Monday, July 29, 2013

It’s Happening

I tore apart the kitchen last week. Took all of the doors off of the cabinet bases, removed the drawer fronts, started painting.

Kitchen before painting cabinets

I’m a glutton for punishment. I haven't finished the garden, I started working on cleaning up the basement, and now I’m remodeling the kitchen. But I have to work while I have the momentum. Once it stops, I stop. My motivation has been seriously dragging lately so it’s kind of good to get working on something again. This kitchen remodel is going to be done in three phases.

First Coat of Primer

Phase One: Paint the kitchen cabinets. I chose ultra white and we're going the controversial route of not sanding. Check out some of these posts I went to for inspiration:

We are also going to install beadboard around the peninsula where the carpet used to be. I'm excited about this.

Carpeted Peninsula

Phase Two: Cover the countertops with concrete. This is even crazier than Phase One, but we're gonna try. Mike and I are still discussing whether or not to cut the countertops (the peninsula thingy is way too big) and getting rid of the laminate “backsplash”, so we still have a bit before this gets started (like maybe a few weeks?)


Phase Three: Put in a backsplash. Mike’s taking care of this project, so I have no idea when it will get done. He wants small tiles and I might just let him do that. We also have been talking about changing out the flooring. The ceramic tiles are super uncomfortable to stand on all day and they show everything (like dog hair and dust). We are looking into laminate or vinyl tiles to replace it; both good options for where we live. Phase three will probably be a fall project.

The main thing we're trying to remember is that while we want things to look nice, we also don't want to be investing a ton of money into our kitchen. Since we don't plan on this being our forever home, we will have to sell it at some point, and our house is one of the bigger, pricier homes in the neighborhood where we live. Adding things like granite and hardwood won’t pay off. So we're taking small steps. And crossing our fingers that this DIY type approach will pan out for a beautiful kitchen!

Yikes! We have some work to do.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Same Age

The husband and I are just about the same age. Seven weeks separates us in birthdays. Mine was last month and for a few weeks, I was a year old than him. Over the weekend, Mike turned 27 and now we are the same age again! 
We've been trying to eat healthier lately and Mike has been doing a great job of sticking to no junk food and very limited sweets. For his birthday though, I told him I’d make him breakfast. He could pick anything in my repertoire – French Toast, Waffles, Pancakes, Eggs and Toast, you name it – and he chose waffles. I whipped up a couple and put some chocolate chips in his (his favorite!). I also made a little bit of blackberry syrup. So so good. 
Chocolate Chip Blackberry Waffles
Mike made it look pretty and told me I needed to put it up on the blog.

Bike Workstation
Also, he got some cool presents from his parents. Mike will be doing the biking portion of the Hy-Vee Triathlon next month and was in need of a new computer for his bike. He also wanted to do work while he biked, so they bought him a workstation that clips to your bike handlebars. Pretty neat!
I’m a pretty terrible wife. I didn't get him anything. On Saturday, I took him out for dinner and a movie (RED 2) and told him to buy something for himself off of amazon (he has a list). I’m sure he will be able to find something to buy.
Watch Cat
We also did some work on the garden this weekend (with Gizmo’s supervision, of course)! Slowly but surely, folks. This lil’ project sure is taking FOREVER to finish! Most of the work to be done is reinforcing the lattice and laying down mulch. It wouldn’t take very long, but we don’t seem to have a chance to work down there for long stretches of time. It is more like two hours here, an hour there… I am serious about being finished with it before school starts back up though!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Vacation Vacation

We were on a budget this year for vacation, but it did not disappoint. Relaxation, fun, family – we got what we needed. We did not go anywhere exotic but that’s okay. We had a great time and actually took a few pictures.

July 2013

Mike and I go to Ames annually in July for Midnight Madness, a 5k that his family has been involved in since Mike was little. He has ran it almost every year since high school, and after watching for a couple of years and being bored, I decided to run too. This was my third year running and it was a beautiful night! I ran my PR, which embarrassingly, is 36:27. I am a slowwww runner.

We also got to spend a lot of time with family. My brother-in-law and Michael’s cousin were also in town and we were able to do a lot of fun things, like a Game of Thrones marathon and some games of Horse.

Mike’s parents were gracious as always and cooked us up a couple of meals. We also got to enjoy a bunch of our favorite college eats, like West Street Deli, The CafĂ©, Battle’s BBQ, and The Grove. If you ever end up in Ames, Iowa, these are must stop places. We also checked out a new Korean restaurant in town, Rice House. So good. Every couple of months I get a big craving for Korean food. Kimchi and Gochujang are in my heart forever. I ate a hot rice bowl (dolsot bibimbap) and it was delicious. Mike said his chicken bulgogi (dalkalbi) was the real deal. They served us pickled stuff and there was a bottle of gochujang on the table for me to pour onto my food.

Leela was able to experience her first swim. She was kind of hesitant at first but ended up having a blast. She is a natural swimmer.

