December 11, 2018

The Best Stocking Stuffer! (A RoadID Review and Discount)

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but it has all been reliant on a single photo of my my family in the same place at the same time. (Not necessary, but it's what I had in mind.)

Anyway... you know I don't write sponsored posts very often. Maybe once a year? I save sponsored posts for things I REALLY believe in, or products I use myself. This post isn't sponsored in the sense that I earn money for writing it (I'm not) or that I earn a commission in any way (I don't).

RoadID simply gave my family and me new bracelets with updated info. I have to say, though, that I LOVE this company and this idea as a whole. I bought my first Road ID several years ago, after I broke my jaw. I was worried about running and possibly fainting during a run, and having the bracelet gave me peace-of-mind.

What is RoadID?

I could quote from their website, but here is what Road ID is to ME: My RoadID is a bracelet that contains my vital information in case of a medical emergency--my name, Jerry's phone number, my blood type and allergy info, and other medical things that may be relevant in an emergency.

At first, I thought this would be great for when I run. Then I realized it'd be perfect for my kids--when we go out somewhere, and if we should get separated, at least they will have their RoadID bracelet with my phone number on it!

I bought one for each of my kids, and I included their emergency contacts as well as their basic medical information. If nothing else, it gives me peace of mind that if they should get lost, they will have the means to get back to me.

The info was pretty out of date, and when I got an email from RoadID asking if we'd like to try their new line, it reminded me that it was time we update our old info. RoadID's new styles are amazing, and since I haven't been running as much (ahem, if at all) I loved the idea of having a "regular" looking bracelet to wear on a day-to-day basis. With my history of syncope (fainting) and a few other issues, I thought it would be a great idea.

So, RoadID was kind enough to send Jerry, the kids, and me wrist ID's from their new line. And we love them!

Honestly... I am not just writing this because we got them for free. (I have paid from my own pocket for these before, and I LOVE them.)

When I was coaching cross country, I thought about how convenient it would be if all of the kids had a RoadID--their emergency info right there on their person for whenever we may need it. The odds are that we won't ever need it, but for the rare instance that we may... having that info is crucial!

I am not earning commission or anything for this post, so I hate to sound sales-pitchy... but if you are looking for a stocking stuffer or if you have a child or if you run solo or if you just want the self-assurance that your information is readily available in case of emergency, you should definitely give RoadID a look-see!

And because they are so generous, Runs for Cookies readers can get $10 off a purchase of $20 or more! Just use this link when ordering.

They have lots of different options when ordering (Jerry, the kids, and I each ordered different ID's). And you can choose whatever you'd like to have inscribed on your ID. My kids really love theirs, and they even wear them to school because they "look cool".

Noah chose the Elite Leather Buckle model in black, and Eli chose brown. They each chose the rose gold face plate, while Jerry and I chose slate. They also have a black option.

Jerry and I chose the nylon loop "elite" model. I got the smaller version (smaller meaning narrower). We customized the colors to our liking, and chose what we wanted printed on the ID's. (I'm sorry that I have to blur out most of it for privacy!).

(I got a little extra piece to add to Jerry's and my ID's--for him, I chose a heart. Because he's a romantic and I knew he'd think that was cheesy and cute. For me, I chose "Believe". I have a hard time believing in so many things--compliments, goals, my own self-worth. So I thought it would be nice to have a reminder.)

I put my basic info on there: my name, emergency contact (Jerry, with his phone number), blood type (O+), NKDA (no known drug allergies), and a few other things, including bipolar.

They are all very good quality. If I had been paying out of pocket, I certainly would have hesitated... that's a lot of money for an emergency contact bracelet! But after receiving the product and using it for a month or so, we all really love them and I believe it's worth the investment.

Anyway, you know I hate to sound like a salesman, but this is one product I really believe in, and I think that everyone should have one. And with Christmas right around the corner, this would be a great stocking stuffer! (They even have a pet ID that fits on your pet's collar--and it is "jingle free"! We take off Joey's "necklace"--that's what we call his collar--when he's inside because the noise is annoying.)

Here is the link you can use to save $10 on an order of $20 or more. Again, I don't get anything for your ordering; but I really do think you'll think it's worth it, for the peace-of-mind alone!

December 10, 2018

A Match Made in Heaven!

When things are truly meant to be, I swear that there is a way they will happen. (Well, I like to think so, anyway.)

In a previous post, I revealed a fun thrifty find (an orange chair for my living room as we makeover our house). I have always loved retro styles--even as a teenager, I would shop at thrift stores and pick out some things that definitely were not the "in" trend. I loved polyester pants! haha.

I think that photo was from 1998...?

