Friday, October 29, 2010

We've got gas

Pardon me for playing to the lowest form of comedy all week. I'm tired.

Anyway, after we got the gas line and electric hookups set for the stove (turns out, when you get an amazing Craigslist deal, it might be missing a few key pieces - like the regulator required to keep the house from becoming a gas bomb), it was time to give it a test run. Of course, Hubs donned his safety goggles and a blanket, just in case.

Once we established that our house wasn't so vengeful as to blow us up, we caulked that puppy in and secured it with some extra screws.

Tonight we'll add a panel to the cabinets beneath, to cover up where the old knobs used to be and finally put all our pots and pans back where they belong. Talk about a wild Friday night, right?

Oh, and in case you're wondering - the first official meal cooked on this fabulous new stove was a fried egg for Hubs' breakfast. We were highly entertained by how fast the pan got hot; this stove will provide hours of entertainment.

What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bummy Burners

Back in January 2009, when Hubs and I were walking through this house for the very first time, we stood in the kitchen and had this conversation:

Hubs, voice heavy with disappointment: "Oh, it's not a gas stove."
Me, taking a cue from many an episode of House Hunters: "No, but that's something we can switch out real easy."

Oh, silly old-time Alexson! You didn't know that a million other projects would pop up before you got around to this one.

Here's what we've been cooking on for the past year and a half-ish:

Gag, y'all. (I mean, it's listed on Craigslist and you totally want it. You're getting slee-eeepy. Look at the swinging watch. Buy. The. Stove.)

It's original to our 1955 house and you can see the avocado finish that once was, before it was spray painted (I. Know.). Of course, the paint has seen better days, as evidenced here:
The paint, though, isn't the worst part. The knobs just don't make sense. Warm - low - 3 - 2 - high? What the heck, GE? Now you tell me how a gal's supposed to get her queso properly melty with a crazymixedup set-up like this. Is 2 hotter than 3? That is just bananas.
This is why, in true Bigger, Better, Best style, we decided to call up a plumber (who is also loyal reader Stormy's husband!) to hook up a gas stove. We figured that as long as the basement is torn up and we're stimulating the heck out of the local economy, why not throw one more project on top? Bigger, better best fo' life, kids.

I found a pretty sweet gas stovetop on Craigslist for a steal over the summer - it will be quite the upgrade!

Fun fact: This might be the most practical project we've done to date!

Can't wait to show you the finished project. We were missing a small but important piece that should be here soon. Then, it's on, yo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blog Love! (and toplessness)

Much to my surprise, Cassity over at Remodelaholic, featured the one and only informative post ever written on this here bloggy blog. 

Of course, I hopped right over to see my words on a real big kid blog. Turns out, it was a post written by Hubs when we was doing the paver patio. Surprise No. 1.

Then, I scrolled down, only to realize that Hubs must have been a tad warm laying ten thousand pounds of bricks in our yard. Forgot he posted a topless action shot on here. Surprise No. 2. Awk-ward.

Anyway, you should check it out, if not for the gratuitous skin shots, then for the hilarious scientist humor Hubs is know far and wide for.

Basement Boogie: Unsightly Cracks

Our poor house is so old, her little feet are cracking. We needed to level out a few cracks before we lay down the resilient floor (not that we are anywhere near doing that, but that's a moot point). This one had a pretty steep difference in the two sides, so we spent about $20 and 30 minutes to fix 'er up.

We used self-leveling patch cement to smooth things out. The lighter cement you see around the edge of the floor is where the waterproofing was laid. See the progress? See it? Love. It.

 Once it dries, I'll take a wire brush to it to take off the tiny ridges. The floor is officially ready to be covered! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun with logic

I am not a woman who gets her jollies paying for things that can be free. Case in point - radio jams.

I am a woman who has spent most of the last month rolling in rental vehicles equipped with fancy-pantsy satellite radio.

I am not a woman with impressive tastes in music. Evidence - ownership of several Good Charlotte CDs, multiple tweets about the flyness of Mambo No. Five and genuine excitement about the Electric Slide at weddings.


