Sunday, May 31, 2009

A birthday break...

Today is my 31st birthday and what a great birthday weekend it was!

A great dinner followed by salsa dancing with friends on Friday night. Last night we took a break from painting the guest room to go out for a nice birthday dinner at a hip new restaurant called The Boiler Room. For those of you who think Omaha is all cow pastures and tornados, check this out:


The Boiler Room - which got its name because the space was an actual boiler room (clever, yes?) - is in a brick warehouse in the Old Market District, a very cool area of town reminicent of the meat packing district in New York, and full of boutiques, bars and restaurants. (another crowd pleaser, The Twisted Fork, where the house specialty is fried pickles...SO GOOD, I kid you not.)

The restaurant is ultra hip, has an amazing seasonal menu full of unique ingredients (we started with pork rillettes...sort of like pork pate...amazing) and a great wine list. I can't pronounce the name of the wine I had (hint: NOT Boone's Farm) but it was fabulous.


Here's a picture of dessert...because I often photograph my food (don't ask):


Mr. P gave me some great presents - the first of which was the Domino Book of Decorating:

Holy cow is this book great! So many ideas! I love it! You must run out and buy it! (click on the book cover to order it on Amazon and feel as tasteless and unhip as I do when I see other people's ultra cool designs!)

But the best present was a new home remodeling assistant:


Meet Magnus Von Pooperschnitzel III. You can call him Magnus. We got him from the Little White Dog Rescue group (he had been living in an Arkansas puppy mill) He likes having his chin scratched, Milk Bones and, oh yeah, passing gas. He does some light drywalling:


And some painting:

Photobucket's really had to find good help these days.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cheap & Chic Headboard Projects: Perfectly Padded

Next week I'll be attempting to make a headboard. Here are some other fun headboard ideas from Better Homes & Gardens:

Cheap & Chic Headboard Projects: Perfectly Padded

Look who's back in the yard!

Bunny McFlufferpants!


Sniff, sniff. My how quickly they grow.

I went out to pick some peonies this afternoon and Bunny McFlufferpants' brother hopped out from underneath the bush, enjoying what I can only assume was an afternoon snack. Thankfully he didn't do too much damage. Check out my pretty flowers!


How to Tile Over a Brick Fireplace |

We're going to give this a whirl this weekend. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

How to Tile Over a Brick Fireplace |

Give us your advice: Curb Appeal

Hello friends! Mr. P and I need your help - we've been working dilligently on the interior of the house and I'm afraid we're neglecting the exterior a bit. Let's face it, ranch style homes aren't exactly "charming" in the way a craftsman or colonial are, but they do have character. In the case of our home we'd like to try and up the charm factor a smidge.

Here are pictures snapped this morning. I did paint the wrought iron posts white - they used to be the same brown as the garage door and the trim. Also, we plan on replacing the garage door with a white one and I'm hoping my mother-in-law will help me weed and mulch a bit. Oh, and we also need some tree trimming. Our birch trees are looking shaggy!

But any other thoughts on how to up this house's curb appeal? Let us have it! We love constructive criticism.






With all these people coming in and out of the house we're letting in all kinds of bugs, flies and creepy crawlies. It's freaking me out.

I just killed a fly the size of a Buick. Seriously he looked like this:

C00L FLy Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm yaaaaaard sale-ing away....

(Yes that WAS supposed to be an homage to STYX who by the way, will be performing here in Omaha along with REO Speedwagon and .38 Special. I am on that like white on rice.)

Now where was I? Oh right. Yard sales.

Omaha has the most organized yard sale system I have ever seen. Each Friday the Omaha World Herald prints this:


It's a yard sale guide with a map! They map them out for you! It's like they made it especially for me. Which they may have...because I'm sort of a big deal here:


KIDDING! Sorry...couldn't resist.

Anywho the yard sale guide is fantastic. This morning I went to one and got this fantastic chair for my office/dirty hole of doom and tools.


Cute, right? And only $3. I also bought an ottoman in green tweed (which I will reupholster) and some books.

