Friday, April 29, 2011

Prayers for Alabama

I usually try to keep things fun around here but my heart is so heavy for my state today. Yesterday I was traveling and had my post prescheduled. I hated posting about my kitchen when so many people in Alabama don't have a kitchen. So many have lost someone they love and EVERYTHING they own in the tornado outbreak Wednesday.

tornados video.

As of this morning the death count was at 210, from one state, in one day.

Wednesday I spent most of the afternoon watching the weather in north/central Alabama live online. My parents were without power and phone from a pre dawn storm so the only way of communication was text. At times the only way they knew what weather was coming was through text messages. They are all school teachers and school had been cancelled in anticipation of severe weather. It was pretty scary.

When I first got online this is what was live.

A huge tornado going right through the downtown of Cullman, the 2nd tornado for Cullman that day. This town is less than 30 miles from my parent's lakehouse.
It has the cutest downtown that now looks like this

My parents went to check the damage at the cabin yesterday. It was fine but the biggest tree we have fell on our deck and hit several other trees. Our boat dock was fine but our neighbors huge boat was at our dock, their big dock turned over and their swim pier was ontop of their fishing boat.

Tuscaloosa, less than 60 miles from my parents was hit hard as well. A mile WIDE tornado ripped through the main road in town. video of the tornado!

Hobby Lobby, the only shell standing in a shopping center.

Hobby Lobby parking lot

A few months ago when we were in Tuscaloosa, we stopped here where this man is for a Krispy Kreme donut.

Both of my dad's sisters live in Tuscaloosa. Thank God they were ok. This is my aunt's school where she teaches.
Classes had been cancelled that day.

Another 60 miles of my parents house:

The town of Hackleburg was destroyed. VIDEO The school was leveled, thank God that school was cancelled in anticipation of severe weather. As of today 27 were killed in the town of 1,500.

Phil Campbell a town with a little more than 1,000 residents 26 people were killed.

Please say a prayer for the people of Alabama today. So many lives hurt right now. People are still missing, lives are lost, homes and destroyed, thousands are without power, phones and water. People are lining up for miles trying to get gas. People didn't know they were going to be stranded in their homes with no resources or food for at least a week. Grocery stores are closed and like I said you can't buy gas. In the towns hardest hit the garbage trucks, ema, etc were also ruined too so they don't have that resource. Can you imagine?

There are so many ways to help. Scroll down this post to find out how.

We are going to focus our donations on the small towns close to my hometown. They have so many fewer resources than the larger towns that were hit. I'm not saying they are less important, just that I know what it is like to grow up in a rural town with few resources and now I live in a town with unlimited resources. If you are interested in helping the smaller communities email me and I will let you know how you can help. But the most needed are prayers.

You could go 60 miles from my parent's house in any direction and hit tornadoes. So many people died within that radius. My family lives in Tuscaloosa and they are perfectly fine. All we can say is a tree fell on our deck. That is it. A miracle and blessed. We are thankful.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kitchen Floors

Ok so lets wrap this kitchen series up with my kitchen floors. The kitchen had new sheet vinyl floors put in for the house sale. This is the only "before" picture I have of the old floors. I have ALWAYS wanted brick floors. They are so southern and warm and I would love to have a big huge den/kitchen with brick floors one day. While I may have to wait on that, I was determined to have brick floors in my kitchen now. Plus my rep gave me a discount on my company's cost so I got a great deal.

The pavers I went with were actually resin. They are imperfect and not squared off and have different shading. They have a smooth top finish so they are great for cleaning. The bricks come in 4 different colorways. I chose the Antique Copper color way, I liked it best and it was also the closest to the color of our brick exterior before it was painted.

As you can tell from the picture below the bricks come with white and black shading as well as plain. We separated them into stacks according to the shading so we wouldn't get a cluster of one color together. The bricks we didn't care for got put under an appliance. We used floor tile backerboard for the underlayment.

If we had a larger space I would have gone with a 45 herringbone pattern but for our tiny space the basketweave pattern worked best.

Laying the bricks was the easy part. Eric was the cutter and I would lay them. It took about 3 hours. We used a grey thinset so if any got on the side of the bricks it wasn't noticeable since the grout was a grey shade. These bricks are pre sealant.

The next day after the bricks had dried, I put 2 coats of sealant on before grouting. I used a special sealant from the paver manufacturer but I have heard of people using poly. I wasn't happy once I started to seal the bricks, they looked really cheap and fake. Once the sealant dried they looked a lot better.

If you use this sealer make sure you can leave your house while it dries. We had no idea that the fumes would be so bad. We thought we may die in our sleep. I have been around a lot of fumes with 2 house renovations, but I have never been around something so strong. All of our windows were painted shut by the old owners so we slept with the back door open.

