Monday, December 16, 2013

Making Spirits Bright

This isn't a Christmas related project.

When we moved into our new home, it came with a few projects.  A couple big projects.  The previous owners had relocated a stairwell, and the resulting hole in the floor around the new stairwell is just surrounded by a 2x4 guardrail that wouldn't hold a person back if he leaned against it.  Maybe someday I'll post a picture, but for now I'm a bit too embarrassed that we haven't addressed this yet. 

The other project is our kitchen floor.  When Frank (the previous owner who we shame at least once a week when we discover some quirky house thing) moved the stairs, they left the space in our kitchen that used to be the stairs without any flooring.  There is a plywood piece there, but no linoleum.  We have two "bald" spots in the kitchen floor, resulting in not level, trip-down-the-stairs-potential. Okay, okay, just one picture and only if you promise not to comment:

Aside from those two big projects, we have some funky stairs (perfectly functional, just funky), missing quarter round trim on the trim next to the Frank-refinished floors, trim that desperately needs repainting, a very retro front screen door, and only a couple of other assorted projects (including a someday project of completely redoing the kitchen because I have pans that won't fit in any cupboard and am living without a silverware drawer separater because I can't find one small enough to fit in any of our drawers).

Anyhoo, that's life!  And when you discover you're pregnant at the same time that you purchase your first home, finances become a big topic of conversation.  Needless to say, we're hoping to chip away at the kitchen floors and railing soon.  BUT this post is about making my spirits bright.

The new stairwell had a light fixture along the side.  Picture any bare lightbulb you might find in a closet or basement ceiling.  That's what we had going.  It blinded anyone in the living room when it was on, because it didn't have a shade.

Well this weekend, we finally tackled that stupid little project and IT FEELS AWESOME.  I came home from work on Friday to discover my husband installing our new, $15 light fixture from Menards.  It was easy as pie, and Dillon didn't even have to perch on a ladder or dangle from the 2x4s surrounding our stairwell to change it out. I love having a tall fella in my life.

Removing the "Basement ceiling" light fixure
Installing the new, fancy, light fixture
I can't express how much this little, easy change encouraged me in our house-fixing.  I know it was a 10 minute project, and I didn't even really help.  But I feel like we can do anything.  Our house is finally OURS.  No longer is it Franks old house.  We are free to change it up however we want, and I am so excited.

So the next thing we plan on (for the moment) is tackling our flooring.  Because our kitchen will hopefully be spruced up eventually (think 5-10 year goal), we didn't want to go with fancy flooring.  So we found some peel and stick tiles on sale at Menards this month that we're pretty ready to commit to.  The tiles, plus some grout, primer, grout floats, sponges, tile spacers, and assorted supplies will hopefully run us under $200.  We'll have to see how much plywood has to be replaced after we tear out 3 layers worth of orange, red, and green speckled flooring that Frank just kept covering up.  Yikes.  Maybe we'll have to buy a crowbar, too?
All three layers, each with its own plywood underneath.  No wonder we have issues with the floor being level and flat

In the meantime, I'm still throwing ourselves a little parade every time I use our stairwell light.  It's amazing how finally tackling the smallest of projects can be so encouraging. Maybe it's my hormones.  After all, I did cry the other day because I had such a hard time finding the fish sticks in the grocery store.

Friday, December 6, 2013

One hour project

I have a lot of things that I need to do.  Tis the season for decorating, baking, cleaning, more decorating, working, buying gifts, and growing a baby (20 weeks today-woohoo!).  Tis NOT the season for sewing things I won't need for another 5 months.  But I had a nice chat with another pregnant friend on Tuesday and got pretty excited for our impending bundle of joy.  Looking through my pinterest page dedicated to all things baby, I found a project that I've been waiting to make for a long long time.

You see, I've been hoarding things.  For the past year or two I've been buying the occasional thing for the day when we have a baby of our own.  Also, if I've made any baby items for preggo friends, I probably made two and kept one for myself.  That's not weird, is it?  (Sidenote: maybe I'll go through my stash to highlight all my goodies here someday!)

Anyhoo, I picked up some laminated cotton fabric from JoAnn's while it was on clearance once, with the thought that I'd make something for a baby one day.  Well, yesterday was the day.

This is the project I made, a portable changing pad.  Although I didn't follow the instructions because I just used what I had on hand.  Meaning my changing pad is longer than hers with no pocket, and I didn't use any stabilizer.  I used scrap fabric for the back (the polka dots), so I just cut the largest rectangle I could get out of my scrap.  Then, I used batting for the middle to give it a bit of cush instead of stabilizer because I misplaced my stabilizer stash.  Yes I have a stash of that.  No judging!

I just made a sandwich with my batting on the bottom, cotton facing up, and then laminated cotton facing down.  It slid right through my machine, no problem.  I didn't even use a new needle like every tutorial told me to.  Though I have heard quite a few people have trouble with this stuff sticking and pulling. The most ingenious and cheap solution I saw was to add a layer of tissue paper  which you rip off after sewing. 
(here you can also see the sheen of the laminated cotton fabric, which is definitely wipe-able, waterproof, and still impressively soft)

Well I just used a 1/4ish seam allowance all the way around my rectangle, turned it inside out, and sewed right up close to the edge to finish it off.  I LOVE the tiny finishing seams, they make me feel like a professional.  According to the tutorial, I was supposed to add a button with a loop for fastening it closed and fold and sew a short section to create a "pocket" for things like wipes and diapers, but once it was finished I didn't think it would be long enough for a whole child (especially once they are a bit older) with that section folded (I would lose about 13 inches of length to put baby on).  So I just left it flat.  Also, I just now realized that if I wanted it to actually hold a diaper and wipes, I would have to unfold it at home and put in a diaper and wipes container which, lets face it, I would never do in advance.  I'll be carrying the diaper bag around anyway.

