Sunday, November 23, 2008

I just have to share!

Pics of our 99.9% finished kitchen!

We worked hard all weekend and here's where we are at:

This weekend, we installed the over range microwave, my cute little wine glass rack, and all of the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls, AND did a lot of clean up work! I LOVE how it looks!

We still have to caulk around the counter/wall, and install a new faucet, which we have ready to go, and put one more switch plate on, and of course find a home for all the stuff that's still sitting on our kitchen table, but we are definitely almost there!

It has been a long road, but I'm so proud of the work we (and especially Mark!) have done to our kitchen!

Here is what it looked like before - bleck! -

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Week Thus Far.

Thank goodness we are heading towards the end of the week! I've been so busy at work, by the time I get home I just want to change out of my work clothes and collapse on the couch with a book, which is what usually happens.

We (meaning Mark) has made quite a bit of progress in the kitchen. It's looking very good. I consider myself to have helped at least a little bit. I may not have helped with the manual labor, but I am a good cheerleader ifIdosaysomyself! The walls are now all sanded down (Holy dust, Batman!) and primed. We are officially ready to paint! I'm so excited, I can't even tell you!

This weekend, we are planning to go to Home Depot to purchase our new faucet (must have, the old one is leaky and well... old), which I'm VERY excited about, and also our over range microwave. We got a coupon in the mail 10%, or was it 20%? Anyway, a coupon for a percentage off our total order at HD, so we're going to use it to purchase these two fairly expensive items.

We have decided that we are going to leave the countertops as is for now. They are outdated and do need to be changed out eventually, but since I can't really decide what I want right now, and the old ones look much better now that everything else has been updated, I think we'll live with them for a while and spend the money when we're really sure what we want to do.

I'm hoping that we can get this project finished up this weekend!

(P.S. I still haven't baked any bread. The dough is still waiting in the fridge, which is okay, but I have nothing to report yet.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here I am!

I seem to have taken a little sub-conscious break from blogging. I must have been off enjoying my new plumbing. Not.

Actually, nothing note-worthy has really been happening. I'll take that as a good thing.

We (meaning Mark : ) have been making some progress on our very long kitchen renovation project. We (he) has been working on patching the walls - they were in a very sad state of disrepair. One wall (I'm referencing the wall that goes from the bottom of the cabinets to the top of the counter top) conveniently had the fugly faux-brick back splash LIQUID NAILED down to the wall. That wasn't fun coming off (or so I hear...).

So, once Mark finished with all the scraping that he could possibly do, he started patching over top of the whole wall to try to make a smooth surface. I forget what the material that he used is called, but it's like plaster, you know, that you patch holes with? Anyway, after that - which I must say, he did a VERY impressive job on - he moved on to patching the giant hole that we unearthed - which actually turned out to end up a lot bigger than originally pictured because they had to move the outlet over about 6 inches in order to get everything straightened out electrically. No more hole, my very handy H has now fixed that, then he moved onto the smaller stuff, the dents and nail holes and that sort of thing.

Now, I believe that he's going to sand, and then we're ready for primer! *Hopefully*, we will get these two steps done soon (tonight?) and then we can paint and THEN we can move everything back to its place (if its home is the counter)! That will be so. nice.

In other news, just call me Martha. Well... maybe not, Martha Stewart is kind of obnoxious, but you get the point. I got this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day , it was recommended to me by a friend. It's FAB! Of course I'm just getting started with the very basic recipe, which I threw together (in right around 5 minutes!) at about 8PM last night and is currently sitting in my fridge waiting to be baked off tonight. I just threw the ingredients together and used my GLORIOUS KitchenAid (pink) mixer to "knead" everything together and voila! Bread dough.

I will confess that I may have made a small error... I needed 6 1/2 cups of flour and was using a 1/2 cup scoop because it fits in my flour canister better. I lost count between the 7th and 8th scoop (because I had to walk away to grab the bag of flour for a refill and by the time I came back I had the number 7 in my head but couldn't remember whether I had just done the 7th scoop and was on the 8th, or if I was getting ready to do the 7th scoop and was currently on 6.) *sigh* So. me. Anyway, I ended up doing either 6 1/4 cups, or 6 3/4 cups (depending on what cup I was actually on). So, we'll see how this bread turns out.

