Weekend Projects – Successes & Failures

It never fails. I go to the project stores and get super stoked about getting projects completed from my to do list yet, alas, something that I’ve bought doesn’t work out. For example, the sliding back door lock decided it was going to break. I’d worked on it before and the latch was sticking and I managed to fix that but this time it wasn’t to be fixed. So I bought a new kit. Who would have thought that the stupid holes wouldn’t have matched up with the steel door? Figures. That’ll have to go back. Strike 1.


The door with off-center holes.

I know it’s February but I hadn’t turned on the two gas fireplaces yet. The upstairs one worked fine once I figured out how to turn on the pilot light again. The downstairs one has an issue with the pilot light and the flames seeping out in the wrong direction. Not good as this will require a visit from a technician. That will have to wait now. Strike 2. Bummer, as we really needed the extra heat downstairs. And my Dad has a blower that will fit in ours after they redid their fireplace!


At least one works!

Next up, ceiling fan. One weekend it randomly decided to drop from the ceiling. Upon further inspection, the entire METAL bracket had split and it was hanging by 3 of the 4 wires.  Yikes! The rest of the fan worked just fine and I really didn’t want to have to replace the entire thing. Luckily, I found just the bracket for $4.97 at Menard’s (11% rebate, too! Score!) It’s been driving me batty walking through the living room with loose wires and a gaping hole. . . Figuring out the wires with the 2 circuits was a new experience but I learned something new and the fan and light now works again. Yippee!


This is what our 13 year-old fan decided to do one Sunday morning.


The new bracket.

Our gable vent has had several mishaps over the years with children.  Who would have thought that a baseball could get lodged in it?  Or a lacrosse ball could wipe out an entire piece?  I finally bought a new one ($45 at Menard’s with 11% rebate) and used some left-over house paint that the builders must have left many, many years ago.  Now all I have to do is climb in the attic and get it attached. Hate the way it looks at the front of the house with the gaping, missing sections. The new one will look so much better!

  20160130_092302           20160205_175606.jpg                                                    Painting the new vent.  Our old vent, with missing slats. 😦

So I managed to get some projects worked on last weekend, which makes me happy. I also managed to do 2 short runs, help my son buy a car, watch a church service, clean the house, grocery shop, and clean the garage. The one thing I didn’t do this weekend? School work! A successful weekend, if I do say so myself, regardless of a couple of setbacks with the projects!


Gaping Holes & Popcorn Ceilings

WOW – I found this in my draft box from last summer! I’m still working on many, many other projects around the house but thought I’d go ahead and post this one since I had it ready.  Just keep in mind it was from 2014!

Yeah, these two don’t mix.  Back in November of 2012 we had a leak from our upstairs bathroom into the downstairs bathroom. It started with a drip from the ceiling.  Then, it was GUSHING through the air vent and even the fan.  My Dad helped us out by cutting out a part of the ceiling to locate the leak (from the shower) but unfortunately the fix required a plumber, pronto.

Several hundred dollars later, we were left with an even bigger hole.  It was patched up with extra sheet rock and left.  I had originally planned on having someone come in and either fix it or take down the horrible popcorn ceiling and make it nice and smooth but not only was this repair expensive but other stuff came up that just made financially impossible. Besides, I wanted to try and fix it myself without a huge cost. This may or may not be a big mistake but you don’t learn if you don’t try, right?

Yucky ceiling.

Can you picture this wide open showing the pipes? Yucky ceiling!

I had planned on fixing it that summer when I was off from school but lo and behold, I spent my summer recuperating from surgery on my broken foot instead. Soooo . . . it made my summer chore list this summer as well.  I did my research online on how to fix a popcorn ceiling by yourself and the feedback wasn’t very positive.  Mainly it said to use the spray can but it’s terribly messy, takes a looooonnnnngggggg time and really, it’s better to leave it to the professionals.  Yeah, right.  After all, this was a teenage bathroom. Out of sight, out of mind and he certainly didn’t care if the ceiling matched or not.

