Motivation

So, I’m back on the wagon. The diet wagon, that is. I’ve talked before about the ups and downs, I’ve committed to dieting here at least twice that I can remember (with varying degrees of success). I don’t really want to get into all that now, particularly because I don’t have time for a long post now (post about our anniversary coming up, promise!).

But, I have started again. Which for me means using my LoseIt app on my phone to track all of my food and exercise so that I know exactly how much I can eat in a day.

And when I put in my food that I’ve eaten thus far today, and then put in what I planned to make for dinner… I realized I did not have enough calories left in my budget for my nightly addiction (Edy’s slow churned ice cream).

In some ways, I like workout days better because I usually burn 400 calories on the elliptical and that increases what I can eat by 400 calories. (In other ways, I do not like workout days better… mostly because I have to get my ass out of bed and work out).

So, I may or may not have just gone outside and took Stew on a 30 minute walk to burn enough calories to have my small bowl of ice cream.

I mean, it was a nice day. And he was appreciative. And I probably would’ve taken him on the standard 10 minute walk anyways. But the truth is, I upped that 10 to 30 so I could burn those 100 calories and have my ice cream.

Exercise for junk food. Not really sure if this is progress? But I guess it got me motivated to move more on an off-day so I’m calling it a win.

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Kitchen Cabinet Upgrade– We got hardware!

One of the downsides of buying a brand new home is that it comes with almost no finishes. Since we were adding all of this stuff ourselves, we took care of the important stuff first (toilet paper holders, towel holders, etc), and somehow hardware for our kitchen cabinets just didn’t make the cut on our list of things to do.

Until now! Last weekend we were walking through Lowes and I mentioned for the thousandth time that I’d love to get hardware on our cabinets. Brian asked how much it would cost and I said “$100-ish.” To which he said– “do it up!” which is basically what we always say to each other when we mean to say Let’s do it!

We spent approximately 4 minutes looking at hardware before we found one we liked. B didn’t have too much opinion, he just wanted veto power. I decided that I like the look of pulls rather than knobs. I’m not sure why exactly, they just seem a little sleeker to me. Also, When I saw these particular pulls, they reminded me of the handles on our stainless steel appliances and I thought they’d match nicely.

(Source)

B liked them so when we got home we counted up our cabinets and drawers: 29. The next day I went to Lowes.com and did an order for “pick up later.” I did this rather than just going to the store because it didn’t look like they had all that many in the little drawer, and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of them searching for more while I waited.

This morning, we set upon our task. We were a little scared (understatement) because 1) neither of us had ever installed or replaced any door hardware before, 2) neither of us feels all that particularly proficient with a drill, and 3) we love our cabinets! Drilling holes in them is scarrrry.

But, we really want to learn to be more self sufficient in our house so we decided to go for it.

First lesson we learned? Pulls were maybe a bad idea. Having pulls means needing two screws per cabinet rather than 1 for a knob. So, double the holes we needed to make. Plus we had to make sure that the pulls were exactly straight. I am pretty sure that choosing pulls at LEAST doubled our time, maybe even tripled it (due to all the checking to make sure everything was straight and even). Although I have to admit that now that its done, I love them. So I guess pulls are worth the trouble– but just be aware they are a hassle!

Now for the how-to. And before the how-to, the disclaimer: this is just how we did it. There might be (probably is!) a better way to install cabinet door or drawer hardware, but this is just what made sense to us, and what ended up working for us. So without further ado, the “before” shot.

We knew that sawdust was going to get everrrrywhere so we totally cleaned off the counters first. If we were smarter, we would’ve put on shoes at this point. But, we weren’t. And now we both have wood shreds imbedded in our bare feet— I highly recommend finding shoes before you start!

Your supplies.

Masking or painters tape, a pen, a tape measure or ruler, a level, a screwdriver, and a drill (not pictured). Also, you need your door hardware, obviously. Most door hardware will be sold with screws so you shouldn’t have to worry about buying those, but do make sure to measure your cabinets and drawers before you buy the hardware because you might have to buy some extra screws. Our pulls came with 1″ screws which worked great for our 3/4″ thick cabinets. Our drawers, however, were 1 1/4″ thick, so I knew we’d need to buy a few packages of longer screws for those.

