April 22, 2010

Kitchen Sneak Peek!

It's been a rough few days, so I thought I'd share a little sneak peek of our kitchen.  Sharing cheers me up!  I have a few more little things to do in here before I take some more pictures.  I hope this iPhone photo isn't too dark.

Cabinets, purchased used from ebay, are painted white with Ace Hardware's Cabinet, Door and Trim Paint
Subway tile is from Home Depot
Everything on the counter is from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's

April 20, 2010


Setbacks suck.  And we've had our share of them during operation house rehab.  Saturday morning, we were gearing up for a day-long wait for the cable company to FINALLY, between the hours of 8:00 and 4:00, install our cable and internet. (oh, how I've missed you internet!)  I really wanted pancakes and I really wanted to make them on our new electric griddle.  The griddle was in the basement on the storage shelf, so down the stairs I went.

The crummy part of this story starts when I tell you I sleepily took that last step down and found my foot in four inches of water.  Lucky us.  We hit the sewage water line backup lottery two weeks after moving in.  What a crappy way to start our Saturday.  Thankfully, the backup was in a clean water sewage pipe and did not cause our actually sewage to fill our basement.  Just water.  Lots and lots of water.

We were assessing the damage and calling in reinforcements by the time the cable guy showed up.  When does a cable guy ever show up at 8:00 am when they give you an eight hour window?  Just our luck again, right?  He initially said the install would not be a problem.  He only had to check the wires in the basement and he was wearing waterproof shoes.  Twenty minutes later, he tells us his supervisor recommends he not do the work because of the water.  Fair enough, cable guy.  But if you wouldn't have arrived on time (as is your reputation) we'd have time to get rid of the water before you got there.

Anyway, the reinforcements came by way of a well-connected brother-in-law with a drain cleaning snake he borrowed from a plumber he knows.  After a few minutes of running the machine, the clog was found (old rag from who knows what decade) and the water receded.

Our Saturday of painting the hallways and various doors throughout the house turned into a day of  sorting through the wet mess that was all the junk in our basement.  We were really lucky to have very little damage to the contents of the basement.  Most of the items down there were building materials from the remodel just waiting for a dumpster rental.  Our washer and dryer are on a higher-sloped part of the floor, so they only got about two inches of water---not enough to do anything because they were sitting on small blocks.  We ended up clearing out the entire basement and moving it to the garage.  We had been planning to clean all of this eventually, so I guess being forced to do it earlier than planned isn't all that bad.  We are hoping to get a dumpster in the next week or two so all of this stuff can be out of our way for good.

Setbacks still suck, whether they mess you up for a month or for a day, or whether they cost you thousands or nothing.  On a scale of one to ten, this one would probably be an eight--minimal damage and cost, but several straight hours of hard work.

Oh.  And I never did get those pancakes.

April 15, 2010


We've been busy settling into the house and tackling the remaining improvement projects.  While I'm jumping right into the housekeeping and homemaking, there are ten products that I absolutely love and want to share with all of you.

1. The Shark 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vac and Handheld Vacuum Cleaner.  We have hardwood or tile floors throughout the house and have low-pile area and accent rugs here and there.  Since we don't have pets or kids, we didn't really see the need for a big, cumbersome vacuum cleaner.  I wanted something lightweight, cordless and capable of sucking the dirt off our our floors and the Shark 2-in-1 works perfectly.

I like how I can vacuum the whole house on one charge and how it is great for quick pick-ups here and there.  I also like the conversion to a hand-held vacuum.  It's not the easiest conversion, but it works fine and does it's job.  For the money, this vacuum is so much better than the old broom and dust pan.

2. Gold Canyon Candles.  A few years ago, my mom, sisters and  I went to a candle party where I reluctantly purchased two small candles due to the guilt one gets from attending a home candle party.  I was skeptical, but when I received them I was surprised by how clean they burned and how great they smelled.  I like them so much that I was hesitant to burn them more for fear of using them completely before I could order more.  That same year, I held a candle party of my own right before Christmas and earned about $250 in free products.  (It was the demonstrator's best party to date.)  Fast forward and now one of my sisters is a demonstrator and my family has turned into candle snobs.  If it's not Gold Canyon, we aren't buying or burning it.  They are a better product and better value than Yankee and PartyLite and they come in a wide variety of delicious scents.

