Saturday, September 15, 2012

The monster window

Another weekend, more home improvement tasks. The work never ends when you're a homeowner.... or when you have a rental property. This time, it was the rental that got our attention.

This morning, we headed to the local hardware store to pick up some sort of roof sealer stuff to fix a small leak in the roof. David made that repair while I did some yard work. While we were there, one of the guys who lives there showed us how the drawstring for the vertical blinds in the front window had broken off. The blinds can now only be opened and closed manually, by pushing on the sliding piece (that's the technical term, by the way) that the blinds are connected to. We went to the store to look at blinds and see what our repair options were.

Let me explain something about this window. David got new windows through the whole house a few years ago, and the installer referred to this one as "the monster." He said he'd never seen a window quite this big. It's floor-to-ceiling in the front room. With the new windows, it's actually three sets of four-foot-wide windows that were installed side-by-side-by-side. The guys measured it, and it's something like 148 inches wide and 78 inches high. The measurements are probably a little off, but close enough. The point is, it's a big window.

It's so large that I'm pretty sure we confused the woman at the store when we went to look at blinds options. I'm not a fan of the shades currently on the monster window, and I liked the idea of getting three sets of blinds to put over each of the windows. David pointed out that that might look funny since they'd have to go all the way to the ground. The lady at the store said we could get a new sliding piece and just reinstall the vertical blinds on it. While we'd be stuck with the vertical blinds, it did seem to be the most cost-effective solution.

She showed us the longest piece they sold, which was 104 inches. She held it up and we said that while it would be a good idea, this particular piece was too short. She didn't believe us and appeared confused. We didn't know why she was confused, because we'd already told her the measurements. She insisted that the 104-inch piece would be long enough. We insisted that it wouldn't.

"They measured it was 148 inches long," I told her. "They may have been a couple of inches off, but I know they weren't 44 inches off."

"Yeah, this piece is too short," David said. "But this would work well if we could special-order a longer piece."

"We can do special orders," she said. "But I can't believe this won't work. Are you sure? The way you're talking, the windows must each be four feet wide."

We told her they were. The look on her face made it clear she didn't believe us. We appreciated her help at first, but we knew it was time to go when she kept making comments and giving us looks that plainly said, "You people don't know what you're talking about."

Well, maybe we don't. We aren't super-experienced DIYers. We do, however, know how to work a measuring tape.

That afternoon, we headed back to the rental house, as we'd made previous plans to meet up with our friends who lived there. We were watching football, but both David and I kept catching ourselves looking at the monster window and discussing our options.

Anyone have any suggestions for good window coverings for a giant window? I'm going to see what Pinterest suggests.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Checking in

Hello, everyone! After a busy summer with very few posts (and lots of traveling), I'm checking back in. I can't believe how quickly the summer flew by! Labor Day weekend already?!?!? It's crazy.

But, as I said, we've been busy, and that always makes time pass a little more quickly. For ten weekends during the summer, we were out of town for five of them (along with a full week in there, too). We actually had a pretty good routine going, as every other weekend involved a trip somewhere, either to go to a wedding, visit with family, or hang out with friends. The weekends at home were busy, too, as we caught up on whatever we'd missed out on the previous weekend.

So, it was busy all around. We enjoyed our travels and seeing people we don't get to see regularly, and it's always fun to enjoy a trip and, at the end, start looking forward to the next one.

It's nice to have some time at home, too. We've gotten a lot done around the house, including installing a new kitchen faucet, printing and framing some wedding pictures, making plans for a kitchen update, cleaning out the garage, painting the master bathroom, repainting an office chair, putting in a new doorbell, and much more. We've also helped David's sister do some work around her house. Oh, and of course we've found time for a few trips to the pool.

This morning, we had an unexpected situation when our new faucet fell apart. I was washing some dishes in the sink, and suddenly the water stopped coming out of the faucet. I turned it off, then turned it on and off again a couple more times.... nothing. I looked under the cabinet and realized two parts that were supposed to be attached had come apart, and the water was spraying under the sink rather than through the faucet. I cleaned out everything under the cabinet, mopped up the water, and found the assembly instructions for the faucet. David got under the sink and reattached the pieces. Fortunately, it has worked fine since, so we're hoping that maybe we just didn't attach everything tightly enough the first time we installed the faucet.

Other than that, however, our projects have gone well, and we've had a great (and really hot) summer. And now, we're looking forward to the fall--cooler weather, football games, and one more wedding weekend.

Did you have a busy summer? Are you looking forward to fall? What's your favorite fall activity?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Master bathroom makeover

I don't know about anyone else, but my projects often grow to be a little bigger than I originally plan for them to be. Usually this is either because 1. in the midst of the project, I think about all the related things I'd like to work on, and think, "Well, as long as I'm already doing this...." or 2. about halfway through, something breaks or I discover it's not working properly, and we have to repair or replace it.

Fortunately, #1 was the case with the master bathroom makeover. I originally just planned to paint, but as I was painting, I figured that some new rugs and other accessories, and some new artwork (or maybe I should just say "some artwork" since all the bathroom had before was one mismatched painting) could be good. And I love the results!