In college, my roommate and I found this awesome lamp--it had a spring in it, so the pole would go from the ceiling to the floor. (I just Googled it and discovered it's called a "tension pole lamp". I really wish we'd kept it! It's selling for hundreds on Ebay, haha).

retro floor to ceiling lamp

Anyway, as we've been making over our house, I've definitely been updating things--like the ridiculous amount of oak-colored everything. However, I still want to add my personality to it, whether it's "cool" or not. And since I love retro things, I'm always looking for ways to incorporate them into the more updated colors.

Orange, for example. Orange is my favorite color, but it is usually the least popular when it comes to home decor. It's so hard to find anything in orange! So, I bought a gallon of orange paint, and have added a little here and there. Orange was definitely a popular color in the 60's and 70's, which is great--I can combine my favorite color with a retro look.

Anyway, the chair that I bought was a bit retro, and I love it. Even the fabric felt like it was at least a few decades old.

I had been wanting an orange couch, but after looking every day at ads and not finding anything, I decided to get the orange chair and then hopefully get a couch where I could incorporate orange in some way (maybe a gray couch with orange accent pillows or something). Even if I found an orange couch, the shades would be different, so it wouldn't look right together.

A couple of nights ago, I was doing my quick routine search through Facebook Marketplace, and was just about to call it quits for the night... and then I saw it.


mid century modern orange sofa

It was like someone had pulled ideas out of my head and knew exactly what I was looking for, and then turned it into the couch of my dreams. I knew, instantly, that I wanted it. I sent the seller a message immediately, asking if it was available (the last few messages I sent people were replied with a "sold" message).

He responded that yes, it was available. And yes, the color was accurate in the photos. My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest, because there had to be some catch to it. I asked if it was from a non-smoking home (which is a deal breaker for me if it smells like smoke). Yes, he replied, non-smoking.

It was listed at $375, which is more than I'd budgeted for a used couch, so I asked if he'd take $300. And he said yes. We made arrangements for pick-up, and Jerry and his dad drove all the way up to Troy (over an hour away) to get the couch.

It was in fantastic condition! The original receipt tag is stapled to the frame inside the couch, and it was built in 1976. The coiled springs are still in mint condition, and even the cushions on the sofa were practically like new. It even had the original arm rest covers!

Kroehler furniture manufacture tag

Anyway, I still hadn't seen it in person until Jerry and his dad brought it here. When I saw it, my jaw dropped. It was the EXACT SAME FABRIC as the chair I bought!

orange sofa and orange chair

What are the odds?! The two pieces literally look like they could be part of a set. I was stunned, and (obviously) super thrilled. I feel like it was totally meant to be! I had tried to buy other used couches, but they sold before I replied to the ad. And now I know why! This is a match made in furniture heaven :)

(I learned that the seller and his wife like to find and sell mid-century modern furniture... he has an Instagram with his findings, which you can find here.)

I am about to start on my next DIY project... and this one should be fun. Here is a clue:

December 08, 2018

What it's like to try on clothes after a 30-pound weight gain

weight loss jeans comparison

This post is not going to be whiny, I promise. I just discovered something very interesting when I was trying on clothes yesterday, and I thought I'd share my thoughts.

To recap, I lost 125 pounds from August 2009 to December 2010. In the time since then, my weight has gone up and down a LOT, but my current weight (163) is the heaviest I've been since 2010. So, I've spent most of the last eight years or so at a fairly "normal" size.

I've gotten numerous emails over the years asking about my mindset after losing the weight. Did I see myself as the new, thinner me? Or did I still see the 253-pound me?

And to answer that, it probably took me about five years to finally see myself as "normal" or even "thin". I had very distorted vision when looking at myself in the mirror. I always saw myself at least 50 pounds heavier than I was. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but my mind played tricks on me.

I would even have Jerry take a photo of me before going out so that I could see what I "really" looked like. Sometimes, I thought I looked terrible, but then in the picture, I was surprised to see that I looked good.

When I would do laundry and fold clothes, I couldn't believe that the jeans I folded were actually mine. Sometimes I would even put my jeans in the kids' dressers because they just looked so small!

size 24 versus size 4

When shopping (I only ever buy clothes at thrift stores, and they are completely unorganized--nothing is arranged by size), I would flip through the racks of jeans and when I found a pair I liked, I'd mentally judge if they were my size before finding the tag to check.

Almost always, I would think, "Oh, these look about my size" (when I was a size 4) and then I'd look at the tag and it would show a size 10 or 12. I would look at a size 4 and think they wouldn't even fit my thigh!

FINALLY, a few years ago, I started seeing myself as thin. When I dropped from 160 to 121 between September 2015 to February 2016, I actually saw myself as normal, or even thin. It felt fantastic to finally have my mind catch up to my body!

(I remember, very specifically, not wanting to post the above photo on my blog because I thought I looked too fat. Crazy, right?!)