Grouting the bricks was the worst thing I have ever done. I am sure there was an easier way to do it but I didn't know about it. Even with the sealer, the grout was hard to get off the bricks. With the dark grout, the water had to be changed constantly. I was determined to finish the grout in one night which should have been an easy goal. Since it was such a nightmare to grout and I was working solo that didn't happen. A few meltdowns might have occurred.

I did learn to use a grout bag with about four square feet to go. Once I started using the grout bag things got so much easier!

I don't think I would grout pavers again myself, probably hire someone that knows what they are doing to grout. We saved a lot of money but it was miserable for a few days.

All that hard work and tears paid off, we love our brick floors! They never show dirt and are so durable. I am looking forward to putting them in our next home as long as someone else grouts...
After it was all grouted and the haze was washed over the pavers I did reseal the floor but I waited until we were going out of town for the weekend. A much better move! After the floors were finished we were able to move the appliances back into the kitchen. This was our normal life for a couple of weeks.

While the pavers were drying Eric was landscaping the front yard

And I was grouting the bathroom!

We were officially crazy. A kitchen, bathroom and yard renovation all at the same time!

Brick Pavers: Premiere Tile Heritage Pavers Color: Old Copper
The company I purchased the pavers from, Premiere Tile, changed the original style name of the pavers but kept the manufacturer's color names. The manufacturer is Alpha Concrete Products, they may be able to direct you to a local dealer.

Grout: ProSpec Woodsmoke

To see the posts on our kitchen before & afters, lighting, countertops click the links.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Vent Hood Cover

When we moved into our house we inherited a really grody stove vent hood. It was pretty greasy and grimy and I didn't want to try and clean it, just replace with something new and clean. I still wasn't sold on just a vent hood, it was so ugly. I had seen Life In The Fast Lane's vent cover and thought it would be the perfect fit in our situation. Well it sort of was, but due to some issues we weren't able to do the side panels to give the true built in look. But I wasn't going to make do with a plain vent hood so we improvised. I do like the angles of Holly's cover better, but guess what several months ago I saw a Martha kitchen with the same exact stove hood as mine! So I guess that is my seal of approval.

In the tutorial, they cut the front part of the metal hood off so that you could still access the light and fan switch. Eric wouldn't do that for fear of sliced hands so he rewired the switches and put them up in the cabinet, right in front of the cookbooks. How awesome is that?! We also added some shelves for storage of spices, baking goods, and cookbooks. Much appreciated in a small kitchen like we have.

We did buy a new vent hood. I bought the cheapest one I could find at $30. The hood is actually made of MDF and it along with the trim it was in the scrap bin for a couple of dollars!

What do you think? Better, worse, I've got too much time on my hands, or I have an awesome husband that goes along with my crazy ideas?

To see the posts on our kitchen before & afters, lighting,flooring and countertops click the links.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kitchen Lighting

Thanks to all that entered the giveaway. Random generator picked #11 Racheal & #7 Quilting Granny, congrats!

Today is all about my kitchen lighting. We actually didn't finish it until last fall, almost a year and a half since we finished the rest of the kitchen. It was sooo worth the wait!

The lighting was going to be another DIY but in the end we hired someone to put in the lights. All 4 recessed lights and 2 pendants were only $150 to install. Just having the project done was worth so much more! This was the lighting situation before: One old, dusty and hot track light that produced very little light. Having the lights sit inside the fixture pretty much cut out 75% of the light coming out of the bulb. I tried to get my cooking finished before dark because I hated to be in the kitchen with such a small amount of light.

With the new plan, I knew I wanted 2 pendant lights above the sink area and thought that recessed would be the best way to go for the rest of the kitchen.

I found several options but in the end the Ikea Foto won out. Best part, they were only $15 each so if I ever want to change them out no big deal. Which I have found some pendants that I want really bad, they are only $60 each but I am sticking with these for now. But just so you know they come with a plug in (why). It was easily adapted so it wasn't a big deal, but not what I was expecting.

On the other side of the kitchen I wanted 2 recessed lights. I bought the 4" so they weren't too big or too small. They were centered so that the center of the light was divided equally between the counter top, vertically and horizontally. Make sense?

I also had a recessed installed above the stove and one near the back door.

Here is the new set up. The hole is from the old light.

Have you heard the saying "design changes lives"? Well it is corny and I know there are so many more important things than the lighting in my kitchen, but design has really improved/changed my life! I can actually see in that room now. I feel like I am in a totally different space.

I was starting to get tired of the kitchen and now I see it in a whole new light. (pun not intended) My counter tops look better, my floor looks totally different for the better. It feels so much cleaner and I feel like I am in a real house not a dungeon. I am sure the light switch is about to burn out because I walk to the kitchen for the sole purpose of turning on the lights and staring.