HOORAY! Yard sales are the funnest.

The losing battle with productivity...

I was thrilled (-ish) when my company gave me the flexibility to work from home. I thought, "hey, no problem - I'll just get my home office set up and tune out all the remodeling!"

For the past week I've tried to do just that but, as often happens during renovations, the powers of evil have conspired against me. Here's what happened yesterday after I'd tried to set up a nice little desk area with all kinds of neat organizational devices:



Thursday, May 28, 2009

For our readers in L.A.

If you're looking for furniture or home accessories be sure to check out this great store in downtown. They are a wholesaler and only open to the public a few times a month - we got a dining table and coffee table here and love them:

Sweet Smiling Home
Open-to-the-Public Event: Everything 30% to 90% off

May 30 & 31: Saturday & Sunday
10:00AM until 5:00PM


Open-to-the-public sale event
Furniture, accessories, exotic objects, gifts
Everything 30% to 90% off

1317 Palmetto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: 213 687-9630

Shopping Party!

Yay floors! (almost)

Hey look! Our floors are done! Don't they look...


Awww...booooo. Have to keep them covered to avoid getting drywall schmutz all over them.

But we're getting close!

And check out those walls! Coat number two - just two more and we'll be ready to rock and roll!

Status of rotting 1/2 bath wall...

It's not looking pretty, folks. 9:00 p.m. and this is where we're at:


Please notice the book - Home Improvement 1-2-3: Expert Advice from The Home Depot.

"This book is good," says Mr. P.

But it's not magic. It wasn't penned by elves or genies.

It cost $14.99 and was prominently displayed under a box of caulk in aisle 12. might take awhile. Stay tuned.


It has been suggested by some (and you know who you are...ROBIN) that I have been letting my dear husband do all the work in our house. Not true - it's just that I have the quicker trigger finger when it comes to photography.

But just in case you have any doubts I present to you Exhibit A which I like to call "When Good Sanders Go Bad":


This sander is supposed to have a feature that sucks up the excess particles. As you can see, they lied. (please make sure to take note of my Lowes work apron/tool belt. Cute, yes?

Exhibit B - "Chicks Dig Powertools":


Please try to ignore my incredibly attractive work ensemble.

I rest my case.

The Wallpaper Trilogy...

Home ownership is great. Home remodeling? Um…still undecided. The return is great and the sense of accomplishment when finished with a project – well there’s just nothing like it. (at the risk of sounding like that annoying Yoplait commercial, it’s bubble bath/trashy novel/jumbo bag of M&Ms good.) But getting there can be quite the pain in the butt.

First thing’s first: wallpaper. I’m convinced that Satan’s lair in hell is lined with thick, well-glued wallpaper in festive patterns. Our charming 1950s ranch features wallpaper in three rooms – cream/ hunter green checkers in the laundry room/office:


Green toile (no, seriously…I can’t make this stuff up) in the kitchen:


Blue green stripes in the bathroom (which also features a non-working aqua sink with matching toilet and tub):


All three wallpapers are equally hideous (though the toile holds a special place in our hearts) and are all glued on with the same thing Donald Trump uses to keep that hair in place.

In short – I HATE WALLPAPER AND WANT IT TO DIE A SLOW DEATH. No, make that a fast death so that it will get the heck out of my life FOREVER.

Yes yes…I know that designers are trying to tell us that wallpaper is back in style! So many amazing patterns! The perfect accent for your wall!

THEY ARE LIARS. They don’t tell you about what it takes to get that crap OFF your wall. Don’t be fooled. To take down wallpaper:

  • First, invest in a steamer. We’re told Home Depot might rent them but for about $70 at Costco (or $99 on their web site) you can get a Tobi Steamer that you can later use on clothes, drapes, to give yourself a cheap facial, etc.

  • Lay down some drop cloth. Seriously, take it from us. Spending hours scraping crusted glue off your floors is no fun. COVER YOUR FLOORS. You’ve been warned.

