Tuesday, July 10, 2018

House Update #1,000,000

Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit with the title.. but that's how it feels.

And, my the title for my last update was a little misleading as well. A race is defined as a competition to see who/what is fastest. That is definitely not the case to finishing our house. We have been racing to get all of our loose ends tied up, but not our builder. They have done these things over the past month: flooring, tile backsplashes, and trim. They just installed our heat pump and mini-splits yesterday. Mind you, the trim was done last Monday, and the painting was supposed to be done that week as well. We are still waiting for:
  • Painting.
  • Cabinet finish work (like crown molding)
  • Electrical--lighting and outlets.
  • Plumbing--fixtures, toilets, and shower door.
  • HVAC--water heater, vents, kick plates for vents under cabinets.
  • Misc--Shelves, mirrors, and "punch list" items.

We were given a "worst case scenario" completion date of July 31st, but we will be lucky to have our house done by then. We just gave our property management company an official move-out date of July 31st, but I feel like we will have to rescind that date. It's just that getting ONE THING completed a week doesn't cut it when you're trying to get the house done. 

Anyways, we've had to make a couple of concessions to get the house done in a timely manner, but now I'm questioning if we should have done that or not because our house is not being worked on in a timely manner. Example: they installed the subway tile in the wrong design in the master bath, and I didn't hate it, so we took a discount instead of having them re-do the design. Also, the door to the garage opens out instead of in, and now the tile floor doesn't meet the threshold to the door. So, do we ask for them to re-do the door and trim, or do we just fix the tile floor that was installed according to false directions? 

             Wrong design                                                                                   Right design 

Flooring gap by the garage door

I am just sooooooooo done with this. I am not sleeping well because of the stress and the heat. I wanted to have the heat pump for air conditioning in my new house prior to the summer heat, but that's not happening. I am a very angry person when it's too hot and I can't sleep. 

Hopefully next time you check this I will be a nicer person.

Cabinets on cabinets on cabinets

Our project: kitchen island tile backsplash

 Basketweave subway tile backsplash in kitchen

 Kids bathroom. Big vanity, tiny sink.

Another one of our projects: kitchen desk. Pro tip: don't install wall cabinets yourself unless you're a pro.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Race to the Finish Line

I can't believe I'm saying this.. but we actually have a finish line in sight: July 16th!

If you had told me in June of last year when we started clearing the land that it would be another 13 months until we moved in, I probably would have cried.

Mind you, that's a pretty tight schedule over the next 4 weeks to complete the following items:

  • Flooring: laminate & carpet. We paid a separate contractor for our tiled bathrooms and laundry room and he got everything done in a week.
  • Trim after laminate. All baseboards, windows, etc.
  • Tile back splashes for kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Painting.
  • Cabinet finish work (like crown molding).
  • Electrical, including lighting and outlets.
  • Plumbing (it would be so NICE to have a toilet and not a port-a-potty).
  • HVAC--heat pump and water heater.

But, I am remaining hopeful that we will be in by July 31st. I can't be in our current house in the August heat again.

We have arranged our upcoming responsibilities:

  • Final grade and driveway.
  • Hydroseeding.
  • Wood porch/stairs.
  • That's it!! (Other than the projects below, which are mostly cosmetic.)

Graham's projects include the following (poor guy hasn't gotten a break in months!):
  • Cabinet hardware (51 in total!).
  • Finish kitchen desk nook.
  • Butcher block counter for desk--install and stain.
  • Address numbers
  • Paint front and side door (I can help with this)
  • Finish closet supports.
  • Finish laundry cabinet panels and counter top.
  • Lawn edging/trim.

Here are some progress pictures if you don't follow me on Instagram..

Anyways, thanks for following along. I might be able to update closer to closing time!

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account for continuous updates.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ch ch ch ch ch ch Changes

One thing is for sure about this home building process.. There will be changes!

Quick Update: drywall is nearly done. Our project manager told us it would be done by May 15th, which was yesterday, but it will definitely be done by the 18th. We don't know what will be next, but we hope it will be paint then cabinets. Our cabinets have arrived, but we can't see inside the boxes yet. It is so exciting to be so close to the end! We had a minor/major freakout during the drywall process as they cut out drywall for the heat pump mini-split facing the wrong direction. Of course, we took it as the worst case scenario, and assumed they'd have to rip the whole ducting out to turn it the right way. Luckily, super easy fix, and all they had to do was patch the drywall and cut the correct side. Most of the mistakes have not been that easy, so we were happy about that.

