Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kitchen Remodel

Hello!!! I haven't posted since who knows when... Sorry!  I've been too busy, demoing and building to have time.
But since we just "mostly" finished our kitchen remodel, thought I'd throw up some pictures. 
 Before we had nasty tile floors and I had shoved our table in the corner.  I replaced that smaller window with a casement window that opens up to the deck bbq area and acts like a serving bar window.  I love it.  I got the "new" double thermopane casement window from Second Use (architectural salvage shop) for $45.  I sold the old vinyl one for $40.. yay!!
We ripped out the wall to the living room.  You can see the refrigerator is now in the old range's spot.  I built a little 3' wall to cover the side of the fridge and that is where the new "dining room" is. In this "before" pick, you can see the original hardwoods that were under the tile.  Although in the photo they don't look half bad, but they were in rough shape.  The "after" is Highland Hickory Extreme Performance PERGO.  Looks pretty similar, huh?  But with 4 kids, durability will always win.

 This is the view from the laundry room door.  I custom built the island to look like an old buffet with the smaller spindle legs.  Our kitchen is just too small for the beefy kitchen island legs and I think the smaller legs look a lot older. They are large spindles, 2" squares, I got them for $2 each at Second Use.  I used 12" deep drawers on the other side from IKEA and the Oak counter is also from IKEA>
 View from dining / stair area. We gutted the entire ceiling to add 5 new can lights and 2 new pendants.  I wallpapered the ceiling with beadboard wallpaper from Martha Stewart and painted it Behr Aqua Breeze. Love it. (PLEASE ignore the old range and microwave and imagine a beautiful viking range in it's place.  It will be coming soon)
 IKEA cabinets, and farmhouse sink.  I built the little shelf above the cabinets, backed with beadboard and painted Behr Smokey Slate.  Perfect spot for my Pyrex and vintage finds.
 The counters are Wilsonart Carrara Marble laminate with a double round edge.  Again, durablity wins and they look amazing in person. 

Now I can keep and eye on my lil' kiddos while cooking dinner and can actually appreciate the fireplace / media center I built over a year ago (See how I built that HERE) when I'm in the kitchen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Money

Money is a funny thing.  I've been thinking a lot about it.  Most people assume we are poor because of the size of our house.  How do I feel about this?  I don't know.

We live small on purpose.  We have a plan.

  • Go small (live in 400 sq ft with 3 kids at the in-laws for a year) COMPLETED
  • Stay small (live in 920 sq ft with 4 kids in a rainy city)...CURRENT (will be a rental soon)
  • Buy a medium size house in Texas to live in for a year (this will happen in 2 years,this will also turn into a rental)
  • Build our dream house with no mortgage (this will be completed in 3-4 years)



 I guess I don't like "being thought of as poor", I don't know why.  Why does it matter?  And at the same time, I "LIKE being thought of as poor", puts it into perspective. I guess some people think we are poor because we have a small house, no matter what we have in the bank. What does it really matter anyway? We never want to be a slave to our house.  We want our money to spread around, building our legacy and helping others. We plan to completely support both our parents and be the house that all gather to for holidays and birthdays and every day.  We want to spend our money on our family taking trips and mission trips and helping everyone possible.


I think most people don't stay small enough for long enough.  They are always trying to catch up instead of waiting til they can just really explode.

Living small is hard.  I have 3 kids in one 8'x7' bedroom with no closet.  All of their clothes are in one dresser and the coat closet.  The baby still sleeps in our room and her clothes are in a plastic container under the bed.  Our bedroom is  9' x 13' and housing a king sized bed.   But we do have our own bathroom, that is nice.  Ok... I lied.  It's really not that hard at all, it's tight, that's all.  Living on the streets, that would be hard.

Redneck and I both feel like we "have it all".  We feel like we ARE the Jones's... you know the phrase "Keeping up with the Jones"?  It's funny because no one but us sees us like that.  Everyone thinks we are poor and deprived, but I couldn't be happier.  A bigger house and living in sunny weather, that's just an added bonus.

We are spreading our manure right now... so our garden looks pretty bare to outsiders.  But living in the "dirt" (the starting ground), we know the richness we have invested deep down and it's only a matter of time til everyone else will see why we invested in "manure" instead of a "ready made potted plant".

