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I like to move it, move it

1 Jul

If I ever say “Soon, I promise,” again, correct me.  Tell me that I mean “Soon, I hope.”  Or “Soon, I’ll try.”  Or “Soon, so long as nothing interesting is on TV.” 

After all, doesn’t the bible say, “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.”  

Anyway, that’s mostly to say that I’m sorry and that I always wait so long to write a new post.  But, in my defense, some big changes have been happening since I last wrote.  BIG changes.

Here’s a hint:


Did you see it?  Here’s a closer hint.


Got it now?  That’s right…we sold our house.  I know what you’re thinking, “What?!?!?  You just bought that house!  Why would you sell it now?”  Well, I’ll try to answer you the best I can.

Steve and I both really liked Boy Blue when we bought it.  And we still like it today.  But when we bought, we bought in a bit of a down market and at a time of the year when not a lot of houses were available.  So Boy Blue ended up being, not the best house for us, but the best house available to us.  But we were excited about it and hopeful about it, despite its flaws.

Fast forward a few months and some of those flaws became more and more obvious and more and more frustrating.  Things that we knew would bother us, such as having 1100 finished square feet of basement that we didn’t use, really started to get on our nerves.  Why were we paying a mortgage and taxes for space that we couldn’t use now and couldn’t envision ourselves using on a regular basis even if we had five kids?  And things that we didn’t know would bother us, like having two furnaces that both need maintenance multiple times a year, really started to get on our nerves.  The question of “why are we still in this house” kept coming up.  So, we decided to look at the option of selling.

We didn’t have a plan to sell this year.  We looked at options for selling in two years or three or five.  But when we called our Realtor to find out what his opinion on the subject was, he thought we should put our house on the market right away.  No use continuing to pay for a house you don’t want, he said.  And the market is stable from where we bought, he told us.  Not to mention that it’s still an incredible time to buy. 

So, we took the plunge and listed the house (after a week’s worth of tearing down more wallpaper, repainting, fixing some windows, and other minor projects).  We listed the house at a fair market price that would have made us just a little bit of money.  In the first weekend on the market, we had 11 showings.  The following Wednesday, we had another showing and that Friday we had an offer.   We are so blessed to have our house sell after only 8 days on the market.  Granted, it took a little more time to finish the inspection and get signed papers, but within two weeks everything was complete.

At that point, we had to begin a rapid search for a new home.  We only had about two months to find a place so we immediately began the search.  Within a few days, our Realtor had sent the links to over 200 houses for us to look at.  We narrowed down our possibilities to under 30 and split them up into two LONG days of house hunting. 

During those first days, we saw some contenders but nothing that we felt comfortable putting an offer on.  We waited, knowing that we could go back to the homes we saw if nothing else panned out.  A few days later, we saw another batch of houses and this time saw one that we felt would work for us.  We went home that night with a plan to go back to the house the next day to look at it again and to write an offer.

The next day we requested to see two more houses that had just come on the market.  They both looked like nice options and we just wanted to be thorough before we saw the house we wanted to put an offer on.  The first house was okay.  It was a foreclosure so it needed some work but the part that really turned us off was that it was on a corner lot and across the street was a school.  We thought it would get a lot of traffic and that’s not something we wanted to deal with.  The second house we saw was a nice contender.  It was similar to the house we wanted to put an offer on, though set up slightly differently.  We kept it in mind, but decided to move on to the house we wanted. 

But our second trip to that house wasn’t what we wanted it to be.  The house was still nice and we still liked it as an option but on our second trip, we took a closer look at the neighborhood and realized it wasn’t exactly what we wanted.  We decided to head home for the night and think about our options.

The next day, we decided that the right house to make on offer on was the second house we’d seen the day prior, the nice contender that we didn’t want to put an offer on till we saw the other house again.  We wrote up an offer and submitted it on a Friday morning.  The sellers made us wait the entire weekend before submitting a counter offer to us.  We replied with another counter offer and, again, waited.  Eventually they came back with a take it or leave it offer.  We took it.  We’re working out the details of the inspection right now but at the end of July, we’ll be moving in here:


So, that’s why we’re moving.  We’ll give you more details on the new house once we get in there.  We’ll also try to fill you in on what we’ve done to this house since our last update.  Until then, here’s a picture of my baby napping with his toys. 





Maptly Put

17 Apr

Stevareno and my one year anniversary with our house is coming up.  We moved in last year at the end of May.  To be exact, May 20 was the day we closed on our house and the first night we slept here.  My parents were coming the next day and we wanted to spend our first night in our house just the two of us (and Reggie).

