Tuesday, August 31, 2010


When we purchased our riverfront home there were two large trees blocking our money shot! We could not imagine why the previous owners had not done anything about the trees, especially since the trees were dead. Needless to say removing the trees was one of the first things on our to do list. Within a few days of moving in (October 1st) my husband had called the power company about the trees. He informed them that the trees were a hazard of falling down, especially during a freezing rain storm. They put in an order to come look at the trees and said that they would be there in a few weeks. A week or two later a man came to look at the trees. He agreed that they were dead and would be a hazard as they could fall over and tear the lines down. He said that they would schedule an appointment to come out and cut the trees down a few feet from the ground. The stumps would remain for us to remove ourselves. Basically, they would cut down the part that would damage the lines, but the rest was up to us.* Within a few weeks the crew came and cut the trees down and hauled away all of the debris. Though they left stumps, we did convince them to cut them lower than they were required to do or would have done. My husband is a great negotiator! Here you can see what a difference it made with the first tree down:

You wouldn't believe the amount of light that came flooding into our living room as soon as the first tree was down. As they went for the second one, our neighbors approached the house. They were upset that we hadn't talked to them before having the trees removed. We thought that the trees were on our property (they were!) and that it would not be any of their concern. In hindsight, we wish that we would have informed them in advance, just to be neighborly and keep things polite! We found out afterward that the barges coming up and down the river now shone their lights into their front windows and their dog was up barking most of the night.

They cleaned up all but a few chunks of the trunk, which we ended up hauling to my in-laws to be cut up and used in their wood burning furnace. So much better!

A few weeks later we had to hire somebody to come out and grind both stumps down so that we could plant grass seed. The grinding of the stumps, $75 each, was the only part of the project that we had to pay for. It was well worth the investment considering how much it brightened up the inside of the house and also opened up the view of the river. We would definitely gain that back if we ever decided to sell our house.
Here it is since we planted grass seed this spring, almost can't tell that there was ever anything there!

We still have some work to do in the front yard, including ripping out this large bush and a tree which has come up in the middle of it. I just have to keep reminding myself that we are going to be living here for a very long time, so I have lots of time to plan and save to do things the way I want them.

I am joining Debbie from Debbiedoos Before and After Party
and Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick

* I cannot guarantee that the power company would provide this same service in any or all situations. It depends on the health of the trees themselves, proximity to power lines and the work load of the tree removal company among other things. At the very least it is worth a try to see if they can be of any help in removing branches that are closest to power lines so that you can take down the rest of the tree without damaging their property.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Please review your home insurance now!

Last week my husband and I were sleeping when his phone began to ring. I jumped up and ran to get it. I missed the call, but threw the phone at my husband so that he could call whoever it was back. I went to the bathroom expecting to be able to go back to bed immediately. Meanwhile, I heard my husband say, "...at Uncle Bill's? I'll be right there!" He jumped out of bed just as I was returning and threw on some clothes. He immediately told me that his uncles house was on fire and he needed to get there. He pulled out of the garage and ended up following the water truck as it passed our house. The kids were in bed, so I was unable to go with him. Of course, I was unable to go back to sleep because I was so worried about Randy's uncle and distraught over the prospect of my own house burning down. Randy returned around 2am after the firefighters had gotten the fire out. Unfortunately the house was a total loss:( He lived in the county and there were no fire hydrants. Though the fire truck was there within a few minutes, they had to wait for water trucks to bring water to them to put out the fire. The entire house was engulfed in 30 foot flames before they even touched it with water. (There is a fire hydrant right at the corner of our house, thank God!) Pictures my husband took as he arrived at the scene:

Randy left after the firefighters started going into the house and throwing things out onto a tarp that could be salvaged. He said it was the most awful feeling watching people go through his uncles stuff and then throwing it on the ground as if it were nothing. They were just doing their jobs, but it felt so cold and intrusive. Pictures my husband took after the fire was out and right before he left:

We found out later that the firefighters had remained at the fire until around 6:30 am as the embers would reignite and they would have to put out little fires continuously. They determined later that the fire was of an unknown cause, probably a gas grill that was not appropriately hooked up. Immediately the next morning Randy called our insurance company to check on the coverage we had on our home to make sure that it was enough to replace our home and belongings (furniture, clothes, etc.) He was satisfied that we would be covered though there are some things that could never be replaced! Thankfully, his uncle made it out safely because he was awoken by the fire alarms going off in his house. This past weekend, we also bought a fire extinguisher, extra smoke detectors and are looking for a rope ladder to place on the second story of our home where our children sleep. The kids are still really young, so we also discussed our plan of escape which would include going upstairs to retrieve the kids from their rooms. It is scary that we never discussed these things before this incident and that it took something so awful to happen to someone we love to get our act together! I hope that others will also learn from his experience and prepare themselves for the unthinkable!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Brass Begone

