Monday, February 20, 2017

Odds and Ends

We have officially owned this house for 8 months. At first glance it doesn't look like we've done much. Besides updating the upstairs floors, what else have we been up to?

Beside chasing around this booger, a whole lot.

If you didn't guess it, this house was disgusting. So the first thing we did was clean. Inside and out. Josh made a lot of illegal trips to surrounding dumpsters during those first several months. And we practically had a fire going every weekend.


Fun fact: Our hot water heater busted on Night 1. After hours and hours of exhausted tinkering (and preventing our downstairs from flooding), Josh finally got the leak under control. That first weekend was spent replacing the hot water tank and tearing down the surrounding shelving. That was a fun $500 spent. 

The fridge that came with the house was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. So we tore out some kitchen shelves to make room for a new, shiny refrigerator. If you can look past the exposed ceiling, it is the prettiest spot in the house. 

Most recently Josh has been doing a lot of work on the furnace and duct work. In the first week of December the temperature dropped to the single digits and our 15+ year old furnace decided to quit. Timely. With the help of YouTube, Josh replaced the gas valve and pilot assembly to breath new life into our ancient friend. Thus far, it has made it through the rest of winter.  

And as of this weekend Josh rerouted the main return air. The old return air was routed into the steps (see picture below), which we plan on rebuilding in the near future. 

The biggest, most expensive improvement we made is we replaced the roof! We choose a classy Black Walnut to bring out the blue in our eyes. It came with an expensive price tag, but it's well worth it not to have a leaky roof.

 And that, lady and gentleman, is what we've been up to the past 8 months.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Installing Plywood Floors

When we first bought this house we decided our first project would be renovating the kitchen. It's old and gross and was at the top of our priority list. But then we realized how disgusting the carpet in the upstairs bedrooms was and thought, NOPE! There was no way we wanted Lincoln walking around on this germ-soaked floor a minute longer than necessary. And the smell. Oh, the musty, dust-filled smell. So we shuffled our to-do list a bit and pushed these floors right up to the top.

Josh did a lot of research on how to cost-effectively install wood floors. We knew we didn't want to pay the big bucks for the real stuff but even laminate can be pricey. So we took a risk and decided to try plywood.

Yep, plywood. Maple plywood to be exact. Plywood is engineered wood and is extremely affordable.

It was easy but very time consuming. It took us several months to complete, because: toddler. We tackled one room at a time, starting with Link's nursery.

22 sheets of 4'x8' 1/4" Top Choice Maple Plywood
4 packs of Pergo Gold 3mm underlayment
2 gal of Minwax Satin Floor Finish

Circular Saw
Table Saw
Jig Saw
Angle Finish Nailer
Angles, measure tape, pencils, etc.

Before actually starting on the floors, Josh cut each plank from a 4'x8' sheet using a circular saw and table saw. This was the most tedious part but we knew cutting it ourselves would lead to cleaner, straighter lines.

We pulled up the nasty carpet and behold: nasty vinyl (possibly asbestos) tile.  Originally, we planned on removing all of this tile down to the plywood subfloor, but ran into the black tar-like adhesive under the tile.  This would have taken ages to scrape up, so we made an executive decision (because it's our house and we can do whatever we please) just to clean the tile and call it good.

While not necessary, we then covered the clean floor with underlayment.  This acts as a moisture barrier and sound insulation.  If we were to do it again, we would use thicker plywood and thinner underlayment, as there is a very tiny amount flex to the planks as you step on them.  Of course, only Josh really notices this.

Starting in the middle of the room, Josh then nailed each plank. You want to work your way out from the middle so you can keep even spacing and symmetry on either end of the room.  This proved to be extremely difficult, as these rooms couldn't be further from square.  Once Josh came to the end of the row, he'd cut the appropriate length and then use the remaining piece to start the next row. This kept the boards in an alternating pattern.

We used a really technical spacing technique: credit cards. Josh's card has never been the same since.

Once all the planks were down, Josh sanded the entire room with 220 grit sandpaper then applied two layers of finish.

And voila! A few months down and we finally have a check on our to-do list. We also have much cleaner socks.

Now for the best part. Savings! The floors ended up being about $1.10/sqft.  With such a great deal, it's hard not to be ecstatic with the way they turned out.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Three Years

This past Sunday marked 3 years since Olivia opened her eyes in Jesus' arms. The weeks leading up to this past weekend was full of knotted stomachs and tear-filled nights. Laying in bed, I wrote and rewrote letters to her in my head.  Telling her how much I missed her. How much she changed my heart. How I'd give every ounce of myself to hold her again.

