Friday, September 28, 2012

Pants On The Ground

I've wanted to add curtains in our living room for a long, long, time.  Evidence: this post.  We installed two inch blinds just after we moved in, and they're nice enough, and certainly functional.  They just don't really add anything style-wise.  This picture is obviously (see baby Madison?) from a year ago:
Because we're pushing really hard right now to finish baby step three (if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, click here , but if it turns you into a penny-pinching cheapskate like me, don't say I didn't warn you!), I put off spending money on curtains for the room until about a month ago.

Here's what happened.  I'm a member of a Facebook trade/sell group, and someone I know posted that they were looking for a twin bed.  Guess what?  We had a twin bed that was going pretty much unused, and it really wasn't working in the space.
So I sold it.  This started off a huge chain reaction of selling pretty much everything that wasn't tied down or that we didn't love or need.  This whole getting paid for things you don't want anymore thing can be pretty addictive!  My goal was to sell enough to buy a new futon for the space.  Well, after selling everything and buying the futon (it's in the room, I love it, and I'll share pics soon), I still had about $50 burning a hole in my pocket, so we of course headed for IKEA.  The plan was to get a $15 rug for the living room (we had already done the big rug swap, and the living room floor was bare) and then just see what happened.

So we headed off for Madison's first IKEA expedition.  I was a little apprehensive, but she loved it!  The drive there and back was another story, though.  Anyway, I suppose a few pictures of the shopping rookie are in order:
Madison LOVED the meatballs!
  We left with the rug, four panels of white curtains, and something else that I was just dying to have, but can't for the life of me recall.  I guess that's one way to avoid buyer's remorse.  : )

We excitedly brought the curtains home.  Then they sat on our lovely new chair in their lovely plastic packaging for two weeks.  We had neglected one important thing: curtain rods!  No, we didn't forget, they were just all too expensive!  Especially for stuff that looked so cheap!

My first solution was this idea of using electrical conduit and spray painting it (as seen on Pinterest), which I still totally want to do.  Maybe even in the living room!

But it was still gonna cost something, and we didn't have $omething to spend on the house (this is why I said "cheapskate like me").  Well, I guess we spent a little for what we did, but...whatever.  I'm getting ahead of myself.

My next solution was to use dowel rods, because those are ridiculously cheap, and Walmart sells them (unlike electrical conduit).  The appearance of them wasn't really such a big deal because the curtains we bought have rod pockets, so most of the rod was going to be hidden, anyway.  The problem with dowel rods, at least in the diameter we got (3/8"), is that they're not super rigid.  If we tried to hang the curtains traditionally, the rod would sag in the middle, or even potentially break.  We had to keep the lengths pretty short to make sure they were strong enough to hold the curtains plus Madison, because you know she's a swingin' from the curtains kind of girl.  Actually, you don't know that, because I haven't blogged about her for a very long time.

Okay, I'm back from my kicking-myself-for-not-documenting-the-last-few-months session.  Where was I?

Oh, yeah.  We needed to keep the lengths of the dowel curtain rods short to be safe.  So that's unconventional thing numero uno about these curtains: they don't actually close.  They just kind of hang there like really flowy art. In my dreams, anyway.

The second super unconventional thing about our curtains is that we used a belt to hang them.  Well, I guess technically we used a belt and galvanized nails.  It all started when I saw this (on Pinterest, of course):

I really wanted to have a place to use this idea, but none of my dressers could really work with this style, so I pinned it and moved on.  But then, when I was trying to figure out how I was going to attach the rods to the wall using only materials we had on hand, this came to mind.  So naturally, I got out the hack saw and chopped one of my seldom-used belts into eight fourish inch lengths.  I only used the part without holes.  Once the lengths were all cut, Patrick took them outside, folded them in half, and drove nails through the ends.  We figured it would be easier to hammer the assembled loops to the wall than to try driving them through the leather and into the wall at the same time. 

Hanging them was super easy.  We actually nailed them to the wall with the rod and curtains already attached.  It took about five minutes, including a few "assists" from Madison.  I'm not loving the height of the rods, but I knew I wasn't going to be hemming these bad boys any time soon, so the length of the curtains kind of dictated placement.

You've already seen them out wide:
 Here they are a little closer. 
See how they're all up in the trim's business?  Not my favorite.  Oh well.  One day when I've got unlimited time and energy, I'll pull them down, hem the curtains, rehang them, and then putty and paint the holes.  And if you believe that, I've got a boatload of African royal inheritance money to share with you as soon as you pay the shipping of $500 by money order.  Just make it out to Kelli Philpot DBA Dirty Rotten Scammers Unlimited.

 I had to take all of these pictures pretty late at night, which explains the lighting and the decision not to include all of the curtains in any one shot.  I'm glad Patrick is back home now to tell me to stop working and go to bed!  You can see the general idea here, though.

