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Financial year in review

Last night, we had our church business meeting. Nothing more exciting to do on a Sunday night than go over finances! Ha. It was good though because it’s a bonding experience with the other committed members–about 1/4 the regular attendees on a weekend. There was something comforting about whittling down a big church to the core, getting to know those you are familiar with better. And it’s exciting to be involved, even if rather innocuously, to the details of our church.

Anyway, just last week we did something similar at our house. We didn’t crunch too many numbers but we had a good discussion about the previous year. As I’ve mentioned before, 2009 was not our favorite year. And financially it was hard. We did get to finish redoing the kitchen, which was the major reason we didn’t have money for pretty much anything else. It’s also the reason we haven’t been able to do a lot of things since we moved into the house. We’ve been holding on tight so that we could afford to do it … some day. Thankfully, that day finally came! I think I felt that now we would be free from this burden. Quite the opposite! Now, we actually spent the money and have some debt to pay off as well. Needless to say, as many can understand, it’s frustrating to have your hands tied. Especially when we want to do “good” things with our money, above and beyond tithing to our church. We are so rich and know there are so many who have needs much greater than our own. And I know that, despite my sour attitude at times about our situation.

At the end of the year, I had my appendix removed. It was an “emergency” and required dr’s vists, er visits and obviously surgery. Lots of little bills that kept piling up. It cost much more than I thought it should, more than $1200. Of course, without insurance it would have been 10X that. But, thankfully, we were able to pay it. So, one thing I brought up in our discussion was maybe we were being too miserly with our money. Maybe if we’d loosen up, God would bless us in that area. Technically we apparently “had” $200/month that we could have spent throughout the year. Maybe if we had used that money to bless others, God would have provided for my surgery. Or maybe I wouldn’t have needed it. Maybe God’s trying to get our attention. My husband thoughtfully said “That’s one way to look at it.” Then explained his side of it: God already was blessing us.

Each month, we spend more money than we make. How is it that we had the $1200 at the end of the year (just before Christmas even)! It’s amazing how reflecting on that one little fact can change your perspective on things. Not that I don’t think we both can’t be right. But instead of feeling like we need to “buy” blessings, which was my attitude before, I truly feel the desire to share with others out of the abundance we’ve been blessed with.

Wordless Wednesday: What is this?

img_3344I was about to throw this out the other day and I thought maybe I could give it a try once more to find out what in the world this kitchen utensil is? I inherited it with several other when cleaning out someone’s kitchen drawers. I never knew what it was, and I’ve never used it! So, if you have a clue, please let me know! It’s driving me cRaZy!

Top it off

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My countertops are installed! They are not hideous, embarrassing or ugly in any way. Woo-hoo! They are, however, more gray than brown in overall color. But, I already knew that so I am not surprised. The contrast with the yellow walls and white cabinets, either way, is beautiful. And Heartland did not disappoint. The installers were friendly and helpful, and they cleaned up when they were finished. I am more excited about this than the historic inauguration that is taking place as we speak! I will post a picture as soon as I can but my camera is broken (I can take a picture just not download it).

As for the inauguration, I will say that Obama taking office is a remarkable event in the history of our nation: How Conservatives Should Celebrate the Inauguration. But I am sad to see Bush go. As many blunders and mistakes that he made over the years, he has done well for our country, as a man of integrity, character and steadfast leadership (despite the mocking opposition over every little detail). He overcame ferocious opposition against a Democratic-controlled Congress to win key battles for faith, family and common sense. Thank you President and Mrs. Bush! I pray God would bless you for your service to our country and protect you in the years to come!

Refrigerator is in place

090101-cabinets-eastMuch to my delighted surprise, while I was out running errands and visiting friends yesterday afternoon, Matt pushed the refrigerator into place. He had cut the necessary hole for the water the day before and the electrician had come on Wednesday to finalize the outlets and switches. That means: No more extension cord! The refrigerator was powered via extension cord in the dining room; I would step on it coming down the stairs, ouch! Overall, what an amazing difference. The kitchen seems so spacious again!

