Saturday, April 28, 2012


A lot of progress was made today!  Painter Jim hung the wall paper in the entry and finished all the painting jobs - so he is finished!

We went to Rite Rug and got our carpet ordered - installation is set for Tuesday, May 1 !!!!

We bought a set of 2.5" blinds and installed them in the red room - tomorrow we will get another set to match for the yellow room, and we may buy a set for the living room as well.

The carpet guy encouraged us to vacuum the old carpet so that there isn't construction "stuff" in it that might fly around when they pull it up - and also to get the "stuff" up from around the edges where they had cut the carpet out to paint the baseboards.  So, Hubby got out the Shop Vac and went to work.  He got most of the house done before it got too dark - still the master and the yellow room to do tomorrow.

While he was doing the vacuuming, I was painting the access panel to the attic, and touching up a couple of redwood chairs that we will use on the exterior patio.

It is amazing the difference a few things are making.  Just being able to clean up the construction mess has gone a long way to help us feel better about things.  We also feel better about having found blinds that work with the shelf over the windows - we were sort of stressing out about the window treatments.

It also helps to know the workmen are pretty much done.  John, the owner of CH, will be out on Monday to do a couple of things and meet with us for a final walk-thru - we'll probably get our key back then, so we'll feel a bit more in control.

Here's the schedule:
Sunday - more blinds, more cleaning
Monday - Final work by John
Tuesday - Carpet installation
Wed - Delivery of Porch table and chairs from Ashley Furniture
Friday - Delivery of living room furn and bed from Value City Furniture

So, by this time next week, we are going to have a very different house!!!!

WHEEEEE - the end really IS in sight!

:)  Thanks for reading, and don't forget to feed the fish!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Almost Done?

I'm not sure it is possible, but I think the end of the renovation process might actually be in sight!  Lots got done today.  Carpenter Drake hung the pantry light and put on doorstops while the plumber actually got the bathroom DONE!  He reset the toilet, hooked up the vanity faucet, installed the ceiling exhaust fan and put up the shower grab bar.  Here is a photo of the finished bathroom:

I am very pleased with how it turned out.  We still need a new shower curtain and a new shower nozzle... (gosh, did I say the bathroom was done?).

Tomorrow the painters will come and hang the wallpaper in the entry, and do some touch-ups other places.  
The workers have mostly cleaned up their mess that was the garage.  Hubs and I also spent some time today after they left re-cleaning the kitchen which was covered with a fine layer of sawdust. (I think they usually left the door to the garage open when they were working.)

We also had a meeting this afternoon with the salesman from Levis4Floors.  He brought a sample book, measured the house and then gave us a price estimate.  He also emailed later with a better estimate (after talking with the boss).

Worth noting is that the square footage was different with each person who measured.  TSTSRN came in at 1116 sq ft.  Rite Rug was at 1014 and Levis was at 990.  I'm not sure how they can be so different, but they were.  The first one used an electronic laser gadget, and the other 2 used regular measuring tapes.  

After talking about it tonight, Hubs and I agreed we are going to stick with Rite Rug.  The bottom line is that we liked their carpet better than all that we saw from Levis, and even with a lower square footage, Levis still can't beat RR's price.  

I think that's it for today's updates.  Thanks for reading, and don't forget to feed the fish!

Not My Mother's Lasagna

According to everyone who knew her, my mother was a very good cook.  There weren't very many things she made that weren't successful, and she had quite a few dishes that became favorites among family and friends.  One of these was "Mary Ann's Lasagna".  I have many fond memories of this dish.  She most often made it around the holidays.  For many years, we drove to my maternal grandparent's house the day before Christmas, and Mom would pack her lasagna to have for Christmas Eve Dinner (until the last few years of her life, Grandma would be responsible for Christmas Dinner).  Mom also often made it for New Year's Eve.  I think she considered it a cold weather dish because I don't remember ever having it in the summer.

