Can organization fuel motivation?

Continuing Mom’s topic of journaling a bit now… I listened to a podcast recently, co-hosted by one of my favorite people/authors Laura Vanderkam, and the topic was planners. Like paper planners- apparently a world unto itself, types and styles, and decor and stickers, the works. One thing I learned about was something called “bullet journaling” – a flavor of journaling/planning/etc I’d never heard of, but struck me because its premise seemed to fit my tendency for lots and lots of lists, as well as big dreams and getting stuff out of my head on paper now and then, combined with the need for basic scheduling and organization to handle my job as well as life stuff. Basically it’s a freeform way of making a planner (as compared to buying a prefab planner), creating different layouts to organize different aspects of life/lists/calendar/habit-tracking- the opportunities are endless, incorporating a journaling aspect by documenting every part of your life you wish, and in a creative (tho not quite an art journal) way. This article explains it nicely (tho pardon the crass language)!

Now the “bullet journaling” is one thing- but it made me ask the question of whether my difficulty with following a crazy dream or finishing a big project may actually be a lack of big picture organization. When I don’t finish big projects, was it a lack of motivation or failure of organization? I tend to start something big and not finish, or when I do finally finish it felt like pulling teeth just to restart again (er, a kitchen remodel?). Or I get a big idea I’m excited about but then never really do anything about it and the excitement fades. Does the excitement fade because I’m just not feeding the idea or was I not really that into it?

How To Develop Goals In A Usability Test

On the podcast, co-host Sarah discussed things like weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual goal-setting and regular review of objectives and action items (!!). Like a whole other level of ‘getting stuff done’ that raises the bar from surviving the rat-race to truly thriving in life and accomplishing a bunch of stuff it seemed. (Do you remember when life could operate just off the little freebie calendar from the Hallmark store in moms’ purses– purses which entirely lacked smartphones?)

Image result for hallmark date book
But there’s also a personality type thing there- like the type of person who likes to write down and carefully organize and review all these life things (from dentist appointments to grand personal change or adventures) is also perhaps the type of person who will complete something just for the sake of checking the box and the sense of accomplishment that alone brings. So they are already the sort of person who seems to maintain the necessary motivation to get stuff done. I’m sort of the type that get a kick from checking the item off the list. But not completely. *See interesting Four Tendencies quiz by Gretchen Rubin.* I don’t qualify as an Upholder according to Rubin, so the box-ticking satisfaction only gets me so far. But still, perhaps this life map documentation style that puts ‘reframe your whole life’ stuff right alongside the ‘get groceries’ stuff each day really could drive forward those big picture goals and dreams- keeping them better fed. I’ve spent the last year or so getting pretty dedicated to a paperless approach, founded on my Outlook calendar and Evernote for list-keeping, both which sync from computer to phone and vice versa, but I’m tempted to try some kind of planner/journal approach now. As luck would have it- or serendipity- I pulled out a perfect little thin-paged notebook with my name embossed on the front that one of my BFFs gave me years ago and I just hadn’t found a purpose for this perfect little notebook yet (though it did escape my Konmari purges so I trusted it would find its purpose one day).

jpic

So, I’m experimenting with this journal-planner concept a bit. I wonder if I could do a better job of documenting kid milestones too with this approach? And perhaps the paper-based creative approach would allow for the simply therapeutic aspect of documenting life (e.g., traditional journaling)… though honestly blog writing provides that too, much of my motivation to get back to writing posts! Would love to hear in the comments how others handle organizing/planning/documenting of life – paper, electronic, combo? Does Hallmark still pass out date books?

 

How I had a natural birth, the second time around: Greta’s birth story

I have now been meaning to write this story for 9 month! Better late than never. When preparing for delivering each of our babies, I really enjoyed reading and listening to people’s birth stories. It’s like this major event that no one really talks about in detail in normal life, women are just pregnant and then next you see the pictures of tired parents with squishy little newborns. But what happens in between? I liked the idea of a natural birth (what I mean by that is no pain meds/epidural) and aimed for that with O, by making a nice little birth plan I showed to my doctor, reading a Bradley book and practicing through fake contractions with Chad. But boy were we unprepared that first time around, and ultimately I had an induction, followed by epidural, overnight labor, and plenty of unpleasant physical recovery afterward. So, this time around with baby #2, I still liked the idea of natural birth but had that previous experience of getting an epidural, so I doubted by ability to ‘gut it out’ when I knew differently from prior experience. Over the course of this pregnancy, though, I came to two key points to help me decide on my birth plan: 1- stop asking ‘why do I want a natural birth?’ and try to justify it to myself or others, and start asking ‘Why not?’ … and 2- focus on goals for a better postpartum experience instead of the birth itself, as a numb birth led to some painful aftermath from bad tearing that I wanted to avoid experiencing again. So, we hired an amazing doula (birth coach) who could take over the hard work (well, I had the hard work I guess, but she did the heavy lifting when it came to guiding me through it) and let Chad just be Dad, and help give us confidence and negotiate decisions. I read somewhere that if a doula were a medication, every insurance plan would cover it in full for every birth. It’s that beneficial. We met with her twice beforehand to talk about goals, get tips, etc. I also was under the care of midwives for this birth, instead of an obstetrician, so that totally changed the vibe of pregnancy care and turned out to dramatically change things in terms of delivery philosophies as well. Highly recommend a midwife practice for a healthy, low-risk pregnant woman!