When I would go shopping, I'd flip through the rack and when I found jeans that I thought would fit, I'd see the size 4 (or even 2!) and throw them in the cart to try on. The size 6 or 8's looked way too big for me, because I'd gotten so used to the size 4's.

Sooooo... I am finally getting to the point of this post.

I am now at 163(ish) pounds. (Yes, even after a virus that made me throw up for two days, I didn't drop a single ounce!). Yesterday, I went to Salvation Army to look for a couch, and while I was there, I decided to check out the clothes.

I have always hated shopping when my weight is up, but I haven't been losing any weight lately, and I desperately need clothes that fit. I have a couple of pairs of jeans that fit, and that's it. All I've been wearing lately has been yoga pants or sweat pants (likely with paint on them) and big t-shirts or hoodies.

When shopping yesterday, I had no clue what size to even consider. I started flipping through the racks, and when I'd find something that I liked and I thought looked to be my size, I'd check the tag... and almost always, it was a size 4. It's like my brain is now stuck with the mentality of me being much smaller than I actually am!

(Just FYI, the photos I'm using in this post are not current... I remember HATING the photo below because I thought I looked so fat! *eye roll*)

trying on clothes in the fitting room

When I grabbed some 8's and 10's to put in the cart, I thought there was no way they would fit--I figured they'd be too big. They looked way too big! (I mean that in a relative way--I am not saying that size 8 or 10 is "too big", just that my brain is fucked up and plays tricks on me.)

(In the above photo, I'd actually found a dollar in the pocket of the jeans I was trying on! This happens more than you can imagine. Last weekend, I found a $20 bill!)

I've been wanting a pair of light-washed baggy jeans to replace a pair that had become so worn I finally had to throw them out, so I found a few that I liked and I thought they'd be perfect. They looked like they'd be baggy.

With a cart full of sizes 8 and 10 jeans, I went to the fitting room. Pair after pair, I pulled them on. Some, I couldn't even get past my thigh. A few of them would button, but looked way too small. And there were a few that actually fit. (Which is typical, because different brands fit differently.)

I was shocked. The jeans that I thought were going to be really baggy actually didn't even button. With each pair that I tried on, I got more and more surprised--and kind of mad at myself for not seeing it before.

Anyway, I thought this was an interesting topic. A lot of times, when we lose weight, we don't see ourselves as thin (or whatever our weight is). We always see ourselves at our heaviest and think of ourselves as our heaviest.

I never imagined that a day would come where I see myself as thinner than I actually am. It's kind of fascinating! I've always wanted my brain to catch up with my thinner body, but clearly it's still lagging behind ;)

December 06, 2018

A Thrifty Find!

Ugh, it's been a rough few days. I've been sick with some sort of stomach bug. (Skip all this if you don't want to get grossed out.)

I woke up during the night on Monday feeling super nauseous. It was so random! I hadn't eaten anything that could have caused food poisoning, so I had no idea what the deal was. I made it to the toilet just in time to throw up for what felt like an eternity.

Finally, my stomach was completely empty, and I went back to bed. On Tuesday, the same thing happened all morning. Once, I didn't even make it in time and I threw up on my legs and feet in the bathroom. So gross!

I was drinking water, but I couldn't even keep that down. As soon as I would drink some, my stomach would start rolling again. I slept for most of the day on Tuesday. I was finally able to eat a little in the evening (I had some broth and an apple).

Yesterday, I felt better--not 100%, but definitely better. I wasn't throwing up, but I was nauseous and tired. Today, I have ZERO energy. I am so ready for this stupid virus to be gone! I am going to take something to help me sleep tonight (I haven't slept well in what feels like months) and hopefully I will feel better tomorrow. I've been trying to rehydrate today--slowly, because it makes me nauseous to drink anything.

Anyway. That's about all that's been going on. I did have a cool thrift find last weekend, though, which I will post about below. Eventually, during this whole house project we have going on, we want to replace the living room furniture. So, I'm always looking for good deals on used furniture pieces.

I found this chair while I was looking at Facebook garage sale pages. I really wanted an orange chair (or couch) and when I saw this one on Facebook, I knew it was perfect!

orange chair

Jerry and I drove all the way up to West Bloomfield to pick it up (a little over an hour away). I paid $100 for it, which actually worked out well because I had just sold our coffee table on Facebook for $100. The trade was well worth it. It's in perfect condition, and the color is exactly what I wanted.

Remember when we got our enormous couch at a used furniture store? Well, we LOVE that couch so much--super comfy!--but it definitely needs to be replaced. The frame is broken in a few places and Joey scratched the hell out of the cushions.

I'm pretty sure that I don't want a sectional again (they take up so much room and there aren't many ways to rearrange the furniture). So, I've been browsing Facebook Marketplace to find a used couch (and I've been selling some things on there, too). A few months ago, I would have said this thought was crazy, but now it doesn't seem so out there--I think I would like to try my hand at reupholstering. I know! That's a big project.

