a blog discussing politics, stock markets, and calculus.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Here is my plea to Vintage Revivals for the Epic Room Makeover Giveaway Contest 2012:

My husband and I bought our first home in March. We both had different ideas of what our dream home would be and where it would be! When his job took us to Alamogordo, New Mexico, my dreams of a quaint, colonial style home with original hard wood flooring, a white picket fence, and a huge backyard covered with lush green grass flew out the window. Instead we decided to embrace New Mexico fully and go with a traditional adobe style home. This house has tons of potential, but needs help! We started working on the kitchen, and still have miles of work ahead of us. The room that I feel could be amazing (with the right help, of course!) is our family room. This room is big! It is 16 x 20 with 11 foot ceilings! Some serious awesomeness could arise from this room.

Since I grew up in the Midwest and have a pretty traditional style, decorating this home is causing me headaches! I don't want to totally go southwest, because is it way out of my comfort zone. I also know that the furniture/decor we have now isn't going to cut it. This space also needs to be mutli-functional. As you'll see in the pics, we currently use it as a family room and also an "office," or basically where my nerdy husband plays computer games and watches hours of YouTube videos about physics and space stuff...

I love DIY projects and decorating, but the kitchen zapped away way too much money and I am at a loss for this room! The corner fireplace is such a focal point, and our sectional couch is not working! Plus the brown on brown is just ugly. Can you believe these purple shades! They are super high quality, but why MAUVE?!!! As you can see, we had some issues picking a paint color. My husband wants a den-like feel, I believe he used the word, "dramatic." Yes folks, he does have considerate input on design decisions. Although, I usually prevail! MUWHAHAHA. Clearly, none of these colors are working out...

From the entry way looking in. 

The ceiling has a chevron pattern, how fortunate this pattern is ALL the rage these days!!
The fan, not so trendy... (not forget the gold plated lighting in the background!)

The windows in this room speak for themselves, the furniture...not so much.

Looking in from kitchen (Baby Willow is willing to work for snacks)

Another entry way view (again...amazingly HUGE window) Willow REALLY wants to help! 

The "office"/ dorm room furniture! At least i secretly sold the heinous swivel office chair the other day. 

Again, dorm room TV stand, it was free...like 4 years ago. Not only fugly, but huge safety hazard with littles running around. Also, Nigel the antelope will be staying somewhere in the room!

view looking out into entry/stairwell/kitchen.what were we thinking with all this BLUE?! yikes. 
bare-bones room, before we moved in.

I can see this room being fabulous and super functional. I just need your help, Mandi! Wouldn't this room be super fun?! Plus my husband is super handy, I can paint until the cows come home, and my children, well they love snacks and Dora. I have a super cozy guest room and I make killer eggs and pancakes! When will you ever have the chance of going to Alamogordo, New Mexico ever again. Am I right?! I prefer thrift store finds over new cookie-cutter furniture at all times and we have plenty of thrift store around here...though we may be missing a Starbucks. Plus you'll get to see this view every night from our balcony...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DIY Deux

SO, I've been wanting to try stenciling for a while now. I had a vision in our downstairs bathroom. I thought what a perfect place to start -- a small space, just one wall. I looked around at stencils and other blogs for inspiration. We are on a tight budget and I wasn't feeling forking out the $30-50 and up for a stencil. I eventually stumbled upon Jones Design Company, which had a tutorial and a free template! Hello FREE! I had the paint, brushes, ect...I just needed to find the time. Luckily (and also sadly) my children came down with a very strange virus that made them extremely sleepy. Like Willow took 3-4 hour naps with 30 minutes awake in between and Piper barely got off the couch, and when she did she rolled around on the floor until she fell asleep...on the floor. Of course I felt horrible for them and their misery, BUT i took full advantage of my forced hermitude (word? now it is.).

Now, as you may know, my ability to finish things with perfection is something i am working on. Kind of. I secretly enjoy my ability to not give a crap if a shelf is totally not level. Anyways, when it comes to stenciling, you kind of need to be exact. At least try, right? Well, I started off confident, sans level. Then about 3/4 of the way down the wall I had the BRIGHT idea of stepping back and checking out my handiwork. Well, handiwork it was NOT. I apparently have no baring when it comes to straight lines. It was bad. When I showed Ian he tried to supportive by saying, "Oh, you know, it's not that bad. It looks kind of rustic, like the walls have settled, but the pattern stayed the same." Thanks love muffin, I appreciate the boost. I promptly found the level and a large eraser.

This way of stenciling requires a steady and patient hand. Which I have for a short period of time. Needless to say, there are places where I messed up pretty bad. I need to get a smaller brush to pretty-up the lines, but as you may know, that may or may not happen some time in 2013. Please enjoy my "OOPS" spots...according to Ian, it makes it rustic.


