Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Kitchen | Before

I told Blake when we were dating and engaged that I was not a good cook. He laughed it off and said that was fine, we could both learn to cook. Poor guy had no idea what he was in for the first six months of marriage. I could make cereal, sandwiches, and pasta. Monday night dinner? Spaghetti. Tuesday night dinner? Chicken alfredo. Wednesday night dinner? Spaghetti...with...pepperonis. Do you see where I'm going here? Guys, one of the first times I offered to help his mom in the kitchen, she asked me to toss a salad and I panicked. Am I tossing this salad correctly?! Once I was in Home Ec class, and a recipe for chicken fried steak had a misprint calling for one cup of salt and one cup of pepper in the dry coating mix, and I was too ignorant to recognize it as a misprint and it wasn't until after I had dumped A CUP of salt into the flour that my teacher exclaimed "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" 

My dabbling in cooking started with something that seemed easy to me, which was baking cupcakes from a box mix. Pretty soon, Pinterest came on the scene and I was suddenly a few links away from all kinds of cooking-for-horrible-cooks knowledge. Being poor, busy college students with zero cooking skills, crock pot meals saved our marriage and our checking account. All of you cynics can roll your eyes at Pinterest all you want, but it was Pinterest and the Rachael Ray show that finally taught me something (I was too embarrassed to seek help elsewhere at first). I'm definitely a visual learner. Eventually, I just got into whatever kitchen I could to figure out a thing or two, and one day I looked up and was a decent little chef. In fact, dare I say it, I started to love cooking. Every time I drop butter into a pan and it begins to sizzle and smell delicious, I'm transported back in time to my MaMa's kitchen and Sunday lunch waiting at her table while our mouths watered in expectation, and our waistlines begged us to reconsider our choices.

Have you watched Cooked on Netflix yet? You need to do so. Not only is cooking starting to make a cultural comeback, but cooking with real ingredients. Farm-to-table restaurants are all the rage, and guys, I love it. There are few things I love as much as real food.  Finally figuring my way around a kitchen and around food has been a journey of self discovery that I feel I am only just beginning. 

All of this is so you can understand my disappointment when the worst room in the house, by far, was the kitchen (the breakfast nook was terrible as well, but it's like an extension of the kitchen so I don't count it). Just. Let me show you:

Here you can see the mudroom, the cabinets and shutters with a million coats of paint on them, and to the far left of the frame is the door that opens to the stairs to the attic.

More pink tile, a faucet that was rusted beyond repair, and more cabinets.

Similar to the bathroom mistakes, the kitchen had a drop ceiling that made it feel like a hobbit hole (in a bad way, not in a charming way). The cabinets and shutters and door frames and everything had at least five coats of paint on them. There were stains in places that I dared not investigate. The pink tile and backsplash was bad taste (in our opinion), and that was going to be a feat of its own to remove. And guess what? FOUR LAYERS OF LINOLEUM TILE OVER A HARDWOOD FLOOR. 

Mudroom, and a small peek into the butlers pantry.
The kitchen leads to another entrance to the backyard via what we are calling the mudroom, because that's our intended purpose for it. There is also a little butler's pantry that I am hoping to turn into a prayer room. On the left of the wall in this photo is the door that leads to the basement (don't get me started). Also, get this: there is a set of (at this point in time, very unstable) stairs that lead from the kitchen to the attic that are hidden when you close the door. Looking at it you would think it is a pantry, but no--the attic! Someday, when we actually finish the attic and convert it into a guest room, that is going to be really cool.  

The stove, and a glimpse of some awkward cabinet space. You would think there was lots of storage space on the top, but the drop ceiling left maybe half a foot of space.
The stove was gross, but usable. We're going to clean it up and pray it works when the time comes, until we can afford a new stove. A brand new stove isn't exactly a priority when you are focusing on rebuilding an entire kitchen from scratch. Also, that place to the bottom right on the floor is where a refrigerator is supposed to go, and the floor was very unstable from water damage. We were hoping this was the only place from the hardwood floor that would be unsalvageable, because reinforcing it and sticking a fridge on top of it would be easy to hide. More on this later.

I was personally extremely relieved to find there was a dishwasher. A house sitting vacant for two years makes anything look decrepit, but as far as we can tell the dishwasher is fairly new. 

