Thursday, December 20, 2012

DIY Reverse Applique Stockings

 Ever since scoring this bad boy on Black Friday, I've been flexing my sewing muscles every chance I get.  I made Madison's skirt, a couple more similar skirts for nieces as Christmas gifts(shh, don't tell), and now stockings.
 For the stockings, I wanted to stick with the same color scheme I used for our toddler-proof Chrismas tree.  I also wanted to make them fully personalized.  Until this year, personalized stockings equaled puffy paint applied with terrible handwriting to the cheapest stockings Walmart had to offer, so there was definitely room for improvement.

I started where any originality/creativity challenged DIYer would: Pinterest!  I didn't really find much that struck my fancy until this happened:

It inspired me not just with the color (grey would/did look great combined with the ultra-bright colors of our tree), but also with the bold style.  Until I came across this pin, I never really considered putting the names on the stockings instead of the cuffs.  I had also never heard of reverse applique.

I decided to go for it, but failed to take many pictures of the during.  If you're looking for a tutorial, Jackie did a great job with hers (just click her picture above).

For font, I loved the way Helvetica looked for Jackie's stockings, but I wanted to use a font that I either already had or could get for free.  I found Lowvetica Extra Bold (sorry, don't remember the font website I used, just whatever came up first on Google) and decided it could work.

I used our old stockings to make a cardboard template, then used the template to trace and cut out six pieces (for three stockings.  Sorry Bella).  Then I traced each of our names(backwards) onto the paper backs of three rectangles of fabric interfacing and ironed them to the wrong sides of our stockings.  I carefully cut the letters out (using my fabric scissors on the paper with gritted teeth), then peeled off the paper backing and ironed colored fleece rectangles over the interfacing. 
I sewed fabric faux cuffs to the fronts of each stocking (pink houndstooth for us girls and green with blue poppies for Pat), then put the right sides of the stocking pieces together and sewed them all the way around.  I added tabs made of the opposite fabric (ie I used the pink for Pat's and the green/blue for ours) and matching fleece on the back. 

Then they sat on our kitchen table until last night when I begged Pat to build just one of the three shelves I want in the kitchen.  And here they are!
The shelf still needs to be painted (it came already primed), and we're going to add two more below it where the tape is.  Well, not exactly where the tape is, they'll all be the same width. 

Anyway, I used books and yarn to hang them.  I just strung one long piece of yarn through the books and the stockings.  Then I added the "NOEL" letters, made of cardboard wrapped with more...yarn.  Yeah, it's a very yarny Christmas for us.  That's also our "ribbon" for presents this year!
Oh, and if you look closely you'll see that the middle part of Madison's "a" is missing.  It fell off, but I've got big plans for getting it stuck for the long haul.

Merry Almost Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another Madi Update

WARNING: If you have no interest in the bodily functions of our toddler, you can safely skip this post.  See ya next time!

Madison is seventeen months old (eighteen on the 22nd), and seems determined to grow up.  The last couple of weeks have brought so many changes in her that my head is spinning! 

For starters, she woke up yesterday with wavy (not curly) hair.  When it's wet, her hair reaches to her shoulder blades, but it always curls back up to her head about two minutes after she gets out of the tub.  Well yesterday morning (12 hours after bath time), it brushed her shoulders.  Craziness.

As if that's not bad enough (for a mom who still kind of wants her baby to be a baby forever), she has decided it's time to potty train.  We have been talking with her about it for a while now, but didn't plan to start this early.  Every time we change a diaper, we tell her that one day she'll be a big girl and go pee-pee or poo-poo in the potty like Mommy and Daddy.  On Tuesday (Dec 11th), she told Patrick, "poopoo".  He asked if she needed to go, and she said yes.  On a whim, he asked if she wanted to go in the potty, and she ran to the bathroom!  She didn't finish the job, but did sit and strain for a while before signing "all done". 

Yesterday (the same day her hair uncurled), she told me she needed to go poo-poo.  I took off her clean and dry diaper and set her on the potty.  In the space of about a minute, she managed to go #1 and #2!  Then she signed "all done".  After taking care of all the sanitary business of wiping, diapering, flushing, and washing hands, we spent about five minutes clapping for Madi.  Every time I stopped clapping, she would start again.  I was so surprised that she got it all out...her diaper stayed clean and dry for almost two hours! 