The big irony of Mom's Lasagna is that by most people's definition it's not really lasagna.  Although it has noodles,  it doesn't have lasagna noodles in it.  I really don't know why she called it lasagna.  I think that perhaps at some point she did use lasagna noodles, but I'm not sure when or why that changed.  I also don't know if she got this recipe somewhere, or if she modified a recipe or just made it up.  All I know is that she made it as long as I can remember, and I always enjoyed it and looked forward to it.

This past year, at the holidays, I got hungry for Mom's lasagna, so I made it myself.  Hubs liked it, and so it is now in our regular line-up of options.   I have put a couple little twists on it, so I am going to rename my version Amy's Lasagna Casserole (because mine doesn't have lasagna noodles in it either!).

One of the nice things about this dish is that the heavy lifting can be done in advance - the casserole can be assembled so that it just has to be heated through when it's time for dinner.  I am taking advantage of this convenience now.  I assembled all the parts yesterday, and we feasted today.  Likewise, Mom would assemble the casserole the day before our trip, and then it just had to be heated in Grandma's oven for 30-45 min on Christmas Eve.  Sometimes she even made smaller containers of it and froze them.

Here is a list of ingredients I used this time:

1/2 - 12 oz bag of Light'n Fluffy Egg Noodles, extra wide
1 - 1.37 oz packet of McCormick's Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix
~ 3 cups of Tomato Juice
1 - 4 oz can of mushrooms, stems and pieces (optional - my addition)
~ 1 doz fresh Kalamata olives  (optional - my addition)
1 - 20oz package of ground turkey (I use Jennie-O)
1 - package of shredded Mozzarella cheese (amount to taste)
1 - Handifoil EcoFoil pan - 11 3/4" x 9 3/8" x 1 1/2"

A few notes on ingredients and portion sizes:  The amounts listed above fit nicely in this size pan.  This is plenty for Hubs and me for at least 2 main meals and maybe even some for me to take for lunch also.  If Mom was making this for the family, she would make a larger pan or 2 pans of it, so the amounts have to be considered.  I think this size would probably be enough for 4-6 people for 1 meal.

If I have fresh mushrooms I use them instead of canned.  If I don't have fresh olives, I used canned.  These two items are my own addition - I don't remember Mom using them.  Her key was the McCormick spaghetti sauce mix - that's what gives it the flavor we've come to love. I think she also used Lowry's if she couldn't find McCormick's.   She would buy the packets by the box so she's always have it when she wanted it.  I'm sure you could use a prepared spaghetti sauce if you have one you prefer.  Also, Mom always used hamburger, but we always substitute ground turkey because Hubs doesn't eat beef - so that's an option as well.  As far as the cheese goes, before I put the pan in the oven I cover the top with a thick layer of mozzarella, so use your own judgement about the amount.  Sometimes Mom would buy a ball of Mozzarella, slice it and then lay the slices on the top from edge to edge.

Cooking Directions:
Prepare the egg noodles according to the package directions.  Since you will be baking the whole thing later, you only need to cook the noodles for about 5 minutes at this first phase.  Once they are done, I let them drain in a colander in the sink while I finish the meat.  You want to get all the water out, otherwise the final result will be too runny.    When they are dry, I spread them out in the pan to wait for the tomatoey goodness.

Once I get the noodle water going, I start to brown the meat.  I chop it up as small as I can with my wooden  spatula  and brown it in a large skillet, then I add the packet of spaghetti seasoning, and stir that all in.  Next comes the tomato juice.  You sort of have to use your own judgement about how much to put in.  I used about 1/2 of a 42 oz bottle this time, adding it in stages as it cooked down.  When it was fairly far along, I added the mushrooms and olives because I didn't want them to get over-cooked.  They will cook more in the oven.

Once I'm satisfied with the consistency, I ladle the meat sauce evenly over the noodles.  I put a layer of foil on top and put it in the frig to wait.  Now the house smells yummy the rest of the day!!!