We never have plans for the days surrounding Olivia's birthday. We never know what our hearts will need so Josh and I stay extra guarded. Grief can be a very isolating journey.

The weekend went as well as it could. We spent quality family time and talked constantly about her. We dreamed about the little girl she would have grown up to be. We looked through pictures. We took time to be still. It felt good to have a dedicated time to remember her. I needed it. We all did.

In memory of Olivia we had this painting commissioned. "Quiet wings watch over you" by Scout Cuomo. It takes my breath away every time I look at it. It's amazing how art can reflect so accurately the feelings of the heart.

Today marks the anniversary of laying her to rest. These milestones are a strange thing. It's like a big crescendo of emotion that you expect will make you explode. But you don't explode. You breathe.

And let Jesus carry you on.

"Ashes are never the last line of any of God's stories. Abundance, resurrection, redemption always are." Ann Voskamp

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Olympic Fever

Who else is wrapped up in the Olympic craze? I can't get enough and I am already starting to panic about what will play on our TV 24/7 come Monday.

I'm not kidding. Basketball, rowing, archery, weightlifting. I'll watch it all. But my personal favorite? Track. I know every athlete has dedicated countless hours and sacrificed so much, but something about the faces of the athletes running until exhaustion connects to me. My heart races, my throat seizes up, and tears come to my eyes as each one crosses the finish line. Of course I'm rooting for USA, but I love seeing any athlete win. I just can't explain it.

I'm not a competitive person. I've never had the desire to push my physical limits. And I surely don't consider myself an athlete. But goodness gracious I connect with these runners when I see them reach goals that some deem unobtainable. When I see them give everything they have. Cue the water works.

I dread on Monday when life goes back to status quo and everyone starts arguing about the presidential elections. I want to stay in the Olympic-haze just a little bit longer. Where we all agree and root for the same cause. Let's hold on to celebrating hard work and achievement a little bit longer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A House Tour

Since a lot of this blog will be about the renovation of our house, I thought I would give you a tour before things start changing too much. We've already changed a few things in the couple of weekends we have lived here, but don't worry. We haven't put a dent into everything that needs to be done.

To get your bearings, here is a rough blue print of the house. It is a split level home, with the living room and kitchen on the main level, three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms upstairs, and the downstairs containing one bathroom, bonus room, and laundry room. Not depicted is the multilevel deck off the living room.

Main level



Okay, now that you have a general idea of the layout, lets look at some pictures.

Exterior: Some paint, windows, and garage/entry doors will give it a much needed face lift.

Living room: We love the windows and natural light this room has. But lordy, that fire place wall. And see that brick square to the right of the stairs? That's a built-in planter. For like, ferns and stuff. Sigh.

We plan to knock down the wall separating the living room and the kitchen. Open floor plan for all.

Yep, that's a fake french door leading onto our massive deck.

Kitchen: Complete with original 1960s appliances. Except the fridge, because I have standards (read: I don't want to put food into a stinky, gross, old refrigerator). That beautiful fridge is the one new thing in this house. Oh, and the hot water tank. (But that is a whole other story...)

Next, let's venture upstairs. Our first project is to rip up that nasty nasty carpet.

Master bedroom: There is a sliding door just to the left of this photo that leads out to a small patio. To the right is open closets.

Master bathroom: Before we ever used that shower, I tore out the gross shower door that was covered in mold. And bleached this room from top to bottom. Twice.

Hall bathroom: Oh, the pink tile. And yes, you climb into that hole to bathe.

Nursery: At the time of this post, Link is actually set up in the other room; but we will eventually move him into this room.

Guest bedroom: Imagine new walls and pretty floors. But any suggestions for that cubby-hole?

Okay, that's enough of the upstairs. Now let's head down to the bottom level.

Bonus room: This huge room has a bar, fire place, and a built-in charcoal grill. We have brainstormed a lot of ideas for this space, but right now it just holds boxes and bicycles. 

Laundry room: Are laundry room pictures ever interesting?

Half bath: Meh.

Patio/backyard: The deck is huge. This view is looking back onto the house. The structure on the left is what the college boys dubbed "The Boom Boom Room." There is an alley way on the right hand of this picture (also pictured below) that runs along the side of the house/garage.

We have already made some serious headway on the yard. About 4 days of cutting, chopping, and burning and you can finally see that white shed. 

This is a picture of the lower half of the deck, from the view outside the laundry room door. So much deck. Above us is the patio off the master bedroom.

And there you have it. It is easy to get overwhelmed by what needs to be done. (Ahem. I'm looking at you Josh.) But, piece by piece, I think we have a real gem on our hands. Slowly, but surely, we will turn this thing into a looker.