I think at this point we're just going to let her keep the lead, going to the potty only when she asks.  I've never done this whole potty training before, so I'm a bit intimidated by the big girl panties and the accidents that seem to come along with them.

I'd sure love any potty training tips or tricks you have to offer!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Uh Oh, Christmas Tree

This year our Christmas tree is a few things:  Unique.  Creative.  Weird.  Cool?  DIY.  Pretty.  Cheap!  Easy.

With a few reservations, I do like it.  We originally planned to do the traditional (for us, anyway) real seven foot tree.  I figured we could teach Madison not to touch it, just like we have with the chemicals under the sink, the glass in our buffet, the trash can, the (covered) electrical socket, etc.  But then, when she saw her first Christmas tree of the year (for our Santa pictures at my aunt's house), something awful and kind of cute happened:  she pointed to an ornament on the tree and said, "Bawl."  Madison is pretty good at minding simple rules, but when there's a "bawl" on the line, all the rules go out the door.  She LOVES to touch, "catch", throw, and kick balls.  She loves to put them on her head, in her shirt, in a bag, under the couch, or in her crib.  Other than me, they're pretty much her favorite thing (sorry, Patrick).

So I knew that having any "bawls" in her reach was going to be a nightmare.  I started brainstorming:  what if we put the tree behind the couch with a baby gate?  (Answer:  she'd climb over the couch or over the baby gate.)  What if we just had a tabletop tree this year?  (I would never get into the Christmas spirit.)  What if we didn't use any ball ornaments?  (We would have about three ornaments on the tree.)  What if I just did the regular tree after all?  (Terrible twos would come early.)

Then, feeling defeated, I took Madison to Walmart just to look at the options, hoping for inspiration.  That's when I saw it:  5-6 ft real trees for just $19.  At this point, I wasn't thinking about the Madi problem; I was just seeing dollar signs.  I could make this work!  My first thought (which lasted for about fifteen seconds) was to have a HUGE tree topper.  Then I saw it in my head and realized how silly that would look.  Then I thought, "What if we elevated it from the bottom?  Ooh, if we raised it high enough, Madison couldn't touch it!  AND it would be cheap!!!"  At this point, it was a done deal.  All I had to do was convince Patrick to build me a riser, and I've convinced him in the past to do much worse things with his Saturdays.

The end result:

Here's how we (he) did it:
  • He built a box from scrap 2x4's and plywood.  It was going to be wrapped like a present, so we didn't need anything fancy.
  •  He screwed our existing tree stand to the top.
  •  He put 50 lbs in the box so it wouldn't be top heavy with the tree.  That's why he put plywood on the bottom, too.
  •  He cut the bottom off the tree so it could absorb water better?  (I've never understood this part...isn't it already cut?)
  • He manhandled it into the tree stand by himself so I could take pictures for posterity.
  •  He stood back and pondered how crazy the woman he married is.
  •  He realized that the trunk was way thinner than our tree stand was made for.  This threw about an hour's worth of head scratching, sawing, and bolt tightening/loosening into the mix.
  •  This is where I took over.  I reworked the box from our tv into a "gift box" to go around the base and stand. 
  • I stapled (with our staple gun) the box to the wooden riser.  I left the existing folds at the top of the box to help complete the look, hoping that once the branches fanned out it would look good.
  •  I wrapped the whole thing in our wrapping paper for this year...brown craft paper!  The beauty of using it here was that it almost perfectly matched the color of the cardboard underneath, so my less than perfect wrapping job is pretty well disguised.
We did all of this over dinner and an episode of Dora, but at this point it was Madison's bedtime.  So we put her down and (I) got to decorating!

I burned out on the pompom garland making about an hour after Madi went down, so this is what we had the next morning:
And here's the end result!  At least it's the end unless/until I figure out what I want to put on top of the tree.  I also want to make a giant tag or something for the "present", but I want it to match our real presents, so that'll have to wait until I decide which way we're going for labels.
I'm SO glad to be "done" with it.  I'm sure I'll be making small changes right up until Christmas, but the work is over!

Oh, and it passes the Madi uh-oh test (meaning I haven't had to say "uh-oh" yet).  She can touch a few of the bottom ornaments with one finger if she stretches up on her tippy-toes, but I don't see her getting a hold of any of them this year (knock on wood).

Have you put your tree up yet?  Have you ever had to do an edited Christmas tree for a toddler?  What was your edit?  Most importantly, how are you labeling your gifts this Christmas?

