Tackling the Small Stuff


I don’t know what’s more difficult:

a. Tackling the big, expensive projects like replacing flooring and windows, OR

b. Tackling the small, touch-up projects.

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When it comes to screwing on switch plates or painting trim, I tend to think: “Oh, I can finish that anytime.”

Unfortunately, two years have come and gone, and “anytime” just hasn’t happened yet.

As Dave and I head into our third year of home-ownership (August 1st is our house-iversary!), I feel like all those little loose ends will never get tied up if I don’t act NOW.

Therefore, I’m instituting a master plan to tackle the small stuff which I’m calling:

THE MARCH TO AUGUST

Hopefully, with the help of my master plan, I will have completed all of this by August*:

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That’s roughly twelve weeks and 30 projects.

Therefore, I need a very detailed master plan so that I don’t waste time wondering where to start.

Wish me luck!

HAVE A LONG TO-DO LIST…but don’t know where to start?

Developing a detailed plan is half the battle and will help keep you focused and on task.

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A detailed plan should include:

  1. A photo list of projects needing to be completed.
    (Ugly pictures are motivational!)

  2. A specific list of materials needed to complete each project.
    (5 yards of fabric, 1-inch angled paintbrush, etc.)

  3. A list of any preliminary steps.
    (Measure door frames, sand rough surfaces, etc.)

  4. A time frame for each project including prep time.
    (We’re talking minutes and hours: 1 hour to paint trim, 10 hours to reupholster large chair, etc.)

  5. A calendar on which to schedule each project.
    (Click here if you need a pretty calendar to help get you in the mood.)

Here’s to tackling to small stuff!

What’s on your list?

(For perspective on loving our homes despite all the small stuff, check out my friend Rita’s post!)

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*Photo Key

1. Replace doors and install knobs

2. Repair broken (or missing) electrical outlets

3. Caulk and seal around window A.C. units

4. Install A.C. vents

5. Hire electrician to repair staircase lighting

6. Install lighting unit in study

7. Install supplemental shelving in study bookcases

8. Hang curtains in the living room

9. Reupholster green chair #1

10. Reupholster green chair #2

11. Reupholster ottoman #1

12. Reupholster blue chair

13. Swap out dresser in den for a sideboard

14. Finish painting trim & install towel rack in downstairs bathroom

15. Touch up ceiling paint in bathroom and kitchen

16. Rehang doors that don’t shut properly

17. Repair & reupholster ottoman #2

18. Wash & paint and design on living room rug

19. Swap out red rug in den for painted rug

20. Put photos in frames

21. Touch up paint in window seals that were scuffed from window replacement

22. Install switch plates in kitchen and bedroom

23. Touch up around new kitchen lighting units

24. Sand & paint interior of kitchen cabinets

25. Paint & install heating grate in kitchen (it’s currently being held in place by weights)

26. Touch up exteriors of kitchen cabinets.

27. Install towel rack/cubby in master bathroom

28.  Install new lighting & vent in master bathroom

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Our New Windows: Before & After


If your eyes are the windows of your soul, then is it safe to say that windows are the…well…the windows of a house’s soul?

If so, then the soul of our home was dim, cold and gloomy thanks to its thin, dilapidated windows.

I thought it would be years before we could replace them, but in December we came across an offer from a local business that we couldn’t refuse.

Thirty-seven windows and three days later, the installation is complete!  Sadly, I missed out on the installation process, but it was so thrilling to come home from work each day and discover all of the changes.  It was like we had secret little gnomes working on our house while we were away.  🙂

Why am I still talking?

It’s pictures you want to see!………

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A view of the southeast corner of our home prior to installation.

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And the view after. Much more polished.

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Our former view of the backyard.

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WOW!  I can see!  (And I’m liking what I’m seeing.)

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Gaps.  The culprit of all those chilly drafts and fine dust…

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Less dust, no draft. Tight seals, you are my new best friend.