The past few days have been spent getting back into a routine. We are not going out of town for five more weeks! Yay, exciting! Time to get some projects done.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

House Progress: The Basement

We're back from our week-long vacation! Lots of eating out, meeting up with friends, hanging out with family and having fun happened. I will share it with you all soon. We returned to a pack of crazy but well taken care of chickens and a wild garden that needed some water! While we are catching up on day-to-day stuff (we were essentially without internet all week), I will show you the last piece on the house tour: the basement.

As you will see, nothing is really finished in our basement (that theme seems to carry over to the rest of the house Smile). In some places, we are getting there, but we still have a ways to go. Going down the stairs, you will automatically walk into the laundry room/bathroom when you go forward.

Basement Bathroom 2

The previous owners painted it a nice blue. Before Mike installed the shower upstairs, we used this bathroom for bathing so I tried to spruce it up. I put in a shower curtain that I had to cut down for size and some shelves to hold TP and toiletries.

Basement Bathroom 1

We got fairly lucky for a basement bathroom in that the vanity has already been spruced up a little. Considering we don't really use this bathroom, I don't really have any interest in working on this room for now.

Basement Bathroom 3

The laundry area needs some organization. Since I’m short, I tend to just keep things on top of the dryer and old bottles of detergent and fabric sheets (which we don't use) just sit on the shelve. I should have taken a picture, but the bathroom has bi-fold doors. Not so private if you’re trying to use the bathroom.

Basement Stairs and Litter Box

To the left of the stairs is Gizmo’s bathroom. We tried to make it nice and pretty (in our last place, we kept it in our main floor bathroom) and discreet, since she is shy on the potty. For the record, we switched her over to a walnut-based litter which is awesome. At first I thought the bags were kind of expensive, but a 25 pound bag lasts forever! And it absorbs really well, which was an issue we had with Sweat Scoop.

Workout Room 1

Moving on, we have the workout room. Mike got really into the idea of a home gym last fall and over the course of a few months acquired a treadmill, punching bag, and weight set for an in-house gym!

Workout Room 2 Workout Room 3

First we have the Bob punching bag, who is pretty creepy. We see him through the window in the backyard and when I come downstairs to do laundry. Sometimes I have to remind myself that Bob is not real! We bought a set of weights for super cheap on Amazon that can do up to 100 lbs. on each weight. The bench can decline and incline and works well for sit-ups as well as weight lifting.

Mike laid down mat squares on the cement for a soft-ish floor great for working out in.

Workout Room 7

Workout Room 8

I think this room would also work really well as a workshop, but since we have plans down the line to turn the other space into a home theater, I think this setup of having a workout space probably works best for us. We keep all of our tools upstairs in the storage space (a little inconvenient) and the paint and extra lumber and junk under the basement stairs.

Workout Room 5

The big piece is the treadmill. We originally were planning on getting something cheap for a couple hundred bucks but very quickly realized that a manual treadmill would not be suitable for us. We ended up getting a low end treadmill that was fairly well rated. It was around $600, so it wasn't a rash purchase, but we rationalized that without paying for a gym membership, the treadmill will pay for itself in a year or so. It definitely has gotten good use when the weather doesn't cooperate!

We have a cheap Bell trainer for our bikes that we use in inclimate weather. Mike is currently training for a triathlon (where he is doing the 25 mi. portion) so he has been using the trainer a lot.

Workout Room 6

The room was already equipped with this shelving unit, which I just slapped a couple coats of paint on. It holds some equipment for our gym but is pretty empty right now. I’m sure we will find ways to fill it up.

Basement 1

The final room in our basement is a catch-all for crap. We throw boxes down here when we want to make sure an item works, extras of anything, items that need to be donated, and the recycling.

Basement 2

It’s a kind of a scary fire hazard down here. That’s why it is one of my goals this summer to get this room cleared out.

Basement 3

One day this room will hopefully be a home theater. We have some work to do, huh?

This wraps up our current house tour. Check out the rest here:

The Living Room
The Dining Room and Kitchen
The Upstairs

You'll also find an updated House Tour Page at the top of the blog for future reference. As things change, I plan to update that page as opposed to these posts.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Dose of Cute

Welcome to our new weekly series, Friday Dose of Cute. This will showcase one of our pets in a cute picture, no words needed. We're on vacation this week so see you all sometime next week. Without further ado, Gizmo:

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our Wild, Overgrown Mess of a Garden

Hope everyone had a great fourth of July weekend. We spent our time fawning over our little baby, Leela.

Leela Bear

She’s very timid for an almost eighty pound bear. Gunshots, thunder and fireworks terrify her and we had to do a lot of cuddling and comforting to get her through the night. She is now afraid to go outside after dark. Sigh.

Today I wanted to show you all how the garden is doing.

Wild Garden

It’s a wild, tangly mess that is doing very well! We are getting so many cucumbers that I'm surely going to need to figure out how to can pickles. Lately we've been enjoying them on salads and sandwiches and also as “cucumber salad.” I'm not sure where this came from – could have been from my mom’s head – but we ate it all the time as kids and I still enjoy it today.