Merry Tuesday!

 PS:  I linked up over here!

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Our Office Really Looks Like

So I've left out a little tidbit on here for a while now.  The last time I showed you our office, it looked like this:
That picture of Madison is still our's been Christmas all year!

 Sorry for the even worse than usual picture quality...I guess I had my camera set to low quality, probably so I could Craigslist something.

I hated almost everything about this room.  The bed jutting out and being the first thing you saw from the door made the room look smaller than it is-it's actually the largest bedroom in our house.  The bookshelf was not great quality (laminate), not safe (it leaned against the wall...we could have bolted it down if we liked it, but not-so-much).  The desk being stuffed in a corner made being on the computer not fun at all.  The desk itself, even though it was a very nice piece of furniture, was super dark and heavy-feeling.  It was also literally heavy.  Just ask Pat and the two guys that came to buy it.  (With Patrick lifting one side and two men lifting the other, his back hurt the next day!)

Obviously we sold the desk.  We also sold the bookshelves and bed, leaving the room empty except for Madi's toys and our computer on the ground.  So here's the (not at all finished) reveal:

Here's what we've done so far:
  • Sold everything (clearing out the room)
  • Bought a futon ("Emily" from it)
  • Built a desk (and painted it blue BECAUSE WE CAN)
  • Moved Madison's nursery rug into the office (because it's so nice and plush, but we never play in her room)
And here's what's yet to be done:
  • Paint the walls (probably a soft grey so I can call myself a real blogger, haha)
  • Replace the light fixture
  • Address window treatments
  • Build a console for under the desk (to hold/hide the PC, file box, and other ugly but necessary desk things)
  • Finish refinishing the two desk chairs we already have (which you've never really seen)
  • Untangle and hide all the cords
  • Convince Patrick we don't need a printer
  • Sew Madison a poof cover to contain all her stuffed animals (the huge pile in the corner by the futon)
  • Hang real art (what's on the walls is literally only there because I didn't want to find space in a closet and the nails were already there)
  • Replace the missing closet door knob
  • Find a thrifted or free tv table (but not for a tv) for the wall across from the futon (the one on your right when you come in the door) for additional toy/office storage and a place for Madison to draw/color
  • Cover the fronts of Madison's diaper toy boxes (under the futon) with fabric
Phew!  Between this room, Christmas gifts, and DIY Christmas decor, I am SOOOOOOO overwhelmed with projects right now.  But I'm also really excited for what I hope will be a great result. 

Are you overloading your (metaphorical) plate right now?  (Do you spend more time talking parenthetically than not?)  Do you have any soft grey (gray?) walls in your home?  Does all this talk about grey make you curious about the next episode of Grey's?

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Did I Do That?!

I guess the coming Boy Meets World spinoff brought me back to my Steve Urkel days.  Am I the only one who faithfully sat through Family Matters, Full House, and Step By Step without a potty break?  Probably.  Those were the days!

Anyway, my most recent project seriously has me asking, "Did I do that?!"  If you asked me two months ago if I would ever sew a garment for Madison, I'm pretty sure I would have laughed at you.  Now I've made TWO!  There was, of course, her Pebbles costume, but that didn't really count in my mind because it was made to be "rustic".  I just popped a couple hand stitched seams down the sides, attacked it with scissors, and called it a day.  This time, I used an actual sewing machine (gasp) and made a non-costume garment for her.  Meaning it wasn't supposed to look homemade.

It all started when I saw this on Pinterest:
 Long story short: you cut the bottom off of a ladies' small or medium shirt, double fold and sew most of the waistline, pull elastic through the track, sew the elastic together, finish the seam, and you're DONE!  Meaning the skirt is 3/4 finished before you even start.

So I went to our local thrift store, bought myself a $3 shirt, and brought it home to try out the tutorial.
 And then, like the A-1 blogger I am, I forgot to take any progress pictures.  So here's the finished product (the headband was Madi's choice, not mine):
Shirt (thrifted): $3
Elastic (4 yds, only used 18 in): $2
Total: $5

It took about forty minutes to sew, including ironing (yuck).  Not a bad return for my first "real" sewing project!  The best part?  The next one (and there will be more for sure) will only be $3 (since the elastic's paid for).  Less if I drag myself to the cheap thrift store fifteen minutes down the road!

What's your favorite beginner sewing project?  I've got SO much to learn!