Countertops are ordered!

I was so nervous I was practically shaking, but the countertops are ordered, so it’s done, done, done! I made it before the New Year! That I am thankful for. I feel like I have no idea what they are going to look like … The good news is, I don’t think it’s going to matter too much. It’s only because I was IN LOVE with another color (way out of our league) that I was unsure about the Chicory Mosaic from Formica Solid Surface. And I can’t complain because we did get a great deal. Not only did Heartland match and beat the Lowe’s quote by $100, including a $450 integral sink and a backsplash, but they had four edges to choose from versus Lowe’s one, AND if you pay in full up front, they take off another 5%. Also, because they have the counter in stock at their warehouse, it should be only about two weeks instead of 3 (although the holiday delays things some). A technician is coming on Monday to “template” the countertops to be sure we have exact measurements for everything. It’s going to be wonderful to have horizontal surfaces again. Yay!

Our super duper deal (after initial quote of $3,286)? $2,397

Countertops, countertops, countertops!

I am swimming in countertop choices and options. I got a local countertop/cabinet dealer to beat the Lowes’ quote I received before Christmas by $100 (about $800 below their original quote) on the Chicory Mosaic from Formica Solid Surfacing, and that’s includes a $450 sink. So, that’s the way to go. I’m just feeling unsure about the choice. Not because I don’t like the color, it’s just so hard to know what it’s actually going to look like. Kinda like selecting a paint color based on a 1-inch square. The effect on the room can be totally different then you expect. But I’ve had some experience with paint, and it’s not as expensive if you absolutely hate it. But, I want my countertops! So … I just need to do it. My self-imposed deadline is tomorrow.

On another note, before Christmas, I had called the Sears Outlet Center where I purchased an over-the-range microwave about receiving the mounting hardware we needed. I hadn’t heard from them so I called again today and left another messages. But when I came home from running errands, there was a box on the porch. Hip hip hooray! So far, I absolutely recommend them for your big appliances.

Cabinets are up!

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Minus a few doors (we had some issues with warping so we are looking into weather we need extra hinges or new doors etc), the cabinets are hung, including the island … with doors. We just have a few tricky toe-kicks and some moulding to install. I didn’t want to go too crazy, but I did put some things in our pantry (*inserted excited squeal here*). That also means I can order countertops. Time to make a decision … AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHH! Unless our cabinet company can come up with a better price on it’s high-end solid surface from Staron, Coffee Bean from it’s Tempest line, we’re planning to go with a nice moderately priced solid surface from Formica (who knew?) in Chicory Mosaic. Lowe’s has an excellent sale going on now, with a color upgrade and a free sink. So, while I’d like to order by Friday, it probably have to wait until “next year.” I suppose I can wait a few days longer.

Piecing it together

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Matt and our friend Nick, who has installed cabinets before and has woodworking skills, got a great start on the cabinets this weekend. We spent a lot of time on Saturday just figuring out what all the pieces were for and how it was all going together. It was frustrating, but I am glad they wanted to take their time and do it right. So, at the end of the day, we (by that I mean “they”) had one corner wall cabinet hanging. It looked beautiful! But Sunday, they were able to hang just about all of the others (and I do mean “hang,” even the floor cabinets are about an inch off the ground because of the unevenness of the floor). All that is left are the refrigerator cabinet and the one small cabinet right beside it on the opposite wall. We finally did move the refrigerator, and we both like its new location. It so much closer to the door so you don’t have to walk through the kitchen to get to it. Also still to do:

Order counters
Put the cabinet doors back on
Hook up the dishwasher and sink
Install garbage disposal
Install microwave (bought a dented one at the Sears Outlet for $150 on Friday)
Finalize the electrical (call electrician)
Install toe kick and moulding and wall trim

Feeling the power

We have a new kitchen floor! While not flawless, it’s be-a-utiful! Matt took Monday and Tuesday off this week so we could get it done BEFORE THE CABINETS ARE DELIVERED ON FRIDAY! Whoo-hoo! We purchased the flooring from Flooring Discount Warehouse on Friday (and it needed a few days to “acclimate,” it was a painful process for me!). All the people we spoke with at the store were very helpful and kind, and I would definitely recommend them. We selected Mullican St. Andrews Natural Oak.

