Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Year in Review

In early 2013, I created a list of projects that I would like to see us get done in 2013.  I am one of those crazy people who loves making lists and better yet, crossing things off lists.  I am happy to say that we mostly accomplished that list and I thought that I would recap what all we have done.  Note that some of these items were completed pre-blog.  In no particular order, here is the list:

Completed projects:

Build chicken coop
Have new carpet installed in the basement
New window well covers for basement
New oven and microwave
New fencing around the garden
Master bathroom remodel
Move laundry room to basement
New attic access
Sanding and re-staining the deck
Put new door on shed
Concrete a path to the shed
Add Board and Batten throughout house
New weatherstripping on front door
Paint front door
Have radon gas mitigation done and paint to match house
New storm door on front door
Fix ceiling in guest bathroom- decorative ceiling
Update household lighting

Projects that were not completed:
Build deck benches and railing
Build a pergola
Finish landscaping

The window wells and updates to household lighting has happened in the past couple of weeks and I still need to write posts about these.

Looking at that list though makes me think that we have had a very successful year!  This leads me into our 2014 plans.  I am happy to say that our 2014 list will likely not be quite as long.  We have one big project looming out there though...  The dreaded kitchen.  While we have been completing all of these somewhat smallish projects in 2013, we have been squirreling away money into our kitchen fund.  If all goes to plan, kitchen demo will start August 2014.

In addition, we plan to do some more traveling in 2014.  If 2013 was the year of projects, 2014 will be the year of travel and hopefully family expansion.  First up, we will be heading out to California for a friends wedding and Eric's first trip to DisneyLand.  Then in May, we will be going on an 11 day trip to Ireland (more details to follow).  So, the tone of the blog may change a bit as the projects slow down, but we will continue checking in.  We sure hope that you all continue to follow us in our journey!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Hello!  We are back from our Thanksgiving hiatus!  This year we drove 1350 miles round trip to spend the holidays with family in Iowa.  There is nothing like staying in a cabin without cell phone or Internet access to make you really stop and soak up some great family time.  Just look at that view- so relaxing.

We also got a lot of niece and nephew love in, which was just what the doctor ordered for Eric and I.  

After returning to Colorado, we immediately set out to get our Christmas decor up.  In one day, we got all inside decorations up, the lights on the outside of the house and our tree decorated.  Side note- we got this year's tree from Costco for $45.00.  It is gorgeous, smells amazing and is drinking water up like champ.  Can you say deal of the century?

Homemade stockings hung by the mantle, window with care.

And then last night, it started big time snowing. Thank goodness this wasn't going on last week or we wouldn't have made it to Iowa.

If you look close, you can make out our attempt to keep our chickens a bit warmer.  Under 10 degrees, we hang a heat lamp in the coop.  In negative temperatures, the chickens come indoors.

Which brings us to our next picture of the "janky coop".  With a forecasted low of -11 degrees tonight, we decided that the chickens need to come indoors.  So, on Monday Eric quickly threw together a coop we could put in the unfinished basement for "arctic emergencies".  He is going to kill me for putting this picture on the Internet.  He actually asked if we could tell people that I made it.  For throwing it together in a couple of hours, I think it looks fine and I do not think our toasty warm chickens will be complaining.  I would totally take credit for making it.

So, all in all, we have had a great last week- family, decorating for Christmas and snow.  Sounds like a trifecta to me!

Monday, November 25, 2013

We're Fancy

Before I get to our fancy, schmancy new bathroom ceiling, I wanted to thank you all for your support of our last post.  My phone started blowing up with calls and texts about ten minutes after hitting publish.  It was just what we needed.

Getting back to our bathroom though, I am happy to say that we are done!  If you are just catching up, here is a little recap of our steps:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

This past weekends final steps were simply finishing off edges with caulk and painting.  First things first, we used painters caulk to finish off the bottom of the quarter round.

Per usual, I taped off the bottom edge of the caulk so we had a nice perfect line.

With that done, it was time to start priming.  We did a single coat of Kilz premium primer so as to add an additional moisture barrier to the ceiling.  Note that every piece we used in this project was pre-primed, but we wanted some extra insurance.

I am happy to say that painting was surprisingly not that bad.  Each coat took us one hour to apply.  I am not so happy to say that I have tons of paint in my hair now though.  Painting inside a skylight when you have a bushy ponytail is rough...

On Sunday, we went back and applied a single coat of high gloss white paint (the same one that I use for all trim in our house) and just like that, the ceiling was done!

I am so thrilled with the results.  Talk about an upgrade!  So now we are once again done with our guest bathroom (until I think up another project...).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Big "I"

I wish that "the Big I" was a fun and exciting word, but in our world, the big I refers to INFERTILITY.  Ugh...

