Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today's (ongoing) project: concrete

Yes, that lovely substance that provides us with driveways, sidewalks and various other niceties of life which require a smooth, hard surface.

My project for today was to start contacting various contractors and seeing what the cost would be to tear out our existing patio which has settled and cracked horribly. Oh, and the front steps which are now starting to list to port might cost us a few trick or treaters sliding off into our bushes should it snow that night. Yes, it is usually cold around here at Halloween (sadly enough).

My first step was to start asking friends and acquaintances if they had recently had work like this done and whether or not they could recommend someone. I start this way because I would rather give my (husband's) hard earned money to a local business that's a known quantity and has someone I personally know to vouch for their work.

I have set up a few companies (usually about 3 for a large job like this) to come by and give me estimates on the work. I will ask them about start dates and completion times, as well as other contingencies depending upon the job. For instance, working in the back yard with all this labor and equipment brings to mind the other expensive component of our outdoors: the sprinkler system. I was assured by the contractor today that if they happened to damage any portion of the sprinklers, they would cover the cost of replacement. I will also be sure to get this in writing when I agree upon the final contract. There might be other special considerations and concerns with certain project; the best thing to do (I think) is sit down and list everything you can think of that relates to the project you have planned. That way, you can be fairly sure that you've covered most, if not all, of your bases and won't have any nasty surprises.

Oh, well. There is no shortage of things to be done around our house, both major and minor, but as long as I keep working on them, I'll be done eventually (right?).

Thanks for being a friend and reading my blog. It feels good to know there are folks like me (and my family) out there trying to keep up with everything!

Take care,


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Word for the day: cull (as in Home Depot)

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary gives discard as a synonym for the word cull and that's what I'm focusing on today.

You see, Home Depot has a selection of cull in their lumber department, and, each individual piece is only . . . wait for it . . . $0.51. That's right. 51 cents. Barely over half a dollar. BARGAIN! The cull section is usually at the back end of the store near their cutting station and all the pieces have been sprayed with green paint on one end to mark it as cull for the cashiers.

This is their stash of unsalable wood products (like Trex, MDF [Medium-density fibreboard], shelving, etc.) that, once you find out where it is, you will visit again and again and again (trust me).

I found a piece of MDF a couple of months ago that was big enough to put a door on our crawl space (not really a standard door size, you know). The gentleman working in lumber was even nice enough to cut this huge piece to my dimensions for NO EXTRA COST! The hardware to set this baby up cost $12, but the actual door only cost me 51 cents. Oh yeah, I am the champion!

Why, just today, I sauntered through one of my two local Home Depots and visited the cull pile. I spied another piece of MDF and the light bulb going on would have BLINDED you (not kidding). I am working on my basement (as you well know) and finally got the kitty litter boxes swapped to the other side and my sewing table set up under one of two windows down there. But, as with all good ideas, there is an *issue*.

Ahem. We have those interlocking mats as our basement floor to protect our little footsies from the rough particle board serving as our floating floor. This is not going to ever be a finished basement while we're here; it's just not practical. Now, the back end of the sewing table isn't on the mat while the front end is. I'm not a very balanced person myself, but I require that I usually work on a level surface. Helps keep stitches straight, you know. Enter the rescue MDF piece! I will pull out two mats and put down the MDF and voila! Level sewing table! I'm also going to paint it white so I can see those pesky pins and needles I seem to drop occasionally.

See how this works? Many times, you don't need tons of lumber (or 7 feet of whatever piece) for a particular project. Knowing about this cull pile will save you a pile (of money)!

Any handy hints about bargain stashes you've found at your favorite haunts? Share them here!

Take care,


Friday, September 17, 2010

Confessions are good for the soul

As you might have guessed, I have a confession to make. It's not good or bad, per se, but it was affecting my timely blogging practices. I stalk several blogs and I'm addicted to them. As I find new blogs that I enjoy regularly, I will add them to my sidebar here so you may (get sucked into) enjoy them like I do.

That was a major reason for me putting off my blogging from August until mid-September. These ladies not only blog every day, they blog WELL! I was dutifully following their blogs and catching up on them from before I knew about them which took some time and allowed me to cultivate my lazy side.

