Friday, March 30, 2012

Frugal Tip Friday - Kitchen Week 2

More saving in the kitchen...

  • Check the clearance carts or scratch-n-dent area.
  • Buy day old bread. (Make bread pudding, croutons, French toast casserole, open face hot turkey sandwiches.)
  • Buy produce at a farm stand or farmer’s market (The vendors often offer discounts if you go at the very end of the evening.) Get apples at the end of the season (November) for making your own applesauce.

    Happy Saving!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Big Bathroom Reveal

AKA... it took over a year but we finally completely finished one room in our house!
When we first looked at the house when it came on the market, this is what the bathroom looked like. I didn't even go into the room. It was nasty, seriously nasty. We knew that if we got the house, this bathroom would be a total redo. Here's a glimpse into where we started:
nice peachy fixtures and trim
weird bathroom soffit and broken curtain rod

Rather old tile with a peachy border and some really old, crumbly wallpaper
At least the toilet seat had been replaced at some point. *shudder*

The tub worked but the diverter was broken. (I'm not mentioning the scuzz or mold issues.)
"Fancy" marble topped vanity and huge mirror

Notice the water-damaged piece by the floor under the sink
Itty, bitty linen closet with very shallow shelves.

If you click on the pic of the linen closet to enlarge it, you might notice the bright blue carpet color in there. Sort of Cookie Monster-ish. We think that was the original color. Now scroll up and enlarge the pic of the sink..... what color do you see? Ah yes.... that nice shag carpet is more of a grayish green. Gray because it was super dirty and green because it was alive.

Fast forward a couple weeks..... we got the house! We had 4 days after settlement before we moved in to get this bathroom completely done. We've done home renos before.... we honestly thought we could do it. We didn't even come close! Here's how it went down:
The first night, Micah got suited up in one of those full body painting suits, mask, and gloves and removed all of the nasty carpet in the house. All the carpet and his protective gear went right into the huge, roll-off dumpster we had rented. Then demo began..... we went down to the studs. This part took 3 days and that was with a couple of friends and their tools helping.
We discovered that the water damaged vanity was more than just a little leak. There was mold behind it, so we had to cut out that wall on the dining room side (a 4'x8' section) and clean it all with bleach.
The drawer on the floor is covering the sink drain hole.

Since we had a working 1/2 bath in the laundry room, we focused on getting a tub and shower working in this bathroom. The tub fit just fine but Bass had to reframe part of the wall before installing it. (AKA... delay) We went for about 2 weeks without a working tub or shower. Some of that time, we were still in our old house but then we resorted to showering at the neighbors or taking sponge baths. A friend stopped by with her kids to see the new house and her 6 year-old asked if we were camping. Yeah, pretty much. Have I ever mentioned that I hate camping? :)
Bass was able to get the tub in so we could sort of squat down in there to bathe but it was better than nothing. The next step was to tile the surround but we had some serious issues with figuring it out so in a late night fit of desperation, I said to forget the tile and just put in a surround instead. I was a little sad to give up the gorgeous tile I had spent hours choosing but we were able to return it to Lowe's and get a surround with no issues.
The surround went in and we were finally able to take a shower! Have I ever mentioned how much I love a nice, long, hot shower?? :) Bass was able to get the shower completed right before he left for a week-long business trip. He was gone for an entire week.... right before Christmas. It was not good.
We went to church Sunday morning before he left for the trip and a friend asked how the house was coming. It was so bad, I just broke down in tears. Her eyes widened and she said, "Wait here." She came back with a guy from the church who does construction for a living. He offered to come and help do whatever we needed. So while Micah was away, he came and drywalled the entire bathroom for us. (Another friend came and installed our new kitchen/laundry room flooring and my dishwasher.) We had only been at this church for a few months so it was such a blessing to have folks who don't really know us just jump in and help. The Body of Christ is amazing!
With walls and a ceiling now, I decided to go with a rustic decor scheme at this stage. Don't you think that the cardboard window treatment helps set the mood? LOL
Part of drywalling, included positioning new junction boxes for 2 vanity lights instead of 1 and adding 2 GFIC outlets.
We put the vanity lights on a dimmer which is wonderful for early mornings. You can sort of ease your way into the morning. We also replaced the shower fan with a fan/light unit. 
At this point, we still had no toilet or sink in this bathroom! After the walls were taped, puttied, sanded, puttied, sanded, puttied, and sanded, I finally got to paint. Then it was time to tackle the floor. Micah was a little apprehensive about doing the floor since it was his first attempt at tiling. But I think it turned out fantastic. I think if we had more experience it would have gone faster but we got it done. Our two snags were that we couldn't use my Dad's hand tile cutter because it only cut up to 12" tiles and our tiles are 13". We had to make a run to a tool rental place to get a wet saw cutter. (Which was really nice!) Then we ran out of grout mix so I had to book it to Lowe's to get more.
Once we got the floor in, we were able to replace the door! All of the plain slab doors in the house will eventually be this cottage style 2-panel door. We went with oil-rubbed bronze hinges and hardware.

