November 18, 2019

My Utility/Laundry Room Makeover Reveal (Before and After)

I always love writing bullet posts because they are typically how my mind works--thinking about one thing and then the next and the next very quickly and randomly. However, when I write, I always tend to get wordy. I'm curious what the average word count of my posts is--I bet it's at least three times as long as other similar blogs, haha.

Anyway, I mentioned yesterday that I'd write a bullet-style post today. Once I started with the first bullet, however, it turned into a whole post! I finally finished (well, nearly finished) the last room of the house that needed a makeover... the laundry room. (I call it the laundry room or even "cat room" because the litter box is in there, but it holds our washer, dryer, water heater, and furnace.)

I say that the room is "nearly" finished because we have to replace the flooring. I think we have enough leftover luxury vinyl planking from the rest of the house to use--let's hope so. After the flooring is done, I will have literally made over the entire house from ceiling to floor (in that order).

So, here goes the laundry room remodel...

The Laundry/Utility Room

I had been saving making over the laundry room for last because it was SO daunting. A few years ago, we had to replace our water heater, which had leaked and caused water damage to the floor. Thankfully, my brother Brian was able to do the work to replace the damaged subfloor and install a new water heater. A year after the water heater disaster, we needed to replace the furnace as well.

When we replaced the water heater, we bought a tankless one, so it's just a box that hangs on the wall. So much smaller and more convenient! However, because the water heater and the encasing wall were gone, I was left with unfinished drywall and a big hole in the ceiling.

The water heater used to take up that whole corner, but now it is just that white box on the left. On the right is the security alarm system (which I later decided to remove, causing a whole other project--see below).

First up was to patch the hole in the ceiling. It was sealed at the roof, but not the drywall, obviously. I did a rough job of scraping off the ceiling texture around that area, and then I researched (by "researched", I mean I watched YouTube videos) on repairing large holes in drywall. I'd patched small holes before with tape and mud, but this was new to me.

It was actually much simpler than I thought!

The patch was done, so the rest of the work was easy--I'd done it a trillion times over the last year. Scrape the texture off the ceiling. Then drywall tape and mud (a.k.a. drywall compound).

First, I removed all of the crown moulding. Then I removed the textured ceiling (like popcorn ceiling, but the texture was called "stomped" and it was throughout the ENTIRE house--I'm so glad it's gone!). Removing it involves a lot of water (spray bottle) and a drywall knife to scrape it off once the water softens the drywall compound texture.

It's an amazing upper body workout, and the drywall dust is best dry shampoo ever. (I'd say I was kidding, but seriously--I should market it!)

What you're left with is a pile of soggy drywall compound, a ceiling that looks patchy, and hair that will never look greasy again.

After the ceiling texture was removed, I started on the seams. Tape and mud. Repeat. Let it dry. Mud again. Smooth it out. Sand.

I also removed the wire shelves that I hated (you can see where I patched the holes on the left). And then I decided to remove the alarm system. That was a bigger project to do than I anticipated. Each of those wires ran under the house into the crawl space and then attached to every door and window in the house.

I had to go into the crawl space and remove all of the wires. This required me to be in a squat position for about 30 minutes. Holy mother of God. My thighs were on FIRE after that. I came out with a jumble of wires. Then had to go back in to collect the stragglers.

There were a few spots in the house where I also had to remove a piece of alarm equipment, so I was then left to repair underneath those. That wasn't too bad--just a pain to do after I'd just painted the walls less than a year ago. Thankfully, I saved all of my leftover paint from other rooms and projects, so I was able to make everything look new again.

Meanwhile, my kitchen looked like this:

...for what felt like MONTHS, I tell you. All of that stuff had been on the shelves above the washer and dryer, and without shelves, it wound up on the floor of the kitchen.

After a trip to Lowe's and Sherwin Williams, I had the stuff for shelving and a gallon of Aviary Blue paint for the walls. I chose the color because it's the same color that I painted my kitchen cabinets. I already had leftover orange paint for the shelves and leftover white paint for the trim. I used scraps of trim leftover from the house to use along the floor, so I only had to buy a few pieces of trim for the door casings.

I made the shelves up as I went along, so I didn't really think to stop and take pictures of the process. I made them 12 inches apart, and I reeeeally wish I'd done 14 (for at least the bottom shelf). But, live and learn. That's what DIY is all about! Haha. 