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rapunzel's Tower

My first princess is turning 2 in a couple of days and she LOVES Rapunzel. She loves her so much she carries around a frying pan all day.  So of course we are having a Rapunzel party.

It all started because I bought a pound of yellow yarn to make Rapunzel's hair. Spent an entire evening walking back and forth between our master bath towel hook and our back door handle, wrapping the yarn around so could get a giant 20' long, 2" thick, Rapunzel pony tail.  Then I started thinking that the hair would look stupid just randomly hanging around the room. It needed to hang from something. So I started making up the plans. Plus, it would keep the kids  busy during the winter and we can move it outside come summertime.


So, I got a 30" wide, 6' high concrete form tube.  I don't know if you have ever built anything out of concrete, but liquid as a mass is strong and will break through almost anything.  So this concrete form is strong, 1/2" thick, non-corrugated cardboard, and super heavy.

The kids loved it, even before I built anything with it.

But here it is as "bones".
Then I cut 2x12's to have a 30" radius and screwed 3" exterior screws through the form and into the stair tread.  Looking up from the entrance.  Each stair is about 12" high.


Then I wrapped the upper chamber in 1/8" hardy board.  Then painted stones, faux plaster and wood on the top, then vines, and more vines.  Then hot glued some old flowers on... and wha-lah!

Ok, so the frame took 2 days to cut and build (that's with 4 kids, no babysitter), then another day to paint, but all and all, for entertainment all winter... WELL worth it. 

It stands 8 feet high now.  But when we move it outside (in May or June), I'll build the vaulted cone roof and it will bring the total height to about 14 feet... I'll also be attaching a slide and swings. But as for now, we have working shutters and pulley...

Doorway to the stairs...

And the best part, the wall / door opens (not an easy feat) so we can get the munchkins out who refuse to come down when it's time for bed.
The boys... (guilty, didn't paint the tower floor (or walls for that matter)

And the stairs going down...

A little much to be considered mere "decoration for the party", still need to make a purple banner with suns, hang some "Wanted Flynn Rider" posters, but I think we'll be just fine. Got the hair draped aroud the room...

  I'll be sure to get a picture of Luella in her Rapunzel dress carrying her frying pan, in front of her tower on her birthday.  Gosh, I hope that dress doesn't restrict her climbing ability, hmm...
But there you have it... my own homemade Rapunzel Tower

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Master Bath Progress

So, Remodeling with 4 kids is SLOW.  As as you can tell, blogging about remodeling is almost non-existent. 
I am a Second Use stalker.  It is an architectual salvage shop about an hour away and lucky for me, they post daily some of their new items online.  So, when I saw this granite counter the perfect size with under mount sinks and faucets for $125, I called and bought it immediately and thus began our bathroom remodel.

So here is what we started with.


The ugliest red stone, nasty tile floors.  And compared to our newly remodeled main bath (View HERE)... I hated using this bathroom.  The cabinets were upper cabinets with no shelves and see that aweful nook behind the shower.  What am I suppose to put there?!!?  I swear the old owners searched the dump for this bathroom.  And what's sad is this bathroom is a "new addition", built a few years before we purchased it.  So pathetic.  Please notice the single pane window.  You could literally feel wind blow through around it.
So I gave it all away on craiglist.  And while Redneck was picking up the counter at Second Use, I also had him grab some cheap awesome cabinets with awesome inset pulls...

totaled at $55 for the cabinets plus $125 for the cabinet = $180 for this awesome double vanity

But they would obviously need a facelift.  I had to rip everything out.  The drawers were standard 24" deep so I had to do a complete overhaul and rebuild them to only be 12" deep so they wouldn't hit the sink drain and install new 12" drawer slides.

A lot of sanding and priming and some "Swiss Coffee" Behr white paint (same as main bathroom) and we had some progress.

Then the window... the awful window that wind blew in around, single pane and single pain!! So, I found a wood casement window at Second use for $20 but the hinge was broken and it was about 6" more narrow than the old one.  Repairing this window was one of the most complicated things I've done. There are hundreds of different sizes and types of casement hinges.  Stupid me thought "one size fits all".  Lucky for me, found a great site online (http://www.hardwaresource.com/) with the most helpful owner EVER.  Took a couple weeks of emailing back and forth but got that fixed and functioning perfectly, then had to re-frame the window opening so that required ripping off all the vinyl siding.  I planned on doing this all along because when we installed the huge slider (View HERE), there was a transition in the vinyl that we took  off.  But I wanted it to be all a continuous wall of siding.

