Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ladybird has arrived!

So it's official... I have the sweetest husband on the planet.  After what feels like years of planning and begging for a puppy, Marcus surprised me with one of Carey's Boykins.  She is eight weeks old and already so smart and so pretty.  Pictures below...

Obviously I'm smitten...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So I still need to post side-by-side befores and afters...

I realize that I still need to post my before pictures alongside the afters to show the work that we've done to the house.  I'm just really particular about wanting everything to be 100% done and looking great for the pictures.  So, I'm going to post a couple now and the rest after my small-scale Holiday Housewarming party coming up in a couple of weeks.
Here is a before picture of our kitchen.  The house was built in 1972 and everything in the house was original when we inherited it... these are the original cabinets, counters, and appliances.
And this is our new kitchen after all the hard work and our choices for Corian counters, the paint/stain kit by Rustoleum for the cabinets, and stainless Whirlpool Gold appliances.
This is the family bath before... 70s wallpaper, yellow tiled ceramic bath, plain white vanity which had rotted due to a leak, and an old-fashioned, framed medicine cabinet which I love.
Now the new paint, granite counters, new white vanity, but the same wonderful old medicine cabinet
This doesn't show my pretty shower curtain though.

Monday, October 3, 2011

By the way...

I got a teaching job!  I am now officially a Kindergarten teacher at one of the local schools... I am LOVING it!  Feel free to share cute teaching or craft ideas!!!

Yay!  I'm a teacher again!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I love having people come visit.  So far my sister, Marcus' sister, my parents, and some of our friends have come.  We always go to the Rooster's Beak downtown.  I've also taken everyone walking on my path in Blanchard Park.  It's been so nice to show off all of our hard work.  Like I said before, the after pictures with be up very very soon!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I am a teacher at heart..

I never thought that I would be begging for a teaching position, but doing so has really shown me how much teaching children means to me.  Every time I prepare for an interview or email another principal I write these paragraphs or say these things that I've learned through various professional training sessions or in my Master's courses.  It feels strange to "toot my own horn" but I know that I'm a good teacher.  95% of my students met or exceeded the standards on the end of the year test during my very first year.  Since then  my scores have remained high and that can only be for a few reasons: 

  1. my students are willing to work hard and do their best to meet their parents', their own, and their teacher's high expectations
  2. my Masters in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment has really helped me prepare lessons and activities that are interesting and valid for the standards
  3. my classroom management skills are such that my students develop intrinsic motivation and want to succeed on their own, not just to make me or their parents happy
I was so sad not to have started the school year with everyone.  It's almost like I'm not part of the community yet.  I love teaching and would love to be preparing my classroom and planning lessons right now...

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Boykin Spaniel... Ladybird

First of all, I love this website for Boykin Spaniel Rescues:
The way that they create a story about each dog really make it hit home... sweet puppies.

So growing up, we always had a dog and at least one cat.  Marcus' family always had at least one dog but mostly had smaller dogs like poodles, miniature pinschers, and as of recently a daschund.  As you know, Marcus and I already have two cats and now that we're in the house we're finally ready to seriously look at breeders.  For the longest time, I wanted a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  But due to overbreeding, they are often inbred and have many health problems such as bulging eyes and severe ear issues.  But I still think they're adorable.  See?  

 Too cute, but they're bred for their looks not their brains.  A lot of times, their eyes are so big that they can't see so well.
Because of all that research, I wanted to find a breed that is known for its health and laid-back personality.  I found the Boykin Spaniel.
Owners say they have the strength, build, and size of a spaniel with the laid-back and intelligent personality of a lab.  They're great with other dogs, cats, and even children.  Perfect for us!

Pictures of the new Water Heater

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about replacing our 34 year old water heater, original to the house.  See post titled: "Rinnai Water Heater".

I am finally ready to post the pictures from that endeavor.  Below you'll see the original and what we have now.  The difference is pretty amazing because we went from a monster tank at 4 to 5 feet high and at least 2 and a half feet in diameter to a wallet-sized control panel.  Thank you Brittingham Plumbing and $600 in rebates...

