dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A New Washer of Dishes

Mama got a new toy!

Several months ago I started wondering if a new dishwasher might be in my immediate future.  Our old one was still working, but I would describe its performance as mediocre.  I don't think it was a top of the line dishwasher when it was brand new, and at 7 years old, it only did an okay job.  It would run through a cycle with no problems, and it seem to get nice and hot.  But, it was very loud and required pretty thorough pre-washing if you wanted your dishes clean at the end of the cycle.  So, I started the process of researching dishwashers.  For a purchase of this size, I am usually pretty thorough with my research.  I started browsing the websites of the two main home improvement stores to see what the popular features were (and how much they would set me back), and then I moved on to Consumer Reports.  First impression from my dishwasher shopping:  these things are expensive!

From almost the very beginning, I knew I would go with a Whirlpool dishwasher for one main reason:  the silverware tray is in the door.  I mean, come on.  How is it that no other manufacturer does this?!  Having the silverware tray in the door means that I can use the entire lower rack for plates and bowls without loosing any space to the tray.  So, once I determined that Whirlpool was the only manufacturer that has the tray in the door, it was really just a matter of deciding on which Whirlpool washer.

Ultimately, I decided on this beauty:
It's a Whirlpool Gold.  I felt really good about my decision and about all of the features like a stainless steel interior, hidden control panel, adjustable upper shelf, and energy star rating.  What I didn't feel good about was the price.  $750 was a hard pill to swallow.  But, since I still had a working dishwasher, I knew time was on my side and that I had the luxury of waiting until the appliance went on sale.  So, fast forward from mid-August until Labor Day weekend.  As I had been hoping would happen, Lowe's was offering 15% off of all appliances over $399, so that took the price of the dishwasher down to just over $600.  And, when I combined that offer with the 5% off Lowe's offers for using their credit card, the price of the dishwasher came to just under $600.  Still, that was a lot of moolah, but it was an investment I was willing to make.  So, I bit the bullet and brought it home.  So, at that point there was only one thing standing between me and my beautiful, new, quiet and efficient dishwasher:  installation.

Lowe's offers installation, but at $165 a pop, I really wanted to see if this was something Colin and I could accomplish.  And, we were ready to try, but thankfully he and I didn't end up having to attempt dishwasher installation on our own.  Instead, a dear friend's husband and their 4 year old son came over to give us a hand.  Here the men are assessing the project.  (Note the handyman uniform!)
And, here they are a couple hours later with the new dishwasher all installed!  They're looking mighty proud of themselves (as they should be!), aren't they?
I didn't ask for too many details, but from what I could tell, the installation went pretty well.  There were no late night trips to the home improvement store (I had already purchased several add-ons like a new water supply line and some hardware- just in case!), so that's a good sign.  And, the dishwasher has been installed and functional for nearly a month now, and our basement is still dry!

Since we already had a stainless steel dishwasher, the change doesn't make a huge aesthetic difference, but it is miles ahead of the old one in functionality.  I put the dishes in dirty and they actually come out clean!

So, I'm wondering:  did either of my readers actually already notice the new dishwasher in these pictures from the chalkboard post?
Oh, and I almost forgot:  after we got the dishwasher installed and I made sure I liked it and it wasn't a lemon, I posted my old one up on Craig's List.  I was honest about its age and limitations and was able to sell it to a man with a couple rental properties for $50.  So, that thrifty little moment brought the total cost of the brand new top of the line Whirlpool to $550 down from an original price of $750.  Me likey savey money.

My parents were visiting this weekend, and I managed to keep my dad very busy with my Daddy Do List.  Stay tuned to find out what he tackled.  I will give you one picture clue, though, because it's fun and because I know that some people who know me in real life think my house is blog-picture-clean at all times.  So, without further ado, I present to you Evidence A:


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fun with chalkboard paint

Remember back when we removed the top half of the wall between the kitchen and dining room?  In doing that, we exposed the side of one cabinet.  See it there just past the sink?  (Yes, it's the one with the missing crown molding.)
In the height of the remodel, a friend commented how fun it would be if I painted the side of that cabinet with chalkboard paint and used it for a menu board.  I immediately loved the idea and vowed to do it.  But, as I thought more and more about it, a nagging voice kept reminding me that I should be considering any future owners of this house with every change I make.  And, what if a future prospective buyer hated that I had permanently altered a cabinet?  So, I brainstormed ways to use the side of the cabinet as a menu board without permanently painting it.  I got the idea to cover the cabinet with some thin plywood, which I could then paint.  So, that's just what I did.
I picked up a sheet of the thinnest plywood I could find, cut it to size using my jig saw, painted it, and used several small finishing nails to attach it to the side of the cabinet.  I know I will be leaving nail holes behind if I ever decide to remove the board, but I figured that is better than the alternative.  The tiny holes can be patched and stained/painted to match the rest of the cabinet pretty easily.  Once I had mounted the board, I trimmed it out with some molding.  I used a simple miter box and hand saw to cut the trim.  I left space at the top for the crown that needs to be cut and re-installed in case the molding fairy ever shows up.