Apparently somewhere in this year-long process, I got tired of taking in-process pictures. I can't imagine why. :) We installed the toilet (which leaked because they had a batch of toilets where the bolts where installed incorrectly.) Bass had to take it off, turn it over, fix the bolts, and then reinstall it. We put in the new vanity. This only took us 3 tries. The first one was broken so we went and exchanged it.... got the 2nd one home and it was broken too! The third time, Home Depot actually delivered a new one to us and took the 2nd broken one back at no charge. The third one was NOT broken.
We put in 2 new vanity lights and the shower light/fan unit. We installed an Ikea Pax closet in place of the linen closet that got removed. We added trim (crown, baseboard, casing), mirrors, a shower curtain, decor, and lastly a blind! So here it is in all it's finished glory...... drum roll please.... The Main Bathroom!
See our organized linen cabinet here and under the sink here; vanity drawers are here. The shelf above the toilet was from Goodwill.

The prints and frames were from Michael's; The towel racks from Bed, Bath, and Beyond;
The towels are from JC Penney.
The basket is from Michael's; The mirrors are from Christmas Tree Shops; The lights, hardware, and faucets are from Lowe's; The sink accessories are from K-Mart; The Chinese Psalm 23 plaque is from Goodwill.
See how I lined this blind here

The shower curtain was from Wal-Mart; the hooks from Home Goods; and the shower curtain rod from Ross.
One more quick before and after:
A wee bit better, don't ya' think? It was a long, long road but we're thrilled with how it turned out! One room done, way too many to go..... :)

Linking up to these great blog parties:
Sunday: Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming;
Monday: Amaze Me Monday at Dittle Dattle;
Tuesday: One Project at a Time at A Bowl Full of Lemons; Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia; Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife;
Wednesday: Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man, Crafty Woman; It's Overflowing at Overflowing with Creativity; Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts;
Home Decor & Organizing at Organize and Decorate Everything;
Thursday: Delightfully Inspiring Thursday at Delightful Order; Thrifty Thursday at Thrifty and Fabuless;  Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage;
Friday: Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest; Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring;

Monday, March 26, 2012

Make a Card Monday - Buggin' Out

In my stash, I had a pile of pre-cut, pre-folded card bases in a non-standard size. Ages ago I had cut a bunch of 3x6 cards to fit envelopes that I had been given. I made a bunch of buggy birthday cards with the bases and patterned paper scraps.

cardstock: Georgia Pacific (white)
patterned paper: random stack (green gingham, purple stripe), DCWV Green Stack (stripe, brown leaf),   all others unknown
tools: Nestabilities Scallop Circle and Regular Circle die, Scor-Pal
embellishments: Making Memories ribbon
color: Palette Giverny Green, Cognac, and Noir ink, LePlume markers
stamps: TAC Happy Bug Day and A Wittle Bug

Friday, March 23, 2012

Frugal Tip Friday - Kitchen Week 1

Saving money in the kitchen...
  • Use coupons for all food items or buy generic. (Mix half generic, half brand name if you think there’s a taste difference. Keep a brand name box and refill it with generic to win your family over.)
  • Buy in bulk or stock up when there’s a great sale.
  • Make meal plans based on the week’s sales flyers.
  • Buy a whole turkey, chicken, or ham to create several meals.

    Happy Saving!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Make a Card Monday - Ship Collage

This is another stamp that I got during my TAC demo days but had never used. Because it's so detailed, I thought I skip any coloring and just stamp it in Burnt Umber. To make it look more antique, I used an edge distressor and then swiped the chewed-up edges with Burnt Umber. The Palette cubes make distressing super easy. I inked the edges of all the layers to add dimension and then added a few eyelets to #1 dress it up a little and #2 attempt to make a dent in my stash!

cardstock: DCWV (card base), Georgia Pacific (white), DCWV (mat)
patterned paper: Creative Memories
tools: Heidi Swapp edge distressor, Scor-Pal
embellishments: Making Memories eyelets
color: Palette Burnt Umber ink
stamps: TAC Ship Collage

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekly School Summaries - China (March 5-16)

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!
 Ni Hao! We're so looking forward to our spring break next week! It made the past 2 weeks a little hard to get through but I kept using our time off as motivation. The kids spent a couple days with my folks because I spent a day judging contemporary vocal solos for ACSI's Fine Arts Festival. I had fun although it was definitely a brain drain. The younglings enjoyed their time with their substitute teachers (Gram and Pop-Pop) too. I gave them a slightly lighter schedule since my mom was overseeing the schoolwork for 2 days. Here's what we did the past 2 weeks:

Math: Same as usual for Tenor. He had 4 days of lessons and 1 day of math games on the computer each week. Soprano had one week of regular lessons (4 and 1 day on computer) but the 2nd week when they were away, she did 3 days of flashcard practice and 2 regular lessons. She's up to multiplying 5s. 

