Category Archives: Before and After

House Progress

It’s been forever since I posted a house update. Actually, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged at all. It turns out, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to. (Actually there probably are; I just choose to devote too many of them to watching shows about serial killers on Netflix.) Anyway, since I have today off work, I decided to create a little house progress report. Dave and I agreed when we moved in that we should tackle the inside before attending to the outside. So far we’ve replaced all the flooring (and portions of the subflooring/drywall in the kitchen where the dishwasher had leaked), painted the walls, fixed several plumbing issues, and built a little indoor bar area. It looks a bit different in here these days: Before and After

Dining Area

Our last major project inside is the kitchen – we bought a really pretty glass mosaic tile backsplash to install, and we will also paint the cabinets white and replace the counters with something dark.


This tile is so pretty I just want to stand around taking derpface selfies with it all day long.

We originally planned to do the kitchen last fall, but then I got a new job and a new car and the holidays happened, so it got put on the back burner. But now the kitchen is officially back on the front burner, and we are also ready to begin adding some curb appeal. We hope that one day we can stop avoiding eye contact with our neighbors, who all seem to have meticulously-kept lawns. If you’ll recall, the front yard when we moved in was less than ideal:

1 Exterior

Worst yard on the block? Very yes. Worst yard in the world? Possibly.

That was in August of 2013. Here’s what it looks like now. It’s not spectacular, but I think we can agree that things are moving in a better, greener direction:

Spring 2015

If you drink two beers and squint, it almost looks great.

Our original plan was to lay sod in the front yard, but thanks to the drought California is experiencing and the subsequent water rationing imposed by our city, we are only allowed to water the lawn three days a week. Sod is clearly not going to happen, since you have to water it twice a day for the first few weeks after you put it in. Instead, we’ve just been sprinkling grass seed and hoping for the best. It may not be lush, but it’s better than the scorched, brown “before” shot.

You may have also noticed that we removed the dead rhododendrons along the front of the house. It only took a year and a half of walking by them every single day for us to take on that task. At this rate we’ll finish our landscaping in about 2060, so we’re trying to pick up the pace. Other curb appeal projects on the horizon include:

– Adding flower boxes under the front windows
– Edging the lawn with river rock
– Planting flowers along the front of the house
– Begging Dave’s grandpa to help us construct a front porch in that area to the left of the sidewalk leading up to the front door
– Applying stone veneer to the exposed foundation (like this)
– Getting a screen door that doesn’t look like it was ripped off a life-size gingerbread house

Eventually I’d love to paint the exterior a different color, but unless I receive a mysterious inheritance, that will be put off for a few years. We’ve also got some plans to make the backyard more barbecue-friendly for the summer, but that project deserves its own post. Hopefully it won’t take until my next work holiday to write it!

Living Room Progress

We’ve been wanting to hang floating shelves in the master bathroom for a while now, and a few weeks ago I finally ordered two Lack shelves from Ikea. Like a true lazy asshole, I didn’t measure the space along the wall we had planned to put them, telling myself that I could totally just eyeball it. Turns out, my eyeballing skillz suck – the shelves were almost a foot and a half too big for the space.

As usual, Dave saved the day — he had the great idea to hang them in the living room instead. I really love how they turned out, and now that the room is looking somewhat finished I thought it might be fun to do a little then-and-now action:

Living Room

Is there a Throw Pillow Anonymous group? I may need to join.

Shelves 2

Here’s what excites me most about these shelves: They like, doubled the surface area in the living room on which I can drape pine boughs and twinkle lights during the holidays.

And now Dave is kicking himself for coming up with this plan.

Anyway, the one thing I really, really want to finish off the living room is an Ashley Woodson Bailey print.

Unfortunately, most of my “fun” budget for the next two months is going toward kitchen updates, but I WILL own one of them soon.

So that’s the story of how my supreme laziness turned into something great. If you take anything away from this post, let it be that laziness always pays off.


Jillian in January Challenge Week 2, Plus Bonus Weight-Related Meltdown

It’s the second week of the Jillian in January Challenge, so I figured I’d do a quick check-in on my progress so far. I’ve done both the 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30 series before, and I decided to mix it up for this challenge by going back and forth between the two DVDs. I also tend to get bored doing the same type of activity day after day, so I figured I’d do a couple Jillian workouts and a couple runs each week and call it good.

Last week I did three Jillian workouts, a run, and a long walk, so I was off to a decent start. But then I decided to take my measurements on Saturday and it totally unleashed a fury of inner crazy. I’ve been measured before by tailors, but I’ve never bothered to look up my measurements against U.S. size charts. I was curious, so I did some Googling and had to fight the urge to do some serious ugly crying.


Just realized his hips are a size “large” according to U.S. size charts.

