Friday, April 29, 2016

Yay Cork Flooring!

 We finally bit the bullet and purchased the cork flooring that I've wanted ever since I found out that our first floor does not have hard wood hiding under the carpeting.  I spent a long time researching cork before deciding that the pros outweighed the cons.  I got a lot of really good information from  If you are considering buying cork you definitely need to read this post.  I like that cork is softer, warmer, and more comfortable to stand on than my other flooring choices.  But mostly, I just love the way it looks.  I decided on the type of cork flooring that I wanted, Wicanders Originals Accent.  I found it in a store semi-near me and checked it out in person.  I then waited a year, just for fun.  Then I shopped around on the internet and found two sites that were competitive in price and contacted them both over the phone.  I felt more comfortable with the first site I had visited, but their price was several hundred dollars more.  When discussing my order with both sites I mentioned that I was shopping around and the site I liked better immediately lowered their price by several hundred dollars.  To save on shipping I chose to unload the flooring from the truck myself.  This morning when the truck pulled up I was prepared to jump in the back and start handing boxes down to Tim.  Luckily the truck driver said he'd use his lift to lower the pallet to the street.  This option was the $50 shipping upgrade I had said no to, and here we got it for free because the driver didn't want to wait around for us to unload the entire pallet one box at a time.  Yay free money!

Sofia was extra helpful during this process.  I believe each box weighs about as much as she does.

The flooring weighed about thirteen hundred pounds and took about ten minutes to carry inside.

Now it is going to live in our dining room until we have a chance to move it to a slightly more hidden location.  We aren't ready to install quite yet.

This was today's favorite thing!

Isn't it pretty?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Too Many Yellows!

Too many yellow paint colors, and none of them quite right!  I know Tim wants me to stop wasting money on paint samples, but I can't find just the right yellow for our built in book shelves.  And I still haven't decided on the white for the living room walls.  I'm so fearful of making the wrong choice that I'm having trouble making any choices at all!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Building a Raised Garden Bed for $15

Last year I tried to start a garden in the backyard.  I began by starting seeds indoors and then transferred them to a small area in the yard where I removed the grass.  I must have done something wrong because the only plants that survived and thrived were three tomato plants.  The rest of the plants died almost immediately or were choked out by weeds.  This year I have decided to keep the tomatoes where they were last year but I also want to add some raised beds.  Although I prefer the look of traditional gardens I like the idea of a method that requires less work.  However, I am extremely cheap and don't want to shell out the money it would cost to buy a prefab raised bed, or even to buy the materials for a do-it-yourself raised bed.  So I went to Craigslist and stalked the free section for months collecting as many old bricks as I could get my hands on.  I did end up purchasing weed blocking landscape fabric to put under the raised beds and a landscaping adhesive to stick the bricks together.  I bought THIS TYPE of adhesive that looks a lot like a tube of caulk.  I got the tube home and went to put it in my caulk gun.  That's when I realized that I was going to need a bigger gun!  I went back to Home Depot and bought this bad boy!

I feel a little bad for my puny old caulking gun!

I laid out the landscaping fabric and started placing my bricks.

I wanted each bed to be around six feet long and three feet wide.  I'm hoping to fit three beds along the chicken's fence.  I feel that my way of building the raised beds must be the most slap dash method in existence!  I eyeballed the whole thing and was halfway through with the first bed before I even knew it.

Looks good enough for me!

It is at this point that I realized I should have planned better.  I like the way my raised bed looks, kind of old and worn, but when you don't plan in advance you inevitably run into trouble.  I completely neglected to prepare the bricks.  These are old bricks.  Most had been stored outside for years.  I was having so much fun building the wall and was in such a hurry to get my beds completed that I didn't think about the fact that these bricks were dirty.  When gluing them together with the landscaping adhesive some of the bricks had so much dirt on them that the adhesive was sticking to the dirt instead of the bricks!  I decided to wait until the curing time for my adhesive was over and see if my walls would remain standing.  Luckily, most of the bricks were stuck tight, but a few came right off in my hands.  I took a few days to spray down the bricks to clean off the majority of the dirt before continuing.

Wouldn't these make an awesome patio?

I also stopped by my friend's house to collect a few more bricks.  After cleaning them all I got back to work.

Note the wood board behind the second raised bed.  My chickens are dumb as rocks and were actually eating the landscaping adhesive.  None of them suffered any ill effects, but now as I work I have to put this out to block the chickens from sticking their heads through the fence and eating glue.

By the third bed my garden walls were looking pretty wonky.  The bricks for this one were not all the same size and the ground is a bit uneven here.  Oh well, as long as it holds dirt I'm fine with some wobbly walls.

I love the detail on these bottom bricks (thanks Nicole!) and the bright yellow one makes me smile.