Everyone has big dreams for their life.  Some want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, others want fame, for me, my big dream has always been to be a Mom.  You see, I am the girl who lived for babysitting and literally fell in love with every child I watched.  I would also wish on a star every night as a little girl that someone would leave a baby in a basket on our front porch so that I could help take care of him/her.  It is funny that sometimes the things that you want the most in life are hardest to achieve.  

I have debated writing this post for months thinking "do I really want the world to know about this?", but then decided that putting my one wish out in the world and talking about it may be just what it needs to come true.  So, although it makes me incredibly nervous to put it out there, I feel I must.  I also noticed how little Infertility is discussed and realized that there are probably many woman out there going through just what I am, and that reading this may make them feel a little less alone.  Here it goes:

Eric and I got married in September 2012 and knowing that we both wanted children and that somewhere in the pit of my stomach I felt that achieving our goal of parenthood would be fight, we secretly started trying to get pregnant on our honeymoon.  After one year of temperature tracking and hundreds of dollars spent in ovulation tests and negative pregnancy tests, it was time to consult the doctor.  So, in September 2013, we had our first consultation with my primary care physician and started a battery of tests: sperm analysis, blood work at intervals throughout the month, ultrasounds and "surgical x-rays".  It was quite an interesting/stressful couple of months.  At our  Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) x-ray, Eric was able to go with me because for me, this was the most stressful of the tests.  First, I was told that it would hurt a bit (it wasn't too bad- don't worry) and second, it was an instantaneous way to tell if my fallopian tubes were blocked and if they were, it would mean that we would never get pregnant naturally.  That wasn't news that I was prepared to possibly receive by myself.  I never had to though, as after three tries at dye insertion and x-rays (the Radiologist went on to say that my procedure was the most difficult he had ever performed), we watched my uterus and fallopian tubes light up perfectly.  We actually all started cheering in the room because it was such a process, but looked wonderful when it worked.  With that procedure done, we were informed that "nothing was wrong with either one of us".  Our diagnosis- "unexplained infertility".  

You would think that "unexplained infertility" would be great news and don't get me wrong, ultimately it is.  However, in this situation, you kind of want to know that something wrong and start to work to fix it.  We were also told that many times HSG x-rays can be a treatment so maybe that next ovulation cycle would be the successful one.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  

At this point, Eric and I decided to sit down and discuss.  We had already taken measures to increase our fertility- limit alcohol consumption, attempt to limit our stress, no caffeine, no hot showers, etc, etc... Now, it was time to talk about how to move forward; what are we willing to do to get pregnant?  It is still an open item of discussion for us.  Basically, we have decided to step back for a bit while still trying naturally.  We did decide that my taking Clomid for three months wouldn't hurt, so we have already tried one month of that without luck, but here's hoping.  I just keep having to take deep calming breaths and remind myself that what is meant to be, will be.  We will just have to see what next year brings.  Basically, it is a time for faith.

So, there you have it.  Blogs can be so deceiving in that you only see what people are willing to share. Although we are some crazy DIY loving, chicken owning, green living, happy people, there is more to our story and we are dealing with things like everyone else is.  People always comment about how "together and organized" I am and trust me, that will not change.  I am not one to wallow in my misery or stop trying.   Just know that we are fighting a battle over here and in my mind, there is no better way to face a challenge than to be prepared, remain calm and surround yourself with support.  So, here I am asking the blog world for your support.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue our journey.  We will keep you posted on our progress.

If you are going through this yourself my heart aches for you, but know that you are not alone.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Our Marathon Weekend

Whew, another weekend down.  Boy was ours busy.  I feel like a ran a marathon, but the soreness is just from a weekend filled with really long walks, DIY work, raking leaves and cleaning.  Who needs a gym when you own a home?

Saturday morning started with a power walk with Chloe.  We have discovered a new walking route and got a bit carried away.  Chloe loved it though.

Then we got to work on finishing our bathroom ceiling trim and started to patch and fill.  The first order of business was knocking in our nail gun nails a bit.

As a safety measure, anytime we are using a hammer over nice tile floors, we tie the hammer on to ourselves.  Dorky yes, but it could seriously save the day.

After getting everything ready for filling, we noticed a bit of an issue with our skylight.  Basically, it was so wonky in its orientation (the angles were completely off) and by adding trim, we had drawn extra attention to that fact.  So, we stepped back for a bit and considered our options.  After about 15 minutes of weighing them, we decided that we had to rip out some beadboard and add some shims.