When it's time to get ready for dinner, I remove the foil, layer on the cheese, and put the tray in the oven  at 350 for about 30-45 min.  

Check on it periodically, and when the cheese is golden brown, it's READY!!  Let it rest for a few minutes before you cut into it - it will be VERY hot.  

I hope you are all ready to enjoy Mary Ann's Lasagna, Amy Style!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

knobs and locks

Carpenter Drake got a lot done today.  He did the tile grout this morning and then tonight before he left he put the sealer on.  He got all the knobs on the closet doors (they all had to be drilled).  He also installed 2 deadbolt locks - 1 on the outside man-garage door and 1 on the inside garage door.  He told us that it took him 5 hours to get all the glue off the floor in the entry way the other day.

Here is the new entry floor with grout:
I like it better every time I look at it!!

Tomorrow a plumber is coming to reset the toilet and install the plumbing for the new vanity.  He is a small guy, so he is the one that will have to climb up into the attic through a very small access panel in the ceiling of the hall closet to replace the exhaust fan.

That's all for tonight...  Except I will also share a couple photos of our wildlife.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Entry Tile

The entry tile was laid on Sunday.  It has not been grouted yet, but here is a photo anyway.  We both really like it - it is just what we wanted.

We met with a carpet guy from Rite Rug tonight.  He measured and we picked out the carpet we like.  He quoted us a price that is at least $500 less than what we were going to pay at TSTSRN !!  Here is what we picked out, but the camera really doesn't do it justice:

We have another meeting on Thursday with the guy from Levi's4Floors.  In the store, his prices were way high (like close to $5500-6000), so we'll see what he will show us when we tell him our budget is $4000.  

The other things that got done today were the shelves in the 2 front bedrooms...

.... and the new baseboard in the master bath - replacing the old vinyl stuff:

Having the support brackets so close to the windows presents some challenges for window-dressing, but that might actually solve some problems too.  We are struggling a bit with window-dressings.  We have never had problems finding curtains we like before, but this time, we are.  I may end up making them (at least for the bedrooms if not the living room).  

To Do List:  Finish the tile floors (grout on Wed and sealer on Thurs).  Hang the shower grab bar.  Put knobs on the closet doors.  Hang the pantry light fixture.  Install the bathroom ceiling exhaust fan.  Paint the shelves and the trim around the closet in the yellow room.  Repaint the entry which was pretty much destroyed by sanding down the floor for the tile.  Hang the wall-paper in the entry.  Then at some point, the new front door will arrive - and the carpet needs to be laid - and then furniture will start arriving.  

Sounds  like a lot, but the carpenter told us today he will be out of there by the end of day Thurs, and the painters will be there Thurs and Fri.  We'll see.  There is a chance that if we order the carpet this weekend, and it is in stock (which it was as of today) we can get that next week.  The table and chairs for the Porch are scheduled for delivery on Wed, May 2nd, and that will be fine because we can take that any time.  The living room furniture and bed are scheduled for Friday, May 4, so that may have to be changed.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Carpet Fiasco

Now that it's been almost a week, I think I can discuss the carpet fiasco in a calm way.  You may remember my stating that we had picked out carpet from a large DIY store that starts with an "L".  (This is now officially known as The Store That Shall Remain Nameless!!)

We had decided that we would go to TSTSRN to get the carpet officially ordered and paid for on Monday evening.  During the day, I talked to Jerome - my man in the carpet dept - and he said that he would be leaving at 5, but that all our paperwork would be ready to go.  All we would have to do would be pick it up from the other carpet guy and take it to the front for check out.

We had planned all along to stop at Giant Eagle and buy gift cards for the carpet purchase so that we would get the fuel perks.  ($4000 is a lot of free gas!)  Well, we started thinking about it over the weekend, and Hubs suggested that perhaps if we bought the carpet on an installment plan, we could pay each month with gift cards and thus spread the benefit out.  We should have known that would be too good to be true.