I was thinking of putting up shelves to the right in the photo below, which is why there are two pencil lines running down the wall (where the studs are). However, I changed my mind (at least for now) so I just need to paint over the lines.

And that ugly corner? Finished! It's not 100% perfect, but I'd say pretty close to 99%. A million times better than before!

Before and after photos:

The rest of the room before and after:

Finally, as an afterthought, I decided to replace the interior door. While I was working on the room, I was SO ANNOYED at the door banging against the wall of the tight space. It's always something that has made me crazy when I carry laundry in or out because the baskets bang the door which bangs the wall.

Here is what the door looked like before. I loved it! It was the first door I did in the house. But after working on the inside of the laundry room, I knew I needed to replace it.

The solution? A bifold door. I'd replaced our closet doors with bifolds and I wish I'd done it long time ago! They save so much space. I even moved the pantry door (shown above on the right) to my master bathroom and installed a bifold for the pantry. So much better!

I went to Menard's for the door (DIY tip: Menard's interior doors are about half the price of the ones at Lowe's and they are literally the same material and style. Probably the same manufacturer with different packaging!).

I knew I wanted a door with slats in it for ideal cool air return to the furnace, but also one with a panel at the bottom that I could cut out for the cats. I keep the litter box in the laundry room and the cats need access.

I was going to buy a door of the same material of the rest of the interior doors (it's MDF or something like that). They are cheap--about $45 per slab (I didn't buy pre-hung doors or new jambs--just the raw door slabs and I drilled the holes for the knobs and the hinges myself).

However, I checked out the clearance section, and found the perfect door (exactly what I was looking for) made out of pine (a slight upgrade) that had been special ordered by someone but not picked up. It was the size I needed, and it was marked down from $80 to $38.50!

I knew hanging it was going to be a problem (I'd run into a problem with the first door, where it just wouldn't sit square). This time, feeling much more confident in my DIY skills, I decided to fix the root of the problem instead of dodging around it by shaving bits of the door here and there.

It's hard to tell in the photo (even zoomed in), but in the top left corner of the door, you can see a tiny gap.

After thoroughly inspecting it and trying to figure out what the deal was, I discovered that the jamb on that side was 5/8-inch longer than the other side! That's a huge difference. Whoever did that job while building the house screwed it up and was too lazy to fix it. I always assumed the gap was there from the house settling.

So, after removing the door, I also removed the door jamb. I remeasured, sawed off the excess 5/8-inch from that side, and replaced the jamb (using shims to get it perfectly square). Then I hung the new door and I was thrilled that the door no longer looked crooked!

(I had just put up new door casing, so ignore all the nail holes in the photo below. I filled them in and painted over when I finished the door.)

Next, I needed to cut out a cat door. On the previous door, I'd cut out an 8x10 rectangle and framed it with a picture frame. This time, I wanted to try something a little cuter...

I sketched the outline of a cat's head and then cut it out with my jigsaw:

Then I attached the knob and painted the door (and the casing).

Super cute, right?! Painting the door with all those slats was a bitch, but I love how it turned out. And having the extra space when going in and out with laundry baskets is SO MUCH NICER.

So, we finally have everything finished in the house with the exception of the laundry room flooring. We'll do that next summer, probably. I'll have to measure and see if we have enough flooring left.

Anyway, if you missed it, here are the posts from the rest of my DIY home makeover:

Dining room
Living room
(all three of those are sort of one big space)

Boys' bedrooms
My bedroom (I don't think I ever posted photos of this! Will have to do soon.)
My closet
My bathroom (it started in 2016, but I did the ceiling and cabinets and all that recently)
Hallway bathroom

And here is a page with links to all the DIY projects involved in the home makeover.

I am LOVING my "new" house! :)

November 17, 2019

Peak! (And a recap of 3-3-3 running for week 7)

So much for writing daily in November!

My daily writing goal is like a lot of goals that I make--I miss one day and then figure I already "ruined" it, so I might as well just forget it. It's a terrible mentality! If I miss a day, I should just get right back to it.

It may not seem like an important goal (writing every day) but I find that on the days that I write a blog post, my anxiety is much lower in general. I still get very nervous about posting something vulnerable, but for even when I write personal posts like that, I feel good about writing in general. I enjoy writing!

