A mantle Thanksgiving

My sad not-even-really a mantle right now.

My sad not-even-really a mantle right now.

From the side.  It's just some random trim pieces that don't make anything beautiful or impressive.

From the side. It’s just some random trim pieces that don’t make anything beautiful or impressive.

Ever since Grandpa put the idea of rebuilding my fireplace mantle in my head last weekend, I’ve not been able to stop thinking that this is a really good idea.  The problem I identified when Grandpa was in town (besides the risk of him cutting himself) was that I didn’t have the saw to cut the wood.

Letting curiosity get the best of me, I started Googling “fireplace mantle plans” to see what I could find.  I will need a real plan for this.

I’ve found plenty of stuff.  I found this and this.

I found pictures like this:

I can do this.

I can do this.

Or this.

Or this.

This guy already did all the measuring for me!

This guy already did all the measuring for me!

It’s been a while since I’ve done any significant construction.  Probably since right after college.  My years of set construction are a ways behind me.  But I’m pretty sure with the right tools, I can do this.  Building the mantle actually seems fairly straightforward, attaching it to the wall is still confounding me.  There’s something about mounting strips and I don’t quite get it all yet.  And how do I work around the baseboard?  Hmmmm.

Speaking of tools, I’ll need the saw.  I’m not usually a Black Friday shopper, but I imagine some amazing saw will be on sale that day, right?  Thank goodness for the internet.  I Google “Lowe’s Black Friday” and find a link to some leaked items that will be available, INCLUDING a DeWalt Miter Saw.  This is happening.

I’m not going back to the Lou for Thanksgiving this year, meaning I have a four day weekend to knock this out.  I can tear down the wood currently in place on Thursday, shop early Friday morning for my saw and the lumber, and spend the next three days building and painting this sucker.  THEN, it’s just in time to decorate it for Christmas!

What do you think?  Can I handle this?  I’m a little nervous about taking that tile surround off.  I don’t know exactly what to replace the floor tile with.  I clearly have a little more planning to do, but I’ve got a couple weeks to get that done.

Or, do I just relax through this first holiday season in my house?  I don’t even know what that might mean.  I’m making a mantle.

Home(less)

Landing in Columbus after a weekend in the Lou this past Sunday night I thought to myself, “It is so nice to be home.”  Typically, I have thought the opposite.  Not that it’s not nice to be back in Columbus, but that I was home in St. Louis.  This last weekend was a turning point.  I don’t live there any more.  I don’t have to stop at Hartford Coffee each time and wish I was still in the apartment upstairs.  I don’t live a block from the park.  I can’t see everyone I want to anytime I want to.  And… that’s okay.  I felt a little homeless in St. Louis.  I can love it, and miss it, and enjoy spending time there, but I have transitioned to making Columbus, OH home.

Not that the weekend back in the Lou was bad.  Spent a lot of time with my grandparents, had breakfast with the lovely and talented Claire, met my sisters for a wedding where he (the groom, my cousin) promptly passed out at the altar.  (He’s just a really nervous and shy kid, plus the church was hella hot.)  He rallied by the end, but it was for sure not the wedding ceremony that dear bride was probably counting on.  I hung with this kid between wedding and reception:

She's starting to understand toys and that they can all go into her mouth.

She’s starting to understand toys and that they can all go into her mouth.

Baby Avery!

Baby Avery has a lot to learn about posing for selfies.

I even let myself have fun at the reception.  It’s the first post break up wedding and I was prepared to be Avery’s baby sitter that night and skip the whole thing.  Bitter Betty, party of one.  Emilie had none of that of course and since she was driving, I was drinking.

Then again, so was my sister in law...she's the one there on the right.

Then again, so was my sister in law…she’s the one there on the right.

Sisters and mom

Sisters and mom

Sister selfie

Sister selfie

Sibling selfie

Sibling selfie.  We are so cute.

Mom eventually cut me off because she thought I’d be too hungover for the wedding shower I was throwing the next morning for the sister there on the right.  The baby of the fam is getting married and I threw Shower #1 this past weekend.  Mimosas & Matrimony!  That was the shower theme.