Their blogs are entertaining, informative and . . . make my inner English teacher sing for joy. No misspellings or grammar abuse to make me cringe *AND* they manage to inject humor, humility and lots of fresh outlooks on their worlds and therefore mine too.

A well written blog is a joy and I find myself refreshing my own page to see if their links have updated with a new post. I'm addicted, as you can see.

But, hopefully, it is for a good cause. They influence me in many ways, not the least of which is to remember that if I'm going to do this, I had better do it well!

Which reminds me: the best way to reward a blogger is twofold. One, you should comment often and positively (and I will be doing that shortly, since I need to follow my own advice) and two, you should definitely recommend the worthy blog to your friends, family, neighbor, postman and anyone within earshot. I've been known to recommend these blogs to total strangers while standing in either Home Depot or Hobby Lobby.

Keep the love going and hug your favorite blogger today! If you can't do it in person, then leave a nice comment to generate that warm, fuzzy feeling!

Love to you all,


P.S. It's a bad sign when I have to type my 'name' over four times to get it right. Sheesh! You'd think it was Friday night or something . . .

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What do I do with it?

I will attempt to address the question of 'What do I do with it?' when referring to the items you discover you don't want/need after 'decrapification.'

Thankfully, we live in a modern world and have MANY options to pursue when looking for an outlet for our (junk) stuff.

Option 1: The circular file a.k.a. the trash can

I know we all have several and we use them regularly, but I think it bears repeating that this is a handy resource for getting rid of things we don't want any more. If I look at something and realize that, not only do I not want it any more, but I can't conceive of anyone wanting it for whatever feasible reason, then it should go into the trash. If it can be recycled and you can do it within reason, then by all means recycle it. Don't get hung up in that hoarder mentality or you'll never throw anything out (honestly). Use this resource judiciously and it should make your decrapification job *so* much easier.

Option 2: Donation without expectation - Freecycle or the free section of Craigslist

Freecycle was started several years ago (see the history here) as a means to reuse items that might have otherwise been thrown away before their useful life ended. You may join a Freecycle group that is local to you and can provide a ready means to get stuff out of your house and get it to someone who really can use it and appreciate it. You don't get a tax break, but it generally helps out those in the community who can really use a helping hand. They have restrictions on what may be offered and there is etiquette involved making sure everyone adheres to the letter and spirit of the idea of Freecycle, but the possibilities are endless. I don't want to raise any hopes, but I've actually seen hot tubs being offered on my Freecycle group.

Craigslist is generally thought of as a website to sell your stuff (we'll cover that next), but there's also a section to list items that you give away. Craigslist is also an area-specific service, so you can deal with people on a local basis. A good friend of mine uses this and swears by it. Many times people will finish their garage sales and offer the leftovers in this are.

Option 3: Donation with expectation - Organizations that give you a tax receipt

There are national organizations dedicated to accepting your donated goods, giving you a tax deductible receipt for them, and reselling them like Goodwill and The Salvation Army. There are also many regionally specific organizations; here in Colorado, we have ARC and I know there have to be TONS of others that I just don't know about. These places have the benefit of giving you a break on your tax liability for giving them your stuff. In all fairness, it's best to donate items that do have some intrinsic value so they realize some benefit from taking your items. The retainer you've had since high school just doesn't qualify, even though you could probably slip it in (see Option #1 above for that). The catch is, you designate what the value is of the items you donate; it's best to be VERY conservative and most places give you a handy little chart showing a reasonable value for common items. There are limits to how much you can claim on your taxes and it's definitely best that you hold onto ALL your donation receipts with the copy of your return in case of an audit. I'm by no stretch an accountant or tax preparer, but I am dedicated to making sure I don't spend any time in prison for silly things like lying or not having my tax paperwork saved.