My most recent purchase was Grass.  This candle is spring in a jar.  It smells so good and so much like a fresh-mowed lawn. Love it!

The company also sells great candle holders and care products.  Their wick trimmer is a must for any candle lover---seriously, go buy one!

3.  Gold Canyon's Homeology Cleaning Products.  After professing my love for their candles, how could I not profess my love for their line of plant-based cleaning products.  My favorite is the floor cleaner because it smells amazing and it makes our hardwood floors look so shiny.  I just spray it directly on the floor and then use a Swiffer with a dry cloth to "mop."

The all purpose and glass cleaner also have nice fragrances and work wonders.  I just purchased the all natural cleanser (it is similar to Comet, but smells way better and is plant based.)  The products are a little on the pricey side compared to other cleaning products, but they last a long time and are green.  Purchase from my sister's site here.

4. Martha Stewart Collection 6-Piece Multi-Colored Melamine Bowl Set.  Who ever though mixing bowls could be so fun?  I received these as a wedding shower gift, but they came from Macy's.  I love the colors, the sizes and how easy they are to clean.  These bowls make my kitchen happy.

5. Potato Peeler.  I don't know the proper name or brand for this, but I got it as a shower gift from a cousin who works at the Kitchen Collection.  I'm not a huge fan of peeling potatoes, but doing the deed with this little guy made it more enjoyable.  I mean, how can you not smile a little when you use this little guy to peel the spuds?  I even received a matching potato brush--too cute!

6. Hamilton Beach Smiley Mixing Spoons.  Again, got these as a shower gift and they came from the Kitchen Collection.  They are literally my happy spoons. (and I refer to them as such.)  They are fun, colorful and I like them.  That's enough for me!

7. Scroll Banana Hanger.  I purchased this functional and decorative item at Kohl's.  The Mr. really wanted one and this one looked pretty, so I bought it.  It keeps our bananas fresh and yellow longer. It also helps to keep the bananas in view so we eat them.  We can put a big bunch of bananas on this thing and they'll stay good for about a week.  Setting them on the counter could never give us the same result.

8.  Bounty Quilted Napkins.  The Mr. is a paper towel waster.  This is a tough habit to break him of because he uses paper towels for everything.  I found that buying cheaper paper towels just meant that he would used more than one at a time.  I've decided that, despite the price, Bounty paper towels are necessary.  While shopping in the paper goods aisle at Giant Eagle the other day, I found Bounty Quilted Napkins on sale, so I picked up two packages.
These napkins are basically folded paper towels, but they are cheaper per sheet and effective enough for a paper-towel-loving husband to use for little spills without wasting the paper towels.  I'm still working on getting him to use dish towels to clean up water splashes and to dry plates and pans, but until then, the napkins are an economical stepping stone.

9. Plain Jane White Dinner Plates.  I don't remember what brand ours our (they were a wedding gift) but they are just your basic rimmed white plates. They are classic and will never go out of style.  I love how colorful and appetizing our food looks when we use them and it's an added bonus that they go with everything.  I'm looking forward to how they'll adapt to different holiday decor ideas.  They provide a clean canvas for tablescapes and dining room decorations.  I love them!

10.  Fire King Jadite Mixing Bowl.  I purchased my mixing bowl at a flea market last summer and it is, by far, my most favorite thing in my kitchen.  I have always loved Jadite, but never bought any before.  When I saw this bowl, I new it had to be mine.  Thus, the collection began.  One day, I will have cupboards filled with Jadite plates and bowls and will serve dinner on them daily.  I would love to have a display of unique kitchen serverware and containers made of Jadite.  So far, Etsy and ebay have been my go-to places to search for great additions for my collection.  This bowl is my favorite piece so far and I love that I can use it for everyday mixing and serving.  (The Mr. likes to use it as a popcorn bowl.)