Invites!  (PS. This photo from the Etsy site Paperwork Envy - fear not - I didn't post my actual information.

Invites! (PS. This photo from the Etsy site Paperwork Envy – fear not – I didn’t post my actual information.

I got the invites from Paperwork Envy, an Etsy seller.  Everyone loved them and they set the tone for the shower.  Once I found them, the rest of the party took care of itself!

Which means Mimosa Bar!

Which means Mimosa Bar!

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Carafes of juice and bottles of champagne chill nearby

Carafes of juice and bottles of champagne chill nearby.  We did cranberry, pineapple and orange juices.

Favors!  Take home Mimosas!

Favors! Take home Mimosas!

 

 

The wonderful signage came from Etsy shop Happily Ellie After.  She was great to work with customizing the tags for me and adding Jess’s name and wedding date to the tags.  I got the favor idea from Meg’s maid of honor Becca who did this for Meg’s shower the week before in Richmond.  Genius and super cute.

By the time it was all over, as I said at the beginning, I was ready to come home.  Home to my house where I’ll be taking on the last of the major home improvement projects I’m willing to do in 2014 this weekend.  More on that later, right now, to paint a bathroom…

 

Kitchen update – Tiling Part 2

I can’t exclaim “It’s all done” regarding the entire kitchen quite yet – but I can say that about the tiling!  And that means I am about 93% done with the whole room.  Man, has this been a full weekend of tiling fun.  I left off last night with the thin set mortar drying overnight after all the tiles were on the wall, but having realized there was a problem with the outlets.

Did not adjust for outlet plate.

Did not adjust for outlet plate.

After I wrote last night’s post and had another glass of wine, I googled what to do about this.  In my head the outlet and switch plates would go on top of the tile, but the outlet box is recessed in the wall.  I’d have to mount the outlet box differently so it stuck out some and was flush with the tile – otherwise there is a giant gap between the plate and the outlet.  No good.  Being wine confident, as I was last night, I decided to check this out, so I unscrewed the outlet, realizing the top of the outlet was stuck under some mortar… anyway, long story short, I ended up unintentionally popping off a tile, so that is how I decided to pop the others off around it and trim them  this morning.

I bought a wax pencil to mark the tiles as I worked.  I thought this came in handy.

I bought a wax pencil to mark the tiles as I worked. I thought this came in handy.

I’ll come back to the outlets later.  This is not the last time they will annoy me.

Before - and here is a better look at the trim work I put on the sink wall at the very top.  It's like a little surprise for anyone ducking down where they'd see it.

Before – and here is a better look at the trim work I put on the sink wall at the very top. It’s like a little surprise for anyone ducking down where they’d see it.

Here we go!!

Here we go!!

It took a 2 feet section for me to find my groove.  It seemed like those first couple feet took me forever.  It got easier pretty quick.

It took a 2 feet section for me to find my groove. It seemed like those first couple feet took me forever. It got easier pretty quick.

Sink wall done first...working behind the new goose neck faucet was tricky.

Sink wall done first…working behind the new goose neck faucet was tricky.

Aaaand stove wall done!  This side flew by.  Nothing in the way on this side.

Aaaand stove wall done! This side flew by. Nothing in the way on this side.

It took about 2 hours to grout both walls.  Then almost another hour fiddling with the outlet covers.  As I finished the tiling I found myself wondering if I would grout around them or caulk around them.  I took it to the Google.  This is where I realized I’ve pretty much done the outlets all wrong.  I really should have figured out how to remount them.  Oh well.  That’s probably the only thing about this project that I’m not super thrilled with.  I’m only mildly thrilled with them.  I decided to grout between the outlet/switch cover and the tile and it looks fine.

Stove side done!

Stove side done!

Sink side done!

Sink side done!

I’m sure I should have the ambition to take on the floor, but I just don’t right now.  I don’t know exactly what kind of tile I’d put down and I need to figure out how to work around or under the appliances.  I’m not sure the floor can be a solo job.