I was happy we were able to move in during the nicest weather of the year.  There really isn’t a better time to move since it’s still cool but there’s no snow on the ground.  But, one of the sad parts of moving in at that point is that we had a TON of yard work to catch up on.  Plus, we missed some of the early blooming plants in our yard.

So imagine my surprise when this April, the tree that was planted way to close to our garage, flowered!

That hottie with a body in the flannel is my hubby. What a fox.

I think it’s so pretty

But the tree is not really what this post is about.  I wanted to show you guys what I bought for myself for my birthday/built this weekend.  What I bought is: a gigantic map!  What I built is: a frame for a gigantic map!  Actually, Stevie Wonder built the frame (mostly) but we are both going to reap the rewards.

When we bought a new mattress in January, we decided to pull the box spring from our old queen bed apart and use the wood for other projects.  We ended up building a bed for the mattress that didn’t need a box spring so it was no loss.  And we used part of that wood for this framing project.

First we measured the map and then Steve McQueen cut the wood at 45 degree angles so that they would fit together well.  We laid them out and squared them up.

Then, we glued the corners together and put them in our corner clamp while we screwed into one side.

We also added a center support for extra support of the frame.

After building the frame, we laid the map face down and centered the frame on top of it.  We wrapped the map around the frame and stapled it to the wood.  After that, we had this:

Here’s a close up shot:

We are going to hang it in the hallway by our front door so that we can use it to give directions if we need to but that project is on hold because we’re waiting for a Dremmel bit to make a T-slot that we ordered online to come in the mail.  Long sentence.  Sorry.  I’ll post some final “after” pictures once we hang up the map.  Incidentally, that map will be the FIRST thing we put on our walls in this house.

I’ve heard hanging things on your walls makes your house your home but I think our house became a home when we put in 100+ hours to take down wallpaper.  We know this house intimately.

On a side note, we had to lock Reggie out of the living room while we were working on this for fear that he’d come in and step all over the map and put his toe nails through it.  So we blocked him off with some chairs.  He was in the dining room which is right attached to the living room and could see us the whole time but he still whimpered and whined like we’d left him forever.  Then, he tried sneaking under the chairs and through the chairs.  Then he did this:

What a boy!

Rast Hack

2 Apr

If there was ever any doubt in your mind about how much I love my dog, you may have missed this post.

But enough about Reggie for a moment…Stevie Wonder and I have been busy as bees (so the saying goes) these past few weeks.  For one, my parents came to town three weeks ago to help celebrate my birthday.  They brought with them a veritable bounty of delights and my parents and I spent the day running around town checking out some local shops and spending money on home decor items, deli salads, and old post cards written in German. We also took a weekend trip down to Madison to see some friends and Don’t Stop Bein’ Steven’s parents came into town for a weekend and we did a BUNCH of yard work.  I’ll detail some of this later on but I have a project to share with you first.

Back in April of 2011 (April!), Steve and I purchased an IKEA Rast dresser.


I’d seen this picture on the interweb and thought, “Hey, I could do that.”



And do I did.

I first put the dresser together and wiped it down with a damp cloth.  Then, I used a washcloth to wipe wood stain on the top and sides.

The stain sat overnight and was followed by a sanding, another coat of stain, another sanding, and three coats (with sanding in between) of polyurethane.  I used Minwax Wood Finish in Jacobean and Minwax Water Based Polyacrylic in Clear Sating.  I’ll spare you the play by play but here she is after two coats of stain and three coats of poly.

While I was staining and sanding and polying, I was also applying five (five!) coats of white paint to the drawers.  I used Behr Premium Plus white base.  It took a number of coats because after the first two, I could still see a yellowish undertone coming through.  And, since I am a glutton for punishment, I decided to continue painting and painting until I got a pure white.  Five coats (with sanding, of course) later, and we had three finished drawers.

I’d scouted a few places for handles but the winner ended up being my mom.  She found an outlet in Milwaukee where she was able to pick up 6 new drawer pulls for me.  They’re a tiny bit smaller than I would have liked but they have a diamond detail in the back that I think is rather neat.  These were beastly to put on since I had to take a bunch of measurements so they would be straight and then drill a tiny pilot hole for the top and bottom screws but in the end I was happy with them.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I started this project back in December after we hosted my family for Thanksgiving.  With all the dry time in between coats it took me about a week to complete the project.  But, when I screwed in the drawer pulls, I dinged some of the paint.  I wanted to repair those nicks before I blogged about it and didn’t get around to doing so until my parents impending visit was nearly upon us.  (I am a WORLD CLASS initiator but TERRIBLE with project follow through.)  But, I got it done for their visit and now two sets of parents have used this little night stand since.

Here she is (kind of) in use.