Option 4: Making money - Garage sale, eBay, or Craigslist

We all want to realize some financial gain from all the hard work we put into cleaning out our houses and you can do that several ways. You can take all the saleable stuff and price it yourself, get up at the crack of dawn to fight off all the people who have shown up an hour before your advertised start time and have your own garage sale. This has the benefit of giving you almost immediate cash in hand for your items, but you have work to do beforehand (organize, price, advertise, get up early, etc.) and realize that it means total strangers coming to your house to sift through your belongings . You can list your item for sale on Craigslist. This means it might take a little while before selling it, but you generally have a fixed price and can realize money in your hand with not much preparation. If you're not sure of the value, *OR* you think you can make a killing off of your Aunt Linda's treasured wine cork collection, then you might consider eBay. You have to set up an account and navigate through listing the items (which entails quite a bit of work the very first time you attempt this), but the benefit is that you might realize more money *AND* you have a much larger marketplace in which to sell your item (read: nationwide, if not worldwide).

And there you have it. Several options at your fingertips (literally!) to get rid of the stuff you no longer wish to have in your house.

Let me know what options you've used and to what success! I'd love to read about your success stories (both selling/donating and buying/receiving) that might give someone else hope that their stuff (trash) is someone else's dream (treasure)!



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Pit of Despair

Or, in more common nomenclature, the basement.

I hate to call it a pit, but I should be true and honest about it, right? And no, you won't be seeing any pictures of it until it's not a health hazard (just joking) any more.

We moved into our lovely house just over 10 years ago. It started out with just Mr. K and I and it seemed *so* spacious. I mean, really: 1,500 square feet for just the two of us? What luxury after an apartment!

It hasn't shrunk(I'm taking that on faith), but the accumulation of 4 people over the course of 10 years without a major gutting has taken its toll. In my defense, I have managed to get the main floor and our bedroom back to a more minimalist perspective over the summer. (The kids rooms get their nod after I'm really done with all the main floor painting).

So, in addition to cleaning out the basement fitting with my general mood of 'cleaning up my act' so to say, it serves another purpose. To be the work area for the settee I found at Goodwill last week and have stored at my in-laws garage down the road.

We won't discuss how I'm in the dog house over this. You see, after texting Mr. K with a picture of said settee and asking him what he thought about it, he responded with a very short text. The one that only takes two letters. N-O.
I was good that day and didn't immediately purchase it. But, after sleeping on it and the next morning in which I drove back over there by myself and saw it still for sale, I totally caved. Look at it:

I spent several hours contacting friends and family trying to figure out not only transportation, but storage. It's hard to tell by this photo, but this incredible piece of furniture is six feet long. Yes, six feet. And it will look perfect in our library/reading room under my seven foot window. *AND* it won't even interfere with the window at all!

Back to my transportation/storage issues. Remember my 1,500 square foot house? With a basement that is fairly (mostly) full? [Cue ominous music and show pictures of our heroine biting her lips and sweating profusely]

Now for the best part: my father in law not only agreed to store it in their garage until I get my workspace cleared out, but he and my mother in law drove up to pick it up. Did I mention how much I *love* my in laws? LOTS! And I did even before now, but you have to admit this is really going above and beyond the call of duty here. I should also mention that my MIL used to deal in antiques so she could gauge this beauty with a practiced eye.

Well, I probably should get back to the decrapification of my pit so I can start working on reupholstering my settee.

Love to you all,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Behind the orange door

Or, more appropriately, the whole thing 'about' the orange door.

See, we had the entire outside of the house repainted a few years ago, but didn't repaint the front door. We've let it languish in squalor and I didn't give it much thought until my current 'redo the house' manic phase.We didn't change the outside color of the house, but I never much cared for the front door color. It was a muted mulberry color originally; it has been through enough winters here that it is a mere shadow of its former color. I had originally bought some dark blue paint to grace the front door . I have now awakened to the fact that our gray house is a warm gray, and a blue door just isn't in the cards.I tortured my family into choosing a color from paint swatches I brought home, fervently hoping that they would pick the color 'Red Jalapeno' but Mr. K and my dear son chose 'Firecracker Red.'
This wasn't a problem until I realized that I had a slew of other colors to choose from at Home Depot in the Behr family and latched onto . . . (wait for it) . . . 'Sweet Carrot.'
Yep, you read that right. 'Sweet Carrot.' As if that could be anything but a rich, warm ORANGE. But, to my defense, it scanned with our brick highlights purrfectly.