But, as I worked on the new chalkboard with visions of my weekly menu posted there, I reluctantly admitted that I didn't actually need a spot for a menu board.  Because, you see, this is the view from my kitchen sink.
See that there menu board right across in the dining room?!  You can read how I invented that chalkboard from an old broken door here.
After I admitted that our menu board needs were pretty much already met, it didn't take me long to figure out another use for a chalkboard in the heart of our home.  Considering the amount of time I spend in the kitchen every day, I decided it was a perfect location to post a weekly Bible verse.  My goal is to memorize the verse each week, but even if I don't it's great to have an encouraging scripture (or a humbling one!) posted in such a visible location.
This week's verse is from James, and I have been both encouraged and humbled as I have meditated on it.
So, there you have it:  the simple and temporary addition of a chalkboard in our kitchen.  I love it because not only does it provide me a spot for an uplifting message, it's also a fun and interesting design element!

**linking to

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Basement shelf organization

Have you guys ever stumbled upon Jen's blog IHeart Organizing?  Well, um, let me tell you- I heart it!  It is an organizer's dream blog!  Jen is what I would call an extreme organizer, and her blog is chock full of great organization tips and ideas.  One my favorite parts of Jen's blog and her ideas is that she bring beauty to the world of organization, which is an area in which I am trying to improve.  I think, basically, she is my organizing hero.  Call it a crush, if you want.  I won't disagree.

I am a faithful reader of her blog, and she inspires me almost daily to try to improve upon my systems of organization. So, recently I decided that my basement storage shelves needed some help.  Desperately.  I'm almost embarrassed to show you this picture, as it's pretty bad.  But, here is what I was living with:  a messy shelving area with stuff just thrown onto the shelves.
 Not only was it a sight for sore eyes, it simply wasn't functional.  I couldn't fit everything I needed to fit in the space that I had.  I couldn't find things, and I had absolutely no system for where things were.

And now, the space looks like this:
Oh, be still my heart!  Does anyone else hear choirs singing when you see this picture?!  So, let's see: what did I do?  The first thing I did, which I cannot stress the importance of enough, was to de-clutter.  I got rid of the broken pop-up tent.  I set aside some light fixture globes to sell at next weekend's yardsale.  I truly evaluated the importance of each item on the shelving unit.  And, once I got rid of some stuff I didn't need, I found that I had plenty of room for the stuff that I do need.  **happy dance!!**

My main partner in crime for this makeover was a bunch of clear plastic lidded bins.  I picked up a bunch from Ikea, and the shoebox sized ones were from the Dollar Store.  I think they all ranged in price from a buck to maybe 3 bucks.  And, once I had those, it was really just a matter of grouping like items.
Some of the containers and their labels were fairly straightforward:
While for others I had to get creative:
But really it all came down to identifying what items often get used at the same time and putting them in a bin together.  And, let me tell you, this bin in particular has been a game changer for me:
I mean how long did it take me to figure out that I *always* use the drill and the drill bits at the same time?!  And, it's so much easier just to grab a bin with everything I need for a little project then it is to guess the drill bit size, and then realize I don't have the correct size, and then I don't have the screwdriver bit, and so on.

And, usually when I grab the drill bin, I grab this one, too.  Because this is where all of the hardware and picture hanging supplies live.
So, once I had all of my bins filled, I started to organize them on the shelves.  I grouped like items.  So, we have the electronics section:
And, the painting section:
 And, most everything else sorta just got put together:
But, back to the painting section for a moment.  If you don't already do this, do yourself a favor and label the tops of your paint cans.  You'll thank yourself on Patch The Walls Weekend.  Trust me.
So, yeah, that's about it.  I created the labels out of cardstock, and I adhered them to the bins using packing tape.  I just slapped the clear tape right across the homemade labels, so not only does the tape adhere the labels to the bin, it also sort of laminates the labels.  Perhaps Jen would have come up with something a little fancier, but this is the basement, people!  And, besides this project didn't exactly have any money budgeted for it, so I had to go with what I had.

So, now when I go to the basement for a tool or some paint, I am welcomed by tidy, organized shelves where I can easily find what I need.  Does it get any better?
And, because no redo is complete without a side-by-side before and after, here's mine:
If you need me, I'll be in the basement!



**sharing with the girls at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

H is for Hope

A very special little girl celebrated her second birthday this weekend, and Aunt Emily just had to come up with a gift idea that was every bit as special, unique and quirky as Hope herself.  I am sure you remember my sweet niece from the highchair redo, don't you?
As I was catching up on some blog reading this weekend, I stumbled upon Shannon's tutorial on appliques.  As soon as I saw how cute these finished shirts were and how easy the steps seemed, I knew this was the perfect gift for my favorite two year old.

