Thursday, April 29, 2010


Yesterday it was 80 degrees and sunny.

Today it is SNOWING.

Spring in Colorado gives me a brain aneurysm.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How do you know....

I know most kids are a little fanatical about the movies they watch. I read somewhere that they like to watch the same thing over and over because it's really comforting to be able to know what is going to happen. It's a nice contrast from their normal lives where everything is constantly new and surprising.

Anyway, if most kids are a little fanatical, my sister and I were FANATICAL! ALL CAPS! OUT OF CONTROL! As in, my mom had to hide our copy of White Christmas in JULY because she was sick of hearing us belt "Sisters, Sisters" at the top of our lungs.

Oh, and the week we rented Troop Beverly Hills from blockbuster lives in infamy. Shelley Long is no longer welcome on my parent's TV screen.

And the trend hasn't stopped since I've become and adult. Sometimes a movie will strike a chord deep within my soul and all I want to do is watch it over and over again. The most recent cinematic triumph to prompt my repeat-button-pushing-finger?


I know every single lyric to every single song in that movie. The lines come popping into my brain constantly, whenever the mood or situation strikes.

And strike it did...last night. For some reason our dog Roscoe was avoiding the ear doctor all day. It was really strange and annoying, so before bed the ear doctor sat down on the floor in the middle of our living room and called him over. Tentatively, the dog approached. He sniffed around and plopped down between the ear doctor's outstretched legs.

Roscoe then proceeded to lick his privates.

I laughed and said, "that's how you know he loves you, right?"

A millisecond later I had been transported to central park and was flitting around the house singing about our dog's love for the ear doctor. I half expected some Jamaican men with steel drums to come marching through the front door.

The ear doctor looked on the scene with combined amazement and fear...and I'm pretty sure I saw him sneaking the Enchanted DVD up the back of his shirt to hide it away in some drawer somewhere.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Right place right time

Yesterday in the middle of the day I had a thought pass through my mind. I thought that I should invite one of the teenagers from my church group over to our house for dinner. Odd, since I don't usually call up people to come on over to our house for a random weeknight dinner.

Usually I push those kind of ideas to the back of my head, but yesterday was different. I pulled over on the side of the road and texted her to see if she was up for it.

A millisecond later she said she really wanted to come over. High school kids are great texters...even during school hours.

So I arranged to pick her up after her tennis match.

On the drive to from the court to my front door she unloaded. She'd had a terrible day, her mother had been manipulative, where she was living was the pits, her teach and friends had teased her all day and she lost her tennis match.

As tears welled up in her eyes I reached over and put my arm around her. And I felt so humbled to be able to comfort this amazing girl.

And so grateful that I'd listened to my errant thought to drop her a line.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lovin the kiddos

Today is one of my very favorite days at work. It's Young Minds at Work day, which used to be called bring your child to work day, which used to be bring your daughter to work day.

It is so rad because I sit in my cube and everyone brings their adorable kids to meet me. I get to talk with all of them and tell them the coolest parts of my job. Their eyes light up with awe and excitement and that, my friends, is infectious.

It reminds me why I chose the career I did.

Seeing how thrilled they are gives me perspective.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Important items

I hate it when I forget my spoon...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Weekend update

This weekend the ear doctor received an awesome award for his research. And, as luck would have it, they wanted to honor him at a banquet in SAN DIEGO. So, being the always supportive wife that I am, I got a plane ticket and joined him for the festivities.

I am SO SO SO glad that they gave him the award this year. Who needs much excuse to take a trip out to California, right? Plus we got to see his parents; an opportunity we don't get nearly often enough. They live in Orange County so they made the quick drive down to the conference see him get his recognition.

As we were sitting in a hotel conference room eating gross convention food I was overwhelmed with pride for my man. He is working so hard and it's kind of amazing to be married to someone who has the potential to be a real leader in his field of expertise!

After the conference we drove up to his parents house a perfect day with them. And, of course no trip out west is complete without a trip to Disneyland. We ate mickeys cookies n cream ice cream sandwiches and watched the last electric light parade.

And, of course, I got a sunburn.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New obsession

When I was in high school my mom volunteered her time every morning to teach high school kids lessons from the bible. For 5 years every single morning from 6 to 7 am was filled with a sincere desire to help sleeping, unwilling and often rude teenagers.

But in the summer she had her mornings to herself. After training her body to wake up at 5 am and get to work she couldn't turn it off, so she spent a good couple of hours working in her garden.

And let me tell you, her garden is spectacular.