I can tell you that we have come a long way on the kitchen, and it looks nothing like this anymore. I can also tell you that it isn't even close to being done. Let me give you a sneak peek:

I know that isn't much of a sneak peek of the room, but it is a big sneak peek of Blake's demolition journey. Honestly, I think even Chip and Joanna Gaines would be extremely impressed with this man. Get ready, folks, cause you will get all the detailed plans and photos of the overhaul--next week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

DI[Y*] [*Yourself, With Help]

I've done things this Spring Break that I haven't done at least since college (which was only three years ago, but I digress). Today, I slept in until eleven thirty. Also, I'm still in my pajamas. I have caught up on all my shows. Maybe you thought I was going to say I have stayed up ridiculously late and done questionable things, which is almost true. I have stayed up really late (binging Netflix), but the only question around here is, "how much of Gramma Judy's homemade granola have I eaten?" All you people going on big trips and being super busy have fun, I'm at Grandma's house doing nothing. I think we know who really wins, here.

So, as you can see, we are not at our house doing any fixer upper work this week, but I still wanted to update those of you who have been so encouraging about this blog. Let me just ooze appreciation for a minute: I am the worst at playing it cool when someone says they have been reading all of the posts about our fixer upper. Many of you who know me understand my love for writing, and the high hopes I have; many of you who know me better know that I need a lot of accountability when it comes to disciplining myself to do the things I dream of doing when they don't feel successful (good things come to those who hustle even when it doesn't feel like it's working, right? RIGHT?!). When I started this blog as a house mom, it was my way of forcing myself to write with enough consistency to figure out how I would measure up as a writer and how I could get better. I was completely surprised when anyone said they read it, and it drove me to work harder. Once we knew we would be leaving the ranch, one of the many changes that occurred to me would take place was that I had no clue what to write about to keep pursuing my goals. Honestly, the decision to try writing about our fixer upper journey felt like throwing the baby bird out of the nest and not even hoping it would fly, but hoping it at least wouldn't fall to its death. My posts as a house mom would average about one hundred views per post once they had been up for a week. In the past month and a half, my posts have been averaging three hundred views within a few hours. While I hope that my writing has improved, I know that the traffic is because you all read, you care, you're interested, and you're sharing my writing with your friends and family. I am so grateful, and just completely floored at your encouragement.

Dining room floor work crew, consisting of Comptons and honorary Comptons.
Speaking of encouragement, we have had a few friends offer not only their interest, but their actual physical presence for help with our "little project." Any time people do this we get a little too excited, especially me, because let's be honest, Blake gets a lot more done with helpers other than me. For those of you considering a fixer upper, you should be prepared to do 98% of the work yourself; then, when others help you out of the pure kindness of their hearts (and maybe the slight hope of a free lunch or dinner), you can just fall to your knees and thank Jesus that there are still good people in this world.

When we first moved in, you may remember me sharing a picture of the floor in the dining room. What I neglected to post (because we were so busy), was how this floor came to be so beautiful, because it definitely didn't look like that when we pulled up the carpet.

First, nails had to be pried out of the floor. Next, with a little razor blade, the bigger white paint splotches would be scraped up. Then, one would use steel wool to scrub away the paint the razor failed to remove. Finally, after sweeping and mopping up the old paint and gooey mystery stains away, Blake would apply the...I'm going to call it sealer, but because we weren't completely refinishing the floors I'm not sure if that is technically correct, because surprise! I don't know anything about this stuff, I just write about it.

Littlest Compton window washers

Rachel cleaned and spray painted the vent covers for the dining room.
On move-in week, we had our friend Daniel, five of Blake's siblings and some of their friends help move in boxes, doggedly work on this tedious floor process, and wash windows. Last week, two couples from our community group at New Life Bible Church in Norman came out on a Saturday to also help with this same tedious floor work for the living room, as well as another big project: tearing out our rotted back deck.

Before: The decked back yard, once some of the foliage had been taken out or had died when it got colder.
Before: View from standing closer to the garage; this was in April or May, when none of the greenery had died yet.
Before: View from standing just to the left of the bedroom door. None of the deck used treated wood, so most of it was rotted.
Blake has spent spring break having to nurse his poison-ivy ridden hands, which is an unfortunate result of an otherwise extremely productive day. Blake expressed to me several times how excited he was to have help with that project, because he was absolutely dreading the idea of doing it by himself. While we haven't sealed the floor in the living room yet, I am also so relieved that when we get home from Spring Break, I won't be spending hours upon hours by myself scraping that living room floor while Blake is at class and work (our neighbors are probably also relieved that they won't hear me taking advantage of the acoustics of the living room and singing opera while I perform this mundane task).

