: Outside!  This weekend was very mild, which was nuts because last weekend it was in the subzero temps!  It’s such a blessing to have these mild days in the middle of winter.  We also went to the indoor trampoline park this morning.  The kids didn’t like it at all.  😉IMG_5534IMG_5541

Wearing:  Too many stripes, probably.  I’m afraid we’re all going to look back on ourselves 10 years from now and shake our heads at all the horizontal stripes.  But I can’t help myself!  And I feel like it must be classy, right?

I mean.      Image

Thankful: As always, for my Dave.  I was able to get away for most of the day Saturday to view several of the Catholic Conference 4 Moms videos with some fellow Catholic moms at a nearby parish.  I came back so refreshed with my extrovert cup filled, and the kids had a great time with Dad of course.  Whenever Gus has too much alone time with Dave, he starts calling me Daddy.  Funny, he doesn’t call Dave Mommy despite me being home with him all the time.  Dad’s just a special guy. 🙂

Looking Forward:  Spring!  I can’t wait to see if the bulbs come up that I frantically planted in November. We also have a lot of house projects on the horizon.  A new roof, new paint job, maybe new paving, and hopefully a nice facelift to our living room too.  We bit the bullet and ordered a new slip cover for our couch because it’s really been looking shabby lately.  We ordered it in a dusky shade of blue instead of the parchment shade of off-white we have already and I’m so excited!  With a new couch (color) and fresh paint on the walls, it will be like a whole new room!

7QT: Homeowner Headaches

Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum to share this week’s dramatic novella. Seems like Kelly has had an eventful week too!

1. This week has been one of those homeowner headache weeks.  Last weekend, it seemed like our washing machine, which we bought used and refurbished 4 years ago, had finally kicked the can, because every time I did a wash, the floor in front of the washer and dryer was a big puddle.  We played around with it a bit; Dave made sure the washing machine was level, since the floor is very much not, but that didn’t seem to help.  Every time we went downstairs there was more water. We were pretty sure it was the washing machine’s fault.  We looked behind the machines to try to find the leak and while there was some water on the walls, it was mostly on the floor.  We pulled the machine out a bit and from how much it sloshed when we did that we concluded it must be the machine.

2.  By Monday, we decided that it must be broken, so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new washer and a dryer while we were at it since it was only a matter of time before the dryer went too, right?  That’s when we discovered that there’s no middle of the line when it comes to washers and dryers.  There’s bottom of the line and top of the line; bottom of the line is expensive and top of the line is outrageous.  We ordered this bottom-ish washer and the dryer that goes with it, but it was only after we ordered it that I read the reviews.  “Do not buy this washing machine!” “This machine doesn’t get your clothes clean.” Blerg.

3. Immediately, I had buyers remorse and told Dave we should probably cancel the order and do more research.  Dave just wanted to fix the problem and was irritated by the fact that he apparently made another problem by buying new machines.  My sister Jane talked me off the ledge by telling me that all these new energy efficient washers do a crappy job washing because they don’t use enough water.  Ordinarily, I’m 100% on board with new shiny things, but now I was mourning the loss of my ancient Whirlpool with the old fashioned agitator and inefficient water usage.  At least my clothes were always clean!

4. On Tuesday, I wanted to use the treadmill which is right next to the washer and dryer.  I texted Dave at work and asked him if it was dangerous to use the treadmill what with the puddles always seeping out.  He said no as long as there wasn’t water near the treadmill plug.

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Never mind.

5. Wednesday: it’s still leaking and I’m still second guessing our washer and dryer order.  And I’m freaking the freak out.  Mystery leaks make me paranoid and panicy.  I blame Dave for making me watch Holmes on Homes with him.

6.  Yesterday I went downstairs to find this.

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I don’t know why this picture is coming out sideways in the final post. I guess it figures though, right?

Oh come on! It can’t be the washing machine, I haven’t used it since last weekend!  Last night we pulled it all the way out and mopped up all the water and then waited.  We came back down a couple hours later and there was more water where the washing machine used to be, but where was it coming from?  Dave tried turning the valve off that goes to our hose outside, and then we went to bed.  We woke up this morning and it’s dry.