 So, today’s focus, the delivery itself– since I was registered with our hospital’s on-site natural birth center (a no-intervention birth suite attached to the hospital), they completed a thorough review of my history (they will only accept the lowest risk deliveries) and required me to have my ultrasound at 39 instead of 40 weeks, since I had very low amniotic fluid with my previous pregnancy by 40 weeks. This ultrasound at 39 weeks revealed quite low fluid as well, so there we were getting advised on immediate induction… again. No! I was so afraid of having pitocin again and thought it was going to derail everything. I was more relaxed this time, though, knowing birth plans need plan A, B, and C. I was sad I would be admitted to the hospital and no longer allowed to go to the birth center- since inductions is not something done there. I was really counting on relaxing in their giant tub!! But atleast the day had come and we had a few hours to get O taken care of at our friends’ house and pick up our stuff before heading to the hospital. I also sent out my pre-drafted email to some girlfriends notifying them and asking for prayers for a “safe and gentle” birth, which had become my mantra. And then, yet again, I walked into the hospital and signed papers completely not in labor, just like the first time. No laboring at home, no birth center. But atleast this time I had my bag of goods and my doula on the way. I’d also been having sooo many contractions in the last month or so that I thought surely I can just take a whiff of the pitocin and this baby will be out! But a few hours later (we started around 2 pm), hanging out with the drip, nothing. “Is it getting painful yet?” they kept asking me. Umm, no, I’m sorry I’m not in pain fast enough for you? So by about 8pm, my midwife asked me what time I usually go to bed and tells me if my body isn’t going into active labor by then, we can stop, get a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast in the morning, take a shower, and start fresh in the morning. This was a shocking offer I will tell you. I didn’t know that was even an option!  And I think I can say pretty confidently it wouldn’t have been with a physician. But midwifery is a different philosophy. Her angle was to have me in the best possible shape for delivery and postpartum, and since I would be in the hospital on a fetal monitor, the baby would be safe. If anything changed, we could change course since she would stay in the night in the hospital call room, but this option is the one we went with. Our doula went home after an uneventful evening, but I was so glad she was there for the moral support (and bonus foot massage!) given my fear of the induction. And with my fear greatly reduced after nothing really kicking in after 4-5 hours, I took a Benadryl to sleep (prescribed by midwife no less), ate a good breakfast, and had a refreshing shower as directed! Even my hair looked pretty good for this labor starting out.
Pitocin started again around 9:30 the next morning, I started feeling it in my back around 10:15, and then asked our doula to aim for arriving around noon. After how the evening before went, I was ready for a long slow process so was much more relaxed about requesting her to come in. By 11:15 I felt like I was needing to really focus, stop talking etc, through the contractions.
(pic below from 12:11 pm, in labor)
 labor1211pm