So, now that you've seen my list, what are some of your favorite things to use around the house?

Full disclosure:  I have not been compensated in any way to review or promote the products mentioned above.

April 8, 2010

Refinishing our floors Pt. 2

Yes, I know.  This blog has been severely neglected over the last month.  But, I do have a VERY good reason.  It involves this:

Yes!  We moved in!  FINALLY!  There is still so much more to do (and still more stuff to pack and move), but the place is livable and we are slowly settling in.

I want to finish a few things before I take pictures of our kitchen, bedroom, living room, dining area, bathroom and other areas to share with the internets.  In the mean time, I figured I could give you a run down of the rest of our floor refinishing project.

After we sanded all the floors, we removed all the dust from the rooms.  We wiped down the walls, the trim and any nook and cranny where dust might settle.  For the floors, we first swept them with a broom, then followed with a shop vac.

Just to be sure we got everything, we went over the entire floor with a tack cloth.  Any dust left behind could end up settling in the poly coat, making the floor feel rough.  We wanted to avoid that as much as possible.

We tried a few different brands and really liked the ones made by 3M.  We found them at Ace Hardware.

The next step was to cover the floors with a few coats of polyurethane to protect them and give them that purdy, glossy shine.  We decided not to stain them because we wanted the look of the natural wood to show as much as possible.

For our floors, we used a water-based poly.  We picked water-based over oil-based because we wanted something that was fast-drying and low on odor.  Oil-based polys are more durable, but really stink up the place, take longer to fully cure and aren't as easy to clean up.

We bought this at Home Depot for about $38 a bottle.  I think we used four of five bottles to do all of the wood floors in the house.  That's six rooms and the stairs.

The first coat went on quickly.  We did it mop-style by using a Water Wiz attached to a pole.  We bought those at Home Depot, too.

We applied the poly with the grain and were careful to work our way out of each room by starting in the corner farthest from the door.

The polyurethane looked like watered down Elmer's glue, was a little cloudy during the application and dried clear.  We put it in a paint pan to make it easier to load our applicator.

To cover the areas where the applicator wouldn't reach, or to smooth out any drips or poly build up, we used a small paint brush.

After the first coat completely dried (we let it go overnight), we had to sand the floors again.  The reason was that the bare wood expands and the grain rises when it absorbs the polyurethane.  The floor was very rough after the first coat and sanding is standard practice.

We used 220 grit sandpaper and did the work through a combination of hand sanding and using a small palm sander.  We sanded lightly along the grain until the result was a smooth finish.

Then, it was a repeat of the dust removal process.  There wasn't much dust to clean up, but we still swept, ran the shop vac and used a tack cloth.  Dust is bad!

As you could assume, we used the same techniques as the first coat when we added two more coats of polyurethane.  With the water-based poly, we didn't have to sand between coats as long as we did them within six hours of each other.  The floors dried enough to walk on in about an hour, so we jumped right into both coats in one evening.

The floors had to cure for a few days before we could move in furniture.  We probably let them sit for about a week just to give them plenty of time to cure.

The results are fabulous!  I am so tickled pink with how nice our floors turned out!  I love them!


It's a big change from what they were before.

The dining room floor after one pass of the drum sander.  The edges hadn't been sanded at this point, but you can see how bad the floors were when we pulled up the carpet.

I'm really proud of the work we did on the floors, but don't get me wrong---it kicked our butts!  Especially the sanding part.  That is some hard labor.  But, it's so nice to have beautiful hardwood floors throughout our house!  I love the warm, welcoming feeling they provide and the small monetary investment of DIY floor refinishing (which for us, it was about $500 in sandpaper, rentals, supplies and materials) was more than worth it. Carpeting or professional refinishing services would never have been as affordable.  

Did I mention how much I love the floors?!?!?


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