The raised beds aren't quite as tall as I wanted.  They are supposed to be at least twelve inches high and these are only eleven.  I ran out of bricks and am feeling antsy to fill them up and get planting.  If I find that they are too short to work well I can always add more rows of bricks next summer.  Now let's see if I can grow anything other than just tomatoes this year!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sofi's T-Shirt Rag Rug

In order to keep costs down as much as possible I'm making everything in Sofia's new bedroom myself.  That last statement is only partly true.  I actually enjoy making stuff and I get all warm and fuzzy feeling when people compliment the things I make.  So, although I am cheap I am also a compliment hog.  There, full disclosure!  The first thing I am making for Sofi Sue is her rug.  I can't get in the room yet to make her loft so I have to start small with things I can make and store until the guest bedroom/Tim's office furniture gets moved out.  I first saw Laura from's tutorial a couple of years ago.

larch hook and toes
The diy for this rug at made me start collecting old t-shirts immediately!

I didn't know where I would put the rug I planned on making, I just knew that I had to have it!  I started collecting white t-shirts at rummage sales and also got a few from my friend Sari.  If you shop on the second day of a rummage sale they almost always have a bag sale to get rid of their extra inventory.  For $5 you can fill up a bag with whatever you want, and I wanted t-shirts!  After over a year of collecting t-shirts I finally had enough to make a good sized rug, as well as finally having an idea of which room to put the rug.  In.  Where on earth does the word in go in that sentence?  Anyway, I also now knew that the rug would be pink to go with Sofi Sue's color scheme.  But the latch hook method didn't end up working out for me.  Instead I used This tutorial from .  I already had the old towels so over the course of a several of months I cut my t-shirts, dyed them, and sewed them onto the towels.

Almost finished with my t-shirt scraps

You have to scrunch the t-shirt strips up to make the rug fluffier.  This rug is all about being fluffy!

At this point sewing the rug was getting a little unwieldy.

Halfway there.

I only worked between a half an hour to an hour a day, otherwise this project wouldn't have taken me quite so long. I ran out of pink t-shirt strips partway through, but luckily found that I had stashed more white t-shirts under my craft table.  After another run to Joann Fabrics I had enough pink dye to finish off the rug.  And so at least a year and a half (I am underestimating here) after hatching a plan to make this rug it is finally done!

This rug is a little under 4' by 4'.  I was hoping for larger but didn't want to cut and dye any more t-shirts!
 Sofi had better use this rug until she moves out of the house!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

BM Simply White vs BM Decorators White vs BM Super White

 I can't believe I have turned into one of those people who spend long periods of time debating the merits of different shades of white.  White is white, right?  I am finding out that this is not true.  First I researched white paint colors online.  Then I got a few sample pots and slapped them up on the walls in the living and dining rooms.  I joked with the lady behind the paint counter at Home Depot that I would get home and not be able to tell the difference between the three whites I was wasting money on.  But after putting them on the wall I was completely surprised to find that none of the colors even seemed terribly white to me!  Simply White was a gorgeous white in the dining room but definitely a cream in the living room.  Super White was a beautiful light grey that I would have considered back when I wanted a grey living room.  And Decorators White comes across as having a definite color but I'm not sure what, maybe a violet grey or blue?  Either way, I've ruled out Super White and would go with Decorator's white as being the most crisp and clean, which is what I want, except for how lovely Simply White looks in the dining room.  If it looked that way in the living room as well the decision would already be made.  I think I need a bigger swatch!

BM Decorator's White

BM Simply White
BM Super White

Friday, April 15, 2016

Filling the Gap

Everybody loves surprises; surprise parties, surprise gifts, surprise sundaes (that last one isn't really a thing, but it should be).  But surprises while doing a home renovation are not as much fun.  I pulled the molding off from around the large door connecting my living and dining rooms in preparation for installing the bookshelves that are going to live there.  Look at the wonderful surprise the last home owner left me!

Evidently the door opening used to be an inch or so larger.  I like large door openings, but I've already made the built in bookshelves that will go floor to ceiling as well as over the top of the door.  I can't change the size of the door at this late stage so I will just have to fill the gap.  The fun never ends with this house!

Filling the Gap, Part 2

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Choosing Paint Colors: The Never Ending Story

I currently have 9 paint colors on the walls in my living room.

Soon I'll be adding some yellow swatches to decide on for the built in bookshelves

And I have 10 colors on the wall in the dining room.

I actually decided on the dining room color pretty quickly, but every time I come up with a new contender for the living room I have to put it up in the dining room as well to make sure that it doesn't clash.  The two rooms have a large opening connecting them so I want to make sure that they go together well.  This was not something that I ever bothered with in the old house, which is how I had bright yellow, red, chocolate brown, orange, mossy green, and dove grey all on the same level.  I love color, but I think that for this new house I will try to be a little more grown up with my paint choices and not just splash the rainbow willy-nilly on the walls.