So, I'm not going to quit trying to hit this 30 day challenge. I just have to keep starting over, haha. One of my "40 Goals by 40 Years Old" goals is to complete a 30 day challenge. And I decided that I want writing a blog post every day for 30 days to be that challenge.

Lately, I've had more time to myself, but I've been distracted. I had NO free time for about four months; now that the craziness of summer and fall is over, however, I find myself with some time to do things I enjoy. One of those is an app I downloaded on my phone called Peak.

Peak is very similar to Lumosity, which you know I love. I've been playing Lumosity for a long time now, though, and had gotten the top score on most of the games. I was starting to get bored with a lot of them. I really like mind games like the ones on Lumosity, so I looked in the app store for another one that is similar.

And that is how I discovered Peak. I have to say, I think I like it even more than Lumosity! (I liked it so much that I even paid for the subscription.) There are a few games in Lumosity that are still favorites, and unfortunately don't have equivalents in Peak, but Peak has a larger variety of games and it has goals to work toward.

There are badges to earn (it's like they knew exactly how to suck me in!):

So, I've been playing the games on Peak (probably way too much) instead of writing on my blog. It feels good to do something enjoyable and stress free, though!

I have several random things to write about (a bullet-style post would probably be best, because everything is so random) but I think I'll save that for tomorrow. Since tomorrow starts Week 8 of my 3-3-3 running plan, I want to recap Week 7.

I've still been running on the treadmill. We actually got quite a bit of snow here on Monday--enough to warrant a snow day for the kids on Tuesday!--and the roads in the neighborhoods are still icy in patches.

Also, at the suggestion of several of you Friends, I started watching the TV show Jack Ryan while I'm on the treadmill. (My rule is that I can't watch it unless I'm on the treadmill; otherwise, I'd binge watch it on the couch, haha.)

Running on the treadmill means that my Garmin's stats are incorrect (I feel like I've complained about this at least 10,000 times on my blog and I guarantee you at least 10,000 more). The timer is incorrect on my treadmill, but I feel like the speed is accurate.

So, I use the distance on the treadmill and the timer and heart rate monitor on my Garmin to get my stats. To do that, I have to adjust the distance on Garmin Connect. (Which I didn't start doing until only a couple of weeks ago.)

Anyway, this week went... fine. Nothing super notable.

Monday (Week 7, Day 1)

I felt great the first mile. I noticed that when the show I'm watching has an exciting action scene, it's easy to keep my heart rate low. When the show gets boring or people are just talking, my heart rate tends to increase (I think this is because I pay attention to my breathing and running form rather than just letting it happen; I wish I could turn off my brain to stop this, but I just try my best to stay interested in the show).

I kept track of my mile splits for this run: 13:30, 13:33, and 13:25.

Wednesday (Week 7, Day 2)

The first 1.75 miles were great. I barely had to touch the speed on the treadmill and my heart rate stayed steady under my MAF rate.

Mile 1: 13:03 (4.6 mph at 0% incline for the entire mile)

Mile 2: Lowered to 4.5 mph for about 0.75 miles and then 4.4 mph to keep heart rate down.

Mile 3: Varied between 4.2 mph and 4.5 mph, 0% to -0.5% incline. It was hard to keep my heart rate under MAF. It's also hard to "run" at a speed under about 4.4 mph, and feels like a shuffle. At 4.2 mph, I can't lower the speed any more and maintain a "run", so I lower the incline in order to lower my heart rate. I've never had to lower it beyond -1%, though.

Friday (Week 7, Day 3)

For this run, I decided to try out the foot pod again. I had forgotten that I could mess with the calibration factor percentage, so I figured I could work with different numbers until the Garmin's speed read the same as the treadmill in real time.

The factor that it was set at (from when I was running at about 7.0 mph on a regular basis) was 92%. (I have no idea what the percentage means--just that you start with 100% and depending on your stride length and all that, it may vary from the the baseline of 100%).

First, I reset the calibration factor from 92% to 100%. Then I ran the first mile on the treadmill at an even 4.6 mph the entire time, just to see what the result was. That gave me a 13:24 mile (a 4.48 mph speed), so it was slightly off.

For the second mile, I went to work adjusting the calibration factor up and down until the speed on the Garmin read the same as on the treadmill. It ended up being a 115% calibration factor! I have found that the faster I run, the lower the calibration percentage ends up being and vice versa.