Once I’m finished accessorizing the kitchen (curtains, a print or two near the coffee pot, and not much else really.  Trying to keep clutter off the counters since they’re so small.) I’ll put up some final photos.

Some takeaways -

  • I’m covered in several small cuts from where pieces of porcelain flew from the tile saw and hit me.  They’re small, but I should probably wear better protective gear next time.
  • Similarly, I’m surprised I didn’t poke an eye out with flying bits of tile as well
  • Tiling a floor is not like tiling a backsplash so perhaps I could have done a little more research on this process so I could have used mastic or figured out the outlet situation before hand.  I just kind of dove into it this weekend.
  • The tile saw proved worth the buy.  Renting one was at least $50 for 4 hours.  That would have been a pain in my neck yesterday and I wouldn’t have had it around this morning when I needed to re cut some of the tiles.  Buying it was only $100 and when I eventually take on the floor, or the fireplace surround, I’ll be glad I have it.

Final recap coming!

50 Shades of White

Now that the kitchen is nearly complete, I’m already thinking about the next project.

It’s time to paint my bedroom.  It’s really time to pay any attention whatsoever to my bedroom.  I bought a really beautiful upholstered queen bed when I bought the house.  It was time to upgrade my full size bed with no headboard to a grown up bed.  I looooove my bed.  For the longest time I thought I would do a blush/gold thing… like this:

This picture is on my vision board for 2014.

This picture is on my vision board for 2014.

I think I’m over the idea though.  First of all, the headboard is more of an ivory/champagne color.  I’m nervous about finding a blush color that won’t end up looking like a baby girl bedroom.  There’s a very specific peachy/blushy/pink shade and I do not have confidence that I can find it.  So, I am taking the idea of the monochromatic theme and applying ivory instead.

While I was at Lowe’s buying my tile I picked up some white/cream/eggshell paint swatches.  I had no idea how difficult this would be.  My brother-in-law’s brother stayed with me this past week and I asked him to help me narrow it down.  I now have three choices.

Dude.  How do I choose?

Dude. How do I choose?

I have a couple weeks until I have to pick the right white.  I have a the three paint chips taped to my wall.  I have one sample painted on the wall (I think it’s too yellow).  I’ll probably take Labor Day weekend to paint the bedroom.  The other furniture in my room is really pretty espresso brown – I have a chest of drawers that was my great grandmothers and a modern dresser in a very similar wood tone.  I love that my furniture doesn’t “match” but just coordinates.  I’ll have this ivory and brown with pops of gold.  I have two pretty good sized windows in my bedroom so curtain fabric will be a big decision as well.

 

Kitchen update – tile!

We made it!  We’re in the tiling phase.  Tiling part 1 took place today and tomorrow is part 2.

Part 1 is getting the tile on the wall.  I knew I wanted subway tile and found a smaller scale subway tile on the 12×12 sheets.  The smaller scale is perfect for my smaller scale kitchen.  And it’s easier to hang those sheets!  I used a thin set mortar on this project.  I didn’t learn about potentially using mastic until too late.  I’m still fine with the choice.

I prepare.  Laying out the first row of sheets on the counter to measure.

I prepare. Laying out the first row of sheets on the counter to measure.

In all the DIY videos I watched on tiling backsplashes, no where did it say take a picture of your first swipe of mortar.  Oh well, I'm doing it my way!

In all the DIY videos I watched on tiling backsplashes, no where did it say take a picture of your first swipe of mortar. Oh well, I’m doing it my way!

I knew it would be tricky to work around the light switches and outlets.  Using the tile saw was by far the thing I was looking forward to the least.  Notching little pieces of tile and all that – blerg.  Also – a tile saw is hella messy.  Assembling the tile saw was intimidating, which I was worried did not bode well for using it – but it went okay.  Putting it together was by far the hardest part.  I set up my card table just outside the kitchen side door I have and that system worked out awesome.

Me - before tile starts!

Me – before tile starts!

Stupid obstacles.

Stupid obstacles.