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This used to be the view from our kitchen window…

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Now I can admire our garden while I wash dishes.

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Everything is so bright and sunny! This space will be a knock-out when it’s fully completed.

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Baby Girl soaking up the new found sunlight.

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Speaking of cats, our weak screens made for a lot of escapes!

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As a result, we were forced to commit red-neckery by duct-taping our screens in place.

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We were in such good hands with our installers. They repaired the siding around this window free of charge.

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The enclosed porch along the western side of the house has become such an inviting space. It’s a great spot to pet a kitty or sip coffee.

If someone would have told me that we would be getting new windows this soon in the game (we moved here in 2010) I would have said they were crazy.  I would have also wished that they were right.

It feels so good to walk into our bathroom and not get the chills.  It feels so good to hold my hand up to a pane of glass and not feel a draft.  And it feels so darn good to be rid of that duct tape!

(To those of you who live in the Abilene area, we had our windows manufactured and installed by Clearlight Windows and Doors.  If you need new windows, we highly recommend them!  They treat you like people.)

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I am linking up this week with Pancakes and French Fries, an inspiring blog that believes that homes should be both beautiful and functional.  Check it out!

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New Year, New Milestones


It’s hard to believe that Dave and I have spent three Januarys in this house!

Three COLD Januarys.  (Unfortunately, we’re still a few years away from installing central heat.)

Whenever I want to feel outrageously overwhelmed, I simply think about all of the projects we have left to finish on our fixer-upper.

And whenever I want to feel encouraged about the progress on our home, I make a list of what we’ve accomplish so far in the year.  I will admit that 2012 was not our most productive year, but the projects we did complete have made a significant impact on the simplicity of our daily lives.

January-March 2012

Project #1: Clean out and Remove “The Dreaded Shed”

Before:

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During:

shedmenatwork

After:

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Cleaned out, tore down, hauled off.  Good riddance.

February-May 2012

Project #2: Sand and Paint Furniture

Before:

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After:

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Newly painted furniture means we finally have a place for all of this:

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March-November 2012

Project #3: Develop and Maintain an Herb and Vegetable Garden

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Okay, so maybe homegrown tomatoes aren’t necessarily a house project.  But come on…HOMEGROWN TOMATOES!

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June-July 2012

Project #4: Remove View-Blocking Kitchen Cabinets

Before:

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After:

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More space, more light, more better.

Project #5: Install Wainscoting in Kitchen and Downstairs Bathroom

Before:

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After:

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Not a necessity, but what an instant facelift!  (I still have some painting to finish, though…)

Project #6: Install New Lighting in Kitchen and Downstairs Bathroom

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Now we can have dinner by candlelight because we want to, not because we have to.

August 2012

Project #7: Replace Bedroom Carpet

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It was such a relief to get rid of that grimy, old carpet.  For a while there, I felt like we were sleeping in a cheap hotel room.

September 2012

Project #8: Hang Something, I Mean, Anything on the Walls

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Most of the frames are empty, but at least they are on the walls instead of in boxes.

November 2012

Project #9: Buy a New Mattress

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Wow!!!  What a difference a newer, larger mattress makes.  No more aches and pains, no more fighting for space.

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It feels good to have furniture, a good night’s sleep, a clean and functional backyard and more light.

Here’s to even more improvements in 2013!  Starting with replacing the windows, replacing the kitchen counters, installing new floors, hanging curtains……

For a recap of our home improvements from 2010 through 2011, click here and here.

Happy House-iversary!


Two years ago this week, my husband, Dave, and I purchased a beaten down, 100-year old foreclosure.

Our lives have not been the same since.

When we moved in, our plumbing did not work, we had to walk around in the dark because very few of our light fixtures worked and you couldn’t get me to step foot inside our downstairs bathroom!

The only reason I agreed to buying this place was because I thought we were going to take out a massive home improvement loan which would allow us to completely remodel the insides and out in under a year.

