Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Appliance Moving

Alright (in the words of Mr. Brigglesworth)...

I have a house update. I wish it was exciting news, but it's not. I have come to the realization that our housing market is not so hot right now. To all my fellow in-town friends, now is not the time to sell... but it is the time to buy!

Remember when I said pricing our house was the hardest part we were still unsure of? Well, it was our only pitfall. We have had no showings. We've received advise from realtors and they say the only thing wrong is our price. I was so nervous to sell it low, and then to wonder if we sold it too cheaply. But that won't be the issue. We are competing with new construction and they are able to build cheaper than our builder could build back in 2008. The kicker... all that was considered fancy upgrades to us, is now a standard!

So, we've reduced our price to what we bought it for (no upgrades). And because we are doing that, I am looking at everything in my house that I could take with me to a new one. Even those plantation shutters!

I removed my fancy light switch that I love. I don't think the new buyer will appreciate it as much as I do.

And my gas stove was the first thing to be removed. When my mom and dad built their house, I paid for their upgrade to a gas stove. Once they closed on the house, we switched appliances. I got the gas, she got the electric.

I really enjoyed the gas stove and wanted to keep it. So, we switched them back to the original owners this past Sunday.

Mr. JCrew's dad came to help.

I needed to remove the gas stove before potential buyers thought it was what they were getting. Switching electric and gas means having to cut off the gas to the house and capping it off when not using it.

The electric stove helps draws your attention away from the fact there is no backsplash.

It now kind of feels like a new appliance to me.

Once we build, we will transfer the gas stove that is now in Mom's house to the new house and will buy an electric range to put into her house before selling it.

That's not the only appliance that will be replaced. We bought a nice dishwasher over the summer and sold our loud and small old one. We are also going to take the new dishwasher with us! I know it's starting to sound silly, but we can buy a new replacement dishwasher for $180. That's not even looking on craigslist or yard sale sites. The new dishwasher is only 6 months old, and I love it!

And if you look closely at the kitchen cabinets, you'll notice I already switched out the cabinet knobs to the original ones. They were never my style, and I wouldn't use them in a newer house, so I put them back on. It beats having to take them off and soak them to clean them had I used them the last five years. They look brand new and feel new to me!

So, at least some upgrades I did I can take with me. The upgrades I did won't get me any value in selling them, so I might as well. Helps with the costs in the new house as well.

Anything else I should take with me?

Monday, March 10, 2014

How I Learned to Be A Friend

Wow. This last month, I have had an outpouring of love shown to me. I have learned how to be a friend from my friends.

First, I would like to apologize to anyone that has lost a loved one before. I don’t think I was the best of friends to you. I can’t remember what I said or did. That means, I probably wasn’t the best.

I’ve learned what to say and what not to say. It pained me when people were sad for me. I’d cry because they were crying!

Losing a loved one is hard. In the weeks leading up to Dad’s death, I had friends sending me notes in the mail. I love snail mail! They were just thinking of me. I had texts and phone calls.

When the day came, it was very sad. It hadn’t hit me yet. I went about doing my normal routine. I spent the next day getting ready for Dad’s memorial service.

I invited my friends to come to Dad’s memorial service. I didn’t expect the numbers to show up like they did.  It was a great feeling to have support there.
  1.      Attend the Memorial Service

In the weeks after, I received numerous cards in the mail. That’s one thing I will remember to do. Just the thought of knowing people were praying for my strength, was comforting.

      2.      Mail a Card

One friend sent little notes every few days. I loved them. Her son drew me a picture to make his mommy’s friend feel better.

In the most recent note, she sent a whole bunch of silly jokes. I shared them with my mom. She laughed and cried at the thoughtfulness. Mom shared with me that when my brother died, she would watch comedy shows late at night to help her.

       3.       Tell Funny Jokes

It may feel silly to tell jokes, but people that are grieving need a break from their tears. My sisters were good at cracking jokes at the house. We needed to laugh.

