Kitchen Renovations

Brian and I decided that instead of painting everything in the kitchen, which would only serve to mask the poor quality of the cabinets and countertops, we would strip the room clean and start over. Anyone who owns a house has probably been told over and over that the kitchen is the most expensive room to rebuild but also the best investment.

Our kitchen is very small, almost apartment sized, and all the dark wood and dark paint and dark floors are choking out any light that comes through the small 30″ window above the sink.

Our inspiration is bright, white, clean lines. We walked into the Orange store to price out the cabinets only to find that the deal they were running would drop the cost of all our cabinets from $3800 to $2300. That was a deal we couldn’t pass up! We had the money saved for the project and figured that if the cabinets arrived before we were ready to install them, we could store them in the basement until we were ready.

We knew we wanted white cabinets in a similar layout as the current one. One nice thing about small kitchens is you really don’t have many options as far as cabinet placement. The biggest change from our current arrangement is that we dropped the sink base size down to 36″ instead of 42″ and added a small cabinet between the sink and fridge to make up the rest of the width. Other than that, all is as it is now. We chose American Woodmark cabinets, which were very competitively priced while still being solid wood. Our existing cabinets have faux wood sides exposed, which look horribly tacky.

American Woodmark Charlottesville

American Woodmark Charlottesville

The paint color we chose was linen, which is really just white.

Roman Linen Cabinet Door

Roman Linen Cabinet Door

We have chosen Corian for our countertops. We looked at natural stones but could not justify the extra expense, especially for the fact that stone like granite can absorb liquids and stain. Corian is durable, solid surface and comes in about a million colors. Another perk of chosing Corian is that the installation is included in the price and sometimes, Blue or Orange will offer a free integrated sink with the purchase of 25 square feet! The sink itself is around $650 so we are waiting to make the jump on buying the counters until we can get the sink for free. Anything to save money, right? The color we chose, Warm Soapstone by Martha Stewart, is a gray toned brown that will work well with any paint color we, or future home owners, could choose.

Martha Stewart for Home Depot in Warm Soapstone

Martha Stewart for Home Depot in Warm Soapstone

The only other thing we have decided so far is the backsplash. Granted, the backsplash will be the last thing we install and depending on the stress of the rest of the renovation, it might be a long time coming. We liked the look of subway tile and found that Orange offers a mini subway mosaic tile in a 12″x12″ sheet for less than $6 each! Excuse the horrible cell phone photo but here she is!

White Mini Subway Tile

White Mini Subway Tile

That’s all we have for now but I will definitely keep you updated as these things progress!

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What a Difference Little Changes Can Make

Last Sunday I started out with the idea that I would be making a few adjustments to our bedroom. I wanted to widen the curtain rods on both windows to open the window up more to let in more light. In order to have enough room for the curtains, I had to move the dressers around.
Well, I started with the changes and couldn’t stop! I added a new quilt I bought from JC Penney for a steal: $40 for a king size! I bought a king even though our bed is a queen because I wanted it to drape off the sides of the bed.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s several thousand to show it off.

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Dear Pottery Barn

Dear Pottery Barn,
Thank you for creating an iPad app full of lovely things to look at like this lovely yellow bed that is calling my name. Next order of business, making this cost less.
Your devoted fan,

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Disney by the numbers

As we creep closer to our Disney 2011 trip, I needed to figure out how much this trip is going to cost us. With several Disney vacations under my belt as the responsible paying adult, I have a better idea of what we should expect to pay while traveling. Each line will give the total plus an explaination as to how I came up with that figure.

Plane tickets: Free
This year, instead of buying Christmas presents, my parents decided to buy the plane tickets for the two of us plus my older brother and sister-in-law. Thanks Mom and Dad! I do owe mom $68 to make up the difference from the baseline tickets and the preferred afternoon flights that we wanted to take. In our experience, leaving Disney at 7 am to come home makes for one super early morning and is worth the money to get 4 more hours of sleep for all 4 of us.

Gas to and from Chicago: $42.84
Our flights leave from Midway in Chicago which is actually pretty far from home (almost exactly 3 hours). We’ll most likely drive Brian’s car which is roomy enough for 4 adults and luggage which gets (conservatively) 25 miles per gallon on the highway. At $3.15 per gallon of gas, it should cost us $21.42 each way or $42.84 round trip.

Long Term Parking at Midway: $70!!!
I don’t think I’ve ever had to pay parking fees at any airport since we can usually arrange for people to drop us off and pick us up. Chicago is too far for friends from home and the family cannot do it since they’ll already be in Florida. I’ve never realized how expensive parking is and $70 is for the economy lot! I cannot imagine paying for the full priced parking garage.

Transportation to Resort: Free
Magic Your Way transportation provided by Disney

Hotel: Free
Another gift from Mom and Dad. My family belongs to the Disney Vacation club and are redeeming their points for the year to put all 9 of us up for the four nights we are there. We are staying in Bay Lake Towers, one of the newest DVC resorts in Florida.