  • Score the area you want to remove using a specially made wallpaper scorer. It looks almost like a computer mouse but with little teeth underneath. And those teeth are sharp. Do not rub this on your arm to test the sharpness…again, trust me on this one.

  • Crank the steamer and hold it up close to your wallpaper – move slowly up and down until you have a good area covered. (remember that steam rises so start low and end high)

  • And now start picking. Oh yeah – pick like you’ve never picked before. Slowly but surely it’ll start coming off. And I do mean SLOWLY.

  • Now take a break to curse the day wallpaper was invented.

  • Okay, back to work. What? Did you think you were done? No chance. Suck it up – this was YOUR idea.

  • Once you have the first layer off it’s time to get the glue off. Spray the wall with a wallpaper remover spray or gel. We used Piranha Wallpaper & Paste Remover and it worked well on our bionic wallpaper and all the forces of evil working against us.

  • Use a sponge to spread the remover all around (they sell special wallpaper sponges at Lowes and Home Depot but you can probably use any sponge or cloth – you’ll want something with a slightly abrasive side and a smooth side).

  • Pause to wonder why you didn't just hire professionals to do this.

  • Time for scraping. Lowes and Home Depot sell special wallpaper scrapers that are worth the money – they have a scraper on one side and a wheel in the other so it’s easy to run it up and down the wall to scrape off the glue. At this point in the process you’re pretty sure your arms are going to fall off so every little bit helps. Spend the $10.

  • At this point you’ve probably got most of it off but not all of it. And you need to get all of it off if you want your paint to go on smoothly later. So don’t be lazy – as my grandma would say, “a lazy man does twice the work.” Spray it down again but this time use the abrasive side of the sponge to rub off the remaining glue. Then wipe down the wall with the smooth side of the sponge.

  • Once you have all the paper off, let it dry and sand down any chunky or rough pieces using regular sand paper or an electric sander if that’s how you roll.

  • Okay, here’s the part that sucks. (because the other part didn't suck enough) Just when you think you’re done you have to prime. DO NOT waste your time trying to paint without priming after wallpaper removal. It will suck up the paint and look like crapola. Prime well and it’ll save you a lot of money in paint and therapy bills.

I know it’s a pain but the end product is so worth the back ache. I'll post before and after pictures once I've cleaned up a bit - something about having plaster and dust all over your floors that takes away a little of the magic.

For now we'll just rejoice in the fact that we're wallpaper free. A little delirious and high off the smell of wallpaper glue remover spray, but good:


And speaking of surprises...

Hey kids! Look what was behind the green checkered wallpaper in the half bathroom:


Rotting wall! Hooray!

Someone please put me out of my misery.

Apparently to repair this (because there's water damage) we have to take out the sink and toilet, cut out 1/3 of the wall and replace it with clean drywall. And then put the sink and toilet back in.

Um, okay.

Hmm, this reminds me of a movie. What movie could it be? Ah yes!

The Money Pit Pictures, Images and Photos

The Most Overpriced Cities in America...

Guess what city is NOT on the list? Click here to see.

Just another reason to move to Omaha!

omaha Pictures, Images and Photos

Rough morning...

We're taking a home improvement mini-break. All we did yesterday was change out some lightbulbs in the kitchen, and hang a mirror that I'd spray painted black (it used to be attached to our dresser but we sawed it off).

The floors are going to be finished today (yay!) and our drywall friends, Joel & Laurie will be back to put on a second coat of plaster on the walls.

Oh, did I tell you about the walls?

Imagine hard whipped cream cheese spread all over your walls. That's what we had in the living room. It was horrible and if you rubbed against in the wrong way it actually hurt. Take a gander:


Bad, right? It could be fine on the OUTSIDE of the house but the living room? I think not. Also in this room, two cheaply made "built-in" display cases that I'm guessing the previous owner used to display her commemorative plate or porcelin doll collection or perhaps (see my earlier post) something kinkier. You think you know people, you know?

