Sep 07

Floors, floors, floors!

After closing on the house, we knew we had to get two big projects out of the way before we could move in – the floors, and painting the living room and bedroom. The biggest and longest project was, of course, the floors – it took us three weekends and two weekday evenings to complete, but probably wouldn’t have taken so long if we didn’t spend so much time messing around!

Our first day working on the floors, I got to the house and found this friend on the back door:

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

I’m pretty sure he got eaten by a bird after we knocked him to the ground. My sheer terror when I first saw him was pretty big though!

The first thing we did was remove all of the quarter-round in the whole house. Some people remove all of the molding, but we knew that we’d be painting it eventually, so the quarter-round was all we needed to remove. As it turns out, about half of the stuff was labeled, and half of the labeled pieces were in places that they were’t originally in. We saved every piece and labeled everything that wasn’t already labeled – I found this piece on the longest wall in the dining room and giggled because it was about 4 inches long!

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

And here’s what they looked like after removing the shoe. I’m sure you can figure out why we decided to re-do the floors. At one point I found myself peeling up the old finish like sunburn! I’m pretty sure whoever did the most recent coat had either not buffed the floor before putting down the finish, or they had put water-based finish over the original oil-based poly that had been put on 60 years ago.

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

One of the projects that we didn’t even think about was removing the bedroom and closet doors. There were some surprises and stuck doors at one point, but with some effort, and removing the tracks, we got them all removed…

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

And discovered this on the back of one in the spare room, which explained why they were stuck. One of them had somehow fallen off the upper track and jammed into the one behind it and it was all downhill from there. When we got them unstuck and removed, we were able to solve the problem so it won’t happen again.

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

Speaking of the bottom “track”, here it is! Two eye screws that sit in a groove cut into the bottom of the doors. I’m pretty sure my entire house was cobbled together by a handyman. SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

After an entire weekend of removing quarter-round, vents, and doors, it was finally time to become a stripper rent a sander. After watching hours of YouTube videos, I had determined that I was going to rent a square random orbital sander – the cheaper and less aggressive sanding option. I read that it had a few downfalls, but we really just had to take the top layer off, and didn’t have to get all the way down to bare wood. I thought it was going to be a quick (three day) weekend project and we’d be able to move on and paint the whole house. And boy, was I wrong!

When we got to Home Depot (2 hours later than we had intended), they told us that all of the orbital sanders were broken and our only option was the belt sander. The guy told us how to use it, and gave us bad instructions, saying that you could only go backwards, and going forwards would cause it to skip across the floor. While that is the case, if your guy tells you that HE IS WRONG. The sander actually cuts on the front stroke, but you have to pull it back while you push it forward so it doesn’t skip across the floor.

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

We learned this by trial and error, but after learning what we were doing, we were able to get through the first grit in less than a day. And it was beautiful. The oak floors weren’t perfect, they had some flaws and places that were stained deeply that couldn’t be sanded out. My theory is that the floors have been there as long as the house, and they’re bound to have flaws. The only way to get perfect floors is to buy brand new wood and rip out the old – which I would never do. You’ll never be able to find floors that have this grain and this character in a brand new house, so a few stains and weird spots are someone’s memories.

SwankyLuv: Floors, floors, floors!

This was nowhere more apparent than in the living room where a carpeter had driven huge nails into the floors about 8 inches apart all the way around the room. I fought it at first, trying to set them in or get the heads off, but after putting in a ton of effort, I realized that it was futile – the wood had become too hard, and the nails were too big, so I just left them.

Stay tuned for part two where we finish the floors and I complain some more about my errors!

Sep 04

HemisFares Review

I recently received a package of Hemis Fares pasta, a Kroger Stores exclusive product, to review. Please keep in mind that I did receive this product for free, but I was not paid for my review. Even if I was paid for my review, I would still provide an honest review.

SwankyLuv: HemisFares Review

I’m on the fence about this product. The package that I received contained the pasta – flat Italian egg noodles, sauce – Bolognese with Barolo Wine, and coupons for a discount on some olive oil. We are not an olive oil family, so I chose not to purchase, but we did make the pasta, adding ground turkey.