And don’t worry– you don’t have to figure this out yourself. I didn’t! All I did was measure the thickness of our cabinets and drawers. Then, when I went to pick up the pulls, I had someone at Lowes measure the screws that came with the pulls and advise me on which additional screws I would need. Also, what I didn’t realize at first is that not all of the cabinets are exactly the same thickness. I don’t know why, but some of the pulls were just a little bit loose/wiggly once we had the screws fully screwed in. A quick trip to Lowes mid-day today fixed the problem for under $2: Washers! Again, I just explained the situation to the guy working in hardware and showed him the screws we were using, and he directed me to these.

So once you have all your supplies, start by taping off where you want your handle. I did this because I didn’t want to draw on our cabinets.

Then figure out where you want your handle. We decided that we wanted the handle exactly centered on the raised edge, and to start 1.5″ up from the bottom of the raised edge. First, I measured and put three small marks at the half way point between the two edges. It is important to figure that out for EVERY cabinet because some of our cabinets randomly had raised edges that were 1/4″ smaller than others. 1/4″ might not seem like a big deal, but your eye definitely notices if things aren’t centered!

I then used a level to make sure that I was drawing a perfectly level vertical line. One of these days I’m going to take a project photo in which I don’t have chipping nail polish. (Today is not that day) (Also, I was holding this up with one hand and taking a picture with the other– hence the blurriness. Sorry my photos kinda suck).

Then I just measured up 1.5 inches from the bottom and put a cross mark across my vertical line, to designate where the bottom screw would go.

If you’re installing knobs, you can skip this next step. But, for pulls you have another perfectly spaced screw to place. In order to get the spacing right between the two screws, I made a template with a piece of cardboard. I just used a scrap box we had laying around, and measured the distance between the two screws on the pull.

The next step is to take a drill and (very carefully) drill through the marks you make with your template. What we discovered though is that metal pulls are VERY unforgiving. The screw really has to be placed exactly right because metal has no “give.” After a lot of messing around and cursing on our first few cabinets (note– start on bottom cabinets that aren’t as visible if you make a mistake!), we finally figured out that it is MUCH easier if we used a bigger drill bit. We had been using a drill bit that made a hole that just barely allowed our screw to slide through easily. However we found that if we used the next size up, the hole was big enough to give the screws a little wiggle room to get them placed correctly, and the back of the pull was still big enough to completely cover the hole. Once the screws are tightened, they are super secure and give us no problem at all. So– if you’re having trouble getting your holes to line up, consider using a bigger drill bit.

This is also the point where we would use the washers when necessary. Some cabinets didn’t require any washers, but on some the pulls were just a bit wiggly once they were full installed. On those cabinets, we simply unscrewed the pull, slipped a washer between the screw and the back of the door, and reinstalled the screw. Depending on the cabinet, we used anywhere from 0-3 pulls per screw.

And that is it! It wasn’t exactly a quick process, I think overall it probably took somewhere between five and six hours (not counting the trip to Lowes). However there is just a really steep learning curve I think. We were both much more timid with the drill at first and it would take us much longer to get the holes done– and they wouldn’t turn out as perfectly. By the end it took about 10 seconds to make a perfect hole. So we were definitely moving faster at the end. And the time it took? Totally worth it.


We love it! It just looks so much more finished. Plus, our dark cabinets show fingerprints terribly, so we’re super excited that having pulls should keep the cabinets much cleaner since we won’t have to grab them to open/close them.

And the grand total? Under $100!

29 pulls (@ $2.70 each + tax) = $83.59
3 packages of longer screws (@ $0.98 each) = $2.94
2 packages of washers (@ $0.98 each) = $1.96

Total = $88.49!

Seems like a huge change for not a huge amount of money, so we are thrilled.

And now? Movie night in and ordering pizza. I think we’ve earned a lazy evening!