Now, pictures.

First, the "before." (As you can see, I'd already started painting the ceiling and patching holes in the walls.)

 The orangey-beige paint color on the wall wasn't working for me. It really wasn't working for the brown and green color scheme that we have going in the master bedroom and bathroom. The towel bars were the cheap white builder-grade ones that were doing the room no favors. The walls were bare (except for the aforementioned picture shown above). The accessories didn't match. It was time to upgrade a few things.

After patching holes; painting the walls, ceiling, doors, and baseboards; putting in new towel bars; and adding some artwork and new accessories, here's the "after."

 I love the chocolate brown walls. I was a little concerned about using such a dark color, but I thought it would look good against the white of the ceiling, doors, and baseboards. The tub and toilet are white, too, and the flooring is a lighter color. I decided to go with it, and I'm really happy about how it turned out.

We got new towel bars and a toilet paper holder:

I thought the brown rugs with the brown walls might be too much.... brown... but I've since changed my mind. (I think the lighter flooring helps.)

I did replace the rug by the shower, but it's brown, just like the old one was. I'm thinking of changing out the one in front of the sink if I find a fun pattern I like, but I'm happy with how it looks now, too.

For the new soap dispenser and tumbler, I went with white to go along with the sink. (I'd also thought about green but couldn't find a shade of green I liked.)

And some artwork and other decor:

We do still need a new trash can, as the current one doesn't really match, has paint on it, and is a few years old and has seen better days. Oh, and I think something on the wall above the decorative towels could be good, too. Eh, we'll get there. It's hard for me to ever say a room is completely finished, because it seems there's always something I'd like to add or improve or fix up. But for right now, I'm really happy with it!

Let's do just a couple more pictures, shall we?

I'll be back later this week with more info about the artwork.

Have you painted anything lately? What's your favorite way to update or change up a room? Do projects always become bigger or take longer than you originally anticipated?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic swimming (and other sports)

Happy Olympics, everyone! I love watching the Olympics (especially the Summer Games). I've been staying up late almost every night to see what's happening in London (after watching some during the day, too). I like all the sports, but swimming is my favorite. I'm a former competitive swimmer, though, so I'm probably a little biased.  :)

I'm so excited for newcomers, like Missy Franklin (who is just awesome), as well as more experienced athletes, like Michael Phelps (now the most decorated Olympian ever--what an accomplishment!), and everyone in between. One of the swimmers is even from my hometown, so that's pretty cool.

When I swam, I was never anywhere near fast enough to make it to the Olympics, but it's fun to watch and see these swimmers doing the same things I used to do--focusing on races, adjusting goggles, stretching before a race starts, going for best times (and medals). Swimmers really are a different breed, but it's cool to see the Olympians doing the same things I used to do--albeit much faster and much better.

It's fun to see them out of the pool, too.  Swimmers know how to have fun! In case you haven't seen it yet (although you probably have, as it's gone viral), here's the video the team put together before the Olympics--their take on "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.

They're also a pretty successful group. I heard on TV this morning that the swim team is expected to bring in roughly one-third of the total medals the USA wins during this Olympics. Impressive!

I'm also enjoying the other sports. I love watching the gymnastics (gold medal for the women's team!), and of course I'm keeping up with Misty and Carrie in beach volleyball. I'm looking forward to the track and field events next week, too. I also love seeing the spotlight on London. I've been there twice, and I think it's just the coolest city ever.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Cleaning out the pantry

As I've mentioned before, David and I use the eMeals plan to cook a lot of our dinners. It helps us save money at the the store, and we've learned new recipes and become better cooks because of it. Some of the recipes are so good that we've written them down to reuse later.

This week, however, we took a different tactic. I'd cleaned out the fridge and cabinets to get rid of all the old and expired food, but there was still so much left over. We decided to skip the grocery this week and make dinners using whatever we had, until we'd used up all (or at least most) of what was in the fridge and pantry.

We really only had to do this for three nights this week, as we made a big steak dinner (YUM) on Monday night to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and we have plans to go out tonight to--again--celebrate our anniversary. (Some people celebrate by going on a weekend trip. We just eat a lot.)  :)

I did go to the grocery on Monday for that night's dinner, and I went back again yesterday to get some basics like milk and cereal. But for the other three nights, we made dinner using only what we already had.

Here's what was on the menu:

TUESDAY: Quesadillas

We already had frozen chicken, tortillas, tomato, shredded cheese, onion, and sour cream on hand. We even had chips and salsa. We used our quesadilla maker that was a wedding gift.

WEDNESDAY: Salmon, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and a Caesar salad

David's brother had come over, so we invited him to stay for dinner. Even with the last-minute extra person, we had plenty of food.

THURSDAY: Chicken and pasta with olive oil/spaghetti sauce, tomato, and cheese

I put some frozen chicken in the crockpot along with some cream of broccoli and a little onion and celery. The original plan was to make it with stuffing, and maybe some more green beans, but we changed plans up at the last minute and instead had it with pasta. The olive oil  was for me, and the spaghetti sauce was for David.

