Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saving a bundle on stuff for the house

I've been debating when to post some of the happenings around here. A few projects are still in the works and I am using all my restraint not to post details or teaser pictures.

First, some good news: We should have all our utilities turned on by tomorrow afternoon. Our final gas inspection paperwork was lost at the city level. There was a computer crash and the inspections weren't filed for several days. After several panicked moments, I was able to schedule a gas connection! (It is so very difficult not to make some sort of joke right here.)

To be honest, I love my crockpot, but after eating nothing but crockpot meals for the last several weeks, I am really ready to eat something chocolate cookies or freshly baked bread. The weather is cooling off to the low 90s, which means it's practically fall.

House decorating continues. I am what one would call decorating challenged. I've always had hand me down furniture and cast offs. It's only been recently that I've discovered the thriftstore chic or funky junky is an actual style of decorating, but a bit more elevated than looking like you're still in college. It involves a lot of paint and looking at found items through different eyes. One project I hope to complete involves turning a crappy dresser into a bench seat.

The big focus now is painting downstairs and dealing with our lack of lighting.

Which brings us to the real purpose of this post...the amazing deal I got today at Lowes. Mom is here visiting from Washington state and we went paint shopping today. While we were window shopping in the lighting section (champagne tastes, root beer budget), we came across a shopping cart (that's a buggy for all my local friends) full of light fixtures. They were dusty, clearly display models. We asked the department manager if they were for sale and he quoted us a price of $50. I looked at my mom hopefully, because well...root beer budget and $50 for a single light fixture was still in the real beer price range...until he said "No, the entire cart is $50."


My mom didn't hesitate. She grabbed the cart and we walked as quickly as we could without damaging the lighting to the paint section so we could get out of the store before anyone changed the price!

The cart had four different pewter finish lights with a full retail value of $525!

It's been several hours and I still can't stop grinning.

Lesson learned? ALWAYS ask if there are any hidden deals/floor models on closeout. The worst they can do is say no.

These lights aren't exactly funky junky but it may be what it takes my decorating from looking cheap to chic!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Update... or not

We are settling in to the new house. A few ups and downs. The big news is after 10 days of living here, we finally have air conditioning!

The bad news, is four days after moving in, some bitty in the neighborhood decided to report us to the city for all sorts of "violations" including grass being too long, tree limbs down in the yard, trash, and broken down vehicles. This is a bit odd because the only tree on the property is a pear tree in the far back corner of the yard. You can't even see it unless you come in to the yard, and there are no broken limbs on it. There wasn't any trash in the yard or broken down vehicles! We've had contractors here for the last three weeks working pretty much every day. At one point the plumbers left some pipes in the front yard until they could get them in their truck. That particular day, I had three contractors here and there was no way to load the pipes in the plumber's truck until the electrician moved. Those pipes sat on the lawn for *three* entire hours.

At our first neighborhood association meeting, a woman complained that someone had reported her to the city for furniture on her lawn. She had called and requested a trash pickup from the city for a couch. They told her a time. The couch was placed on the lawn...and the garbage collector didn't come until the next day. The couch sat on the lawn for less than 24 hours and someone called and complained. She had to take a day off of work to deal with the mess/fines. There was some back story, but she wasn't able to answer the complaint so even tho it was taken care of, the city still fined her. Nice, huh?

She asked that neighbors PLEASE speak to other neighbors to find out what the deal is before just calling the city to complain. One would think that would be the neighborly thing to do, but I guess some people aren't so neighborly.

I placed a call into the city to answer the complaint and find out exact details of the "problem."

Meanwhile, the kids started school this week. That's a load of chaos in itself.

I'm trying to unpack. I need to make birthday cupcakes for Danger Girl's 8th birthday Friday! I'm thinking of these...Spaghetti and meatball cupcakes. My good friend, The Illustrator, said she'd come to my rescue since I still don't have a working oven (that's another fun bureaucracy story for another time).