I bought something new from Lowe’s this last  summer to try.  It was less than $5 with my Lowe’s card so I figured if it works, great, if not, it was only $5. Earlier in the summer when I was doing another paint job I primed the area and yesterday I finally got around to getting on the ladder and attacking the job.  It seemed easy enough.  Stir and apply with a soft-bristled brush from the outside in. It looked like a grayish cottage cheese. Yuck.

Will this work?

Will this work?

I started with the smallest section in case it didn’t work and I gave up, starting outside and working in per the directions. You could definitely see a difference in the color but the texture seemed to match quite well. I used a knife to get in the cracks between the added sheet rock and the existing ceiling. I had to laugh, though, when my son came in and asked what I was doing.  When I replied “Fixing the ceiling” he said, “Why? What’s wrong with it?”.  Seriously?!  Hmmmm, refer back to what I said about him not caring or noticing . . .

Here goes nothing!

Here goes nothing!

First section complete!

First section complete!

All done!

All done!

It didn’t take me long at all to do – maybe 30 minutes – and the application was incredibly easy. Now I’m waiting for it to dry and I already have some touch-up spray ceiling paint if need be. I’ll be painting and thoroughly cleaning this bathroom next week when the teenage son is at camp. Cross fingers!

I checked it throughout the evening to see how it was drying. Fortunately the color went lighter but it still didn’t seem to match the rest of the ceiling with some patches on it.  I applied a second coat.  Did I mention that it’s hard on your neck and arm to be reaching up for so long? Well, it does!  I know I’ll have to paint over it but overall it looks like it’s going to work well enough to not have to redo the entire ceiling. Whew! (Update 2015 – I was very pleased with this product and it blended in very nicely with little color difference after it was really, truly dry!)


Ms. Independent

My significant other used to complain that I wouldn’t “relax” on the weekends. I usually have a to-do list a mile long and I actually enjoy accomplishing these things and marking things off my list. Since I’m the one that enjoys doing this, it also means that I’m usually doing this on my own. Hmm, Ms. Independent!  Well, this weekend was no exception. And even better? It was a three-day weekend due to a Conference Release Day! Too bad my body didn’t know how to actually sleep in on days that my alarm wasn’t going to be going off!

Friday consisted of an orthodontist appointment for my son, prepping for a painting job in my daughter’s room , a quick run on the treadmill at the Y (thanks to the thunderstorms in the area), cleaning the basement, prepping my vegetable garden (after the rain), and helping weed the front flower bed in our neighborhood before heading out for a night with my favorite girlfriends.


Saturday – WOW – it was a go, go, go day. I started early finishing the prep work on my daughter’s room and painting. I hadn’t anticipated it taking as long as it did but it required 2 coats and moving the loft bed back and forth and back and forth wasn’t easy. And the high ceilings meant up and down, up and down the ladder. No wonder I’m sore this morning! Not to worry, though, I still had time to do some shopping with my mother at Gordman’s, attend church, have dinner at Doc Green’s, clean the kids’ bathrooms, and yes, even though it was late, added new knobs to my bathroom cabinets.  I might add that I am so proud of myself using the drill and not screwing things up! I now do all of these jobs on my own and I’m learning so much.  Now I can say that I am no longer afraid of this tool!

I'm so happy with the way these knobs look! Good deal, too, $8.08 on clearance for a 10-pack from Target, with an additional 5% off for using my Red Card. Score!

I’m so happy with the way these knobs look! Good deal, too, $8.08 on clearance for a 10-pack from Target, with an additional 5% off for using my Red Card. Score!

Sunday was a catch up day to somewhat relax considering how sore I was but I still started a new cross stitch ornament, made some cookies, and ran 8 1/2 miles. (It should have been 11 miles but shhhhh, I struggled and *gasp* even walked a bit! I had to listen to my body, though, and let it go. After all, next week is another week of training.) The rest of the day has been kind of blah as I’m quite tired so I’m going to finish my day flipping through some magazines, sipping my hot green tea, and putting my feet up. Not to worry, though, as I can still feel that sense of accomplishment by checking off the items on my to do list! 😉

A Little Paper, Pencil and Paint

I have 3 doors in my kitchen area that apparently seem to confuse some of our family and guests. Particularly if they’re trying to exit our house from said kitchen. I do find this quite comical as we’ve lived in this particular house nearly 12 years and all 3 of these doors have ALWAYS been there. It’s funny to watch one of my daughter’s friends open the pantry on her way to the garage. Whoops!