But I could get a couch for $50 or $75 and see if I can reupholster it--not just to save money, but to learn a new skill. (I am clearly loving all of this DIY stuff). If I am terrible at it, then we'll just have to buy a better one. But I think it would be really fun to try reupholstering a couch with good bones!

I finally got to try out my Kreg jig, and I'm super impressed with what I've built out of a sheet of plywood and some scraps. I still have to put a second coat of paint on it. I'm going to wait until it's finished to reveal it, though ;)

Right now, I'm off to bed! I started this post this afternoon, and I'm finishing it now (almost 10:00 pm) and I'm already feeling much better than I did earlier. Hopefully I sleep well and am back to normal tomorrow!

December 03, 2018

Intermittent Fasting: My 30-Day Trial Thoughts and Results

Intermittent Fasting: My 30-Day Trial Results

I thought this photo was entirely appropriate for this post, considering Luke and I were only pretending to eat! hahaha.

This post is overdue by a few days, but time seems to be going way too fast. I had a super busy weekend, of which I spent about half of it in the car--ugh. I had to drive back and forth to a few events that were each over an hour away. I'm hoping this week will be a little less busy.

Anyway, I wish there was a huge update on the 30-day trial I did of intermittent fasting. Here's the basic rundown...

To start this whole trial, I was hoping for a few things: 1) Lose weight; 2) Improve digestion--feel less bloated; 3) Sleep better; 4) Feel an overall sense of well-being.

Week 1: Started with a 16:8 hour ratio of fasting to eating (not super strict to that--sometimes it was 18:6, or somewhere in between). Didn't count calories or anything, just ate within a certain time frame. On this week, I gained 0.4 pounds.

I discovered that I enjoyed doing intermittent fasting, however. I'll write more about that below.

Week 2: Reduced the eating window down to more of 18:6, and tried to reduce the amount I was eating. Lost the 0.4 pounds that I'd gained the week prior, bringing me back to my starting weight.

Week 3: Reduced the window again to a 20:4 ratio. Weight stayed exactly the same!

Week 4: Increased the window back to 16:8. Felt much hungrier than I had the previous three weeks. Gained 1.4 pounds.

I had hoped that I would have been writing about a good weight loss! I even took beginning body measurements, starting photos, and body fat percentage to do a comparison on this post. But nothing has changed, unfortunately.

However! I did have some outcomes that I found beneficial...

1) I stopped thinking about food all the time. It was so nice not to have to worry about what to eat for breakfast, what to eat for lunch. I didn't have to buy food for those things. I typically broke my fast with dinner at around 3-4 pm, and then had a high-calorie snack later.

2) Food tastes a million times better when I'm hungry. Breaking the fast for dinner was so good!

3) My digestion issues improved a LOT. No bloating or stomachaches (other than what I'll note next).

4) I discovered foods that don't really agree with me and cause stomach problems. Because I was fasting, once I broke the fast and got a stomachache, I was able to pinpoint what was causing it. Interestingly, the major food that my body doesn't like is bananas. Last week, I tried breaking my fast with a snack and having dinner a little later, and I learned that bananas give me a bad stomachache for about three hours.

This was interesting to me because I always used to get stomachaches when eating English muffins with peanut butter and sliced bananas for breakfast. I always assumed it was the English muffin causing it (and yet I continued to eat them, because I loved that breakfast). I think that fasting is a really great way to learn what food your body agrees with.

5) Fasting kept me from binge eating, which was a surprise to me. I was worried that not eating until afternoon would make me eat everything in sight, but the opposite happened. I found that because I broke the fast with a nice-sized dinner, I was satisfied for several hours afterward and had no desire to binge.

6) As far as sleeping goes, I didn't notice a difference.

7) And as for feeling an overall sense of well-being, I really did feel good. I loved not feel full or bloated. A couple of years ago, I literally used to look six months pregnant sometimes after eating, even if I didn't eat much. It was painful and miserable! When fasting, I didn't have that problem. (Other than the banana and one or two other foods)

8) I ate much healthier than I did prior to the intermittent fasting. Like I said, I broke my fast with dinner, which was usually home-cooked (crock pot meals, lately!). And later, I would have a high calorie snack--usually cheese, crackers, and salami; nuts; or oil-popped popcorn. I wasn't craving sugar very much. Once in a while I would have peanut M&M's or something, but I definitely preferred salty or savory snacks. Crazy for me! haha

So, even though I didn't lose any weight, I did find a lot of benefits to the intermittent fasting. I think if I want to lose weight, I'll need to either get back to eating intuitively like I did last year or count calories. I didn't feel like I was eating too many calories while intermittent fasting, but I wasn't counting, so maybe I was.