There are so many things to do and buy when moving into a home. One of the first things that I have done upon moving into all of our homes was to change out the window coverings. Usually I reuse the rods in the house because they already fit the windows and it saves some cash. Although they were cheap and not exactly my style, I was grateful to the previous owners of our home for leaving curtain rods in most rooms of our house. I was especially grateful for the rods in our four seasons room. Though they were brass, they were barely visible once I hung the curtains that I found for the room for $1 each on clearance at JCPenney! I recently bought a cheap can of black spray paint, took the curtain rods down and just painted the ends. Though I don't have a picture of the before (bad blogger!) I think you can imagine how much better they look than they did before in all their brassy glory.

While I was at it, I also removed a radio/intercom box and painted it as well.

While it would have cost around $20 to buy 2 new rods in the color and style that I liked, it only cost me around $4 for a cheap can of spray paint. With the $4 I spent on the 4 valances in the room, I dressed both windows for less than the cost of what it would have been to buy a single curtain rod.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

9 rooms painted!

I finally painted the mudroom/pantry in our house this past weekend (it was on my summer to-do list, but I didn't actually get to it until school started up again! Go figure!). While cleaning up I realized that it was the 9th room I have painted since moving into our home. Here is a list of the rooms I have painted with links to any posts I have done on those rooms.

#1 Entryway
#2 Four Seasons Room
#3 Kitchen
#4 Living Room
#5 Main Bathroom
#6 Master Bathroom
#7 Craft Room
#8 Basement Bathroom
#9 Mud Room/Pantry

The room has undergone a complete transformation since we moved in. This picture shows how completely boring and cluttered/disorganized the room was when we first saw it.

The mudroom smelled terribly of dogs and cats. I believed that most of the smell was trapped in the red 70's carpet that covered the floor. I ripped that out soon after we moved in and replaced it with adhesive vinyl tiles. If you know me, you know that I absolutely love these things! I have used them in several of our houses. They are so easy to install and they have so many great looking options that are reasonably priced. This went a long way in freshening and brightening up the room. Though the walls were dirty and stained, there were several other more important things to tackle on my list than a room we barely used and nobody ever sees. Now that I am low on funds for any home improvement projects, I can only work on things that I have supplies on hand for. The paint for this room was leftover paint from the dining room which the previous homeowners had purchased to neutralize the space for sale. The room smelled instantly better and felt cleaner and more comfortable with the very first brush stroke!

Though nobody else sees this room, it is so nice to walk through this room to the garage daily and have it be clean, fresh and organized! It was great that the paint was free, but the house is starting to feel a bit bland! All but 4 rooms in the house are the same shade of tan. As soon as I have a little bit of money, I may have to pick out a really great color and get to giving this home a little personality!

Cheap Wall Art

Vinyl wall decor is really popular right now. There are tons of different applications from vinyl pictures you can use to decorate a child's room or nursery, calendars, monograms, holiday decor and phrases and quotes. I really love the look of the vinyl phrases, but hate the way that it comes out on my textured walls. I decided to use the quotes that I love in a different way. I had a picture frame that I was not using that I had purchased at a garage sale or goodwill several years ago.

I chose a red scrapbook paper out of my stash and cut it to size. I spent some time looking at different websites for ideas on phrases and font styles that I liked. I then printed the phrase, "Family todays little moments become tomorrow's precious memories" on plain white paper. I cut the phrase out using my scrapbooking scissors and glued it to the red paper. Finally, I popped it back in the frame and hung it up in my living room.

I loved it so much that I decided to do another one. This time I wanted a specific kind of paper that I did not have in my stash, so I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up the perfect paper. Again, I looked online and found a phrase and font style that I liked and printed it on plain white paper. I cut the phrase out using my scrapbook scissors and added a black piece of paper behind it to make it pop. I didn't have a frame for this one, so I purchased a $3 frame at WalMart. Both pieces cost me less than $5 using supplies that I already had on hand.

It's not quite the same as vinyl, but I think I love it even more!

I linked this project to Debbie at Debbiedoos Before and After party.
Also Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick's Before and After Party.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Long absence!