Happy Friday (again)

Black Friday Wins

I've never participated in Black Friday before this year.  I was always interested, but no one in my family was ever into it and I wasn't motivated to get up early by myself to brave the crowds.  This year, wild beasts couldn't have kept me away from Walmart on Thursday night! 

Remember when I told you about our tv breaking?  Well, we've lived with an old box tv that doesn't accept digital broadcasts since then.  I guess it's been about a year?  We got by with just our XBOX 360 and a Netflix subscription.  We watched Lost together (actually we've got about 20 episodes to go but we are B-O-R-E-D with it), and I broke down and watched Grey's during my "breakfast break".  (I wake up at 6, but Madison doesn't wake up 'til 7 or 8.  It's a pretty great way to ease into the day!)

We could have replaced it right away, but we really wanted to focus on getting out of debt (check!) and building our full emergency fund (check!) first.  That plan worked out pretty well for us; the new tv was like a really big, shiny, 1080p carrot.  We were INTENSE.  The most exciting thing about it all was how well the timing worked out.  We completed our emergency fund 11/15, giving us just enough time to squeeze together a couple hundred bucks for a new doorbuster tv!

Warning:  this is a short story gone long.  Feel free to skip to the bottom to see how we did. 

We shopped around and seriously considered a few different deals.  Our actual budget was $350, but the cheapskate mentality has been so thoroughly ground into us that we were thrilled to find something for way less.  Our criteria were:
  • 32"-42" (I wanted smaller, Pat wanted bigger, go figure)
  • at least 1080p
  • not plasma (LED or LCD would work)
and that was it.  We didn't worry too much about brand, Hz rating, or anything else.  In this house, it's our main (only) tv, but in the next one it'll probably be moving to our bedroom to make room for something bigger.

We found the perfect product in the Walmart Black Friday ads.  At their 10pm Thursday release, they were selling an Emerson 42" LCD 1080p for $198.  SOLD!  My only concern was that pesky "while supplies last" disclaimer.  That's why I ended up in line by myself at 6:30 that evening and only got to enjoy one slice of sweet potato pie as opposed to half the dish.  Hmmm.  Maybe I should do Black Friday EVERY year.  It's cheaper than a stomach pump!

After a couple of hours in line, they handed out numbered tickets to hold people's places.  I was number 35.  At this point, I realized that I was for sure leaving with a tv.  I also realized that I would be responsible for getting said tv through the store, to the checkout, and to the car.  All without a buggy (they were out).  So I did what any independent woman would do-I called my husband.  Well, technically I called my dad, but only so I could speak to my husband (whose phone was dead).  My mom agreed to sit with Madison after Pat put her down so he could come play security/pack mule.

They released the tvs right at 10:00.  We got ours and headed toward the checkout, only to be turned around by a somewhat disgruntled police officer telling us "The line's that way."  We turned in the direction she pointed, and saw a line extending from the checkout down to the garden center, then turning the corner.  After finding the end of the line and waiting another hour (no joke), we FINALLY made it to the checkout.  I've never been so relieved to shell out two-hundred and sixteen beans (with tax) in my life.

We celebrated our win at Whataburger with a chicken strip combo, honey butter chicken biscuit, onion rings, two large DDPs, and a chocolate shake.  We justified by saying it was still (barely) Thanksgiving day.

The next day we put it all together, and it was a sight to behold! 
 The size is pretty much perfect for our living room.  Maybe it's a little big, but not so much that you have to press your head against the wall or anything.  And yes, I'm perfectly aware that my shelves are in dire need of dusting.  Madison may or may not have pulled all the books off before I took the picture.  And I may or may not have been dusting around (instead of under) those books for the last six months or so.  I'm totally on it now, though.
 In that last shot, please look past the basket-o-junk in the foreground.  What I was trying to show was the depth difference between the two tvs.  Bear in mind that the old tv is set back like 8 feet from the new one.  As a point of reference, when the old tv sat on the buffet, with the buffet pulled out from the wall like this, the back touched the wall and the front was lined up perfectly with the front of the buffet.  So the new tv has drastically changed the feeling of the room when you first come in the front door.  Before it was like, "Hello, giant old school tv!  Oh, and there's a room too."  Now, it's all, "I'm in a living room.  Oh, and there's a tv."  See the difference?