Project Organize: Spice Cabinet

I’ve been on a bit of an organizing streak for the past two months or so. It started with our closet, which was RIDICULOUS. And then the dresser. I should’ve taken photos but I didn’t. But to give you some idea, between B and I we got rid of 82 shirts, 24 sweaters, 26 pairs of paints, and assorted other hats, belts, shoes, dresses, and jewelry (we kept track because you can deduct donations to Goodwill off your taxes). So yea… it was a mess.

Then I did a full clean-out of our fridge (which was quite a task), and then the pantry. I know they are just small spaces, but I still feel like I’m accomplishing something when I tackle one of these areas.

Recently, Amanda of Love and Renovations issued a challenge to organize one area of your house per week. I kind of forgot last weekend, but I managed to get something done today! It is just another small area, but it will make cooking so much easier!

Behold my mess of a spice/cooking cabinet.

When we moved in, my mom set up my kitchen for me while I was unpacking elsewhere, so there used to be some sort of organization. But I’ve not cleaned it out in the two years we’ve been here. Which means that some things were knocked over, some spilled, and lots just plain hidden behind other stuff I don’t use enough to justify its being where it was. It was getting to the point where I was just kind of tossing things in there and closing the door fast before they fell back out.

And this is the kind of project that it kind of drives me crazy that I didn’t do earlier because I just KNEW that it wouldn’t take that long– so why was I putting it off? To prove a point, I bet myself I could get it done in under 30 minutes, and I set a timer.

First, I took everything out of the cabinet and laid it out on the counter according to how I use it (savory spices/cooking stuff together, bakery spices together, baking supplies, measuring cups, etc). It always gets worse before it gets better right?

And I found some interesting things. Like three things of cinnamon (I’m guessing that I kept thinking we were out because I couldn’t find it, so I kept buying more?). Or two bowls of cinnamon/sugar. Or like five sets of measuring cups (which is confusing because I could NEVER find one when I needed it).

I was also surprised that there wasn’t *that* much that I had to get rid of. An over-abundance of Arbys sauces, some of the overflow measuring cups, and some hard brown sugar.

And yet when I put it all back in the cabinet in an order that made more sense… so much more room!

Okay so maybe it doesn’t look that much better, but I can actually see and reach everything, and making dinner tonight was a ton easier when I wasn’t searching for things every two minutes. Also?

28 seconds left on the clock. Under half an hour and it was completely cleaned and organized! Hopefully this will encourage me to tackle a few other small spaces, like our junk drawer, or our two chests that I tend to use as a dumping ground for whatever I don’t want sitting out in a room!

Dog/cat relations.

I come today not with a topic, but with a question. Which I’m expecting may not have an answer… but I thought I’d ask anyways.

How do you make a dog and cat not hate each other?

It seems like most people have dogs or cats. We had both growing up, but they hated each other. Which was fine at the time. I guess we were really more dog people and the cats just kind of lived there, mostly in the basement where the dogs weren’t allowed. They’d come up and we’d pet them but then the dogs would chase them back downstairs and thats just how it was.

Well, when B and I moved in together I had a dog, and he had two cats. We have employed several methods to give the cats a safe place to hide from Stew so they get a break from him whenever they want (cat door and baby gates). At first the cats were just completely terrified of Stew. They didn’t come out of the basement hardly at all for months and I felt terrible.

Over the course of the last two years, however, it has definitely gotten better. Change has happened slowly, but Stew and Milo’s relationship has definitely progressed from where it was to begin with. (Which looked something like this).

They’re not friends exactly, but they basically leave each other alone. Milo can go anywhere in the house, including our laps, without raising much of an eyebrow from Stew. This basically happened through a series of smack-downs Milo handed out to Stew. We tend to let confrontation happen because we hoped that getting his nose scratched might encourage Stew to leave the cats alone. And it did, for Milo.

But see… Cali is a wimp. She just runs and almost never fights back. Which means any time she ventures into Stew’s eye-sight, she is a target. And she certainly can’t ever be near us without his chasing her away. This has been the situation for at least the last 8 months or so. It just seems as though her progress has stalled.

Do we just accept that we’ll never be able to have all three pets peacefully coexisting in the same room?

Do we try to force confrontation so that Cali smacks Stew and he learns to give her a bit of respect?