 My final (for now, anyway) verdict?  I like them enough to leave them this way until I don't like them anymore.  Wow.  With revelations like that, maybe I should go into politics!

Oh, and you might be wondering (if you made it all the way through the post, anyway) why I titled this "Pants On The Ground".  You know how you never realize how much you use something until you don't have it anymore?  Well I've had three occasions since demolishing my "seldom-used" belt where I've wished I had it back.  Whatever.  At least I love am kind of okay with the end result, right?

Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

House Tour: The Living Room (Update 9/26)

 A lot has changed since the last time I showed you the living room.  To recap, it looked like this:
 And here's the list of things I had yet to do:

 -Frost the window panes on our front door.
Status: I bought the frosting spray, then put it in the hall closet and forgot about it until writing this post.
 -Paint/organize interior of coat closet.
Status: I took out the shelves and hanging rod to prep for paint, and then got distracted and lived with it torn apart for two weeks before putting the shelves and rod back up in the still unpainted closet.  I also moved all the junk from our old desk into this closet when we sold the desk and built one with less storage, so I guess you could say I've moved backwards on this one.
 -Entry storage solution.
Status: I put a shallow thrift store basket on the entertainment center for keys/sunglasses/whatnot.  I also put a basket in the cabinet next to the kitchen sink for Patrick's phone/work phone/wallet/safety gear/other miscellaneous junk.  Those two baskets have majorly cut down on clutter and stress getting out the door.
 -Put up some curtains!  
Status: Done!  Err, maybe.  We hung curtains in what was supposed to be a temporary fix, but they have kind of grown on me.  I'll share more about the curtains soon.  Hopefully after I've figured out if I love or hate them, so I don't sound like I have multiple personalities when I write the post.
 -Find storage for the coffee table. 
Status: N/A.  We ended up selling the coffee table because Madison hit her head on the edge twice, and we were over it.  I'd like to have an upholstered ottoman there eventually, but for now Madison and Bella are enjoying the open space.
-Accessorize TV wall.
Status: No progress.  
 -DIY some ottomans or a bench.
Status: This was supposed to be for the left of the sofa, to complete the seating arrangement.  Instead, I put our $3 Chair.  I'd also like to get a side table for next to the chair, but it works for now.
 -Paint touch-up
Status: No progress.
-Install quarter-round
Status: No progress.
-Possibly paint the rug.
Status: The rug we had in the living when this was written was flatwoven, and Bella's hair was REALLY hard to get out of it.  We decided to move it into Madison's room, where Bella is not allowed.  We moved Madi's old rug into the playroom, and bought a new cheapo polypropylene (aka a huge fire hazard) rug from IKEA for the living room.  It's much easier to get clean, but I'm still not sold on the style of the rug I hate it (just don't tell Patrick).
-Balance the art over the couch.
Status: After staring at the art in the living room for over a year, I decided I didn't like it after all, which was really painful considering that we paid like $70 for it.  In an act of desperation, I moved the piece to our bedroom, where I was shocked to find that I LOVED it.  Unfortunately, I haven't replaced it with anything in the living room.  Blank walls womp.  
-Redesign the buffet. 
Status:  The main concern here was the safety issue with the glass doors.  After much debate (and a bit of manipulation cleverly disguised as procrastination), Patrick and I have tentatively decided to leave them as they are.  Madison is pretty good with the one finger rule (you can touch "it" with one finger), and our house isn't baby-proofed enough to leave her alone in the room anyway, so she's always supervised.
-Find a purpose for the weird nook.
Status:  Partially complete.  We shifted the furniture away from the front door just a little bit more, making the weird nook slightly wider and way less weird.  Now the plan is to add a shallow bench behind the loveseat to create a little entryway.  It'll be a mini mudroom of sorts.

Finally, before the current pics, one last disclaimer: I took these pictures before Madison woke up this morning.  There was no natural light, and I was reluctant to pick anything up or clean and risk not getting any pictures.  What you're about to see is our living room in real life, as in not what I would let normal company see, but what I'd probably be okay with my mom seeing.  Because we're close like that, right?  Right.
As you can see in the above picture, we used a less than traditional method of hanging our curtains.  I'll share more about that soon.

Phew!  I didn't realize until now how much our plans for the room had changed!  Am I the only one with design ADD, or do you change your direction a lot, too?


Monday, September 24, 2012

What's On My Mind Monday

Linking up over here this morning!

I.  I'm so excited to be back to blogging.  This is a pretty great outlet to use more than one syllable words, if ya know what I mean.

II.  Pat left this morning for a training in San Antonio.  We will be Daddy-less until Thursday evening, hopefully before Madison's bed time.  This is the longest he will ever have been away from us.  (I know, we're pretty lucky to have him mostly to ourselves!)