So on a recent past Saturday, while Mr. K was distracted by all the men on TV
in tight pants (football - get your mind out of the gutter!), I set at our front door. I first did a test strip to see what I was in for:Hopefully, you can tell that it was just about (high) time to paint the door.

I stood back, and said, "Yeah!" and proceeded to slather the entire door with two coats, to the end result of:
I liked it pretty much instantly. It provided that little 'pop!' that everyone seems to be seeking. Oh, and I hadn't even consulted the homeowner's association about my color choice - Booyah!

Mr. K's reaction was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic. He had the temerity, nay the audacity, to ask why I had consulted the rest of the family, then capriciously ignored the consensus.

Umm. Good point.

I wasn't so much in love with it that I wouldn't change it. I am holding out for after Halloween, though. Doesn't this just scream (in 120 decibel glory) fall? I shall post a follow up on the really final color of my front door. I'm hoping it hasn't snowed by then, but then if pigs had wings . . .

Next item on the agenda: the doorknob.

First thing this morning, after getting my little darlings out the door to ride the bus to school, I whipped out my trusty painter's tape and a few sheets of newspaper to get to this:

As you can see, most (all) of the shiny finish has worn off of our doorknob. Of course, it was the builder's special installed about 13 years ago, so I'd say it's given pretty good service.
Suffice it to say that finances currently are such that I've got other things to invest in (like new tires so I don't kill myself this winter) so I'm going to teach y'all (yes, I'm originally a Texan) a new term today: stopgap measure.

You probably have heard that term mentioned in news articles about Congress, but it applies to LOTS of things; namely, my doorknob. A stopgap measure, as defined by thefreedictionary website, refers to 'an improvised substitute for something lacking.'
Yep, that's my doorknob; something lacking.

At the very least, shiny brass is *so* yesterday anyway, so I whipped out a can of trusty Rustoleum spray paint and had at it! I chose Hammered Gold since I had the amazing foresight to buy this at one point because I *knew* I needed it for something.
I gave it two quick coats and I love the finish it gave me:

I did notice the underside and the back needs a little more coating, but for now, it looks *SO* much better!

What have you got going on for fall cleaning this week? Or, are you all caught up and doing fun stuff? Talk to me, please!



Monday, September 13, 2010

I *LOVE* it! (but hubby doesn't)

No, it's not something I've done, just something I just saw in a magazine. Dwell, to be exact. A wonderful magazine, but it also tends to be just a little bit modern/minimalist for my regular gal tastes. But, I caught sight of something that I will have to have one day.

I was cruising through their latest issue and gaping in amazement at these families that live in unnaturally clean, uncluttered houses when I came upon an advertisement for Woolly Pocket. It featured this fabulous array of plants just hanging on the wall, VERTICALLY! Well, now I've got my blank space in my newly painted living room taken care of - NOT.

I showed the ad to hubby, all breathless and giddy and he says, "What? The couch?"


I looked at the ad. Yes, there was a couch pictured but it is a 60's mod-style that isn't my taste at all.

"No! Can't you guess what I like in that picture?" to which I received a glare and a "I'm not going to play guessing games with the whole page. Just tell me."

I pointed with great vim and vigor to the sculpture of lush greenery and said, "That! Isn't it fabulous?"


Hmmm. Not the response I was looking for. This may have to wait for our next house when I get some sort of hobby/craft/office room to myself .

I couldn't find the ad picture in the magazine that started all th
is, but feast your eyes on this use:
Seriously? What's not to love about fresh produce that not only gives you something to fix for dinner but also looks good AND keeps your air smelling like a garden? NOTHING!
This is a little more similar to the type of use that set my heart afire:

Granted, my house is a 'leetle' less on the avant garde decor (okay, LOTS less, but I digress), but doesn't that wall of plants just look divine? I knew you'd like it!

Has anyone out there had any experience with this type of product? Or, have you had the desire to do something like this but didn't know you could? I'd love to hear your incorporating plants into your house stories!