It only set us back about 30 minutes, but was completely worth it.  Had we left it as is, it would have driven us completely nuts. May as well do it right the first time, right?

So, we were back to filling and sanding, which is what we spent Saturday and a portion of Sunday doing.  Basically, we want the ceiling to look like one piece.  We also want to keep moisture from getting behind the wood.

For the most part, I used vinyl spackle to fill gaps and spaces, but I did use some painters caulk for the areas where the beadboard met the trim.

After a couple hours of work, we had created this mess and had dust all over the house.

But, with the filling done and sanded, we are now ready for paint!  Yeah, home stretch!

I still need to get the fan cover for up in the skylight.
 Next weekend, we will get to work painting.  We plan to do two coats- one of a moisture blocking primer and the final coat in a high gloss white that I use for all of our trim.

I already love how it looks!  We will be back early next week with the final photos.

Oh, and just to keep things equal around here, Lola needed a picture on the blog too.  We have to give equal love and attention to our fur-babies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas Bells are Ringing

REALLY early this year that is.  Have you all noticed that the Holiday Season is nearly upon us?  If not, take a look at your calendars and count your remaining weekends.  I did a couple weeks ago and immediately started to stress out.  We are traveling for Thanksgiving and are then returning to plans every weekend night after we return.  Yikes.  Hence the reason that I am hijacking this post to discuss holiday decor rather than showing bathroom progress as originally promised.

To combat my "omg-christmas-is-almost-here" stress (said in a blur), last week I took a vacation day from work and put on my elf hat.  Hours of wrapping and online ordering later, Christmas gifts are done.  I also pre-made some holiday goodies to freeze for our party as well as our pies for Thanksgiving (both pumpkin and pecan pies freeze well).

The best part about my early Christmas planning day though was putting up my Dicken's Village. Actually, it is my mom's Dicken's village, which she is allowing me to have until my sister is "settled" (no longer living with roommates) at which time, my sister will become the owner of the village.  Until that time though, here is is in all its glory:

Pretty magical, hugh?

I used salt and glitter to create all of the snow.

I cannot even tell you how happy it makes me just to stare at the village.  Eric loves it too.  So much so that we decided that we cannot live without a village so we have started our own side collection to replace my mom's when it goes to my sister.

Here is our start:
Department 56 Swifts Stringed Instruments

Department 56- The Church at Cornhill

There are not quite the quality of my Mom's village (my mom's houses are now retired and collectors items), but they will do just fine for us.
Bring on the holidays, this Baltz family is ready!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Project That Almost Got Away

Hello!  I hope that you all had a nice weekend.  We were able to do a nice mix of work and play this weekend and we definitely made bathroom progress.

When we left off, we had the frame portion of our decorative ceiling in place.

Getting the frame up was a bit rougher than expected, which is why I called this post the project that almost got away.  After this stage, I had actually said to Eric, "maybe something is trying to tell us that we should not be doing this".  This weekend was a different story though.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early, ready to start beadboard install.  After taking some crazy measurements, we cut each piece to size with a hand saw.

The ceiling itself was easy to install.  We squirted on some liquid nails (made for indoor or outdoor use so it is okay for moisture) and used the nail gun to secure the sheets in place.

The skylight complicated things a bit more.  Nothing about this skylight is square.  It was obviously a DIY job by our previous owners and while visually, it looks alright, it is kind of a mess.  So, to deal with this, we pulled out our handy Kreg angle finder.

The angle finder saved us on this project.  Also a savior was my husband who thinks that figuring out this kind of stuff is fun.  I do not have the patience for angles and crazy measurements, so I started work on filling seams and holes.  In no time, our skylight was covered and we popped a new ceiling fan in as well.

With all the beadboard installed, day one was complete.

Sunday is always a short work day for us due to going to church in the morning and making Lowe's runs, but we knew that we wanted to knock out a good portion of the trim work.

We started with what I referred to as tiny quarter round (purchased at Lowes- Home Depot didn't have it) to fill in from the beadboard to the frame.

We just glued this in place because it is so light, but also because we were concerned that shooting nails into it would split it.

The next step was large quarter round at the bottom of the frame.

For the large quarter round, we glued it, but we also put a couple of nails into it.  One item of note- when we put in our initial frame, we shot the nails in so that our quarter round would cover them and minimize our hole filling- life saver.

As far as filling goes, I used a vinyl spackle (it is white, not pink).  I have found that it cracks less and works better in places where moisture is present.  Because we had to seam together multiple pieces of bead board, I went through a lot of spackle.  To do the seams, I spread it on with my finger and then use a handy caulking tool to clean it out a bit and mimic a beadboard seam.