Some background: Since losing weight a few years ago, I’ve definitely struggled with seeing myself at my new size. When I look in the mirror, or even at certain photos, I still see my old, heavier self. Which is maybe why taking my measurements freaked me out — I have spent years trying to convince my brain YOU ARE A SIZE 6 NOW, and it turns out that according to the standard size charts I looked at, my upper half is indeed a size 6, but my hips are a 12 and my thighs are size 8. And newly armed with that information, my brain was all SEE I TOLD YOU YOU’RE BIGGER THAN YOU SAY YOU ARE.

(Here are a few before/after photos for comparison:)

Weight Loss before and after

Left: 2006, ~165 lbs., Right: 2010, ~145 lbs.

Left: 2008 Right: 2013

Left: 2008, ~170 lbs., Right: 2013, ~138 (Whiskers, who really wanted to be in that photo on the right, weighed 16 lbs at last count. HE is the one who should be doing this damn challenge.)

So long story short, I acted like a total douche for a few hours before realizing that the rational part of my brain felt fine about my size before knowing my measurements, so I should chill the hell out and also eat that Milky Way Midnight I found in the pantry before Dave got to it. Also, those size charts must be full of shit on account of if I really do span three whole sizes from my waist to my knees, HOW WOULD CLOTHES EVEN FIT ME?

I was going to write some more but that Buster gif is mesmerizing me so I’m going to watch some Arrested Development instead. If you’re doing the Jillian in January Challenge, leave me a link in the comments so I can check out your blog!

DIY Painted Thrift Store Mirror

Real talk: I was pretty unproductive this weekend. Like, I didn’t even get out of my pajamas on Sunday. I did, however, manage to paint and hang a thrift store mirror in my living room. It’s been two months since we moved in, and we now have TWO things hanging on our walls. At this rate, the house might be fully furnished by the time we have to move into a nursing home.

I’ve been looking for a large mirror to hang above the couch in the living room for a while, so when I saw one in good shape for cheap at a local thrift store on Friday, I picked it up. Here’s what it looked like when I brought it home:

Thrift Store Mirror

And here’s what it looks like now:

Mirror After

I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, especially since I decided not to sand or prime it before painting.  I just dragged it out to the garage, where Dave had the excellent idea to prop it up on a couple of paint cans so I could easily paint under the edges:

10.28.13 Mirror on Cans

Next, I taped off the edges. I am the world’s worst paint taper, and of course there were a few spots where the paint leaked through.  Luckily, I was able to easily scrape it off with my fingernail once it dried.

10.28.13 Mirror Taped

Then I got started painting. I used two coats of Clark + Kensington Paint + Primer in a flat black shade that we had leftover from a previous project.


And here is the final product, which cost a grand total of $25:

Mirror 1

Attaching the wreath was super easy – I just looped a length of gold ribbon around it, and then duct taped the ends to the back of the mirror. Classy, I know.


Whiskers approves.

We Have Curtains!

I’m excited to say that, over a month after closing on our home, we are now the proud owners of living room curtains. I’m not so proud of the fact that it took me six weeks to decide on a pair of plain white panels, but you guys there are SO MANY options out there. Grommet top or back tab? Semi-sheer or blackout? Two panels or four? And what color curtain rod?


I finally decided on Ikea Merete curtains in “Bleached,” and I was pleasantly surprised by their quality for the price (they were only $27.99 for two panels). They let some light through, but are not semi-sheer like so many of the white panels we found during our search. Which was important to us, since we don’t want the neighbors to know how often we watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in our underwear.

I was also surprised at how much of a difference they made in the overall look of the living room. Here’s the living room before:

Before Curtains

And after:



And back when we first bought the house:

9 Living Room

I decided to go with neutral curtains for now since I’m still not really sure what colors I’m going to bring into the room. It was REALLY hard not to buy something in a fun color or pattern, since there are a ton of really great options out there. Here are a few I considered during my search:

Curtain Roundup

One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six

Even though I finally settled on white, I love that the Ikea curtains were so affordable that it’s totally not a big deal if I want to replace them with panels in a bright color or pattern once the room starts coming together more.

And though some of these seem like no-brainers, here are a few tips to keep in mind when hanging curtains:

– Wash your curtains before deciding where to place the rod and/or hemming them – ours were several inches shorter after washing/drying.

– Hang curtains high and wide to make the window appear bigger (click here for more about that). We couldn’t go very wide since the hearth butts into the left side of the sliding doors, but you can see that we hung the rod quite a bit higher than the top of the doors.

– I know it sucks, but iron your curtains before hanging them. I skipped this step initially and spent several hours on Sunday trying to convince myself that they looked fine, you know, if you kinda squint and all the lights are off. (I’ll be ironing them tonight.)