But I always thought she was little bit crazy. I'd see her out there in her t-shirt 3 sizes too big, wide brimmed straw hat and sweat dripping down her face and just shake my head. I didn't get it.

But I think I'm starting to.

I get an absurd amount of joy from working in my garden. When it seems like I can't accomplish anything it is so rewarding to look back at a freshly weeded plot. Every time I pull into my driveway and see this as I walk up to my front door I feel as proud as a fifth-grader who just won the spelling bee.

Don't even get me started on the relationship I have with my tomato seedlings. On a scale from 1 to 10 how creepy is a person who baby-talks to plants?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Turn it up

Last Wednesday night after youth group I offered rides home to a couple of the girls. They piled into my car and immediately asked if I'd crank up our local top 40s radio station.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I'm all hipster and only listen to obscure musicians on my ipod or something. I like the radio and I know basically all the music played in heavy rotation...

..much to the ear doctor's chagrin. He thinks it's so lame that I listen to and actaully like current music.

But as I was sitting in the car with those two awesome girls, that Hey Soul Sister song by train came on and both girls started singing at the tops of their lungs. They sang with reckless abandon, at a volume the inside of my car has never experienced.

They sang...and I sang right along with them.

I was suddenly transported to my senior year of high school. To my days of carefree fun. To a moment sitting in the passenger seat of my best friends car as we belted out lyrics and bobbed our hands to the rhythm of music we'd probably both be embarrassed to admit now that we loved then.

After the song ended we had a lengthy discussion over who is better, Lady Gaga or Rihanna. (totally team gaga over here).

Then the new remake of Forever Young came on and one of the girls, the girl who will forever be lodged in my heart and memory, raised her fists in the air and basically screamed, without a hint of irony, "THIS IS MY JAM!!!!!!!!"

At that moment I was really proud that I wasn't too old or out of touch with this teenager to know every lyric of a song that was her jam.

Even if it makes the ear doctor's eyes roll so far into the back of his head that I never see his beautiful blue irises again.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Play by Play

I am REALLY sore today. And not that "oh, I had a work out and now I'm sore and, oh, I'm SO happy because its a reminder that I really exercised" kind of thing. Because, well, that kind of thing doesn't exist in my world.

I don't like being sore.

But, today, I REALLY am.

Yesterday after work I was really grumpy. I'd let myself slip into the kind of funk that I rarely see and hate to be filled with. And just as I was covering myself with my trusty nap blanket I realized that napping wasn't the best thing for me. I would probably have slept the entire evening away and then found myself wide awake at 3 am cursing our houses previous owners for doing a crappy patch job on the ceiling of our bedroom.

Instead I got my knew pruners and headed out to my front yard. We have a garden in the space between the sidewalk and the road and was overgrown, full of last years leaves and bits of trash that passersby lovingly leave for us to pick up.

I got to work pulling and snipping and working up a sweat.

At 5 minutes in my hands were sweating profusely inside my rubberized garden gloves.

At 13 minutes in I was wondering why someone would put a random flagstone rock in the middle of a garden bed

At 14 minutes in I saw the ugly round city utility lid under the rock

At 48 minutes in I was tugging at the dead leaves left by last plants and I thought of my mom's garden. She has the exact same flowers along the back fence of her yard

At 49 minutes I was overcome with sadness. I missed my mom.

At 50 minutes I wiped a few stray tears from my cheeks.

At 51 minutes I looked at my reflection and laughed because I'd given myself two football-player brown dirt smudges under each eye.

At 83 minutes I went in for some water to replenish the liquid that was now soaking the collar and back of my shirt

At 97 minutes I really wanted a tuna fish sandwich. We ate tuna fish sandwiches every Saturday afternoon after working in the garden.

At 136 minutes I sighed as I finished spraying down the dirt filled sidewalk and wrapped the hose up on the front of the house.

And then I spent the entire rest of the evening gazing out the front window and my stark barren front garden thinking about my mom, my family, the value of hard work and how much money I can spend at the nursery this weekend....

The great kitchen reveal: Cost breakdown

I'm always really interested in how much money projects end up costing people, so I threw together this list.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The great kitchen reveal: Final Product...almost

Well, we are so close to done I can't even stand it! All that is left is installing crown molding all the way around the top of the room, staining/installing the floor transitions and doing some touch-up painting. We don't own a nailer, so the crown is going to have to wait until we can afford to buy one or find a friendly neighbor to lend us one.

I really love the way everything turned out and I hope you've enjoyed the little recap!

