Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Fixer Upper: Three-in-One Post

Moving always causes a lapse in internet access around these parts, but it does not cause a lapse in itchy writing fingers. Therefore, I wrote three fixer upper posts while I was offline. Here they are now, all at once and ridiculously long.

The Fixer Upper: Trespassing, Shelf Liner, and the Angel

On Wednesday, my cousin, Angi, who lives about 45 minutes away, sent me a message saying she had a crazy idea that maybe she’d just hop on over in the next day or two and help out.


That’s really what I said in reply.

The next morning, she showed up bright and early. Yay! Jeff made us all some yummy breakfast, and then Angi did my dishes while I made lunches and packed up for our day at the new place.

Now, I gotta tell ya something. Jeff and I made a big list of everything we felt needed to happen at the new place before we deemed it livable, using my own personal gross-out scale as our guide. We wanted the nauseating carpet removed, and we wanted fresh paint everywhere. That stretched our teensy budget right to the limit. But the next time we went over there, the drawers and shelves registered on my gross-out scale, so shelf liner went onto our “must-have” list. But we had not budgeted for it. What to do? I was excited when Mom suggested the much cheaper wrapping paper option, and while it was widely agreed upon amongst all y’all that shelf liner would definitely be preferable, if the bank’s broke, the bank’s broke.

But you know what Angi did? She took me shopping for shelf liner! Yay!

Thanks, Angi. :)

And thanks, Yahweh Yireh.

When we got out to the new place, I took Angi on the grand tour, and then we got down to business. We ripped all the old shelf paper out of the entire house – kitchen, pantry, hutch, main bath, master bath.

Then Angi grabbed the drill and went to town on the cabinet doors.

We removed all the doors and drawers, used a sharpie and masking tape to label each one with cryptic Becky-codes, and spread them out across the living room floor, ready to be sanded.

A few days ago, Jeff found this sign.

Uh, okay. Well, I’m not Patrick. Are you Patrick? No? Then, I guess it’s okay for us to be here.

Then while Angi was braving the gunky master bath cupboards, she found this.

Aha! Well, no wonder Patrick kept coming back even though he had been told “2x in writing.” He needed his medication! Sheesh, lady! Give the guy a break!

Poor Patrick.

Just kidding. I’m sure he did something terrible and deserved to be banned. We’re keeping an eye out for you, Patrick. We have a cardboard sign, and we know how to use it!

Anyway, here are a couple of before and during shots of the cabinetry.

We also removed from the walls all the switch plates, fasteners and hardware we could find, to help Jeff prepare for painting.

After that, Angi insisted we stop working, and she took us out for ice cream at Dairy Queen. Yummy! Perfect end to a perfect day.

My dear Angi... I mean Angela… I mean Angel (get it?), your help was really a huge jump ahead in the process of getting the house ready, and you lifted my spirits immensely. Thank you for coming.

The Fixer Upper: Shopping, Cows, and Lawn Art

On Friday, Jeff and I dropped the boys at Grandma’s and went shopping all by ourselves. Heaven. Thanks, Grandma!

We priced vinyl and added it to our “someday” list, dreamed a wistful dream about new cabinetry hardware, and most importantly, bought paint. Lots of it. Five gallons of mountain snow white for all the ceilings, five gallons of sweet corn yellow for the living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, master bedroom, and master bath; three gallons of tuscan olive for the boys’ room, the main bath, and the laundry room; and two gallons of high-gloss white for all the cabinets.

After our shopping trip, we went out to the new place, where I filled in all the cupboard door holes with wood putty.

The handles were all in the center, you see. That may look symmetrical and all, but it’s weird and impractical. So we’re going to move them down to the corners, where they’ll be of some use.

While I got acquainted with wood putty, Jeff hacked away at the driveway some more with his weed trimmer, and then he got started patching the walls with sheetrock mud.