Anyways, we have been reviewing our finishing touches, and we decided to make some changes. Choosing flooring, countertops, lights, etc like eight to nine months before you get to see them is a loooong time to sit and think about something different to do. So, these are the changes we decided to do:

1) The lighting. We figured it would be worth an additional $300-500 to get exactly what we want for chandeliers, pendants, etc. We hate flush mount lights that look like boobs, so it was important for us to get better flush mount lights for our hallways, kids' rooms, etc. We already have a few semi-flush mount lights from our old house, which we plan to use in the playroom (they're a little fancy for the playroom, honestly, but I want to get personalized lighting for the guest room and master bedroom when we have more money). One complicating factor is the sloped ceiling in our great room and kitchen, so everything had to be slope-compatible. The sad thing is I found a chandelier that I loved, but we couldn't hang it parallel to the slope, only perpendicular, which didn't work with our furniture placement. I had my co-worker help me pick a new one. I really like it, but it wasn't my first choice. We were happy to get some discounts on lights from Coscto, and then I found Seattle Lighting online, which I loved. I couldn't find a better deal on globe pendants other than from West Elm.

Flush mount lights from Costco:

Foyer light from Seattle Lighting:

Dining room light from Seattle Lighting:

Kitchen island globe pendant lights from West Elm:

Kids' bathroom light from Seattle Lighting:

Master bathroom lights from Seattle Lighting:

Outdoor lanterns from Costco:

Outdoor flush mount lights for front and back porches from Seattle Lighting:

Playroom fancy lights from Wayfair (no longer available from them):

2) Laundry room floor. We originally were like, well, I don't want to pay for tile right now, so we will stick with the vinyl and just change it ourselves later. Tip: when it comes to flooring, it's probably easier to do it yourself before a flooring is already placed. So, bye bye cheap vinyl.. Here is some dark linen-style tile for the laundry room and the kids' bathroom (might as well, right?).

Metro Gris tile from Home Depot:

3) Closet organizers. We decided to go with Easy Closets (such a deal!) for both the master bedroom and the pantry. You give them the dimensions, they help you with the design. It was really great working with them. The only con--you have to install yourself.. Or you can pay somebody. So, now we have 39 boxes in our current rental waiting to be installed. Also, I wasn't into the cheap wire shelving for the kids' bedrooms, so I went with Modular Closets for an easy and affordable closet design. I am super excited to use both of them!

Master Closet:

Pantry (not shown are the connecting corner shelves):

Kids' Closets:

4) Kitchen desk unit. When we originally inquired about doing a custom desk niche in the dining room with Lexar, we were told to do it ourselves or they'd probably charge us $10K. So, we looked into buying the same Procraft cabinets for our desk, but in white instead of the espresso for the rest of the kitchen. But, they do not sell to non-contractors. We looked online instead, and I found Cliq Studios online from their Facebook and Instagram ads. They sent me samples, and I found the quality and design to be the same as the ones of the rest of our kitchen. Again, we gave them the dimensions, and they gave us a design. We do have to install the cabinets and shelves ourselves, but we are up to the task. I am so excited to have a place to make shopping lists, use the computer, and store my cookbooks all in one place!

That is it.. I don't think we will do any more changes until we are done. We do have a lot of work ahead of us, such as finishing the rock wall, painting the master bath blue, painting the master bedroom stencil, installing the pantry and the closets, the tile accent in the kitchen desk back splash and the kitchen island wall, and some minor landscaping stuff. But, we are ready for the challenge. I don't know when the completion date will be. I'm hoping by the end of June, but we are leaving for a week-long vacation on the 30th, so that's not the best time for us. I'm thinking we will probably move the second week of July.. which isn't too bad. It would put us 10-11 months since the foundation was poured. I just want the air conditioning before August!! Anyways, keep checking on my Instagram for more updates. It will all be happening quickly.  :)

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account for continuous updates.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Cool Things Our New House Will Do (AKA the Smartest Smart Home Ever)

Current state of the home.

To stay positive about our home building experience, Graham and I have been compiling a list of things that our new house will do that will improve our lives:

  • It will help us lose 10 pounds automatically. Dubious claim, you say? No way!
  • Our house will alert us when our kids' nails need to be trimmed, and it will clean up the little tiny nail clippings that are so hard to clean up!
  • Our new house will not only do our laundry, but will also put the clothes away too!
  • The house will cook healthy meals on weeknights!
  • Our house will keep our toddler from getting into everything and destroying our stuff!
  • Our new house will keep our food from spoiling prematurely.
  • The new house will make us happy for ever and ever.
  • The house will save us thousands of dollars!!
  • Our new house will help us make BFF's.

Ok, so this is an obvious exaggeration of the benefits to our new house. However, we did notice that we kept saying to each other, well, once we're in the new house.. or, this wouldn't happen in the new house.. Which is kind of a dangerous way of thinking, like life all of a sudden will be amazing and perfect once we live somewhere new. Spoiler alert: it won't. We will still be the same people with the same lives.

But let me tell you the things that will actually make our lives better in the new house...