After: our trash pile in the backyard is seriously out of hand now. That should be our last big project before being able to have it hauled off for us!

After (sort of): once the deck was out, and all of the dead or almost dead bushes/trees were being uprooted.

So, as for after pictures and progress, sometime next week the living room floor will be done and we will be picking up furniture that is being generously given to us to use, which means we will actually have the living room set up for a true before-and-after comparison. Also, next week I will be starting the detailed story of our kitchen, as Blake will begin construction! I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT THE KITCHEN.

Once again, I can't thank you all enough for your interest in and support of this blog. Documenting this journey has been fun for me as a writer and encouraging for me as a DIY-er, but the Y of DIY is a little misleading. I have done a lot of this fixer upper stuff myself, and Blake has done a lot more by himself, but all of this has been done with so many of our friends and family's support and encouragement. Let's all have a big ol' party when our house is done, okay? Everyone's invited!*

We were able to get this floor almost completely scraped in a few hours, it would have taken me a whole week to do it by myself!
This scary looking backyard is slowly but surely being worn down into something usable; this is before anything had been done. Maybe by the time fall rolls around the panorama will be much prettier.

*pending whether or not Blake freaks out at the idea of hundreds of people in our house, I haven't actually asked him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Bedroom Story | Part Two

WE'RE FINALLY MOVED INTO OUR FIXER UPPER! Granted, it was not without minor setbacks, like how in the middle of the thunderstorm last night I suddenly heard running water as if it was gushing all over a floor somewhere. Blake and I ran out of our bedroom to see a steady stream of water pouring from the breakfast nook ceiling. I rushed to grab a bucket while Blake ran upstairs to see if the source of the leak was from the storm or the pipes, and lo and behold, a hot water pipe upstairs had burst. Everything was closed, so we had to turn off the water until the morning when Blake could get what he needed to fix it. BUT. Now it is fixed and (prayerfully) we will not have water pouring out of a ceiling for a third time (that's a story for later, too, it'll be in something I might call "The Plumbing Chronicles"). All three of us got squeaky clean with hot water in our own house, so we are happy. 

The most homey part of our home, the part where we are doing most of our living at the moment, is the bedroom. You probably wouldn't believe me looking at this mess:

Guys, it looked so much worse in person. And, of course, the smell of the moldy addition didn't help the atmosphere. When we bought the house, this room might have been my least favorite part. For whatever reason, I had a hard time keeping a vision for it in my mind's eye. I couldn't grasp the concept that there was a lot more wall behind those valances. Also, all I could see was that I was going to have to peel even more wallpaper, which was totally spirit-crushing. Not just wallpaper, but painted-over wallpaper; painted over I'm not even sure how many times. 

While Blake and my dad would work on plumbing and patching and gutting the kitchen, I peel wall paper and attempted to remove the valances. I was unsuccessful. After they helped me remove the valances, I cleared any remaining wallpaper, then taped off the windows. Blake fixed big patches while I fixed small ones. Pretty soon it was time to kilz, as the walls weren't in horrible shape everywhere, but they were several different colors from the effects of being painted, wallpapered, then painted again who knows how many times. We also had to remove the old stinky carpet, and because of some unfortunate cuts from when they were running plumbing for the addition, the hardwood would have been too expensive to resurrect. Also, in addition to ruining the floor, when running different things for the addition, one of the previous owners had cut through a support beam, and part of the floor from the hall to the bedroom was so sunken that it felt like walking across a boat deck. Blake got under the house and jacked the floor up in this spot, which is much less noticeable now. I'm not sure you would notice if you didn't know that it had been a problem before. After doing all this and probably more that I'm forgetting about, we finally got to see the changes that completely changed my mind about this room.

Something about seeing this peaceful color on the walls completely changed the room. Also, it isn't in this picture, but especially after Blake painted and installed the crown molding, this room changed from eliciting a defeated sigh to a sigh of relief. 

So, ready to see some of the details now?

I'm obsessed with the carpet Blake picked. Affordable, but so squishy and comfy.
Adeline loves that she is sharing a room with Mommy and Daddy. When the upstairs is finished, she is getting a FULL SIZE big girl bed. I think she will like it better, but I'm not sure she would believe me if I told her.