(Check out that hot striped wall paper!)

We’re working on another little project up in that room which is not complete yet so unfortunately you can’t really see her in use as a night stand but you can get a view of my little project.  I’m quite smitten with her.

What do you think?  Anyone else have a neat IKEA hack?


Admittedly, a few birds did act strange…

7 Mar

Steve Guttenberg recently left a mail order nursery (as in the plants, not the babies) catalog on the kitchen counter for me because he thought I might like to look at it.  This may have been a mistake because in this catalog I saw blueberry bushes and immediately decided that we would be growing blueberry bushes in our yard this year.  They’re actually rather pretty bushes with little white flowers and they turn all firey red during the fall.  See?

Big G(uttenberg) was not thrilled with the prospect of blueberry bushes.  He said, and I quote here, “How will we protect them from the birds?”

Get Cathy and Lydia out of here!

Silly, it was just a movie.  No birds will attack our blueberry bushes.


Anywho, let’s get back to business.  It’s almost time to start our indoor seedlings.  (Is that what you call them?) Last year we grew beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet corn. Everything did okay but we’ve elected not to repeat the sweet corn.  Our cobs were all half empty of kernels and they didn’t seem worth the space they took up in the garden.  We’re also going to forego lettuce because the stuff last year was incredibly bitter and we ended up not eating it all.  We need to start our broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers earlier (inside) so that they actually produce more and we need to plant our bell peppers away from our tomatoes.  This year we’re going to add radishes and possibly onions.  I’ve also been turning around the idea of growing cantaloupe as I saw seed packets at the Home Depot and maybe some late season squashes.  And, as always, we’ll grow some cilantro, basil, and maybe one other herb.  Our own little CSA.

This year, too, we finally have compost with which to supplement our nutrient sparse soil.  Stevie Wonder bought me a raised, rotating composter last year as a gift. (How romantic, no?  He knows just what I like.)  And we’ve been throwing all our vegetable and grain scraps in their all winter, along with some leaves and other browns.  Once it heats up, that thing is going to stink to high heaven but it will also turn into a splendid mulch for our vegetable garden and flower beds.  We also have a tiller this year, passed down to us from Stevie Wonder’s parents, so we can till our rather dense and clay based soil.  We had trouble last year with our carrots which only grew about 3 inches into the ground (as far down as our top soil went).  We’re hoping everything roots better this year now that we have our tiller.

I’m also hoping to add a hydrangea bush to the side of our house, some low-lying border lilies to our flower bed, a new flowering bush out front, and, if I can convince Stevie of the amazingness of this, a dwarf, weeping tree.  Some friends of ours have one and I am in LOVE with it.

That’s really all I have to say today.  I’m just getting so pumped about starting our outdoor projects that I can hardly stand to wait for the snow to melt.  Given our ten day forecast of low to mid-50s, I won’t have to wait much longer.

Anyone else starting some seeds inside or planting a garden this year?  Anyone have any ideas on how to convince Steve McQueen that those blueberry bushes are a fantastic idea? Anyone else remember this song?

Wet and Dry Wall

24 Feb

When Steven King and I were first talking about buying a house, he had a condition that it be no more than 20 years old. I disagreed and since our house was built in 1965 you know who eventually won that debate. Steve McQueen wanted a newer house because newer house = less repairs and less maintenance costs.

That’s probably true in a general sense but not necessarily true on a house by house basis. But I remember telling Mr. Wonder that he would get bored in a newer house because he likes to do “projects”.

This is an undeniable truth about him. When his mom and dad come to visit (Hi Tom and Vicki) we always do projects. Since we’ve been in this house, they’ve helped us repair the water heater, wash the siding, trim the trees and bushes, pack up more than 20 30 gallon yard waste bags and, in one “Amanda wasn’t around” moment, take an entire tree out of the ground. Oh, and Boy Wonder and his dad also went on a scavenger hunt to track down a snow blower this fall…one which we have yet to use.

All this to say that I was not surprised when I walked into the kitchen today to find this:

(Don’t worry.  He didn’t nick the wires.)

Stevareno was sawing out our water damaged drywall. We actually talked about this in the car on the way home from work and Steve said, and I quote, “I don’t want to take out the ceiling until we have another piece of drywall to put up in its place.” **Cricket**

Patience is a virtue…acquired if you can…seldom given to women…and never to a man.

For the record, in the time it took me to write this post, that hole became 3 feet by 4 feet.