When I recently rediscovered Pinterest, I noticed that I had pinned a couple of different methods of making signs of some sort to help out lost bodies in our home. This was one of them:

An example of one of the pins I had "liked". https://www.pinterest.com/pin/236861261628846964/

An example of one of the pins I had “liked”. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/236861261628846964/

I decided to give it a go. After all, if I didn’t like it, that’s what they have primer and white paint for, right?

I started with finding the right font that I liked. I think this was the hardest part although my daughter helped me narrow it down and then we stuck them on the door to see which one we liked the best. I honestly don’t even recall the font name that we ended up with!

I followed the directions on the blog by using my pencil and coloring the BACK side of the letters, attaching it to the door, and tracing around it. Then I filled it in with an extra sharp black Sharpie and followed up with black acrylic paint. I was not okay with the lack of my steady hand but I’m actually going to blame that on the texture of the door. Blame doesn’t make it look better, though, so I went over it again and again with a stiffer brush and my Sharpie again until I liked the overall result.

My font taped and ready for door #1! (This one was chosen as it wasn't the one I could see all of the time from the kitchen like the pantry one would have been!

My font taped and ready for door #1! (This one was chosen as it wasn’t the one I could see all of the time from the kitchen like the pantry one would have been!

Hey! It actually works!

Hey! It actually works!

All traced in and now ready to paint.

All traced in and now ready to paint.

All done! Now onto the next one.

All done! Now onto the next one.

Other than time a few pieces of tape and the ink from the printer, my one true expense was the bottle of paint from Michaels, which came to about $0.73 with tax. I had everything else! A very inexpensive change that I love!

And as long as our guests/family can read, they should be able to find the exit to the garage now through the kitchen :)

Take 3? Or 4?

I’ve lost count how many times my daughter has redone her room. Hers was the first room we painted when we moved in, a soft pastel pink (she WAS 3!)  Since then we’ve done white with purple, and white again, not to mention how many times we’ve changed out the bedding and accessories. This past year she’s been itching for a loft bed to give herself more room but she didn’t want to downsize her full size bed. Her birthday was at the end of November so she got yet another redo!

Before - She'd gotten a little excited and already taken her box spring and frame out of her room before I could take the proper "before" picture. But you get the idea!

Before – She’d gotten a little excited and already taken her box spring and frame out of her room before I could take the proper “before” picture. But you get the idea!

After searching around town, we ended up using Site to Store from Walmart to get her bed. She specifically wanted a metal one and the only ones we could find in town were the clunky wooden ones with huge drawers and extra beds or even a slide(?!).  She chose one that had a desk already built in underneath. Very streamlined and open underneath, as long as she doesn’t bonk her head on the ceiling fan! Her walls needed a fresh coat of white paint (which we already had) and we had already replaced the curtains with the black, room-darkening, insulated ones, also from Walmart for less than $10 each  (much better for west-facing when it’s summer!). Even better, when we ordered the bed through the website, I was able to use a 5% cashback reward through my credit union. Woo hoo!

Building the bed!

Building the bed!

We ordered a cool bead curtain from ebay in black that she liked so much, we decided to order another one. It gives a little partition between the main door and her space under the bed. It had to be trimmed because it was so long and we used an existing tension rod that we had to make it fit nicely.

Next up, she got the idea that she wanted to splatter paint one wall for an impact and add some shelving. So in early July we did just that, taped off the adjoining walls, stirred a bit of water into a free sample of paint that we’d already used to paint a shelf for her bed (gotta love Lowe’s Valspar coupons for sample paint!) and let her go to town! (Personal Note: yes, this freaked me out a bit and I wondered if I should let her do it. But really, what harm can it do? I did the prep work with her help and it’s just paint – something that can be repainted if necessary. In the end she got a few dots on the white popcorn ceiling and that was the only damage. Whew!)

