Update: Deck Progress

I regret to inform you that I have done NOTHING that I've promised in the last week.  I STILL haven't shown deck photos and I definitely haven't grouted the kitchen backsplash.  And possibly even worse, and I can't even believe I am admitting this, but I haven't even purchased pumpkins yet.  And Halloween is in TWO DAYS!!!  I'm officially a bad person.  I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but I'm just not motivated to do ANYTHING right now.  I am so tired when I get home from work that I can't imagine getting projects done.  Once I make eye-contact (if that's even possible) with the couch, it's over, my friend.  I am a waste of space for the rest of the night.  Maybe it's just a phase.  Let's hope.

But, buried somewhere in all of my wallowing, there is some good news left to share.  My parents are coming up tomorrow, and I think B's dad as well, and we are going to completely finish up the deck!!  I am also going to grout...SERIOUSLY!  AND my mom is going to help me make a bench cushion for our little built-in in the kitchen.  And if all goes well, we will make seat cushions for the bar stools and dining room chairs too!!  EEEEE!!  I am so excited!  I know that its a lot to accomplish in one day, but with all of the help we will have, we should be able to get most of it done.  Right?  Here's hopin'....

I have a little teaser to share with you, though, before I head out to gather materials for the shin-dig tomorrow (I have to call it that or else it's just too painful to think about).  I also need to pick up a fake gun for B's Halloween costume....wonder how my co-workers will feel when I bring that back to the office after lunch....Haha.  He is going as a safari guy (SHOCKING) and I am going as a cowgirl.  We already had most of the outfits in our closets, so it is a cheap, and still festive way of celebrating the holiday!!  :)   But, back to the teaser. 

Here is what the back of the house looked like when we moved in:

There was actually a beautiful dogwood tree to the right of the garage
(although it was not in bloom when this photo was taken).  It was a tragedy
to rip it out, but absolutely necessary for the deck/slider project to work. 

And this was what it looked like during the slider installation....EEEK,
I have a hole in my house!!!  Luckily it was only for a few hours though!!!...

And now...four months later....

I still need to stain the deck and paint the trim around the slider...but we are getting there
(and please excuse the random pieces of discarded wood all over the yard...we have a
little cleaning up to do, boys!!!  See what happens when men run a project....humph!)

The plan this weekend is to finish up the extension part of the deck (which runs along the back of the garage).  There will be two steps down from the main deck and then another 8' x 16' deck area down there.  We will eventually build a bench along the garage wall for extra seating.  We were originally going to add another set of stairs over there to the backyard, but the ground is sloped so much that it would be more dangerous than its worth.  The stairs that B built for the side of the main deck will be sufficient!  I'm so happy with how it is all turning out!  I can't wait to see it all finished this weekend.....although I CAN wait to stain it.  I am dreading that task more than the backsplash right now....which is A LOT!!!!

So there you have it...a little glimpse into the deck progress so far.  Hopefully I will be back on Monday with a FINAL REVEAL of the whole project!   I can't wait to share all of the photos from start to finish! 

Have a great weekend...and most importantly, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!


Curb Appeal: Shutters

As you may have noticed, we have done very little in the curb appeal department since we moved into our little abode back in February.  Our primary focus has been on the interior (kitchen, half bath, painting, staircase, doors, etc.).  So, to remedy our blatant neglect, we decided to add a little eye candy to the facade of the house.  Let me bring you back to the beginning.....

Our first order of business was to paint the exterior doors black.  We were already working on this process with the interior doors, so it just made sense to keep going on the outside as well.  Check here and here for more information on those projects.

As soon as we moved in I knew that the house would need a little extra something to give it personality.  It seemed drab.  There was also a lot of dead space between the windows and doors.  So...after careful consideration, we decided on shutters (also discussed here).  Not a very novel idea, since most houses in our neighborhood have it, but we also thought about painting the trim in an accent color or adding molding on top of the windows.  Ultimately, shutters were the best way to go though.  After MONTHS of stalking Home Depot and Lowes' websites (it was bordering on obsession....I almost felt as though I could will them to post a discount with my perserverence).....Home Depot advertised a sale on their vinyl shutters.  WOOHOO!!  They regularly run from $32.50 - $37.50 each (for sizes 15" x 48" or 15" x 55"), but they were offering them for 25% off PLUS free shipping!!! 

