Problem Solving

What do you do when you inherit some really awful carpet with stains? Or when your kids have their own “hangout” room and they spill tea, or hot chocolate, or just a little Gatorade? And Mom are you crazy do we really need to clean it up? Or carpeted stairs that are stained and covered in dog hair?


Or maybe you have a tiled kitchen area next to that stained carpet that’s just awkward? You can’t open the dishwasher without hitting the table; and if you move the table the other way, you can’t open the fridge.


If you have any of these problems, I feel your pain; if you have all of these problems, welcome home. After a lot of back and forth, me and the MR decided to minimize upkeep and improve the flow of the upstairs area by adding the Semco flooring we had installed last spring in the same lovely gray color. While this probably wouldn’t be the best choice in a more traditional home; it definitely works with our space and needs.

The first step was emptying out the hangout room. Lucky for us Sweet Miss headed back to college last week. If we advertised a studio apartment for rent, totally furnished with two dressers, a twin bed, a futon, a loveseat, a desk, a stove, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher, someone might get really excited, until they saw the place.

SM Room Wider View

OK, so you can’t get past the door. Sweet Miss, your room is still yours–don’t worry. We also have a storage area off the hangout room that came in handy.

storage room

Then came the fun part, I say facetiously. I guess the nicest way to put it is that the dogs had some house training issues before we started locking them up in the laundry room. So the MR tore up some of the carpet and painted on a layer of Kilz to keep the smell from leeching through. Knock on wood, it’s going to work. Have I mentioned that my guy is a hard-working machine? He’s pretty amazing.

hangout room 3

He left the tile and the rest of the removal to Kenji and his crew. It was a little noisy, but they got rid of the tile and carpet, and had the room prepped by Monday afternoon.

kitchen area prepped

By making the whole floor one material, we’ve opened up a lot of options for furniture placement. We no longer have a strange square corner of carpet next to the storage area and the table has breathing room.

While we decided to keep carpet in the girls rooms, we are having the stairs and hall coated.

stairway to bedrooms

It’s surprising, but I think the stairs look better already even with overspray, tape and plastic.

stairs without carpet 2

I can’t wait till it’s all over. Baby Girl is going to find out that it’s a lot easier to dust mop rather than vacuum, and simple to wipe up a spill rather than steam clean spots. My child is on her way to loving neat and tidy if it kills her.

It’s going to be fun to put the hangout room back together after all this craziness. We’ve been furniture shopping, and I think it’s time to move some of our old furniture upstairs–maybe we’ll be getting ready to redo the rest of the great room floors by then.

Progress is messy, chaotic, and kinda wonderful.

What’s going on at your house? Making any changes?




A Little Color

I love our windows–the sunshine, the heat, the view that they allow. Fading and glare are another not so nice byproduct.

It’s one reason we’ve been leery of putting up artwork in the great room. But what’s the story in our room? We have a TV and a mirror and then nothing. I have visions of me and the MR going on an art walk, meeting interesting people, buying beautiful pieces, and supporting young artists. That pretty much never happens–probably never will.

So when I came across a modern, abstract floral on HauteLook in all the right colors, I ran it by the MR, and went ahead and ordered it. After a month or so, it finally arrived, and it was big. A 4-foot by 4-foot square would certainly fit next to the TV, but then we’d have two large pieces on the same wall.

So instead, we decided the area over the bath tub needed a little excitement.

Flower Print over Tub

I like that it’s not just gray and navy but has some yellow and a hint of the green I’ve used in other areas in the room.You might be worried about water-damage with it being so close to the bath. Well, this is a Japaneses soaking tub, and it just doesn’t see much action. I can’t seem to get used to sitting bolt upright when I’m relaxing in the tub.

And what about sun damage? During the summer, we keep the blinds down to keep our room cool, and since this window opens up on the side yard and the driveway and offers a clear view of the shower from the outside, we pretty much keep the blinds down all winter, too.

Print and Window

It’s fun to add a little personality to our bathroom. Now, I just need to keep my eyes open for some smaller pieces for the bedroom area and maybe keep my ears open for an art walk. I think it could be fun.

How do you decorate your bathroom? Any art over the bathtub?



We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

From this view, it’s easy to see the landscape has changed.

Landing in Oz


Last weekend, me and the MR made a surprise visit to Kansas to celebrate my older brother’s 50th birthday. Sometimes, my little brother comes up with some great ideas.

Me and the boys


In a few short days, we went bowling and golfing, ate fast food, played cards and roasted marshmallows, celebrated a birthday and a baby shower, and caught up with family.

Undeniably one of the sweetest moments was when my brother’s youngest son presented his sister with moon and stars pillows he’d made himself for his soon to arrive nephew.

Little guy


I see someone else in the family has inherited the crafting gene.

Now we’re 2,000 miles away back home with meetings and volleyball, flooring issues and design decisions, shopping, gardening, and volunteering. It’s so good to be home.