7. I’m still skeptical.  But at least this means our washing machine is off the hook and we don’t have to spend an outrageous amount of money for crappy new machines.  Is the saga of the mystery leak over?  Let’s hope so, but I’m not counting on it!

Bathroom Renovation

I might have mentioned several times in my kitchen post how much more I love my kitchen now than when it was a dark, paneled dungeon.  Well.  Take that love and multiply it by a million and that’s how much I love my bathroom now.  I think you will too!

Of course, I don’t have very good before photos, so bear with me, please.  IMG_1269

First thing: Woody Woodpecker, more wood!  Also, sticky laminate tiles on the bathroom floor, like in the kitchen but not the same tiles.  Of course!IMG_3090

This picture is from when Dave put fan in the bathroom last September, a much needed fix.  The picture also displays the laminate tile in all it’s glory as well as my old shower curtain.  I do love that shower curtain.  McWomen have a genetic predisposition to loving toile, so I was and still am a big fan of that shower curtain, but it didn’t quite go with the final product and Dave (and any other male visitors to la casa) would make fun of it so… bye bye toile.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Awww. New kitchen, new Catholic Gus on his baptism day, but look behind my shoulder…

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That bathroom vanity was UGH. Let’s start at the top: that light fixture.  Need I say more about that? The cabinet was one of those awful 3-panel mirrors that makes you look thin if you stand between one pair of mirrors, but if you shimmy over between the other pair of mirrors, you’ve instantly put on 20 pounds.  THE WORST.  The cabinet was unusually high and wood of course and the top had very little counter space because the sink came up over the counter and sucked up half of it.

Like the kitchen, the bathroom was depressing to me because I would clean it and it wouldn’t look clean.  The biggest problem in there was lack of storage. We had to put things above the medicine cabinet and even the lights, as you can see in the picture.  It was always cluttered in there. All this was doubly depressing because it’s our only bathroom.  This is the bathroom our guests use and it’s our whole family’s every day, all-use bathroom.  It definitely needed a little TLC.

It took Dave a couple of weekends in October, and now the bathroom looks like this:
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Ahhhhhh. So much better, right?

Dave continued the same laminate sheet flooring from the kitchen into the bathroom. [Editorial note: Claire has informed me that it’s not laminate flooring, it’s vinyl, for what it’s worth.]  When we picked it out, I really tried to make sure the color and pattern of the flooring would work well both in the bathroom and the kitchen.  We painted the walls a soft gray and the trim bright white and I switched out my green and white Target wedding towels for dark gray towels from Costco.  I also switched out my beloved toile shower curtain for that funky number from Target.  I honestly don’t know what possessed me to buy that shower curtain.  I’m not ordinarily into psychedelic geometric patterns, however, the hexagon pattern did remind me of a beehive, and I have a thing for bees. (WHIMSY!) Also, I picked out the curtain after we painted and after I had decided on gray towels and white cabinets and gray countertop on the sink.  There was a lot of gray and white and the bathroom need a little sumpin’-sumpin’. So there you have it!

We bought two new medicine cabinets.  The one over the sink is from Ikea and it’s one whole mirror, fancy that! The one over the toilet we found on Amazon and we got that one because of the exposed shelf on the bottom.  It (usually) holds toilet paper rolls. Now we have more than enough cabinet space!

The shelves next to the sink were there, but Dave painted them white and I splurged on matching baskets for them at Target.  They don’t fit the shelves perfectly but they look good.  The biggest splurge for the bathroom was the sink and cabinet.  They’re from Lowes.  It’s actually a smaller sink than the one that was there before, but we can afford less storage below because of all the new cabinets above.  The light fixture above the medicine cabinet is also new, much better than that old marquee lighting situation before.