Anyway, it was nearly 8 pm by the time we got to the store.  As I was pushing my cart up to the desk in the carpet department, the only man there, turned and walked away, taking his vest off as he walked.  I thought this was a bad sign, but I was prepared to be pleasantly surprised by his return.  We waited.  He didn't come back.  Another employee who is not a salesman, came up to the counter to use the phone and the computer.  He asked if we needed help.  We said yes.  He got on the PA and paged for a carpet person to come to the department.  Someone called him back and evidently told him that there were no more carpet people there for the evening.  I happened to see a contract with my name on it laying on the counter, so I picked that up thinking it was probably what we needed to check out.

We went up to the customer service counter.  First I explained that I wanted to open a charge account to take advantage of the 18 mos no interest offer they had going.  Ok - we did that.  It took awhile, but we got it done.  Then I handed her my carpet order.  Oops - it's not in the system she said.  I explained that Jerome had told me it would be all ready go to.  Well, it's not - she said again.  Ok - now what?  Well, that's when things got a little chaotic.  Almost an hour later, after the clerk from the shutter/blinds/wallpaper dept helped out, and a manager helped out, they finally had the order ready to process.  By then we were totally pissed at the incompetence of the store.  We had the girl put the bill on the new charge card.  Then I tried to pay on the account - with gift cards - nope, sorry, we can't use gift cards to pay on a charge.  WHAT?  I just bought $400 in gift cards to pay on this bill.  Sorry... can't do it.  By then we were done - we'd had it - it was the last straw.  We told them we were going to cancel the whole order and take our business elsewhere.    Another clerk came up and explained that they could use the $400 in gift cards to pay towards the bill first and then put the balance on the charge card.  But...we'd never be able to use gift cards to pay on it.  Nope - we're done!  Cancel the order.

Now I'm not usually a person to do something like this, but we've had so many negative experiences with TSTSRN that we just finally reached out limit.  There are a few people at the store who try to do the right thing, but the stores just aren't run right from the top.   The attitude about customer service SUCKS.
So, we walked out of the store without ordering our carpet!!

Today, we went to a different store.  Levi's 4 Floors.  Previously, we thought that TSTSRN was the only store that carried Stainmaster carpet.  Didn't you get that impression from their ads?  Well, let me tell you, that's not the case.  Levi's 4 Floors is an official Stainmaster Dealer.  So, we went there today... looked at lots of carpet samples.  We made an appt with the salesman to come out on Thursday afternoon to measure the house and look at some samples IN the space (what a concept - we get more than little 4" squares to look at!)  So, we are now on a new carpet adventure.  This whole process may delay finishing the remodel a bit, but that's ok - we're not in THAT big of a hurry.

Stay turned!!!

Progress on Tile

Wow, it's hard to believe it's been a week since I posted an update.  I haven't really had much to talk about - this has been a very slow week work-wise.  They worked a little bit at the house on Monday - did the second coat of paint in some places, but that's all that happened until today.  We did meet on Tuesday with John to finalize the front door order, and he said he'd be walking through on Wednesday with Painter Jim to discuss some things, but we never got a report on that meeting.  The carpenter who is doing all of our non-painting work seems to be very busy on other jobs, so we are having to share him with others.

You may remember my pics from last week of the new ceiling fixture in the entry hall - well, Hubs decided it is crooked (and you can probably tell in the photos I posted).  There is a globe within a globe and they are not centered.  Hubs is requesting that it either be fixed or removed.  It turns out that fixture really got horrible reviews on the Lowe's website.  Of course, we didn't read those before we bought it!  If we take it back, I doubt that we'll get another one like it - we will pick something else.

The next item installed was the new ceiling fixture in the hall.  Here are the "before" pics:

Here is a photo of the new fixture:

The big change as of today is that the carpenter is working on the tile for the bathroom.  Here is a "before" photo of the very ugly linoleum which may very well date back to when the house was built in 1973:

The tile is going in over the linoleum, but the old stuff had to be sanded down first so that the thin-set will stick to it.  Here is the work in progress:

Today he set the tile.  Tomorrow he will do the grout.  Monday he will seal it.  