Park Tickets: $448
This is the price for 3 1 day, 1 park tickets for two people. If we knew we’d be going again soon, we could buy more days (the more days you buy at a time, the lower the base price) and add the “no expiration” option. That could effectively lower the cost per day by about $20 but since we’ve not made plans to return just yet, it would be a little excessive.

2 Casual dining meals : $120
We’re estimating $30 per person for 2 meals so at $60 per meal, our dinners out on the town should be about $120.

4 Counter service meals : $80
This time we estimated $10 per person for the 4 lunches we will be in the parks.

Contribution toward family meals: $30

$790.84 total

Bottom line is that a Disney vacation isn’t the cheapest vacation you can take but there are several ways to cut those costs like cooking in your hotel kitchen and sharing a room with family. The more I think about it, the more excited I get!

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The Greats

Back in October, my younger sister was working on a Day of the Dead project for her Spanish class. She had to make an ofrenda for someone in the family who had passed away so she chose our dad’s grandfather who passed away when I was in middle school because, thankfully, we don’t have that many options. Since I live near our grandparents, who are the keepers of family history, I was asked to bring some photos for the project to my parent’s house.
How could I pass up this perfect opportunity to digitally preserve such amazing photos? I am not that strong! My dad hadn’t even seen some of these photos before!

I think my favorite part of these photos is that Brian gave me Great Grandma Harriet’s engagement and wedding rings when we got married. If you look closely at their wedding photo, you can just see them shining on her left hand. They still look good almost 85 years later!

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A good start for a New Year

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions. Like the practice of giving up something for Lent, it was never something my family did so I never thought it important. Enter all the talk about most people giving up on their resolutions before February, I figured it would be a waste of time. Instead of making resolutions, I am going to make goals. Very specific and obtainable goals to use to measure growth this coming year.

1. I am going to spend more quality time with my husband. Sometimes that is hard with his work schedule but if one of us is able to put down the book/phone/laptop, it is going to be me this year.

2. I will take better care of my house and yard. Being a homeowner is a TON of work, most of which is rewarding, so I will concentrate on beautifying the place we call home… even the nasty lawn.

3. I will finish sewing projects that are currently sitting in the craft room partially completed. I have a shirt for Brian, a stack of mending, several garments for reenacting, and housewares all on my to do list. Maybe this will help me to clean out the craft room closet?

4. I will work on decorating the front room in our house. It’s the first thing people see when they walk in our front door and it bothers me that it is still so chaotic. I want to be inspired, save my pennies, find furniture, paint, hang art and make that room one we can comfortably spent time in with friends. Today, I will work on a mood board.

5. I will take care of myself. I will work when I need to so I can enjoy my time off. I will take action against he health concerns that I have (yoga for headaches?), learn new skills, strive to be purposeful and learn to appreciate the woman God has made me.

6. Ending with a 5 point list would be too easy so #6 is to pay off at least 2 loans this year. We have done a lot of talking about this and believe the car loans will be the first to go. Paying off 1 student loan this past year felt so good. Not having car payments every month will be close to miraculous.

How about you? Did you make resolutions or goals for this new year? Are they obtainable?

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Psalm 37:3-8

Trust in the LORD and do good;
   dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
   trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
   your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD
   and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
   when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
   do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Psalm 37:3-8

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Down, kitty!

How many people out there in the internets (sup, people!) have to tell the smallest of their furbabies multiple times daily, “We don’t bite mommy’s curtains,” or “Stop biting my toes”?

Just us? All alone on that one?

Mowgli joined our family a little over 5 weeks ago and is now eating all solid food (!), weighs 2 lbs and climbs ev-er-y-thing (curtains, furniture, us).

Countdown to kitty-mom-doesn’t-have-to-worry-about-her-curtains: 2 months

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Disney Countdown 2010: 1.5 days

We are leaving for a short (probably too short) vacation to Walt Disney World in 1.5 days.

1.5 days!

We haven’t been since our honeymoon 2 1/2 years ago and it’s been killing us. We love it so much we’ve joked about naming our firstborn son Walter after Sir Disney himself.

Have we packed yet? No, of course not! Well, I can’t say that we haven’t packed anything because there are definitely things in the suitcases.

Contents of my suitcase 1.5 days: swim suit, water bottle, traveling purse, motion sickness drugs, lotion, sunblock, park tickets, Disney gift cards, flight confirmation numbers.

Contents of Brian’s suitcase: swim suit.

My goal for this trip is to take twice as many photos as on our honeymoon. I didn’t have my camera on that trip since it got itself lost in the parking lot of our reception site after the rehearsal and didn’t show up until after we got home from Florida. I want to be able to make a photo book or something to remember this by.

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This is my favorite time of the year, mainly because of the lilacs. They’re purple (purple!), delicate, and beautiful. The only thing I cared about in a potential yard when we were house hunting was that there was a lilac tree or space to plant one.

We have one. It’s my favorite.

Other than gazing at flowers, I’ve been extremely unmotivated, feeling lazy and worthless, overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Bleh.

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