Posts Tagged ‘home improvement’

Bathroom Remodel Hell

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

We interrupt this all-Disney, all-the-time blog to talk about how stupid my house is.


That’s what you get when you buy a house built in 1913. Especially a house built in 1913 that’s had most of the work done by half-assed do-it-yourself-ers over the years, so every time you start any project you immediately discover 10 more things that need to be fixed. It’s the worst.

I am trying so hard to remember that being forced to design a new bathroom is a first world problem. I mean, we still have a (A.¬†One. Uno.) working toilet, so I am still living a first world life (even if I don’t have a working tub or shower). I have access to a line of credit to pay for the repairs so I don’t have to live with a hole in my kitchen ceiling. We have homeowner’s insurance that may help fix that giant hole in the kitchen ceiling. I get to choose which tile and which light and which flooring I want, I don’t have to use whatever is the very cheapest option.

But looking on the bright side and being grateful is taking up SO MUCH of my mental energy I’m completely exhausted. There are people in and out of my house all day, we have a million decisions to make (and they all involve both money and math, the two things that stress me out the most), I feel like an idiot trying to understand plumbing and electrical issues. Feeling like a broke, unshowered idiot is not a fun way to spend your summer vacation.

We had absolutely planned to remodel our upstairs bathroom at some point. We’ve been talking about it for years. Whoever did it last time (a curse upon them) used discontinued/scratch and dent/overstock/ugly ugly ugly stuff and we’ve hated it since we moved in. So when this disaster is over I’m going to have a bathroom I don’t hate. That’s the good news.

It’s also going to have heated floors. That’s the REALLY good news.

But right now, every time I walk past this room, all I can think about is living in bathroom hell.

bathroom remodel during


My Week(328) in iPhone Photos

Friday, February 17th, 2017

If the goal of the current administration is to make me feel like I’m living in The Upsidedown to the point where I can’t even watch the news anymore, GOOD JOB! Here’s last week, when I was only like, 75% burnt out on everything.


Home Depot trip

Super Bowl party food – made NONE of this

Finn making friends


This McD’s is determined not to close, despite the fact that it’s torn apart


New wall color in the kids’ room


Testing out the reading corner

Donut time

She already knows these


Linc stole my phone and took more pictures

These shoes are on kid #3!

A tiny bear helping me pick paint colors


I’m doing Weight Watchers again. Salad and tuna is my life.


We got a little snow


Sledding day

Too much snow to swing lolololol

It’s a tradition


Breakfast outfit

Snow cream for lunch

Two thumbs up for German Chocolate Cake

Today I cleaned out both dressers in the master bedroom and threw away all my underwear that didn’t fit or wasn’t comfortable. I have like 4 pairs left, but the fact that some of it was from HIGH SCHOOL means it definitely needed to be done. I still have a lot of work in the guest room, Linc’s room and the kid room to do, but at least now I’ve done something for my own benefit. If I keep being this stressed out the house should be totally clean before school gets out.

My Week(229) in iPhone Photos

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

I am suffering from a severe case of OMFG WHY ISN’T IT WARMER OUTSIDE YET. It’s making me hate everything.



We bought a children’s museum membership basically JUST for this thing


Caroline says this hat is totally her style


Evan takes checkers very seriously



I bought a new rug


Go away Mommy





Baby in a cage with a sister to entertain him = I can get stuff done


Meeting the fishes


Caroline said he needed to be more stylish



I had to put the baby in a stroller, so I put a wrap over him.


Giant boxes are the best part of childhood


Possibly regretting the demo he just did in the dining room because now he HAS to build that bench I asked for (stay tuned…)



Reading her horse book to her horses


Attitude for days


Officially the cutest Tula





She wanted to participate in our babywearing meetup


It snows for TWO DAYS



Helping with the bench


Pizza picnic


Then THIS happened and decided I needed more babies immediately

I am seriously having a hard time caring about anything right now because I’m so done with winter. If I could open the front door and let the kids play on the porch I would be SO READY to do some spring cleaning but since it’s 28 degrees out I just want to go take a nap. And I don’t want to cook anything. Or go anywhere. Or talk to anyone. Or blog about anything.