And, my parents are coming to surprise the kids this weekend. They were going to fly to Georgia to see my sister then drive here to visit with us. Plans changed when my sister moved here. So Ommy and Poppy are going to show up at church Sunday and the kids don't know :) Danger Girl is being baptized Sunday after church, so it's going to be an awesome day for a family BBQ and some crockpot birthday cake (ya know, since I don't have an oven I can't exactly bake.) Good times.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Case of the Brick in the Toilet

What started out as a simple mystery has quickly evolved in to something that just might be a horror novel.

The upstairs toilet wasn't flushing properly. D, being Mr. Handyman Extraordinaire, discovered the water wasn't going down right because there was a brick in the tank. This is a "trick" that is used to convert a regular toilet to a low flow toilet.

So off we go on our merry way thinking the brick was just there to help save the planet.

But, no. This our house and there's no way the previous owners did something green. Every weird thing they did in the house was to cover up some home repair crime.

One of contractors came upon the scene early in the morning and called us to let us know there was a leak under the house. We had the house inspected and there were no leaking pipes. He said, at one point water was falling at a fairly steady pace, then it stopped to a trickle. Very odd.

With the electrician who is still MIA, we didn't really feel that keen on calling in a plumber at this point. I suspected the culprit to be the upstairs bathroom sink. The faucets are already dripping, so it would make sense that the pipe would be the one to just randomly break. Not to mention the sink is already a bit jiggly on the wall.

We went back to the house today, unloading more boxes, painting and moving things around. I mentioned to the contractor that I thought it was the sink causing the leak. He informed me that the water started pouring out again when the upstairs toilet was used and he thought the seal must be broken around the bottom!

That's when things came together quickly in my mind. The brick...that pesky brick in the toilet really was there for a nefarious purpose: to hide the broken seal by better balancing the toilet.

Now, the potential for horror became clear...every time we've started one little teeny project of fixing something the other people did, it turns out much bigger: far more expensive and time consuming. The reality is, the toilet is pulled, a new ring put on and balanced...that's far too easy. It's going to be bad. I know I ought to hope for a happy ending, but we've been doing this for long enough (a whole month now) that I've already discovered that I shouldn't pull, rip, tear down, look under or otherwise do anything except paint unless I'm prepared to completely gut the entire room.

This means the brick goes back in to the toilet until we're ready to completely remodel the upstairs bathroom. And hopefully, it will keep the big scary remodel project off for long enough to complete some other much needed work. Wishful thinking...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm a star :)

Remember my to do list last week included giving that dresser a facelift and...doing back to school shopping on TV? Well, the video from the shopping trip was finally uploaded on the news website. This seems to be becoming a regular thing. Maybe we'll do some black Friday shopping?

I'm not sure how to embed the video on the blog, so you can just click the link then come back and tell me how fabulous it was. Not as many shots of my backside this time, but the ones that made the cut are just as unflattering as ever. Oh well... I had six kids and no plastic surgery. :P

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dresser's done!

I posted yesterday about giving a dresser a facelift, inspired by something on Pinterest.

We started with lovely piece I received from someone on freecycle:

check out the lovely water damage at the top.

My goal was to make it less ugly by using paint...paint i got off freecycle or had leftover from another project. Basically, if this was going to fail, I didn't want to waste anything besides my time.

I used two coats of Kilz one coat blah white leftover from painting cabinets in the kitchen. I also did two coats of a green pearl glaze. I'm not totally loving the outcome, but Leelee is and it's for her room so I guess her opinion counts more. I don't even think it really matches her room, but whatever. We'll see when we actually get the room painted and all of her stuff moved in.

Here's my finished product. I still have to figure out the drawer pulls, looking for suggestions. I covered up the water damage by putting down a small tray. I'm going to glue it down eventually:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pinterest Challenge

One of my new favorite blogs is Young House Love, perfect for DIY geeks, gawkers and the assorted crazies like me who actually want to fix up a house myself. This past week they decided to have a pinterest challenge which basically encourages you to do one of the crazy projects you pin instead of just looking at them.Link

As usual, I'm coming in late to the party, but figured I'd post to hold myself accountable.

