Archive for June, 2011

Baby Scare with Crib

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

We have been busy lately with me painting doors, the hubby working on bricks, and us packing up the house, but there’s nothing like a rambunctious baby to stop us dead in our tracks. 

Evelyn is quite the mover and shaker.  She is one strong little girl and a tough cookie.  Today, I put her down for her morning nap and she fussed for a bit and then it was quiet.  About 15 minutes later, I heard something or someone rattling a baby gate.  I just about had a heart attack!  Oliver was at school and Evelyn was sound asleep in her crib…

Imagine my surprise when I crept down the hall, with bat in hand, and saw my little Houdini shaking the gate.  I had my second heart attack of the day at the sight!  After a close inspection for injuries, I checked out the crib and saw that she had ripped out a couple of the slats from between the top and bottom side rail.  I’m thankful that she fell to the floor without injury and didn’t get caught going over the edge of the mattress.

That little incident shook up our entire day.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.  When the hubby came home we went straight over to the store and bought a brand new crib.  At first the hubby wanted to shore up her old crib with 2X4s, but I refused.  There’s no place for frugality when it comes to the safety of your child.  This is also why we don’t by used car seats, because you never know if they have been in a wreck and if they are still safe.

The new crib is at it’s lowest setting and Evelyn can still reach up over the top rail!  She is so strong, she can almost do pull ups with the bar.  We moved Oliver to a mattress on the floor when he was one year old.  We may do that with Evelyn sooner, rather than risk her going over the top of the crib at 7, 8, or 9 months!

Clean Up Your Inside Doors With Paint

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

You never know just how grimy your house is until you start painting.  Once one area is fresh and clean the rest of the house screams – Paint Me!  It’s no surprise that the doors, which are some of the grimiest, scuffed up, and well used surfaces of the house, need a fresh coat of paint too.  With little effort, you can save money and do it yourself.  No need to buy new doors or hire someone else to help out.

Yesterday, the hubby set up a paint station for me out back.  We have 8 internal doors total.  He took off the hinges and the door knobs and let me loose.  TIP: Use a permanent marker and write on each door what room it came from.  Write in the space cut out for the hinge so you can see it after the door has been painted.

The first chore was to sand every surface of the door to 1) roughen the door so the new paint will stick and 2) remove loose and peeling paint.   For my purposes, sanding also served to clean the door.  Otherwise, you would need to wash the door down so the new paint will stick better.

If you are doing one or two doors, by all means use sandpaper and do it by hand.  If you are doing multiple doors (like, 8 of them) then do yourself a favor and beg, borrow or steal a random orbital sander or  you’ll be sanding those doors until the cows come home.  (To all my kleptomaniac fans, 2 Pennies does not advocate the stealing of sanders in any way.)

Orbital sanders are relatively inexpensive as far as power tools go.  I used a little $30 el cheapo Black and Decker sander for 10 years, before it went to tool heaven.  The hubby went with a more expensive replacement, because he wanted more power (don’t they all?).  It still works the same to me.

I used a white Valspar semi-gloss latex for the doors to make it pOp and because a semi-gloss finish is easier to clean.  I rolled the paint on with a roller meant for super smooth surfaces.  For the best finish, you need at least 2 thin, even coats.  I don’t care what the advertisments say, I have yet to use a paint that only took one coat. 

When I came back to do a second coat, I discovered a flaw in our brilliant paint setup – trees and other debris.  Most every door had some sort of gunk on it from pine needles to bird poop.  The hubby had to string up a tarp to protect my finish.  After a second first coat, we were back in business…until the thunderstorm.

By the third day, I was able to finish 5 doors 100%.  I was outside working on the last 3 (see pic above) when a storm rolled in.  Not only did it roll in, but it stayed for 5 days. 

The tarp was able to keep debris off my doors, but it collapsed under the weight of the rain.  I managed to haul in 2 half finished doors, but the 3rd door bit the dust.