The kids and I are all playing hooky tomorrow because half day + appointments + cranky baby = too much of a mess to handle. I’m hoping it resets everyone’s attitude because we ALL need it.

DIY Patio Makeover

Monday, June 13th, 2011

At this point, I’ve talking about the NEW PATIO and the BIG REVEAL so many times I’m afraid this is going to be sort of a let down to everyone expecting a Yard Crashers style makeover complete with water feature and hot tub and 12-foot fireplace. It is not that crazy. BUT. If you consider this was all done in 1 week by hand by two guys, two women and a toddler, THEN it is impressive. Two guys, two women and a toddler, who, I might add, have never built a patio before. Now you can be impressed.

One more time, BEFORE:






Good changes, yes?

The rock wall for the side garden is built out of the flagstone that used to be in our walkways. All the plants in this garden were transplanted – either from my own garden or from my friend Merin’s. The lights closest to the ground are actually solar powered. The lanterns on the poles are for candles – you put these little blue things in the top and they’re supposed to repel bugs (I think the definitely help).

Dining table from Walmart, dishes/glasses from Target. The adorable “floating” shelf was the result of a joint brainstorming session, where E and I decided we needed a buffet for dinner parties. E made it out of scrap wood from our basement and attached it to the fence with chain I spray painted green. Then I used some tape and 3 more cans of spray paint to make the design. It folds up flat against the neighbor’s our fence when we’re not using it and can easily be removed and stored in the winter. Roses & hydrangeas are from my garden, displayed in tin cans (spray painted of course).

Seating set, end tables & throw pillows from Target, firepit from Home Depot. Throw blanket is from Pier 1. Flower pots are from various places (including some I already owned & spray painted). Tray (that I spray painted) and mugs are from Goodwill. See that dark purple vine in the blue pot? It’s called “Sweet Caroline”.

Did you enjoy my attempt at a Martha Stewart worthy photo shoot? It’s been pouring rain for two days so everything is sort of damp and grey but it still looks pretty good. For a little reality check, here’s the patio during dinner on Sunday night:

And now for my absolute favorite part of the patio: nighttime.

String lights are from Target and plug into a super handy outlet right inside the garage window. The fire pit actually gives off enough heat to make a cool night comfortable and is PERFECT for s’mores making.

Showing my appreciation for all E's amazingly hard work


In case you were wondering, the total costs of the project were:

$2016.26 for the patio itself, including all the supplies, tools, stone, sand, gravel and plate compactor rental. (Not included: lots of pizza for the workers).

$1841.77 for EVERYTHING else, from the furniture and pillows down to the candles and plants.

Grand total: $3858.03.

We estimate that if we’d hired someone to do all the work for us, the labor and material total (not counting any of the decor or furniture) would have been at least $8,000. It was a LOT of digging.

Special thanks to my mom and dad who did at least 50% of the work on this and only had one night to enjoy it. I can’t wait until they come back again for more s’mores and wine on the patio.

Edited to add: You can see the much less glamorous doing-the-work photos and information here.

Thirty Hand Made Days



Monday, June 6th, 2011

Here’s today’s free tip: THERE IS A REASON IT COSTS A LOT OF MONEY TO HAVE A PATIO PROFESSIONALLY INSTALLED. It is not a nice, easy weekend project. It is a ton of work. Actually several totally literal tons. Tons of brick and sand and gravel and dirt. “More dirt!” was our mantra of the week – even the toddler says is now. Constantly. There is dirt under my fingernails I may never get out. Every surface on the first floor of the house is coated in grime. Even the carpet in my bedroom THREE FLOORS UP is dirty. It’s going to take me another week just to get the house clean.

Ok, it’s going to take me a MONTH to get the house clean – because I’m going to be too busy relaxing on my patio to bother with vacuuming. Who can be bothered when there’s s’mores to be made and wine to be sipped from my classy new plastic wine glasses?

This is not the dramatic before and after picture post (that one is coming as soon as my dining table gets here)(and after E builds me a shelf)(unless he takes a month to build the shelf because I am not waiting that long) that’s going to BLOW YOUR MIND. This is the “look at all the work we did to get to the “after” post” so the after post doesn’t end up being a bazillionty pages long. Now it will only be half a bazillionty pages long.