Updates to come!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

$1300 Poorer, 1 Updated Sewer System Richer.

Only problem is, I can't use a new clean out valve as currency...

Well, Mr. PlumberNumber3 and sidekick were here for about 4-5 hours this afternoon installing the clean out valve outside of our house. Finally, everything is fixed and properly installed and we aren't experiencing any more plumbing issues! Thank GAWD!

I'm glad that it ONLY (Lord, listen to me) cost $1300 instead of the original $3200 that Roto-Rooter quoted us, but I am currently trying to keep my mind from thinking of the myriad of other places that I could have spent that $1300... *cha-ching!* ::waves:: Bye-bye paycheck. Yeah, I gross about $1100-$1200 bi-weekly.

I try to keep in mind that every update and improvement we do to the house - whether voluntary or because something has broken and we can't live without it - will be an added value when we go to sell the house, and definitely something to talk up.

Oh, yes, the house was built in 1965 - it's a classic (::eyeroll::), but we just replaced the whole roof last year, isn't it pretty?! And, don't forget, we have a brand spankin' new clean out valve out back. Guaranteed for up to a year! No more pesky main sewer line issues. Also, you won't buh-leeeeave what this kitchen used to look like! See? No more faux-brick. Exposed wires? All brought up to code, and no more hole in the wall. Electrical? Yep, that's also been taken care of. No more jacked up, potential fire hazard, wiring - we had a nice new breaker box installed just a year ago! We're just a few minutes from Easton. <--- this is how the house selling goes in my head at least : )

Monday, November 10, 2008

Plumbing 3.0

Or, Part III of the Plumbing Saga.

When I got home from work around 5PM on Friday, Mr. PlumberNumber3 was still at our house. In the rain. Digging in the backyard. In the near-dark. It was a really crappy day for this nonsense.

I actually pulled up to my H in the front yard, with the dog on a leash (complete with gentle leader because she's a naughty girl and can't behave on her leash ), both soaking wet because it was raining and the dog just looking around like, "What? I KNOW you don't expect me to do my bidness out here. Would YOU want to tinkle in the front yard in plain sight of everyone? I don't think so." Needless to say, that whole situation did not work out even after at least 20 minutes of persistance on H's part.

Anyway, Mr. PlumberNumber3 had come to the house earlier in the afternoon and first took up the toilet to try to run a snake down into our main line to either clear the issue, or find this outside clean out thing - whatever the heck that is... but apparently it's something that allows them to access the big part of the main sewer line in order to make sure that everything is all clear. He wasn't able to snake the pipe, but apparently he did pull some roots out. I don't know a lot about plumbing, but those probably aren't supposed to be in your main sewer line. Just a guess.

So, after he wasn't able to clear it out all the way, he sent a little camera down to try to see if we did have one of these outside clean out thingers, which he thought we did even though our outside pipes are apparently all wacky. BIG SURPRISE! Thank you yahoos who seem to have remodeled the house without ANY training or common sense. You need evidence? Please direct your attention to an earlier post regarding the GIANT hole we uncovered in our kitchen wall complete with exposed wires. Yeah. Pretty sure THAT'S not up to code. Gah!

Long story short, Mr. PlumberNumber3 was at our house for hours working on this project. He dug a hole in our backyard looking for this outside clean out thinger that doesn't seem to exist on our property. He was able to get the pipes clear enough to get us comfortably through the weekend, but the issue has not yet been completely resolved. Now, he's supposed to come back out tomorrow morning (Tuesday) to go ahead and install an outside clean out thinger in the giant hole already dug in our backyard (worked out nicely that way ::eyeroll::) so that we can finally get our plumbing issues completely resovled. (hopefully)

The cost of the resolution? $1300. Not excited about this. At all. BUT on the bright side (if there is one) Mr. PlumberNumber3 was very reasonable with us on Friday and because he didn't really fix the problem even after being there several hours (and plumbers aren't cheap by the hour!) he didn't charge us full price, but basically only charged us for a portion of the work they will be doing on Tuesday since he went ahead and already dug the beauteous hole in our backyard. All in all, including Friday AND Tuesdays work, we should only have to pay them $1300 in total.