23 Feb

**Please excuse this post as it’s a little bit all over the place today.  I think it’s hunger.

The original intention of this post was to update you on the progress of our kitchen walls.  This past weekend we put the first coat of Gardz up (Gardz is a paint that acts like new dry wall facing) and the walls looked like this:

We actually did that Saturday morning.  Then on Sunday while I did the taxes, Stevie Gonzalez spackled a bunch of the holes and re-mudded one side of each corner.  So we’re further along than this picture demonstrates but not finished yet.

People have been asking me what color we’re going to paint the kitchen.  It used to be yellow which always made me think of this:

I don’t like yellow for the kitchen anyway because I desperately want a chalkboard wall in our home and the best color to go with black is white.  I know chalkboard walls are kind of old hash in the decorating world but I don’t care.  I am definitely doing it and am definitely going to play school on that wall.  Reggie can be my pupil.  Here are a couple of pictures to give you the idea:

Today I saw my first “Whiskey Plate”.  Here in Minnesota, if you get a DUI you have a special license plate put on your car called a “Whiskey Plate”.  Basically, it’s any plate that starts with the letter W.  It alerts other drivers, but it also gives the fuzz the right to pull you over at any time, for no reason.  You know, to make sure you’re sober.  They look like this:

It was interesting.  Mostly because the guy was driving like 75 MPH in the right hand lane and his car had very stinky and very visible exhaust.  Steve and I wanted to report him to the EPA.

Lent started today.  Normally I give up some type of food thing because I love food and it’s always a challenge passing on the Oreos in the grocery store but this year the mister and I are doing something different.  In an effort to get more done, we’re giving up TV.  I think it’s a good fast because I love TV and am going to miss zoning out in front of the boob tube (full disclosure: we are allowing one half hour of the news each morning as we like to hear the weather and traffic before we leave for work).  I am hoping to add into my routine an hour a week at the perpetual adoration chapel at a nearby parish.  And, in the interest of not taking things too far, I’m going to feast on Oreos, Cheetos, salsa, Dove Chocolates, M&Ms, donuts, homemade chocolate chip cookies (because, you know, I’ll have time to bake them and everything),  pulled pork sandwiches, and ice cream.

I had an amazing pulled pork sandwich one time at a restaurant in Duluth.  The restaurant was Sir Benedict’s and the sandwich was called the Cubano, in case you’re ever in the area.  Since then, I’ve been trying to recreate that sandwich after an email begging them for the recipe and promising I would not use it or sell it for financial gain or to put them out of business was denied.  I still have not gotten the recipe right but now, once I do, I will post it for the world to see and use.  Because everyone deserves a good pulled pork sandwich recipe.

Don’t stop bein’ Steven doesn’t like mustard.  I don’t like that he doesn’t like mustard.  It puts a damper on some of the things I want to cook.  He also doesn’t like sour cream.  Or ketchup.  Really, most condiments.  Which I find weird because if you ask me, the meal is just an avenue for the condiments.  For example, hot fudge on ice cream, gravy on mashed potatoes, whipped cream on pie, peanut butter on jelly.  I think I’ve made my point.


(Isn’t that the most beautiful picture of a mushroom you’ve ever seen?)

We had a couple morel mushrooms in our backyard last year.  Steve McQueen didn’t know what they were and pulled them out of the ground and threw them away so Reggie wouldn’t eat them before I could enlighten him.  I am hoping they come back so that I can eat them.  Mushrooms aren’t really something you grow in your garden.  And morels are outrageously expensive.  I bought them at the farmer’s market once because some guy talked me into it telling me that people loved morel mushrooms and there is even a festival devoted to them because they are so phenomenal.  But they were just okay.  Good enough to eat and good enough that I’d pull a free one out of the ground and make a dish around it but not good enough to pay $2.50 a mushroom.  Please.

One of our cars needs a major repair.  We are declining the service in favor of saving $1000.  However, because we know the car is on the fritz, Stevie Wonder and I have been discussing the possibility of a new vehicle…down the road when his car is completely useless, however.  Either way, we went back and forth about cars vs. SUVs for a while.  Neither of us really wanted an SUV but it’s hard to ignore the space.  We always have tight quarters when we need to travel home since we have to put Reggie’s crate in our car.  But that just didn’t seem like a good enough reason to get that kind of vehicle.  After all, the vast majority of our driving is city driving with just the two of us in the car. To and from work.  Then, a few days ago, we realized that all SUVs have started to look like minivans.  It’s as if the car companies decided to hide a minivan under the name and guise of an SUV.  See evidence below:

Can you even tell which one is the SUV?

I know they haven’t always looked like minivans.  I’ve definitely seen some cute SUVs but not the newer ones.

We finally got snow around here.  I think our total snowfall is up to 16 inches now for the winter.  I believe the average snowfall is in the high 50s of inches.  It’s been unusually warm and dry this year.  As it has been everywhere, I am sure.  We’re hoping for a wet spring.