I noticed a list of specials on the web site the day before and there was an outdated (but not dated) and mis-listed sale on “Mullican Highlands Series St. Andrews” which was supposed to be “Highlands” but not “St. Andrews.” At any rate, they honored it so we saved $.20/square foot. Worked out to about $40, which means we got the underlayment “free.” We also will be able to return one of the 9 boxes we purchases since we were, if I may say so myself, efficient and not particularly picky about the pieces we chose. The kids were pretty cooperative, although especially toward the end they wanted to be in the kitchen with us and weren’t listening to instruction very well. It didn’t help that they weren’t able to nap with all the noise. We had to rent a pneumatic flooring nailer from Home Depot, which added another $100 to our cost, but still quite a bit of savings from hiring an installer. There was some confusion at first because we didn’t realize we’d have to rent an air compressor separately. Thankfully, we were able to borrow one from a friend/neighbor for two days. Thanks, Dave! We also borrowed a miter saw from our friend Gene. I was feeling the power with every opportunity to cut the end pieces!

Matt and I made a good team once we got into a groove. It’s good to know that we CAN work together. I laid out the pieces, cutting them to fit if necessary. Then tightened them with the tapping block and pull bar. Matt wielded the pneumatic nailer and drilled/hammered any as necessary. Note: It is very difficult to nail into maple! Our original flooring that we put the new floor on top of was maple and when the nails would hit, they’d bend. So, Matt had to drill first. It took us a few hours to get the first board in with that whole mess. Thankfully, it got much easier. However, we are both very, very, very, very sore. We’re getting too old for this.

A pretty new floor to replace the old ugly one (hard wood, plus nails, underlayment, small tool purchases and tool rental): $969.62

After

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Before:

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Primed and ready

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The past two days I have been painting like crazy, priming the ceiling and walls so that we can put on a topcoat of yellow before we leave for Thanksgiving. It’s amazing the transformation a coat of paint is. White never looked so good!

Mudding completed

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I finally made a selection for painting just in time. The gentleman who did the mudding and taping in the kitchen just finished around noon today. What took him 4.5 days would have taken us weeks so we are so thankful. The kitchen is looking better all the time! We have quite a bit of clean up etc. before we can paint, but we are hoping to at least get it primed before we leave for a week at Thanksgiving.

And the winner is …

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LG Hi-Macs’ Mocha Granite G74 and Benjamin Moore Chestertown Buff HC-9 (a historical color)

I’m still in love with the idea of red, but can’t convince Matt. So, yellow it is! I think it’s “safer” anyway, just in case we do end up moving in a couple years. And it will be the warm, inviting, bright kitchen I was envisioning when we started this project. I just got sidetracked by the dramatic, gorgeous reds I was looking at. Besides, we already have red in our upstairs bathroom.

As for the countertop, I’m 85% sure at this point. TCN has ordered larger samples to give me a better idea of what the hi-mac will look like.

The more I look at it, it looks the best with the cabinets (paint color can be changed after all). My primary concern for the paint choice is that there are gold flakes in the countertop that tend toward tan, not yellow. Good contrast otherwise and I don’t know how to describe it, but the tone just goes with it. Although it’s the darkest (though not really black, it might seem that way on screen), it’s actually more of a true brown than the middle one. The white cabinets have a lot of gray (making them warm) and the other countertops are more gray (making them cool) instead of brown … and it just seems to work. They are all great, I think. I’ve gotten a lot of different opinions, so even though I don’t agree with all of them it helped me to solidify my choice (the one I found myself defending)!