By noon our doula texted she was stuck behind a car accident, so got there closer to 12:30. That’s where the text message string on my phone stopped 🙂  But between starting to focus through contractions and our doula’s arrival, I got checked and was at 6cm (yay!), soon after my water broke (that’s an interesting thing, just leaking out dripping around everywhere), so I was in a great place when she got there. My parents had gone to get lunch in the hospital cafe, but Chad just grabbed his sandwich to go and returned quickly so I wasn’t alone before our doula got there. He ended up walking back in with her. Very soon after, a few ‘stop me in my tracks’ contractions, and I didn’t want to sit on the birth ball anymore, it sounded good to try laboring in the tub or try something different. So that was getting filled up while they helped me get situated leaning forward on the end of the bed for a bit. (I learned after that my doula whispered to Chad at this point that I would not be actually making it to that tub). That’s when the next contraction hit, probably around 12:45 or 1, that literally must have been the baby dropping right into place and it was game ON. This is when natural labor got primal. Sounds I didn’t know my body could make. An internalization of my attention/focus that is hard to describe. A team of people was suddenly in the room, Chad was heaving me up onto the bed as my knees were buckling (sorry about that, honey). Somewhere in there my parents wandered back to our room from the cafeteria and got a shock I believe (Mom can chime in on exactly how their arrival fit into the time series). And onto delivery we were! Our doula spoke right into my ear words of magic and regularly applied her elixir of essential oils and about 30 minutes later lying on my side and one contraction at a time, little Greta inched her way out, born around 1:30pm. All 8lbs 4oz with her arm up against her face superman style (very helpful position, sheesh). When she finally came out and was up on my body I gushed with tears, just overwhelmed by the intensity- emotionally, physically, psychologically- of the whole event. We did it! I did it! She was here! Although I still didn’t know she was a she at that moment. Chad got to check and announce boy or girl, so we soon had the big news 🙂  We snuggled and nursed a bit and then while they did all the newborn checks and immediate care items, I got my clothing switched from my maternity t-shirt dress- that had gotten a bit, uh, messed- to a hospital gown for transferring to the postpartum room, and we started getting organized to head out of the labor suite after a couple hours to chill and bond. Oh, and somewhere in there I delivered a placenta and they checked me out, reporting ZERO  tearing. Mission accomplished. I officially felt like a superhero and was in love with my midwife and doula. I don’t think this labor and delivery could have gone better. I am soooo thankful! If only Chad hadn’t rubbed my hair into a birds’ nest during the pushing stage… ah, can’t win ’em all!

(pic below from 5:30 pm on our way to postpartum wing)
greta arrived 530pm

One trick pony, or master of parenthood?

After a two year hiatus, I want to get back to the blog. Given my last post was regarding O’s 2nd birthday, what better to start back off than planning another birthday party? This kid is 4 years old in two days! In these last two years, he has, well, he’s gotten two years older. He’s a shrewd negotiator- “But mom … it’s only one… I’ll be careful… ” He’s also morphed into a night owl. Our baby who practically dove into his crib on cue each night now hangs out in his bed until 10pm, sometimes wandering out for various distractions/requests, sometimes just playing around “secretly.” He actually told us– “Dad, when you put me to bed sometimes, I get out of my bed.” Uh huh, we know. He also grew up a lot in this past year, becoming a big brother, and beginning official preschool in lieu of the home daycare program he was in for 3 years. He’s an adaptable kid and is thriving with each of these big changes, thankfully. I wanted to take him to dinner just the two of us one night, having focused so much on the new baby recently, and he cried that he didn’t want to leave his baby behind! He loves her that much. I hope it lasts, because the sibling love is so beautiful!
So, back to O’s party planning- this will be… drumroll… a farm party! Again! Granted, we will hold it at the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum instead of Frying Pan Farm Park where we did his 2nd. But he loves the little museum, it’s simple, and why reinvent anything in a phase of life that is already challenging enough? Hence the title of this post. I booked the little party space, ordered a few party items to supplement the farm themed supplies I had leftover from last time at the same website as before, ordered a gift on Amazon, sent an Evite to the usual kid-family friends and, voila, party planning complete. The food will include the usual array of single serving fun snacks (goldfish, fruit snacks we picked up last shopping trip at Aldi), sandwich platter, cake… and deviled eggs. Deviled eggs were recently decided to be our ‘thing’ to make for all functions. After reading a post about how minimalist moms conquer working motherhood, I decided doing what’s simple and works is best for us, even if it’s often the same. Because I’d rather be engaged and participatory, even if it’s in a predictable quick fire kind of way, than scattered and overwhelmed by coming up with something new constantly. What theme birthday party should we do this year? … leads to… Forget it, this is exhausting, who has the energy for planning kid parties? Who has the time to cook for social gatherings? We’ll just skip or arrive feeling guilty with the usual excuse “oh gosh, we have a new baby, couldn’t be bothered [hand on forehead in exasperated manner]!” No good. I’m just deciding many things don’t have to be that complicated. Yes, my kid has the same birthday cake plates and little decorations at his 4th birthday party as his 2nd birthday party. But, he didn’t have a party at all turning 3! 😦  I’ll pick the same plate pattern over skipping out altogether any day. Yes, we will now bring the same thing to every potluck, church event, work lunch, etc. But we always have eggs, the instant pot makes hard boiling a batch a cinch, O thinks it’s fun to take off the shells, and Chad has a particular egg filling mixture using honey mustard that he enjoys making, so this one is a no stress item for us and works for everything. Also, it’s chocolate-free, nut-free, and vegetarian so works for almost everyone (sorry, vegans). We can even make it Whole 30 compliant when necessary! For that matter, I’d rather write a quick imperfect blog post than put it off for two years in the name of perfect pictures and prose. So, invite us to your next shin dig and you can always count on us for the protein.  If you’re coming to our thing, you can bet you’re safe wearing jeans and a straw hat.