So what do you think?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The great kitchen reveal: Appliance day

The day the appliances arrived was a magical one. After being 4 weeks late we were so desperate they could have delivered the wrong models and we might have kept them. We put them in place to make sure they fit and everything was looking pretty good.

Also, don't cabinets look a million times better with hardware? We got these knobs and pulls for a deep discount online thanks to a code from younghouselove. How great are John and Sherry? The best! Here's a tip, don't get your hardware from a big box get get way better and cheaper stuff online!

Did you see my pot rack installed? I love it and don't know how I'll ever live without one again! It was really hard to put the rack up because the butterfly backed bolts that we got were a little too short to go through our lath and plaster walls. Again, the complications involved with this old house were mind-blowing!

The ear doctor spent a full weekend plumbing the lines under the sink. We learned that there are a million different sizes and threads for plumbing fittings and after trying every single option under the sun we actually got a fully functioning water system. I can't tell you how proud I am that the ear doctor figured this all out on his own without having to hire someone. I would have lost it. Sorry there aren't any pictures of him doing this...I tried to stay away to avoid adding to his frustration.

Next up? My favorite job! Tiling the backsplash. This job is FUN and a great project for DIY...just like everyone said!

Our walls are old and irregular so the tiles don't lay perfectly flat...but I like it that way. It fits with the character of the house to be a little imperfect.

Here's another lesson in what not to do. We decided to save all the funky cuts to the end. Mistake. The surrounding tiles hardened in place and made it really hard to fit in the leftovers in place. Lesson learned: Do it all at once and rent the stupid wet saw!

Everyone told me how easy it was to install a floating floor so one night before the kiddos came we attempted it. I'm not sure it if was because it was 3 in the morning or what but we honestly could NOT get it together. We ended up paying a guy to come and install it. He was a professional and it took him 8 hours to get it in place! No wonder us newbies couldn't get it to work! Lesson learned: hire someone to help when you find yourself telling your husband, at 3 am, that everything in the new kitchen is total crap and you absolutely hate it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The great kitchen reveal: Construction Phase

While the room was empty we hired and electrician to come out and update the whole room. He added a bunch of outlets to the interior wall so it was more functional, he made sure everything was up to code. It was pretty expensive, but I feel like it was totally worth it. And every time I plug in my kitchenaide to make cookies I'm glad we made the investment.

Our kitchen basically stayed in this unfinished state for a full month. Because we didn't have the design firmed up before we started we had to wait for the cabinets to be delivered. It was a little frustrating, but we took advantage of the down time to patch and repair the plaster walls. There were all kinds of holes and imperfections that needed to be ground out and filled in.

The first thing that we put in was brand spanking new subfloor.

It smelled so good and made me really excited to get stuff all in place.

My parents both made the trip to Colorado to help us hang the cabinets, paint and finish unpacking the rest of the house. Hanging cabinets isn't really all that hard, unless you live in an 80 year old house with the most crooked plaster walls in the world. It was slow going, but REALLY exciting to see it starting to come together.

Next we primed, painted, put our beautiful farmhouse sink in place and installed our faucet. We didn't have any of the plumbing hooked up yet since we were waiting for our appliances to arrive.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The great kitchen reveal: Demo

My dad came down from Washington to help us demolish our old kitchen. His plane arrived at about 7 pm on a Thursday night and by 7:43 he had already taken a hammer to the gross tile. Our first mission was to see if we could salvage the original hardwood floors in the room. It looked promising from this initial destruction.

Then, the ear doctor and my dad got to work ripping all the cabinets down.

I went off to work one day with a kitchen and came back to an almost empty room. It's really surprising how much damage two people with sledge hammers can do. Oh, and BTW, no one rocks suspenders like my dad!

All that was left was that crappy flooring. There were only 2 layers of flooring stacked up on top of the hard wood. The top layer was this tile adhered to 3/4" thick cement board. Under the cement board there was a layer of ancient vinyl and then...the glorious original hardwood floors> Unfortunatley we had to get through them all to see the floor.

The tile came up easy by smashing it and sweeping up the pieces. Then, the cement board was screwed every 4 inches into the floor. Each screw had to be backed out:

Then the cement board was ripped up. The top vinyl itself came up with a rented floor scraper and a lot of muscle and we were left with this thick, black, tar-like adhesive.

We tried EVERYTHING to get this stuff up, but it had soaked into the hardwood and was impossible. After hours of attempting to save the original floor and making the inside of our house smell like a freshly laid freeway we gave up. The floor had to come out.

I was devastated.

And the ear doctor wasn't much better.

