Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zealous

We've reached the end of our A to Z Blogging Challenge. I made it! It sure got tedious reliving my renovation experience. I'm glad it's over! For more information on the challenge and its creator, and to read other bloggers please visit:

My Z is for zealous. I remember how zealous my contractor was when he began our construction, and how that enthusiasm tapered off after the first week or two. That describes me too when I start a new writing project. I jump in with energy and excitement, but then I reach a tough spot and put off dealing with it. Procrastination sets in. Often I never pick up that project again. I start a new one.... only to do the same thing.

Sometimes you hear writers compare writing a novel to building a house. I see the similarity. When it comes to finishing my projects, I'm as bad as Mr. Contractor. In our case, we had to let our contractor go--he couldn't be trusted to do the job right. We hired others to finish the project.

I'm wondering--should I turn my many unfinished projects over to another writer...? Mmmm.

I've enjoyed the 2015 A to Z Challenge. I hope you have. See you next year?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Y is for YouTube

We're closing in on the end of our A to Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

Today I'm honoring YouTube because that's the one place you can find the answers to anything and everything. Seriously, if you want to know how to lay flooring, pull up flooring, build shelves in your garage or kitchen, connect your toilet, you can find instruction on YouTube. You can even post instruction on YouTube if you want to share your expertise with others. 

Let's take it a step further: Even if you aren't planning to do these renovation jobs yourself, watching and listening to the YouTube presentations will give you knowledge about how the job should be done and the right questions to ask a contractor or handyman.

Want to make a pretty scarf: try YouTube.
Interested in making jewelry: it's on YouTube.
Want to plot a book: yep, go to YouTube
Want to learn how to fold fitted sheets: it's on YouTube
How about demolishing a house? Need I say more? It's on YouTube

Monday, April 27, 2015

X is for Xenophobia, I think

We're closing in on the end of our A to Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

For X I've chosen the word xenophobia. That means an unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of strangers, foreigners, or anything perceived as foreign or different. Someone who is xenophobic might distrust a neighbor he's never met, or someone who lives halfway around the world. He might distrust people because they seem — foreign.

Okay, I realize this is a real stretch, but renovation was pretty foreign to me, and because I've been through a traumatic experience with our renovation, I now have a fear and distrust of contractors, builders, handyman types and anyone who comes to perform a service for us. Unreasonable? I don't think so, but whatda I know?

We're almost finished with A to Z! Aren't you glad you don't have to read but two more posts about my renovation? I am!

W is for Wood (or not)

We're closing in on the end of our A to Z Blogging Challenge. Boy, April has gone by fast! For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

If you've kept up with my postings, you know that we just completed a home renovation. Supposedly, our job would last four to six weeks. Yeah, right! It lasted a year. Mr. Contractor didn't show up for work half the time, he postponed things and lost cabinet doors, lost his truck keys and a number of other things. Unfortunately, he didn't lay our wood laminate floors right. There's a procedure--and he didn't know it.

In all fairness to Mr. Contractor, not EVERYTHING that happened to our wood floors was his fault ... but almost. For sure our concrete wasn't treated or prepared correctly. Because of problems that would take too much space to explain, we had the moisture level in our concrete tested (especially when it started growing fuzz) and this was AFTER we had to take up our beautiful wood laminate! The risk was too great to put down wood laminate again. Such a long, horrible sad story, I won't bore you with it.

We investigated ceramic tile and even concrete floors, but because we're getting older, we didn't want to risk falling on a concrete floor. I think concrete floors can be beautiful, but I'm not sure they would be comfy if I stood at the kitchen sink for two or three hours.

There are so many things to consider when renovating a house! Or maybe we just drive ourselves nuts trying to consider too many things.

At any rate, we ended up going with the wood plank vinyl flooring. It's very similar to the wood laminate, it comes as planks that are joined together with a tongue and groove cut. You just click them in place. The good thing about them is they're easy to install, very durable and water resistant. It won't chip or warp and it's easy to remove. It's considerably cheaper than wood laminate too. Still, I prefer wood laminate.

If you're thinking about new floors, consider all your options. And if you're like me, you'll also consider your age, the age of your home, resale value, potential falls, spills, and ... well, my list goes on and on... Don't be like me! Get what you want, enjoy your choices and live with the consequences.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 24, 2015

V is for Voices (and other things)

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

Can I just tell you that a whisper sounds incredibly loud in a house with no carpet? Voices... I'm always hearing voices... among other things. We had carpet everywhere, even our bathrooms were partially carpeted. Believe it or not, our baseboards in our sunken den were carpeted too.  (I love my new baseboards!) I suppose wallpaper in the kitchen and halls buffered sounds too.