Blake's desk; he asked me to write that quote for him. ;)
Naptime approved. <3
So, here's the list of things we had to do to this room:
  • tear off the addition
  • install the french windows
  • trim the windows
  • remove valances
  • remove wallpaper
  • patch walls
  • remove popcorn ceilings from room and closets
  • kilz walls and ceiling
  • kilz closet walls and ceilings
  • paint walls and ceiling
  • paint closet walls and ceiling
  • paint and install crown molding
  • install fan and additional light
  • replace electrical outlets and switches and covers
  • pick out carpet (obviously we didn't do the install of the carpet)
  • install closet rods for Blake's closet

I forgot to take a picture of our bed; when I get home today (I am currently at the laundromat) I will ask Blake to take a panorama of the now decorated bedroom.

Our next big project is going to be the kitchen, which will definitely be a two parter, maybe three. Stay tuned, you will hear more from me next week. :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

An Intermission Post

So, you all have hopefully read part one of the bedroom story, involving tearing off the addition on the side of the house. If you haven't, you can go here to read it. I will do my usual Monday or Tuesday post next week with the details of part two, as well as many, many detailed after pictures, DECOR AND EVERYTHING, y'all. In the meantime, I wanted to answer a few FAQ's regarding our current housing situation, as well as questions about how the renovation journey is going in general. Also, it's an excuse to show you more pictures of some decorations in the living room and dining room that we have been able to put up as we have waited around for other things to happen. :) I will take any opportunity to show pictures.

FAQ #1: Wait...so when are you moving into the house?

Okay, here's the deal with that whole thing. To move into a house, you need three basic things to make it work: electricity, running water (ideally with a hot water option for bathing), and heat. The first of these three was fine, but the last two of these were not ready when we moved to Shawnee. Blake worked at every possible moment on getting the water running and getting the gas working when he wasn't in class or doing either of his other two jobs. The water was fixed relatively quickly, but the gas took a while to get working. Our house was built in 1945, and our best guess was that all of the pipes for the gas were the original gas work. In an effort to save money he tried to work with what was already there, then ended up having to replace it all anyway. Yesterday, a plumber friend came out to inspect and approve the work before the city came out for their inspection, and today the city gave their stamp of approval to have the gas turned on for the house! This means that the company should come out Monday to have the gas turned on, and we will be officially moving into our house! And you will get ALL of the happy selfies on Instagram and Facebook.

FAQ #2: Where have you all been living while getting your house liveable?

Blake's parents own a house next door to their own where Blake's brother Caleb is living, and there is a spare room. It has been really nice to have at least 10 babysitters available at almost any given moment, as well as possible fixer upper volunteers.

FAQ #3: So, you're moving into a house with no kitchen and no laundry room?

Well...yeah. The kitchen shouldn't take too long, it just needs to, you know...be...built. Here's a sneak peak:
I don't actually know how these things will magically happen, other than the fact that Blake designed this and knows how to do everything, so I am SUPER EXCITED.
As for the laundry room, it will eventually be the basement, but Blake says it is way too scary down there at the moment for him to not feel guilty making me do laundry down there. There's a pretty amazing laundromat in Shawnee that I plan on frequenting, and if that wasn't an option there is always a washer and dryer available at the Comptons' house(s). We do have a washer and dryer that will be great when the basement is Blake-approved for me. 

FAQ #4: Have you and Blake discovered more about each other's personalities through this process?

Have you ever read any of The Awkward Yeti's Heart and Brain comics? Blake is brain and I am heart. These comics do a great job of visualizing how most of this fixer upper (and our life together) goes: 

Us, always.

Me about most things in the house that are a significant problem.

Definitely us when it comes to not-fun fixer upper stuff like putting up all of the tools.
We already knew we were like this, it is just magnified on a daily basis.

FAQ #5: When do we get more before and after pictures?!??!?!???!??!!!

If I acted according to my feelings, I would have revealed everything we have done and are doing by now, but Blake advised that I would hold interest longer if I just blogged once a week. Also, if I don't space things out, I am going to catch up to where we are on our progress, and I don't want to hit a blog-wall where I can't update anything for like, a month. I am cheating and writing this one because I love showing you after pictures! I LIVE FOR AFTER PICTURES. I also jump at any and every oppurtunity to unpack a box. So, here's a few pictures of some decor we have been able to put up in the living and dining room:

The music wall in the dining room :) Can't wait to get all my voice books out of storage!

Piano decor details

Finally got that mantel decorated :) Blake's influence is obvious here, he thinks less is more, I think it needs flowers.

We also have decor put up in the bedroom, but I am going to show you those with the before and after pictures when I do the big reveal of the bedroom next week in The Bedroom Story | Part Two. See you Monday or Tuesday, back here. :)