I successfully completed this in 1 hour 15 minutes.  Meaning I failed my attempt to get it all done in an hour.  But I did run out of bobbin thread and have to wind it mid-project.  And find my supplies buried in the basement.  If you have a dedicated sewing space, I'd say you can easily make it in an hour.

Much less than the the time dedicated to making this bambino in my belly for whom I have to keep using the bathroom.  Every 45 minutes. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Banner...

My big sis is getting married, so I threw her a bridal shower.  I'm sure I'll post more pictures another time, but for now I'll show off a banner that I made for the occasion.

The shower was held in a pavilion in a park and had a HUGE fireplace inside.  Obviously, it was June and wasn't used, but I hung this banner on there to spice it up. 

This was probably the cheapest thing I could have made for the shower, which is great since I'm cheap.  And unemployed.  Total cost:  $1.99.  BOOM.

Here's the secret...the only thing I bought was a pack of small yellow paper plates.  I cut off the raised lip of the plates, leaving perfect circles that I didn't even have to measure or trace or anything.  I could have used construction or scrapbook paper, but I'm cheap and the plates were nice and sturdy. 

I found a pretty font and printed out the letters for my sign, "CONGRATS, Rachel & Joe".  Then I cut them out with a stanley knife and glued them on to my perfect circles.  Punch two holes in each circle and string some random thread through.  I didn't secure the letters to the string (for perfect spacing) because I wasn't sure how big the fireplace was, but they spread out and stayed in their spots nicely because of the two-hole construction. 

So there you have it.  The cheapest, easiest, should-I-really-blog-about-this project ever.  And yes, I was using a utility knife on my couch... because my middle name is Danger. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

We made them an offer they couldn't refuse...

Exciting news ladies' and gent's... we are in the process of buying a home.  So it's not officially ours yet, but we are well on our way.  This home is in a city about 20 minutes away from our current rental, and will end up being 20 minutes closer to my parents.  It's an area we've been looking to move because it is a cute small town but within 30 minutes of a large city.  All the perks of a small town but with optional events, shopping, & dining of a big city. 

We haven't been looking too long, but the options had been really limited when we looked a a handful with our realtor.  We have a limited, first-time homebuyer budget so we were anticipating a few challenges.  We were hoping for a 3 bedroom with a solid foundation, updated electrical, and reasonable plumbing.  Bonus points for a two car garage, fenced in yard, more than 1000 square feet, and cute, large kitchen.

Limited budget + small town with few homes for sale + adorable, popular town = WE LOOKED AT HOMES WITH DUCT TAPE HOLDING THE WALLS TOGETHER.  You guys.  No joke.

So when we saw "our new house" on craigslist, we thought it was worth a shot and went to see it in person.  It was within our budget, 2 bedrooms, solid construction, updated plumbing and electric, 1 car garage, fenced in yard, a basement that is able to be finished, perfect for us.  So we put in an offer.  It sounds so easy, right?  I'll break it down for you:

Since it was for sale by owner, we thought we would go without a realtor to save some $$$.  We spoke with the bank where we got our preapproval.  Then we called up a lawyer to help us with the paperwork.  From what I've read online, a person could do this without a lawyer, but we thought we would appreciate a professional helping us out and thought it was definitely worth the expense.  He is paid by the hour so we're trying to keep our interactions with him as brief as possible.  P.S. our lawyer looks like he is twelve years old.  He knows what he's doing, but it is a little strange hiring someone who looks like I could have babysat him.  Particularly because I know how much he costs us. 

The lawyer helped us figure out what we needed to put in the offer and drafted it up for us, we signed.  They sent us a counteroffer that we didn't really like, and we counteroffered back.  That's it.  They signed it, bada bing, bada boom we have an accepted offer with a closing date at the end of August and now the race is ON!

The next step is to get the official approval for our financing from the bank, write a big fat check to the bank to get it assessed (is it really worth what we offered?  If not, the bank won't finance it), pick an inspector, complete a radon test, and print/sign/fax a million pieces of paper. 

And since I can't help but leave you with an enticing picture of "our new house", I'll leave you with the most exciting picture of the back of a door ever: 
Do you know why it's so exciting?  Because it's almost OURS.  Do you know what? We could replace it.  We could paint it.  We could take it off and put it on upside down if we wanted because it is soon to be OURS.  Hopefully.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm Baaaaack!

Yes, it has been awhile.  Let's pretend I've been here all along and you weren't missing me terribly; that way, I don't have to apologize.

Long story short: I got a job.  I got promoted.  I got stressed out.  I got REALLY stressed out.  I quit.  Once again, I am the anchor to our financial boat.  I'm looking for something part time.  Now stop asking me if I've found a job yet.  Jeez you guys...

I've completed several fun projects recently, and even managed to snap a picture or two of them, so you all can look forward to that.  I've done a handful of things for my sister's wedding, so you'll have to wait until after the beautiful day of September 7th to see those.

Just so I don't neglect to show you my projects, I will let you know I made some amazing baby shoes for a friend who is recently preggo, a movie, a super secret project that took FOREVER for my sis' big day, canned some things, baked some things, threw a bridal shower, made a pillow, grew some plants, painted a dingy rolling cart, and a few other things I'm sure I'll remember eventually.

Now that you're on pins and needles waiting for all those glorious posts, I'll leave you hanging.