The next purchase didn't take nearly as much saving, planning, or waiting.  We pretty much saw it, liked it, and bought it the next day.  No five hour ordeal necessary. 
Yeah, it's official.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, blogger, baker, DIYer, and now a "seamstress".  (Please not that most of those are said very sarcastically.  I'm well aware of my deficits in every area.  No need to point them out for me.)  All that's left is for me to get a DSLR camera and... I'm every woman (it's all in meeeee....")

For the story skippers, we got the tv and a sewing machine, all for less than the regular price of the tv.  Boom.

Did you get out there for Black Friday?  What about Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday? 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catch Up

I have got so much to share here.  Over the next few weeks, I'll try to write up posts about the things we've been up to, like:
  • Building a bench
  • Staining said bench
  • Cleaning out our garage
  • Painting our garage
  • (Barely) relocating our washer/dryer
  • Buying Craigslist chairs
  • Refinishing Craigslist chairs
  • Reorienting our office
  • Building/Painting a desk
  • Rearranging the Nursery
  • Black Friday deals 
  • Repairing our mailbox (more fun than it sounds)
and so very much more.  I've been so busy DOING all this stuff I haven't had time to write about it!

I'll be back later with the first of many catch-up posts.  But for now, here's an update for our girl.  She is getting so big...seventeen months has flown by!  Her new favorite thing is climbing.  She gets in her high chair by herself, goes right to the top of any play area, almost climbs on our bed, and she surprised me yesterday at the park by doing pretty well (considering limited wingspan) with the rock wall!  She says "peese" and "tankyu" for pretty much everything, and stopped using all her baby signs except "all done", which she does throughout every meal (it can be confusing).  I love that she gets so excited now when Daddy gets home.  He was able to take off all of last week for Thanksgiving.  Before that nine days off, she had become a little indifferent to him.  Now she is a TOTAL Daddy's girl.

And, without further ado, the pictures!
 Happy Thursday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Keeping up With the Joneses

That title would make sense if "Joneses" was synonymous with "Roof".  Which it's not.  But I can't waste any more time trying to come up with a witty title, so let's just all pretend.

Since getting our roof replaced, the other ugly elements of our home's exterior have been bugging us.  There's nothing like having a beautiful new roof to help you see how nasty the rest of the place looks!  As a matter of fact, every day since the roof was finished, my goal has been to attack the "ugliest thing".  There were a few obvious items on the list: the peeling four-toned front door and trim, the rusting porch columns, the dilapidated mailbox, the saggy brass (hee hee) porch light.

First order of business?  Hands down, the front door and trim.  It still looked just like this, almost a year later.  Sorry, neighbors.

I started by filling all the holes with wood putty, waiting for it to dry, then sanding it down.  Our door is faced with a thin wood veneer (because our house is classy like that), which was peeling off in the top right corner.  To contain the damage, I used a utility knife to score a rectangle around the damaged area, then picked off the veneer.  Then I filled the patch with more wood putty, waited for it to dry, and sanded it down.  I took zero pictures of that process, because it was all done over the course of about five of Madison's lunch times.  I couldn't make any noise here during her nap because her window is right next to the front door.

We had already selected the front door color.  That process was pretty simple: my mom painted her front door, and had plenty of leftover FREE paint.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "free" is my favorite color.  It's a mellow, rusty red.  I think it looks very autumnal, which is appropriate for now, but with the right accent colors next to it, it can work with the other seasons as well. 

Once the door was reasonably smooth (I may or may not have sanded the patch less than necessary for a perfect finish), I applied the new red.  Since I was painting over an already red door, it only took two coats to get great coverage.  If I was starting from white, I'll bet it would have been an entirely different story. 

The next day, I painted the trim on the sides and at the top white.  I used Valspar's Exterior Semi Gloss Ultra White Paint + Primer.  It gave excellent coverage.  Two coats later, our trim was pure white, with no trace of the old yellow outline.

That left only one surface still needing some love.  See this threshold?  
 It was awful.  Chipped, peeling, dirty, but solid.  I used a putty knife to scrape away the chipping pieces, then sanded it down just enough to be sure that any remaining paint was there for the long haul.  Then I cleaned it very thoroughly with soap, water, and a dish brush that I bought specifically for paint prep.  I followed up with a tack cloth to be sure it was absolutely clear of dust and dry, then primed it. 

Since this is a surface that will be walked on, I didn't want to paint it white.  Call me crazy, but scrubbing thresholds daily is not my idea of a good time.  I lucked out when I saw a gallon of mistinted paint at Lowes for $12.  It was perfect!  Gray semi-gloss interior/exterior commercial grade paint!   It came out just like I wanted.