Reframed the opening, put up the tyvek (wrapped into the window opening)

and installed the window, trim and siding went back up.  Too bad I ran out to completely finish it, haha.  I'll be putting up some specialty shake siding in the front of the house, so when I take off the current gray siding from there that will be replaced, it will be put here.

Ok, back inside....Of course I had to rip out the tile floor to install it properly and I had some left over vinyl from the main bath remodel that fit perfectly.

Then there was that awkward nook space so one day the perfect 15" wide cabinets with thick glass shelves came up on Second Use for $25, so you better believe I loaded all 4 kids up and headed straight to Second Use.  With some more white paint and mod podge some fab fabric on the back...

And wha-lah... Progress.

Then I bought a fade translucent film for privacy, you can't see through at all at the bottom and it fades up so you can see out the window at the top.  Of course I still need to install trim around the NEW casement window.  There will be beadboard over the hole under the new perfume cabinet and around the entire bathroom... but its coming along. Don't even get me started on the ugliest track light EVER...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Fruit Tree

I have been wrestling with God a lot and I just realized something.  You know when you are trying to change a baby's diaper and they won't stop squirming? "Child, I'm trying to help you" but the child wants to do what the child wants to do.

Ok, not the best analogy but all my life, I've been scraping by with "just enough".  Way more than enough to be grateful for but never really enough to be able to bless other people beyond their wildess dreams.  As a child, we went back to school shopping at Goodwill, my choice.  I have always been very frugal, I didn't want my "wants" for cool clothes to come in the way of my parents bills.  I had no clue how much they made a year, we had a nice house, but for some reason, I don't think I deserved it.  Why? I have no clue.

I've always been very self-sufficient.  I never want anyone else's help, I never want to bother someone else with my problems or my desires.... including God. 

Now, I titled this blog "The Fruit Tree" because I am realizing that is what we are, that is what God made us.  We are planted once, when we are small, things are more of a challenge and we hardly bear any fruit at all.  It almost seems like the harder we work to grow, the less fruit we bear.  I am 28 years old, and this is what I have felt like my whole life.  I have felt like I will never get ahead... that's because I have been being pruned : A very good thing, but it sure looks ugly, doesn't feel very good and results are never immediate.

Don't get my wrong, I am blessed beyond words. I have 4 perfect,beautiful, healthy children, an amazing husband, a nice warm house, food in the pantry but never enough to be able to take the woman with two kids off the street and give them a place to live.  Never enough to send my 62 year old mother who works 50 hours a week on a cruise with her sister.

Being a parent has taught me so much about God.  If my children were sitting on the floor in the pantry eating a bowl of rice, completely content and very grateful they had food, but I had an entire Thanksgiving feast for them in the beautiful dining room; I would want more than anything for them to come partake.  But they said "No mom, we are grateful for our rice and this floor to sit on so we don't have to sit in the dirt. Thank you so much mom for this rice."  Seriously, what parent wants that for their child and I feel like so many of us feel like that with God.  The feast is there, HE made it for YOU.  And just because you partake, doesn't mean everyone else can't.  There is more than enough for everyone, why do I limit God?

Back to the fruit tree analogy, starting out, it's been rough for us.  We lived with 2 children on my parents property for about 2 years, paying rent only a couple of times.  My parents were barely scraping by but still wanting to help us.  Redneck was working about 60 hours a week and things just weren't clicking.  We cried a lot during that time.  My parents ended up foreclosing and we went to go live with Redneck's mom and step dad about the same time Redneck decided to start his own programming business.  I was pregnant with Luella at the time and we moved into the upstairs bedroom that had a bathroom and a small attached nursery room.  It was 400 sq ft for (soon to be) 5 people.  Luckily, I have amazing in-laws.  They were so generous to let us live there and to make matters better, Redneck' mom and I get along great, we are both very creative. I ended up delivering Luella in their bathtub.  We lived there for a year and then  bought our current house.  Now we have 6 people in 920 sq feet.  I love this house and Rednecks business is doing great; but for some reason, we feel like we are about to get kicked down again.
What we need to realize is we are a bigger, stronger tree now and the storm has passed.  We grew during the storm and now we are producing fruit, just the way God wants us to.  He wants us to thrive, get better, grow bigger and bear more fruit.  We are a perennial, not an annual.  He designed us to stick around, not have to get re-planted every year and start all over again.