Budget Kitchen Remodel: Conserve, Conserve, then Splurge!

Finishing the concrete floor was a daunting task, but the major thing that motivated me to get it done was what was sitting in hallway waiting to be installed the whole time. Rewind… I decided my birthday present this year and also reward for saving bucks in other places in this kitchen- like, ahem, pushing through all that concrete skimming- was a total splurge purchase of a kick-butt, top of the line, make-my-life-easier-every-single-day-of-the-week, shiny new dishwasher. This actually sat in our hallway for weeks after delivery pushing me to dive into the darn floors so we could install it. Great motivator! The existing dishwasher was the only appliance that wasn’t new when we bought the house, but worked fine (except for the fact it was hooked up to reversed plumbing and only used cold water- um, not effective). So originally the saver in me was all about this budget kitchen face-lift getting done using the old dishwasher. But then I listened to an audio book during my commutes about how working moms really can ‘do it all’ and, specifically, the chapter entitled “Make Life Easier” and BAM, new awesome clean-dried-outmeal-off-all-your-dishes-and-out-the-baby’s-hair-at-the-same-time dishwasher was ordered! (maybe not the baby’s hair) Anyway- total splurge. But it was for my birthday, did I mention? And scraping, soaking, and clean rinsing every single dish in our little sink for the past 9 months to go into our tepid dishwasher sent me over the edge on pre-cleaning dishes. No more precious minutes spent on dishes! No. More.

Enter: Glorious new Bosch dishwasher [insert beautiful singing here].

dishwasher open

I went with the Bosch 800 series, with features like hidden flush buttons (O really likes pushing buttons so this was key), a third top rack for misc and sharp things out of toddler reach (O really likes ‘helping’ unload, including sharp knives if he can reach them so this is great), and eco-friendly settings like “half load” and “eco” so I can run it daily without feeling guilty. And it has an integrated handle with no frills/parts (instead of a bar or something) because I think ahead and know my sweet toddler will eventually swing and climb and hang on anything as tempting as that! And it’s practically silent. So now finally Oliver will listen to me because he probably just couldn’t hear me over the dishwasher all this time when I said “no/stop/wait/come”! (= fantasy parent epiphany). I did get this on sale and ordered online a slightly different model than the main one they usually stock which was another $50 less. So with free delivery, it was about $900. Big purchase for me! My big downfall of this semi/un-planned purchase was I ordered it right after Virginia’s tax-free weekend, when I could have saved another $50 on sales tax because it’s an energy efficient appliance. Frustrating. But you don’t get bent out of shape on things like that for splurge/birthday present/reward purchases, so I forgave myself. I was so excited to get this in, we worked until almost midnight and I still painstakingly poured in my sample of rinse aid so I could run the first load!

dishwasher joy

Some tips for installing a dishwasher yourself (besides first learning what you’re doing with electrical/plumbing stuff in general): definitely read the instructions through and inspect things before you plan to actually do it (I actually do this for eeeeeverything we do in advance), realize dishwashers sit flush with cabinet doors- not the cabinet boxes or the countertop, and though the instructions note checking the centered-ness of the dishwasher once it’s back in it’s hole, you really have to get this straight from the get-go and slowly slide it in inch by inch, making small adjustments all the way as you go. Once it’s in, there’s no way you’re going to be able to slide it side to side without pulling it out and starting over.

There are so many things I love in this new kitchen- the bigger sink, the amazing faucet, but this is my best kitchen bud. Since I’m behind on blogging, I’ve actually been using this about a month now. And with the eco setting, I just run it each night after dinner which is so convenient compared to waiting for it to be full and in between having to hand wash our daily smoothie blender pieces. And no more rinsing, just scrape off in trash and load. Which means more time for family. And isn’t that the point of all this home stuff anyway?