I'm going to test out the foot pod on the high school track to see how accurate that calibration factor  is, and then I'll also know if the treadmill is accurate.

For the third mile, the Garmin and the treadmill read the same speed, even as I adjusted the treadmill's speed up and down a little to keep my heart rate at MAF. The average ended up being 4.5 mph (13:20/mile).

Since I'm about halfway done with my 3-3-3 running plan, I was hoping to look for some sort of pattern with my pace--to see if the MAF training is having any effect. (Ideally, my speed will get faster while maintaining my heart rate at the MAF training level. MAF stands for maximum aerobic function. I wrote more about it on this post.)

This data below isn't great for comparison, unfortunately, because of the Garmin being inaccurate with the treadmill and some my earlier runs were outside (with Joey). But here is what it looks like anyway:

Yes, that looks like way too much data, even for me. But I wanted to see some sort of pattern, so I'm looking at all of it. The yellow highlighted lines are the outdoor runs, so I know those are the most accurate as far as distance and pace (but they are also a month old).

From looking at all of this, I can't see that I'm really able to go faster yet at the same heart rate. I will make sure to do at least one outdoor run this week to compare, though.

I did find something that I think is very interesting, though: When I run outside, my stride is a little longer than on the treadmill. Also, my pace is a little faster (for most of them). The pace is likely faster due to the longer strides but near-identical cadence.

I do notice when I'm on the treadmill and my heart rate starts to get too high, I'll shorten my stride a bit to take it a little easier and hopefully bring my heart rate down. If I don't change the speed on the treadmill but I shorten my stride, I'm still going to be going the same speed. And maybe this is why my speed has to be a little slower on the treadmill than it is outside. (If I had to increase steps, then I my heart rate would climb).

Okay, I realize this is all super nerdy and confusing and I'm definitely "thinking out loud" (thinking while typing) so it may not even make sense. I haven't even looked at the data until now, actually.

But the whole thing that I've learned from this so far (7 weeks in) is that I don't have enough consistent data to make any conclusions about anything. Even Dr. Phil Maffetone, who developed the MAF heart rate method, says that you should wait three months before looking at results.

You know what the most amazing thing of all is, though?

I've run three days a week for seven weeks now! This 3-3-3 running plan is really working out well for me--with each run, I feel a little more excited about getting back into it.

I'm starting to get impatient with the slow running, though. I love not feeling like I'm going to die when I run, but sometimes it's hard to run SO SLOW. I'm going to stick it out for the full three months, and then I am going to add a little bit of speed work (80% easy at MAF pace, and 20% hard).

It's so crazy to think that I'm looking forward to doing speed work again, hahaha.

Anyway, I have to go make dinner. I'll do my bullet-style post tomorrow to catch-up!

November 13, 2019

Nostalgia: My 10 Favorite Board Games from the 80's and 90's

Yesterday, Jerry and I were both feeling sick--headache, sore throat--and we were talking about playing a board game, something that we very rarely do. Somehow, we got to talking about the games that we miss from when we were kids, and we went for a stroll down memory lane.

Of course, I had to look up online my favorite games to see if they still exist--I would love to get them again! Once I started searching, I realized that most of the games were very girly and silly, but I'd still like to play them again for old times' sake.

As you know if you've been reading my blog for a while, I like to get together with my childhood friends at Christmastime to hang out and reminisce about the good ol' days. (It is going to be so odd--and sad--without Spencer this year. He didn't come to our party every year, but out of our group of friends, he is the first to pass away--and the youngest, which just makes me so angry at cancer.)

However, I'd still like to have a get-together, even if there are only a few of us this year. Sarah's not going to be coming home from Arizona, and I am sure Chris won't be coming due to some family issues. So, we'll see what happens.

I did get the idea, though, to have a 90's themed game night. Complete with our old school games and hopefully old school clothes, whatever 90's-themed food I can come up with, etc. We grew up together from the early 80's until mid-1995, but the early 90's is where I think our friendship was most prominent.

So, after some searching on the internet, I came up with a list of my Top 10 Favorite Board Games (as an adolescent). The adolescent part is crucial when you see some of the games I picked! Hahaha. Very embarrassing, in retrospect.

