Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmastime Updates

Between pregnancy and bathroom, I haven’t (updated this blog) really put up any Christmas decorations…but we’ve still got tons of holiday spirit!

So here are a random bunch of life updates, which hopefully I will be able to better organize as “real” blog posts later :) but hey, for now, I’m no pro, so this is what you get :)

Here’s a belly shot! I blame pregnancy for everything and it’s great :) No blog posts: pregnancy. Can’t lift heavy things: pregnancy. Get tired easily: pregnancy. No Christmas tree: pregnancy. Eating lots of delicious things: pregnancy. It’s fantastic.

29 weeks!

I don’t know what the rest of pregnancy will be like, but this part is pretty great. I’m not too big that I’m too uncomfortable and can’t move around, eating is pretty normal and fun and “necessary”, and my tummy is supposed to be hanging out, which makes eating and getting dressed way better than before. :)  Also, I can feel this little guy having a dance party in my belly all the time, and can see it a lot from the outside, too – which is all wildly entertaining to me.  This part I am definitely loving.

Our bathroom (which is on a bit of a holiday hiatus) is nearly done! We’re kind of down to some finishing touches…well, and finishing the shower…all of which will hopefully become in-progress posts at some time…but just to skip ahead to some almost done pictures:

bathroom vanities

shower tile - grouted but not cleaned

The floor, vanities, and toilet are installed. The shower is tiled (but not cleaned or caulked).  So we have to finish the shower and trim work – and then it’s a fully functioning bathroom! I will still be making/buying some cabinetry (in between the vanities for a more seamless look and under one of the windows for storage) but it’s nothing that will stop us from moving into and using this bathroom so we can start working on my little main floor laundry nook and baby’s room!

And we’ve started celebrating Christmas. I’ve done mostly online shopping, so this definitely happened in our kitchen for a minute:

pile o' Christmas boxes!

And we started the first of many family celebrations:


All the little kids know that there’s a baby in my belly which is super cute :)

Anja and my baby belly

My cousins are getting married January 4th, so we used family get-together as an opportunity to try on the flower girls dresses I’ve been making.

dress fitting!

I’m so excited about how cute the dresses are! They’re a little big, but nothing moving a few buttons won’t fix. I’m so excited to continue celebrating with our family even when Christmas is over!

So whew! That’s an overview of what’s been going on since Thanksgiving…and coming up in the new year is this family wedding, more work on the house, a baby shower…and a baby! Whew indeed!

Has your December seemed as insane as mine? Isn’t time flying? What are your holiday plans?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I feel like I say this every year, but I just love that we Americans get a national holiday devoted to being grateful, regardless of race, creed, religion, or country of origin. I’m glad we can all join forces to eat and be merry!!

We’ve been making a ton of progress on the bathroom – it’s starting to look like something other than a workzone…and I am thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the little growing baby I’ve got…that I will hopefully take a picture of soon! (Well, at least my belly, that is) :)

And I’m thankful for all my friends starting the celebration of Hanukkah today! I’m grateful that someone created this menurkey – for all of our enjoyment :)


Here’s the story of the kid who created the menurkey!


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan

Thanks to those who have checked in with me or my mom about our family in the Philippines.

My aunt was able to talk to my uncle and some other family members before communications went down, and we've been able to talk to them since, and they're all fine.  They were so lucky to all be just south of the typhoon's path.

Map of Typhoon Haiyan from NYTimes.com
Most of our family is in Bacolod and Iloilo, so besides a lot of extra rain, they were pretty much unscathed. My heart does go out to all the families and people who were affected by this incredible storm.

So thank you again for checking in with us, and if you're looking for ways to help, please donate to the relief fund at the American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.

Friday, November 8, 2013

They Tell Us It’s a Boy!

This is slightly old news, but I thought I’d share the fun of finding out that our baby’s going to be a boy!

Brian and I went in for the ultrasound on a Monday morning. Since there was no way the clinic was going to let our whole family into the ultrasound room to find out with us, we wanted to do something special to let them in on the surprise…you know, especially for the moms/future grandmas, :) so we invited them over for dinner that night.

When the ultrasound tech told us that our little baby is a boy, we kept our traps shut as I rushed home to bake a blue cake.  It’s not a new concept, but I figured our moms could cut into the cake to see what kind of kid their new grandbaby would be. :)

So here’s the play-by-play :)  I thought this was cute: future grandmas.


A family “before” picture.


I made them cut the cake together like it was their wedding cake.


And…the excitement begins! I wish we had this part on video. There was a lot of screaming and laughing and not knowing whether to cry or keep laughing :)


So funny, right? :) I love these ladies.

Here’s the blue cake:


And it was delicious!

We had more family over than just our moms, but I forgot to make them all take a group photo. What a bad memory-maker I am!