Reading and Language Arts: Soprano finished up "The Birthday Child" poem from 'Across the Centuries'. She made a party hat and did a vocabulary activity. Then she started her next book, "The Runaway Bunny."
She finished her second Phonics book and jumped right into the third one. We're working on consonant sounds (beginning, medial, and end) and soft/hard 'C's and 'G's. In English, she's being introduced to paragraphs. Spelling and handwriting are continuing well. 
Loved this error in her phonics....
"The giant unliked the troll." I really, really hated to mark it wrong considering how Facebook has made 'unliking' a verb but technically it wasn't right so out came the red pen.
Tenor continued with his 'A Reason for Handwriting C' and continued with his new writing workbook.
He finished 'Misty' from 'Across the Centuries C Level 1'. The last activities were a worksheet about saying goodbye to someone you loved and a couple of evaluations. After our break, he'll begin "Helen Keller" from the Level 2 book.
English (adverbs) and Spelling (Rod and Staff Level 4) are moving right along. 

Typer Island for their typing instruction and continuing with SOS Elementary Spanish on a modified schedule because of their visit to my mom's. 

They did two health worksheets: a safety review and one on exercises that mimic animal movements. They each had to come up with their own exercise. They both made up exercises like snakes. I think I see Tenor's influence there. We also talked about Gettysburg and Independence Hall (PA history) and how sanitation workers (aka garbage men) are community helpers.

Phys Ed.: We've had 2 very busy weeks so they didn't make it to Tae Kwon Do the past 2 weeks. It's a pretty flexible program so they'll be able to catch up easily. We're walking at home and of course, they love gym at homeschool co-op.

This is the country we've been most excited about all year because we have dear friends who live in China. We talk about them all the time so we were all looking forward to studying about where they're living. Unfortunately, the past 2 weeks have been so incredibly crazy schedule-wise. We got all the work done but didn't have time to do any extras. We might "revisit" China at the end of the year when MFW allows for a few weeks of picking your own country. They've sent us some beautiful things from China.
Like this Hulusi:
This Xin:

And some neat ornaments made by Tibetan people out of yak wool:

Bible: The past two weeks included:
Reading about China, Tibetans, and Buddhism
Reading Matthew 20:29-22:14
Memorizing Matthew 20:26-28

Things we did included:
Filling out our passports to travel to China (The younglings still love doing this!)
Coloring the Chinese flag and writing down interesting facts about it. Reading about China, the Chinese language and the Nature, Farming, and Industry of China.  Playing Chinese Checkers. Creating cool tangram designs using our Saxon Math manipulatives and print outs from this site:
I printed the animals and the people for the kids to create.

Illustrating notecards for hill, valley, volcano, and waterfall.
Playing the geography game doing the world traveler version.
Tenor's Asia pages from World Geography were Climate and Animals. He's only doing 1 page per week during our Asia studies.
Soprano finished the Asian Animals pages from The Complete Book of Animals and started Sea/Ocean Animals. She's doing 3 sheets or mini storybook per week for the 10 weeks we're studying Asia.

Science: We had lots of pages from the Living World Encyclopedia. They read about parasites, the seas and oceans, and the ocean surface. They also labeled the oceans and wrote about their identifying characteristics.

We also did the ocean current experiment.

And tasted salt water:
mixing up the salt water

Not fans of sipping salt water

Other MFW: 
Wee sing: Fong Swei and Arirang
Art: We were so pressed for time these two weeks, we skipped Global Art. But we did make our own paper lanterns and Lai See envelopes from a Panda Express Chinese New Year kit. Panda Express offered free kits back in January with a Word Search, a Lai See envelope activity, a lantern activity, and a DVD about Chinese New Year and an accompanying quiz. It was a fun kit that gave a brief look at the history of Chinese New Year and how they celebrate it.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
To supplement, we read other books about other Asian countries (Mongolia, Nepal, Tibet, and Taiwan), pandas, and seas and oceans and borrowed DVDs from the library. Our favorite was the Torchlighter's DVD about Gladys Aylward. Very true to the book and well done for our early-mid elementary level. I thought it was very interesting.
We also had dinner out at a Chinese restaurant. Figuring out how to use chopsticks was the best part!

Oops---dropped something!
When they don't work with one hand, go for the stab method.
Next week-----Spring Break! Zai Jian!

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