He also ripped up the old floor in the entry way to prep it for setting the tile there tomorrow. Here is the "before" pic of the entry way:

 Here's what it looks like right now:  

Carpenter Drake left quite a mess today, so we really hope he comes back to work tomorrow!

Every day with progress is a good day!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Before" lights revealed...

Hubby in fact did have photos of the old lights that were replaced on Friday.  Here they are:

I thought they were both the same, but clearly they aren't!  Shows how good my memory is!  I like the new ones soooo much better !!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

I do not have Triskaidekaphobia..

...just in case anyone was wondering.  I also survived today quite well, aside from the fact that my wallet is a bit lighter.

Today, John, the owner of Columbus Handyman, called a meeting with us to go over some final details and collect the 2nd installment of our payment.  We have now "officially" ordered the new front door, the labor cost for which was already built in to our contract - we just need to pay for the doors themselves (main door and storm door).  Nope - I will NOT share any more details about the door than that.  I don't care how much you beg!!! You will just have to WAIT, so sit back and relax.  In a few weeks, you will get to see my favorite part of the renovation!

After John left, we had some very interesting conversations with Drake.  He's the carpenter who has done most of the work this week.  Today, he went door by door and fitted each one individually to the frame it's in.  While he had them off, he also drilled holes for the knobs.  He talked with us for quite awhile about the process of fitting the doors.  Anyone who thinks they can just go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy replacement doors and put them in is in for a rude awakening!  Unless the person happens to be an experienced carpenter with just the right tools, it's just not gonna be a good experience for anyone.  There was a time when I thought Hubs and I could actually do that ourselves here.  HA!  Now, I know better!

Drake also spent part of his day installing some of the light fixtures.  He said every one was a challenge because each required some special fitting for one reason or another.  He did the entry hall light while we were there, and he had quite a time with it.  At one point I asked him if he grunts and groans as much when he there working alone or if that was for our benefit, and he assured me he does it when he's working alone.

Here is a "before" pic of the old entry hall light fixture:

Here are some "after" pics.  There is an inner globe and an outer globe and both have to be removed to change the bulbs (there are 2 - 60 watt'ers).  He had quite a time getting them on right, so let's hope we never have to change a bulb!  For the record, this is NOT the fixture that I had to wash in the restroom at Lowe's. This one was brand new from the box.  

He also installed the exterior light fixtures today.  It seems I don't have any "before" photos of these.  I will have to ask Hubs if he has any.  They were what we affectionately call "jelly jar" fixtures.  You can still buy them for about $5.  They were really ugly - tarnished, rusting, etc...  So here are the new fixtures, in keeping with the Craftsman theme.  The first one is outside the Porch, and the other is outside the people door into the side of the garage.

When we arrived at the house today in preparation for our meeting with John, neighbor-Betty was in the driveway talking with Drake the carpenter.  I asked her if she'd like to see the progress or if she wanted to wait until it was done.  She jumped at the chance for a quick tour, so I showed her what's been done so far. She seemed very impressed and was complimentary of our color choices.  (What's not to love?!)

Another topic of conversation today with Drake was the bathroom vanity.  As I think I may have mentioned previously, when I bought it, I didn't consider the fact that it needed to fit flush in the corner.  This is, in fact, one of those vanities that is designed to look like a piece of furniture, rather than to look "built-in".  I was afraid they were going to tell me I had to take it back and get a different style, but they didn't.  We all crowded into the small bathroom to discuss the issue, and agreed that we will just pull it out from the side wall about an inch.  Yes, that will require cleaning between the vanity and the wall, but the alternative was picking something else, and I didn't really see anything else I liked as well.  So, I will suck it up and clean beside the gosh-darn thing!