So… the only thing that actually went wrong today is the outlet on the stove wall.  I accounted for the outlet cover side to side, but not top to bottom.  And I didn’t realize I forgot to account for that until everything is set.  I do not know what to do to fix this.  I’m sure some googling is in my future.  Is it possible to cut tile once it’s on?  Do I need to pry it off?  Man, I hope not.  Ugh.

Stove wall complete!  Onto the sink wall!

Stove wall complete! Onto the sink wall!

Just a little bit left!!

Just a little bit left!!

I started the tiling project at 1pm.  By the time I assembled the saw, mixed the mortar, etc and was ready to start putting tile on the wall it was 2pm.  I was nearly done at 5pm and I figured a drink was in order!  I knocked out the last section, which was like playing Tetris.  At this point I cut the tiles sheets into individual pieces so I could make exact marks on them as they fitted against the wall.

Never being able to make it through a project without a trip to Lowe’s for the one thing I forgot, I changed out of my wet clothes (tile saw spray) and ran to get the trim pieces I forgot and some I didn’t realize I would need.

I found a fun piece of vintage looking trim for that little space above the tile and below the cabinet.  Pics tomorrow...

I found a fun piece of vintage looking trim for that little space above the tile and below the cabinet. Pics tomorrow…

I used some tile spacers where two sheets came together or where I needed to piece individual tiles in place.  I can’t wait for the white grout tomorrow!  I know it will pull the look together.

Done!

Done!

All done by 7:15, including my trip to Lowe's and cleaning up.  Not a bad afternoon!

All done by 7:15, including my trip to Lowe’s and cleaning up. Not a bad afternoon!

Stay tuned for the very nearly finished kitchen!!!!!!!  I’m so very excited.

Sarah v. the weekend, vol 6

It’s Sarah vs. the weekend, volume 6, y’all!

  • I cooked dinner Friday night!  This is generally not remarkable except that I have completely lost my appetite the last couple of weeks.  I’m not cooking much, have no desire to get take out, just not hungry.  But, Friday night, inspired by Sarah’s Farm Fresh Zucchini, I made a zucchini “pasta” with pesto and salmon.  It was easy and really good.  It felt nice to eat real food.  Sarah vs. no appetite….winner: Vegetables!  Just a couple of months ago I was in a crazy unhealthy eating pattern, dealing with stress with a fair amount of binge eating.  I know not eating isn’t healthy either, so making a real meal with real food that was delicious wins.  

Use the mandolin to make the "zoodles"

Use the mandolin to make the “zoodles”

Saute zoodles with some Sarah's Farm Fresh cherry tomatoes

Saute zoodles with some Sarah’s Farm Fresh cherry tomatoes

Stir in some pesto at the end of the saute and add a piece of baked salmon on top.

Stir in some pesto at the end of the saute and add a piece of baked salmon on top.  Yum.

  • Saturday morning was the Color Run.  If you’ve read this blog for a minute you’ll know this is one of my favorite events.  This is the third year I’ve run the race.  My friend Kristy ran with me this year.  Something was just off from the very beginning though…I’m sure it’s me and my blah mood lately, but even the color run couldn’t work it’s magic on me this year.  Kristy is more of a walker than a runner, the color stations were really crowded, the music at the color party at the end wasn’t awesome.  I don’t know.  Sarah vs. The Color Run…winner: Doing what you say you’re going to do.  I’m glad I went.  I’m glad I kept the Color Run streak going.  I have hope that next year will be better and I’ll look back on this one and smile that I did it, even in my funky mood.  

 

Post Co;or Run 2014.  Even the post photo isn't as fun.

Post Color Run 2014. Even the post photo isn’t as fun and bright.  I’m just off this year. 

Color Run 2013 - super happy!

Color Run 2013 – super happy!

Post Color Run 2012... One of my favorite pics of me ever.

Post Color Run 2012… One of my favorite pics of me ever.