The cooking time on the noodles was amazing! Essentially, you boil the water, dump in the noodles, and then strain them three minutes later. Yes. THREE minutes. I loved that I could cook dinner in less than 10 minutes, which is huge for me. My only gripe is that there was something off on the flavor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. There was a strange bite to them that I’ve never experienced before.

 

SwankyLuv: HemisFares Review

The sauce, on the other hand, was perfect – not too strong, not too sweet. If only the jar were bigger! You could definitely tell that there was quality behind the tomatoes that were used, and we didn’t feel as though anything else needed to be added. Other than meat, of course! We clearly added way too much since we’re used to making pasta with twice the sauce.

I would buy this sauce again, but I would do so begrudgingly if the jar is the same size.

What else do you think I should review? Have you tried Hemis Fares yet?

Jul 27

Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

From the moment we walked into the house during our first walkthrough, I knew I needed to get rid of what we came to affectionately name The Fishtank. I’m pretty sure at this point that this strange terrarium thing has been here for all 60 years that the house has been standing, but it just wasn’t working anymore and didn’t quite fit with the theme we’re going for.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may be compensated.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

I have no idea who thought it would be a good idea to put this thing in, but it definitely looks like it’s been there for a very long time. I might have been original to the house, since the style is very 50s, but it could have been added in the 70s. Either way, it had to go.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get the dirt out (someone had plants here?) until Husband suggested to just suck it out with the shop vac. It’s brand new, so I could vaccum up the dirt and then dump it in the garden without it mixing with random plaster or floor dirt.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

 

I also found some old-school “decor” buried in the dirt!

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

After it was all emptied out, we discovered how well-built the thing truly was – you really could have put fish and water in this thing!

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

There was a thin layer of clear caulk squished between the wood and glass, and we ended up having to shove the putty knife between the layers to separate them.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer
It took quite a bit of effort to pry them apart, and then we had to remove the cove molding from the front (shout out to my Ikea screwdriver!) After all was said and done, we were able to remove one of the long sides, both short sides, and then slide the other long side and bottom out.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

At this point, I got a little excited, so there weren’t a lot of photos taken, but we pretty much just ripped out wood from there. The bottom 1×1 were each held in with one nail each, and we discovered that the quarter round were pressure-fitted in and just kind of fell out when we pulled out the 1×1.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

This is about when I realized that I’d be using about a half a tub of spackle to fill the holes in the wall behind everything. It probably didn’t help that whoever installed this thing did a really good job, and the hammer and screwdriver we used to pry everything apart probably didn’t help.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

Here’s the destruction on the one side after we took off the big pieces, and before we took off the weird doors and filled the whole thing in with spackle:

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

I thing this looks like a panda. My brother thinks it looks like the Joker.

SwankyLuv: Keep Friends Close and Anemones Closer

Right now, this is just kind of sitting here spackeled up, waiting to be painted. I didn’t get any pictures of it all spacked because I haven’t been happy with the spackle job. I bought Dap Fast n Final fast drying spackling, and I did’t love it. It splooshes out the sides of the putty knife and gets all over everything, but it doesn’t stick to anything unless you put effort into it, and it’s easy to pick up, so it’s not that bad. I think we’ll be going back to Dap Dry Time Indicator that goes from pink to white as it dries. It was so humid in the house that the Fast n Final had to sit overnight anyway. It might work out a little better if we lived in Arizona instead of Michigan.

Onward!

 

Jul 20

Whole House List

Now that we’ve closed on our new house, I figured it was time to share what I’ve been working on since we signed our purchase agreement. As I mentioned in my post about buying this house, it’s been a rocky road to where we are now, filled with lots and lots of excitement, and lots and lots of tears. And a little bit of frustrated screaming.

But now we’re here! And it’s time to get down to business to defeat the Huns.

WARNING: This is loooooooooooooooooooooooong. Like super long. I split everything up into tiny tiny chunks so that I don’t get overwhelmed, but you might get overwhelmed reading it. God speed.