I am a woman who has spent most of the last month blasting the 90s on 9, a station otherwise unavailable to a cheapskate like myself. Results - shameless car-dancing to Ricky Martin hits, elevated mood, possible reputation around town as tone deaf blonde with limb control problems. 

I am also a woman who is committed to bringing back the phrase "just joshin'." (Seriously, I read that somewhere there other day and spit Cranergy out all over my keyboard. I'm not joshin'.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Basement Boogie: Belated Befores

Y'all shoulda stopped me. Here I was, rattling on and on about paint chips and bars and mold remediation when you kind readers wouldn't know my basement if it came up and smacked you on the heinie (it probably wouldn't do that, even if it had hands. It's more of a water balloon ambusher.).

So, I have some very graphic "during" pictures, complete with sad faces, sogginess, and terrifying piles of carpet. While these would be a more accurate "before," I can't stomach looking at those pictures. Those were dark, dark days, spent mostly crying and cussing and being (gasp!) melodramatic and wet and stinking like wet carpet pad. So, here are some pictures that don't give me panic attacks that I sent my people right after we moved in. These will be our befores and I guarantee the difference will still leave your head spinning (at least, I hope).

This is was the bar/fireplace room. It is long and skinny and would make a great bowling alley. The bar will be moved to the wall on the left in our new (and improved!) basement.
This is the other end of the same room. We had (and will have) a couch and TV on this side. It's just so cozy to watch a movie and have a fire going.
The carpet (may it rest in peace) was brown berber and the paint was a weird brownish purple, which matched a nail polish I wore on our wedding day, but just wasn't meant for walls. 

There is also another room, the one you're in when you first come down the stairs. It's long and skinny in the opposite direction and is home to our guest bed, cat litter box (we're great hosts, can you tell?) and fooseball table.

That's the basement as it was not too long ago. Sigh.

Back to the bright side, sunshine!

Do you see the basement as it will be? Are you hip to the vision?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's not a competition

Last winter, I promised myself that I'd run a 5k this year. This is a big deal because I have been known to get a wee bit melodramatic about running in order to avoid it. As a kid, we had to run the mile twice a year and I plotted ways to get out of the dreaded run (wrong shoes? Bad allergies? No water bottle? These don't work, FYI, kids.). As a competitive person with little to no athletic ability, I always hated finishing next-to-last with a 13-minute mile. I didn't get running, I didn't like running and I didn't like how red my face got when I ran. Why would I want to engage in activity that made my side hurt and made me look like a tomato head? Pass.

(True story: I joined the lacrosse team in high school strictly because I liked the plaid skirt. I had no idea how much running was involved. Turns out, the skirt was not awesome enough to keep me interested in hour-long practices that involved non-stop running.)

At some point, running started to sound less disgusting and more like fun. Now, with the help of Gaga and my running buddy, Hubs (aren't we so cute you could vomit? I know!), I've been putting in 2.5-3.5 miles each day after work. I still look like I've been smacked around and gone bobbing for apples when I'm done, but I don't hate running.

To celebrate this crazy flip of the switch, Hubs, his mom and I are running a Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving. The course is only 2.5 miles, so it's not the 5k goal I'd set for myself, but that's OK. I know I could do a 5k if only I hadn't missed most of the 5k season building a deck and bailing out a basement.

Here's the thing bugging me about my first running event: Thanksgiving is a family holiday and so I imagine lots of babykids and old folks at this run. It's a fun run and not a race, but I'm scared to death that I'll be beat by a gaggle of youngsters or nosed out by a pack of seniors. I picture myself huffing and puffing over the finish line and collapsing in the nearest chair (this is, after all, my post-run ritual at home) while sporty families congratulate grandma on her six minute miles and junior does the course once more for fun, this time backwards.

It's. Not. A Competition.

It's just people having a healthy start to Thanksgiving, but know this, fellow Turkey Trotters, there will be among you a gal who is new to this whole running gig and just doesn't want to finish last, covered in mud and sobbing. Goals are very important, you know.