I know in this recession, a lot of people are going through the storm but it will pass.  God wants us to bear fruit. I was raised in the "God wants you to be a millionaire" church then my parents started going to a "God wants you to have nothing and die to yourself"  church.  Why is everything so extreme?  Of course God wants us to succeed.  He called us to help the needy.  How in the world are we suppose to follow HIS commandments if we are convinced that God will only ration us "just enough" for ourselves. 

People help people.  Money does not help people.  A family puts aside $10,000 to take a needy family in and help them get on their feet, nurture them, love them, make them sure that they are equals.  Give that needy family $10,000 and no people and they just feel like a charity case.  They don't feel like they are worth more because of the money, they feel like they are worth more because of the people, because of the love.  The best way to help the needy is not be needy yourself.   God wants us as fruit trees to flourish, to feed others and to use our seeds to plant others.  The bigger we get, the more we feed. 

Trees : Grow as big as you can, produce as much fruit as possible, prune often and share your seeds. 
Be used by God.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Disneyland Trip 2011

We went to Disneyland last week. We took all four kids (Carter 5, August 3, Luella 1.5, and Magnolia 3 months) and Quadsie (our four seater stroller).  We stayed for a week and it was a blast.  We tried all the character dining and absorbed at much 80 degree California sunshine as possible.

First day we started with character dining with Minnie's Breakfast at Plaza Inn right in the park.  So much fun.












I love this shot... Luella checking herself out in the mirror as we waited for Mickey.












Second day we ate breakfast at Surf's Up with Mickey at Paradise Pier Hotel and it was our favorite.  Great food, not the most selection but the best quality of food, and by far the most characters. Our babes had a blast.





Then we headed to California Adventures for a bit, then back to Disneyland for the parade and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Carter's favorite ride)








Third day we went to the princess breakfast at Ariel's Grotto.  Honestly, it was quite awful.  Very rude staff, crappy food, and the princesses were not very nice and only spent about 1 minute at our table.  Maybe we'll go again when Lue is a little older, in a few years, but would much rather head back to Surf's Up with Mickey.








Then we walked around a bit, did Tarzan's treehouse (one of my favorite parts of Disneyland) and watched the fireworks from our newfound favorite spot, at the beginning of Main Street.  It was great.







(Love the picture above... I hate people staring at me... and people just gawked at the stroller all day long.  It made me really uncomfortable but so worth it.  That stroller made the trip so much easier)


Fourth day we at the Chip and Dales Storytellers Cafe.  It had good food but definitely not child friendly.  They had a few bear characters, pretty good food but nothing outstanding... but I'm definitely not complaining.

Then we met Jessie (from Toy Story), went on Toy Story Mania (super fun) and did the splash park.







 We went to World of Color but it was so crowded, I could hardly reach in my purse to get my camera out.  But here's me and my sleeping infant after the show on the pier.  The show was great and we sat next to this nice family with tween girls who held the boys during the whole show so they got to see everything. It was great.

Fifth day we used our "Morning Madness" and got into the park and our early and rode "Finding Nemo" with barely any wait, and then Stephen took both boy on the Matterhorn and they loved it. Then we went for brunch at Minnie's Breakfast, so convenient and always great characters.





We rode a few rides, went to lunch at our favorite Mexican place, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.  So quiet and gorgeous... and amazing fish tacos.




And our sixth and final day, we started with Goofy's Kitchen in Disneyland Hotel.  They had a great spread of food, great service but not quite as many characters as Surf's Up Mickey... so I'd say it was a tie for best places to eat. 






Then we went to Wilderness Explorer Camp where the boys met Dug and Russell and became SENIOR Wilderness Explorers.  This place was a blast, so much climbing, sliding, and swinging. The boys loved it.




 Then we headed back to Disneyland to get Nolie her first pair of Mickey Ears (that don't quite fit), meet Tinkerbelle (and Vidia) and one last stroll down Main Street.





It was such a great trip.  We had a blast.  We stayed right across the street at Best Western Park Place Inn- Mini Suite and the service was great.  I just feel so blessed that I get to let my children enjoy this.  I have the most amazing husband in the world and he pretty much read my mind the entire trip, not to mention sponsored the entire thing.  We can't wait to go back next year, I'm hoping with just a double stroller, but we'll see.