Front Yard – 0% complete
SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Thatch the lawn

Create raised beds in front of everything

Build a ring of stones around the tree

Plant hostas around the tree

Find plants that bloom at different times of year

 

Front of House/Front Porch – 0% complete

 

Paint the front door

Remove the tiny porch and install a real porch

Build a portico over the door

Put in a new light

 

Driveway – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Fix the weird area that’s dipped down

Move the downspouts that are in bad places

 

Garage – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Build a storage shed on the side of the garage

Convert the window into a door

Replace the garage door

Get electricity run to the garage

Install shelving inside the garage

 

Backyard – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Take out the bush in the back of the yard

Install a privacy fence

Take out the patio and level the yard

Build a deck

Cut down the huge tree that’s too close to the foundation

Build a raised vegetable garden

Find a better location for the clothesline

 

Whole House Exterior – 0% complete

Install soffit vents

Install security cameras

 

Living Room – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

 

Paint

Remove the weird shutters and aquarium in the entryway

Replace baseboards with something thicker

Trim out the doors and windows

Install a new front door

Replace the deadbolt for more security

Clean up the linoleum in the entry

Build built-ins in the dining room

Refinish floor

 

Kitchen  – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Paint

Replace the back door

Trim out the doors and windows

Remove the weird entry doors

Design a new layout and replace the cabinets

Tile the floor

Install a tile backsplash

Vent the hood to the roof

Get curtains

 

Upstairs Bathroom  – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Remove the plastic panels from the walls

Paint

Install a bathroom vent

Replace the vanity

Replace the toilet

Replace the tub

Re-glaze the tile

 

Craft room  – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

 

Paint

Install new baseboards

Build craft storage and tables

Replace light fixture

Refinish floors

Curtains!

Install mini blinds

 

Master Bedroom  – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Paint

Install new baseboards

Replace light fixture

Refinish floors

Curtains!

Install mini blinds

 

Back Bedroom/Guest room  – 0% complete
SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Paint

Install new baseboards

Refinish floors

Replace light fixture

Curtains!

Install mini blinds

 

Hallway – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Build a gallery wall

Paint

Refinish floors

 

Main Basement Area  – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Install a ceiling

Paint

Install new plugs

tear down walls that don’t make sense

Build storage shelves

Relocate the work bench to another wall

Hide the furnace and hot water tank

Paint the fruit cellar

Re-paint the laundry tub

Buy a washer and dryer

Create designated spaces for different areas (workout, laundry, tv)

 

Basement Bathroom  – 0% complete

SwankyLuv: Whole House List

Paint

Install a ceiling

 

Misc – 0% complete

Replace outlets with grounded plugs

Replace light switches

Replace lightswitch and outlet covers

Replace galvanized pipes with Pex

Jul 13

The Before

In order to properly chronicle the changes we’ll be making to the house, we of course have to post the before photos, so here they are!

Front of the house:

SwankyLuv: The Before

Living and dining room:

SwankyLuv: The Before

SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before

Bathroom:

SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before

Master bedroom:

SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before

Craft room:

SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before

Spare room:

SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before

Basement:

SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before SwankyLuv: The Before

Backyard:

SwankyLuv: The Before

Driveway and Garage:

SwankyLuv: The Before

What do you think? Stay tuned for many, many updates!

Jul 06

Whole House Color Scheme… Again

A few days before closing, we headed over to Lowes to buy doorknobs and get some paint swatches so we could get an idea of our color scheme before closing, and all we could find in paint swatches in the HGTV Sherwin Williams colors, which are great, but I could only find one of the colors (plus, the name and number were at the bottom of the swatch and impossible to see which made it super frustrating). We decided to head over to the Sherwin Williams store because we knew they would have a bigger assortment of swatches and I might have better luck finding the colors that I’d chosen.