So of course I ordered that very instant!  I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough.  And they arrived at our doorstep right before we left for vacation.  It was AGONIZING not to run out and install them THAT NIGHT....but we waited until we got back, had a tall enough ladder (thanks, Dad!) and there was a little daylight to work with.  :) 

And now (drumroll please) here they are:

What do you think?  Definitely not the best picture I could have taken.  I actually snapped it with my iphone while I was backing out of the driveway.  I even caught B on his way out of the house as well.  I'm not sure if he's locking the door or hiding from a photo op....we may never know!  I will take a better picture this weekend though (since I am never at the house during hours of daylight....seriously. It stays dark most mornings until after I leave and then I come home around 7 and its already dark).  So depressing!! 

But back to the shutters....I'm so happy with the outcome.  It may not be clear from this angle, but I think it adds a lot of dimension to the house.  And for around $235, it was totally worth it.  They have a 20-year warranty and seem to be pretty well-made!  Plus, on top of all that, they were REALLY easy to install.  Brian just measured each one for the desired height, drilled a hole at the top, middle and bottom of either side and then inserted the supplied screws (which are made from the same material as the shutters for added longevity).  He put all 9 of them up in total (we chose to do the three on the right side of the house, as well as the front ones, but leave off the ones on the left side (since our neighbors are the only ones that see that side of the house) in about an hour.  Easy AND affordable.  Who could ask for more?

As always, I love a little before and after action, so here goes.....

Update: I was able to snap another photo of the exterior of the house the other day when the sun wasn't facing me. It's a little better, but not much!!  The foliage is pretty at least! 

And next up on Monday: Deck Reveal!!!

Disclosure:  B asked me the other day why I hadn't featured the deck project here yet....and I didn't really have an answer.  It has always been his baby; his favorite project, and since I am not incredibly involved in it I tend to forget to mention it from time to time.  I am so proud of him though, and I feel terrible that I haven't given him enough credit on this blog.  I know it sounds cheesy, but B, you are my hero.  Seriously.  You are the best teammate I could have asked for and I am so thankful that we have been able to experience (er...struggle through) all of this together.You do 85% of the projects around this casa.  I know that in theory we do all of the projects TOGETHER, but I am more involved in the design/purchase/budget/assist (as in, hold this piece of molding here while I shoot a nail 3 mm away from your thumb) part of the process.  You do the real tough labor.  Don't get me wrong, I have learned how to use the nail gun, the sander, the wet saw and all the other tools that we have amassed, but you really do the heavy lifting.  It would have taken me YEARS (and a whole lot of mistakes) to get to where we are in the renovations without you.  In fact, I'm not sure I could have ever gotten here without you (physically AND emotionally).  You are the braun behind this operation (although I have a sneaking suspicion that you would rather be the beauty).  Hehe.  But in all seriousness...and in case I haven't expressed it before...thank you for being my partner!!  I love you!


Backsplash Progress...FINALLY!

As you've surely noticed, I've been promising for WEEKS (maybe even MONTHS) now that I would get around to tiling my backsplash.  It was the final piece of the kitchen puzzle (other than maybe adding some cute curtains or a shutter to the window above the sink) that has been lingering for far too long.  Well...I have exciting news!  I finally got around to it this past weekend.  YAY!  I'm not going to lie and tell you that it was fun or that I would happily do it again...it wasn't and I wouldn't....BUT I am SO happy that it is done!!  And a little proud too for doing it all myself.  I never doubted that I would be able to do it (necessarily), I just wasn't sure that I could do it well....which in my opinion is probably worse!  Why do something if you aren't going to do it right?  I am such a perfectionist too, so I know that I would zero in on all of the mistakes EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Thankfully, it was easy to do a clean and consistent job (thanks to spacers and a handy-dandy level), so I'm very happy with the results.  Even a little impressed.  I love it when I accomplish something that I have never done before.  It is a total sense of empowerment.  Who needs men when you can just do it all yourself? 