With the hinges and knobs replaced, the new doors look spiffy indeed.  We can’t help but marvel at how clean they look!  I still have 3 doors to finish, but considering I’m juggling packing, moving, and kiddos I think I’ll be okay.

TIP: If you went through the trouble to take the door off the hinges to paint, you might as well paint the door trim before you put the new door back up.

Tips and Tricks for painting an interior door:

1) Remove hinges, knobs, hooks, and other items attached to your door.  Write which door goes where on the door itself in the space where the hinge attaches.

2) Setup a well ventilated workspace that is protected from the environment.

3) Wash or sand the door to prep it for paint.  Use a 120 grit sandpaper for the first run and then 220 to smooth everything out.  Random orbital sanders rock. 

4) Roll on your paint with a smooth surface paint roller.  Brushes will leave too many marks.  You may use either the roller or a brush for the edges.  Be careful not to paint over your door markings in the hinge area.  Also, be careful not to goop up paint in the hinge cutout or your hinges won’t fit properly.  Give it at least 2 coats and dry thoroughly before flipping door over.

5) Reinstall hardware and bingo – you have a nice and clean door!

Brickwork and Sanding Doors

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Our neighbors thought we were nuts to be working hard the day after the big sale.  They were all burned out!  We thought we were crazy too, but we have to keep on keeping on.  The hubby worked on the brick path for most of the day.  He spent the better part of his time shoveling in sand and tamping it down.

We tag teamed watching the kids today.  When the hubby took a break from the heat, I would run outside for my project.

When I was able to, I worked on sanding the doors and prepping them for paint.  We took off all the doors and the hardware this morning.  It’s weird not having doors, especially for the bathrooms.  I was able to putty holes and sand both sides by the time the kids went down for the night.

Evelyn has become a handful.  Where Oliver is laid back, Evelyn is raring to go, go, go.  She’s pulling up now and climbing.  She managed to climb on TOP of the coffee table by using a box as a step today.  Daddy dropped her crib down to its lowest level before she went to bed.  lol…

We both think Evelyn is a lot like me, whereas Oliver is like his dad.  Evie wants what she wants, when she wants it and doesn’t need, or want, any help to get it.  She already has a little ‘tude and has the smirky pout down pat.  (Sorry mom for giving you grief when I was little!)

The hubby got in his bricks lining the driveway by dinner time.  We are out of sand to brush into the cracks and have the “patio” area for the garbage cans left to do.  The hubby will have to make a trip to Lowe’s before he can finish.

Tomorrow, I get to paint the doors.  That will probably take me 2 days.  The realtor is coming on Tuesday to measure the exterior of the house and Friday to do the inside.  We are still shooting for July 10, depending on the counters.

Yard Sale Tips and Tricks

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

“It was an immense achievement!”-Prof. Higgins

Our sale wasn’t open until 8am.  At 6:30am, when we opened the first box, the sharks smelled the chum in the water and were on us in an instant.  Thanks to the Craigslist posting that I renewed the night before, people had our address and they weren’t going to wait until 8am!  We had a babysitter come over at 7am to help with the kids while the hubby and I tore around setting stuff out.  Thank goodness we had already set up the tables and clothesline the night before. 

The hubby put our yard sale signs up at 745am and we were flooded anew with people.  From 630am – 930am we must have had over a hundred people stop by. 

The crowd slowed down by 10am, the sitter left, and the kids came outside with us.  They loved it! 

I had to keep an eagle eye on Oliver, but Evelyn loved sitting on the giant tarp climbing over clothes mountains and playing with all the toys. 

I felt bad selling some of Oliver’s stuff.  He wasn’t too thrilled when people kept walking away with his toys.

We were lucky it didn’t rain, but -dang- it was HOT and humid.  Evelyn had enough of it after an hour. 

The kids went down for their naps after 12 and we started wrapping things up.  By 2pm, all of our stuff had been boxed and sat awaiting their donation to charity.

As promised, we did not keep anything that did not sell.  A nonprofit came by after dinner to haul the rest of our stuff away.

Here are some tips that I’ve picked up from doing several yard sales throughout the years:

1) Price and pre-sort everything before the sale.  If you are expecting a lot of people, pricing ahead of time is such a time saver.  A hundred people aren’t following you around asking, “how much for this?” and there is also less haggling.  Pre-sorting your items makes setup a breeze.  Even if you don’t have time to unpack your boxes, at least related items are all together.

2) Make a plan and advertise.  You can take out ads in the newspaper if that’s how your community hunts for yard sales.  You can also place ads on Craigslist for free.  Lastly, always make signs.  60 – 70% of our traffic comes from the signs alone.  I actually sketch a map of our neighborhood, drive the routes to my  house, and mark on the map, with a number, where a sign would be helpful.  I then make my signs accordingly (ie. need 3 right arrows, 2 straight arrows, and 6 left arrows) and mark the number on the back of each sign using the map as reference.  Also, use an obnoxiously bright color posterboard.  I can make 4 signs out of one sheet and I use a small foam brush and paint to write on the signs (see pic above).

3) Setup as much stuff the night before as possible and wake up EARLY to set out your items.  Elevating objects on tables, benches, or even plywood on milk crates, is a big help for the buyers.  Hang clothes, if you can, and use a big tarp on the ground for other items.  We went to Costco and picked up some low-sided banana boxes to group like items in.  We also made the huge tarp baby central and piled all the clothes and toys over there.  The serious shoppers plopped right down on the tarp and sifted through all the stuff!

4) Be prepared!  Have small change – some ones, fives, tens, and quarters available.  Also, stash a couple 20s inside in the event someone busts out a hundred dollar bill for a twenty seven dollar purchase (thank goodness for pin money).  Protect yourself from the sun.  Wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, etc…  Have plenty of water on hand to prevent dehydration.  Pack yourself a little snack or lunch, just as if you were going to work.  You might not get a chance to run in and eat.  Have some plastic bags or boxes available for your shoppers.  The more convenient you make it for them, the more likely they will keep shopping.  Buddy up with someone to help you run the sale, especially during those first few insanely busy first hours.

5) And as the great Kenny Roger’s says;

“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done”

Be prepared to wheel, deal and bargain during your sale.  Know when to stand your ground and when to give a little.  When people combine items, go ahead and take off a couple bucks.  Throw in a freebie for gracious buyers and enjoy the give and take of bargain hunting.  There will always be the hardcore people out to lowball every price.  Try not to take offense.  They are just opening negotiations.  As the sale goes on, try to keep your change money separate from your profit money.  Don’t tempt people by pulling out a wad of cash and rifling through it – count your money when the sale is done…  Lastly, know when to end it and have an exit plan.  What are you going to do with all your leftover stuff?  If you are donating it, make your arrangements beforehand so you aren’t hauling all that stuff back into the house.  If you are saving the leftovers, box, label, and seal your items right at the end of the sale – again, so you aren’t cluttering your now empty house back up.

This last bit doesn’t need a number – take down any signs you posted and be a good steward of the neighborhood.  There’s nothing tackier than leaving your signs all over the place to rot in the weather and annoy all your neighbors.  Taking them down is also thoughtful to all the would be shoppers who are spending time and effort to track down a finished yard sale.

Enjoy the feeling of purging your unused stuff and know that your things are being loved by someone else.  Enjoy the emptiness and peacefulness of your clutter free house.  Remember the beaming smile of that little girl who gave you a dollar for a butterfly parasol that she kept open in the minivan as she drove away.  Life is good.  :-)

Do you have any yard sale tips and tricks to share?

Yard Sale Anyone?

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Okay everybody – CRINGE and release… 

We have been busting our butts this past week getting ready for our mondo yard sale tomorrow.  A part of selling our house is purging our stuff.  We are finally getting rid of the excess from our single days, such as my dinner plates, his glasses, my keyboards, his mice, etc…  We want to start our life in our new home as a family with things that represent us.

Luckily for me, the hubby likes Asian things.  I get to keep my collection of tchockes (yay!) and he gets to keep his video games and systems.  Other than that, it’s time to grow up…  Another lucky thing is that Evelyn is old enough to ditch most of her “baby” items.  I am so glad that we had them 17 months apart vs. years apart.  We don’t have to haul baby gear to our next place.

As if I didn’t have enough to do, I organized a community yard sale with my neighbors.  My thinking is that the more sellers I can advertise, the more buyers we can bring in.  It also helps to have all my neighbors involved so they’ll move their cars out of the way and not complain about the craziness.  I normally pull in 50-70 people all by myself.  I can only imagine it will be nutso with 4 families and advertising.

Most of our stuff has been priced.  The tables have already been setup outside.  The boxes are sorted and categorized.  Now its time to go to sleep!  The alarm is set for 6am – wish us luck!

Freshen Up Planter Box 1

Friday, June 24th, 2011

In 2007, the hubby built these wonderful planter boxes around some of our trees in the yard.  Since then, the stain has faded and the soil has eroded somewhat.  As a part of our curb appeal project, my mission is to refresh the boxes with more dirt, new stain, fresh plants, flowers, and mulch.

It’s been tough finding time to do this with 2 kids and a million things to do.  Yesterday, we pulled together as a family and tackled it while Evelyn took her late afternoon nap.  Even Oliver helped out bringing flowers from the back!

The hubby had already translplanted the mums and hostas from this box to the side yard.  I then raked the box clean and turned over the existing soil a bit.  The hubby threw in an additional 6 shovelfuls from our “excess dirt” pile from other projects. I split 2 geraniums to make 4 plantings and also planted a host of marigold flowers in between.  I’ve been told that marigolds will keep the mosquitos away.  I am crossing my fingers that it is true.

Luckily for me, I scorched and destroyed my favorite little sauce pot on the stove earlier this week.  The pan is absolutely perfect to use as a scoop to dig soil out of the big bags.  I added several pot fulls of Miracle Grow potting mix to each planting section and worked the soil in with my hand trowel.  When I planted each plant, I tickled the roots apart and nipped flower buds off to encourage new growth.

The last thing I managed to do before I passed out from 90+ degree temps and high humidity was to mulch with large pine bark nuggets.

While I was busy planting, Oliver helped clean up the random bricks in the yard.

Look at that form!  Children naturally know the proper way to move heavy objects.  How come we forget that as we grow up?

This morning I was able to duck out and restain the boxes while Evelyn slept.  The hubby had already power washed the box when he did the porch earlier.  I took a stiff broom to brush off the dirt and went at it with the stain.

Here’s our little box all complete.  Looks much better!  I will hit up the other boxes next week.  I have one little one up front and a monster one in the back.

Project Costs: $24.50
Time: 4 hours
2 Geraniums – $10
1 flat of Marigolds – $10
1.5 bag Pine bark mulch – $4.50
Stain – leftover from original project

To save money on labor costs, hire a toddler to help.  They work for cookies…

And the Painting Begins

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

To get some practice under our belts and test our techniques we started painting in the main bathroom first.  I had a lovely blue/grey faux finish on the walls, but the realtor said they had to go.  I think the color is a little dark for the room, but compared to the blue I guess it’s nuetral enough.

I started off with the ceiling and painted it a bright white.  Look at the color difference!!!  By the way, the original color used to be white back in its day.  We didn’t really notice how dingy the ceiling was until we painted.  It just felt sort of dreary and blah in there.  Now it pOps.

For the walls we used a shorter nap roller.  Look on the roller packaging and it will tell you what roller is good for what surface. 

I did not cut in the edges of either the ceiling or walls yet.  Since I did this painting during the kid’s naps, it was hard to take the time for “finish” work.  I’ll have to come back to it later.  We will also be painting the doors and replacing the hinges/knobs.  The hubby has to finish installing the wainscotting and trim and more paint it is!

Landscaping Side Yard

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

On the kid’s side of the house, there was a huge, unruly, thorny, and ugly holly bush that had grown out of control.  When Oliver scratched his face on the thorny leaves while running past it, the hubby took a pickaxe to the roots and buh-bye holly.  Getting rid of the holly left a big crater in the ground and the house seemed a little bit naked.

We bought an azalea to replace the holly bush, but it looked so lonely all by itself.  We hatched a plan to landscape around the bush over the weekend.  The hubby turned over all the dirt and sunk black plastic landscape edging.

Oliver loved this part!  He got to dig in the dirt with daddy and actually turned dirt over all by himself.

I went around the yard to scavenge for plants to move.  Two years ago, we saw an ad on Craigslist for free liriope.  The lady had it growing out of control in her yard and she said we could have all that we could dig out and carry.  Well, we hauled quite a bit away from her yard and used it here and there at our house.  At the time, I had split each liriope plant into 2-4 clumps and planted them with hopes of transplanting them later. 

Well, now is later.  Those little clumps have grown into large healthy plants and were ready for us to dig up, divide, and replant.  I also dug up some hostas from a planter box and had a few new flowers to add to the mix.

Water break!  The temps were in the 90s, but Oliver played and played like it was nothing.

I used pine bark mulch to tie everything together and voila, project complete.  We are doing something similar on the opposite side of the house where the chimney is at.  This will match the work we’ve done on the front of the house.  

Project costs:  $55
Azalea bush – $8
2 Geraniums – $10
13 Impatiens – $10
4 bags Pine Bark Nuggets – $12
20+feet edging – $15
2 Hostas – free
6 Liriope – free

Happy Father’s Day!

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

This is what daddy gets for breakfast in the middle of home renovation.  Believe it or not, he was stoked.  Pancakes, eggs, and sausage and no dishes!

What did the kids give their daddy this year to show their appreciation?  A day off of diaper doodie, er duty.  Daddy also got a break from watching them so he could go bust his butt outside in the 90+ degree heat for more landscaping work.  I think we got the better end of that deal!

Shout Out to Cici’s Pizza

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

With everything going on right now, sometimes it is easier to run out and grab something to eat than cook up a meal at home.  With the four of us, its a little harder to find someplace affordable and tolerable for the kids.  Oliver and Evelyn don’t have the patience for a sit down restaurant and we don’t want them to become McDonald’s junkies.  Where do we go?

Cici’s Pizza!  We love Cici’s.  It’s an all you can eat pizza buffet with a salad and dessert bar.  It’s also amazingly affordable.  Two adults can eat and drink for less than $15.  Kids are free until 4 years old.  The buffet ranges from place to place, but it’s normally $5 or $6 dollars and the drinks are a little over $1 (water is free).

Oliver can down 3 or 4 slices of pizza (they are small) and a plate full of tomatoes and cucumbers from the salad bar.  The hubby likes to build a crust mountain and I get my fill of the sticky sweet cinnamon buns.

Evelyn’s too little to enjoy it yet, but she likes the atmosphere. :-)  In other words, her car seat fits perfectly in the booth so she can see mommy and daddy at all times.  We can get in and out in under 30 minutes, which is the perfect time for the kiddos before they start going nutso.

If you love pizza and haven’t been to a Cici’s yet, check out their website to find one near you.  When you get there, you can ask for your favorite pizza to be added to the buffet or you can have it brought to your table for no additional cost.  My fave is the BBQ pizza.  When I was pregnant with Oliver, the manager would pop one in the oven when he saw me waddle in and bring it to my table.  They aim to please and we are pleased every time!

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