(Famous last words of a homeowner newbie, right?)

Needless to say, we never did take out that loan.

Nevertheless, we have come a loooong way in two years and it feels so good to see our To-Do list shrinking!  So in honor of our 2nd House-iversary, I thought I would put together a little timeline of how Dave and I have brought meaning and beauty into what was once an eyesore…

2010

Our very first project: Scraping the filthy layer of popcorn texturing off the ceilings.

Next, I repainted the kitchen cabinets.
(Their former colors were black and cream.  Who chose that??)

Our first hired project: Replumbing the entire house.

We painted EVERYTHING! Doors, walls, trim, ceilings–EVERYTHING!

2011

Lights! Fans!
It was so miraculous to finally have these two luxuries in our home.

Thanks to a tornado that blew through in May, our insurance replaced our dilapidated roof.

Pruning back all of the bushes, squirrels nests and dead branches made the exterior of our home look a lot less menacing.

The whole house seemed to change after we ripped out all the stained, smelly carpet and then sanded and painted the floors.

After 15 months of cooking in crock-pots and on hotplates, we FINALLY purchased a new gas stove!

Various improvements were made to our bathrooms–especially the one downstairs!

2012

After waiting a year, we finally were able to take advantage of Clyde’s good soil and plant a garden!

Ding-dong the shed is dead! I thank God every day for its absence.

Our kitchen feels brand new with the addition of wainscoting and the removal of a strip of view-blocking cabinets.

What’s a house without furniture? A BIG MESS, that’s what!
It feels so good to have a place to put our stuff.

Even though Dave and I have had to live in less-than-ideal conditions these past two years, I’m glad we didn’t take out that loan.  Instead of creating more debt for ourselves, we created more memories and more appreciation for the simpler things in life.

Hopefully in two more years we will have finished our To-Do list which includes:

-Replacing the kitchen countertops and backsplash

-Remodeling the laundry room and covered porch

-Replacing all the windows and installing wood flooring

-Digging a water well and installing a pump

-Reupholstering all the furniture

-Landscaping the yard

-And a bunch of other stuff…

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Do you believe in having a beautiful AND useful home?

Check out the William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries, an insightful blog about how to make more sense of life’s messes.

Our Return to Civilization


“A place for everything, everything in its place.” -Benjamin Franklin

When I first started my furniture painting project back in January, I thought every piece would be completed by February or March at the latest.  I never guessed that Dave and I would spend the next six months living like refugees.

For a while, our system of storing clothes and toiletries in bags, hampers and piles on the floor seemed to work.  And then things got messy.

“Where are the nail clippers?”  “Where are my socks?” “Where is the sunscreen?!!”

Every time I turned around, I was hunting for something.  It was madness!

And then my cat began having urinary tract problems.

If you’ve ever had a cat that has had pee-pee problems, then you know they stop using the litter box and start relieving themselves on everything that is soft like rugs, couches and piles of laundry:

Not only did I have to worry about where to find my gym socks, I had to worry if they had been peed on by our sick kitty.  (She’s all better now, though, THANK GOD!)

Finally, after six chaotic months, I was FED UP!

Since all I lacked on my project was painting the hardware, I grabbed a few cans of spray paint and my screwdriver and went to work putting the finishing touches on every knob and handle.

Et voila!

The only thing left to do was to move everything upstairs!  (Not an easy task since our staircase is steep and narrow.)

Having survived this near-death experience, I rewarded myself by lining every drawer with the lovely shelf paper I purchased a couple weeks prior.

(Would you have guessed that I purchased this pretty paper from Dollar General?)

After researching the best way to remove cat urine smell from clothes (a cup of vinegar!), I washed all of our laundry and with great relish, Dave and I folded our clothes….and placed them in our dresser.

CLOTHES in DRAWERS!!  Such a simple yet profound luxury!

Brody was so pleased with our hard work that he took a nap.