What Piper did...isn't she sweet?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

hell's kitchen

So remember in that last post when I said most of my projects are 82% done, well the proof is in the pudding. Some of my walls are half painted. We still have paint color splotch tests up in the living room. I mean, it's really hard to find that perfect color, come on, don't judge. But the real doosie is the kitchen. I can barely say that word without shuddering. It is such a point of joy, but it is also a major stressor.  Even before we put an offer on the house, we were discussing what we would do with kitchen. It had this majorly awkward island and the counter-tops, cabinet doors, and cabinet color had to go. Let's not even go to the appliances -- i'm almost positive my grandpa had the exact same refrigerator in his house. It was circa 1990. Can you believe we didn't even notice there wasn't a dishwasher before we bought the house?!! I probably wasted at least 2 days of my life washing flipping dishes before we had one installed. I can't get those 2 days back. I could have painted so many walls with that time.

We lived in the house about a month with the original kitchen. We tried to be patient and get bids on a partial remodel, but we didn't like what we heard. Kitchens are expense-y! One day we are sitting in the kitchen talking about how much we hated it and Ian walks into the garage, grabs a hammer, and starts demo-ing the island. There was drywall flying everywhere! I said, "So, I guess we are doing this ourselves?" Well, there was no turning back once the island was hammered to oblivion, we had to move forward. The fun part about construction is all the safety hazards. Uh, just kidding. I had the stove plugged in across the kitchen, let's play limbo kids! We had to reconnect the gas hook-up every time I wanted to cook something. We had cardboard counter tops for a minute there -- Piper don't spill that, uh, never mind. When you take on a kitchen for your first DIY project, you learn things the hard way. You learn that you need to makes lists for the things you need, instead of going to Lowes every-single-day. I know almost every employee by name at this point. You learn you need to plan ahead! We could have avoided the whole cardboard counter tops if we would have ordered our counter tops earlier (that was more of a design issue than planning, and worked out to our benefit because we got them on major sale.)

I think the most important lesson we learned is to budget. I'm going to be completely honest here, we suck at budgeting. I mean, we are epic failures when it comes to this. We talk about it, and do well for a week or so, and then just end up in the same boat -- over and over again. We wanted the kitchen done so bad that we neglected to do it smart and with a sound budget. We put too much in and are now dealing with the consequences. I'm not a pro, but I think this is one of the most typical blunders of first-time home owners. I love the progress, but that is all it is. It's not finished, and it won't be until this portion is paid off. The funny thing is when I was discussing the kitchen changes with a friend, I joked and said, "Oh, I'm sure the cabinets will be done by December." Little did I know that would be more reality than a joke.  Do I think we will have a hard time paying it off -- no. Do I think it was the right decision -- yes and no. I am a firm believer that one needs to be comfortable in their own home. We spend a lot of time at our house and the majority is spent in our kitchen. Moving to a new town and purchasing our first home were big changes for us. We needed to feel good being at home. I mean, there is not a lot to do in this town. I can tell you the attractions on one hand; the "zoo", Chili's, walmart...and I'm out of ideas. At least we know when we walk in our door, we will have a place to relax and put our feet up...someday...and not on my quartz counter tops!

Here are some before/after pics (keep in mind this is progress...NOT finished). We still need to refinish cabinets and new cabinet faces (we are thinking distressed off-white/cream), re-install cabinet faces, add back-splash, add design elements to island base, new window treatments, new lighting, new seating, and the list goes on and on....Any and all advice, design ideas and constructive criticism welcome!



Storage or a dishwasher, that is the question! And I lost my treasured bread-box...I've ALWAYS wanted a bread-box!!!

we took out a shelf and one drawer to add a wall oven.

stages of the island

we went ahead and replaced the vanity tops in all of the bathrooms while we we did the kitchen.

Sorry for my crappy iphone pics. it was my only option!

Monday, August 13, 2012

jimmy rigging

I would call myself a jimmy-rigger. Somewhere in my DNA, or perhaps from my nurture process, there is a lack of patience. This is something I actively work on, because we ALL know the phrase..."patience is a virtue." Blah, blah, blah. Much to Ian's dismay, I cut corners constantly. Most of my projects are 82% of the way done and may or may not ever get done 100%. If I mess up on something, I usually leave it that way. For example, I painted the guest room quickly before Ian's parents visited and just butchered the edges where the ceiling meets the wall.  Ian had a mini panic attack when he saw it and was genuinely confused about why I had done such a crappy job.  I hang pictures and curtain rods with thumb tacks. Boy does that one send him rolling.  My glass are being held together with band-aids and masking tape. They are majorly crooked. Don't ask me to do something for you if you want it done to perfection. That is Ian's job. He will literally stay up all night trying to do/fix something until it is absolutely correct. He will watch YouTube videos, read online manuals, call professionals, etc, etc...

For example: When we moved into our new house, the washer that was left here was a bit funky smelling and did not spin correctly. We did try to fix it to no avail. We bought a new one and decided we could install it ourselves (not hard, right. connect hot/cold and plug in) and save $50 in delivery/install fees.