I had originally decided on a light grey for the living room.  It took me months to decide on Sherwin Williams Eider White.  But even after deciding that it was the grey that I liked the best I still felt uncertain in my choice.  Finally, yesterday, I realized that the reason I was uneasy was that I had made the wrong choice!  Funny how that works.  I have already painted my ceiling in both the living and dining rooms a nice light blue.  Putting a light grey on the wall sounds nice in theory, but in our old home our bedroom was light grey with a blue ceiling and I never did like how it looked.  That ceiling was a lot darker, more of a turquoise, but it always felt very cold to me.  I just didn't like the combination.  I don't know why I thought I'd like it better here.  If I hadn't painted the ceiling blue and had done a nice white instead, then the light grey would have looked awesome.  But the ceiling is blue, and the built in will probably be yellow, so having a grey thrown into the mix seemed too much to me.  I realized that what would look excellent would be white!  Painting a room white would have been sacrilegious to me 5 to 10 years ago, but now it just seems like it would be so fresh and bright.  I've already painted all of the basement white, mainly because I put in bright green foam floors and felt that I already had reached my color quota on the flooring.  But I like it, and although I am not prepared to go white in every room of the house I do think it will look nice in this situation.  Now, to decide which color white!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Why are my walls made of plywood?

In preparation for my new floors I was taking out the unattractive and undersized baseboards in my living room today.  Of course I forgot to take a picture of what they looked like before.  But this is what I found after pulling off the baseboards:

It looks as if someone screwed OSB onto the studs and then maybe skim coated it with plaster?  I've never heard of this before and am not sure how to proceed.  This is probably why I have hairline cracks in some areas of my wall.  I expected those in my old house where all the walls were lathe and plaster, but here I thought the walls were all drywall!  Guess not!

And the plaster was crumbling off the wall as I removed the baseboards, even though I was trying to be very careful.  It didn't help that the baseboards were glued onto the walls as well as nailed, so pulling them off caused chunks of plaster to come away.

This cut and dry job just got a little more complicated!  On the bright side, I did find this lovely wallpaper hiding behind the baseboard.  It appears to have some plastic or vinyl in it, classy!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Containing the Poo (Or how to build a quick and easy fence)

Adorable pooping machines

Chickens poo.  They poo a lot.  I cannot stress enough how much poo chickens create.  We've had our three lovely birds for just under a year and they've produced at least a ton of poo.  (Statistics may be fabricated in the interest of making a point)  Our chickens especially like to poo on our patio.  Also, they know that we come in and out of our back door.  And we are their main source of food.  So the chickens like to congregate by our back door and do what chickens do best.  There's nothing worse than stepping out of your back door into a small pile of chicken poo.  Except for cold eggs.  There's really nothing worse than cold eggs.  Anyhoo.  I needed to contain the poo, but felt guilty when I kept the chickens cooped up in their run.  And the chickens objected, loudly, when they were kept in the run.  So I decided to make a larger chicken yard that would keep the poo in and the rest of the yard safe to play and walk in.  I didn't want this to be a big production, just a simple barrier to the chickens free ranging in our yard.  I decided to go with metal t-posts and galvanized welded wire fencing.

Some the the t-posts are a little wonky, but it's hardly  noticeable

I also needed two wood posts to attach a gate to so that we could easily get in and out of the new and improved chicken run.   As soon as it warmed up I started digging.  Unfortunately, even though the air was warmer, the ground was still pretty frozen so I was able to dig a few inches each day and then had to wait until the next day for the sun to warm the ground enough to dig again.  When the holes were finally 24 inches deep Tim held the posts level while I filled in with gravel and tamped it down.

 I decided to use a section of fencing that we had sitting in our garage to make the gate.

I love using what we already have to save money and clear out some space!

 I had to buy a couple of extra fence pickets, cut the height of the fence down, and attach a little extra support.  This wouldn't have happened without the help of my awesome neighbor Ken (I've mentioned him before as the savior of my basement painting scheme).  Ken scoffed at the idea that I would use my sawzall  to cut the bottom of the gate off.  He pulled out his table saw and had the bottom cut in a nice straight line in no time.  He even helped me to hang the gate.  Thanks Ken!

The chickens were intrigued by all of the digging and building.  Luckily they are not intelligent enough to realize that they can fly over the fence anytime they want!

I'm so happy to not have to yell "look out for the poop!" at my children every time they walk out the back door.  I think the fence gives my yard a slightly farm like look that I really like.  It's super cute for what is essentially a giant chicken toilet.  Yay chicken toilet!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Happy Buys: Winter 2015 and Spring 2016

I don't go shopping much anymore.  Well, not the fun type of shopping.  I feel like I am grocery shopping almost every day and don't get me started about Home Depot.  But this past winter, and so far this spring, I have bought several things that are my new favorites! 