In 2017, my whole mission was to find peace with myself and live my happiest life. I lost that feeling about a year ago (it was right around the time when Jerry started experiencing depression, and in retrospect, I wonder if that had something to do with it--maybe I felt guilty for being happy?). I'd like to work on that again, though. Jerry is doing much better after starting an antidepressant a couple of months ago.

I've found a lot of joy in this project with giving my kitchen, living room, and dining room a makeover, and I will definitely continue to work on that (there is still a lot left to do!). I also printed out a list of "150 things to throw away", and I found that very inspirational! I would love to minimize the "stuff" I have, and I think that would bring me joy as well.

Using a router to make my own laminate countertops
My first time using a router! Making my own laminate countertops.

As far as where I'm going from here...

I still want to lose weight. My clothes are all tight, and I was pretty upset when I tried on some clothes at Salvation Army a few days ago and they weren't even close to fitting. Right now, I don't even care if I don't get back down to my goal weight, but I really want to get down to about 145 to feel more comfortable.

Since I really liked the intermittent fasting, and I really want to focus on finding happiness again, I think I will continue to do the fasting, but I'll keep a bigger window (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating). And I will do my best to eat the intuitive way I did when I was my happiest last year. (If that doesn't work, I can always count calories--but I'd like to try this way again.)

I fell out of my running groove again when I had to do all of the plumbing stuff for the kitchen. I'm not going to be super strict with it, but I would definitely like to do it when I can/want to fit it in. I kind of miss running in the winter! So odd, because I have turned into a baby in the cold weather, but I was feeling nostalgic for it a couple of days ago.

So, basically, I'm going to take each day as it comes and do the things that make me happy (and skip the things that don't--unless they are necessary, of course). I'd like to work on my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list, which will be fun.

This 30-day experiment with intermittent fasting made a pretty big impact on not just my eating, but my life as well. I never would have expected that! I'm really glad I did it :)

November 29, 2018

DIY: Making My Own Countertops (Spoiler: I did it!)

Oh, man... the last few days in my house have been crazy and stressful. When we started our DIY kitchen/dining room/living room renovation in August, I was super psyched about it. And I have loved every single moment of it. Seriously!

It really sucks that I got carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands (which, thankfully, is no longer painful--I still have numbness, but it's getting better now that I'm done with the painting and other tedious repetitive motions). But as far as the "work" of this renovation? It's been super fun!

I don't want to discredit Jerry, because he has certainly helped me, but I have honestly done about 90% of the work (even Jerry corrects people when they assume that he did it). Jerry works a full time time job, so it's only natural that I would do the bulk of this home reno. I only say this because it makes me feel SO good when I look at it and I can see how much better it looks. I did that! There are lots of things that didn't go perfectly, but I've learned a ton.

I feel like I could be a drywaller, painter, cabinet maker, countertop maker, and now plumber.

Yes, plumber.

Which is the subject of the nightmare of the last few days. You guys... I didn't cry at ALL during any of the work I've done. When something didn't go smoothly, I just kept working on it and found it fun to find the solution. But on Monday, I had a total tantrum and cried like a three year old who just wants to drink pop for breakfast.

So, I'll get into that in a moment. But first, the countertops!

Remember when I said I didn't really tell people I was going to do this until it was too late, because I didn't want people talking me out of it or telling me all the things that could go wrong, or telling me all sorts of conflicting advice? So, I did my research for weeks and I finally took the plunge.

I made my own countertops.

First of all, I didn't even know that people could do that! In retrospect, of course people can do it. But I'd never heard of anyone doing it.

I knew I wanted laminate countertops. I know it's not the "popular" choice, but I've always sort of chosen things that aren't really cool. I like laminate! I like the feel of it better than granite. And thankfully, laminate is very inexpensive relative to granite or other options. I was also surprised at just how simple the whole process was!

There are a thousand tutorials out there, but I'll probably put one together just because I'm super excited that I did it and I lived to tell about it. So I won't write all the details on this post, but I will share a few pictures:

Yes, the only photo I could find that really showed the sink was with Eli in it! (Ahem, about 10 years ago...)

This next before and after photo isn't entirely accurate... the "before" was after we'd painted the edges white. A few months ago, they were just the same old wood color that they were above, like in the photo with Eli.

Don't the new ones look awesome?! I LOVE THEM. They were super cheap to make (I'll eventually write a post with an itemized expense list for this whole project, in case anyone is curious). I think it cost roughly $300 to make five (rather large) countertops.

Soooo... I got the countertops done, and after making them, I bought a new sink. Our old sink was SO small and I hated it. It was a double-basin sink (which is common, but I really wanted it to be one large sink without dividers) and it was very shallow.

I assumed that going from two drains to one would be simple! Less pipes to deal with.

I was completely wrong. And of course, living in a manufactured home (a.k.a. trailer, double wide, etc.) came back to bite us again--because even the pipes aren't standard!