But guess what is kind of fun? Ripping out hardwood flooring:

Luckily, our subfloor was still perfect!

The room was now empty and waiting for new stuff to go in!

Friday, April 02, 2010

The great kitchen reveal: the design

I wish I could say that we planned everything out for this renovation ahead of time. That we'd saved up all the money we'd need and that everything went really smoothly.

But I'd be lying.

We started swinging sledge hammers before we had anything in mind. For future reference this is a BAD idea. So, I'm presenting this reveal in the order that we should have done it. That way I can hopefully do it better next time and help anyone who thinks that destruction should come before design.

After spending hours playing with the layout and trying to achieve the mystic "work triangle" we decided not to move any of the major appliances too much. We only shifted the stove to the middle of the interior wall and left everything else in place. No other configuration provided enough counter space for the ear doctor and I both to work on. Plus that way we wouldn't have to hire a plumber to come move our pipes around.

I have to be honest, the ear doctor and I struggled a bit when it came to design. My vision for the space was really light and almost entirely white in color. I had visions of marble coutner tops and gauzy curtains lilting on the breeze.

My man? He loves color.

What were we going to do? This is where we both learn to compromise.

At least we both knew we wanted rad new stainless LG appliances. Luckily we were just in time to get a great rebate from the company saving us $500. Also, we opened up a Home Depot credit card and save another $200.

Here is the initial concept I came up with and we brought with use to Home depot:

Guess what is confusing, expensive and really annoying? Ordering kitchen cabinets. We ended up working with the in-house kitchen designer and it was about and 80% satisfying experience. Only one cabinet was delivered the wrong size 2 months after we'd ordered it.

Changes the to the design throughout the process were inevitable and here is a short list of what we went through:

  1. We bought the cheapest cabinets we possibly could. I know a lot of blogs say that cabinets are the place to really buy the best you can possibly get, but we just couldn't spend that much for our little kitchen in our little starter home. This is probably be biggest concession we made to keeping our costs down. And I would totally do it again if I was given the choice.
  2. While I wanted marble or some other light colored material for the counter tops, we really couldn't justify the investment right now so we turned to a laminate. The ear doctor picked the counter top in a 5 second gut reaction and while it's probably something I never would have gone for I think it looks amazing, especially for the price we paid.
  3. We couldn't find subway tiles in the color green I was envisioning without ordering them from Italy and waiting 6 weeks. That wasn't in the cards for us. As a result we changed to cheap, classic white subway tiles and decided to paint the walls instead.
  4. Flooring. Ugh! This was the hardest choice we had to make. I wasn't loving the idea of cold hard tile, even with radiant heaters underneath. I'm just too clumsy and drop stuff all the time and anyone who has canned anything knows the importance of a soft surface underfoot. We decided to look into cork. I love how green the material is and we found some dark dark dark stuff that was on clearance so we went ahead and got it.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Ugh! I just couldn't leave those ugly "before renovation" pictures up at the top of my blog for a single second.

Ahhh...that's much better.

The great kitchen reveal: The before

The beauty of HGTV is that they make any project take a weekend to complete. In honor of them I've decided to take you through our project at an accelerated pace. In the next 5 days you will all experience what the ear doctor and I went through for the last 5 months.

Today: the before

This is the kitchen we were working with when we bought the house on October 23rd. Entering the room from the dining space:

The flooring in the kitchen was almost a full inch higher than the original hardwood flooring in the rest of the house. The previous owners had installed a really ugly dog gate between the rooms that made me think the kitchen floor had been peed on a million times. Gross. That tile was the first thing in my mind that had to go.

Looking from the doorway through the room:

Really, it didn't seem that bad at first glance. We'd seen SOOOOO much worse during our house hunt. It was cluttered and worn down, but not horrible.

What we didn't realize was the wall with the stove had no lower cabinets or electricity in the wall. The previous owners left us the stainless steel prep table in the right hand corner. In order to use any small kitchen appliances they'd taped a strip of outlets to the underside of the table. Yuck. Really inconvenient. That had to be changed.

Next we have a crappy picture of the existing sink and window:

That horrible soffit above the sink had two glaring lights with those energy saving bulbs sticking out. It was so ugly and made the window seem so small. Probably because the window was really small. We ended up ripping out the soffit and doubling the size of the window. I just love a light-filled kitchen.

All of the cabinets were hung willy nilly and none of them had backs. When you opened the doors you could actually see the plaster wall in the back of the cabinet. I would have loved to save something, but everything was so work down and rickety we weren't able to salvage a thing.

And to give you a final overall idea of the whole room I mashed this photo together