We get the washer home and in the garage, no problem (thanks to the insanely high-tech dolly the store let us borrow! perks of a small town). As we are unloading and setting up, we stumbled across two large boxes in our storage room. We had seen them before and for some reason ignored them, they were there when we moved in and just got covered up by our mound of boxes. We decide to inquire, and lo and behold! They are pedestals for a washer and dryer. BOOM. Those babies are like 100 bucks a piece. This was awesome, because our washer and dryer are in our garage (I dream of a laundry room the size of Texas!) and there is no storage. Anyways...the point to all this is that Ian and I have to somehow now lift this 250 pound washer onto a 1 1/2 foot pedestal with precision so it clips in just right. So we start out pretty confident. He shows me how to squat and put my weight into the washer as he lifts on side. He shows me this 5 or 6 times, because of course I'm not doing it right. Then we try to use the dolly, but it's not designed to lift things. We try all these crazy ways to get it on top of the pedestal. Meanwhile, the kids are doing who-knows-what inside, and I'm running in to check on them every few minutes, which sends Ian into a frenzy (don't interrupt him when he is on a mission). We are to the point where I'm holding one edge as he's is pulling another and the washer is teetering on a third corner. I'm just waiting for it to fall on it's beautiful front loading face, which would of course be my fault because I wasn't holding it at the right vector/angle. I decided, as is the norm -- screw it. Let's call someone, it's impossible. I go inside to see what the kids are doing and just to chill out because we have been lifting this insanely heavy object off and on for about an hour. I go back outside, probably 30 minutes later, and Ian had fashioned this ramp out a stray piece of wood and has gotten the washer all the way up on top of the pedestal, by himself. All I had to do was tilt the washer a bit to the back so he could remove the ramp. Done. I couldn't believe it. I had given up and he remained outside and used his brain hard enough to find a solution.

We think we are out of the woods because we got the damn thing on. We are celebrating and high-fiving and marveling at Ian's wit (much to his enjoyment of course), until we test the thing out. It goes into the spin cycle and starts shaking and wobbling everywhere. Heart attack! We both lunge for the buttons as it almost tumbles off of the small ledge it's on in the garage. I manage to hit cancel and it slowly stops gyrating and stops just as one edge tips over the ledge. Alas! We forgot to level it. Ian starts to level the pedestal and then the washer...this goes on for a while. I'm getting cranky and annoyed and I give up again and go inside. Ian remains out in garage for another hour, painstakingly leveling and re-leveling. One turn here, a half turn there...until it is perfect and sails through the highest spin cycle without moving a centimeter. His patience for perfection marvels me. I wish I had a portion of his patience to perform tasks. He is not put off in the slightest that something he thought would take him 30 minutes actually took him 7 hours. Even then I lose my patience with him because he has been consumed with something for so long. Every where I look I'm losing my patience; with him, with the girls, with the dog, with the 82 year-old walmart checker-outer who literally takes 1 minute per item as I'm standing there and Willow does everything she possibly can to Houdini her way out of the Bjorn and Piper spills her chocolate milk in my purse while simultaneously pooping in her pants for the while store to smell. I'll I can think about is that I still have to pay $1000 for all these groceries, snake the cart through the classic walmart maze bathroom entrance, change piper's diaper on the staphylococcus-ridden changing table and load and unload my cart in 102 degree weather.

Patience. I struggle every day. I don't know if I'll ever be able to drop my jimmy-rigging days, but I do hope to learn how to at least accomplish tasks with more patience and dignity. I'm lucky to have Ian to balance me out in this regard. Just because the wall is painted doesn't mean it looks good!

My original intent in this post was to talk about how I've been jimmy-rigging recipes out the wazoo. For some reason I've been out of eggs for like a week and have needed or wanted to make baked goods more often. Enter google searches for "do I really need eggs in my brownie mix." I never took any bakery science courses, but I do know that in most cases, eggs serve a purpose. Now what purpose in each recipe, that is a little more difficult. What I found out is that there are some instances where a substitute can be used for eggs.  I used this the day I woke up and wanted to make buttermilk pancakes. Then I realized I didn't even have buttermilk. So what do you do when you really want buttermilk pancakes but don't have eggs or buttermilk? You jimmy-rig, is what you do. Instead of the egg I found that you can mix 3 Tbsp of warm water with 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed. I just so happened to have such a thing in my pantry! And of course, the age old trick of lemon juice and regular milk will get you by instead of buttermilk.  These are not the fluffiest pancakes in the world, but they came out quite nice without two vital ingredients.

Eggless, Buttermilk-less, Squash & Zucchini Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg (I put in the substitute)
1 cup buttermilk (again, substitute)
a splash of sugar
whatever you feel like hiding inside the delicious pancakes ( I chose shredded squash and zucchini)