Budget Kitchen Remodel: An Experiment in Concrete

This post is about a month late, but work has progressed on the kitchen! And this stage was done by my deadline-ish of end of Sept to have most of the major work done. As work progressed on the walls, we still needed to decide what to do with the floor. This was an area where I wanted to save some $ because long term, I’d rather the entire upstairs-including the kitchen- be the same flooring, but that is a more expensive undertaking for down the road a ways. We needed a “for a few years” floor that wasn’t worth dropping much moolah into. But even lineoleum would cost $150-200 in materials, we didn’t want stick down tiles again- couldn’t WAIT to get rid of the grimey ones we had. At any rate, any cheap flooring would just look like… well, cheap flooring and would still cost a couple hundred bucks in the end. Call me crazy, but I kept coming back to skim coated concrete. People use it for countertops, and other Pinterest-y DIY projects and it seems like a cool, industrial, natural/non-plastic looking finish that was worth experimenting with. For example, this kitchen looks pretty cool I think: 

I had to convince Chad on this one, but he came around and I quickly bought the supplies before he could change his mind 🙂  (Kind of like I quickly starting painting cabinets to start this whole journey off before anything else could happen to delay!) The Feather Finish (Ardex/Henry) material is actually a polymer based concrete mixture, so this is NOT pouring exterior concrete in your house. It’s using a patching/repair compound to just coat your surface to give a concrete looking finish.

However, before any of that could start, step 1 was repairing the flooring under the weirdo floating cabinet between the kitchen and dining room, which miraculous was a simple task. The flooring just extended under the cab so we had to cut some away, as opposed to trying to patch it with leftover pieces. Chad got a new multi tool so this was actually pretty easy. Bummer we discovered some old wall damage that wasn’t repaired properly when someone put that weird cabinet there years ago. So more drywall work for me later, yippee 🙂

floor cutout

Next was moving everything out to the dining room (no oven until this was done!) and tearing up the vinyl sticky tiles. So our dining room/kitchen looked like this the week we were working on this. Eek.

dining room living

And STICKY was the name of the game removing the existing tiles. Modern day conveniences (ie, peel and stick flooring) = disgusting messes for whoever gets ‘stuck’ with it down the road (pun intended). We used the multitool Chad got for cutting the floor to work up the edges and this floor scraping pole we found (!) in our garage from the previous. It had mud on it like they used it for edging the lawn or something. Lucky find for us! And scrape, scrape, scrape we did, for two layers of sticky tile for a few hours. Here’s what this process looked like…

floor removal

The next conundrum was how the heck to work on the floor when it was too stick to actually step on. Solution- sprinkle and scrape out the concrete mix we would be using to soak up the stickiness a bit. From there we sacrificed a $3 tarp from Harbor Fright to cut up and lay out on the semi-sticky powdered surface to work around the room. The tarps were key! But cardboard or anything else you’re willing to pitch later would work fine. And you could do this same technique to prep any sticky subfloor by sprinkling another kind of powder (corn starch?) or sand down to help you move around and even try to scrape up the adhesive if you need to.

floor powder

Next we started mixing our skim coat according to package directions in small double batches. You have to work in small amounts because it sets up in minutes. The first coats I scraped on very thin with a metal trowel, scooting around with my sticky tarp.

floor first coat

When it was dry after about half an hour, so you could walk on it again and we did these layers late at night after dinner so it wasn’t as inconvenient as it looks. It was also much easier after the first coat covered all the sticky gunk. Chad handled the mixing station and I scraped on the layers each night. This stuff sets up fast so I had to keep scraping my trowel clean so the drying bits didn’t crumble into my next batch.

mixing stationAfter the first two very thin layers, thick spots of the tacky dirty gunk still showed through slightly, mostly where the vinyl tile seams were so you could still see the square shapes in certain areas.

floor 2 coats

So, fearing we’d be doing a dozen layers with  this technique, we decided to smooth it on a little thicker for the third coat instead of the scraped thin coats, assuming we’d sand it all smooth in the end which gave us this.

finished concrete

Next I kind of stopped to think. I hated the idea of fine concrete polymer dust spread everywhere using an electric sander and hand sanding was practically pointless on this once it hardened up. So after a couple days, I scraped down the ridges and little bumps here and there with a putty knife and I really loved all the depth and texture it had. Kind of like slate has a lot of natural imperfections. So we decided to just seal it and live with it and see how we liked it. Much simpler proposition! So out when the sanding plan, and on went the concrete sealer to this third and final coat. The sealer was a breeze!

floor sealing applI did a coat one night, again the next morning, the next night, and a fourth coat the third morning. So it was four coats of Behr low luster concrete sealer, each about 12 hours apart to avoid having to scuff in between. You can see here the variations in the overall final look.

floor finish

Sealing really put the final touch on and left us with a reasonably durable, polished looking industrial floor. floor sealer

There are certainly imperfections so if that’s not your thing, this might not be the project for you. But for $100 in feather finish and sealer, we have a new one-of-a-kind floor with a lot of personality. We’ve dropped things on it since finishing it in Sept and it seems like a sharp object (dropping a fork, tines down) might chip or dent the surface a bit, but it’s not noticeable in this type of rugged floor finish and it’s nothing that recoating the sealer once a year or so wouldn’t fix. The beauty of it too is that when we do change all the upstairs flooring, we have a nice subfloor all ready to go too 😉 K, now on to upper cabinets!