Ok I think everyone gets the point that the lights are the chocolate chip to my cookie, the jelly to my peanut butter sandwich, the EVOO to Rachel Ray.

To see the posts on our kitchen before & afters,countertops, lighting, and flooring click the links.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kitchen Repost

I'm trying the kitchen series again this week. When I posted a few weeks ago the blog messed up and you couldn't see the post.

Our kitchen was completed in June 2009 and now two years later I am getting around to posting a complete kitchen series.
When we moved into our house we knew that one of the first rooms we wanted to work on would be the kitchen. It is a little galley kitchen so we knew with hard work it could be a quick project. We managed to finish in a few weeks. We did everything ourselves except for the lighting which was the best $150 we could have spent.

This picture was taken the first time we looked at the house (7/2008), almost a full year before we bought it. I am pretty sure the previous owners replaced the countertops and flooring to put it on the market so they were in good shape, but not what I wanted. Among the things to be replaced were the countertops, sink, faucet, flooring, lighting, stove hood, fridge, and backsplash.

After: Now some details... A piece of the countertop material was also used as the backsplash. The walls are concrete blocks & concrete plaster so the outlets are run with conduit which is hideous. We were able to move some of the lines inside of cabinets so that helped our kitchen from looking like a garage.

Behind the backsplash were holes in the plaster and concrete blocks so we decided to use beadboard sheets as the backsplash. Now they seem to be everywhere but I loved beadboard then and I still love it. It is so easy to care for! We used a 1x2 to finish off the beadboard. It was more authentic to the style of house than a fancy trim cap and it matched our window frames. We kept the existing dishwasher and the stove -which was brand new. My inlaws graciously bought the refrigerator as a house warming gift.

This photo was taken while I was painting the cabinets. To the left, where the stove goes there was white metal sheeting covering the most hideous of wallpapers. It was taken down and replaced with bead board to cover the wall damage from the glue as well as plaster damage under the window.

The cabinets were nice wood, just really dark. They also have a ton of dents that weren't really noticeable until we started to paint-of course. The stove hood was pretty gross so it was replaced and made a cover to conceal it. In the corner is a tall cabinet that we use for a pantry. It didn't come with a cabinet door so we had one made.

I had a door frame made for $100 to match the rest of our cabinet doors. I think I over paid but I needed it in a couple of days and the guy made it fast so he charged what he wanted. To save money and give a little character I had him keep the center of the door open and I used a curtain from Pier 1 instead.

I am not a fan of microwaves on the counter taking up space so Eric was able to re route the plug into the pantry so I could hide the microwave. Added bonus it got rid of the ugly conduit. Our trash can also had to go in here since it couldn't fit under the sink. We still want to reorganize and improve the shelving in here but we just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Like with everything I do, we did this kitchen on a little budget.

Countertop (Ikea) $393.00

Backsplash $115.00

Cabinet Paint (Benjamin Moore Soft Chamois) $76.00

Wall Paint (BM Nantucket Gray HC-11) free leftover from old kitchen.

Cabinet Hardware $40.00

Lighting (Ikea + install) $220.00

Floor (Premiere Tile Heritage Pavers) $358.00 (these were a purchased at cost)

Curtains $20.00

Pantry Cabinet $100.00

Faucet (ebay) $60.00

Sink (scratch & dent Home Depot) $67.00

Stove Hood $55

TOTAL $1,449.00

I am planning on sticking to the kitchen theme this week and posting on our floor, lighting, and stove hood. For info on how we stained our Ikea butcher block countertops click here!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Thanks for putting up with me all week going on and on about Better Homes & Gardens. This should be the last time I mention the BHG thing, maybe but I can't make any promises.
So I won't say anything about my friend Hannah's blog interview. She was the one behind my amazing paint art reenactment getting published in Ag Illustrated and herself is a graphic designer with a cute etsy shop.

For putting up with me all week I am going to give away 2
One year subscriptions to Better Homes & Gardens, the best magazine around. Just leave me a comment and if you want to tell me about your favorite Easter outfit that may be fun. I'll pick the winners at random Tuesday 8 am CST. BHG isn't sponsoring this giveaway, I am!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend. Did you get a new dress every Easter growing up? Ours were always made by my Nana or Mother. One time I had a dress made out of a Battenburg Lace table cloth. That thing weighed like 20 lbs. Of course I still have it along with pretty much every dress we ever had made.

I wish I had a picture of that tablecloth dress, but this is the only picture I could find of an old Easter dress. I wasn't too happy to get pictures that day. This was the best one out of the bunch.
It must have been the perm...

Ok now put these flowers next to your face and smile!

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