*Gag* Excuse me, that was just me feeling sick at the thought of having to spend that much money on plumbing. Oh, the things I would rather put it towards... but instead I'll be able to do laundry again. Handy, but not one of my favored pursuits in life. Oh well. Suck is life. Oh, I mean such...

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Fun with Plumbing.

Ahh, the joys of home ownership. Not.

Clearly, as evidenced by my earlier blog Roto-Rooter is out of the question. Thanksandbuh-byenow.

Yesterday, H called a local plumber and (from what I understand) Mr.Plumberman chatted him up a bit about the evils of Roto-Rooter (good to know) and although he himself doesn't do this type of work, he referred us to another local plumber who has the necessary equipment and also has going for him the fact that he's "good people, honest as the day is long". Doesn't get more glowing than that. : )

So of course H called said plumber and set up an appointment for him to come out early this afternoon. I get a call from H shortly after the time of the appointment saying that this plumber won't do that kind of work either. I guess they used to do it, and the person that Mark talked to didn't know that they didn't do it anymore. Thanks, but no thanks.

I guess the issue is that our sewer system is kind of outdated and even if they clear the clog it's very possible that without further (and expensive!) work to update the plumbing it's very possible that we will have this clog again. It can happen at any time. Therefore, Mr. HonestPlumber doesn't want to touch it at all for fear that the job won't stay clog-free. So, he refers us to another guy.

SO, H calls Mr. PlumberNumber3 to set up an appointment. (All this week the issue has gotten worse BTW!) Mr. PlumberNumber3 is able to come out this afternoon. I get a call from H after the guy arrives and apparently the job is going to cost $270 (MUCH less than the $3200 that Roto-Rooter quoted us), $49 of that because they have to take the toilet up to get to the pipe to get to the clog. Wonderous. I can pull the darn toilet up for free, just fix my problem!

In the end, *hopefully* our plumbing issue will be fixed today.

If not, I may just move into a hotel for an indefinite amount of time. The toilet hardly flushes at this point.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For Shizzle.

If you don't get the above reference, it's Mark's attempt at being funny : ) Obama reminds him of Dave Chappell doing his "white guy" impression where he always says in a very serious tone, "For Shizzle.". I like it.

I was hesitant to post anything about the election last night for fear of jinxing anything - I was asleep before the winner was officially named, which is sad in itself because it happened at like 10.00, but whatever - but I'm so proud of our country right now! I was hoping we had it in us, but you never know!

Of course I'm an Obama supporter. I'm a die-hard Democrat and I'm just now realizing how liberal I am in comparison with other people, but that's a whole other story...

Anyway, I'm so proud to have taken part in this historical election. I'm so glad that our Nation finally accepted (and some even embraced) change. I really hope that this marks a turning point in America and that many new, positive changes take place over the next 4 (maybe 8?) years.

I'm glad that I didn't seriously have to consider uprooting myself and moving to Canadia. I don't like the cold. I would probably have trouble learning to say "eh", and I hear that it smells like maple syrup all the time up there ; )

Go America!

In other news, Mark voted around lunch time and noticed that my name was not listed with his in the little booklet that we have to sign. This made me nervous due to my recent name change post-wedding. I went to check on my voter registration info and I am registered with my county's Board of Elections. That was good news, but it was strange because it didn't just list me as Stephanie "Last Name", it listed me as Stephanie "2nd Middle Name (my old last name" "Last Name". I couldn't tell if they were listing me with my middle name, or if they had two last names for me.

Soooo, when I went to vote, I first went to the M's because that's what my new last name starts with. Old-election-volunteer-lady scans the booklet and can't find me. So she hand me this little slip of paper saying that I need to complete a provisional ballot. I tried to expain to her that I WAS registered according to the county's board of elections, but she just stared at me like I was stupid and pointed me towards the provisional ballot table. When I got over there old-election-volunteer guy started to get me set up with a paper ballot and I again explained that I was registered as a voter with my county according to their website.