List update:

Redo backwards plumbing to sink and dishwasher (currently reversed and feeds only cold water to dishwasher!)

Remove floating cabinet, repair dining room floor

Remove upper cabinets

Remove backsplash tile

Replace countertops

Install new sink and faucet

Replace hood with over the range microwave (Done- coming soon!)

Added: Finish painting cabinetry, install upper cabs

Sell current hood and microwave (added: and dishwasher) on CL (bonus! sold extra washing machine to couple at HD! +$180)

Install backboard to backsplash wall to ceiling

Install open shelving

Install backboard on island, bar attachment?

New ceiling light

Install undercabinet light

Paint inside pantry, new door knob

Install hutch to dining wall, paint, move light switch

Paint remaining kitchen walls (working on it!)

Replace flooring

Added: Install new quarter round, floor transitions

Budget Kitchen Remodel: Catching Up

Plumbing, countertops, sink, faucet! So much has progressed and there are some pictures to prove it, but it’s been a bit crazy so this isn’t a very organized post. Here goes, a quick update…

The plank wall was primed with Kilz No VOC primer, I really like this product…

?

…and the walls where countertops were going in were partially painted so I wouldn’t later have to closely paint against brand new counters.

countertop ready paint

I remember when this wall (above) looked like this (below) and I’m very glad to be past that dusty messy stage. Sweet sweet progress!

drywall patching

We installed IKEA Hammarp counters in beech. Unfortunately, we needed just a few inches more than the 98″ larger slab they sell so had to buy a second smaller slab for a total of about $300. It ended up being a fortunate thing when we had a few flaws in the wood we wanted to avoid and had an oops cut that caused us to completely recut one of the pieces. The counters come with these brackets which we just fasted to our cabinets boxes flush to the top, making sure along the way that the counters would sit level and adding shims where needed.

brackets for counters

The beauty of wood countertops is they are natural and can just be conditioned periodically with a mineral oil and beeswax based product. We will periodically condition them to maintain their water resistance and keep them looking good, and if they ever get damaged, we can just sand out the flaw and recoat. Voila. countertop cond

Oliver handled the cooking during this big push to finally get counters and working plumbing (including a sink!) in place.
o cooking

Chad had already done the hard work rerunning our drain line a few inches lower, but still had some plumbing to figure out to connect that new lower line back to the sink drain/garbage disposal. He has learned a lot of plumbing on You Tube. Here he is studying a video with parts in hand 🙂 Chad learned a lot from this video to get a good idea of what parts and pieces go where, but we did ours in plastic drain pipe.

you tube plumbing

We installed the new faucet on the sink, put it in place, and then inserted a drain assembly picked up at Home Depot. The faucet and drain assembly required using plumbers puddy (like play doh for plumbers) following the package instructions. Both went in really, really easy. We put the faucet in before dropping the sink into place which made that a breeze on a brand new sink. The faucet is Kohler and has a great powerful ‘sweep’ spray to really clear crud off plates!

puddy drain assembly

So after 10 days of washing dishes in the bathtub, we had running water! And a functioning drain. I was sooo excited! It was so satisfying to install things that wouldn’t be coming apart again for any next steps. It really is coming together. Can you see the light at the end of this tunnel? It’s still a bit far, I know, but I’m seeing it too!

running sink

Alas, the list update:

Redo backwards plumbing to sink and dishwasher (currently reversed and feeds only cold water to dishwasher!)

Remove floating cabinet, repair dining room floor

Remove upper cabinets

Remove backsplash tile

Replace countertops

Install new sink and faucet

Replace hood with over the range microwave

Added: Finish painting cabinetry, install upper cabs

Sell current hood and microwave (added: and dishwasher) on CL (bonus! sold extra washing machine to couple at HD! +$180)

Install backboard to backsplash wall to ceiling

Install open shelving

Install backboard on island, bar attachment?

New ceiling light

Install undercabinet light

Paint inside pantry, new door knob

Install hutch to dining wall, paint, move light switch

Paint remaining kitchen walls (working on it!)

Replace flooring (done-ish, coming soon!)

Added: Install new quarter round, floor transitions



Budget Kitchen Remodel: Wood Planked Feature Wall

In going with our modified kitchen remodel approach, aka, the budget remodel and not a full gut… we also sacrificed being able to modify the layout. So, one main wall remains the central hub of the kitchen. Previously, it was dark and sliced up by ugly cabinets, a design that did not fully appreciate the angled vaulted ceiling above.