– When in doubt, order a longer length than you think you’ll need. If you don’t know how to sew, iron-on hemming tape is really cheap and is apparently foolproof since we managed to use it successfully.

Do you prefer neutral curtains, or do you tend to go for bright colors and fun patterns?

We Have Internet!

The day after I wrote a post bashing At&T for their terrible customer service, we suddenly had our Internet activated five days ahead of schedule. Maybe it’s a coincidence. And maybe tomorrow I will write a post about how it’s unfair that I never win the lottery.

Anyway, I’m finally able to upload photos of my living room so without further ado, here is the before picture for the thousandth time:

9 Living Room

And here is what it looks like right now:

Livinr Room 1

A good blogger would have thought to move the Hefty bag full of empty beer bottles off the deck before taking this.

Obviously it is a long way from being done, but at least it doesn’t look like a construction zone anymore. That shit was stressing me out.


All that space above the couch is making me anxious.

I get really overwhelmed when I start to think about everything that still needs to be done, so I’m just taking the house one room at a time for now. The living room is first on the list, then the kitchen/dining area. We plan to have a housewarming party in a few weeks and at the very least we want the common areas to look somewhat presentable.

I think with just a few additions, the living room will start to feel a lot more home-y. I love the idea of hanging a big mirror above the couch, even though Dave rolls his eyes every time I mention it (as if somebody who owns game chairs can have an opinion about what constitutes good taste). I’ve found a few options here, here, and here that I’m thinking about, although I’ll probably troll Target, Ross, and maybe even a few local thrift stores before buying anything online. Along with that, purchases for this room will include wall art, pillows for the couch, a couple of lamps, curtain panels for the sliding doors, and an area rug. I’ll probably do a little styled tray on the coffee table as well, since Pinterest told me to.

Speaking of Pinterest, here are a few pretty living rooms I’ve pinned recently that are making me hopeful that my living room will look pretty and styled someday. None of them were linked to the source, so if you know where any of these are from, leave me a comment and I’ll link it!
Gray Walls Big Mirror

Gray Walls Green Accents

Gray Living Room

You can view my Pinterest “Home” board here.

And for fun, here’s the view we enjoyed from the deck while eating dinner last night:

Back Yard

Mt Shasta

I hope you have a relaxing long weekend! I’ll be celebrating Labor Day by mainlining bad reality TV on Netflix in my unstyled living room.

Before and After: New Floors

Remember our old, dirty floors?

Yeah, those are gone.

In case you have more important things going on in your life than committing photos of my gross floors to memory, here’s what they looked like two weeks ago when we bought the place:

9 Living Room

Alcove Before

While the pictures showcase the big brown stains covering the carpet, I have no way of allowing you to experience the smell it contained. I’m not even sure I could accurately describe it. Maybe like a wet dog wrapped in old bologna that had been marinated in sour milk?

I don’t know … it was bad. Real bad. The end.

Thankfully that smell is now festering out at the county dump, and our house is filled with the aroma of new paint. You know how people say dogs can smell fear? If you breathe deeply enough, you might also be able to smell the death of my spirit that occurred during our new floor installation. But at least they are beautiful:

Living Room before and after

Alcove Before and After

Hallway Before and After

First of all yes, I am aware that my new floors are dusty . I was going to Swiffer them, but after a hectic day at work followed by packing a bunch of boxes and a trip to Walmart, I was not in the mood. The dark color definitely shows more dirt than lighter shades, but I don’t care because PRETTY.

My dad and brother worked on installing the floors Saturday, and then Dave’s dad and brother-in-law took over on Sunday. I am pretty sure there is not one good knee between them at this point.

The floors are Allen + Roth from Lowe’s, and the color is Burnished Cafe Maple (would have linked ya, but it looks like the color is not available online). We’re really happy not only with the color, but with the look and feel – even though all laminate is fairly inexpensive, some looks much cheaper than others. This looks a lot more like real hardwood than we expected. Plus, the underlayment was attached to each board, cutting quite a bit of time out of the installment process and saving us some money as well. Win-win.

We considered continuing the laminate into the bedrooms, but it gets so cold here in the winter that we wanted something a little more cozy under our feet in these rooms. I’m only showing you Dave’s “game room” since the other two rooms have boxes in them (the closets in the other rooms are white inside):

Game Room Before and After

It almost looks like the same carpet, except you aren’t bowled over by the smell of dog when you walk in the room. We thought about trying to install the carpets ourselves, but after reading about all the special equipment we would need (knee kicker! power stretcher!) we decided to bring in a professional. After watching him work, we knew we made the right decision.

Last night we moved the first boxes over. We’ll make our second trip tonight, and we hope to spend our first night there Thursday, barring any more surprises.