When we got there, we ended up changing the whole thing. After pulling swatches for Grassland and Cascade Green, then finding a book with Blue Peacock in it, I realized that we had way too much green and not nearly enough blue. After pulling a few more swatches, we ended up with this, which I like a whole lot better:

SwankyLuv: Whole House Color Scheme... Again

And here’s how it looks on the floorplan:

SwankyLuv: Whole House Color Scheme... Again

The colors look closer on the computer than they read in real life. They’re all bluish-greenish colors, which I love, and the color scheme keep it cohesive throughout the house, which is the most important part. Now, the trick is to get it all on the walls!

So, tell me what you think. Is it better than the last one?

Jun 29

Whole House Color Scheme

One of our first projects (after a through scrubbing) planned for our new house is painting all of the rooms. I spent a lot of time before closing picking out a whole-house color scheme that would be cohesive and make the house look bigger.

I started with a floor plan that I built with the help of floorplanner.com, the MLS listing room sizes, and my poor memory. I plan to re-do the floor plan soon with real measurements, but this worked out for what I needed at the time, which was colors!

We still have to get some test pots and paint some test patches on the walls to be sure these are the exact colors that we want, but with the help of the Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore websites, this is what I came up with:I

SwankyLuv: Whole House Color Scheme

Husband was happy and loves the craft room color, so as long as these look good on the walls, we’ll be painting soon!

And here is the palette so that we can all keep track!

SwankyLuv: Whole House Color Scheme

So tell me, what’s your favorite color scheme? What would you change about my palette? What do you think?

Jun 22

We Bought a House!

There are photos in this post that are blurred out for the homeowner’s privacy.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far far away way back in September, before Chris and I got married, we tried to buy a house. It didn’t go well.

After putting in our offer and getting it accepted, it turned out that the house was a short sale, and there was no approval yet, but the listing agent that it would only be 30-60 days for approval. I was ok with it, and spent a lot of time creating my whole house list of changes that I wanted to make, but long story short, 6 months and 3 days later, the bank decided that they wanted $20,000 more than the house appraised for, so we didn’t buy it.

SwankyLuv: We Bought a House!

So we started over. We went house shopping a week later, and found a house that we liked and put an offer in on – and the seller just said no. So we moved on to an amazing, tank of a house that was bigger than all the rest and priced really well. The house was all cinder block construction with wet plaster walls and a huge yard. It was a foreclosure, and had a few things that needed to be repaired according to the city, but nothing that would be too difficult. We put in an offer, which was accepted right away, and scheduled our inspection!

Let’s just say it also didn’t end well. We weren’t even in the house for 15 minutes before the inspectors called me into the basement to point out the floor to ceiling mold that was all over the walls and rafters in the basement. The culprit was most likely the sauna and shower in the basement, but we didn’t bother finishing the inspection. We withdrew our offer and moved on.

SwankyLuv: We Bought a House!

Three days later, we went back out to shop and actually found three houses that we liked, put in an offer on one, and it was accepted! Our inspection revealed a few things that we need to fix, and the city required a few repairs before closing, but we were mostly patient, waited it out, and now I can finally say… we bought a house!

SwankyLuv: We Bought a House!

What should you expect now? I’ll share my un-blurred “before” photos, our whole house list, and a ton of our DIY projects! We have so, so much to do to make this house what we want it to be, since it’s extremely outdated, so welcome to the journey!

Apr 20

April BoCandy Review

Recently, Chris and I started getting the monthly candy box – BoCandy. BoCandy is a monthly subscription of international and imported candy. You get a box, and then a few days later, you get an email about what’s in the box.

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review

When we started getting it, it came in an envelope, but they recently switched to a box, which meant more delicate candy, and less risk of crushed candy! April’s arrived the other day, so I thought I’d get a review up for you all.

The first thing that we tried from this box was the Giant Caplico. A lot of the label was covered by the American label that most imported candy gets, but it was pretty self-explanatory what this thing was supposed to be! I haven’t gotten my email yet, but Internet research has told me that this is a Japanese candy, and I’m not the only one who was expecting it to be crunchy and not like a soft chocolate candy. This is very much like last month’s Mirage bubbly chocolate, but in an ice cream cone.

It’s really good – tastes like strawberry and chocolate ice cream in a cone, but it’s super crumbly if you try to eat it like an ice cream cone.