My plan is to paint a dresser green. I found this one as rather loose inspiration:

I say loose interpretation because I have THIS to work with:

And yes, that would be water damage on the top. I've got to manage to take this piece from ugly to...less ugly. I'm not hoping for a miracle, just less of an eyesore.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I love the show If Walls Could Talk. For so long I've dreamed of having one of those houses where you find hidden things in the walls, attic or crawl space.

On our first peek under the crawl space, DH emerged with a glass bowl! I was sooo excited to check out this dirty bowl. Surely, there was some great history sitting right in my hands. I ran straight to the kitchen and started to clean it off. And this was my first great treasure, it was even marked on the bottom:

Isn't it marvelous? It's totally vintage TARGET (at least that's where I buy all my anchor hocking bowls) from the late 1990s. I'm considering hiding it back under the house so that in another 100 years, it might actually be worth something interesting.

When the HVAC contractor told us that he was going to have to cut a large whole in the ceiling to get to the attic, I was pretty excited. Surely there would be something completely awesome hidden up there. The access for the attic was designed for someone very small in stature. A century ago, people were much smaller than we are today. So maybe, just maybe there would be a box or some newspapers...something that would make my walls talk.

That would be just too perfect, wouldn't it? Which means it wasn't meant to be. The contractor said he found some old newspapers, but as soon as he touched them, they crumbled in his hands. He wasn't even able to get a date off of them. I'm really disappointed because I wanted something to help us date the construction of the house beyond when it was hooked up to the city water.

There was one other small find in the attic. The contractor said in all the years he's been doing this he's never found something like this in an attic. At the front of our house in the attic is a vent. That's odd in itself because there was no fan up there. Not sure why there was a vent. But, lying next to the vent on the inside of the attic was this:

In case you're wondering, that would be the original window that went where the vent is now! Once they put in the vent, they couldn't get the window back out of the itty bitty attic access so they just left it behind!

This may be the only bit of hidden treasure I get to find in the house, but I'm happy with it! It has the original wavy glass still intact. The other side of the pane is a lovely distressed lead based white paint of the original house.

I've been digging through pinterest looking for ideas on what to do with this lovely vintage window. I'd also love to hear any suggestions you might have.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Where's my prize?

The focus on getting the new house ready has made everything else out of balance. And, let's not forget right now we have 12 people living in our 900 sq ft 3 bedroom 1 bath ranch house. If that's not enough to send someone spinning out of control, I'm not sure what is.

I really think we could pitch this idea to a network for a reality show: The EXTENDED FAMILY. Put in sisters, brothers, spouses and their kids, toss in parents and an Ex for good measure, and cram them in an insanely small house with one bathroom, a mega heatwave and...they have to live on a shoestring budget. The last person with sanity intact and speaking relationships wins a trip to a deserted island. Trust me, after three weeks of this, even peeing alone is a prize.

We are all holding up remarkably well. No one has threatened death to anyone else before.

I don't know if it's an avoidance tactic, but the men of the house have been working LOTS of extra hours. Heck, if I had the chance to work extra hours, I'd snatch it up!

Meanwhile, we're trying to get things packed. I'm optimistic that we'll be ready to move in at the end of next week. As soon as the electrical passes inspection and the a/c is turned on upstairs, we are moving. I don't care if the a/c is ready downstairs!

I'm trying to get as many projects done as possible, but we are really at a standstill especially since we're under a heat advisory. Here's a list of what I need to get done this week:

  1. Finish spray painting girls' bunkbeds
  2. pick up refrigerator
  3. Fix the chandelier in the reception hall
  4. spruce up dressers
  5. deliver bunkbeds and futon to new house
  6. deliver washer/dryer to old house
  7. prime shelving unit for kitchen
  8. continue bagging up clothes/toys (much easier than boxing up for a cross town move)
  9. update address with schools & figure out buses
  10. maybe even film a saving money on school supplies spot for the news, because I have a TON of time for that right now