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Posts Tagged ‘remodeling’

The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 62: I think we all saw this coming. I decided that, indeed, I hated the vase/glass pebble look I put together recently. The brown pebbles seemed to be the biggest part of the problem, so I ditched them (hopefully, some lucky shopper at the New Leash on Life Market Place has more love for brown than I do) and replaced most of them with some clear pebbles that were hanging out in the garage. It’s still not one of My Favorite Things, but it’s definitely making me happier.

Previously:

Day 56: Planned to move a small shelving unit to a more effective place in the garage. Got hit in the head with an errant surfboard. Yes, a surfboard.

Day 57: Got the husband to help me pick a spot for the wall hanging, since he’s the one who brought it home as part of a package deal when he bought a Volkswagen bus. We didn’t get to hang it, however, since the neighbor’s dog barked from literally 7 a.m. until we fled the house at around 2 to seek peace and quiet in the movie theater.

Day 58: Hung the toilet paper roller AND the towel holder in the downstairs bathroom. Epic.

Day 59: Tossed a pile of recipes that I had cut out from newspapers and magazines. It seems like all people who like to cook have one of these piles of recipes that they go through a couple of times a year, yet never manage to pull anything out and actually make it. Not anymore. They’re in the recycling guy’s hands now.

Day 60: Swept out the garage, or at least the parts I could get to with a broom.

Day 61: Nada. I did schoolwork and worried about my mom and her sick dog.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 51: Still recovering, but I did manage to help the husband a little as he hooked up the drain pipe in the downstairs bathroom.

Day 52: The problem with hidden, built-in storage is that you store stuff in it and then forget all about it. Sometime before Christmas, I had stashed some paperwork in the piano bench while doing a quick pre-guest pickup in the living room. I remembered the paperwork only last week, when I went crazy trying to find a form that, oddly, I hadn’t seen since before Christmas. Today, I got most of the stash out of the bench and filed it away upstairs.

Day 53: I have a unique wall hanging that I’ll write more about later, but today I did an epic amount of research on the best way to hang it, since right now it’s just a folded piece of fabric in the closet. I’ve come to a final decision, and it doesn’t involve going back to the seamstress that made me feel bad for not knowing what kind of seam allowance I wanted.

Day 54: Admittedly, I spent what little organizational time I had today coloring paper balloon cutouts for a failed cat photo shoot.

Day 55: I finally redeemed a Groupon I purchased in December for a 16-by-20-inch gallery wrap from Canvas on Demand. I had narrowed my choices down to two photographs when I discovered that the site offered personalized customer service interaction that helped me choose the winner. Now I’ve got two weeks to decide where to hang it.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 18: Put a blazer into the thrift store box. It’s a well-made wool blazer, but its cut is simply out of style and I don’t know when it’ll come back in style. I’m no fashionista, but in addition to being outdated, it’s also a little big for me.

Day 19: Manhandled my office bifold closet door to obtain the big Rubbermaid box filled with more photographs that I need to send to ScanCafe. Spent another 10 minutes trying to figure out how to repair the bifold closet doors so they both actually open and close. I hate those closet doors.

Day 20: Shredded documents like an Enron accountant, only with less desperation.

Day 21: Really started to dig into the photo box retrieved on Day 19. Remembered why every time I start to sort through this box, I quickly put the top back on and put it back in the closet. It contains everything from old photographs of family members I don’t remember to vacation photos from the late 1990s.

Day 22: I actually made headway on the box of photos, sorting out duplicates and choosing the best copies to send off for scanning.

Day 23: Finally bought the faucet, toilet paper holder and towel ring to go in the remodeled downstairs bathroom. This is why people buy new houses.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 4 saw the decluttering of one small shelf. Baby steps, people.

Part of Day 5 was spent waiting on the contractors to install a granite countertop in the downstairs bathroom, and the rest of it was spent obsessing about said installation and trying to pick out a faucet. Home improvement: It counts.

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We were going to spring for a new fireplace insert this year to heat the first floor so we wouldn’t have to move the TV upstairs for the next few months. Turns out that, like so many renovations we attempt to undertake, this one’s going to require a lot more work and money than we had planned on.

Rather than lugging the TV upstairs, however, the husband came home with the
Presto HeatDish Parabolic Electric Space Heater. It is quite simply amazing, putting out enough heat to keep us warm and toasty on the couch. It’s made it onto my list of Favorite Things (it’s kind of like Oprah’s, but with more Apple gadgets and a salad spinner), a list that’s pretty difficult to get on.

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I found this today behind the giant bathroom mirror I’m replacing. Who wallpapers an entire half bathroom with pastel-striped wallpaper? I don’t care if it WAS the ’80s. The room has a VERY high ceiling and that is a LOT OF STRIPES.

And the renovator who hung a mirror over it instead of taking it down with the rest? Let’s never meet in a dark alley.

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Ever manage to inadvertently start following a healthy eating pattern?

This weekend, I realized that I’ve established two useful food guidelines over the past few years: I don’t eat in the car, and I don’t eat in front of the TV.

Both situations came about entirely by accident.

I purchased a car with a manual transmission six years ago, meaning that the “extra” hand required to eat while driving is only accessible when cruising speed has been reached on the interstate. City driving does not free up this hand. As a bonus, the car’s tiny cupholders are a marvel of engineering; the two up front are too small for anything but a 12-ounce soda can, and the larger one between the buckets seats requires the flexibility of a Cirque performer to reach.