  • Once the Color Run was over I had to get cleaned up and book it to the local Mazda dealership.  I brought Molly Mazda (my 2005 Mazda 3) in Thursday morning and the service center called Friday evening to tell me the car needed a fair amount of work.  Lots of little things, and mostly standard maintenance, that all added up.  Struts and brake pads and rotors and alignment and brake fluid flush and a heat shield and something about air in the fuel line…I was thinking about buying a car next year, so putting the nearly 3K into the car now seemed silly.  I spent some time Friday night looking at their pre-owned selection knowing that I needed to go in with a plan.  I can be easily persuaded, so I needed to be firm in what I wanted.  I found a Mazda 3 (I just really like this car) 2011 hatchback model with about 34K miles.  Done.  That’s what I wanted.  When I got to the dealership Saturday around noon it was pretty busy.  The service guy (who may be the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life) introduced me to a sales guy and we started talking about what I wanted.  I told him I saw three pre-owned cars on their website last night that I’d like to look at – told him what my budget was – and where I wanted to be for a monthly payment.  The little blue hatchback I saw online sold the night before.  There was a pre-owned CX-7 I wanted to check out, just for fun.  I test drive it.  It’s way too big.  After that he tries to talk me into a lease on a new CX-5, my most favorite model.  He’s persuasive.  He has me test drive a new 2014 Mazda 3.  I tell him I’ll think about the lease while I’m out in that one.  This is when I call Ex Hubs who is on standby during my car buying experience.  Ex Hubs talks me down from the sales pitch and I remember the plan I came in with.  When I get back to the dealership (all these test drives are me alone – this is different from the last time I bought a car where the sales guy came with) I ask him to review the pre-owned stock for 2011 or newer Mazda 3, preferably hatchback, and with a moon roof.  We’re back on track.  He brings around two cars – a 2011 really pretty blue one with black cloth interior and a 2012 silver one with black leather interior.  The 2012 was the Grand Touring model.  Meaning, it was pretty tricked out, I mean, for me.  Leather seats with seat warmers, the locks that lock automatically when you put it in drive, Bluetooth, auto headlights, and Bose sound system.  I loved it.  I actually like the interior of the 2012 more than the 2014 – I think in trying to make it minimal they made it ugly.  So, while I like the blue color better, overall the silver car is clearly the winner.  Heated seats!  That’s the dream!   It drives so nicely.  I decide on this one and then probably wait another 2 hours to do paperwork with my sales guy and then the finance guy.  Overall I’m at the dealer for about 5.5 hours.  While I’m waiting I get the keys to Molly Mazda back and transfer the stuff I had in it to the new car.  That’s when it hits me I have to leave her there.  Oh Molly.  The first car I ever bought.  Nearly a decade of memories.  I had a moment to say goodbye.  Then I just left her there.  Sigh.  The universe is conspiring to make sure I don’t end 2014 with anything I started the year with.  Sarah vs. the unexpected new car…Winner: Molly Mazda for being a great companion for the last 9.5 years.  
Introducing... Ted Mosby.  Yes, I named my car Ted Mosby.  I wanted him in my life and I feel this is how the universe answered me.

Introducing… Ted Mosby. Yes, I named my car Ted Mosby. I wanted him in my life and I feel this is how the universe answered me.

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What can I say – I just really like the Mazda 3. Zoom Zoom.

 

Oooh - pretty interior.

Oooh – pretty interior.

  • Sunday morning was the first time I took Ted out for a spin.  We drove across town to an 8:15am Jazzercise class.  It was a nice way to start the day – gave me energy for all the stuff on my list of things to do today, since I wasn’t expecting to spend so long at the dealership yesterday.  I stopped at the grocery store after working out and then Lowe’s for a few things I needed for chores around the house.  It was nice to tool around town in a car that had that new car smell.  Sarah vs. Sunday morning…Winner: Sarah!  Get up, get going, and get stuff done!
  • The biggest undertaking of the day was wallpapering the accent wall.  The wallpaper arrived Friday and that meant I didn’t need to let another weekend go by without some progress on the kitchen.  Here’s what’s happening with the kitchen… I got the phone call from the counter top people last Friday who tell me they can’t install then until July 31.  Meaning I can’t tile the backsplash until the weekend of August 9th because the first weekend of August is my soon to be god daughter’s baptism.  I started this kitchen adventure July 3rd.  Until August 10th.  Sheesh.  Anyway – two very important things got done today – the accent wall and the drawer and cabinet pulls!  Wallpapering was an adventure.  I haven’t done that in a really long time – since my grandparents bathroom when I was in college, maybe?  I for sure had a mis-step or two, but after the second strip I had it down.  Sarah vs. DIY kitchen projects… Winner: Accent walls.  It’s so fun and it makes me smile and looks like me.  I can’t wait to get this whole thing done and share the final after pictures.  
There it is!  Orange with clip art-y utensils.  I pretty much love it