The other subtle change is all the new hardware.  The sink, tub fixtures, (not pictured) towel bars, cabinet knobs, toilet paper holder are all matching brushed nickel fixtures.  And speaking of things not pictured, (and I don’t know why it’s not pictured, there’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t have my act together) in the tub, Dave re-caulked the corners of the shower and the seam on the bottom between the tub and the beginning of the tile where the grout really showed some wear and tear.  Actually, come to think of it, he had to scrape out the old grout because whoever did it before used the wrong kind of grout and he then re-grouted and caulked.  It was actually more of a project than he thought it would be.

All together, this is what we did to renovate the bathroom:

-Installed a bathroom fan

-New laminate sheet flooring

-Paint on trim and walls

-Caulk and grouting in tub and other seams in the bathroom

-New hardware and fixtures

-2 new medicine cabinets

-3 new baskets in shelves

-New light fixture

-New sink and cabinet

-New towels

-New shower curtain and bath mat

It’s a lot of things, but they’re all little things, so all together it didn’t take as much time as the kitchen renovation and not as much money either.  The end result is a bright, clean bathroom with enough storage space to put all the ugly odds and ends out of sight.

Quite simply, it’s my favorite room in the house. 🙂  That is, until we work on the living room!

Thanks for sticking with me.  I’m no home renovation blogger or expert for that matter.  Dave is the one that does all the work, I just make design choices.  But I wanted to share our little renovations just to encourage you to maybe try some little, inexpensive fixes in your own home.  They make such a big difference!

The Long-Awaited Kitchen Post

I’ve been promising this post for a very long time… Dave finished our kitchen face-lift back in June just before Gus arrived so at first I had a valid excuse for not getting a post up here.  But then I stalled because I have no proper before pictures to do it justice.  And then I stalled because I had misgivings over whether it was even share-worthy or not.  We live in a very HGTV and Pinterest-y world, don’t we? I love a good pie-in-the-sky renovation just like any other gal, but sometimes it breeds dissatisfaction with what we have and what little improvements we are able to make.  But you know what? I’m so proud of the hard work Dave has put into this place. It’s no diamond sunbursts or marble halls[countertops] but it’s a heck of an improvement and it makes me happy!  Time to share!

BEFORE:IMG_0068 IMG_0162

The main thing you’ll notice in the inadequate before photos I have is how dark it is.  The whole bottom of the wall was dark paneling and all of the trim was dark so along with the cabinets it made for a dark, dingy looking kitchen.  I tried to brighten it up with some color but in retrospect it just added to the chaos. In the bottom picture you can see the old worn linoleum tiles.  You couldn’t tell when I had mopped, it was so gross.IMG_0173 IMG_2446

More paneling under the cabinets… The corner back there was always so dark; if I put my recipe books underneath when cooking dinner, I wasn’t able to read the directions. The paper towels were forever falling into whatever I was making.  And the dishes! I didn’t have a dishwasher so the dishes piled up fast on my minimal counter space, and even when they were washed, I had to use space on the counter for the drying rack.

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I confess, another reason I dragged my feet on getting this post up was because it’s rarely this clean.  I hosted a playdate this morning, though, so it was all spic and span for my friends.  Although, you’ll probably notice the top of my fridge is a disaster zone.  I used to have a junk drawer but then I actually needed the space in that drawer for non-junk.  Well, the junk has to go somewhere! Top of the fridge it is.  I’m not proud of this, and I’m working on figuring out a different solution.

So, you see the new floor? It’s a sheet of linoleum.  Yes, it’s the cheaper route, but it’s better that sticky linoleum tiles which is what was there before.  If this was our forever kitchen in our forever home we probably would have put down real tile or hardwood.  Maybe this will be our forever home or for a long while home; if that’s the case we have plans for a kitchen & downstairs bathroom overhaul complete with nicer finishes.  The point with this facelift was to make what was already here more livable and attractive.  So for now the linoleum sheet fit the bill. Personally, I love it.

