Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Stay Married While Remodeling

(I don't presume to be anything even close to an expert on this subject. These are just some observations I made while we remodeled our Family Room.)

1. Keep your strengths strong, accept your weaknesses and be patient with the weaknesses of others.

I have always had a pretty good head for math. I also have a talent for being able to visualize things. I can picture things in my head and be pretty close to how they will turn out.

When we started laying the wood flooring, it was hard to imaging EXACTLY how it would look but we did our best to imagine it, snapped our chalk lines and started gluing down the edge pieces. Jim was nice enough to "let" me figure out the measurements and angles. We had to let the glue set over night. Then the work began!

The two of us started gluing the boards together, making cuts at the angle and around the doors. There was a bit of a learning curve but once we both figured out each others strengths, we were on a roll.

2. Know when to ask for help.

It took us about 6 hours to get this little hall done. There were so many cuts! By the time we got into the bedroom/office we were on each others nerves just a little. Thankfully our friends, "B" and "A", came over to see the progress. "A" was kind enough to let "B" stay. She also took Austin to Tae Kwon Do and picked up the pizza I had ordered so I could stay and finish helping. What a great help that was! "B" stayed as long as he could and was an awesome helper!

It took us 15 hours, but we got all the wood flooring down before the carpet had to come the next morning.

3. Choose your battles or You don't have to get your way ALL the time.

I have written several times about how much I don't like carpet. You can go back and read about it if you'd like or you can just take my word for it. I REALLY didn't want carpet until I started figuring out how much it was going to cost to do something other than carpet. I could have begged and pleaded for something else. I do know how to get my way when I really want it. This time it wasn't as important to get my way. I wanted some new furniture and I knew the only way to get that was to save some money on flooring.

It actually turned out pretty good. The boys seemed to like the coziness of the carpet. Before I was able to get the camera, Josh was rolling back and forth on the new carpet and making "carpet angels".

4. Sometimes you have got to take the good with the bad.

We got the tape pulled up and got Kyle's room put back together. He was happy to have it back for a couple nights before he had to give it back up so Grammy could stay in it while visiting for Thanksgiving. He's a good sport for sharing. But sometimes when you have the biggest room and your own bathroom you have to give it up when visitors are in town.

5. If you hang in there, It usually turns out well in the end.

We were able to make a run it Ikea and get a little couch for the boys and their new TV area. We moved the flat screen from our room and put it in its new home. We also moved the Xbox and Wii up from the Theater. Of course, the boys love it! We still need a few other pieces of furniture to make the room cozy, but it will do until we can save up some more funds.

And now, sometime soon, we will get a new flat screen TV for our bedroom. I thought we would have some time without a TV in our room but Jim thinks we need one. So we have the old clunker 27" giant tube balancing on our dresser for now.

I am pretty happy with how it turned out. We still have a ways to go. There will be new rock around the fireplace and Jim is going to make built in bookshelves on either side of the fireplace. Eventually we want to replace the French doors. They are pretty bad! I would like a soft chair by the fire that I can sit in while I knit or read.

I imagine sitting there, knitting in front off the fire, while one of the boys plays soft music on the piano but I know, in reality, I will probably be sitting there watching them killing each other on some Xbox game, while yelling at them periodically, "Would you PLEASE turn it down!"

What was #4? Oh, yes, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Family Room Construction: Phase Two...Four Months Later

I was so excited that weekend in July when we started to take the family room apart. I even wrote about it. Then things were on pause. The last few months we have been in the process of refinancing our house so we could have the finances to do the remodel. It took longer than we had hoped but it is finally over and we can move forward with our plans. Here's the update:

This is Josh putting up the last piece of drywall on the south end of the family room next to the fireplace. He has been a great help to Jim. His favorite part of the drywall process is "rasping" the edges of the cut pieces. This makes lots of noise and dust; two things that are always closely associated with Josh!

This is from further back. we were going to replace the fireplace but, after pricing the flooring, we are going to keep the little, not so appealing, fire that came with the house.

This is looking left into the room that was formerly the office and is now Kyle's room. It will be an office again in the not so distant future so we will be putting down wood floors in this room, into the little "hall" just outside the room and up the stairs that lead to the entry/kitchen.

Anyone who is a regular reader of our blog knows how I feel about carpet. After lots of thought (and pleading by Jim) we have decided to put carpet in the family room. I would have preferred to have stained cement or any other surface that can be "swiffered". But carpet will be the warmest and the most cost effective. There will be rules about shoes and dogs. Hopefully that will help minimize the wear and tear that made our last carpet so gross.

The wood flooring is scheduled for tonight and the carpet is scheduled for Friday morning. I think there will be an Ikea run on either Friday night or Saturday to get a couple of the furniture pieces we have been eying.

So now when we have visitors there will be a place to sit that is not around the dining room table. The dining room table that we got as a hand-me-down about 15 years ago. The dining table that was well used before it made its way into our home and has been well used ever since.

The kitchen table that hopefully will be replaced before Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Menu Monday is BACK!

And so am I. I took a little blog break. I don't know why. It just wasn't a priority for a while but I have missed it.

Now, back to food...

Now that the weather is sufficiently chilly, I feel the need to make cozy, yummy dinners. I have also tried to keep introducing new foods to my family. Food is to magical to keep preparing it the same way over and over. That's why I started New Menu Monday. We try something we have never tried before every Monday. I record a variety of food related shows and I browse a few favorite food websites. Sometimes I present several ideas and let the guys decide which one sounds best to them but most times I just prepare something and everyone tries it.

Even when the kiddos were little, I used to make them try new things. If they thought they didn't like it even before they tasted it, I would make them take "No Thank You Bites". The amount of bites would be their age (age 5 = 5 bites). Most of the time they would find that they liked the taste after a few bites. Sometimes they didn't, and that's OK. If the majority of us didn't like it, I would throw away that recipe and never make it again. But most of the time we have a wonderful new addition to Mom's Cookbook and I try to incorporate it into the rotation.

I have heard that a lot of you have a hard time getting out of your dinner rut so I am now going to post our New Menu Monday choices on the blog. Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!!!

* * * * * * * *

We had this last Monday and thought it was GREAT!

Cheesy Hash Brown Chili by Rachel Ray

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1-pound bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Yields: 4-6 servings (We had a little left over)


Preheat oven to 400°F. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.


Stir in the tomato paste. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat, for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper.


Add the beans and the tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Transfer to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and cheese. Scatter the potato mixture over the chili. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the chili is bubbling, about 35 minutes.