 Obviously these were taken outside where the tank itself is located.  It's out of site but not out of mind... because our hot water is "instant-on" and endless.  Let's all say it together... "Ahhh"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Date Night

Lately I've been really bored.  Other than trying to find a job, I don't have much going on.  Our renovations are done for the time being and the rest of our unpacking can't be done unless Marcus finishes unpacking some of his office/computer stuff.  If you follow my facebook, you know that I even posted that I thought married-life had been really boring of late.  Marcus worked ten hour shifts the past three days and my days at home were filled with cop shows and detective series.  Good times...

However, tonight Marcus took me on a date to Veritas, a wine and tapas bar in Olde Town Augusta.  It was absolutely delicious, and I would recommend it to anyone with a taste for wine and an adventurous palette.  We each started with a glass of white wine.  I had pinot gris and Marcus chose a chardonnay.  We had scallops, ostrich carpaccio, frog legs, and baked brie with strawberries and rhubarb confit for our tapas.  Then, because you all know I live for dessert, we got the sampler that included four-bite tastes of cheesecake, chocolate ganache, caramel pecan pie, fresh mango and berries, and a beautifully smooth french vanilla creme brulee.  I cannot put into words how wonderful our meal was and the customer service was amazing.  Our server, Zelda, really knew her stuff!  We can't wait to go back and try some of the other interesting dishes and their most popular dessert, Chocolate Chili.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stuff I want to blog about...

I am so sick of talk about the house, working on the house, shopping for the house... ugh.

Here's some other stuff I'd like to talk about...

  • clothes and accessories - where to find the best deals and where to shop
  • lack of funds for education (aka not hiring teachers) while numbers are still going up for school populations
  • cats vs. dogs - why I think cats rock and why I REALLY want my puppy
  • food and drink... restaurants and other fun things to do 
  • art - my trip to the museums in Paris and Venice and what I enjoyed most
  • Lady bird - my puppy :)
Yes we're almost done with the house for awhile... but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop blogging.

One week after moving in

I realize I'm being greedy with my after pictures... but I really want them to be perfect.  Those of you who know me well know that I take pride in my surroundings so I'm going to have everything spic and span before I show it off.  Since last week, Rachel (my sister) came to visit and kicked us back into gear so we could get almost everything unpacked and taking yet another trip to Lowe's for last minute items.  We installed curtains in the den, kitchen, and living room.  The Comcast folks came and hooked up our digital cable and wireless internet.  And went to Lowe's AGAIN for even more last minute stuff.

Speaking of Lowe's... they often get a bad wrap for being a big warehouse store but I wanted to let my readers know about our experiences because we've used them through so much of our renovations and move.  Here's a list of what we used them for:

  1. All major appliances - washer and dryer were purchased there three years ago, fridge, dishwasher, electric range purchased this summer     NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER WITH THE APPLIANCES THEMSELVES
  2. All paint and painting tools/accessories - cans of paint, brushes, rollers, etc.
  3. Curtains for den, kitchen, and dining room - Lowe's actually has some good patterns and colors for very reasonable prices; the material is of average quality but when you have pets and you're going to have kids within the next 5 years or so it doesn't really matter
  4. Garbage disposal (which works great)
  5. Faucets for kitchen sink and both bathroom sinks
  6. Marcus' big rain shower-head
  7. Lots of nails, screws, and other hardware type things
  8. Electric circular saw and other power tools
  9. Carpet
  10. Counter-tops in kitchen (Corian)
So obviously with our Lowe's right around the corner it's very convenient, but the things that we've bought there have been great.  The only thing that didn't go so well was delivery.  We had to move back the delivery of our appliances a couple of times due to the conflict of scheduling the installation of our wood floors.  The day after our wood floors were put down our refrigerator, range, and dishwasher were supposed to be delivered.  The guys arrived and they had the fridge and range... but not the dishwasher.  They promised to bring it the next morning so we could leave to pack our stuff up for the move.  We waited all day and didn't get it even after calling time after time.  So they promised to have it to us the next morning as the first delivery.  Again, we only had 3 days to pack all of our stuff up for the move.  We had to wait AGAIN until about one or two o'clock for our dishwasher to be delivered.  It was rough when Marcus went to talk to customer service...