I installed the sink into the countertop, and the new faucet, and all I had to do was connect the dishwasher drain hose to the garbage disposal, and connect the garbage disposal to the main drain. I read about this for hours and watched YouTube videos galore (I hate YouTube) but I felt confident that I could do it. Easy peasy.

Until I unhooked everything and realized that the main drain was a different size from the P-trap (another term I learned--it's a necessary part of the tubes that run out of the sink). They were also different materials--PVC (the new pipes I got) versus ABS (the old pipes). They are incompatible, unless you use a special plumber's cement that is specifically for connecting the two. Luckily, I found the cement.

But for the life of me, I could NOT find any sort of adaptor that would connect the two pipes. Meanwhile, I had no kitchen sink--I'd had to turn off the water and electricity going to it. And stupid me, I didn't think to run the dishwasher or the garbage disposal before I started this. So it was REALLY gross. My house smelled horrible.

During all of this, I was trying to connect the garbage disposal to the sink. To go with the shiny new sink, I got a shiny new flange (the drain thingy that sits in the sink and leads to the garbage disposal). Well, after HOURS of trying to connect the two, it just wasn't working. It wasn't mechanically possible. I was so frustrated. And that's when I finally broke down and had a tantrum. It was the only time I cried while doing one of these DIY projects over the last few months!

After much texting, Googling, YouTubing, crying, reading, fiddling, and screaming, I finally realized that the new flange just wasn't compatible with the garbage disposal. According to the package, it was compatible, but I think our disposal was an older model or something. It was set up differently.

The photos I was texting to Jerry and my brother, Brian, trying to figure this out, hahaha:

I tried the old set up, with the old flange, and you know what? I got the garbage disposal connected. All I needed after that was to connect the disposal to the drain.

Friends, I drove to Lowe's a total of seven times in two days (Lowe's is 20 minutes away) to get different pipes that I thought would fit. I was texting Brian, who knows everything DIY/home improvement related, and he tried to help. Finally, I texted Jerry at work and told him to stop on his way home from work and buy EVERY GOT-DAMN ADAPTER that Lowe's has. And he did.

You guys... I kid you not, not a single adapter would fit!

So, early yesterday morning, I went to a different (smaller, more specialized) hardware store and I brought some parts with me. I showed them the pipes and said I need to make this pipe fit in that pipe. And they tried and tried, and finally... they were able to use three separate pieces of PVC to attach them.

The guy who worked there kept insisting that you cannot combine PVC with ABS, but I'd done my research and I even bought the special cement to do it. When I got home, I had to apply primer to the PVC and then the plumbers cement and meld them together; and then I had to join the PVC to the ABS (which went perfectly, thank God!).

And eventually, I had a kitchen sink that drained to a garbage disposal that drained to the main drain under the sink. Woo hoo! I reconnected the water and electricity, connected the dishwasher drain, and crossed my fingers.

And it worked. I cannot tell you the relief I felt!

The first thing I did was start a load of dishes in the dishwasher and then wash the rest by hand. I have never loved doing dishes--but at that moment, I was SO happy!

Here is a  photo of the shiny new sink:

Now that the countertops and sink are done, the next major projects are the island (I am modifying that quite a bit, so it doesn't look good right now--it actually looks worse than before we started, hahaha) and the floor. We spent all of our extra money this month, so we probably won't get to do the floor until January.

Yes, we've actually managed to stay debt-free through all of this! It hasn't been easy... but we are tackling one project at a time, and we aren't buying things we don't need yet. (For example, we need new duct registers for the floor, but clearly we can make do with what we have until after the flooring is done.) So, we are just buying things as we need them. Our biggest expense so far has actually been the paint! (We've literally spent probably about $600 on paint--CRAZY, right?! And that was with Sherwin Williams' 40% off sale!).

So far, though, our projects have included:

Removing two ridiculous walls and a few cupboards
Removing the popcorn ceiling and refinishing the ceiling
Taping and mudding the joints between walls and ceiling for all three rooms plus the hallway
Painting all of the walls
Painting all of the cupboards
Painting all of the trim around windows, doors, etc.
Installing new window blinds
Buying and installing new interior doors
Making a pet feeding station(!)
Installing a new ceiling fan/light in the living room
Making new laminate countertops
Installing a new sink/plumbing

I've even sold a few things that we were planning to get rid of anyways--like our coffee table. I listed it on Facebook and sold it for $100! So we are using the money from the things we sell to fund some more of our projects.

Anyway, things are going great--just super busy!--and I am SO excited to get more done so I can share more progress. But I will post an update about the intermittent fasting this weekend--since tomorrow is Day 30 of 30!

(By the way, I just realized I never shared a picture of the "pet feeding station" once I was done! Here it is...)