We are starting to get raspberries! The harvest this first year is sure to be low, but here are the first small batch:

First Garden Raspberries

Four whole raspberries! Pretty dirty too – the bush is still pretty low to the ground.

Hill Garden in July

If you couldn't tell by earlier pictures, our garden is an out of control mess. There are things I can't even get to on the hill because there are so many tall weeds! On terrible aspect of all these weeds are bugs. We have been lucky enough not to get mosquitoes, but I'm pretty sure the wild parts of our garden are infested with chiggers. I have eight bites on my body that itch constantly from gardening this past week. We need to get rid of the weeds pronto!

Corn in July

The corn seems to be doing well. As with most of the garden, the plants didn't get thinned very well, so there’s a lot of corn in a really small space. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes because the plants are too big to thin out now.

Beans in July

The beans are a tangly mess that beg for organization. But everything seems to be going well here. There are some peas starting to form and lots of flowers, all good signs.

Peas in July

Eggplant in July

Bed two is where one variety of eggplant lives. I can't remember which went where. Thriving and close to producing fruit!

Brussels Sprouts in July

The Brussels sprouts look pretty much the same, except bigger. Both Mike and I expected them to grow taller by this point, but we are trying to be patient.

Cucumbers in JulyVining Cucumbers in July

The cucumbers have pretty much taken over this bed. I try to give them direction and there are some offshoots that vine down off of the garden bed. Pretty neat! Like I said, we are now harvesting cucumbers and it doesn't look like it will let up anytime soon.

Beets and Carrots in July

The carrots and beets are getting bigger and more out of control. Very little thinning done means the yield will probably be low. The spinach and salad greens are needing harvesting. If I cut the salad greens, it should continue to grow for a while. The spinach yield is so low that I’ve just been giving most of it to the chickens, who love it as a treat.

Salad Greens in JulySpinach in July


Tomatoes in July

The tomatoes and potatoes are fighting for space in the small bed. Both are huge. I plan on building something for the tomatoes soon. The pepper plants seem to be surviving with the other plants hogging up all the space and sunlight. There are some peppers on the plants, but for the most part, I haven't seen much from those guys yet.

Wild Garden 2

If you look carefully, you may be able to spot catnip, basil. tomatoes, and potato plants in this picture! Having a successful garden has been so much fun this year. So far, the secret has been lots of rain (haven't watered my garden once!) and a good mix of organic potting soil and compost. I’m sure that it could be much bigger and better yielding if I used fertilizers, but I'm content with this after my lackluster garden last year.

To see how the garden looked one month ago, check out this post.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer To-Do List

We've been officially into summer for more than a week, but things at our little homestead are so behind that I'm just now getting around to figuring out what I want to accomplish this summer before going back to work. Too many things.

Garden To-Do

1. Finish the garden.
You know, like actually getting the fence done. Putting the rest of the mulch down. Weeding out the mess.
2. Clean up the basement.
The workout room is pretty much finished. And the bathroom is functional. But the main room is a disaster. Boxes and broken items, a stove and a refrigerator, a huge pile of recycling lie around waiting to be taken care of. This needs to be done before winter hits again (Hey, four months comes sooner than you think!).
Craft Room To-Do

3. Get the craft room organized.
It’s in the same state as the basement, minus the old appliances.
4. Finish those curtains!
Yeah, the fabric is still sitting on the cutting table waiting to be sewn up.
5. Paint the living room.
Kitchen To-Do

6. Kitchen
The current plans are to refinish the countertops with concrete and paint the cabinets. This will be a semi-big project so this will probably be the focus of the second half of July.
That’s it. Only six items on the list, but most of the projects are pretty lengthy. This week’s focus is the garden. Then we will be heading on vacation, so by the time we come back, it will be time for the kitchen. If we are able to get that done before the end of July, that will leave only two weeks in August to complete the rest. Eek! Better get on it!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Girls: A Three Month Update

Not much different with these ladies, but everyone loves adorable photos of chickens, so I thought I'd pop in and let you all know that the chick(en)s are doing well. They are nearing thirteen weeks and are as precocious as ever. Whenever I come down to the garden, they run to the door and chirp at me. The only real complaint I have about them is that they peck at me as if I’m food. But they're so darn cute I can't stay mad at them :)

Chickens 13 Weeks 4

They are eating mostly chick crumbles still. In a few weeks, they will be switching over to chicken scratch. They are spending a bit of time each day foraging around in the garden. They dig for bugs, peck at weeds, and sample scraps from the garden. They love corn leaves. Beet, not so much. They mostly eat the grass that pops up from under the mulch. I feel like a broken record, but really, we love our chickens. They are easy going and fun! Without further ado, the chickens at thirteen weeks:

Chickens 13 Weeks 1

Chickens 13 Weeks 2

Chickens 13 Weeks 3

Chickens 13 Weeks 5

Chickens 13 Weeks 6

Chickens 13 Weeks 7

Chickens 13 Weeks 8