One issue is the top - it has that decorative beveled edge which hangs over the cabinet.  The other issue is the door.  The outside edge of that is right on the edge of the cabinet.  There is no frame that it sits inside, so the side of the cabinet can't be next to the wall, otherwise that door would rub every time it was opened.  They will have to move it out again to install the ceramic tile, but at least we know where it will go.  

I think that's about it for today's summary.  One thing we need to do over the weekend is lay out the entry tiles in the pattern we want, so we can see what it looks like.  John thinks they may be done by Tuesday the 24th.  Hubs and I are skep-a-tickle.   Early next week, we need to pay for the carpet so it can be officially ordered.  Once we get a firm "finished" date from John, we can schedule installation.  It will probably take a couple of weeks to get the door after it is ordered on Monday, so that may be the last thing that is done.  

To do list (in no particular order):  hall light fixture, bathroom exhaust fan, pantry light and garage light.  Install shelves in both front bedrooms. Put 2nd coat of paint on everything.  Hang bi-fold closet doors.  Install all door knobs.  Finish bathroom - ceramic tile floor, vanity, reset toilet, grab bar in shower.  Install entry hall ceramic tile.  Then comes the front door installation, and then comes the carpet.  2 weeks?  I really don't think so!!

This weekend we will go over and tidy things up a bit.  We'll play with our tile pattern.  That's about it.  

Don't forget to visit the penguins and feed the fish!  :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paint, Doors and Demo

Today's progress included some paint: the 1st coat of  Creme color on the bead board - chair rail - crown - baseboard, the hanging of the interior doors, and demolition of part of the bathroom.

I can't get over what a HUGE difference the white doors make after the brown ones!!!  YAY!!

Interesting note about the doors - none of them seem to fit right at the top yet, so I'm guessing they get them hung and then worry about making them fit.  Also interesting that they have not drilled out holes for the door knobs yet. 

Here is the bathroom, sans fixtures - ready for new ceramic tile:

In just looking at the Creme color against the Camel the red and the yellow, it really looked white to me - until I held a piece of paper up to it - then I could see the paint really isn't "white".  I guess you can also tell it with the crown molding in the living room against the white ceiling.

Never having been through a remodeling process like this, the mess is sort of new to us.  Even though they are doing all their cutting in the garage, there is still a fine layer of dust over everything in the kitchen - I suspect they leave the door open.  

The other thing they did today was to re-grout the main grout lines on the tile for both bathtubs - so that looks all new and sparkly!

I'm sure there will be more fun tomorrow... stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trim Added

Today the elves added molding pieces.  They put on the chair rail in the dining room, and then the crown, chair and base in the living room.

There are also now trim pieces in the corners of the bead, but we don't know what they will do with the seams yet.  

They also painted the door from the kitchen to the laundry room - which previously had a whitewashed or pickled finish (which didn't look finished to us).

As I mentioned yesterday, the garage is now their workshop:

It's fun to go over every day and find changes.  However, finding that they had clogged one of the toilets wasn't fun!  I had to take over more toilet paper tonight - not sure what they are doing in there with no doors on the bathrooms!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

5 rooms - 5 paint colors !

More magic by the paint elves today, and also by the carpenter elf who installed all the bead board!  We got to see him working when we went over this afternoon to meet the front door guy.  We also picked out a gorgeous front door - it might be my favorite thing that we've bought so far.  However, no photos of that yet, and not even a description - you will just have to wait for it!  :)

In the meantime, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure: 
Dining room - 1 wall of bead - kept same light blue color that was there.

Living room - 2 walls of bead
Camel color is different than the card, but I like the warmth

Hubby's Man Cave - 3 walls of bead
He really likes the red.

My craft room - 2 walls of bead
I'm lovin' the yellow - like it better on the wall than on the card

Master - just an accent wall and no bead
They also painted the interior of the closet today.

It's really a good thing that we didn't end up putting anything in the garage from the storage unit yet because the elves are using that for their storage and workshop.  They have a table saw set up out there, and there is sawdust everywhere!  

P.S.  Don't forget to feed the fish!!