Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seoul Searchin'

Regardless of my high level of excitement for the guest bath remodel, it will be put on hold because Matt (husband) and I are going to South Korea to visit my sister. Emmy (sister) lives there teaching English and from what I hear, this post could aptly be named "Seoul Long Liver". It seems they enjoy their beer over in Korea. We're really looking forward to seeing Emmy, learning about a new culture, going out, sightseeing, shopping, and two weeks off work!

When we return, the first weekend is a three day weekend, so we plan to tackle the guest bathroom then. I just ordered some sample tiles for the floor. Eeeeee!

Below are some "before" pictures of the guest bathroom. As you can see its small and having a color identity crisis. The pictures don't do it justice (hard to get good light with no windows). Green walls, yellow laminate, blue cabinets, and a pink, blue and brown floor. The door also used to be the same bright blue as the cabinets. I think before we even finished moving in I had that sucker off and was painting.

A look at the shower:
And just in case  you missed it, a close-up of the awful shower tile (I don't think its real tile, just meant to look like it):
And the other side of the (small) room. As you can see I already started demo... that not-so-lovely yellow laminate used to go all the way to the wall:

I don't know why the color is so weird in the picture. Its hard to get a good one with no natural light. Off to Asia, hoping to score some great mementos for our house!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I see your true colors shining through

I'm about to get a little bossy. Sorry, I can't help it - first child syndrome. This isn't really about a DIY project as much as making sure you're not taken advantage of when spending money on DIY things. Like your home.

Here's the back story: We have a 30-year fixed mortgage which I understand to mean we have the same payment for 30 long years. You can imagine my surprise when the mortgage bill came this month and it was 20 bucks more! Now 20 bucks isn't a lot but 20 x 12 x 29(years to go)... well now that's a lotta dough. So I called not-so-good old BofA and asked why the charge increased. "Well Ms. Newcomb, your county taxes went down this year. In order to give you a little cushion since this may be a mistake, we've added a reserve charge to your mortgage." So, after a little back and forth the service rep assured me that my ears were working correctly and yes, when a bill of ours (like property taxes) goes down, it is indeed BofAs policy to charge us more. Sure, the money sits in escrow but we never see it! The woman on the phone happily changed it back to the way it was but what a racket! BofA does this so they have more money of yours to play with, I'm sure. What if you're a busy working parent and don't have time to call? Such shenanigans.

So the moral of my long-winded story is, if something on your bill doesn't look right, it probably isn't. Its worth it to call and figure it out. This goes for mortgages, cable bills, etc. I also got two activation fees removed from simply calling Verizon and asking them to remove them. If your nice and pay your bills on time, they'll usually remove unnecessary charges.

Go advocate for yourself! Okay, I'm done bossing.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(Easy) One Down, Nine To Go

Last weekend, with the help of my husband, I crossed to-do #1 off the list:

1. Clean up the garage. Hopefully we cross this off the list on the weekend. Its free!

You can see pics of our so-messy-I-can't-find-the-garbage garage here. We wanted to create 'zones' in the garage to stay organized. So we dumped everything into the driveway, shimmed the crap out of the shelves (not one square foot of our garage is level) and got to work. We organize the gardening stuff near the door for easy access:

We put all the sports and camping stuff together:

The arrows indicate items heading to friends or goodwill. It will soon be even cleaner!

And finally, my favorite is the area we created with our collection of tools, painting supplies and crafty stuff:
Sorry- this isn't a very good picture. And shoot! Does this mean I now have to use the treadmill?
I'm already taking advantage of actually having some space to work in the garage. The white shelf is currently on coat #2 of primer and I'll start painting it semi-gloss white tonight. It will be used in the guest bath to hold towels and toiletries. Its an IKEA shelf I bought off craigslist for $30! It used to look like this:
IKEA Shelf

After sharing my goal of remodeling the guest bath for $200 and scoring some free paint (more about that later), my husband is now on board with the project, so I'll share the 'before' pictures soon!

Has anyone else started "spring cleaning" a little early?

Post linked up at
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Decorating ADD

On the addicting DIY blogs I can't stop reading, I've learned that I am not alone in having house projects ADD. At work I simultaneously day dream about tiling our bathroom (it currently looks like MC Hammer's pants threw up all over the bathroom. Too. much. color), remodeling the kitchen, cleaning up the garage, and turning our jungle of a backyard into a usable, fun area.