The living room embargo is a bit more complicated. As we watched the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina approach our home in Mobile in 2005, we grabbed our table from the dining room and flipped it onto the bed in hopes of keeping it dry. We ended up with only the back third of the house flooded, but the teardown, rewiring, rebuilding, re-everything meant that the table was taken apart and stored in the bedroom closet for the better part of two years.

What I discovered during this time was that no matter your intentions, eating dinner in the living room off of the coffee table pretty much ensures that you WILL turn the TV on. It’s just what happens. And once the TV is on, conversation is off.

The first thing I set up upon arrival in Huntsville, therefore, was the table. There have been no dinners in front of Smallville, no breakfasts in front of The Soup. Just talking, newspaper-reading, and, occasionally, a subtle Pandora soundtrack.

Not eating dinner in the living room leads to not eating much of anything in the living room except for the rare bowl of movie popcorn. Nobody heads to the kitchen and grabs a bag of chips to mindlessly munch on; nobody sits down with a sleeve of cookies to polish off.

Focused eating is more likely to be healthy eating, and dining without distraction makes for much better family time. And you don’t have to buy a manual transmission or wait for a flood: Declare the driver’s seat off limits for noshing, and insist that nothing crosses the dining room border but popcorn. In both cases, your seat cushions and your waistline will thank you.

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Buying cookware is the final stage of entry to adulthood, right?

I am SO there.

I’ve been using the cookware pictured here for about 16 years. Liberated from the home of my dearly departed paternal grandmother, it’s likely older than I am. Wear and tear wasn’t really a problem, however, since she hardly ever cooked much more than a can of chicken noodle soup.

It was some kind of enamelware, with hints of an Australian origin. I was always sort of vaguely aware that I should buy something “real,” since who knows what that stuff was coated with.

One of the larger pots developed a small dark spot on the bottom in the late ’90s. While boiling water one day, I watched the spot rise to the surface, followed by a powdery, brownish red cloud. It seemed to have rusted through from the inside out.

Other than that incident, it was incredibly durable. The only reason I had to get rid of it was because of another very grownup purchase my husband and I made recently: a new stove.

It’s a stainless steel model with a ceramic cooktop that, in theory, will make the kitchen sleek and sporty once we’ve replaced everything else that makes the kitchen non-sleek and frumpy.

The only caveat: The safest way to use the ceramic cooktop is not to use it at all.

It is the drama queen of cooking surfaces. No enamel. No cast iron. No aluminum. Only the flattest of flat-bottomed cookware will do. No hint of moisture on the outside of the vessel. If you spill anything with sugar in it on the cooktop, immediately turn the stove off, call a priest and get him to pray that you can remove the spill before it makes a pit on the surface.

I kid. Sort of. It’s actually a really reliable cooktop, once you get used to it, and the oven is the most accurate model I’ve ever used. And it does make one end of the kitchen look very sporty.

I think I’m even burning extra calories, because cooking without the fear of instantaneously destroying your cooktop doesn’t produce any adrenaline at all.

It might all be hype. Several people have told me that they use anything and everything on their ceramic cooktops. But older enamelware seems to be a consistent no-no – the surface coating has every possibility of actually melting onto the cooktop.

So we bought a set of stainless steel, the only “sure thing” to use. I was pleasantly surprised by the price; my husband found a five-piece set of Tramontina, recommended by Cook’s Illustrated, for around $150 at Wal-Mart, a real bargain compared to most of the luxury brands.

I’ve got no complaints about it. Best of all, some lucky thrift-store scavenger is going to get a few more years of use out of my grandmotherly enamelware. Just beware the small dark spot on the bottom.

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You’re the manager of a big-box home improvement store and the economy’s hit bottom. Do you cut employee hours across the board, so much so that potential customers can find no one to take their money?

It looks like you do.

I spent 20 minutes in the appliances section of a huge home improvement store yesterday, waiting with another lady who kept pressing the “please come sell me something” button to no avail. I had the exact make and model of the appliance I wanted in hand, on a printout given to me a few weeks earlier by one of the store’s employees. All I needed was for someone to order the appliance and charge a large amount of money to my credit card.

But no. The section of the store in which NOTHING is priced UNDER $500 and most everything is priced OVER $1200 was completely unstaffed on a Sunday afternoon.

What’s funny is that the OTHER big-box home improvement store had already pulled a similar stunt with me and my remodeling dollars several weeks before.

I’m not begging anybody to take my money. If showing up is half the battle, you guys LOSE.

What a boon for the local mom-and-pop stores that have survived the competition. I bet bad customer service experiences get more people through their doors than anything else.

Every appliance in my kitchen is going to have to be replaced in the next couple of years. It’s very handy to have a list of the stores that don’t really want to sell me anything.

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plumbingIt’s just not proper homeownership without holes in the floor and exposed plumbing.

Like zombies, renovation projects take on a life of their own.

Window leak + crappy bathtub = tear out the tub to fix leak. We were going to replace it anyway.

Ah, but the floor tiles should go down first to line up properly with the base of the new supershower. And if we’re picking out tile for the floor AND the shower, shouldn’t we be thinking about what the new countertop is going to be made of? And if we’re getting new countertops, we’ll have to have the cabinets refinished.

What? We’re not sure we have cabinet refinishing in the budget anymore?

HGTV, you magnificent bastard. We’re going to have a proper chat one day.

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