Now that our clothes had a home, my next task was to fix up the guest bathroom closet so that we could have a place to put our make-me-pretty supplies.

I sifted through every cotton ball, Q-tip and bottle of medicine we owned and either tossed it…

…or transferred it to a stylish basket or jar:

Pickle jars and Starbucks Frappuccino bottles were the perfect containers for my bath salts and hair pins.

A monogrammed plate became the perfect place for keeping all of our implements contained but also in plain sight.

Wow.

I am truly amazed at how much peace has entered our household now that we have a place for everything and everything is in it’s place.  Civilization, it’s good to be back.

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Do you lack a level of civility but need more inspiration?  Check out the William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries and finish that project today!

Now that you are inspired, could you nominate my blog for the 2nd Annual Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards?  Follow this link.  Thanks!

Now You See Them…Now You Don’t!


Now you see the dated, view-blocking cabinets…

…and now you don’t!

When I returned home from work yesterday evening and entered our “new” kitchen, I just stood and stared.

For a loooong time.

Wow.

Wow, wow, wow.

The first time I saw this small strip of cabinets, I knew they had to go bye-bye because they isolated the cooking area from the dining area, and what hostess/cook wants to be separated from her dinner guests?  With the cabinets out, our kitchen is a much warmer, more open space.

Ahhhhhh!  Seeing one completed project puts fresh wind in my sails to get even more completed.

Guess I should start by painting our dry island…

To DIY or NOT to DIY


I have two sides: my Wonder Woman side and my Ms. Practical side.

This past November, Wonder Woman got the idea to install wainscoting and chair railing in the kitchen all by herself.

I don’t know how she thought she could accomplish this.  I mean, she didn’t have the time or the right tools or, most importantly, the know how…but you know how superheroes can be.

Especially if they have access to Google.

At first, all Wonder Woman managed to do was purchase half of the wainscoting she actually needed and prop it against the wall…

…where it sat, untouched, for seven months.

At long last, Ms. Practical finally stepped in and hired a professional to get the job done.  It was a very liberating moment!

As of yesterday morning, our kitchen walls looked like this:

As of THIS morning, they looked like this:

Hopefully by weeks end the wainscoting should all be hung and ready for painting.  HURRAY!

When they are not battling over whom should do what, Wonder Woman and Ms. Practical manage to agree on the execution of a few choice house projects.  For instance, they both acknowledged the need to hire a  professional for the removal of these pesky upper cabinets:

Cabinets are a good thing.

I ADORE cabinets!

Unless they are invading the space of an otherwise spacious kitchen:

Another project my ladies know they are not capable of doing themselves is removing the kitchen’s unsightly and dysfunctional fluorescent lighting.  

Especially the dratted fluorescent light above the sink.

It’s a finicky light.

If it’s raining outside, it doesn’t work.

If I really, really need the it to work, it doesn’t work.

The only time it does work is if it’s dry and sunny outside, and even then, I have to whack the box a few times with a wine bottle to get it to wake up:

Malfunction aside, who would putrify a lovely scalloped trim with a fluorescent lighting box?

Thankfully, these lighting problems are on their way to being solved this week as well by the installation of this gorgeous collection of lighting I picked up at Lowes.

I’m very proud of my selection.  Not only because it’s beautiful, but because it’s what I really wanted.

Ms. Practical: “If you buy what you really want the first time around, you only have to do the job once!”

Wonder Woman: “Yeah, and it only took you 30 years to realize that!”

To DIY, or NOT to DIY?  I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter which one I choose as long as there is progress.  Sometimes, there’s nothing like standing back and admiring the work or your own hands…and sometimes, there’s nothing like standing back and admiring the work of somebody else’s.

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I am linking up with Pancakes and French Fries’ William Morris Project.  Find your inspiration today…or hire it!

P.S.

Here is a sneak-peek of a little side project I’ve been playing with the past month.  Will it be finished by next week?  Here’s hoping…