In my brain I am an energizer bunny, capable of tackling all these projects at once, on a budget and with no experience. In reality, we just hosted a reception to celebrate our marriage so we're seriously low on funds. And I've never tiled a bathroom, remodeled a kitchen or landscaped a yard. Hell, I've never even cleaned up a garage! Yet every day I peruse craigslist, jumping back and forth between kitchen appliances, bathroom tile, and random furniture. I torture my husband, rambling about all my "visions" for our house, buy random supplies I didn't know I needed, and keep a running list in my head of all the things we(I) need want to do.

So, to make a very short story really long, I am writing that list down. Some things are small, some things will take a miracle to get done this year. But here is my ultimate to-do list for 2011:

1. Clean up the garage. Hopefully we cross this off the list on the weekend. Its free!
2. Remodel the guest bath. Right now, the vanity is bright blue with yellow laminate. The walls are green and the floor is cream, pink and blue. It screams, HELP! Its really pretty small so I think I can do this on a small budget.
3. Paint the bed frame in the guest room. Its the frame my grandparents used and in serious need of an update.
4. Make a headboard for the master bedroom
5. Remodel the master bath. A pedestal sink really doesn't work with our need to put contact solution, shaving cream, and toothpaste on the counter. I am looking for a used vanity on craigslist to stay low-budget.
6. Get a chair for the family room
7. Finish the coffee table in the living room (currently missing a top)
8. Fix up the back yard. Design a functional outdoor living space where we can play bocce ball, grow vegetables, BBQ for our friends and leave space for a future chicken coop.
9. Add about 150 sq feet to the kitchen, totally gut and remodel. This is the "to-do" that will take a miracle, mostly because we don't have the moolah. Our kitchen is laminate shelves from the '90's, big fluorescent lights, and a dishwasher and fridge that leak regularly.
10. Learn how to can food (not a really house related but I hope to do this so I don't waste CSA vegetables next year)

There are all my lofty, crazy, I-don't-have-a-clue-how-to-do-them goals. What are your goals for your house, and your life?
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All by Myself

This weekend my husband was busy studying for an exam so he can earn the big bucks and I can live out my dream as a housewife further his career. Therefore, I had to stay out of his hair and decided to attempt to build a workbench for our garage.

After contemplating demolishing the bathroom, the kitchen, and painting an antique bed, I decided the work bench was the most logical place to start. After all, it will help me with all the other projects. I was also hoping it would motivate us to organize the garage. I googled "free work bench plans", found this site, and got to work.
*Disclaimer: I did bug the husband to come with me to Home Depot. He helped carry the 2x4s. Well worth interrupting his study time*

Overall, it went really well. Only once did I accidentally attached a piece in the wrong place! Since I corrected the mismatched legs, the work bench is square, sturdy, and holds enough weight for our table saw to sit there with plenty of working room. I would provide instructions, but the website does such a good job, even I can follow it.

I have a few tips, the first being to follow their tips. One of which says to drill 1/16" pilot holes before hammering the nails in. I tried to get all tough girl on the nails and I ended up splitting the wood.

Secondly, write down everything in detail before you go to the hardware store. Then if you need help having the large plywood pieces cut you're prepared. Also, get extra nails, screws, etc.

Finally, I cut the 2x4s first and labeled each piece directly on the wood. If it was an "A" length piece, I used a sharpie to write "A" on the 2x4. This helped everything go quickly and I didn't get confused.

So that's it. The first project I started on my own and actually finished without asking for help.

The workbench: 

Bonus pics of our messy garage (next weekend project?):

Clearly we use the treadmill a lot :) Good thing it was a hand-me-down!

What recent project are you proud of?

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First Post. Last Post?

After 18 years of schooling and jobs ranging from a bakery, a mortgage company, and now, the federal government, I finally realized something.

I want to be a housewife. 

Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for my good, stable job, but I get more excited and passionate about all things related to my family and home. Maybe this is normal and I'm just growing up, or maybe its the ol' biological clock (no kids yet!). Who knows. But until I find that money tree (or have kids), I still have to work 40 hours a week. So I'll do my best on the weekends to pretend to cook(sorta), clean(sorta), and fix up our house(my fave).

I'm Katie, a 28 year-old girl woman who just bought a house and married her live-in boyfriend. I'm sure I'll share way too much more if I keep up this blog, but for now I'm going to use it to document our trials and tribulations attempting to DIY our way from a '75 fixer upper to a nice "new" house. Pin It

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