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review

The next thing we tried was the Mini Takis Fuego – Mexican snack. These things are amazing. A few months ago, we tried the Doritos Dinamita, which I loved – the texture is great, and the flavor is decent, but this snack takes it to a whole new level. The flavor is complex and you get both the heat and lime distinctively, but it doesn’t burn your face off. The texture is like when you get a corn or tortilla chip that’s folded in half or when you eat two chips stacked on top of each other. Either way, it’s a texture that I’ve always loved, and these rolled chips are the best.

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review

The next thing we tried was this Mexican candy – Las Gran Sandias. They’re a watermelon gummy candy that cut the burn from the Mini Takis. They had a strong flavor, but not too sweet or too sour. There’s not much else to say about these, other than they were tasty.

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review

After that, we tried this Ramune candy. This is another one from Japan, and it’s another absolutely adorable package. It’s made to look like a bottle of Ramune, and it tastes just like it too. It’s a hard candy, but after you suck on it for a while, it becomes a powdery sugar. I liked them, but Chris didn’t – I’m also a pretty big Ramune fan, but Chris isn’t, which explains a bit, doesn’t it!

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review

 

The internet told me that this next candy, Hopjes, are a Dutch coffee flavored hard caramel. Wikipedia says it’s a “sight coffee and caramel flavor”, but it’s definitely more than slight. Chris likes them, but I’m not a coffee lover, so after half a second, I spit this one out. If you like coffee, you will love this candy. It’s kind of like a coffee flavored Werther’s.

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review

These Napolean Sours have been in the last few boxes- I think BoCandy got quite a few of these, but I’m not complaining. I got mostly lemon this time, which are very similar to Lemonheads, but bigger. I can’t figure out what country they’re from, but they’re good.

SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review This last one is another one that I have no idea about. I thought they were cinnamon, but was shocked to find they’re root beer flavored. They’re like slightly less sweet Root Beer Barrels.
SwankyLuv: April BoCandy Review All in all, I’m a pretty big fan of BoCandy, and I’m going to keep my subscription going for the time being. I love the new boxes, and was starting to get disappointed by the old packaging and was considering cancelling my subscription – which is $15 a month – when a lot of my candy was coming crushed or melted, but then they switched to the boxes, and won my heart back all over again.

So, what is your favorite international or strange candy? Do you have any subscription boxes or candies that you’d like me to review? Leave it in the comments!

Dec 22

Easy Ornament Wreath

We didn’t do very much decorating for Christmas this year. We’re trying to pack up while waiting to get short sale approval on a house we fell in love with, so it didn’t make a whole lot o sense to decorate the whole apartment (which is in shambles) this year.

I did see a couple of great ideas on Pinterest that I was dying to try out, and they happened to work out together, so I wanted to give them both a shot. They were both quick and easy ideas, so I decided that the extent of my decorating this year would be a wreath on the front door (we didn’t even put up a tree!)

SwankyLuv: Easy Ornament Wreath

I was pretty excited about the ease of this tutorial. Basically, you just take some ornaments and string them onto a stretched out coat hanger.

 

I used shatter resistant ornaments that I purchased at Target for $18 on sale (I used around 75 of 100 ornaments in the box), and hot glued all of the tops to the ornaments. I recommend doing this, or else run the risk of popping off every single ornament after it’s already been strung on the coat hanger like I did.

SwankyLuv: Easy Ornament Wreath

The other idea that I wanted to try out was a method of hanging that I had found in this tutorial from Sand and Sisal for her Joy Wreath. This is great for an apartment where you can’t go around putting holes in the doors, but still want to hang a wreath. Essentially, you take a Command hook and attach it upside down on the back of the door, then hook a binder clip to the hook. From there, you hang your wreath on some ribbon on the front of the door, and bunch the ribbon up in the binder clip. Like so:

SwankyLuv: Easy Ornament Wreath

I’m pretty excited about it. I can’t wait until next year when I have a real door! But I still plan to use this method of hanging, assuming the hook doesn’t fall off at some point.

 

How are you decorating this year? Are your plans as sparse as mine?

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