Not bad, right? These were real meals I'd cook even if I had a full pantry. On one hand, it's kind of embarrassing to know we have all that food, yet we still keep shopping every week. On the other hand, it feels great to know we're using up food we already have and saving some money along the way.

Even with purchasing steaks, our grocery bill was lower than usual this week, and it would've been considerably lower had we not gotten the steaks (but hey, you have to celebrate the anniversary, right?). We used up the rest of the pasta yesterday. I can't remember the last time we didn't have some pasta in the house!

Do you ever have a no-shopping week to use up food? What are some of your favorite go-to recipes? How do you celebrate anniversaries and other special occasions?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Laundry room update

Remember way back when I mentioned that I wanted to update the laundry room? Let me refresh you with a photo of what it used to look like:

Lots of random stuff all piled up on bare boards that are balanced on (as in, not attached to) metal brackets. Seafoam green wall. Yes, this is the stuff of one's laundry room dreams.

Or, you know, maybe not.

But here's what I, an award-winning blogger, have learned: a can of paint and a little cleaning makes a big difference.

Oh, and a few cheap baskets from Michael's and a homemade chalkboard help, too.

Now, after some cleaning and throwing away and reorganizing, and after a few coats of paint on the board and a chalkboard on the wall, I give you this:

It's probably not Pinterest-worthy, but it's definitely nicer to look at. I like the way the colors all work together.

The pink and white basket holds ironing supplies (well, other than the ironing board on the left, obviously). The navy one has dryer sheets and a few random odds and ends that fit much more neatly into the basket than they ever did when stacked haphazardly on the shelves.

(Side notes: Yes, we have random things like plastic cups and paper plates on our laundry room shelves. That's what happens when you live in a 1500-square-foot condo and don't have tons of extra space to work with. And if you're wondering about the large Styrofoam ring on the right, it came with the washer. You're supposed to put it in the washer whenever you move it so that it holds in place rather than shifting and possibly breaking. I'd never have even thought of that, but hey, those people at Whirlpool know what they're talking about.)

Have you found any quick, easy projects that make a space look a lot better?

Sorry for my lack of posting lately (and the fact that it took me a while to get this project up on the blog). I've had a busy summer with lots of traveling. I've also been working on some other projects--too busy working on them to write about them, apparently! I'm hoping to catch up with the posts soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blogger awards

Hello, everyone. It's been a while! I've been busy with all kinds of stuff, including projects, traveling, and much more.

I'm here to talk about a blogger award I recently received: the One Lovely Blogger Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. OK, I guess technically that's two awards. I don't think my blog is all that lovely or inspiring (the irony that I'm writing a post recognizing how inspiring I am when I'm posting for the first time in almost a month is not lost on me), but I still appreciate the recognition!

Lisha from One House One Couple nominated me. Thanks, Lisha!

If you don't already follow her blog, you should. It's awesome. And--speaking of awards--inspiring. Very inspiring. She and her husband bought a house and basically redid the whole place (we're talking some serious renovations) and sold it.

I get overwhelmed painting the bathroom. So redoing a whole house? Whoa.

The rules of these awards:

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post, share seven things about yourself, and nominate 15 bloggers you admire, leaving a comment on each of their blogs to let them know they've been nominated.

Seven things about me:

1. I'm left-handed. There are a lot of lefties in my family. In fact, my brother and I are both left-handed, but our parents are both right-handed. Weird, right?

2. I love college sports. I grew up in a state (Kentucky) with no pro sports teams of any sort, so most Kentuckians care more about college sports than professional sports. My favorite teams are the University of Kentucky and Xavier University.

3.  I swam competitively for 15 years. I was a distance swimmer (meaning I swam long, boring events like the mile). I can't wait for the Olympics to start soon!

4. I enjoy learning foreign languages. I took four years of Spanish in high school and even majored in it in college. I also took two years of German in high school and a semester in college (I wanted to do more but couldn't fit it into my schedule). I even received an award in high school for studying multiple modern foreign languages, and I got a foreign language scholarship in college!

5. During the day, I usually leave HGTV on in the background whenever I'm doing stuff around the house.I could seriously watch it all day. I probably wouldn't accomplish too much else, though, if I did that.

6. I haven't visited much of the western half of the U.S. However, I have visited six different countries in Europe (England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany). London is one of my favorite cities ever. Lucerne, Switzerland, is pretty fabulous, too.

7. I love to read. Once I find a book I like, it's not unusual for me to reread it every year or so.

Other blogs:

OK, I'm still pretty new to the blogging world, so 15 blogs seems like a lot to me. So, instead, I'm going to nominate.... one. Yep. Just one. Am I a slacker? Perhaps. But you're talking to someone who hasn't posted on her blog in a month, so it seems fitting.

Anyway, here's my nomination: Ashley from Attempts at Domestication. I think I've read just about every entry on her blog, and I've really enjoyed following along as she and her husband fix up and decorate the house they recently bought. Her latest project is pretty awesome. (Oh, and she has some good recipes, too!)

Thanks again, Lisha!