Other things that have  been going on:
Yesterday our bathroom counter-tops were installed.  We used Augusta Granite remnants at $40 a square foot which is much less than you'd pay for whole pieces of custom cut granite.  Mine is green to match my bathroom and Marcus' is a cream base with veins of dark brown, tan, and black/gray.  We talked to Summit Green Solutions for an estimate on foam insulation.  Evidently our split-level has two attics (one over the living and dining rooms and one over the bedrooms) and the insulation in both of them is, like so many things in the house, original to its build (34 years ago).  In many areas, the insulation is either gone or much thinner than it should be.  No wonder the power bill is so massive!  So the plan is to save up (because now that we're at what we thought were the end of our renovations our funds are lacking in a major way) and try to do this before winter so we don't freeze to death or before next summer so we don't roast like we do now.  Really the only room that is comfortable all day is the den, which because it's halfway under ground-level could be considered a basement.  As a matter of fact, Marcus' mother has a house with a similar layout and this room is their basement.

I still haven't heard thing about a job in the school system or a nearby preschool, and I'm freaking out about it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We are officially members of the Columbia County Community!

Moving day is over... and we are completely exhausted.  We are now in the process of unpacking and getting organized in our newly renovated house.  Pretty soon we'll be ready to compare before and after pictures so be ready!

By the way, the cats are loving all of the space we have now.     :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rustoleum Cabinet Kit

The Rustoleum Cabinet Kit has to be one of my favorite transformations we've done so far.  The difference is just astounding.  Here's the before:

There are only a few steps and altogether it only takes a couple of days.  Obviously, you do have to take off the cabinet doors and take out the drawers.  You also need to take off the handles and knobs.
Step One: Use the deglosser to take off the glossy outer coat of the cabinets.  This product also takes off bad stains and if you scrub hard, paint.
Step Two: Paint everything with the base coat.  We chose pure white, but there are tons of colors to choose from.  We decided not to waste the base coat on the inside of the cabinets, so knowing that our end product would be closer to a cream color, we painted the inside of them antique white.
Step Three: Use a 2 in. paint brush to apply the glaze.  Then immediately wipe it off with the clean cloths that come in the kit.  Marcus said using a tiny paint brush (like an artist's) helps get the glaze down into the grooves.  But you have to make sure to wipe the grooves too or they'll be way to dark.  This was my favorite part because you really get to control where the glaze goes, how light it gets, and what your ultimate look will be.
Step Four: Apply the protective coat.  The kit comes with a clear protective coat that is a very important step to protect your hard work from scratches, stains, and fingerprints.  Marcus is a clean-freak so he was considering putting a polyurethane coat on top of that, but I convinced him that it would be enough.
Make sure you follow the directions explicitly as far as drying times are concerned because that makes things so much easier.  We actually had a lot of time to let it dry while we worked on other things so most of the time we just let it dry overnight before going to the next step.

Today we put all the knobs and handles back on, then hung the doors and put in the drawers.    The effect is amazing... with our paint, new counters, and now the cabinets I can really see it coming together.  Go back and look at the before...
Now see the after!  I'm so proud.

Tomorrow, our wood floors are being installed and then on Monday our appliances are being delivered.  After the appliances, we're going back to the old house to pack (hopefully we'll be able to finish in time).  The movers are coming on Wednesday morning, so by this time next week we'll be unpacking in our house!!!

After we finish unpacking, I'm going to take tons of after pictures to compare.  Make sure to come back and take a look!

Rinnai Water Heater

Last week we had our new water heater installed.  Marcus is really excited about it and wanted me to do a post specifically about it.
Our old water heater was original to the house (34 years old).  It was huge!  Almost as tall as I am, it was as big around as the average pine tree.  It was rusted out and definitely didn't work, so we knew we were going to have to replace it.  We called a few local plumbers and got a call back from Brittingham Plumbing.  They came out to do an estimate and talked to us a little about our choices for a new water heater.  Marcus explained that we wanted a tankless, gas water heater and Mr. Brittingham suggested a Rinnai.  Instead of holding hot water in a big tank, it instantly heats the water we need and pumps it where we need it to go.  And it's so small!  Where our giant tank used to stand, we now only have a book-sized digital controller where we can change the temperature the water heats up to.  The actual water heater part is located outside next to the AC unit.
I took some before and after pictures which I'll add below this weekend.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