With this done, we still had the skylight left, but decided to call it a day.  I will be back later this week with some more bathroom progress.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Decorative Ceiling

Since the moment that we finished our master bathroom, I have been itching to start our next project. We are gluttons for DIY punishment.   Like most females, I am addicted to Pinterest and a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon this post from The House of Smiths:

Beadboard Ceiling-http://www.thehouseofsmiths.com/2010/05/ceiling-makeover.html

You see, we had this little issue going on in our guest bathroom... Basically, when we did this bathroom, we were pretty new to DIY.  It was actually our first drywall install job and we had no idea what we were doing.  Case in point:

Check out those tape lines and uneven texturing.  Yikes.

So, knowing what we do know now about drywall, this was driving us nuts.  Our options were to re-spackle, sand and texture or, we could doing something a bit outside the box- a decorative ceiling.

I automatically leaned toward the decorative ceiling in an effort not to cover our house once again in drywall dust (I am still cleaning up from our master bath).  Eric, being the sweet guy that he is was willing to go along with whatever I wanted.  He did warn me though, that our install wouldn't be quite as easy as The House of Smith's tutorial.

First, we were not dealing with a perfectly rectangular ceiling. Secondly, we have a large skylight.  Finally, our bathroom is a bit larger in that one piece of beadboard will not cover it and we will have to seam together two pieces.

In the excitement of getting started though, these issues did not seem like deterrents.  So, on Saturday morning we set to work cutting our frame pieces for the ceiling- easy peasy.  However, when we went to glue and install the frame pieces, we noticed a bit of an issue.  Basically, our bathroom runs opposite our joists and we didn't have any studs to nail into.  Knowing that we were not comfortable just glueing up the pieces of wood, we ended day one of install by tearing down all of our work.  Ugh...

Day two was another day.  Our plan was this- go up into the attic and install 2x4's between our joists.  I should mention that Eric's least favorite place in the world is in our attic.  It is "cramped, itchy and hot".

But, he took one for the team and started installing while I cut him pieces of 2x4's to order and ran them up the ladder to him.  After about an hour, we were ready to head back into the bathroom and install our frame yet again.

To install the frame, we used liquid nails and shot in 2.5" nails with our nail gun.

It took a couple of hours of work and some additional propping up with boards (until the glue dries), but by Sunday evening, we had our frame in place.

Here's hoping that this was the most difficult part of the project and we have smooth sailing from here on out.

I will be back next week to report how the beadboard install goes.  Cross your fingers for us!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stitch Fix #3

Last week I received my third "fix" and in my usual fashion, I was ecstatic to rip open the package. For this fix, I requested tops that were work appropriate and a little less casual than the previous months package.

 1.  Just Black- Adora Skinny Jean- $68.00
2.  Angie- Vivienne Printed Tie-Neck Tunic- $58.00
3.  B_envied- Wynn Ikat Print Front Pocket Blouse- $48.00
4.  Daniel Rainn- Tyson Abstract Print Stud Button Blouse- $68.00
5.  Mood Collection- Beau Windowpane Swing Skirt- $68.00

And here are some try on shots:

This was the Vivienne Printed Tie- Neck Tunic and I hated it.  It was WAY too big everywhere and I felt like my grandmother in it.  I get that tie-necks are in now, but this is not a trend that I love.

This top, the Tyson Abstract Print Stud Button Blouse fit cute, but I was not a fan of the buttons.  I rarely wear gold and the buttons looked really cheap.  I felt like the gold coloring would chip off in the wash and for $68.00, I wasn't going to chance it.  This shirt reminded me of something that you could find at Target for $25 (in which case, I would have happily purchased the shirt).

The final shirt was the Wynn Ikat Print Front Pocket Blouse.  This top could have been cute, but in my typical tall girl fashion, I had fit issues.  Check out the side cut.  If I would not have been wearing a tank, you would be seeing a lot of side skin (which no one want to see).

My final two items were bottoms and I was really loving the red skinny jeans out of the box.  However, when I tried them on, I found that they were more like jeggins than jeans.  Very tight and very stretchy. I quickly decided that no one over a size zero would be comfortable strutting around in jeans like that and sent them back. 
The skirt, well, lets just say that was the worst item in the box.  It fit terribly and hit me at mid-shin length.  Not flattering at all.

So, all in all, Stitch Fix #3 was a bust.  Bummer, right?  After three months of trying out the service, my biggest gripe is that your personal stylist changes from month to month.  I feel like if you were assigned to a specific stylist for the duration of your usage, then they could really peg down your style.  This doesn't mean that I am stopping my monthly Stitch Fix, but here's hoping things turn around next month.