Cute, right? I have the dog treats, cat treats, and catnip on the shelf, Joey's food and water bowls on the bottom (they aren't gross, honest, I have no idea why they look like that in the photo!) and the cat food on top. The hole is because Estelle likes to climb through ;)

November 25, 2018

RECIPE: Simple Homemade Granola

I never knew just how easy it was to make granola until I tried this. It's such a simple recipe, but it's SO good! And very versatile. My favorite way to eat it is to core an apple and cut into quarters, then spread with peanut butter and press the peanut butter side into the granola. You could also put it in yogurt, or cereal, etc.

Here is a printer-friendly PDF of Simple Homemade Granola

Simple Homemade Granola

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 275. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine sugar and water. Microwave on high for a couple of minutes to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Add the oats and almonds and stir until they are coated with the sugar mixture. Spread thinly onto the baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes. It'll feel a bit pliable when you take it out of the oven, but it'll be crunchy when it cools.

November 24, 2018

How to Remove a Textured Ceiling (Popcorn, Stomped, etc)

Back in August, Jerry and I (well, okay, it was just I) had the crazy idea to knock down a wall in the kitchen. It wasn't a necessary wall, and it was very small. It was just there to hold up some cupboards.

Once we did that, I loved it so much! And that led to the idea that I wanted to get rid of our ugly textured ceilings. We live in a manufactured home (a.k.a. trailer, a.k.a. double wide, etc.) and textured ceilings are pretty standard. Our ceilings had a "stomped" texture, but the most common is a popcorn ceiling. So I'll refer to it as a popcorn ceiling here, because the process is the same.

First, if you're thinking of removing a popcorn ceiling, make sure you are prepared for your house to be a complete MESS for a while. There will be drywall dust everywhere.

The removal process is actually very cheap to do, which is a bonus. (If you don't already have the tools, someone you know surely will let you borrow them!) And overall, it's simple! I was very surprised at just how simple the process of removing the popcorn ceiling actually was. Here is how we removed the popcorn ceiling and then finished it to be a smooth, "normal" looking ceiling.

(FYI - Our ceiling hadn't been painted. If your ceiling is painted, there may be a different way of removing it, so do your research first.)

Supplies Needed to Remove the Popcorn Ceiling:
(These are Amazon affiliate links)

Spray bottle (for water)
1-1/2-inch spackling knife
4-6 inch drywall knife
Plastic sheeting to cover pretty much everything but the ceiling*
Ladder tall enough to reach the ceiling easily

Supplies Needed to Repair/Refinish the Ceiling:

Spackling to fill in the inevitable nicks that will happen when you scrape
Drywall lightweight joint compound (this is different from spackling)
Drywall knives in 6-inch, 8-inch, AND 10-12 inch lengths
Drywall compound mud pan
Drywall sandpaper screens
Drywall sandpaper holder
Safety glasses
Dust masks or respirator
Drop cloths (here, you can use old bed sheets or cloths)
Good quality (Purdy) 2-inch paint brush
Lambskin 1/2-inch nap roller cover with roller*
Paint tray
4-5-ft pole to connect to the paint roller
Kilz Latex Base Primer
Ceiling Paint


*Cloth sheets won't work here. We bought some cheap bed sheets from Salvation Army to cover things with, but the drywall texture that falls down will be wet, and will make the cloths wet.

*DEFINITELY pay a few extra bucks for the lambs wool roller cover. It is amazing, and I will never paint with anything else again. The paint goes on thick and covers really well. You can rinse it off after each use and use it again and again if you take care of it. This was the best investment we made while painting!

*Don't be fooled by this tool! I bought one, at it was worthless.

To scrape off the popcorn ceiling:

1) Choose a small section to work with at a time, and cover the floor and/or any furniture with the plastic sheeting.

2) Stand on the ladder, and spray the section with water from the water bottle (I covered probably about a 3 ft x 3 ft section at a time). Be kind of generous while spraying... don't completely saturate it to where it's dripping to the floor, but a light spray won't be enough. Here is a short video of me scraping, and you'll see that it wasn't enough water. When there is enough, it will scrape off like butter.)

3) Wait about 3-4 minutes to let the water soak in, and then using the 4-6 inch drywall knife, slide it along the ceiling at a slight angle. If the water has had enough time to soak in, the texture should fall off easily. You want to press firmly enough to go down as close as you can to the drywall (which is covered with brown paper), but not so hard that you are tearing up the drywall paper. You will likely make a few nicks in the paper here and there, which you can fill in later with spackling.

4) Continue to scrape the whole section that you've sprayed with water until you can see most of the smooth drywall underneath. It's not going to look "pretty" yet, but the texture should be gone and the ceiling should be mostly smooth.

5) Move the ladder and work on another section. Refill the water bottle as needed. Whenever you need to move the plastic sheet, you may want to dump the wet drywall in a garbage bag. It gets very heavy!