Possibly the best purchase I have made in my life!

This lovely Universal stove was bought off of Craigslist.  It cost more to get it home than it did to buy it.  It isn't perfect, the oven door doesn't want to stay shut tight, but I love it all the same.

Nothing says grownup dining set like squirrels!

The seats on my grandparent's dining room chairs have seen better days.  Henry started picking at the plastic coverings before he could even walk.  When Sofi Sue came along she happily helped to peel away the plastic and as the dining room was our only eating area in the old house plenty of food ended up on the fabric underneath.  Now I am amazed that anyone is willing to sit on those chairs when we have company over!  So I bought this lovely laminated fabric from Etsy and will hopefully have time to recover the chairs soon.

Yay rugs!

This rug from was very affordable and works perfectly to keep my feet warm when I step out of bed in the mornings.  We almost didn't buy it as it is far from a necessity, but I'm so glad we did.

It looks a little bit like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree at the moment.

It doesn't look like much right now, but I've been longing for this little 3 in 1 espaliered apple tree since I moved in almost a year and a half ago.  Each level will produce a different type of apple, so we will have Akane, Honey Crisp, and Chehalis.  I've never even heard of two of those, but I'm sure they'll be delightful!

Yay for occasionally buying stuff!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Laundry Room Progress (painting an unfinished basement ceiling)

Painting the laundry room took forever.  Almost two months forever.  Granted, most of that time was spent prepping, not painting.  Our laundry room does not have a finished ceiling, so all of the pipes that go from the boiler to the radiators, the gas lines, the electrical conduit and the water lines are visible.  I felt that we should avoid painting all of these.  The pipes that go from the boiler to the radiators get super hot and would require special paint, and I kind of like the exposed pipe look.  But in order to paint the unfinished ceiling with all of the nooks and crannies, the rough wood beams, and the hard to reach corners spraying the paint on was really our only option.  That meant covering everything in the room that we didn't want to paint.


I spent weeks wrapping all of the pipes in tin foil.  By the end it looked as if I should be a wacky ufo enthusiast extra in an episode of the X-Files (how exciting is it that they've started that series up again?).  I also covered up the windows and the doorways.

Taking off the tinfoil after painting
My awesome neighbor Ken allowed me to borrow his sprayer and spent the morning with me to show me how to work it.  Three gallons of paint later the room still wasn't completely white.  The wood ceiling sucked up paint and the sprayer was acting up.  I ended up buying a fourth gallon and using a roller and paint brush to finish up.  That $100 dollars worth of paint payed off, the room is now much brighter and more inviting.  Well, more inviting to humans.  Spiders, on the other hand, are running scared!

Brighter and much less scary!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Getting the house ready for an appraisal

Tim and I are feeling pretty over the whole mortgage insurance scene.  We're wasting over a hundred dollars a month to make our lender feel better about our reliability.  Never mind the twelve years of timely payments in our old house and the year and a half of timely payments in our new one.  So we're planning on getting our house reappraised this summer in the hopes that it has increased in value enough to allow us to ditch the mortgage insurance.  Tim came up with a number that seems realistic to me (don't ask me how, I didn't entirely follow the math myself) but he also had a concern that is equally realistic.  It is possible that the condition of our dining room floor could lower the value of our house to a point where we'll be stuck throwing away our $100 indefinitely.

The dining room floor has been a sore point for me since the first day of our new home ownership.  I immediately pulled up the carpeting in the room we decided to use as our dining room and found an old pine plank sub floor with a deceptive band of fake wood linoleum around the edge.  The hardwood flooring that is on our second story and (shocker) our basement level does not carry onto our first floor.  My plans of refinishing the hardwood floors that I had assumed would be throughout the home were squashed.  We refinished the second story and just left the dining room floors alone with plans to rethink and regroup.  Fast forward a year and a half and the kids have accumulated quite a few splinters from crawling under the dining room table because we still haven't done a thing with that floor.  Now that we want to get an appraisal we've decided to move forward with putting in new flooring and stop waffling about what that should be.  I've been leaning towards cork from the first.  I've fleetingly considered bamboo or filling in the gaps in the pine floor and painting it, but I always go back to cork in the end.  I love the look, and in my research I've found that it has other good properties as well.  It is warmer and more comfortable to stand and sit on, it's good for people with allergies, and it helps with sound insulation.  We're almost 100% sure that we'll be going with Wicander's Originals Accent cork click and snap planks.

Isn't it pretty?

We just have to decide on how we want the top finished, but hopefully in the next week or so we'll have made our decision and ordered our flooring!  It's exciting to think that we'll finally start working on making our first floor look more like a home.  It makes me want to get moving on fixing the trim on our windows, painting, putting in wainscoting, building the window seat, bookshelves.....  Actually, this all sounds exhausting.  Maybe we'll put this decision off a little longer after all!