So! What else?  The paneling is gone! It’s not actually gone though… Dave took the chair rail off and discovered that the paneling was flush with the plaster above it, so he just caulked up the seam (it took several goes) and sanded a lot. [You know what sanding results in? Dust! Everywhere! Renovations test a marriage, that’s all I’m saying.] After the sanding came the paint.  He painted the trim and the walls and the doors.  That alone made such a huge difference.  We also got a new kitchen table and chairs from Ikea.  Best purchase ever. Also from Ikea, we got the under cabinet pot lights.  Doesn’t it make such a huge difference? We also switched out the hardware on the cabinets.  Just little things! We debated painting the cabinets but Dave said it would have been such a huge project to do it correctly. He would have had to take all the fronts off and sand them down and then ideally spray paint them.  I’m glad we didn’t, I think the paint and new hardware really makes the cabinets pop in a good way.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ah! I have a dishwasher now! It meant losing precious cabinet space/drawer, but it was totally worth it.  And you know what? We haven’t really missed the cabinet space too much. (Ahem. Junk is now on top of fridge and not in a drawer.) Installing the dishwasher resulted in more counter space which is glorious!

Another little inexpensive thing that Dave did was he extended the plain white square tile backsplash under the cabinets and behind the stove.  There was backsplash just behind the sink, but you probably never noticed, did you?  Now you can’t miss it thanks to the under cabinet lights. The bottom picture displays a little set up that I’m proud of. No, not the wine! I put little hooks up for the pot holders and measuring spoons so they’re exactly where I need them! No rummaging through drawers! Also, I picked up that stainless steel canister thingy at Ikea for the big spoons, spatulas, and various sundry items that previously took up a whole drawer.  Now they’re right where I need them too!

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Oh! I almost forgot! We moved our microwave from the little butcher block island thingy to the pantry closet.  Dave just had to put a shelf in and drill a hole out so he could plug it in behind the fridge.  My pantry is clearly overstuffed and not organized.  But the door is usually closed. 😉

So, all together this is what we did:

Linoleum sheet flooring

Paint on trim, walls and doors

New fridge (this was unexpected, but when we did the floor we discovered our old fridge had been leaking into the subfloor)

Dishwasher

Extended backsplash

Under-cabinet pot lights

Cabinet hardware

New overhead light

New curtains (I made them!)

Altogether, we spent around $2000, the fridge being the biggest expense by far.

So, nothing super trendy or luxurious.  But the kitchen is such a happy place in our home now, which is wonderful because we spend so much time in there.  No granite, no stainless steel, no engineered soft-close cabinets. Those things are so nice and one day we hope to have a kitchen with all those trimmings, but for now I love the happy bright little kitchen that I have, white appliances, laminate floors and all. 🙂

And, a sneak peek at my next room-reveal post: the bathroom!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

7 Things that happened while the husband had the week off

1.  Dave may or may not have gone to Costco all by his lonesome and came back with gallons of booze and 72 Eggo Waffles.  Breakfast &/or Happy Hour at the Johnson house!

2. We took a trip to the zoo!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3.  Our bathroom finally got a fan. Dave just decided on Wednesday that it was going to happen so he started to cut holes in the bathroom ceiling and in the exterior of the house. No really, that’s how these projects start. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dave’s git er done personality, but I don’t like the 150 year old horsehair plaster all over the place.IMG_3088 IMG_3090

4.  Dave has let me sleep in every day for the past 7 days.  I might have a nervous breakdown come Monday morning.

5. He finally convinced me to watch Breaking Bad with him (this is his second time around). I’m mostly disturbed but a little bit hooked.

6. We finally got to the beach! In September! On the hottest day ever! Dave captured my resting witch face when I asked him to get a picture. IMG_3117 IMG_3118 He got a better one after that, though.

[We took Sara to the beach for the first time when she was 4 months old and we both remember it being SO STRESSFUL. Clearly, this time around we’re pros.  Gus basically sat around in his diaper and got really sandy and we all had a great time.]

7. As if it wasn’t already established, Dave has firmly cemented his status as everyone’s favorite parent and spouse. He needs to take weeks off more often. 😉

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For more quick takes, clicky-click back to Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!

PS Dave also worked on the comments issues we’ve been having here on McSisters and we think it’s all fixed now.  Please let us know if there continues to be more issues!