oh my god... I have never been this exhausted in my life

Over the last week, Marcus and I have painted the entire downstairs.  Painting the living room and dining room wasn't that bad.  The walls were already white, and I actually painted them both in one day.  The kitchen and den were another story entirely.  This week, we primed the kitchen, the den, the trim in both, and the old stains on the ceiling.  Then we painted the kitchen and den, the trim in both, and started our Rustoleum kit for the cabinets.  Most days, we've been working on the house from  eight in the morning until nine or ten at night.  Ridiculous I know.  But it was all to be done in time for our wood floors to be installed tomorrow.  And guess what... the installer called and pushed our installation back another week and a half!  I'm disappointed, but it gives us more time to finish a few things.

Other than painting and painting and painting... we also did a few window enhancements to the front of the house.  I may have mentioned before that our windows are original to the house (34 years old to be exact), so they're not energy efficient and so much light gets into the house that it's roasty toasty inside!  We chose to do two things to make our windows a little better: an application of film/tint to block light and heat from getting in and cellular shades to further the process and for privacy.  The film was made by Gila and it was so easy to apply.  All we had to do was spray the windows and film with Windex, then stick the film to the window, and cut it to size with the tool included in the kit.  The cellular shades are Levolor.  At Lowe's, all we had to do was pick out the basic measurement and color, and then they cut it to the exact measurement you need.  They look really cool and are easy to install.  
I picked sand to go with our Irish Cream walls and colorful decor.
I did finally pick up some fun stuff... lol to me, fun stuff is the furniture, curtains, comforters, etc.  As far as window treatments are concerned, I stuck with a neutral for the living room because the couch is patterned.  I chose a formal looking floral print for the dining room because our ideal dining room is simple but elegant.  And for our den, I chose a chocolate brown print to go with our golden yellow couches and autumnal throw pillows.  Can't wait to share pictures!
There was one mishap though... I chose a paint color called "mandarin glow" for the kitchen and den.  The paint swatch (shown above) seems like more of a butter-cream, but on the walls it seems like a pastel shade of melon.  Marcus thinks it will look better once the floors are installed because the lighting will be different... but I'm worried.  I do NOT want to paint again, but if our couches and decor are warm colors and the walls are cool colors it will look horrible.  Time will tell...  

But all this hard work has been taxing.  Marcus and I have been so irritable because of the level of exhaustion.  We've been staying with his sister so it's been tough going back and forth... but at least she's been really sweet about having us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Official BEFORE Pictures

So we cleaned out the entire house, got Junk in the Box to pick up all the things we don't want, cleaned EVERYTHING, and finally had a blank canvas.  I've been talking about what the house looks like and offering a few pictures along the way, but here's the official set of before pictures for you!
Let's start with the wallpaper.  Rachel and I worked together to remove the wallpaper one weekend.  All we did was use the Piranha wallpaper scoring device, spray Piranha Wallpaper Remover all over the walls, get a good hold at the top, and pull each strip off from top to bottom.  It was so easy!  Here are some pictures of the wallpaper before...

These are in the kitchen, and yes...  that is 70s brown and orange!

This is the master bath with floral green and yellow wallpaper to match the awesome mint-green tile.

To the left you see the reflection of a nice sized window.  But the reflection is in a very retro, sliding-mirror, medicine cabinet.  Needless to say, it's gone now.

Last but not least is the bathroom I'll be using, aka the guest bathroom.  It had yellow floral wallpaper.  It was kind of pretty... but very dated, so now it's gone.
Removing the wallpaper was so much easier than I expected.  Now our kitchen will be nice an bright... and our bathrooms will be clean and calming. :)

Now let's take a look at the other "before" pictures.  

This is the foyer.  The home inspector said that our front door is the equivalent to today's interior doors.  Take a close look... we didn't even have a deadlock!  But we do now!!!
This is our living room, right off the foyer.  It has a huge window and lots of floor space.  I really love this room.  One day, my piano will be in there!

To the right, you'll see the dining room.  It looks kind of narrow... but is actually big enough for a normal sized dining table and a china cabinet.

Below is the foyer again.  Now you get a better view of the great shag carpet, the rot-iron rail, and the entrance to the kitchen.  The stairs will be a tan colored carpet, and we used Rustoleum's Hammered Spray Paint on the rail.
This is the guest bedroom.  

Below, and to the left is the office.  It's kind of small, but it has a window and a closet so one day it could be a really cute nursery! :)

Above and to the right is the master bedroom.  It's a great size!

We're so busy right now... painting, cleaning, and having things installed.  Can't wait to share more!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Home Inspector came by this week.

What a very busy week this has been!  On Monday we drove to Savannah for my doctor's appointment and halfway back my air-conditioning stopped blowing cool air.  It was awful!  We drove the hour back home, then drove until we found an open car-repair shop.  By the time we dropped the car off it was almost dinner time, we were covered in sweat, and way behind schedule for the house.  We got to Augusta around seven or eight, dropped off a load of teaching stuff at the house, then went to have dinner and pass out at Marcus' sister's house.  On Tuesday the Home Inspector came by and boy did he have a lot to tell us!  He was really thorough, which was helpful, but GEEZ our TO DO LIST just got ten times longer!  Here are the major things we had to add:

  • new roof
  • new air-conditioning unit  (note: Our's is 34 years old... original to the house!!!)
  • new water-heater
  • clear all debris from roof and around house (there is TONS of pine straw)
  • trim hedges that are touching the house
  • PLUS all the things we already knew we were going to half to do like...
    • paint
    • replace flooring
    • repair broken cabinets, drawers, doors, etc.
    • replace light fixtures
    • install new appliances
    • replace patio door
    • and the list goes on... and on... and on...
But we're excited because the guy from DuPont came by to measure our cabinets for the Corian solid-surface we're getting (see picture of our color choice below)... And we just got the news that our floors, appliances, and patio door are ready to be installed when we're ready... And our carpet will be installed next week!  So things are really moving now...

As a matter of fact... Marcus and I have been painting for the last two days straight.  The neutral chosen for most of the house is "Irish Cream,"  my bathroom will be "Mossy Bench," and our kitchen and den will be "Mandarin Glow."  I just love paint names. :)

They're so pretty... if I do say so myself! :)

Forgot to mention that the OFFICIAL BEFORE PICTURES will be posted very soon!  Are you ready?  
Before paint, before flooring, before installation of new awesome appliances, patio door, etc...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh what a day!

 This morning we met the guy from installment who was giving us an estimate for our bamboo floors.  Then, we made a 50% deposit on just the installment.  OMG... I knew that was going to be the bulk of our budget because we're doing over half of our flooring with bamboo... but geez... I was stunned!    It's gorgeous right?  All beaten up and rustic looking.  :)
We chose the floating bamboo floors in "Sufong Palace" from Lumber Liquidators but it is almost $5.00 per sq ft.  Crazy... right?  So I'm looking for something similar but a bit less expensive.

Then we went to Lowe's.  
We made the arrangements for estimates to be made for carpet on the stairs, upstairs hall, and all 3 bedrooms as well as for our patio door.  We also purchased our awesome counter-tops.  We chose the DuPont Corian, solid-surface counter in "Oat".  The awesome associates at Lowe's got us a great deal and in talking with Corian corporate got them to throw in a free sink! :)  I'm so excited to see it in place when our cabinets are completed.  (A sample is on the right.)

Shout out to the Lowe's on Washington Rd. in Evans, GA!!! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Yarns A Plenty

Let me start off by saying that Rachel (my wonderful sister) and I successfully removed the wallpaper from the bathrooms and kitchen.  Marcus used all of his strength and brains to figure out how to remove the vanities... we still think they must have been glued to the wall, or welded.  And we all worked our tails off for two straight days over Memorial Day weekend.  The awesome thing is that we had AIR CONDITIONING!!! :)

And to preface the real point of this post, Marcus' grandmother used to knit and crochet A LOT.  I mean, over the course of the past six months, we've found so much yarn and crocheted blankets.  We've even found unfinished blankets, squares meant to be quilted together, you name it.  But I really had no idea what was in store for us.  Marcus told me that there was a closet of yarn in the garage.  Not just a small closet... It is a large utility closet with shelves of yarn from floor to ceiling.  Then we happened upon ANOTHER closet in the den.  Guess what was in it.  YARN!  Shelves of yarn organized by color from floor to ceiling.  So... we had to formulate a plan for the yarn.  My dear husband did a little research and found out that many people (not us) still find uses for yarn of all colors, materials, and textures.  Evidently, these people buy their yarn on ebay for up to $5.00 a skein.  I was flabbergasted.  Really?  Five bucks for some yarn?  But just because knitting and crocheting isn't for me doesn't  mean it's not for everyone.

Long story short... we decided to attack the smaller den closet first.  Four hours later... we had categorized 996 skeins of yarn by color and material.  That's over 3 refrigerator sized boxes full of yarn! I still can't believe it.  And we still have another closet full of yarn to go through.  That closet is twice as big!  Needless to say, we've got enough yarn to sell on ebay for at least a few years.  Amazing...

Pictures added 6/22/11.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sad day... then something weird (but funny) happened

(Not sure if I mentioned it before but I'm an elementary school teacher.)
Is it completely pathetic that I completely lost it as the buses drove away today?  I had to say good-bye to my students for the last time this afternoon, and while I didn't cry in front of them, it only took about 30 seconds after the last bell for me to begin sobbing so uncontrollably that I called my mom.  Yea, she thought it was adorable... I'm not so sure lol.  But I did have a great class this year, and it was really sad to see them go.

So after that sad day, my co-teachers insisted we go to the local Mexican restaurant to chill out and discuss summer plans.  We had a great time socializing but our waitress totally discussed her child's scabies with us.  Ew!!!!!  Yes... that happened.  We'd been chilling out for over an hour, then our cute little waitress came over and whipped out a formal letter from her kid's daycare saying that there was a break-out of scabies.  Number one, gross.  Number two, we WERE eating.  Number three, why do we care?  Needless to say... it was hilarious... but SO nasty, so we left ASAP.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This weekend we had no air conditioning...

So the plan for this weekend was to finish cleaning out the living room and den, work on removing the wallpaper in the bathrooms and kitchen, and wash the walls and windows so we can start painting soon.
But, we had no air conditioning and since we live in Georgia, the high of 95 degrees was unbearable even with our one oscillating fan.  We got started very early Saturday morning because movers came to move Marcus' sister's GIGANTIC wardrobe to her storage building.  They were done within the hour so Marcus focused on cleaning off the workbench in the garage, and I cleaned out the living room and dining room.  Without AC we didn't last until noon without having to get out of the heat.  It was like a sauna!  I have never sweated so much in my life.  We went to Lowe's for awhile, ate lunch, and tried to go back to work but didn't last more than 30 minutes before we had to go.  Sunday we slept in a little before heading out to the house.  Again, it wasn't more than three hours before we had to get out of there.  So now the plan is to get the AC fixed before we try to work on the house again.  Marcus may be meeting with someone in the morning...

We did check some things off the list though... 

We made definite decisions concerning our kitchen cabinets.  They were custom built for the house when it was built in the early 70s.  They're good quality and even the hardware looks good.  The only thing that needs to be fixed is the color.  So we're going to try out the new cabinet-kit from Rustoleum.  We'll paint the cabinets white, then use a stain to make them look antiqued.  Here's an example of the results one shade darker than ours: 
We decided to paint the inside of the cabinets with regular semi-gloss kitchen/bath paint in antique white to avoid wasting time or money on glazing the interior.

We also finished going through the boxes and items in the living room and dining room.  Next trip, we're going to have to get a U-Haul in order to move Marcus' grandmother's things to her house and storage building.  Then Marcus will begin working on the cabinets while my sister and I remove wallpaper and wash the walls... if we have air conditioning.     :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We're famous!

I was checking our wedding photographer's website and saw that our pictures were published on a popular wedding blog called "Brenda's Wedding Blog".  Check it out!

These are three of our favorites from the photo-session before the actual ceremony.  (We had a big reveal before the wedding because we knew it would be too dark for pictures afterward.)