There it is! Orange with clip art-y utensils. I pretty much love it!

I have cabinet pulls!

I have cabinet pulls!

I have drawer pulls!

I have drawer pulls!

Since I had the drill out and was feeling so good about knocking stuff off the list, I thought I’d hang the new curtain in my half bathroom.  When I went to IKEA a couple weeks ago I bought the curtain panel and hanging system… so I thought.  Turns out I didn’t buy all the pieces required so I had to order a mounting system and sliding rail for this panel and wait for them to get shipped.  I spent more than an hour attempting to put this bastard up.  F$@* you, IKEA.  F@#& you and your ridiculous curtain panel system and stupid directions.  I got the wall brackets mounted – in a way that is not structurally sound at all – but then could not figure out how to attach the rail to the brackets.  I watched videos, I googled IKEA sites, I found pdfs for mounting.  Nothing answered my question.

The current state of this project.

The current state of this project.

Sarah vs. IKEA… Winner: Sweeden.  I don’t even know what my next step is here.  

Ending on a positive note… Months ago I saw a picture on Pinterest something like this…

Gross old end table into super cute cat bed/end table!

Gross old end table into super cute cat bed/end table!

D and I completed this project months ago – finding an old end table at some thrift store, D took off the doors and spray painted the hardware for me and we painted it.  I put a blanket in it and had it as my nightstand and the cats never got in it.  Bummer.  When I moved into the house I put that table in my tv room and put in a real cat bed instead of just a blanket.  And today, I’m thrilled to say Quinn is making herself at home in it pretty regularly.

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She loves it.

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Sarah vs. kooky DIY projects… Winner: Quinn.  It’s adorable and functional.  She and I are both very happy with this turn of events.  

 

Kitchen update

The walls are now mint…

The before!  Yellow walls, oak cabinets and bad fake "tin" backsplash on one side.

The before! Yellow walls, oak cabinets and bad fake “tin” backsplash on one side.

The after!

The after!

My countertops are in production now and I should be getting a call next Friday to let me know that they’re done and to schedule installation for the following week.  This means I can hopefully tile the backsplash the weekend of July 26th and thus ending the month of kitchen transition.

In that time I need to install two light fixtures – hopefully that is happening today.  My pal Kristy is stopping by and between the two of us I’m confident that we can do this.  I need to paint the trim in the kitchen still.  I also will paint this little table/breakfast bar that I’ve had in my kitchen since college.  It’s a light pine and I’m thinking of painting it white.  And then there’s the wallpapering of the accent wall.  That took a different turn.

I was all set on this:

Loved the coral

Loved the coral

Until I saw this…

Yup.  This is happening.

Yup. This is happening.

Okay, people of the internet – I can hear you cringing.  It’s not exactly what I was expecting, but it makes me laugh, and it’s fun, and I have photos of spoons in my dining room so why not line art kitchen utensils in the kitchen?!  Plus, I need to embrace this kind of stuff while I don’t have to consider anyone else’s taste while I can, right?  It is much more orange than coral, so I went to Pinterest for some validation that I haven’t made a fatal color error.  Pinterest says I’m good:

mint3_thumb3

 

 

The gray lower cabinets are probably now the odd color out, but honestly, the cabinets will be around longer than this accent wall, so I’m not too concerned.  Plus, accent wall is on the far side of the kitchen, away from the cabinets.  Anyway, it’s already done.  I ordered the wallpaper and it should be here in time for this to be next weekend’s adventure.

Happy weekend friends.