What's weird is that it's not only inside sounds that echo and seem louder, its outside sounds too. Neighbor's music and voices, birds tweeting and cooing, and the ice cream truck sounds like it's in our driveway waiting for us to run out and choose a flavor.

Maybe things will change once we finish the furnishings--chairs, curtains, paintings on the walls. I hope so.

If you plan on getting wood floors throughout your house, you should know there's going to be some echoing. And certainly more dust. Sweeping is a daily thing these days so you might do like we did--invest in a dust buster to chase those dust bunnies.

Any tips on how to buffer the sounds in our house? Have I overlooked anything?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

U is for Undo

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

If you're just tuning in to my A to Z postings, my theme is home renovation. We just renovated our house--a job that was supposed to last from four to six weeks.

We've spent a lot of money on our renovation. Unfortunately, we have less storage space (and more boo-boos) now than we did before Mr. Contractor got started. So, that being said, I have to admit that I'm not at a place--mentally/emotionally--where I really love what's been done. With the exception of the bookcases and my dining room, I'd UNDO much of what was done. I'm trying to be appreciative and thankful. Maybe later--once I've licked my wounds and forgotten the name of the contractor.

Is there anything you'd UNDO--that really can't be undone? How'd you deal with it? Share with me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

T is for Terra Cotta

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

I love terra-cotta...terra-cotta everything: the color, the flower pots, and anything else terra-cotta might describe. So it wasn't too odd that I'd want a terra-cotta room. I just didn't know what shade of terra-cotta. I kept going back to the cover of this magazine but wondered if it would be too much.

If there's one thing Mr. Contractor did right it was to show me a room that had been painted terra-cotta, and I loved it. So here's my dining room.

When we started our renovation, we got rid of a lot of furniture. We had planned to buy a new dining room table, but after looking and pricing, I couldn't find anything I like. Thankfully, I still have my dining room table and plan to chalk paint it. Any suggestions on color? Below you'll see a picture of the rug I purchased so please visualize a color that will be neutral enough for the rug and the walls ... but still pop.

And then Mr. Contractor told me that I need to have at least one thing in the living room that was terra-cotta, just to sort of carry over and tie the rooms together. Right or wrong, I walked into Home Furniture and fell in love. Believe me when I say, it called my name. Doesn't it look beautiful just sitting there in the middle of all those drab colors? What'cha think?

We're still buying furniture. I need a couple of chairs for the living area, dining room chairs for the table I plan to paint and I'm going to paint a huge coffee table too. Wish me luck!

S is for Shower

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

Today is S day and S is for shower.

Mr. Contractor was a force to be reckoned with in our bathrooms. To recap: He busted the toilet and used gorilla glue to repair. He tightened the faucets so tight that he stripped them and they leaked. And ... and... he took it upon himself to raise my shower head about a foot. What possessed him?

I didn't call his hand on it until he started work on the second bathroom. Remember, I'm not a confrontational person so all I said was, "Don't raise the shower head. I like it where it is." He proudly stated--yes, proudly: "I raised the one in the master."

I said: "I know, and really, I don't like washing my hair every time I take a shower."

Mr. Contractor, laughing. "You're just like my wife."

What did that mean?

If you're getting your shower retiled or updated, and you don't want the shower head raised, you'd better be smart and say so.

Monday, April 20, 2015

R is for Roughing it and Roughing it in!

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

Mr. Contractor made renovation sound so incredibly easy. Oh, yeah, easy for him. He could go home to a clean, organized house, while hubby and I holed up in the back bedroom, trapped like rats.
For months, we ate every meal out. It sounds like a woman’s dream to not cook but it gets old. Eating out is more fun when it's my choice—not mandatory.
As for clothes ... we couldn’t find a thing. Everything we owned was in boxes, piled in a stack on a bed, or in the middle of a floor. When Mr. Contractor was ready to demolish a particular room, we had to move all our piled up clothes to another room, one he’d finished. To date, I haven’t even found all my clothes because we still haven't unpacked boxes or organized our closets. Maybe my missing items ran off with my washroom doors!
While we were roughing it, Mr. Contractor was roughing it in. He built walls and tore some out. He had a good laugh about how my dining room had a weird opening that led into our den, and talked me into letting him enclose it. Do you think a contractor should make fun of his client's home?
I guess his enclosure actually made the den and the dining area seem larger--though it wasn't on my list of things to do. But neither were a few other things. Our little contractor took some liberties, and I'll tell you about one of them on S day.  See you then!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Q is for Questions

