Monday, August 22, 2011

Changes Changes Part II

Okay, next up is the kitchen.  Here's our kitchen.  It's not large, and therefore improvement projects seem a little less daunting.  So after our fireplace tiling success, we decided to buy some more clearance tile (20 sq. feet) and create a backsplash.  This took us one weekend and cost about $50.  It was actually the same weekend we did the fireplace.  Bonus. 

 This is before the grout was dry.  Once it dried, it blended with the tile completely (almost making the tile hard to see.  But that's okay, we know it's there.  And at least it's easy to wipe down now.)

And then this past weekend TJ was out of town to St. Louis.  Remember how I painted the cabinetry in the half bath that dark mocha color?  Well I really liked it.  A lot.  So I decided the kitchen needed the same treatment.  And it was very scary making that first paint stroke.  But there really wasn't any turning back after that.  And so I took a breath and dove in.

Why I chose to tackle this project on a weekend when I was a single parent I have NO idea.  I guess I was hoping it would help pass the time until TJ came home.  It wore me out completely.  Each surface needed two coats of paint and at least another two coats of a clear topcoat (my "Topher-proof" protection) Around this point I wanted to give up.  I posted this picture on Facebook and begged my friends to tell me it was beautiful.  Sometimes I run on compliments.

It worked.  The encouragement fueled me on.  I stayed up late into the night painting and then was up each morning at 6:30am when Topher pops out of bed like a Poptart on speed.  But by the time TJ came home, exhausted in his own right, I was so glad I had this to show him.  He was probably just glad he got to skip all the work.

These pictures make it almost impossible to see the backsplash but I promise it looks good in person.  And if I ever get enough momentum to repaint the walls, it will be more noticeable.  We still need to attach the new cabinet hardware (brushed nickel) but I'm so glad the painting is done.  And now I feel like my cabinets have always WANTED to be this color.  I feel that it matches the countertops so much better.  I might start calling this our cafe instead of our kitchen.  It's just a little fancier these days.

Oh, were you curious about the cost?  One quart of paint was $9.  One quart of topcoat was $13.  (I only needed one of each, which amazed me.  A little bit goes a long way!)  The handles WERE $5 each, but I bought them on clearance for $1.83/ea so my total cost for those was $36, since I needed 20 of them.  And since I didn't have to pay myself for my own time, that was it.

And now, even though we live in a complex with 250 nearly identical townhomes, ours is starting to look a little bit different from the rest.  And I like that.


Changes Changes Everywhere

I'm not sure why, but we've been on a home improvement kick lately.  I figure you have to jump on board when you're in the mood because you never know when it might strike again.  So let's start with our corner fireplace.  Here it is. 

You know I hate imitation oak, right?  Well, this had to go.

So we bought some clearance tile (11 sq. feet) and got to work.  Our friends loaned us their wet saw, and TJ made short work of this project.  He has some serious tiling skills.  I was the mudder and the grouter.  Glamorous jobs, I know.

We did this in one weekend for about $40.  I still need to paint the mantle, but the fireplace is now a focal point instead of an eye sore.  Hooray!

Next up is the kitchen.  Just wait and see how we transformed it in 2 weekends.  Are you ready?


Monday, August 8, 2011

How do YOU backup?

I've been thinking a lot lately about memories and how to preserve them.  We have, literally, tens of thousands of digital photos.  And one of Topher's favorite activities is sitting down and watching videos of himself, of which we also have several hundred. So whenever I download new pics or videos to our computer, I immediately back them up to this little device. 

Amazing that something so small could hold so much, right?  But then I really got to thinking.  We've been in a flood, after all, and we know that irreplaceable things can disappear in moments.  And if this little device ever went under water, everything would be gone.  Forever.  That gives me panic attacks.

So I decided this week to back everything up a second time, on a different media.  I bought a spindle of 50 blank DVD's (for $12.99) and laboriously transferred every folder, every document, and every movie over to the discs.  It took 34 of them (each holds just over 4 gb).  Because we learned from experience that DVD's can survive getting wet just fine. 

I also made an index for each disc of which folders were on it, so if I needed to find photos of Topher at 6 months old, for example, I would know just where to look.  This folder is not waterproof yet.  (Enter some big baggies in my near future.)

So there you have it.  My external hard drive, my data discs, and then the occasional third backup to Youtube and Shutterfly.  Now all I need is a waterproof/fireproof safe to store it all in and I'll be able to sleep better at night.  I'm pretty sure.  Is there another way to backup that I'm missing?  (We tried Carbonite for a year but it bothered me that it can only back up files currently on your computer.  And having that many videos and pics on my computer, along with the Carbonite software, was really slowing everything down.)

So how do YOU backup?  I know there are people out there as paranoid as me.  Right???


Monday, August 1, 2011

My $22 Bathroom

Our half bath was purple when we moved in.  Not an offensive shade of purple, just purple.  The vanity and baseboards were oak.  And the lights were the broadway style lights, all in a row and all the bulbs exposed.  I didn't despise my bathroom, but I wasn't in love with it either.  So I grabbed some leftover paint from the garage and attacked it.  The only money spent was the clearance light fixture ($17), two handles for the vanity ($4), and a clearance towel ring ($1).  I grabbed a metal leaf that was stowed away and hung it on the wall.  TJ is going to build some shelves to go above the toilet and I'll put some baskets there for storage.