This is the yard in March, before the lawn guys raked up the leaves and before most of the green stuff came up:

Here’s the yard just last week:

The grill was totally neglected in that dirt spot behind the big tree, the flagstone paths were always full of weeds and impossible to shovel in the winter, the grass never grew next to the garage, the back steps were a MESS and the slope of the yard meant there was a huge mud puddle right in front of the steps when it rains.

It was not a good space, not for me, not for E, not for the kids.

Here’s how we started the project:

E and I tore up all the walkways, but saved the stone to reuse in the project later.

E built a planter bed out of 4×4’s behind the tree so we had somewhere to put all the dirt – and so I had someplace to put all the hostas I dug up when we took out the walkways.

Dad and E spent TWO FULL DAYS just digging. I helped (truly, I did help) but I am just not strong enough to do much good. That tiiiiiny hill to the left of the garage ended up being full of roots and concrete. They worked so hard they both deserve medals. And several cases of beer.

Mom did a GREAT job watching the kids, especially since Caroline has been a crazy teething monster for days and needed CONSTANT attention. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without Mom.

These are the pavers I chose for the patio – they’re just brick that’s gray instead of red. It was a budget choice as much as an aesthetic one (they were about $2.o4 per square foot), but in the end I LOVE them. E and I did all the design stuff ourselves with some practical and/or math help from my Dad. We ordered 2250 of these…and have about 14 left over. GOOD ESTIMATING.

These are the stone we chose for the retaining wall. I was very excited to find that these only cost $2.15 a piece, which was LESS than the ugly cheap looking ones. We went back for more twice to get the height/length of the wall exactly right but since we only bought a dozen at a time we didn’t need them delivered.

So in total, we had to dig down 6 inches from where the top of the pavers were supposed to go to lay down 3 inches of gravel and then an inch of sand (the pavers were 2 inches high). And when we finished digging out each of those layers we had to make sure the top was totally level. E leveled dirt AND gravel AND sand with just some 2×4’s and PVC pipe.

We ordered the gravel and sand from a local family place (actually the same family who we buy our Christmas tree from) and they delivered it all in big giant trucks that dumped it in our driveway. It was SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper (close to 70% less) to order it in bulk than to buy it in bags from the hardware store. They also helped us figure out how many cubic feet to order to cover 500 square feet of ground.

After the gravel was all down, we rented a stamping machine from Home Depot. It took just a few minutes but was TOTALLY WORTH IT. The special gravel is made of lots of different sized pieces so when it gets pounded by the machine it locks itself together and becomes almost like cement. There is NO CHANCE any weeds are growing up through this patio (also because we laid down landscaping fabric).

My dad’s mantra when he does projects is “We have to do it RIGHT.” That included getting the yard almost totally level – I say “almost” because we intentionally sloped it a little so the water would drain away into the flower beds. We also added a drainage pipe to the downspout that runs under those steps made from 6×6’s so water from the gutters won’t wash anything away.

We might have broken our own rule and worked in the dark a few times once we realized we weren’t going to be done with our “easy project” by Wednesday.

The pattern for the pavers is called a basketweave, and that line of bricks around the edge is called a soldier’s course. Doing a curve along that wall and another along the back meant a lot of brick cutting, but Dad had a diamond blade for his saw so it wasn’t too hard. We added black edging to the sections that didn’t abut something solid so the pavers won’t move over time.

Little Evan was an expert shoveler by the end of the week and helped with spreading out the sand. We put sand over the pavers and then rented the stamper machine again. It leveled all the pavers and forced the loose sand into the cracks so now it’s all one extremely solid surface.

After it was stamped and swept again and wetted down we did all the clean-up work – cutting landscape fabric, planting things, putting together furniture, hanging lights. By the time my parents left our driveway on Sunday morning the only thing that wasn’t 100% done is reseeding parts of our lawn.

And here is a sneak peak at my “hanging out on the awesome patio” after photos. Also, my husband’s butt. He was grilling, which makes it even better.

More pictures coming soon – and finished, final, awesome, magazine-worthy makeover pictures coming hopefully before the weekend. Also coming: your invitation to a barbeque. Seriously, who wants to come over?

P.S. Before you ask, the answer to “will you come do mine next?” is NOT FOR ALL THE WINE IN THE WORLD.