I can't believe we're on Q already. As you can see, I'm hanging in there with this annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. And believe me, it hasn't been easy! For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

I've covered this in all my posts I think, but Q can be for nothing other than Questions. No matter whether you're renovating a house, interviewing for a job or determining where you're going on vacation, it's imperative that we ask the right questions. I believe communication has diminished considerably. Why are people so lackadaisical about asking questions these days? Do they feel they're prying? Maybe they feel all the right answers will be forthcoming. Not so. If you don't ask ALL the right questions, you will not get all the right answers. What do I mean by right answers? The answers that matter to you--those that directly affect you.

Example: I know a lady who's dad was in the hospital. She noticed he didn't get a particular medication that he'd been getting days before. If she had assumed the doctors had changed his meds, hadn't bothered to ask WHY, then she wouldn't have learned that it was an oversight on the part of the staff.

Another example might be: you're signing with an agent. You're thrilled that one is taking you on but you haven't asked many questions. If you don't ask if there are hidden fees, charges or up-front costs, then you'll probably be surprised a little later down the line. 

When it comes to asking questions, don't worry about stepping on toes or sounding like you're hard to get along with. We can't expect our doctors, lawyers, contractors, dentists, agents, publishers, editors, nursing home staff, wedding photographers, caterers (and the list goes on and on) to actually remember to tell us all we need to know. ASK QUESTIONS! If you don't know what to ask, get some advice from Facebook friends or Google "What to ask a contractor?" Knowledge is power. Don't be caught off guard.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

P is for Paint

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

If you're just tuning in to my A to Z posts, I'm blogging about my home renovation. It wasn't easy.

I'm a pretty lousy decision maker. One of the most difficult things for me was choosing paint colors. I knew what I liked, but I sure didn't know how to pull it all together.

I go from one extreme to the other. I either like extremely neutral colors, or outrageously bold. 

You probably know that paint doesn't look the same on the wall as it does on that little square of paper. Visualizing how a room will look with green walls ... or blue ... or yellow is beyond my capabilities. I wanted to say, "Paint the walls, then I'll tell you if I like it!"

Painting a wall is a lot like cutting hair. Hair grows back and you can paint over the wall. With paint, there's always a do over!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

O is for Oven

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

I got a new dishwasher, new stove top and a new oven. The oven is the problem. It's incredibly LOUD! It blows air...though I'm not sure why. Something about a cooling fan inside. I didn't choose the oven, Mr. Contractor did. Because he could get it at a great price and we were trying to cut expenses, we bought into this so-called dream oven, as he described it. Sadly, our oven came with no how-to book. There's no doubt it was brand new. Here's the tale we got about the missing booklet: Mr. Contractor had truck trouble. Because his truck was his office, he had the booklet to my oven there and somewhere between his son's house, the towing company and the auto mechanic, my oven booklet disappeared.

Oh well...

The point is, there are buttons on my oven I don't know how to use. Of course, I'm not a fancy cook so it does what I want it to do. I just wish it was a little quieter.

Anyone have an oven that sounds like an idling 18-wheeler?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

N is for Newlyweds

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

I'm so tired of talking about our renovation that I thought I'd use N for Newlyweds. After all, while the renovation was going on we were planning a wedding. Talk about stress. Here are some pics of the newlyweds--a cheery break from renovation!

Don't even think about planning a wedding and renovating a house!


Happily Ever After!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

M is for Monkey

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

When I made my notes for what I would write about during this A to Z Challenge, I wrote M is for Monkey Glue. Well... not far wrong. M is for gorilla glue but it sure made a monkey out of us.

Before we started our renovation, we purchased two new toilets and had them connected by a licensed plumber. During the renovation, Mr. Contractor disassembled them several times. In fact, he disconnected our guest bathroom way sooner than he should have. I mean living with one bathroom is definitely an inconvenience! I know, we're spoiled, but I put toilets right up there with cell phones--a necessity!