I guess, what I'm saying is, please try not to look too disturbed when I get all jazzed about an eleven minute mile. I mean jeez, this isn't a competition or anything.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Basement Boogie: Color Us Classy

This weekend, Hubs and I spent far too much time pondering shades of blue and orange. Sure, we don't have the walls framed, let alone drywalled yet, but we need to have some direction and a vision for what our basement will be.

So, we set off to Lowe's and came home with this:
We grabbed every pale gray-blue and spicy orange we could get out hands on. After much, much discussion, we knew we wanted a paler color for the main basement walls so the rooms wouldn't feel tiny and a bold punch of something warm on the fireplace wall. 

The problem is that most orange paints are like, really super disgusting. None of the colors worked for us. But then, after broadening our horizons and looking at yellow, we found our colors.

Our plan is this: we want a space that is warm, casual and ready to play host to our many fabulous parties (snort). We'll be using Olympic's No-VOC paint in Blue Shamrock for most of the walls and Gold Bluff for the fireplace, whose bricks and mantle will be painted white. 

That little wood chip is Allure's light teak - a flexible floating floor that is made for basements. (It is a snap to install and water resistant. Plus, we liked that it comes in planks so that if we ever do have another water problem, we can just replace the wet planks.)

The darkest color we chose was Olympic's Pickle Barrel. We'll paid the front of our new bar with that and are currently hunting cheap granite tiles to lay over the bar top.

The red pencil represents the accent colors, we'll have red pillows and accessories to jazz the whole thing up a bit.

So, there is is, the most ghetto sneak peak/mood board of all time, ever.

What big decisions did you make this weekend?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Basement Boogie: Bright Ideas

Lighting is one thing we won't be messing with in this re-do. Our ceiling is finished and has some pot lights scattered about and it works. But we need to brighten things up a bit. I was thinking along the lines of table lamps and maybe a rad modern floor lamp.

But then, I saw this:

I love the lighted shelves! I wonder if we could recreate them. I'm thinking frame out the wall, have an electrician install florescents and pop up a diffuser? This could also look majorly sloppy.

Better ideas?

P.S. I'm hanging up my weekly One Thing Thursday hat. I've given you the run down on 33 exotic locales, from the land down under to long Midwestern drives and I'm about tapped out. I still have a few fun hold-outs (Amsterdam, anyone? How about Sydney? How about Bar-the-lona? In time, babycakes.), but they won't be coming each week anymore. Stick around, though, travel junkies - I'll get atcha.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why we sealed the deck

Excellent beading, right? We're currently obsessed with all things waterproof and water tight up in here. I should probably invest in some wellies now. That is still cool, right?
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.2

Monday, October 11, 2010

Busy Bees

Our basement, once a decently finished space, suffered a bit from this summer's rains, if you recall. Well, after a lengthy demolition phase that uncovered some less than awesome results (turns out, we were sharing our home with a bit of funky mold - not too great for a gal with major allergies!) - we're finally moving on to reconstruction!

But first, I must call attention to our awesome clean-up crew. Of course, I hauled the carpet and padding out myself (pat on the back!) and Hubs started on the drywall, but the real stars were the mold remediation guys - Baker Interiors. They were clean and quick and took our basement from damp to scoring a near-perfect number on the post-cleaning air test. If you are ever unfortunate enough to find some mold lurking in your home, give these guys a call. We were so happy to get an excellent indoor air quality test that we just might frame it.

So, now that we are mold-free (it is the way to be), we've got the basement waterproofers coming in to work their magic so we never have to deal with this again. They'll be digging a trench around the basement perimeter and installing pipes that will drain right to the sump pump. Soon, we'll be right as rain in the basement, no matter how cruel Mother Nature gets.

Once that is done, we've got to wait two weeks for the concrete to cure before we get into the nitty-gritty (aka fun) portion of the rebuild. We're going to have a pro come in to do the studs, windows and the vapor barrier since we aren't up for futzing with the elements that keep the basement warm and dry. But, then it's time for us to roll up our sleeves and finish the drywall, lay the floor and put up some trim - as well as get crazy by building a new bar and creating a more cohesive, less basementy feel to the rooms.

Stay tuned, it's going to be a busy winter! Like little DIY squirrels, we have totally stocked up on nuttiness and projects to sustain us until it's time to get back outside.