Kitchen photo plan

So, to remedy this ugly wall, I found a budget friendly way to make this wall a true feature of the kitchen, avoid lots of tedious drywall repair from the damage the previous tile removal made, and make the wall function reasonably as a backsplash without the cost of tile. Originally we were thinking maybe beadboard, but I was worried it would look too “country”, and instead I found this idea for a planked wall on another blog, Sweet Pickins. We used plywood utility panels we found at Lowe’s, cut into 6″ strips, that were maple as opposed to artificial wood so it was slightly more expensive than it appears Sweet Pickins used. But this project for our one wall rang in at $100 in materials ($25 per 8′ by 4′ sheet) and about 3 nights of ‘after the baby goes to bed’ effort, maybe 6-8 hours total including prepping for paint.

Since we were aiming for a level gap appropriate for a caulk line against our counters, we set our cut counter pieces in place temporarily for the first plank, started at the bottom and worked our way up. You will need a good long level for this, checking the board as you work your way across with nails and hammer (or a nail gun if you have one). We were quite thorough and put two nails through at each stud. See how nasty the wall behind still is? Since we’re covering it all and sealing it all up with paint after, this let us get by with little effort on repairing this main wall.

hammer first plankWe took our planks full length across the right side, and let all the seams stack up above the oven area on the left because this would mostly be covered by oven, microwave, and cabinet. It seemed like a better option to make the cuts and puddy a few seams in the few small visible areas there than have them scattered all over in more visible areas of the whole wall. Made the process pretty easy too. We paired our boards that would be side by side ahead of time based on their width matching up since the cuts from Lowe’s were not exact (bad enough actually they didn’t make us pay for the cuts in the end!).

plank measuring

planks stacking up  planks almost doneOne factor we were pretty proud of in this project is we used no power tools- save for the few times we used the electric mouse sander for some edges. This was all the old fashion way with straight edge, pencil, hand saw, hammer, and nails.

handsaws at nightIt took us about 3 nights of cutting and nailing planks, trying to feed O whatever was on hand for dinner- like “here’s a whole tomato, kiddo. have fun!”plank break O eats tomatoAfter the final pieces were in place, Chad used a nail set to sink all the nail heads, and I used wood putty on all the nail head holes and visible seams above the oven. Sanded, repeated on the seams, and we were ready for primer, paint, and polyurethane to seal it. What do you think?

finished planks

We dropped all our cut countertop pieces and sink in just for a photo op. It’s these moments that keep us going on this!

List update:

Redo backwards plumbing to sink and dishwasher (currently reversed and feeds only cold water to dishwasher!)

Remove floating cabinet, repair dining room floor (done, coming soon!)

Remove upper cabinets

Remove backsplash tile

Replace countertops (done, coming soon!)

Install new sink and faucet (done, coming soon!)

Replace hood with over the range microwave

Sell current hood and microwave (added: and dishwasher) on CL

Install backboard to backsplash wall to ceiling

Install open shelving

Install backboard on island, bar attachment?

New ceiling light

Install undercabinet light

Paint inside pantry, new door knob

Install hutch to dining wall, paint, move light switch

Paint remaining kitchen walls

Replace flooring (done-ish, coming soon!)

 

Budget Kitchen Remodel: Dust, Dust, Dust

Just an update today- lots happening in the kitchen over the past two weeks. Last week was mostly about planning, plumbing, patching drywall, sanding, smoothing, mudding, sanding and whole lot of dust. Chad took the lead on the plumbing work which involved moving our sink drain in the kitchen back wall down a few inches to accommodate our plan for a deeper sink and adjusting the supply fittings under the sink. We had a day off work together where we dropped O at daycare and tackled the countertop cutting and fitting, as well as dry fitting the apron sink which was a lot of serious work to get done. More details on those processes later (how to do your own countertops with only a circular saw and $200!). Everything else we do when O goes to bed at night so pardon the bad photo lighting. Here’s some pics to welcome you into our mess 🙂

I came home from a meeting last Thursday night and found our sink on the curb and Chad waiting for me to help carry the countertop outside to join it. I was thrilled! Like, literally, I was thrilled to find pieces of my kitchen on the curb. Progress!!

kitchen disaster sink out

The following week was a loooot of drywall repair. The three places at the countertop sides (far left, far right, and next to frig) were damaged badly by removing the tile. The main wall we were less worried about because we have a different plan for that wall. So, I spent about a week patching and repairing. I used a puddy knife to scrape as much old grout away as I could, then used mesh drywall tape to cover really bad spots where the wall was ripped. Then patiently applied joint compound, let it dry, sanded smooth, repeat, repeat as needed.