Jeff’s parents brought the boys to us at the new place, and we spent the rest of the evening giving them the grand tour. They walked the property with us and told us all about our fruit trees and vegetation (this is a hawthorn, these are prunes, those are plums, and watch out for yellow jackets in the blackberry bushes), gave us creative suggestions for how to take care of our head-high grasses (moooooo…), and sat on our front porch with us watching the best sunset we’ve seen yet (of the three we’ve seen out there). We had a wonderful time relaxing with them and soaking up their encouragement.

James asked me the other day, “Mom, what is lawn art?”

Not being a lawn art person, I had a bit of trouble describing it to him. “You know, it’s like… little sculptures people put in their yards. Or metal flowers.”

“Why would they want metal flowers when they could have real flowers?”

Good question.

A little later, Jeff found a prize nestled in some blackberry brambles. I pointed to it and said, “James, remember your question about lawn art? That’s it. That’s what it is.” Mentally, I had already earmarked it for the landfill.

A day later, as we drove away from the new place, James asked, “Mom, are we going to keep that welcome frog?”

“Do you want to?”

“Yes,” he admitted quietly.

With super human effort, I choked out, “Then we will.”

“Thanks,” came the soft reply.


The Fixer Upper: Cabinets, Coats and Courage

Saturday was our first full day of working on the house as a family. We had breakfast at home, then packed lunch and dinner to eat there.

In the morning, Jeff patched all the rest of the walls, and he introduced me to the sander. “Ready to feel warm and fuzzy?” he asked cheerfully.

“Hit me with it,” I replied.

“This is the sander I got from your grandpa.”

Awwww… that *does* make me feel warm and fuzzy. Awwwww…

Confidently, I piped up, “I know how to use this. My dad taught me.” I had a vague recollection of using a sander once in 1993.

Jeff handed it over. I fired it up, eyes ever widening at its power, and the way it made my whole arm tingle, and how the sanding pad disappeared because it was spinning so fast. That thing could hurt me!

I shut it off and announced to Jeff, “This is a powerful tool. It could cut me.”

“Yes, it could,” replied Jeff solemnly with a twinkle in his eye. (Get it? Powerful tool…? As in… power tool?)

After a demonstration of sander safety and proper handling, Jeff put me to work on the cabinet doors I’d patched with wood putty the night before. Partway through, he came to check on me. “Okay?” he asked, giving me a thumbs-up sign over the whir of the machine.

Switching it off, I asked uncertainly, “How do I look?”

“Like you’re not scared of it anymore,” he reassured me. Who knew the sander would take so much courage?

Thirty-two. That’s how many doors I sanded. Both sides. So, like, sixty-four. Took me a super long time.

Did I mention the previous tenant had a thing for hooks?

Holy hooks, Batman!

We popped all the hooks off with a putty knife the other day, but Jeff wanted me to remove the residue by hand because it would gum up the sander.

Yeah. That’s a lot of residue. I had nightmares about it. Let me just say that I am now an expert wielder of Goo Gone.

After I finished sanding the doors, they looked like this.

Then Jeff came along with his paint sprayer…

…and made them look like this.

So shiny!

Jonathan was desperate for some help with Mario, so we took a lunch break and Jeff switched gears for a little while.

We set James up with his Lego game on a spare coffee table we found in one of the sheds and wrapped with brown paper, but it was a little windy outside, so I scrounged around Jeff’s truck.

I have nevah seen anythin’ cutah in all mah born days.

James *loved* wearing his dad’s work coat. He traipsed around in it all day long. It reminded me of folk who need to be ensconced so they can figure out what space they’re in.

The rest of the day was spent masking and spraying the cabinet fronts throughout the house. We did six areas in the kitchen…

…one in each bathroom…

…and the hutch.

I’m especially excited about the hutch. It makes the whole dining room lighter and brighter, and now my china will really pop.

We didn’t quite get finished with the cabinets before we ran out of daylight. We had to mask both sides of the glass on these doors, and it took seventeen years.

But they’re ready to be painted first thing Monday morning. See you then, hutch doors!

I leave you with a shot of this little guy, with whom I have agreed to share my new roses.