It turns out that hunting down solid color t-shirts in toddler sizes was probably the hardest part of this whole project.  After trips to Old Navy, Carter's, Target and JoAnn's were unsuccessful, I finally found these shirts at WalMart.  Turns out they are perfect.  I love the scalloped edges, and at $3.88 a piece, the price was definitely right.
As for the fabric that I used for the project, I used a combination of leftovers that I had sitting around and 2 fat quarters that I picked up at JoAnn's.  I actually love using fat quarters for small projects, because then I don't have to deal with the fabric cutters.  ("Hi, I'd like 1/800th of a yard please!")  Plus, every time I'm at the JoAnn's it seems everyone is there getting fabric, too, and that can turn a 10 minute trip into a 40 minute trip.  The only other supply I need for this project was Wonder Under, which is the double sided fabric adhesive stuff.  I got a big roll of it, which I will probably never use up, for half off at $3.14.
So, once I amassed my supplies, I got to going, loosely following Shannon's steps.  I cut my fabric shapes, adhered them to the t-shirts, and then outlined each of the shapes with the sewing machine.  I kept it all very simple because 1) I wanted to take it slowly and be successful, and 2) I started this project at 8pm the day before the party (oops!).  All in all, it was pretty easy.  Personally, I was mostly concerned that I was going to sew the front and the back of the shirt together, which I didn't.  Yay!

I made Hope 3 shirts.
A purple heart inside a pink square:
 A pink heart on a pink shirt:
 And, a blue H on a hot pink shirt.
 I think they turned out so adorable.  And, in fact, they are special, unique and quirky, just like little Hope.
And, here's the birthday girl in one of her new shirts!  She took a quick break from all of the action for a couple pictures for Aunt Emily.
 When you ask her what the H is for on her shirt, she very proudly announces, "Hope!"
 And, here she is with her new babydoll.
Oh, is she the sweetest or what?  So, there you have it:  a sweet little homemade gift for a sweet little two year old.  Aunt Emily loves you to pieces, Hopester!



**  linking up to the girls at:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

They had me at free.

I am not one to turn a blind eye to a free listing on Craig's List, so when I found this table listed- in the town where I live- for zero dollars and zero cents, I emailed the seller faster than you can say, "I am addicted to free wood furniture!".  That afternoon, this beauty came home with me.

She's amazing, huh?  I think it's pretty clear that she had been used as the family's craft table.  It is a light weight pine table (I think from Ikea).  It had been finished with a honey color stain and had some type of poly on top.  And, on top of that was the finger paints, markers, etc.  :)  This baby was well used!
I have been keeping a close eye on Craig's List postings for a new table for my craft room/office.  I had a very large and very nice table in there that has been functioning quite well.  But, aside from the table being a touch too big for the room, it has has one major flaw:  it is super high maintenance.  It's made of very soft wood- teak and some others, so you cannot even write on the table without leaving behind a permanent note in the table top.  Not great for a surface that needs to stand up to sewing and crafting and general creativity.  And, the wood has absolutely NO protective finish.  Any moisture for any amount of time on the surface of this table leaves a permanent mark.  So, really it's not a good fit for my office/craft space.  But, this little table seemed perfect!

I got started that very day with sanding off the old finish.  This step always takes longer than I think it should.
 But, after several days of working for a few minutes after work between walking the dogs and making dinner, she was looking much better.
And, the legs were, too.  They got a couple coats of a light blue paint I had sitting around from a bedroom two houses ago.  From there, I used my Minwax stain in Jacobean, and couple coats of polycrylic to make sure this girl is up for the task of being my craft room table.
And then comes my favorite part:  getting her all set up and staged for photos.  

So, it turns out that after all of that, I have decided that she is a little bit too small!  I did some sewing, and I managed to get by, but I could have used more room.  And, when the sewing machine is fully set up with the sewing platform thingy (you can really tell what a serious sewer I am by the fact that I don't know the official names for any parts of the machine), it's a tight squeeze with the lamp and my laptop.  But, it's fine for now, and I do love the way she turned out.
So, after all of that, I am on the hunt for a craft room table again, haha!  I guess the silver lining, though, is that the smaller table means that I could fit this wicker chair in the corner.  It had previously been in an unused corner of the basement, and it's my new blogging spot.  It's comfy, and I just love using this area of my house in a way I've never used it.  These are the exactly types of little changes that I love to make around here to keep things fresh.
Oh, and I almost forgot:  a cost run-down.  This makeover was brought to you courtesy of zero point zero dollars, because I had all of the materials on hand.  And, that makes this thrifty DIY'er very, very happy.


linking to the girls at: