Thursday, April 29

life in plastic.. not so fantastic

Hello Barbie Girl... your world is not exactly what I had in mind. I mean, there is some level of appreciation of your Barbie Mansion, and who can deny the classic appeal of monograms, and you know I love dash of pink here and there... but seriously?I didn't think adding a few dropcloths would be so... plastic. I feel like we've moved from nerdy nesters to empty nesters with plastic covers over everything! Thankfully I've been lucky enough to not have grandparents who believed in plastic slipcovers.A quick recommendation-- if you're going to cover everything in plastic, prepare for super excited kittens to proceed to romp and rip and roar through the house in ecstatic bliss. Apparently plastic dropcloths have the same appeal as any expensive cat toy on the market. At first I didn't mind so much, but after being without a living room for 3 weeks I am getting a bit anxious to sit on the sofa and watch tv instead of piling up in the bedroom. It's a little awkward to host visitors "Pardon the plastic" "Never mind the drywall dust" "Come on back to the bedroom.. wait, that sounds bad..."

Oh well, at least it entertains the cats. That's what we're here for anyway, right?

Tuesday, April 27

half timing.. half luck

On my way into the office this morning-- sleepy eyed, somewhat grumpy, and running late on a grey Tuesday-- I decided to tune into a local radio station. Normally I listen to a station that plays mainly rock, but as I've noticed over the past few years I tend to develop a slight craving for pop once spring and summer comes around. I can't explain it. Maybe it makes me feel like I'm reliving my freewheeling days of high school: driving around in an '89 candy-apple-red Blazer with the windows down and music turned up.. or maybe I'm just looking for something lighter to match my aim for a breezy summer disposition.. who knows?

Recently I've been fairly unimpressed with the standard offerings of our local pop station. I'm not big into the synthesizing and auto tuning that's become popular for pop and hip hop artists today, nor do I really care about rims, bling, or types of liquor. I sound like a total stick in the mud and much older than my 25 years, but I just don't understand how some pop artists today have grown so popular.

For me, my summery pop usually fills in as a peppy bubbly backdrop of beats and notes and I really don't pay it much attention. However, today I heard this song and it stopped me in my metaphorical tracks.

Michael Bublé - Haven't Met You Yet

It just made me feel like I had just seen a good romantic comedy: warm & fuzzy, hopeful about life, and reminded of the way love can make you feel. I forgot at that moment that my hair was wet and sweater was wrinkled on a grey and rainy Tuesday while running late to work. I forgot that I was up late re-writing half of a paper because I lost 6 pages due to computer craziness. I forgot my to-do list, my should-do list, and my why-haven't-I-done-this lists.

Instead, I thought about the good things: the Man suggesting a nice night out, refreshing drinks to soothe the stressed soul, tender steaks spiced just right, and cracking each other up when we should have been trying to sleep. I remembered the feeling that someone was out there, that hope I held onto through days of solitude, bad choices, and time wasted on poor relationships. Through it all, with hearty doses of romantic comedy induced "love is out there" moments; I knew that one day it all would click, and work, and suddenly make sense. And it did.
I know that love is not an end all be all, and for many you may think I'm a total sap (which I am) but for me, nothing makes a grey Tuesday brighter than a song of hope,a reminder of love, and turning the volume up just a little higher.

Monday, April 26

Dear History Channel,

I'm a big fan. Really, I like you. However, I do have one question-- why, on the day of the week that I usually have the most things to do, do you insist on airing the most addictive shows on the planet? Sundays are laundry day, homework day, finish all the things I procrastinated and avoided on Saturday day..

and you air shows like this:

and this:

and I can't get a damn thing done!

It begins to suck me in from the moment the Man clicks through the channel and we see a glimpse of a pile of junk, glimmer off an ancient rifle, or the teaser of an unknown fortune. This time I blame a pirate peg-leg, a wooden Harley, a musician from Turkey with an Ottoman dagger, and an Austin Healey to name a few. (See, now you're intrigued.)

Please, History channel.. help me resist. I cannot lose another Sunday to Chumlee, Big Hoss, Rick and the Old Man. I didn't even tune in for Pickers. I knew if I had seen Mike and Frank pawing through some old lady's shanty barn, it would have been all over for us nerdy birds. So, thank you History channel for the awesome shows.. and thanks to the Man for helping me resist. Without your Manly strength and ferocious channel changing ways, I'd probably still be watching.

Saturday, April 24

where to begin?

It all started when the Man agreed to go ahead and make a few changes to our nest. He suggested we call in Uncle Contractor to see if our wishes could be realized. On a sunny afternoon a few months back, Uncle Contractor dropped by to hear what we had in mind. As we told our tale, he took a look around and responded with many exclamations of "what a mess, what a mess."

My hopes were that this was not a foreboding notice of what was to come nor a commentary on my sometimes lackluster cleaning rituals.
(Please keep in mind that I try to keep a tidy nest, sometimes almost to the point of bugging the Man, but we are two busy nerds.. so occasionally I have to let a little of the dusting/vacuuming/mopping/general cleanliness slide.)
Instead, Uncle Contractor was just expressing his concern over if we could even tear out a wall, or cut a really big hole in it. He was worried about the whole "supporting wall" thing. After he crawled around in the attic for a while and said "we'll see what happens, but I think it'll be fine." We decided to trust his expert advice and give it a try. Everything has evolved from there. So let's take a quick tour of where it all began:
The view of our kitchen from the living room-- who doesn't love a shiny brass chandelier?
The view of the living room from our kitchen-- or the kitchen wall we plan to demo. I'll be keeping all the lower cabinets, but for the upper set I have an idea. Another shot from the same angle, but you can see the edge of the doorway we plan to open up a bit more. This also highlights our lovely laminate counter tops (which we'll be keeping, for now) and laminate covered MDF cabinets. These cabinets will warrant a post or thirteen on their own, but let's just bask in the glory of whoever thought this was a good idea for a long-term lasting kitchen solution. I could hit them over the head. Again we see an appearance from our friend shiny contractor-grade brass and MDF. Ah, lovelies.. just wait for what I have in store for you!

While we're looking at the "before shots" I'll share a quick picture of our entryway:
You may not be able to see in this picture, but a recent 5 minute project for me was to frost the mini-window.

The Man also installed our brushed-nickel lever door handle on the front door on the first day in our new home, November 30th, 2009. It's one of my favorite improvements to our house so far-- partially because I'm a sentimental sap.

So there you have it.. the beginnings of our remodel. Now just to finish it!

Thursday, April 22

back in black

This is my first chance to blog in a while, and can I just say how much I've missed it! There have been a lot of things going on in the nerdy nest and I've got a ton to share (I just need to organize all the pictures I've been taking!). We are right in the midst of the kitchen renovation and are still living under dropcloths and dust. If I had to make a prediction, we'll be working on this for quite a while... it's true what they say about home projects. They just keep growing. We started off planning to just open up the wall between the kitchen and living room and now our renovation to-do includes: tiling the floor, painting the walls, painting the cieling, replacing light fixtures, and painting the cabinets.

Speaking of painting cabinets: I was in Lowe's yesterday to peruse their lighting options and meandered over to the paint counter for some advice. When I asked the kind man behind the counter if he could tint primer for me, and what primer he'd recommend for painting cabinets-- I got the same response I always do when I mention that I am painting our kitchen cabinets

(Cue AC/DC's Back in Black.. if you don't have it on your itunes, click here and open in a new window to listen while reading. It'll make you feel like kicking cabinetry ass!)

Yup, you heard me. Black kitchen cabinets.

So my question is: Why does everyone seem to respond the same way.. with that same perplexed and doubting face? "Black, really? Won't that be terribly dark?" they say. "I hope you have a lot of natural light," they add, trying to cover their disbelief.

"Yes, black." I respond and I truly feel it's going to be awesome.

Let me clarify on a few points:
+ Our cabinets were laminate covered MDF. The laminate covers are peeling off the drawer faces and cabinet doors. Peeling off.. I can't take it.

+ Since they are MDF-- staining is out. Trust me, if we had glorious wood cabinets I would stain those mofo's a dark, rich cherry and call it a day.

+ The Man loves all things dark. His uniform is a black t-shirt, black boots, and dark grey sunglasses. His bike helmet is black, his dream bike is flat black. We won't buy a Wii until we can get it in black. Seriously.

+ I'm a beige person. I love beige and white. I think cottagey white cabinets in shades of "dove" and "bright white" are beautiful, but our home isn't very cottage-esque. I love it, but we want to have a cozy somewhat traditional home with a dash of modern style (to go with the electronics the Man adores). I could get very girly very quick with white cabinets and the Man doesn't seem to like florals that much. And besides, with our builder's grade monsters which were already white, it all seems so blah and drab. Yes, we'll be adding some color-- but I prefer a neutral wall and I think black will be the punch of personality we need-- a little unusual, somewhat rebellious, and ultimately classic.

+ Finally, after seeing some of the pictures below, I knew it had to happen. I was officially inspired. I did a Google search for the images, but it was a hot minute ago-- so my apologies for the lack of credits.

I love how the cabinets look flanking the bright window. This is close to what I imagine my kitchen window might look like.

This one was from I really like the molding on the tops of her cabinets. I don't plan on distressing mine too much since there isn't much pretty to show through. Love the pulls though!

This one came from I really like the clean lines. I know I don't have the patience to tape everything off, but I imagine this might echo what the cabinets might look like if I distressed to our tinted dark grey primer. That could be interesting.

This one is also from designmanifesto, which by the way has some amazing kitchen design eye candy. I adore the glass paneled cabinets and the yellows and greens are just so refreshing against the crisp black and white in the space. I hate that I can't remember where this one is from. I love the arch over the window, it just seems so grand and simple at the same time. It even has my favorite cup hooks in brushed nickel on the drawers. I hope I can find a few reasonably priced ones down the line. And finally, the picture that started it all. One of my favorite bloggers, Layla from The Lettered Cottage posted this picture of her kitchen ages ago. Her blog has served as a total inspiration to me in many ways and this picture really prompted me to go for it and paint our cabinets black.

Love it, love it, love it!
Layla has such a funny and interesting writing style, I adore her home, and I really consider her to be one of my blogger friends even though I've never even mustered up the courage to comment on her site. She has such a zest for life, and I really connect with her way of making her house a home-- classic, relaxed and on the cheap! Plus, it doesn't hurt that she's also thriving in the Deep South, Alabama to be exact.

I really recommend checking out The Lettered Cottage if you need some inspiration, a laugh, or a reminder of what love looks like. There is no doubt in my mind that her home is a happy one, filled with all the things little girls, like this nerdy bird, dream of: love, laughter, and amazing style.

Friday, April 9

like a chicken...

This week has been chaos. Total complete and utter chaos. For an organized girl like me, I feared this week would bring me to my demise.. but I survived, even amongst the chaos that remains.

Looking at it though, I probably use the word chaos far too much. Still, I feel like it's okay because over the past week chaos and I have been BFFs. Let's do a quick rundown of the fun.. (one- so you will understand my chaos and two- so I can make a list. I heart lists.)
+removed kitchen cabinets from wall
+covered as much of house as possible in plastic dropcloths
+realized air conditioner was not working
+went to work
+called Jackson Heating and Air to check on air conditioner
+got a call from Uncle Contractor, approved to call in electrician
+got a call from Jackson Heating and Air and left work early to meet them
+found out air conditioner/heat pump/air handler needs replacing
+ran by vet to pick up pills for Loki (our devil kitty)
+ bought a few fans
+ still melted
+called out from work (sorry IC ladies!)
+met with Jackson Heating and Air salesdouche
+recieved a quote of over ten thousand dollars to replace everything air conditioner related in house
++++freaked out+++++
+called the Dad and the Man
+prepped cats for Vet
+called Uncle Contractor's air guy and Dear Mother's air guy for estimates
+took cats to Vet
+met with air guys & Uncle Contractor's drywall crew
+got estimates, picked up cats, and dashed to my grad class
+came home, took cold shower
+melted again!
+flat tire
+late to work
+the Dad fixed my tire and picked me up from work
+met with Uncle Contractor's air guy and paid him $$$
+dashed to my 2nd grad class
+ did not melt!!
+ priced other cool things with the Man after a long day of work
and here we are...

As you can tell, not as chaotic as it could have been.. but it's been a very expensive week. It's all worth it though because I've learning a lot from the experience and have some amazing transformations to share eventually.

Although heating and air is not the most thrilling thing in the world, I've had a crash course in a few basics over the past week. With the "Energy Star Tax Credit" that a lot of people are talking about it might help to know a few key facts. I researched this when trying to decide if we should spend the extra now on a higher efficiency rated heat pump, or just save the cash. If you are planning on making some improvements to your home in order to make it more energy efficient or if you are suprised with an opportunity like ours to do so, keep these things in mind:

Research (if you have time) what size heat pump you need.
For our home we initially had a 1993 model [yup, our A/C was old enough to drive] 8 SEER 2 ton heat pump. By getting a new model we would be changing the type of freeon it uses because of govermental regulations. We decided to upgrade from a 2 ton to a 2.5 ton capacity. We're hoping this will keep our nerdy nest artic cool even in the dead heat of Alabama summers. Along with that, we agreed to nab a 15 SEER unit. We went with the 15 SEER to qualify for the Tax Credit (which will bring us about $1200 back next tax season) and for the monthly estimated savings of $20 on our power bill.

You might also want to check out the Energy Star Tax Credit site to see if your purchase will qualify. As with anything that is government driven, there are some strings attached, for us it was all based on a SEER rating greater than or equal to 14.

And please, for the love of Pete (or anyone else) shop around! I learned my lesson. We saved a *ton* by getting a number of estimates and by taking to heart a few word of mouth recommendations. I'm beginning to amass a number of experts that I would be glad refer you to if you need a/an: Accountant, Realtor, Contractor/Tiler/Drywall team, Mechanic, Tire Guy, and now HVAC expert. Not to mention that the Dad and Uncle Contractor are always willing to help with suggestions from their pool of pros.

Along with trying to recover from our suprise outage, upgrading our nest, trying to finish out my 2nd semester of graduate school, and the Man working late nights and going in for early mornings-- I also need to begin preparing for helping Dear Mother after her surgery. She'll be having a knee replacement in early May which, in looking at my packed calendar, is only 3 weeks away!

So.. although it has surely been chaotic this week and I really can't see things slowing down, I am still thrilled with the changes that we've been able to make to our home and grateful that even though everything seems to be happening at one time.. it's better now than never.

I know this nerdy bird has been running around like a chicken with her head cut off and I'm not a fan of winging it, but I think if we can keep aloft over the chirpin' chaos of this next month we'll be flying high and our nerdy nest will be something to crow about.

(That outpouring of birdy nonsense was a little ridiculous, but I had to. I just had to - I got stuck on "nerdy bird" and couldn't let it go.)

To close, in honor of our gorgeous weather on a Friday afternoon and in response to my sniffles and watery eyes.. a quick quote from a friend's facebook status:

"Dear plants: I know you are trying to reproduce and all, but please.. give it a break!"

I love the blooms, I love all the pretty spring colors and I am hoping for some more pretty weather.. especially now that I won't be melting thanks to our lovely new investment. Cheers to sunshine and the weekend!

Sunday, April 4

happy easter, all!

What do you get when you mix this:

with this?

A family tradition that I'm lucky to be a part of. Although the Man doesn't care much for dying eggs, or really anything holiday themed; I really enjoyed spending this weekend with his family out cooking on the porch and dying eggs around the picnic table.

So far I've accomplished quite a bit on our hopping Easter weekend. I finished the family's Easter baskets early Friday before work.

Friday after work I checked out Goodwill. The store was really well structured and had a ton of clothes. It was pretty busy, but then it was also only the 2nd day since opening. One thing that was suprising to me were the amount of new items in the store. There were a lot of small appliances and furniture pieces that were still in the original packaging. I'm not sure if local big box stores donated for the opening, or if this will be a regular occurrence but it seemed like both Target and Wal-Mart had contributed.I made a small contribution to their opening weekend totals with my big spender purchase of $8.00. I found a duplicate of my all-time favorite shower curtain, a cute shirt from Old Navy (not pictured) and a silver-ish picture frame.

Of course, our little girl, Inari had to be the center of attention. Based on her response, it was time for me to quit taking pictures and start fixing dinner.

With that in mind, back to work on the kitchen demo!

Friday, April 2

prepping for demo, reno and egg-os?

Today is one of those days where I have so much on my mind and to-do list that even I, the girl addicted to post-it notes, calendars, and highlighters, don't even feel organized. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the reason why our low-key Easter weekend just got quite a bit busier-- but without some organization and a good task list, I feel like it could get really chaotic, really quick.

Here are a few of the things going on this weekend:
+ Goodwill trip today
+ finish making Easter baskets
+ dying eggs with the Man's family on Saturday
+ Easter Lunch with the Man's family on Sunday
+ Complete homework for class on Tuesday
+ Make notes for meeting with head of Grad program on Monday

+ Clean, mini-move and prep for DEMO of KITCHEN WALL!!!

Yup, you read it right. What went from brainstorming and price quoting of the kitchen wall demo went to tearing out walls on Monday! If you haven't realized yet, when this nerdy couple decides to do something-- things tend to happen pretty fast, even if that wasn't what we expected.

As part of our quote for the demo, we had planned on removing the upper and lower cabinets from the walls in the kitchen to make life easier for the guys helping us. Sadly, we don't have the money to replace the cabinets just yet (but I have other things in mind.) In the meantime, we are going to try and preserve what we can. This means carefully removing the cabinets from the walls, storing them in another part of the house and then re-installing the lower cabinets. The upper cabinets will be the focal point of a project in the future-- if they survive the demo.Also keep in mind that by removing the wall between our kitchen and great room, the great room will also pretty much need to be emptied. Thankfully, Dear Mother has allowed me to borrow some of her storage containers. (She's decided to organize her home a few times over the past few months and had a bevy of containers on call. I bartered some of my OCD skills and physical labor for her organization project as a trade for the use of her containers for a week or two.)

Right now the plan is to empty out all of the cabinets in the kitchen, pack away the bookcases in the great room, and buy a few plastic tarps to cover furniture while the demo is in progress. We're moving our little TV into the bedroom along with the Man's console to keep it as far from debris and dust as possible and to grant his wish of having a television in the bedroom-- if only temporarily.

Along with all of this-- we need to repair the office door latch, which currently refuses to close,so that the furbabies can remain safe and sound in their "room" while everyone is going in and out of the house.

And we need to tidy the garage to make room for storing supplies for the reno. Oh, and one of my best friends from college is going to be in town and staying with us prior to flying out to NYC for his spring vacation.
Sorry Eric, I had hoped to be a clean, organized and suitable host. Instead, I can only lovingly welcome you into our chaos. It'll be just like your apartment in MoTown. :)

Everything else going on this weekend should be pretty fun. I'm excited to see the new Goodwill, even if I don't have a lot of time to peruse. The Easter baskets seem to be coming together-- I worked on them some this morning and just have one more bow left to tie and then assemble all the goodies, and maybe make some cute tags.

Easter with the Man's family is also a nice tradition. I remember being surprised last year when we got together to dye eggs especially since the Man is 27 and his sister is 19. However, it was a lot of fun and something that, although I remember doing when I was little, I haven't done in years. I'm just hoping the weather will be nice and we won't be stressed from all the work that needs to be done in our nest so we can really enjoy a pretty afternoon with family. Besides, it's always funny to see how the Man decides to decorate his eggs... for some reason glitter and pastels just don't seem to fit.

The schoolwork is just a fact of life being a graduate student. I'm hoping that my meeting on Monday will offer some clarification and help me plan for some upcoming events.

So here's to a happy and hopping Easter weekend in the nerdy nest...I know.. Hopping... I couldn't resist.

Thursday, April 1

2000+ butterflies

I've mentioned my long time relationship with yard sale-ing, but I have not yet delved into my love affair with all thrift stores. I've never met a thrift store I didn't like. True, there were some that left me less than impressed and some that I wanted to wear a HazMat suit while shopping (J&J Junk off 280 in Birmingham, anyone?). Most however have some quality, some allure that I just can't seem to shake. I think it all ties in with my desire to shop, need to be frugal and passion for "great ideas."

Let's chat for a moment about these "great ideas." Apparently this is something that I was known for as a child. My Dear Mother loves to regale friends, family, and especially the Man with stories of how I would tell her of a "great idea" I just had. Now, my ideas rarely worked out, or were even possible-- but I had this unrestrained enthusiasm to follow through with them until, inevitably things wouldn't work the way I imagined, or I would grow tired and cranky, or something didn't line up "just right."

That same thing plagues me today. I have to work at determining what "great ideas" are within my time, skill and patience limitations. I'm constantly seeing inspiring ideas on the blogs I read, hearing great ideas from friends, and even conjuring up a few of my own. However, I'm working on choosing my "great ideas" carefully-- to save myself the investment, dissappointment, and to save my sweet Man from the eventual temper tantrum when I can't cut/paint/frost/sew/glue in a perfectly straight line. Still, I can't resist a "great idea" and love the creative process of taking someone's castoffs and with a little time and minimal investment making it my own. This brings me back to the original topic: thrift stores.

I love them. I heart them. I love the fact that I can bring $10 and shop for hours and still have money left over. And might I say that I was thrifting when thrifting wasn't cool. I have been shopping in thrift stores for over ten years. (Wow, I feel a little old right now.)

We have a few great stores around the Auburn/Opelika area: Harvest Thrift, Mission Thrift, Salvation Army -one in Auburn and another in Opelika, Angel's Antiques - not quite thrift but still good prices, and now the return of the prodigal store:

Goodwill is back!
Goodwill has been closed in Opelika for about 3 years now from what I remember. There is a new store opening up in Midway Plaza today. I won't be able to attend the grand opening this afternoon but based on a few billboards they will be releasing 2000+ butterflies to celebrate.
Oh Goodwill, it's great to see you again!

I'm hoping to check it out tomorrow afternoon. The building itself seems huge. I am so glad that a few of our local thrift stores are taking advantage of abandoned buildings and making good use of the space. Another great thing about thrifting is that most stores contribute to the community in some way-- so not only can you relish a great deal, but also you are giving back. For example, the new Goodwill is slated to have a career center that has free job search resources including 16 computers, phones, fax machines and even hosts training classes.

If you don't have a local Goodwill, no need to worry. Goodwill even has a site where you can shop online.

Here's hoping the new store will have some great finds, good prices, and won't be too picked over by the time I get there!