Here’s a video of Reggie being a goofball in the snow.  Sorry there’s no sound.  I was going to set it to music but my song wouldn’t download.  Bummer.

Enjoy anways.

I’m sorry, so sorry…for my long absence. But here are our walls!

22 Jan

Holy Blog.  I haven’t posted since October.  Yikes.  I’m sorry.  I have lots of excuses…one of which you will see here today.  But the bulk of the story is that we started tearing down wallpaper in our family room and then hosted thanksgiving and then traveled for Christmas and then went to Mexico and amidst all that I had the end of the semester and a huge project at work.  Whew.  But we’re back now and I am ready to share some things with you.  We’ve been working on the house some and I’ve been working on a new project, Project Amanda, some.  And you’ll get to hear all about it.  But today, today you will hear about walls.

We tore down the wallpaper in our family room.  We had modest expectations for this room based on the wallpaper removal process from our upstairs bathroom (which we did eventually finish and which I will show you a picture of soon, I promise).  Anyway, given that our family room is probably 9 times the size of that bathroom, we expected the room to take nine times as long.



Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!  Oh, my sides ache from the humor of it all.  Us in our naivete started this project in bits and pieces…pulling off loose pieces of the wallpaper…back in September.  Then in October started working in earnest to have it done by Thanksgiving.  We figured if we put in a few hours every week, we’d be done by then.  I’ll save you all the grueling details but suffice it to say that Steve and I worked four about 60 combined man hours removing paper and glue from the walls.  Then, my parents came up and we all worked for about 40 combined man hours doing the same thing.  After that, most of the glue was removed so we moved on to the other steps which totaled at about 40 combined man hours for Steve and I.  It was…a process.

Incidentally, Steve started removing wallpaper in the kitchen today.  It’s older wallpaper so the glue is not as strong so it’s much less strenuous.  I say this so that anyone thinking about buying a house in the near future will not be totally scared away by wallpaper.  Just plan on lots of time.

So, without further ado, here’s some picks of the process.  First, a reminder of what this room looked like when we first moved in (Steve also removed that cabinet in the corner but you’ll see that later.  Also, I didn’t edit any of these photos so they may look off color or a little wonky.):

These next few are from after paper and glue removal.  I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture before the glue was removed but just imagine the image you are seeing with giant lines and patches of brownish-yellow glue crusted all over the walls.  (These photos constitute about 105 man hours of work).

(Bee-tee-dubs, when we removed that cabinet, we found no less than four different types of wallpaper back there.  Apparently this room has been redone more than once.  I know I have a picture of that but cannot for the life of me remember where it is.  I will post it for you as soon as I find it.  Some of the wallpaper is really spectacular.)

Next, after we let the walls dry for a few days, we had to put up a layer of clear, watery paint called Guardz.  It creates a new facing on the walls so that the spackle that we had to put up doesn’t sink into all the areas where the original wallpaper facing was stripped off by our scraping.  I don’t really have pictures of that step either since it doesn’t change how the room looks.  It’s just that when you tapped on the spots where the drywall facing was stripped off, it was hard.  Quite an interesting product.

After we put up Guardz, we had to spackle and sand every hole, every tear, every divet.  Steve also taped and spread the corners of the room as they didn’t join together correctly.  He also filled 5 holes in the wall with new drywall.  We spackled and sanded everything twice, then washed the walls again.  When all was said and done, we were left with this:

After all our spackling, we put up another layer of Guardz to seal the spackle so the paint didn’t sink in.  Then we primed and painted.  To give you an idea of how busy we were, I didn’t even take pictures after we finished our walls.  The next series of pictures I have is from the warm fall day in between priming and painting when Steve and I spent an entire afternoon raking and bagging the leaves from our gigantic yard.  Then Thanksgiving.

I didn’t even realize this until today when I came to write this post and was all, “Where in tarnations are my pictures?” and “Hot damn!”  So I took some.  The AFTER:

Sorry for the streamers and stuff.  They were decorations from Thanksgiving but we just left them up because we like them.  And for the ugly chair and the screwy light.  The chair is going to be redone and the light normally points down.  I just needed the light for another picture.  Also, boy is our house messy.  I blame laziness and Stevie Wonder and I both being involved in our own house projects this weekend.

Steve Harvey can still see some imperfections in the wall and it bothers him because he is a perfectionist.  But I think they look so good and I am so proud to have accomplished that room I can’t even describe it.  I feel like knocking on all our neighbors doors and saying, “Please come and look at my walls.  They’re so smooth and cool and nice to look at.”  That’s what she said.