And finally, Brian and me with our boy-cake. :)


Now we’re in the process of getting prepared for this little guy with trucks and worms and other things boys are supposed to like. :)  It’s all pretty exciting! I can’t wait to start the nursery – and share it all with you!

(PS – while I really have no doubt that the baby is a boy and the ultrasound pictures are correct, I’ll really be convinced this little baby’s a boy when it comes out and I can see it myself!) :)

What fun surprises have you had lately?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Bathroom Has Drywall!

The bathroom is about 90% drywalled (only 90% due to some snafus) and it has been for about a month now.

bathroom drywall

To do the ceiling, Brian and his stepdad rented a drywall lift from our local Menards, and they said it was worth every penny!  (Call around when you’re renting tools. We’ve rented lots of tools from Home Depot and our local rental place, but for some reason renting this drywall lift was half the price at Menards than anywhere else!)

drywall lift

This amazing contraption holds the drywall up in the air so you don’t have to! You can use it to hang high vertical sheets as well, but we just used it for the ceiling. Having it was like having a third set of tireless hands and arms on your side and gave us the opportunity to make the many many cut outs we needed for all the lights/fans/etc.

drywall lift

This isn’t a terribly big room, but all those cut outs took time – and we’re no pros! The ceiling took about 5ish hours including breaks and mess-ups :) and only cost about $20 in drywall-lift-rental.

bathroom drywall

All in all, most of the drywall installation has been straightforward and quick. The mudding is a pain as always, but it’s coming along…if only there were some magical tool for mudding and sanding the ceiling, I’d be set!

The shower installation is becoming a dramatic saga, and that’s what’s currently been holding this project up. Ah, the joys of home improvement and DIY. Once we actually get near a “finished” stage on that, I will tell you all about it!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thank You Cards

cricut country life thank you notes

Oh my goodness...so many things to post, and so long since I've posted last!

So a quick post for now: look at the cute  thank you notes I made! They were sort of a pain (aren't so many projects?) ;) but I am so happy with them!

I used Cricut's Country Life cartridge with its cute banner font and my trusty Gypsy!

What projects have you been crafting?


Friday, October 4, 2013

Bathroom–Ready for Drywall

There was so so much behind-the-scenes/walls work that went into the bathroom over the last 2 weeks. Brian and his various helpers installed all the new plumbing – that is plumbing for 1 toilet, 2 vanities, and 2 showers, as well as the appropriate venting to go with all of it.  They also ended up installing new electric as well as fixing and rerouting some existing. Whew!
So I don’t have a lot of that to show you, (although we are running all our new plumbing in PEX and it’s all controlled by this cool manifold which is like a breaker box but for your water. I should get Brian to help me post about that sometime) but I’ve got a few pictures of what the room looks like now.
bathroom - framing for medicine cabinets
These are the frame-outs for the future medicine cabinets. You can see the blue and red PEX plumbing as well as the white drains and vent pipe.  And all those lovely blue electrical boxes! I love DIY-ing this stuff because really, I need lots of outlets in a bathroom and I don’t want to argue with anyone about it. :)
bathroom - plumbing for toilet
Here’s where the toilet will go (like our chalk outline of it?). We had to build that little wall that will go behind it because it’s above the electrical breaker boxes in the basement, and you need so much clearance between the toilet drain and the breakers. Water + electricity don’t mix.
bathroom insulated
Here’s everything with new insulation, ready to be drywalled!
And just a side note – Brian took out this ceiling light box when he was re-doing the electric and I made him save it so I could take a picture.
electrical box with burnt wires
Those white wires coming out of the box are burnt, not dirty.  This is what happens when, for instance, you put 100 watt light bulbs in fixtures that are rated for 60 watts (or some other similar situation).  Of course, sometimes it’s hard to know because old fixtures didn’t necessarily have those safety stickers that new fixtures do, but those things aren’t jokes! If you want light brighter than the fixture is rated for, either use lower-wattage CFLs or LEDs or get a new fixture. You don’t want to risk burning things up in your ceiling!
Tomorrow morning, we are going to start working on the ceiling drywall. Brian is definitely renting a lift for that, so I’m excited to see how it goes.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Baby on Board

Well, I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but with Young House Love’s announcement today, it seems as good a time as any!

Yup, I’ve got a little baby on board! :)

Baby on Board–by the Be Sharps on the Simpsons

This little guy or gal is supposed to be joining our family on March 1st, which conveniently (or inconveniently) is right around the time when all his or her cousins were born as well…I want to hold out for a March 7th birthday to even things out a little :) (Oops, did I just say that on the internet? I’m pretty sure I fully jinxed it now.)