drywall patching

One end was really badly damaged when the counters came out so it seemed easier to cut the whole part out and patch with a new patch piece of drywall. You can by just small patch pieces about 2′ by 2′ for a few bucks that are easy to work with so it’s a good way to go. 
cut out patch
hole patched

We opened up our new IKEA Hammarp countertops in birch and worked on the cuts (see lots of measurement notes in previous post!) last Friday. And it was soooo exciting to place that first piece on the cabinet box and start to see my vision come together.

first countertop piece

We also worked on modifying the sink cabinet and dry fitting all the pieces in their places. Sad part was to take it all back apart for us to finish the work on the back wall, but was exciting to see it all fitting together! We did it this way because this was the only day we could both be home with O in daycare to get all the cutting, fitting, cutting, fitting, sanding, fitting again, etc done and have it all ready to go for installation later we were ready for those steps. Can you begin to see the vision too?

countertop dry fits

We made more progress this holiday weekend that I’ll get updated later, but here’s the list til here. The list hasn’t really changed much since most of the work we’ve been doing has been prep work (plumbing, patching, etc) but it’s about to start moving quickly! And still under my 2K budget cap 🙂


List

Redo backwards plumbing to sink and dishwasher (currently reversed and feeds only cold water to dishwasher!)

Remove floating cabinet, repair dining room floor

Remove upper cabinets

Remove backsplash tile

Replace countertops

Install new sink and faucet

Replace hood with over the range microwave

Sell current hood and microwave on CL

Install backboard to backsplash wall to ceiling

Install open shelving

Install backboard on island, bar attachment?

New ceiling light

Install undercabinet light

Paint inside pantry, new door knob

Install hutch to dining wall, paint, move light switch

Paint remaining kitchen walls

Replace flooring

 

Budget Kitchen Remodel: Shopping and Demolition

Let the games begin. I warned/promised Chad I would not dilly dally on moving this kitchen plan along. So, the shopping began. IKEA, Home Depot, Amazon, Lowe’s… a living room full of boxes of beautiful things I can’t wait to install (and a pile of old stuff building up to repurpose or trash). IKEA delivered our butcher block counters and Domsjo farm sink, but was so late on the delivery day, they later returned our entire $99 delivery fee. Yay!

shopping pile

Taking down cabinets and existing lighting was rewarding. Someone put lots of extra screws in weird places so this was kind of interesting to get done.

chad start demo

Then I took Oliver for a long walk over a couple of evenings while Chad cracked away at removing the old tile leaving this lovely mess.

tile out

We later decided to just take down all the cabinets, including the two that will go back up, because we’ll need to raise them anyway and it will be easier to do the wall finishing we have planned- more on that later. Nothing like spending money on a pile of waiting-to-be-installed shiny things and demolishing half your kitchen to light a fire for getting this project done! Yet, after getting this far, we learned our new over-the-range microwave should ideally have a dedicated circuit. For that matter, there are other electrical adjustments we wanted made in the house (additional circuit for future bathroom and bedroom in basement, additional 220 circuit for future fantasy master closet washer/dryer) so we had to hold up a couple weeks to get an electrician friend to come set us up (for a bargain, but still some unanticipated expense). So this has been our kitchen the past two weeks- functional, but a little dangerous looking and certainly not pretty 🙂

tile cabs all out

Needless to say, the kitchen has become mostly off-limits for little feet and hands… “Dad, what are you doing behind the fridge?”

gate O

But now we have our new wiring and are ready to attack the final wall preparations (moving microwave vent up in wall to allow better clearance above stove, put in receptacle for new dedicated microwave circuit, put in outlet/junction box for under cabinet lighting switch). That’s where we are now… and making lots of lists and measurements for getting the wall planking (oops, just spilled the beans a little on that!) and countertops cut and installed next!
math

There may be some late nights and longs days without sink and plumbing ahead soon, so please help keep us motivated! Also, let me use this platform to thank everyone for the birthday gifts and wishes these past couples weeks!


List update:

Redo backwards plumbing to sink and dishwasher (currently reversed and feeds only cold water to dishwasher!)

Remove floating cabinet, repair dining room floor

Remove upper cabinets

Remove backsplash tile

Replace countertops

Install new sink and faucet

Replace hood with over the range microwave

Sell current hood and microwave on CL

Install backboard to backsplash wall to ceiling

Install open shelving

Install backboard on island, bar attachment?

New ceiling light

Install undercabinet light

Paint inside pantry, new door knob

Install hutch to dining wall, paint, move light switch

Paint remaining kitchen walls

Replace flooring