Anyhoodles, being the do-it-0urselfers that we are we decided to rip out said built-ins and try a few different things to smooth out the walls. First the built-ins:


Sweet fancy Jesus those were hard to get out but we managed it, stuffed them in the U-Haul (which we had for a few more days) and took them to the dump.

Side note: Don't judge me but I totally went dumpster diving and plucked out these adorable little tables which were a little beaten up. A little Clorox plus a $4 can of spray paint later and they're adorable and adorning my patio as we speak. I'm sort of like the ghetto Martha Stewart, no?


Oh, you'll also find that with every home improvement project comes a little surprise and this was no different - we found this hole behind one built-in:


Don't be fooled - it's not the gateway to Hades. It's actually just an air return duct leading to the basement. Just had to buy a new grill and replace it. No harm, no foul and only a few bugs sneaking in from the basement.

But I digress. Back to the walls. Okay first we tried sanding them:


See how happy Mr. P looks? He's saying, "Hooray! I get to use my fancy new sander that ALLEGEDLY sucks up all the particles so they don't get all over your fruit bowl!" That's before we realized that sanding was NOT going to work. (and also that it does NOT suck up all the particles) The wall plaster is made out of a mixture of sand and concrete and it was holding on for dear life. So we went to Lowes where our friendly sales clerks suggested we try mudding over the walls with joint compound:


The smile on his face isn't happiness - he's just high off the fumes. Three hours later he'd only finished that corner. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a BIG room - 35 X 16 feet big. We decided to call in the experts. To our credit, eventually we would've gotten there but it was worth every penny for someone to come in and do this in just a few hours:


This process requires about four or five coats of the stuff but it'll eventually get super smooth and paintable. Joel and Laurie are coming back for coat number two this afternoon. Our awesome living room is just days away from being a reality!

And thank god. Mr. P and I need some quality couch time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's a Christmas miracle! (in May!)

The floors are almost done! We are so close to having a beautiful living room I can taste it! (or is that just the saw dust in the air?)


The thing about gardening...

We are blessed to have a large front and back yard in our new home. Having that much space is great – you’re not right on top of your neighbors and the dog and kids have plenty of room to run around. Oh wait, we don’t have dogs or a kid. Well there’s plenty of room for Mr. P to run around, perferably with a lawn mower in tow.

Out front we have flowers and we have weeds. The thing is, I can’t quite tell the difference. Sure some of them just look…I don’t know, “weedy.” But others...well you can’t be so sure about the others. For example, there was a weird little plant that looked like a weed – I almost pulled it but decided to wait for my mother-in-law’s visit. (she actually knows what she’s doing out there) I’m glad I didn’t pull it because I went out to get the paper this morning and the little “weed” had become this:


Way to go, city slicker. Almost killed the prettiest flower out there.

Two mangy looking bushes turned out to be these:


And a weird looking bush is actually peonies, one of my favorite flowers. I guess I didn’t realize that peonies grow in the wild. I guess I thought they were raised in a Petri dish by the scientists at 1-800-Flowers.


And what about this? I almost dug up these sticks but decided I was too lazy. (I decide that often and much) And thank god I didn't because look:


Joan, if you're reading this, I promise not to touch anything until you get here and save me from myself.

Paint does wonders…

A little paint goes a long way. Our guest bathroom features a yellow toilet, tub and sink with gray tile. Okay so the sink is sort of cool actually. Check it out:


It's like something out of the Jetson's, no?

To make matters worse the previous owner painted the walls yellow. That’s a LOT of yellow. It’s an assault on the eyes and is a little too reminiscent for my taste of what you PRODUCE in a bathroom. (if you catch my drift...and I think you do.)


$20 worth of paint, a new shower curtain from Bed Bath & Beyond and some old school Nebraska football posters courtesy of my friend Emma and we have ourselves a fun looking bathroom.




And listen, no one wants to gut that space and start over more than I do. But we have 2 1/2 bathrooms that all need updating and quite frankly, our guests are just going to have to wait!

Sure, it’s not perfect but it’s sort of fun and I'm no longer completely embarrassed to have anyone use it. Definitely not final but it’s good enough for government work!