During one of Mr. Contractor's disappearing acts, our guest toilet started leaking. We tracked down Mr. Contractor and asked him to come fix it.  He did. This happened two different times. The third time it leaked was right before our bedroom flooded so when we had the real plumber in the house, we asked him to take a look. Guess what he found--our brand new toilet had been cracked and glued back together. Oh yes, Mr. Contractor had broken it and tried to hide it. That's when we made the final decision to let Mr. Contractor go. He did not finish the job. He put us through a lot, but this was the last straw.

This contractor would NOT make a monkey out of us ever again.

When you renovate, you need a plumber for the plumbing. An electrician for the electrical work. Painters for painting. Expert floor people for putting down the floor.  When we hired Mr. Contractor, he told us he had an excellent crew. We didn't know that crew was  him and his son. Of course he had to hire out the cabinets and stuff, but I'm sure he purchased the cheapest of labor.  Do your homework and know who will be working in your house ... and their qualifications.

All day I've been singing:
"Hey, hey, we're the Monkees and people say we monkey around
But we're too busy singing to put anybody down
We're just tryin' to be friendly, come and watch us sing and play"
Don't monkey around when it comes to plumbing!


Monday, April 13, 2015

L is for Living Room

I'm hanging in there with the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

I'd like to tell you about my living room. It's a sunken living room and that in itself is a whole new set of problems. Contractors seem to get pretty confused on what to do with a sunken living room. Don't ask me why. It's like any other room, except it a step down. Right?

Problems were pretty evident with our living room floor long before the actual flooding. The wood laminate buckled. We learned after the fact, that there were some obvious reasons why. Our contractor had stored our wood laminate in the garage. When he brought it inside, he didn't let it acclimate to the house temperature. Did you know that was necessary? We didn't either. But any contractor worth his reputation knows or should know that flooring has to acclimate, so make certain your contractor (or your husband) doesn't bring it from outside and start putting it down immediately. This is a crucial step. Some manufacturers suggest 24 hours while others suggest a couple days longer.

You should also test to see how much moisture is in your concrete. Wood laminate
can not get wet--on top or beneath. Believe me, we know from experience.

Also, make certain your concrete is relatively smooth, doesn't have gouges and chips. Those holes and low places need to be filled in. Here's a good website that will give you information on laying wood laminate. I wish I'd read it before Mr. Contractor entered my life. Read it. Even if you don't do the work yourself, you should research and read about the procedure so you'll know if your contractor is doing it right or wrong. Don't hesitate to call his hand on things.

The pictures here are before the floor buckled and had to be removed, and hubby stacking the floor we removed, trying to salvage it for daughter and her husband.

I know I'm painting a real horror story about my renovation experience, but only because YOUR experience doesn't have to be.

K is for Kitchen

This post is part of the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge, and whoopee, we're on our eleventh day! It's K-day. Do me a favor, please. If you haven't checked out the A to Z Challenge website, and the other participants, go to You'll learn more about the challenge and its founder.

Now, to continue with my posts on home renovation: I didn't want
new kitchen cabinets. I just wanted mine painted. I had huge drawers that I could cram a lot of things inside; they were very convenient. Didn't take them long to demolish my kitchen! Here you see the beginning, the middle and the end, just like in a (horror) novel.

Yes, Mr. Contractor shamed us. "It will be terrible to do all this updating and keep your old kitchen cabinets." He had a point so we agreed, but for some reason I thought my new cabinets would look exactly like my old cabinets--only better. After all, he didn't ask my opinion or inquire about my needs. There again, my naivete. I should have TOLD him exactly what I wanted.

What you don't see is my wonderful kitchen drawers. See inside the cabinet? Not even a shelf to place my pots and pans on.  I just toss them inside and stand on my head to dig them out.

Also, look at the handles on my cabinet drawers. See two missing? I tried to make them uniform because that corner drawer can't open because of the handle on the opposite drawer. Ridiculous, right? You'd think contractors, cabinet builders would know "their numbers" and how to measure. Believe me, they don't! 

See how pretty my lights look beneath my cabinets. Of course, I asked my little contractor how I "change the bulbs" when they burn out. Know what he said? "Uhhhh, you can't change the bulbs... in fact, you shouldn't use them that much, just when you have company."  Here's what those lights really look like ... they're pretend!

Life has been interesting during this renovation. I don't advise anyone to go through it, but if you do, at least be prepared. Walk through each room and know EXACTLY what you want. Don't assume you're going to get it just because you say you want it, and don't assume your contractor knows basic arithmetic.  Be smart--take nothing for granted.

See you tomorrow?