Some friends offered to bring meals. None were planned, and all were appreciated. I usually make big lunches for Mr. JCrew and myself to take to work with us during the week. For two weeks after Dad’s death, I didn’t cook a thing. I didn’t feel like it. I just gave him money and he had no problem going out to eat for lunch. I packed random snacks that amounted to little of nothing to take to work. Having meals for dinner prepared, ensured we got something good in us.

      4.       Bring a Meal

It has amazed me how many people are still checking in. My Dad’s best friend here in town called my mom everyday in the weeks leading up to my dad’s death and the week after. He has been amazing. My mom  has a special friend back home in Florida that always writes a card for anniversaries of deaths and birthdays of the family members that are gone. She has never missed a year. And with Dad’s birthday so close to his death, she sent my mom a message on Dad’s birthday to say she was thinking of her. I still get occasional “checking in” messages that I appreciate. The good days are outnumbering the bad days. And I’m happy I can report that. I want to always remember to check in with my friends days/weeks/months after a tragic event. The pain doesn’t go away, and they will always find comfort in a phone call.

     5.      Check In Frequently (Don’t forget about them)
     6.      Remember Dates (birthday’s / death)

The best things were random acts of kindness. My best friend and neighbor brought delicious treats over. Her daughter and mom had a baking weekend, and they brought us over some of their creations on Monday. Then the day that my dad died, I had warm muffins waiting on my doorstep when I got home at 6AM. I brought those back over to my mom’s house for my sisters and mom to enjoy. It was little things like that that made me feel so loved and cared for.

      7.       Make and Deliver Unannounced Treats

It’s hard to tell when someone is ready to get back out into the world after a tragic event. It almost felt wrong to be happy, but I needed to be for my boys. They were definitely feeling stressed from everyone around them being sad. I’ve continually invited my mom to outings and she declines and accepts as she can. She knows what she can handle. A little trip to the bird store, and little breakfast at a restaurant, anything to get her out of the house and get her mind in a different place is a good thing. Two precious friends gave us gift cards to go out to get our nails done, so we did!

      8.      Send Invitations to Get Out of the House

Another thing I have really appreciated, is the memories people tell me. My dad was a giving man and helped many people. My dad was also social and talked to everyone. It has been so uplifting to hear the impact he had on people’s lives with just little gestures. My old neighbor from back home, told me of his memory of my dad. How my dad would see him working on his truck and my dad would come over and help. My neighbor said he was a punk kid back then and didn’t deserve my dad’s kindness, but that was Dad! Another childhood friend, told me how my dad (and Mom) helped her parents a long time ago, and ever since then, she has loved my parents and been so thankful for them. It’s touching stories and memories that I love to hear. Knowing my dad was loved by other people than just me, is so comforting.

      9.      Share Your Memories

One last thing that has helped me be strong is to be told how strong I am. I want to be strong, but when I’m sad, I don’t feel it. I felt like I was breaking down and crying all the time. And I was. I told Mr. JCrew how I thought I was strong, but I couldn't keep it together. He told me it was okay to cry. I was normal. I was still a strong person, and strong people can cry. I had a friend tell me how amazed she was at how strong I was. She heard how sad I was in our conversations, yet she told me I was strong… so I believed her. It gave me a boost. I needed to be strong for my mom. I needed to be ready to be there for her.

      10.       Tell Them How Strong They Are

I have learned so much on how to be a friend. I cannot say, “Thank you” enough to all my special friends. I have been amazed at the outpouring of love shown to me and my family. In a time of such grief, we are thankful. Thankful for the time we have and the people we have by our side. Grieving is not an easy process, but the healing takes place with such wonderful friends.

Now I want to pay attention to those around me. They may not be grieving a death, but whatever they are sad about, I want to be the type of friend that I have. I want to make someone’s heart feel warm. I want to be the bright spot in their day. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Drywall Tape Repair

I don’t know when the offense occurred, but our staircase ceiling had a separation from the drywall tape to the drywall.

It hit at such a hard-to-reach location. The staircase is so tall. It’s the only reason I haven’t painted the staircase wall. I can’t reach that high and putting a ladder on the landing would be dangerous.