III.  I spent ALL DAY yesterday being sick.  Actively sick, if that makes any sense.  If you're not familiar with the term, it involves a bucket, a toilet (for emptying the contents of the bucket), and lots of sweat, lysol, and hand sanitizer.  Thankfully, I ate my regular breakfast this morning (my first food in 32 hours), and I've felt fine (other than still feverish) for the last hour.  And my kidneys don't hurt anymore, so I'm thinking I've turned a corner with the dehydration.

IV.  Reading my SIL's post this morning reminded me of a picture I haven't shared yet:
Yup, those are breadcrumbs.  On the rug.  And yes, we did let her play with them before cleaning them up.  How's that for positive reinforcement?

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Another FREE Find!

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm kind of addicted to finding freebies on Craigslist.  Another freebie we get every month now is something we fought to avoid for a long time.

My mom became a consultant for Ambit Energy a few years ago, and offered to help us get free electricity.  Since Ambit is a multilevel marketing company, and from past experience I knew that those are typically surrounded by lots of hype, I put her off.  Not interested.  A few months later, she got her first "free" (actually more like $10 for taxes and fees) energy bill.  Then she proceeded to rub it in every chance she got for the next two years. 

She took pity on us and gave us another shot at free energy about six months ago, and this time did pretty much all the work herself.  For the last three months, our electric bills have been less than $15.  This month, we had "Current miscellaneous adjustments" (aka paid for energy) of $162.40, leaving us with a whopping $10.04 bill.  We always budget for actual energy cost, so we moved the difference from our "general bills" ledger to our "savings" ledger! 

 If you'd like to earn free electricity, or if you just want a lower rate than you're paying now, go check out our website.

I feel so silly stupid for paying for electricity for the last two years (after I should have known better).  What opportunities have you rejected that you later regretted not taking advantage of?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

DIY $3 Chair

I mentioned yesterday that we added a free chair to our living room.  After thinking about it, I realized that wasn't exactly true; it was more like three dollars.

About a month ago, I found this baby on the free section of Craigslist:
 Sorry, Pat had worked a LONG day and refused to get out of "his" new chair for the pics.  Anyway, it was free because a cat had demolished the arms on both sides.  Normally I shy away from used upholstered furniture, especially from households with out-of-control pets, but since it was leather, I figured I could wipe it down and make it as good clean as new.
Yes, Madison is topless.  She refuses to wear bibs, but she's still really messy when she eats, so unless we're in public, we just take off her shirt.  She tends to prefer being naked, anyway.

This chair was so much nicer than I had hoped from the ad.  It's real leather (so soft!), and very comfortable.  Other than the arms, it was in perfect condition!  I'd say it was two hours in the car (one with a very angry baby) well spent.

My plan for the chair was to reupholster the sides, fronts, tops, and inside (in other words the whole) arms.  On closer inspection, I realized that:
1) most of the damage was on the outside
2) the tops of the arms were soft, buttery leather (softer than any cheap-o fabric I would be able to find to replace it with, and
3)  I lack the skill it would take to make such a big upholstery job look professional.  For the people who say it's just like wrapping a present, I say you should see my presents.  Then you'll understand my decision.

Taking all of that into account, I decided to only upholster the parts that REALLY needed it, AKA the fronts and sides.

I purchased 2 yards of $1.50/yd fabric (on clearance) at Walmart.  It turns out that I only needed one yard, but better safe than sorry, right? 

I stapled the fabric to the chair (right over the damaged leather), pulling TIGHTly as I went.  This process took me three weeks.  In actual labor hours, it was more like an hour, but I couldn't staple with Madison in the house because she's terrified of the loud noise it makes, so I had to wait for Daddy/daughter grocery shopping dates. 

Here it is now:
 It's not quite finished yet.  I need to fix the top left corner of the right arm (you can see where it's loose), trim the extra fabric on the bottom left, and use nailhead trim to finish the look/hide the staples.  I'll share that with you sometime in the next ten years when I find a "round-to-it".
 There is some damage from the cat that's still visible, but it's not very noticeable.  The picture below makes it look WAY worse than in real life.  I guess the flash really picks it up.
Since I found this on CL, I've been trolling the free section looking for more.  It can be addicting.  Have you ever scored a great piece for free (or $3) ?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Our House, Before and Now(ish)

 I'm so excited to post these pictures.  There's nothing like a hideous "before" picture to make a mediocre "after" picture look gorgeous!

 I'll be the first to admit that the outside of our house looks no better than before we moved in.  I'm sure any one of our neighbors would be second to admit the same.  (Sorry, people.)
 And below, the "during".  We've painted the front door red, removed the overgrown shrubs, and transplanted other shrubs from the backyard.  Actually, we've also removed the shutters so we can paint them, but I don't have a picture of that yet.
 Here's a "before" from the back yard:
And the "during".  Mother Nature is responsible for this make-under.  This is after Hurricane Rita took down the already ugly tree and our back porch.  It's also after one of the worst droughts our area has seen.  No, we don't water.  Can you tell?  (This was actually taken last year, our grass has really sprung back.  Phew!)
Another angle:

And "during".  Rita took off the porch cover, and we had to demo the concrete pad because it was so badly cracked.  The previous owner used NO rebar.  We removed all the old plants, and have yet to get new ones!  Oops.  Oh, we've also replaced the posts on the back porch, fixed the siding where it looks all wonky, painted the back door, and Craigslisted all the junk in the driveway.  I should really take a more current picture.
The inside of our house, on the other hand, is COMPLETELY different from when we purchased it. Here's the living room as seen from the front door.
And the "during".  You can see where we removed the wall.  We also refinished the original hardwood floors and painted everything else.  The ceilings required two coats of primer and four coats of paint to cover all the yellow-brown from the previous owners' smoking habit.  Did I mention that smoking inside(or anywhere) is a bad idea?  We also had to wipe down all the paneling before priming.  This place was nasty.
As I'm sure you can see (Fifteen month old Madison doesn't exactly use her infant swing anymore), this is not a current picture.  Since this point, we've moved the art to our bedroom, sold the baby-hazard coffee table, replaced the kitchen floors, added a (free!) leather chair to complete the seating arrangement, added curtains, and swapped out the rug.  I promise pics of all that.  One day.

Anyway, to be on the safe side, Pat replaced all the ducts (he used to work part time for an air conditioning guy) before we moved in.  We also removed all the (disgusting) carpet and scrubbed, painted, or replaced EVERY surface.

Here's the kitchen before we moved in.  This picture does not even begin to reveal the filth disguised on all that brown.  Everything was sticky.  See how the window is open?  I'm pretty sure that's how they justified smoking in here.    *shudder*
  And the "during".  We painted the cabinets brown (we had to use a dark color to help hide the damage to the surfaces), painted the back splash yellow (because everyone makes mistakes), painted the oven black, replaced the faucet, and removed the peninsula, replacing it with the fridge (which used to live on the demolished wall).
Since this picture was taken, we've replaced the floor and painted the column.

The kitchen looking back toward where the living room now is (sorry, I don't have any current pics of this angle.)  Just take a look at that sweet paneling!  Oh, and can you see how the cabinet doors are darker near the knobs?  That was half-inch thick grime.  I had to scrape it off with a putty knife.  Yep.
This is the first bedroom.  Now it's Madison's room.
 Throughout the house, we replaced the used-to-be-white miniblinds with white two-inch faux wood blinds.
What do you think?  I feel like we made a HUGE mistake by buying this house, but I hope to redeem that choice by finishing this danged remodel already!  Hopefully by the time we're done, we'll be able to sell it for at least the purchase price + reno costs.  Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Long Time, No...

See Anything.  Not even a peep!  I think I've been waiting for some big motivation (or surplus of time, haha) to jump back on the blogging wagon.  Since the extra time thing obviously isn't going to happen any time soon, I decided to get off my posterior and do it for posterity.  Sorry, I guess being away for so long gave me a major pun build-up.

Let's see.  What's changed since last I posted?  Madison is now just about fifteen months old.  Walking (OLD news), talking(ish), and pottying (she poo-pooed in the potty for the very first time yesterday).  We have SO much fun together every day.

A usual day-in-the-life:  She usually wakes up around 7, but decided to sleep in today(it's 9am currently).  I guess the extra two hours are part of the reason I'm breaking my silence!  We usually eat breakfast and then play outside for an hour or so before going to the store or Nana and PawPaw's house.  Then it's elevensies for my little hobbit, and nap time.  She sleeps from noon to two or sometimes three, during which time I eat, do laundry, catch up on bills, or if everything else is done, start projects that I'll most likely never finish.  :)  Once she's up, she has lunch, then we hang out at home as long as we can, until she gets fussy.  Then we head out to the library or the park, usually until Pat gets home.  Lately, that's been about 7pm (which is crazy late since he leaves at 5:15).  Pat almost always gives me ten minutes of sanity time (aka Pinterest/Facebook), then it's time to eat dinner together.  Madison is in the final stages of weaning, so she nurses right after dinner, then it's bath/bedtime.  We plan to cut out that last nursing this weekend.  For the last week or so I've been under the weather, so I usually "take a right" (our bedroom is to the right of Madison's room, and our living/kitchen is to the left) and go straight to bed.  Poor Pat.

What else has changed?  Our house has changed A LOT.  I'll try to post some pics later this week.