Ok...there are definitely some legitimate arguments in favor of having guys around (especially since B spent his weekend finishing up the stairs and railings on the deck....to be discussed later), but I like to think that I can handle most things on my own.  Like I said, it's a bit empowering.  And...even better than that is the fact that we saved a lot of money going the DIY route.  We already had the tile cutter and trowel from our bathroom update and we are planning to use the leftover gray-colored grout from that project as well to finish up the backsplash (we thought that the gray would break up the white-on-white that we have going on between the cabinets and the backsplash).  The only expenses were the spacers (since we wanted a significantly smaller line between these tiles than we had for the floor tiles in the bathroom), the thin set mortar (we chose Omni Grip for extra durability, but regular thin set mortar from HD works fine as well...they were around the same price since Omni Grip was on sale, so I just went for it) and the subway tiles themselves.  Luckily they were all pretty inexpensive at Home Depot.  The spacers ran around $3 a bag, the mortar was around $15 and the tiles were $.23 each (or $55.20 for three boxes/240 tiles), so we ended up around $73 for the entire project.  Not too shabby, eh?

I still have the grouting step to do, but just installing the tile has really brought the whole kitchen design together.  I am really happy with the results!  And I know that I said earlier that I wouldn't do it again....but I probably would.  In all honesty it wasn't that difficult, it was just VERY time-consuming.  Measuring and making the cuts take up most of the time (especially since I set up the tile cutter/wet saw in the garage and was running in and out of the house to make cuts every few minutes).  Once I got in a groove of laying them though, it went pretty quickly!  The areas around the light switches/outlets and the space above the range hood were the biggest time-suckers!!  All in though, I probably spent about 12 hours just laying the tiles and I am anticipating about 3 hours for grouting.  That's 15 FREE hours of labor....although I am paying for it in backaches this week.  Ugh!  Well worth the pain, though!  Seriously.  And I promise that if I can do it, so can you!

So that's it for the backsplash update.  I will keep you in the loop on the grouting process (which will hopefully happen tonight.....fingers crossed) and also share some more news from our very productive DIY weekend (hint: curb appeal)!!

Happy Wednesday!!  Catch you all tomorrow.


We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

As promised, here are a few pictures from our trip to Tanzania.  So far, I have only uploaded the photos from our small camera (Canon PowerShot SD960 ELPH), so this is just a sampling (we took about 1,000 with this one, 3,000 with our Canon Rebel 2Ti and another 350 with our Sony alpha wide angle.  In other words, WAAAY too many photos!!) 

There is A LOT more where this came from (including details on the accommodations, style, decor and other fun thoughts on Africa), but I wanted to give you a little taste for the time being....

And, to answer the question that I'm sure all of you are thinking....NO! I could not get the Toto song "Africa" out of my head the ENTIRE time I was there.  Especially the one morning when it rained.....I LITERALLY "felt the rains down in Africa"....haha!  Crazy!


I'm baaaack....and I've been featured!!

Hi there!  Sorry it has been so long since my last post.  B and I took a two-week vacation to East Africa and we just got home last night!  The trip was amazing.  I have lots of pictures and stories/thoughts to share with you....but I will get to that tomorrow!

For now.....

Go check out Remodelaholic for a feature post on my bathroom renovation.  I love this blog and I am really honored to have been featured TWICE now!!  Thanks, Cassity!  To go to Cassity's home page (and see all of the other AMAZING renovations/updates/ideas) just click here

Happy Monday...and I promise to be back tomorrow with more details on the vacation and some DIY/home design plans for the coming weekend.  :)  YAY!