Thanks to a horrible computer virus, I have been unable to use my computer for quite some time. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband, who tackled the virus head on not once, but twice and restored my computer to working order! Unfortunately, the break from my computer did not make me any more productive with the list of projects I have to do.
I did finally get inspired to finish up two little projects that have been bothering me for quite some time. I painted our living room a light cream color soon after we moved in, in November 2009. I just realized that I could have had a child in the time that it took me to get around to finishing this project! Our walls are textured and I painted the room in the middle of the night while the kids were sleeping. There is no overhead light, so I was painting with a small lamp for light. I packed everything up around 3am and thought that it looked pretty good. Upon inspecting the paint job in the morning with the sun shining brightly in all of the windows, I noticed a few areas that still had the previous mint green color showing through. Yuck! Fast forward to today and my husband and daughter were gone for the afternoon and my son was taking a nap. I pulled out the paint can, some tape and a foam brush. After taping off the baseboard (most of the visible spots were along the baseboard in the darkest corner) I mixed up the little bit of leftover paint with the foam brush and touched up the wall. My husband came home in the middle of this and exclaimed, "What are you doing now!?" When I explained to him that the spots were bothering me over the past 9 months or so he revealed that he hadn't even noticed them! We are so different in our approach to things, I am a complete perfectionist, while he just wants to get things done quickly and easily, and not necessarily right. Whether he noticed it or not, it definitely makes me feel better to have it done!
The second thing that I did was to add a second coat of stain to the baseboard in our master bathroom. When we originally refinished our master bathroom we bought new trim and tried to stain it to match the trim in the rest of the house. When the first coat of stain turned kind of dull grayish brown, I thought that we had the wrong color of stain and did not even attempt a second coat. The baseboards really bothered me because they did not match the doors and trim that we left in the room and did not stand out enough against the grayish wall color. Now the trim is closer to matching and really stands out against the wall color. I may have to use a coat of poly to get the shine/wet look that I like, but for now I love the difference that it made!
I have a few other small projects that I would like to share soon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Big Amazing Renovation

We have lots of really big plans for our house, though not as big as some of the renovations on HGTV's show by this name, they are still big to us. Our home is a story and a half, with a finished basement. It is pretty large at around 3,000 square feet finished. Though it is fairly large the main floor is so broken up that it is difficult to do any entertaining, people end up spread out all over the house and are unable to communicate with people in another room. We have discussed expanding our kitchen into the backyard, but did not feel that it would be worth the money we put into it.

I am desperate to get rid of the creamy yellow siding on our house and replace it with a beautiful dark green vinyl siding. I feel that this color would be a nice complement to the stone of our chimney and also the browns of the deck and windows. While I am the brains behind the colors and decor of our home, my husband is great with the logistics of these things. He pointed out that it would be smart to wait to re-side the house until after we change out the windows for sliding doors and add additional windows and doors to fully utilize our view.

This past weekend he realized that by building a garage off of our existing garage, we could tear down the wall between the dining room and garage and renovate the room to house our kitchen. This idea would allow us to utilize the beautiful views of the river from our entire living space. As of now, about 1/3 of our main floor is taken up by our garage. From the right corner of the picture to just past the patio chairs and brown door is all garage!

Here is a picture of just the garage:

We plan on adding the garage in this area where there is a pile of dirt (left by the previous homeowners) and a huge tree. Hopefully we would be able to make a door from this new garage into the house, so that it would still be attached.

We would also fix up the driveway as the end of our driveway has eroded leaving a large hole. We would also remove a flower bed to extend our driveway, giving us more room to maneuver vehicles and also parking for get togethers.

There is an unfinished room above our existing garage, that we plan to finish into another bedroom.

Though it will probably be several years before we completely finish the whole project (building new 2 car garage, repouring the driveway,turning the garage into a great room/kitchen, windows and siding and finishing the room above the existing garage into a bedroom) it is fun and exciting to have such a large project to plan and look forward to!

Scrapbooking Dead End

I love scrapbooking! I have made scrapbooks for each of my siblings and in-laws weddings, for each of our houses, bachelorette party scrapbooks for my friends, and recently a cookbook scrapbook for my sister-in-law to be (this was a big hit at her shower). For some reason the creative energy was flowing for each of these projects, but when it comes to the scrapbooks that I have for each of my children, I have absolutely no motivation. I started one for my daughter 3 years ago and have completed some of her first year. Although I have a book purchased and plenty of supplies, including paper and stickers, I have not even started my sons' scrapbook yet (he is about to turn 18 months). I always thought that when I became a stay-at-home mom that I would have all of the time in the world to do these projects, what was I thinking! That's right, I was not thinking! A lot of my time and energy goes into doing things with the kids and when they go to bed I try to keep up on housework. When I do have time, scrapbooking is at the bottom of my list because it has become a bit routine. I feel like I use the same process for each page, none have the pizzazz or wow factor that they did when I first started scrapbooking. One thing that I think would really help to get me back on track with my creativity would be the Silhouette. The Silhouette is a cutting tool that has many uses: one of them being scrapbooking. I could see myself spending countless hours playing with the many different features of the Silhouette. Though I would probably still be behind in my scrapbooking, as I would be too busy trying out all of the other features, I still think that it would provide a much needed jolt to my creativity. I have entered a giveaway for a chance to win a Silhouette of my very own. If you are interested check out Beckie over at Infarrantly Creative to see how to get your chance to win!