We purchased the interlocking shelves at Ross and she had a specific idea of what she was going to put on them – pop bottles with flowers (maybe painted, maybe not) and candle holders (warned that she can’t light them on the shelf – eek! fire hazard!) She also lined up all of her cologne sprays from Bath & Body Works on them as well. She had a wall mirror before but somehow managed to crack it so we got a new one (less than $5 from Walmart). She wanted a table of some sort to put all of her make-up and stuff in it that didn’t jut out too far and settled on a rolling cart that we got from Menard’s ($19.99 but I used a rebate that took $5.99 off it from a previous purchase).

Before with walls taped off.

Before with walls taped off.

Working on the splattering part . . .

Working on the splattering part . . .

These sample jars from Valspar at Lowe's are only $0.99 but I had a coupon for mine. Perfect for testing colors or using them for accents.

These sample jars from Valspar at Lowe’s are only $0.99 but I had a coupon for mine. Perfect for testing colors or using them for accents.

AFTER: splattered wall with shelves, new mirror and rolling cart.

AFTER: splattered wall with shelves, new mirror and rolling cart.

Did I mention that my daughter is sewing her own quilt to go with her room?  Well, she is, and I’ll say that she’s doing a wonderful job of it as well. My mother has taught her how to do it and this isn’t her first attempt. Now that we’re really getting a roll on putting the finishing touches on things, she’s been working hard on her quilt, too.

Here's a part of her quilt so you can see the colors.

Here’s a part of her quilt so you can see the colors.

Sewing away!

Sewing away!

Jocelyn originally had a foldable purple chair in her room but since it’s molded plastic and probably hard to paint, she wanted something different, preferable a stool.  That can also be tucked under her desk area much easily. When I was cleaning out the storage area this summer, I discovered a short stool that had a padded but torn seat. The legs will need to be trimmed and painted and then we’re going to use some leftover fabric from her quilt to make a cover.

The stool - BEFORE

The stool – BEFORE

She also wanted a plush chair of some sort to go underneath her loft bed to lounge in instead of up on her bed.  She decided on one from Target that was $44 but I used my red card to get a discount. She said it was her “human sushi roll”.  Say what?! She looks very comfy in it, though! She also spends more time under her loft instead of in bed!

2014-07-23 13.51.22

Other than finishing her quilt and covering the stool, there’s just one more thing to make the room complete – a rug. Unless I get the urge to rip out the carpet and I doubt that’s going to happen.  We have yet to decide on the color and size so we’ll hold off on that for awhile.  We have one very happy gal with her fancy room!  Hopefully this will keep her happy for awhile so we won’t have to redecorate it again!

Boys & Bathrooms

Forget spring cleaning. Summer is my time to get the house organized again after a busy school year.  After spending time surfing the ‘net and Pinterest, I had a few cleaning “recipes” I wanted to try.

Yesterday morning I decided to tackle my teenage sons’ bathroom.  Gross would be an understatement.  It doesn’t ventilate very well, even though I recently cleaned the vent out and the smell is unbelievable.  I avoid it like the plague. Even my son is aware of it as he burns incense as well as a plug-in scentsy and it STILL smells disgusting.

I began with the tub.  It gets cleaned every two weeks anyway (we have a lady that comes in to clean every 2 weeks but I just canceled her) but the build-up was pretty disgusting.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for tub cleaner that involved 2 ingredients – dish soap and vinegar.  I combined the ingredients in spray bottle and followed the directions – spray on, let sit for 1 hour, then wipe clean. Fabulous!  Very impressed with the results and the smell was yummy!

Tub cleaner ingredients. I bought the spray bottle at the Dollar Tree.

Tub cleaner ingredients. I bought the spray bottle at the Dollar Tree.

Next up, the grout.  That HAS to be part of the smell, right?!  I mean, boys can’t seem to aim very well and grout is porous so that’s just not a good combination.  I started with the area along the tub as it was the worst (not including around the base of the toilet, of course!).  I mixed my recipe that I found here on Pinterest (bleach and baking soda), donned my old clothes and rubber gloves, and went to work.

Before grout picture with my bowl of cleaner.

Before grout picture with my bowl of cleaner.

The directions said to put the paste on the grout, let sit 5-10 minutes then scrub it with an old toothbrush.

Along the tub and other tile area coated with the paste.

