Orange Is the New Green

If last week’s chaos wasn’t enough, we decided to bring it downstairs.

All the furniture has been shoved into random corners, so we can have the sea of green carpet removed.

Carpet East


It’s crazy how even the subflooring looks better than that carpet.

Carpet Gone 2

After removal came the tricky part–the electrical portion. We turned off the heat and opened all the windows overnight to cool off the floors. The next morning, we turned on the heat and a fellow with a very expensive thermal camera came and took pictures mapping out the tubing that runs through our floors and heats our home. He left behind markings to show where we could add some electrical outlets for the computer and possible floor lamps.

Marked Areas

I came home from a walk, to find the MR and our project manager talking about how slick the camera was. They were a little surprised that the tubing was set four inches apart in one area of the room and eight inches in another. It was a little odd, but who knows why people do these things? We do now. Part of our system may be clogged, or that camera wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. On the final outlet, after chipping carefully away all day, the electrician spouted off a few choice words. You know it’s gotta be trouble.

The nick 2

He’d nicked the tubing with his screwdriver. A nick is better than a cut. I was certain this was gloom and doom–destruction of floors and heating. I can get a little fatalistic.

Apparently, it’s a simple fix.They talked about using plumbers tape to fix it, but since soon it will be covered by an under-layer and flooring material, that didn’t seem prudent. The project manager went on to explain about shark teeth clamps. Let’s just say we called in a professional and have documentation to explain the repair.

The Fix 2

And now a few rainy days later, we even have heat again. You may be wondering what’s with the orange. Don’t worry; I’m getting to that.

So are our floors in? Not even close. We had the concrete flooring installed over our tile floors. Now that we’ve removed the carpet and pad, they weren’t even. So we couldn’t simply have the Semco flooring put in over the that; we needed to add half an inch. Hardyboard needs to be nailed down. With the tubing in the floors, that’s not going to happen.

The next idea was a half inch layer of gypcrete. Of course, that needs to cure for 30 days. Sorry, I’m not living like this for a month.

How we're living

So Schluter-Ditra to the rescue. I know. Who makes up these names? You can find out all about it here, or just picture the great room floor covered in bright orange honeycomb. I do believe the ceilings glowed at one point last night; it was like living in an orange.

Orange floor at sunset

It will keep our floor from cracking, raises it to the proper level (cross you fingers), and will work with the Semco coating.

It doesn’t look quite as bad by the light of morning.

Orange floor at sunrise

Who am I kidding? It’s awful. In another week or so, life will get back to normal. I can deal with anything for a week.

Until then, we’ve traded faded green in for bright orange–awesome!

Ever been in the midst of a project and think wow this was a bad idea? Any remodeling at your house? Share your fiascoes please. It’s been one of those weeks, and this is only the half of it.



Harvest Time

What happens when you leave town in the middle of harvest season? Things go a little crazy.

My dad visits my aunt and uncle in Missouri annually and always comes home with lots of stories.  He likes to say how come July or August, you don’t dare leave your car unlocked when you park it in the square cause when you come back it’ll be filled with bags of tomatoes and squash.

We’ve always just smiled and nodded–we try to humor the guy. But this year, we had a real summer in Washington with warm weather and sunshine; it’s been crazy. That giant mound of tomato plants I’ve been watching for months has started producing. Maybe that story about the square isn’t too far-fetched.

Now that we have all these silly tomatoes, I can’t just do a happy dance and beam at my gardening prowess. Perhaps I should actually make something with my unexpected bounty.

So I made roasted vege pasta sauce and stuck it in the freezer, then I canned tomato basil pasta sauce, and then I canned some more. Maybe it was time to try something that wouldn’t use just a piddly four or five pounds. I saw a simple recipe that said to drizzle baking sheets with olive oil, add halved tomatoes cut-side down, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and a few herbs, stick them in the oven for 10 hours at 200-degrees, and call it good. That’s my kind of recipe.

Roasted Tomato Collage

After they’d cooled a bit, I pulled off the skins, stuck the tomatoes in bags, and popped them in the freezer. This winter I can add them to pizza, pasta, sandwiches, soups, and casseroles for a bit of intense tomato flavor.

As you can see in the photos above, I grew two different types of paste tomato–different in size, shape, color, and density. I randomly picked up two generic “paste” tomatoes at the super market. You never know what you’ll wind up with. I’m really liking the larger, meatier variety.

Since then I’ve turned 12 pounds into tomato sauce. I’ve learned that removing skins is one thing but removing skins and seeds is a whole other ball game. Let’s just say, my family is going to learn to deal with seeds.

When I came home a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find a giant zucchini hidden behind the tomatoes wedged in next to the fence. This fellow had grown way out of control. While he was too big for a stir-fry, he’d be great for some zucchini bread.

Zucchini Collage


Normally I wouldn’t have peeled zucchini before grating, but this one was just too tough. So I sliced off the edges, and still had plenty left for baking.

Meanwhile the apples are ripe, and all this produce is attracting fruit flies. Seems like a bit of applesauce was in order. I didn’t bother to core or peel the apples, and just ran them through the food mill before processing.

Applesauce Collage

I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely golden color of the sauce. Our last apple tree was a Granny Smith variety, and my homemade sauce was always tinged a sickly green. Baby Girl is selling apples through FFA, so I see more applesauce and apple chips in our future. I think apple pie might also be in order. I really like pie.

Our pantry growing is growing bit by bit.

My jars have been around for years, and a few chips have stopped a good seal. I think I’ll pick up a few more pint jars, so the tomatoes and the fruit flies don’t get the best of me.

How’s harvest time at your house? Any favorite tomato recipes to share?

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?