And now for the good!

 And after.
And after.
And after.
We do plan to install a kick plate to cover the bottom of the door.  That's why I didn't paint all the way down.  I also need to touch up over the door knob where the tape peeled off part of the paint.  I'd still call it an improvement!

What do you think?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Roof. The Roof. The Roof is On...

...actually, that's it.  The roof is ON.  Finally!  We've known for a while that we needed to replace our roof.  It was about fifteen years old (for twenty year shingles, that's pretty old), and it had sustained wind damage from a few major wind storms AND Ike.  Since we didn't want to drop $6K (+) on our already over-improved-for-the-neighborhood house, our plan was to DIY the thing.  We put it off.  Then we put it off some more.  We saved about $2,000, hoping to get it done for around that much, and then we put it off just a little longer.

That's when a few things happened.  First, Pat started working crazy long hours at work, then his dad went into the hospital.  Between work and visiting his dad, his nights and weekends (our planned time for replacing the roof) were full.  The roof problem became more urgent when we noticed three new leaks after a heavy storm.  Then his dad took a turn for the worse, and I just couldn't imagine bugging Patrick to work on the roof while he was dealing with his new grief.  I decided, on a whim, to get an estimate from a professional roofer.  I knew it was a long shot, but I thought maybe I could find someone who could make a deal to get it done for somewhere near what we had saved.

Enter Jon Simmons.  Or you can just call him Roof Hero (not his company name, just me being a dork) for short.  He came out, and instead giving an estimate like I expected, he told me some pretty great news.  Our insurance might cover the obvious wind damage!  I was pretty skeptical.  I figured that since our roof was so old, the insurance company wouldn't want to pay to replace it.  That's why we didn't file a claim when we first noticed the damage.  He encouraged me to try anyway, so I did.

First, I called our former insurance company (we changed companies in May, another reason I didn't expect them to pay) to initiate a claim.  I explained what our roofer had told us: there was significant wind damage on our roof.  I didn't know exactly when the damage had occurred, just that it had been that way for more than six months (because that's when we noticed how bad it looked) and less than a year.  I swear the adjuster sounded like she was laughing when I told her that I wasn't sure when the damage happened.  I thought that would be the end of that, but then she scheduled for an outside adjuster to come look at the damage.

Roof Hero had a guy come meet the outside adjuster, which was great, because I was free to take care of Madison the whole time instead of holding the end of a measuring tape.  I kind of figured we were spinning our wheels, but it didn't hurt to try.  The next few weeks were so awful with hospices, "arrangements", and a funeral, that we pretty much forgot about the roof/insurance process.  So when our claims adjuster called me one afternoon to tell me that we were approved and she was mailing a check, I had to sit down for a minute.  Well, more like thirty seconds.  Then Patrick, Madison, and I did a happy dance all around the house for about ten minutes.

Once it was all said and done, we only had to pay our deductible (about $1,200).  Not chump change, but still less than we planned to spend if we did the whole thing ourselves.  We opted for black max-def architectural shingles, and I couldn't be more pleased with the way it all turned out.  The roofing crew came less than a week after we got the paperwork back from the adjuster, and finished everything in a day and a half.

That's enough words.  Take a look!  Before...
And after!  There may or may not have been a few other major changes.  Just do me a favor and pretend you don't see those until I blog about them, 'kay?  Thanks.
 Let's try from another angle.  Before...
And after!  Also evident in the after:  our grass is recovering pretty well, but our back porch is still junked out.  I blame the constant projects. 
And after!
Last one, I swear!  Before...

 And after...
I've thought for a while that I hated our house.  As it turns out, I was wrong; I just hated our roof!  I'd still like to move to a larger house in a better neighborhood (and we will, hopefully soon), but this one's kind of starting to grow on me.  I think when we move I might actually feel sad about it for a while!  But then one day, Pat will be using the bathroom, and I'll need to go, and I'll use the other bathroom (because there will be two!), and I'll feel all better.  Something to look forward to!  : )

I forgot to mention: Roof Hero (Jon Simmons) had no idea that I would post about his job, so I was definitely not given any perks for mentioning him.  However, if you'd like his contact information, I'd be glad to give it to you!  Full disclosure: he gives $100 for referrals.  But I'd refer him anyway.

Happy Wednesday!