What are your winter projects?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sauceless; a tale of loose meat

Several months ago, I relayed to you, my readers, the long and sordid history of my experience with loose meat sandwiches. This past weekend, after years of avoiding the Iowa loose meat mecca, Maid Rite, I gave in and decided it was time to try the native cuisine. Of course, I hauled my Chicago suburbanite Hubs along with me.
Like a kid at Christmas, Hubs unwrapped his Cheese-Rite (that's loose meat with a slice of Kraft!).

Many, many things disturbed me at Maid Rite:
  • One item on the menu was the Carb-Rite Cup. That's a cup of loose meat and loose meat only. Maybe a pickle.
  • You get a spoon with your burger. You know, to spoon up the meat particles that escape from the burger.
  • The fries were incredibly good, which means I might return to Maid-Rite, but only for fries.
  • After you finish your burger, your table is strewn with beef litter. Tiny reminders of the loose meat that was.

My First Loose Meat Sandwich. This belongs in a scrap book.

My first bite of a loose meat sandwich went down like this: I got a slice of pickle in that bite and it was covered in meatlets. Almost as if the pickle had been breaded in beef bits. It was not awesome. Not. At. All. I gag just remembering it.

Me and my spoon of beef crumbles.

Can you defend loose meat? Is it legal to bring my own can of Manwhich to Maid Rite?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wholesome Iowa weekend

A glimpse into our lame old married life: Satuday, Hubs and I took our bikes down a terrifying really awesome hill to ride along Beavr Creek and the Des Moines River.

Ain't we dashing?

This is where water belongs, not in our basement.

Along the way, we spotted this sweet little duck party barge. A thatched roof and party lights? PLUS astroturf? Color me jealous.

After our ride, we headed to Wills Family Orchard to pick up some organic pumpkins and apples.
The orchard was between varieties, so we were only able to pick our own pumpkins. And we picked some winners.

We snacked on an apple with homemade caramel and watched a chainsaw demonstration. You know, the usual.

How was your first weekend of October? Do anything autumnish?

Monday, October 4, 2010


Last year, we planned to have some friends over for a hearty dinner before heading out to Oktoberfest. Our plan was to somehow build a German pizza to get us all jazzed up for the evening's festivities. We started out not really knowing how we'd do this, but we were armed with brats and kraut and lots of mustard.

Everyone added a little twist to our original idea and soon our kitchen was fill of steam and people cooking. We made a giant soft pretzel crust, topped with brats, a mustard cream and kraut on the side. When we sat down to eat, we enjoyed the most amazing pizza ever.

So, this year, we replicated the pizza. With a few updates, it was even better than the original - crispy crust and melty swiss with mustard.

And, for our second Oktoberfeast, we added an appetizer - German eggrolls.

We made some schnitzel (pounded and breaded pork with sage leaves) and rolled it up with apple, kraut, eggs and capers. I know that sounds really gross, but the sauerkraut mellowed out and it was super awesome.

Next year - the pressure is on to add another great course. Any ideas?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deckstravaganza: Grand Finale!

Ladies and gentleman, the project we started waaay back on April 16, when we were young and naive and had not yet updated our tetanus shots or experienced the agony of spending 18 hours a day hunched on the ground on our hands and knees, is complete.

Behold the big reveal:

Oh, you're thinking, that's it? It looks pretty similar to the original big reveal, you think.

Well, yeah, it does. We used clear stain/sealant. But wouldn't you say it now looks safer from the elements? More loved? Maybe a bit more polished? It's subtle, but it's there. Nothing says love quite like the ability to now bead water, yes?

And so, we close the book on the epic journey that has been Deckstravaganza. Thank you to each and every one of you, my four readers, for your support for my mental fragility during this trying time. I'd advise you that when building your own deck (and you totally should - our blood, sweat and tears saved us a cool $5Gs at least), that you do as we did and charge fearlessly into that dark night, buy local and have plenty of cold beers in the fridge for once the sun goes down. Also, invest in some kneepads.

Slainte, baby!
Blog Directory