6) Once you have scrape the entire room, the ceiling will look kind of patchy and have little nicks in the drywall paper. When the ceiling is dry (it doesn't take long), use the spackling to fill in the nicks. Put a very small amount of spackling over the nick, and then hold the spackling knife at almost a 90 degree angle to the ceiling to scrape it flat. The spackling will stay in the nick, but will be flush with the ceiling. This will save a LOT of sanding later.

7) You will likely be able to see the seams in the ceiling where the sheets of drywall are held together. We had to go over these with drywall compound to fill them in a bit and make them flush with the rest of the ceiling. It sounded intimidating, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. By the end, I felt like a pro! ;)

To smooth the drywall seams:

1) Follow instructions on the drywall compound container; but if you use the one that I recommended above, it's pretty simple. I added a generous amount to the mud pan and then added a little water to thin it out some. It shouldn't be super thick and hard to spread. I would say it was about the texture of brownie batter(?).

2) Starting at one end of the seam, apply a generous amount of drywall compound (this will be thinner than spackling). Using the 6-inch drywall knife, spread the compound from the edge of the wall toward the center of the room about 12 inches or so (it will look a little sloppy, because there will clearly be excess compound on it). Then, take the 8-inch knife, and go over the same spot. This will make the compound spread out a little farther in each direction. Then use the 10-12 inch knife to go over it one more time.

What you are doing is filling in the small indentation that the drywall seams create, and you are making that flush with the rest of the ceiling so that the ceiling is flat. When you hold the 10-12 inch knife perpendicular to the seam, you shouldn't be able to see any light passing between the ceiling and the knife.

3) Continue to do this every couple of feet until you reach the end of the seam. By this point, the whole seam should be covered with a very smooth layer of compound that is flush with the ceiling. You'll likely need to sand it, but the better job that you do with the compound layer, the less sanding you'll need to do.

4) Finish all of the seams on the ceiling. At this point, your ceiling will look patchy--the seams will look whitish-gray from the compound, while the rest of the ceiling will look white-ish from where you scraped off the popcorn ceiling. It will basically look striped.

5) Now comes the really, really messy part. You will need safety glasses and a dust mask or respirator to keep from inhaling the drywall dust when sanding. You can use an electric sander, but we found that to be inefficient and WAY too messy. The drywall compound is too thin in most areas to sand without much control. We used drywall sanding screens on blocks with handles. And a fuckload of elbow grease!

6) Again, working in sections, sand the ceiling smooth. There will be a TON of dust. It will get everywhere, no matter how good of a job you think you are doing with controlling it. You'll want to gently sand over the entire ceiling until it's smooth. Keep in mind that paint will NOT cover up your mistakes. You really do need to take your time to do the sanding.

7) Once the sanding is done, clean up all the dust. (HAHAHA! We are still cleaning dust that we find in the most random places). With a lightly damp cloth, go over the ceiling one more time to make sure that there is no dust on it and that there aren't any more nicks to patch or bumps to sand.

8) Finally, using the paint roller, apply a layer of the Kilz primer. You'll be able to use the long handle for most spots, but when you get close to the wall, you'll need to use a brush. You'll also need to use the ladder to reach some spots. Basically, just get the entire ceiling covered with primer. (And make sure to invest in the lambskin roller cover!)

9) Let it dry, and then give it another coat of primer.

10) Let it dry, and then go over the whole thing with the ceiling paint. Twice.

(You may be able to get away with 1 coat of primer and/or 1 coat of paint, but we wanted to be safe and we did both. Actually, we are waiting to do our final coat of the ceiling paint until we are done with a few other things.)

Once it's dry, admire just how different your ceiling looks! We were THRILLED at the results. We also had to remove crown molding from each room and then tape and mud the seams between the walls and the ceiling, which was a very tough job--I'll save that for another post. But the difference is amazing!

Things I wish we knew before we started:

It's going to be SO SO SO messy. No matter what precautions you take.

It will be tedious. But it will be WORTH IT.

There is a learning curve when applying drywall compound. But the more you practice, the better you'll get at it.

Sanding is tough work! My brother kept telling me to make sure that I took my time with the drywall compound so that I would have less to sand later. I didn't really heed his advice, and I regretted it when I started sanding.

Make sure that you scrape the popcorn ceiling down to the drywall. On our first pass, we didn't go down far enough (see video above), and we later noticed there was still a little texture in random places.

Using quality brushes and the lambskin roller cover made SUCH a huge difference! It was so much easier to apply and it covered much better than using any other rollers/brushes. I can't recommend them enough. I've linked to all of the products at the beginning of the post. (They are Amazon affiliate links, so it'd be awesome if you use them if you're planning to buy the stuff anyway... because I'll get a small commission for recommending them. Of course, I only recommend things I really honestly believe in!)

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