I found out I was pregnant just about a week after the big storm that started our summer of nuttiness.  So there’s a little more context to the craziness – I was also pregnant.  During the heat and the traveling and the lack of readily available water :) But all is good, and now we’re vigorously working on the master bathroom, so that we can in turn work on the existing bathroom as well as making way for an upstairs laundry nook and cleaning out the spare room (again!) for the baby. Think we can do it? :)

And for fun, here’s a baby bump pic:


That picture was actually taken about a month ago, so the bump is probably mostly the cheeseburgers I was eating for a while, but you get the idea! :)

So, there is our big news :) 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bathroom Plans

As we’re constructing things in the bathroom, I’ve been really having to make choices on what will be going in there since we have to plan for everything to make sure we rough-in walls and plumbing and electrical in the right places.  It’s totally fun, of course, but a little nerve-wracking since these choices will be pretty permanent – bathroom stuff is expensive and not easy to change out! :)

I’ve been using an Amazon Wishlist to gather all the different items I’m finding.  It’s nice because you can use the universal wishlist button to find things from other sites, and Amazon will also tell you if it’s available on their site as well. The Invisible Hand plug-in is amazing for this project, too, because it’s helping me shop for the best price with minimal effort.

So, here goes. Here’s what I’ve picked so far.

We’re so far sticking with this vanity from the Home Depot.  The sink isn’t as deep as I’d like, but it’s the same depth as our sink now, so I know it will be fine, and coupled with a nice faucet, I think it will work out really well. We’ll have two of these vanities with some sort of drawer unit in between.

martha stewart vanity

For above the vanities, I bought these recessed medicine cabinets from Lowe’s. I love that they have mirrors on the inside as well! They’re nice and large! I wanted a larger version, but Brian’s stepdad made me worry that cutting out too many studs might compromise the drywall and shelves in our closet on the other side. If I feel like I need more mirror space, I know I can creatively hang another one in between the vanities or something.

kohler medicine cabinet

Right now, these are my first choice for above-the-vanity light fixtures. :) I just like them. But I’ve found a few similar ones just in case these don’t work out for some reason.

allen roth light fixture

In our master bath, we’re going to have a nice big shower with two showerheads and a handheld shower.  I ordered this unit from Lowe’s.  It looked pretty sturdy in the store, so I’m curious to see how well our installation will go. :)

sterling shower unit

We love Delta shower fixtures because you can control the temperature separately from the flow – meaning you can set your favorite temp and then not mess with it when you turn the shower on or off…so it’s always ready to go for you! I love it so much. We’ve had these kind of showers for years and won’t go back!

delta leland shower trim

(Note, when you get a Delta shower fixture, you have to buy the valve separately.)

At our last place, our plumber recommended Toto toilets to us and they’re amazing! I know it’s weird to talk about a toilet, but seriously, these toilets are amazing.  They have a larger flush valve than most toilets meaning they rarely get clogged, and they use less water!

toto drake toilets

We’re deciding between an elongated bowl and a round bowl. Haha, do you have any thoughts? Grandpa says he likes the elongated. :)

I chose these bath fans from Menards because they have a light (it uses 2 bulbs – and mini CFLs fit!) and they’ve got a pretty high CFM and are pretty quiet. And they’re pretty, of course. :)

riazzi bath fan

I’m still looking for sink faucets – but they’re not a top priority currently, and it will just come down to them being the right dimensions to make the best use of our sinks…and the right price of course!

So far, almost all of the plumbing and electrical is roughed in! Woohoo! I can’t wait to actually be able to start installing these fun things!  And to pick a paint color…

What have you been up to this week?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bathroom Demolition

So last week, we got the bathroom demolished :) and began working on construction (which of course goes much more slowly!).  Here’s a little re-cap of the demo.

bathroom before

Here’s where we started. Our goals were to take out the hardwood floors (originally, we weren’t sure what we were doing with the flooring in there and we built that wall on the left side of the picture on top of the existing floors) and to take out some of the drywall on the exterior walls so we could put in new insulation.  That stuff would pave the way for the new plumbing and electrical work we’d have to do. We also realized we’d have to move some of the heat ducts.

Taking down drywall looked like this:

taking drywall downtaking drywall down

Then we got to work removing the floors. Like I said, the wall on the left was built on top of the existing hardwood, so we needed something that would cut the wood right against the wall – which a regular circular saw won’t do.  Luckily, I watch a lot of This Old House and I discovered that there is something called a toekick saw designed exactly for this purpose. (Really, it’s to cut flooring out from next to the toekick on kitchen cabinets.)

We bought ours at Harbor Freight Tools – our favorite place for inexpensive tools that we amateurs really won’t be using too often.

toekick saw from Harbor Freight

Here’s the toekick saw in action.  Look how it cut right next to the wall – and you could guide the saw against the wall to make a perfectly straight cut.

toekick saw in actiontoekick saw in action

Then we got to work pulling out all the floor boards which were nailed in.

taking up the hardwood floors

The subfloors underneath were only 1/2” (I wish they were 5/8” for strength) and weren’t put in in the smartest fashion (lots of corners and seams meeting in bad places) so it seemed a little weak.  But we decided that since we were putting concrete backerboard down, it’d be okay, so we didn’t replace the subfloor. We also decided that under key areas like the toilet and shower drains, we’d go down in the basement and add some 2x4 supports.