I then realized that perhaps I should check with the E's, which is what my old last name starts with and sure enough, that's where I was. Even though I clearly stated on all of the forms that I had to fill out that my maiden name was becoming my middle name, NOT being kept as a last name, they somehow managed to register me with 2 last names and I was therefore on the wrong booklet. Wonderous.

Anyway, I'm very happy that I found my name and didn't have to kick any old-people volunteer ass. I'm going to have to get my info corrected, but I wonder just what the BMV has me listed as since they are the ones who filed my updated voter registration? I don't even want to think about it. Maybe if I ever decide to commit a crime they won't be able to find me because of the name mix-up. Score one for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Roto-Rooter, WHAT?!?

Okay, here's the sitch - We have some sort of major clog in our water pipes.

Starting about 2 weeks ago some crazy stuff started happening. If we run a wash in the washing machine it backs up into the bathtub and toilet (making it overflow if we don't shut off the washer and let the water slowly drain) when the cycle drains. When we shower, the tub ends up with about 4 inches of water that takes forever to drain, and you can't flush the toilet while the tub is slowly draining or the toilet will fill up with water instead of flushing properly.

Clearly, this is an issue. So, we called Roto-Rooter to come out and look at the problem and hopefully rectify the situation.

Well - and I don't know the situation firsthand because H is the one who was here when the plumber came - first I get a call from him saying that they needed to find some sort of outside drain trap - whatever that is - but apparently they can't locate it, so they have someone else come out to the house to run some sort of camera snakey-thing down through something to see where the thing is. This will cost us at least $250. What the Hell?!

I get a second later call, apparently Plumber 2 was able to tell that we apparently don't have one of these outdoor trappy things - but we need one - so didn't charge us anything, but DID write up a quote for us for... are you ready for this? $3200! AHH!

Apparently, according to this guy, they can't deal with the clog that's in our main sewer line, without completely re-doing our sewer set-up to bring it up to code! Code?!?! Our house was built in 1965! I'm not going to re-do everything to bring it up to current code at this point! Can't you just deal with the clog for us?! No.

So, we are DEFINITELY going to get a second opinion. I'm NOT paying more than $3000 so that I can run a load of wash. H also did some research online and it looks like we may be able to get to the clog ourselves fairly easily. We may try this first - what can it hurt? - before we try to pay someone else out of pocket for it. I'm certainly not going to be paying an arm and a leg to re-do a sewer system set-up that seems to work fine, except for this clog of course... Ick.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Go Us!

Yeah, that's right, we deserve a trophy! (A giant one.)

We are doing a good job sticking to our budget - not that it is much different than the way we spent our money before, but we are trying to be more aware, and we HAVE made some notable improvements that we are doing a good job sticking with.

#1) $25 per week is automatically deducted from our joint checking account and transferred to our INGDirect savings account. We earned $11 in interest this month! I know that our weekly contribution isn't a ton, but we are trying to pay ourselves (our savings) while still having enough cash to put towards the CC debt that we are working on paying down, which brings me to...

#2) Last month we paid 3x the minimum payment on our CC with the highest APR! It's a pretty significant amount for us and I hope we are able to keep it up!

I feel like we are actually accomplishing something on the financial front! I hope we can look back in a few months and really appreciate where we are now, and how much we will have improved!

We are also (mostly) sticking to our allowance - essentially $100 per month deposited into our personal checking accounts. We use this for any "extra" expenses, for example: Mark's poker money, lunches that we eat out during the work week, any random and unnecessary shopping purchases I may make, etc. Someone, *cough* Markwhoeatslunchoutalllllthetime is having a bit of trouble keeping within the $100, but I hope that the "allowance" concept will help both of us to realize just how much "extra" and unnecessary money we are spending individually and encourage use to come up with a way to cut back some on these "extra" expenses.

I do have to give Mark props because he historically struggles with budgets, but he's doing a VERY good job of putting forth effort to keep within the budget that we have agreed to. Great job, Honey!