Do we try some other method of getting Stew to just leave her the hell alone?

I’m running out of patience for their nightly game of cat/mouse (or dog/cat… I guess).

Any thoughts for solution appreciated!

Valentines/Anniversary Pt. 1

I’ve never been a fan of Valentines day, single or not. The whole thing just seems a bit forced and I’m not a huge flowers person and usually I’m still feeling broke from Christmas etc etc. But with B its been quite easy to ignore because today is also our dating anniversary.

How cheesy is that?

I have to admit, that when we agreed upon this date, for our first date, I wasn’t sure that he realized it was Valentines day and I didn’t say anything to alert him to that fact. And I also have to admit that I was more than a little tempted to go to Walmart and get an obnoxiously large bouquet of heart balloons to show up to the date with because I thought that would be hilaaaaarious. But then I realized that having only just met me, he perhaps would be less amused and more scared and I might ruin my first date with a guy I kinda sorta really liked. (Good thing I let that urge pass).

Anyways, since it is our five year dating anniversary, I thought I’d do a relationship focused meme that has been making the rounds.

1. How long have you and your significant other been together?
Five years today!

2. How did you meet? {what is your “love story”?}
Long story short: we met on match.com, had our first date at starbucks, and we lived happily ever after.

Long story medium: I’d just been through a terrible breakup with a guy I’d been with for five years (since high school), and a friend suggested to me that I should try match.com at least to have a couple first dates and figure out what the hell I was doing in this whole “dating as an adult” world, since my last first date was when I was 17 and still had a midnight curfew. I put it off for a little bit but on New Years day 2007, stuck on my couch and thoroughly hung over from too much celebratory champagne, I saw a commercial for match.com and decided… what the hell. So, I signed up. B was also going through a bad breakup and had just signed up over the holidays as well. We each went on a few dates with one other person, neither of which went well obviously. Then he messaged me. I had seen his profile before and thought he was cute but hadn’t contacted him because he said he wanted a girl who liked sports, which I was certainly not. He saw my picture and read my profile and decided he could get over the not liking sports thing. We talked online for about a week and then set two dates. First we set a date for dinner and a movie for the following Friday night. Then I said maybe we should meet for coffee before that so that if we didn’t click we weren’t forced to spend an entire evening together– I loved that I could be so honest with him right away. So, we set a date for that Wednesday which was Valentines day. There was a blizzard, the whole city was shut down, but we really wanted to meet so I dug out of my house with a cookie sheet (no shovel) and we made the date. And we closed the place down. Our second date went just as well, as did the third, fourth, fifth, etc. And then we lived happily ever after.

3. If married, how long have you been married?
Almost 1 year! Our anniversary is in just under two weeks.

4. If you are married, where did you get married? Big or small wedding?
We got married here in Columbus. It just didn’t make sense to me to try to plan a wedding far away from where we live. Our venue was an old converted warehouse type building, and it was awesome. Our wedding was smallish. I think in the end we had about 75 people there.

5. Do you have any nick-names you call each other? Do share!
Not really. We call each other honey/hun. B calls me darlin’ sometimes but only when he’s being funny. We also use goofy names sarcastically when we want something. Like “pookeybear— would you pleeeeease get me a glass of water?” lol. I dunno we’re weird.

6. Name 3 things you love most about your honey.
We are equally boring. That might not sound like a good thing, but it is! I am such an incredible homebody and I just absolutely love hanging out at home with him, watching tv, watching movies, playing games, hanging with the pets, etc. I’ve never met anyone else who enjoys being home as much as I do– until I met him. It’s so nice to be able to be my hermit-ish self and have him as happy about it as I am.

He’s really funny. He is always goofy and we spend a lot of time laughing.

He’s really sweet with our pets. They are kind of like my children– I realize I’m unnaturally obsessed with them, but I love that he is too. He kisses Stew goodbye every morning before he goes to work, I mean how cute is that seriously?

7. Tell us how he proposed?
I wanted to go to Mexico for my 25th birthday because I said birthdays don’t count if you’re out of the country for them. He proposed on the beach at sunset the first night we were there.

8. Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne, and rose petals?
Neither. We’ve never really celebrated Valentines Day. Although I guess usually we agree not to celebrate it and then we both end up getting each other a card and some small candy anyways.

9. Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?
Definitely the latter.

10. Tell us one thing you’d like to do with your significant other one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?
We really want to go to Europe together at some point. A few times actually, we sort of have three distinct itineraries we’d like to hit, and I’m not sure which one we’ll do first. They are: Ireland/Germany, Greece/Turkey/Czech/, France/Italy/Spain.

11. Tell us what you plan on doing on this Valentine’s Day.
Nada. I snuck a card and some candy into his lunch today, and I also cut his sandwich into the shape of a heart. He’ll probably bring me home a card and some candy. That’s about it.

12. Are you asking for anything this Valentine’s day?
Nope.

13. Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love.
Talk. A lot. Talk about your days. Talk about your dreams. Talk about what scares you. Talk about the future. Just keep talking.

14. Show us a picture of what love means to you.

Faux frosted glass back door makeover

Pinterest is basically the best thing to ever happen to our house home decor-wise. It’s given me so many great ideas, and also encouraged me to actually keep moving with little improvements. About six months ago, I pinned a blog post explaining how to turn a big clear window in a door into a pretty frosted glass-esc design.

This appealed to me because our back door has a clear glass cutout that is almost as big as the door, and its always weirded me out a bit that people could look into our house at night. Our community is one with postage-stamp sized yards so the back of our house isn’t that far from the back of the neighbor behind us, and in all there are 20 houses that back up into the same block. So basically there are a lot of opportunities for people to be roaming around not too far behind our house and I just didn’t like feeling on display when it was dark out and we were hanging out upstairs.

So, I pinned. And then I actually went so far as to buy the contact paper I needed from amazon… and then I let it sit in a drawer for the last six months. Oops.

But, this past Saturday B had plans with his work friends all day/night and I decided to have a me-day in (since it isn’t really that often I have a day at home alone when I’m not working). I had great plans to make cookies and do my nails and maybe finish the first Harry Potter book (I’m reading them for the first time). But funny thing was… as soon as it got dark I got a bit paranoid about that back door and being home alone and all… so I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

I took our back door from this…

(Pretend it is a full door pic… I forgot to take a real “before” photo so I had to take one of just the top half of the door once I had already started. Oops!) To this…

I love it!! I have to admit, I’m kind of shocked that it came out as well as it did.

But, let me back up and explain how I got there. First, I highly recommend you go read the original blog post on this project. It even has a free template you can download for the shape. Once you do that, gather your supplies. I used:

– 1 roll contact paper
– scissors
– template you printed out
– one piece cardboard
– one sharpy/marker
– one credit card (optional)

Once I printed my template, I cut it out and traced it onto a piece of leftover cardboard we had. I then used the cardboard template to trace three lanterns at a time onto my contact paper. Be sure to trace onto the paper side of the contact paper. Please excuse the iphone-ness of this photo and also my chipping nail polish.

Then, I cut out each row into a rough diamond shape. I found this a lot easier than trying to make all those sharp turns in my cuts when the lantern was still attached to the roll.

Next I cut out each lantern individually. My door took 54 lanterns (43 whole lanterns and 11 cut up for the sides). I alternated cutting and placing them on the door. I did this because cutting the lanterns out was kind of a pain in the ass (or, hand– really) and I wanted to make sure I was going to like the effect before I invested all the time into cutting them out. Once I knew I was going to like it though, I kept alternating just to give my hand a rest.

Start by washing your window really well. Once I was ready to place them on the door, I started at the bottom in the center. I didn’t measure anything, I pretty much just eyeballed everything. Working from the center out, and the bottom to the top, I worked my way up the door.

To place the lanterns on the door, I had to first be very careful about peeling the contact paper. Any crease you make WILL show on the door and look terrible, so you have to be sure to get it off the paper backing without folding it. Then, I would place it very gently on the door without pressing down, just to check for placement.

(Note the x-files on the tv in the reflection– I know how to have a good time on a Saturday night alone). Once I was happy with the placement, I’d press down in a stripe along the center of the lantern.