Here’s a bad picture that shows the concrete backerboard floor. :)

concrete backerboard floor

Lastly, but certainly not least, we ended up deciding that taking down the ceiling drywall (and having to re-drywall it later) would be better in the long run since we want to install so many things up there! Speakers :), heat lamps, lights, and exhaust fans. Doing all that work would certainly be easier with full access to the ceiling – and not having to climb into our attic with its super shallow hip roof.

But it resulted in this mess!

taking down the ceiling!taking down the ceiling!

Luckily, Grandpa and Brian’s stepdad are amazing and did all that nasty work as well as cleaning it all up!!

So that, I think is the demo in a nutshell. I’ll be posting the cool finishes that we’re (hopefully) installing and of course, about the construction as it goes along.

What have you been up to this week?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Making Way for a New Bathroom

Late post today…because I have been cleaning out the part of our old third bedroom that is (hopefully) soon to become our master bathroom!

Until very recently, it looked like this…it was even worse at times!


It served as a total junk room – full of packing boxes and Christmas things and just as a general home for things I didn’t know what to do with or want to deal with! :)

But as of now, it looks like this!


Not bad, eh?

There is a LOT of work to do in here! Plumbing, of course, but we’ll also be taking out the current hardwood floors and laying new subfloor and maybe/hopefully some sort of floor-warming system underneath whatever floors we choose.  We’ll be re-insulating the outer walls and re-directing the vents in some way or another. We also have to re-do some electrical work that we already did a few years ago since in that time the bathroom layout plans have changed.

Just for fun…we’re considering using these vanities from Home Depot:

martha stewart vanity

And that seems to be the main thing I know right now :) I’m not even sure what color I’d like to paint the room. :)  I’ve started looking up some plumbing fixtures online (we like Delta showers because you can change the temperature independently of the on/off/flow…so you can pick a temp you like and keep it there! I’ll post more about that as I find our fixtures) and started looking into flooring and medicine cabinets and whatnot.  The finishes are so fun in a bathroom, but of course, so so much of the work is electrical and plumbing. I want really good exhaust fans if possible! The humidity in bathrooms seems to wreak havoc on anything inside of it!

Hopefully we’ll make quicker progress in the bathroom than on most of our projects :) so stay tuned. :)

What have you been up to this week? Any advice on exhaust fans?

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I’m still here, I really am! :)

We have had a nutty couple of months. When I look back at my last posts, I can barely believe that I even posted about Puppy’s birthday! Before that, my last 2 posts were about HomeGoods and World Market shopping, but I think I had pre-planned those posts, because really on those days, we had the nuttiest storms (and there were more storms before and after that) that knocked out our power, knocked down some limbs, knocked out our air conditioner, and resulted in our needing a new roof!


Grounder hates storms, but that one made him nearly comatose.  And of course, Brian was out of town for the whole thing!

Like I said, our air conditioner got knocked out, so we lived through over a month of hot, humid Chicagoland weather, with a few days like this:

90 degrees

Meanwhile, Brian was out of town A LOT…most of the time working on this bridge in New Hampshire. (It’s the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, for those of you dying to know.)  I joined him there a couple of times.

Memorial Bridge

We celebrated his 32nd birthday in Portsmouth just about a week after the storm.

Both of us were crazy busy at work and with the 4th of July and with family and friends.

 whirlwind of fun

Since we were having the roof replaced, we opted to have the contractor put on new soffits, fascia, and gutters, too.

getting a new roof

Brian was out of town for the majority of June and July…except for the week he stayed home because he had pneumonia. What a mess!

Once we were pretty well done with the roof and new air conditioner/furnace, we found out the pipe coming out of our well was leaking…flooding our backyard, our neighbor’s backyard, and down into his neighbor’s yard!

We decided it was better to dig a new well than to try to repair the old lines that were there.  It took us over 2 weeks to finally get someone to dig our new well, so in the meantime, we’d turn off the well whenever we weren’t using it (to prevent more flooding) which meant we were living without constant running water, and our water quality was just getting worse and worse. Ugh!

But! The new well is dug! And so far we are back up and running smoothly. (Knock on wood.) :)

digging the new well

So yeah, that’s my recap. It’s been a little hectic. :) My goal is to at least post once a week (we’ll see!) :) because I definitely have some fun (well, I think it’s fun) :) stuff to share from before all this, and of course from during all this. And we’ve got some new projects coming up. I’m hoping that pressure on myself to post less will result in actual posts, so cross-your-fingers, here’s hoping. :)

What have you been doing for the past couple of months?

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