Along the tub and other tile area coated with the paste.

I was holding my breath (not because of the fumes) and hoping that this would work.  I scrubbed it in the toothbrush, let it sit again for another 5-10 minutes, then started the wiping up.  I’ll admit, I didn’t want to waste the paste so I scooped up as much as I could and put it back in the bowl to use again on some other sections of the bathroom. I continued to do other sections as I went along, following the same directions and frugally scraping up the paste.

AFTER: Can you believe the difference!? Amazing!

AFTER: Can you believe the difference!? Amazing!

I am absolutely thrilled with the results.  Since there was 11 years worth of grime and yuck on the grout, I’ll need to redo other areas.  It’ll also look different once it has dried.  A little labor intensive but the results are well worth it.  Cost?  I spent $0.52 on an entire box of baking soda from Aldi’s and about a dollar for an entire bottle of bleach. This recipe only took 3/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of bleach so there’s lots left to use!

Following the floor success, I scrubbed the counter and was able to get the rust stains off using Comet and deep cleaned the toilet (thankful for rubber gloves!).  Next up I’ll be fixing the popcorn ceiling and painting and, most likely, replacing the vent for a more effective one!

Bonus – Snow Days!

A partial view of the front steps of my house. You can't see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

A partial view of the front and steps to my house. It didn’t accumulate on the bench but you can’t see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

What would you do if you were given the gift of extra days off from work due to the weather? I was hoping for one – yes, just one – but ended up with three.  I had a great time catching up on my to-do list. The children? Not so much. They didn’t want to go outside (too cold and actually the wind chill the 2nd day was not safe) and electronics dominated their days.

Day 1:

  • a minimum of 3 hours catching up on grading with several cups of hot green tea. That was rewarding enough- just getting caught up!
  • made 2 wheat beer breads from Tastefully Simple mixes and a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the children.
  • went through younger son’s closet to find clothes that he didn’t like/wear any more for either a consignment sale or for the garage sale this spring
  • did son’s taxes so he could get his refund – still need to do the state 😦
  • organized basement and cleared off one bookshelf for oldest son who was voluntarily cleaning and reorganizing his room.
  • shoveled the driveway – 6″ minimum of it with some drifting. At least we can get the cars out now!
  • organized the laundry room cabinet, wiped down the units, made new dust rags from old t-shirts.
  • read an old Eating Clean magazine looking for ideas for new recipes

Day 2:

  • slept in – yay!
  • made a batch of banana muffins with the last 2 bananas I had in my freezer (a first for me – usually I clean them out during summer!)
  • made a from scratch brownie recipe for the children
  • taped off and primed the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • posted 3 items on Ebay
  • painted the first coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • did some touch up painting in the same bathroom
  • painted the master bath door to get ride of the scratched off paint from my parents’ dog that passed away 2 years ago (yeah, I know that should have been done a loooonnnnggg time ago. . . )
  • ran 4 1/2 miles on the basement treadmill
  • watched one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, while knitting a new scarf project
  • read my new Runner’s World magazine before bed

Day 3:

  • slept in again! I could definitely get used to getting up at 8 am as opposed to 5:45 am!
  • painted second coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • organized linen closet and added more things to the sale pile
My wonderfully organized linen closet!

My wonderfully organized linen closet!

  • completed 2 loads of laundry (washed, dried AND put away)
  • ventured out on the roads to go to Lowe’s so I can get the towel rack for the bathroom as well as knobs for the painted vanity
  • also went to Michael’s for more yarn for my knitting projects
  • also went to Walmart for a photo I had delivered there to go in my new Keystone frame as well as pick up some more fruit
  • painted the vanity AGAIN including the doors AGAIN
  • lined the vanity and the drawers with new liner – love the red!
  • took Buddy to Lillie’s house to play in the snow. He loves play dates with my Mum & Dad’s dog!
  • went to a Girl Scout cookie meeting – yes! Cookies!! We can start selling Saturday, February 8th!
The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

I have accomplished a lot these past few days while the snow was a-blowin’ and the temperatures droppin’. It feels good to have gotten something accomplished and I’m more than ready to go back to work again . . . even if it is just for a day before the weekend!!