And then I used a credit card to press carefully from the center out to the edges. I found this was the best way to get it stuck thoroughly with no air bubbles.

And just repeat that, about a thousand times. The thing I tried to remind myself of was that perfection is not necessary (and maybe not even possible). There are definitely flaws in the door, not everything is perfectly straight or evenly spaced, but as long as you get it pretty close, the over-all effect will look great.



The whole project took me about six hours. But, it isn’t six hours of hard labor really, I did the whole thing while watching X-Files on Netflix. And, over the course of two days it didn’t feel overwhelming at all.

One quick note about contact paper– I found that it is really difficult to find contact paper that is actually frosted. Most of it is actually contact paper with a tiny pattern on it that makes it look frosted from a distance. Here’s an up close view of the one I bought.

I was aware of this when I bought the paper, but it was hard for me to determine which ones were truly frosted, and the ones that looked like they might be were a lot more expensive. I was aiming for this project to be as cheap as possible, so I just went with this contact paper, which cost me under $8. It really doesn’t bother me that it isn’t frosted because from a distance of more than a foot away, you don’t notice, and I’m thrilled that I was able to make such a big transformation for a grand total of under 8 bucks. I’m definitely calling this project a success.

Anyone else making big changes on the cheap?

Daily Dose of Awesome: Cali got her hair did

One of the things I’d wanted to do since I moved in with B (and thus his pets became my pets too) was get Cali groomed. She is a beautiful cat but she had very long hair which B never brushed and it was matted. We tried brushing her a few times together but with the mats already in there, she would just cry and fight us even though we were trying our best to be gentle. We also tried clipping out the mats, giving her a bath, and trying to brush her– but it just didn’t work. Bottom line: She needed professional help.

Somehow it took me two years to actually accomplish this. I got discouraged last year after a call to petsmart in which they told me that grooming cats STARTED at $75 and went up for long hair and up again for mats… but they wouldn’t give me a quote and to be honest they didn’t seem very happy about the idea of doing the grooming. Recently though, I decided we just had to find a place to do it and luckily we found a local shop that grooms cats for a flat rate of $75. Not cheap by any means, but it needed to be done.

When I called to make the appointment, I explained that she had never been groomed and she had quite a few mats. They recommended a lion cut. This is an easy way to start fresh on their fur, and not put them through a long brushing (particularly if she hates it). After a quick google search to see what that meant, and finding images like this one, I agreed. Because how cute is this?

(source)

So the appointment was made. As a quick reminder, this is Cali pre-grooming.

Now, I’m not going to lie… the actual getting her groomed was pretty traumatic all around. Cali haaaaates going in the carrier and/or the car. So she cry-screamed at me the whole way there and the whole way back. They told me she was great for the grooming– but I assume they’d say that regardless. Hopefully she wasn’t too upset about it.

But I think that it was worth it, because look at how adorable she is.



The most surprising thing is, I think that she loves it. I expected she’d be upset and hiding for the first day or two, but immediately after I let her out of her carrier all she wanted to do was roll around and rub on everything. She hasn’t stopped purring and getting her off my lap to type this blog post took a little work (which is weird, because I’m definitely not her favorite and it is pretty rare that she wants to be on my lap). I can imagine that it feels good for her to be free of all that tangled hair, and she just seems really happy.

Milo, on the other hand– is somehow traumatized. Which is ironic considering all that he has been through in the past two months. All of the vet visits, the blood draws, the shoving pills down his throat, throughout all of this he has been totally himself and hasn’t shown the least bit of mistrust or fear of us. However the second he saw Cali come out of her carrier, he ran to the basement, hid in the crawl space, and refuses to come out! I even tried to bribe him with treats and he just sits there with a bushy shaky tail (sign #1 that he’s scared) and meows at me. I think he blames me for this atrocity that has been performed on his sister and thinks he’s next? Lol. Who knew cats were so vain. Hopefully he gets over it in the next few hours and forgives me.

But regardless, I’m calling this a total success. Because seriously, how awesome is our cat right now? (answer: extremely awesome.)