This was a project I attempted right after my dad’s death. I so badly wanted to ask him for a solution. After the first failed attempt, I look up and asked Dad to give me some guidance. Allow me to think creatively and use my resources.

Attempt #1: The first attempt, I taped my trowel to my paint pole and put drywall plaster on it. It was such a hard angle and the plaster was not closing the gap. Fail #1

Attempt #2: The next attempt involved the ladder. I made Mr. JCrew get up there. We attempted to use the plaster again since we could get a better angle, but the plaster was not holding the gap shut. We needed to close the gap first. We used super glue to put the tape back up. The super glue was not holding and we ran out of glue. Mr. JCrew was tired, so we stopped trying and took a break.

Attempt #3: We bought more super glue and added painters tape to our resources. After we glued the tape, we used the painters tape to hold it in place while it dried.

Mr. JCrew's Handi-work

We let it sit like that for a week. Each time I wanted to get back up there to take the tape down, Mr. JCrew wasn’t available. There was no way I was getting on that ladder without support. I always had a plan while Mr. JCrew was on the ladder, that if he fell, I’d push him towards the door on the second floor. It would be less of a fall.

While I had the week to think, I came up with an alternative solution. I would get back on the ladder one last time and use a piece of painters tape to gently ease the seam into the ceiling.

I could then use my long painter’s pole to paint the tape to match the ceiling and all would be fixed.

I could use a roller and not have to secure a paint brush on the end, but I’ve dealt with corners with a roller, and it’s not easy. I thought I could handle the corner easier with a brush.

And it was a good solution. I have no idea why the tape decided to separate from the ceiling, but it was a problem that needed to be fixed. I was so close to calling a professional, but you know me… I like to do it myself if I can. 

Problem solved! It was a risky project and I am so glad it is done. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tile Repair and Grout Renew

Our foyer had some cracked tile. We had this problem before and had it fixed.

We have a crack in the foundation and the builder never put a barrier to prevent it from cracking the tile, so the tiles cracked after the repair and I left it like that for 4 years.

I never repaired it, because it makes such a mess! It was covered under warranty the last time and the guy that repaired it, didn’t do anything to prevent the dust cloud from going anywhere. It took forever to clean and I didn’t want to have to go through with that again. 

Plus, I envisioned pulling up all the tile and laying down a protective barrier, before laying brick down as my new flooring. I have always loved the look of brick on a floor.

But, I needed to repair the crack now. There are two new products I wanted to share that I used for the tile. One, is a caulk that looks like grout.

I had a crack in the grout line in the upstairs bathroom, so I bought the caulk and applied it to the base of the tub. Worked great!

I then decided I wanted to see if I could use it on the cracked tile. I then worked to fill the crack in the tile. It worked great!

Only when you are standing at just the right angle and know what you’re looking for, can you see the crack! Definitely better than ripping up the old tile!

While I was down at the ground-level, I noticed my grout. Some places were darker than others. You could tell which areas got more foot traffic.

I remember when I bought the house, the contractor told me to seal the grout before I did anything else. And I did, but I only did it to the newly laid tile that I asked them to put in. I thought they would have already sealed the tile that had been there for a year. In hind-sight, I should have sealed every room that had tile. They had not done it at all. Sealer prevents the discoloration of the grout. It protects it from stains and water damage.

So, here is the second product I used on the tile. Grout Refresh. It is a paint for grout. It comes in limited colors, so I never found an exact match to my grout, but I picked a new color I was happy with.

I went in every bathroom and painted the grout. I used a toothbrush and went to town. This was a very relaxing time. I was on the phone with AT&T while painting the foyer. And I got faster as I learned a method.

It made such a difference; even Mr. JCrew noticed!!

 I just took a toothbrush and painted the grout a section at a time.

You don't have to be precise. You just wipe up the excess.

After painting the grout, I waited 4 days and then went around and sealed them all.

Now, they will stay this light color for a lot longer than 5 years.

The caulk that looks like grout runs about $6 a tube. The grout paint runs about $11 a bottle. I still have half a bottle left over after doing two bathrooms and the foyer. I’m very happy with how it turned out. 
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