How was your weekend? 



Taking a Look at August

Last month, we crafted and donated, remodeled and decorated, landscaped and harvested. It was a A Little of This, A Little of That all month long.

Main Floor Plan Delineated

Sweet Miss crafted jewelry holders in A Chip Off the Old Block.

Necklace and Earring holders

And I made Heartwarming Hats for children around the world.

Cocoa and hats

Do you really need more trees? The answer is yes, when you want your home to be part of the scenery rather than a fortress on a hill. We’ve been faithfully watering our new plants giving them a good start.

Trees in Back


We are full on to harvest season, and the apples have gone crazy. Abundance comes with its own trials. Next year, I’ll thin the apples down to two per cluster to avoid this calamity. Another branch broke just the other day, so I’ve been picking my red apples early.

Duct Taped Apple 1

We really are thankful for success in light of last year’s failures, but each season comes with its own lessons. Transplants seem to work better with the slugs and birds we face out here. My tomatoes are a veritable jungle. Thinning and tying vines up early on will improve the harvest. I’ve thrown out numerous half-eaten, rotten tomatoes hidden amongst the leaves.

I was shocked at how quickly the contractors Filled in the Pit and added baseboards upstairs. I love being able to reach the mantle without a step stool. I have visions of cozy chairs next to the fireplace this winter.

To Carpet or Not to Carpet 001

Our original plan was to recarpet the rest of the great room, but we’ve decided Not to Carpet, and to go with the same resurfacing treatment that we used on the tile. That has opened a whole can of worms. We have to raise the level of the floor, and we’re taking this opportunity to add another floor outlet where the desk is situated which gets tricky when you have tubing embedded in concrete heating your home. September is looking like a messy month.

Finally, I met with two interior designers. They visited our house to get a feel for what we might need and have been giving advice on furniture and layout. One of the strange things about this house was the amount of furniture left behind. They encouraged me to rethink the benches by the front door and not be Trapped by What We Have.

Corn Plants Gramps Cart


Just because something has always been a certain way, doesn’t mean it has to be. I think it’s time to find a new spot for those benches–maybe the garage or someone else’s house.

Sadly the upcoming flooring work, has put the furniture shopping on hold. Here are few ideas. We’re looking at a simple dining table with clean lines to fill the space, a comfy sofa, a chaise or loveseat, partnered with some fun chairs, and a funky coffee table.

Some day, it will all come together. August also saw me and MR celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary, and Sweet Miss turning the big 20. Just yesterday, Baby Girl started her senior year of high school, and next week Sweet Miss will be leaving us for college life once more. I love having us all together.

The girls

How was you’re August? School started in your neck of the woods?




Heartwarming Hats

For the last week, I’ve been on a mission. When you knit or crochet, you wind up with baskets, boxes, bags, drawers, and trunks filled with yarn. Some of it’s beautiful, and you have the perfect pattern and plan for it.

And then, some of it makes you cringe. A friend of a friend tried knitting for a bit, it wasn’t for them, so they’re giving you all this yarn… It’s hard to say no to free yarn, but then what? It just sits there for years making you feel guilty and taking up space.

So I was ecstatic when I was flipping through the pages of the Fall Vogue Knitting and came across the Knit for Kids campaign. Knitters and crocheters can donate hats, sweaters, and blankets to children through World Vision. I’ve been knitting infant hats with all my leftover bits and pieces.

Cocoa and hats

I think they’re sweet, but Cocoa just wants breakfast.

It feels great to be able to get rid of yarn that has been languishing in a drawer for years and to know it’s actually going to something useful and good. I can just imagine some little baby in the far reaches of the world wearing a cozy cap.

You can check out the patterns and learn all the info about Knit for Kids here.

Do you have craft supplies wasting away in a box? What’s your favorite charity to support?




Lessons in Abundance

It’s been a banner summer weather wise–warm and dry. We’ve been enjoying many a lovely evening eating dinner and watching the sun set from the deck.

All that sunshine has been great for the garden, too. We’ve been eating a handful of cherry tomatoes everyday along with a cup of blueberries, and the green beans are just starting to produce.


But as with anything, there are pluses and minuses to all that warm weather. Remember my plan to grow “hurking big tomatoes”? (You can check it out here.) Well, when it came time to stake them out, I was running low on materials and just left some of them be. The tomatoes never get that big anyways–until this year. I feel like I’m back in the ’80s with Welcome to the Jungle.

Tomato Jungle


A few months ago, that was three little tomato plants hibernating in their Walls O Water.

Walls of Water


I stopped at the hardware store and figured 10 bamboo stakes would be able to help me out. That was just the beginning. I’ve decided it’s much easier to stake out tomatoes when they’re small, before they have large fruit hanging off every branch tangled in leaves and vines. With a few supports I found around the house, I was able to contain a little of the chaos.

Tomato Jungle trussed

Now I just have to hope for all those tomatoes to ripen. September first, I’ll be out pinching off any blossoms, so the plants will divert their energy to ripening the fruit that is already set. And next year, remind me to stay on top of things. Sometimes I don’t learn the first time around.

Speaking of learning things the hard way, we’ve had an apple catastrophe. I was showing my brother our orchard a few weeks back, and he commented that the apples looked like they could use some support. I said they were fine, and they might have been if some critters (probably dogs) hadn’t tried to pick apples way too soon. One of the large branches was on the ground when I went to pick my daily dose of blueberries.

Have you heard that a roll of duct tape can fix anything? It came to the rescue of our little apple tree with the MR’s help.

Duct Taped Apple 1


I went to a fruit tree seminar last year where they suggested thinning back the apples to just two or three per cluster. Now, I understand why. We’ve just never had apples much bigger than a golf ball, so we were reveling in our success. You may be wondering why I don’t just pick them all now. Well, these are supposed to be red apples, not yellow ones with just a blush of red. I’m hoping the ones we’ve picked from the broken branch will ripen in the pantry.

With all the heat we’ve been enjoying, I figured slugs would be on the wane–not so much. They’ve been eating away at my attempts to direct seed broccoli, so I bought transplants of broccoli, beets, and lettuce. We still have a month and a half before we expect a frost, so I’m hoping for a nice fall crop.

transplanted broccoli

Success comes with its own set of challenges. I’ve been dreaming of beans climbing the chain link fence around the tennis court for two years. Now that I finally have them doing just that, I realize I need a ladder or step stool just to pick them. Somehow, I didn’t see that coming. Don’t those beans know I’m not that tall?

Beans on the FenceThe MR, as always, has been busy with many projects. He recently added a sprinkler line to the flowerbed next to the master suite. Now all those new trees and flowers can get a good start, and he doesn’t have to spend so much time watering them each evening.


Growing up, the MR worked for his dad’s landscaping company, so this is far from the first system he’s designed and installed. I remember when we were dating, and he showed up with purple glue all over his hands from sprinkler work. Our inspectors gave it the thumbs/paws up.



Time to go water the plants on the deck, feed the dogs, do the laundry, but it’s always more fun to just talk to you guys.

How’s your garden growing?


To Carpet or Not To Carpet?

I left you a few weeks ago in the midst of our fireplace conversation pit remodel. We went from a useless hole, to framework, to a lovely, plywood-floored seating area.

To Carpet or Not to Carpet 001


We love it. I can dust the mantel without getting out a step stool. At night, I can sit by the fire if I need a little light to work on one of my projects. I no longer worry about tripping over the dogs in the wee hours of the morning when I go to get my coffee–well, I might still trip, but I won’t fall down stairs into a pit.

The birds are singing, all is goodness and light, and then we have to talk about floors. It was going to be so easy. We were just going to add some neutral gray carpet to match the concrete-coated floors. Then I started talking to the interior designers. They started using phrases like “better flow”, “makes more sense”, “continuity”.

Even with new carpet, we’d wind up with weird angles in the floor.

To Carpet or Not to Carpet 004

Making the whole great room floor the same gray, concrete-like material seemed to make sense. It’s easy to clean, conducts heat well, and hides all the dirt the dogs track in constantly.

So last week, I had Kenji, the local Semco contractor whom we had worked with in April, come out to make a bid for the rest of the floors downstairs (except the bedrooms) and the main area upstairs. That’s when things got tricky.

When we had him redo the entry, walkways, bathrooms, kitchen, and dining room last spring, he was adding a coating over tile. This time, we were removing the carpet and the pad, and suddenly we were dealing with a major height difference.

DiscrepancySomehow, that doesn’t sound like seamless. Now we’re discussing the insulation factor of hardiplank. And how to adhere said material to the floors without damaging our in-floor heating system. Perhaps a self-settling concrete would be a better option?

What about adding a few outlets? All the professionals just keep telling me how difficult it is to when you have heated tubing running through your floors.

Sometimes, I just want choices to be simple, straight-forward, and easy. Basically, all of the choices in this home have not been any of these.

So for now, I’m checking options and putting furniture purchasing on hold. Who wants beautiful new furniture covered in dust from new floors?

Now ;that I’ve had a week’s break from the blog to pout/regather my energy, let’s take a look at the positive. We suddenly have rooms upstairs that look finished.

Molding Collage

Bogart and I both approve. It’s fulfilling to see beautiful moldings instead of ugly, unfinished walls. Sweet Miss pointed out that we still have holes in the floors from where the radiator tubing was. You can see them in this photo of her room.

SWs Moldings

Don’t worry dearie, those will be taken care of when we recarpet the bedrooms and have the Semco flooring installed in the hangout room. Radiators will just be a bad memory.

OK, now I have emails to send and questions to ask, if these floors are ever going to get done.

Would you ever give up your wall-to-wall carpet? Do you have any tips on how to install floor outlets on heated floors?