I was going to try to order these by favorites, but I just can't make up my mind. So, here they are in no particular order:

1) Guess Who

I heard a comedian do a short bit that I find absolutely hysterical about this game because it is SO TRUE. Everyone who ever played this game as a kid remembers this! Here is the bit (it's only three minutes or so):

2) Mall Madness

This was an electronic game that took forever to set up, but was totally worth it. My friend Shannon and I played board games together ALL THE TIME, and this was probably our very favorite. I can still remember the voice: "Attention mall shoppers! There is a sale in the department store!"

3) Girl Talk - Date Line

I actually don't remember a lot about this one, but I believe it had a cassette tape that you would play and it was supposed to be like talking to a boy on the phone. I think he would ask you out (or not) and there were options for "dating" them. 

4) Girl Talk (original)

This game was a truth or dare game, and since I've always been a chicken when it comes to truth or dare games, I always chose truth. As you can imagine, the dares were not very "daring" or risqué for this game, though, despite that it advertises "really cool stunts and fortunes" on the box ;)

5) Dream Phone

This was DEFINITELY one of Shannon's and my favorites! You had to figure out who had a crush on you based on clues. You'd call up the boy on the electronic phone to find out if you're right. Of course, there were only 2-3 boys that we both wanted (just like all these dating games).

6) Heartthrob

Yet another dating game! I remember playing this all the time, but I honestly don't remember how it worked at all. I love that on the box it says, "AGES: For all girls who like boys". Bahaha!

7) Pay Day

Finally, a break from all the dating games. This was similar to a combination of Monopoly and Life, in a way. You would earn money and then have to spend it just like in real life (groceries, bills, etc). You would get mail in the mailbox (could be bills or something good). The board looked like a calendar, and you would move your piece from day to day, hoping to skip over the "bad" ones.

8) Perfect Wedding

This was another one that we absolutely loved! You basically get to plan your dream wedding, but you have a budget based on the fate of the game. I remember that I ALWAYS had to have certain pieces (my favorite of the dresses, flowers, cake, etc). I was a very bossy kid, and if I didn't get my "perfect wedding", I was not happy ;)

9) Sweet Valley High

As a HUGE fan of Sweet Valley Twins, I had to get the Sweet Valley High game. I did read the Sweet Valley High books (and watched the TV show), but the Twins would always be my favorite. Anyway, the box of this says it all: Can you find your boyfriend in time for the big date?" The board was set up like a high school, and there were various paths to lead you to collect what you needed.

10) Wheel of Fortune

Just looking at this game, I can still remember the feel of the game pieces and how hard it was to get the cardboard piece into the board. And then moving the green pieces to reveal the letters underneath. This was a fun game, however! I'd like to play this one again.

And here is a BONUS (because it's a super duper favorite):

Crack the Case

This game was totally up my alley (which you'd never guess by all the girly games above). There were oversized cards that described a crime scene (a short blurb that one person would read aloud, and then that person would read the whole card silently to themselves). The other players would take turns asking yes/no questions to try to figure out the murder (I can't remember if it was just murders, but they were unusual crime scenes). You had to use just a few clues (and the responses to the yes/no questions) to figure out exactly what happened and why. It was awesome! I'm super into true crime today, and this is probably the game that started my interest.

Ahh, memories! I started looking for some of these games on e-Bay, so that I could buy them for game night, but holy smokes they are expensive. Some of them are over $100 each! So, we may have to stick with the old basics (Monopoly, Life, Clue, etc.). But it was fun to think about these games and tell Jerry about them! 

November 11, 2019

"Army Guys" (A cute Veteran's Day post)

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how passionate I am about veterans. The military and war really hit home for me when my younger brother joined the Army just after 9/11 and did two tours in Iraq. (My dad was also in the Army, but he was honorably discharged long before I was born, so it didn't hit as hard for me as when my brother joined.)

Nathan (my brother) struggles with PTSD and he actually starting using running as a way to cope with that, which I find amazing. You can read his story here.

However, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures to show American pride in a different sort of way in this post. When Eli was little, he was obsessed with "Army guys". The bucket of soldiers he got for Christmas one year was his favorite toy from his entire childhood--he LOVED them and he played with them constantly.

Even though he had hundreds, he still asked for "Army guys" on his birthday and Christmas wish lists. I put together some photos of his military pride (I mean no offense to actual veterans by sharing these--like I said, I have a huge place in my heart for veterans. I just hope these photos may make you smile.)

As always, a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the real veterans out there. You gave Eli someone to look up to! And we are so grateful for your service. 

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