  • While the house won't make us lose 10 pounds, we will definitely be less stressed with lower levels of cortisol. Also, the workout room means more concentrated workout times and a specific place. I'm excited for more cardio because our current townhouse might tumble to the ground if I start doing TurboFire HIIT workouts again.
  • I wish the kids' nails would no longer require trimming in the new house, but our robot vacuum will definitely help clean up the mess!
  • Laundry = the neverending story. The worst. The one thing our new house will do is allow us to put all of our clothes away in the house! Our old house had small closets, so we had to keep some clothes and shoes in the garage.
  • I can't even emphasize how much our current kitchen stresses me out. It's unbelievably small. The new kitchen will hold ALLLLL of my stuff and have a pantry. It's going to be so amazing. Plus, the double oven means I'll be baking more fresh bread!
  • Having a new house that is 100% ours will allow us to put toddler locks on our stuff. We have been in our rental townhouse for a year, and Sadie gets into our stuff DAILY, like my makeup, Graham's shaving cream, and Carter's toothpaste. I'm so excited to put toddler locks on the cabinets!
  • The MINIature fridge we have right now is one of my current pet peeves. It is so small that when you put one thing on a shelf, another thing falls out of the fridge. Without fail. Plus, the cooling mechanism is so spotty that it half freezes anything in the back or side of the fridge. We are throwing away soooooo much food! I am incredibly excited for a new Samsung fridge with water and an ice maker! I haven't had one since I moved out of my parents' house in 2001.
  • Ok, we are not guaranteed to have eternal happiness in our house.. But, we will be able to host out-of-town family (and we both have big families!) for family get togethers, and that will make us truly happy.
  • The new house is currently costing us thousands of dollars, but it will pay off in the end. The energy efficiency is key, as well as the increasing cost of homes in the area (thank you HGTV for featuring a home in our area!). We couldn't afford to buy what we are building, so this will all be worth it when we get our home appraised when it's completed.
  • Lastly, we have friends and family that have been our friends for a long time, but we will have new neighbors that will be awesome friends now and in the future.
One thing to remember: we are beyond blessed to have this opportunity to build a family home.

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account for continuous updates.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Another House Update

When my house is done, what else will I have left to talk about??

Anyways, after February being a horribly frustrating month with the lack of progress on the house, I am very happy to report that March was a MUCH better month. If you want more pictures, check out my Instagram account on the right. I'm too lazy to post them right now on the blog.

First: our septic guy was able to come out and dig the tank and drain fields. Our septic designer got the drawings done and permit submitted to the county, so the areas should be backfilled this week.

Second: the electrician came and did the rough-in, including outlets, cable, switches, etc. He listened to what we wanted, made recommendations, and was super efficient. One thing is for sure, Lexar does not skimp on the outlets--a lot of other builders do!

Third: the siders finally started with our Hardie board plank siding. I can't even tell you what a relief that was as we were told for weeks/months that they were starting. I was really starting to get anxious (for good reason too) about the moisture level in the wood since the lumber was exposed to and unprotected against the elements for so long. The siders showed up and worked really fast one day, then didn't show up for another 4 days after that. It was very frustrating to say the least. Also, we were told we needed to backfill the septic prior to the siders starting, which really stressed us out. The timing was poor because we booked the septic guy over a month prior to starting because we expected the siding to have been completed already. Luckily, the siders just put some wood coverings over the holes and got to work.

Anyways, the house looks so GOOD with the siding on. Lexar puts trim around ALL exterior windows. I emphasize this because again, some builders skimp in this area. A lot of tract homes around here do not have exterior window trim in the back or side of the house, making the expensive homes look cheap. Nobody will really see the back of our house other than us due to the slope of our lot, but it doesn't matter. The trim for the windows and doors are really nice touches.

Fourth: the trenches for our permanent power and water were dug. The bad news was that nobody was telling us we need to call in our permanent power with our company, so that put us back a week. Our power company wasn't available for a full 7 days for the transition from temporary power to permanent. So, that means we will be ready for inspection for electrical and rough-in after Thursday this week

Fifth: the garage walls were finally installed between the 2-car garage and the 3rd car garage.

Sixth: our wood moisture levels were measured by Lexar. Bad news: still high (between 17-30%). It should be below 15% prior to insulation. So, we bought 3 more industrial high-CFM fans for our crawl space and house (we already had 5 in our house!!). One fan we bought is called Monsoon and it is one seriously strong fan.

Our project manager still says May for completion date, but that is a tight schedule for 60 days. We are thinking more like June. Anyways, we had to ask for a construction loan extension, so hopefully we'll hear back about that soon.

Thanks for all of your kind words and support. This has been one crazy ride, and I don't plan on doing this ever again.

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Old Faithful Recipes

So, as you may know, I'm a Registered Dietitian. I didn't become one to help people. I studied Nutrition because I like food and wanted to know more about it (I also wanted to prove my dad wrong, but he doesn't listen to me anyways).. Yeah, I like food.. and I like cooking. I don't LOVE cooking because I'm kind of a klutz, I spill things all the time, and onions make me cry (wah wah wah I know). I usually cook 3-5 times per week, and cook enough dinner for leftovers for the next night.

Do you know what I love more than food? Recipes and cookbooks.

When I want to relax, I sit down with a good or colorful cookbook. I know that sounds weird (and hilariously enough, Sadie does it now too!), but it really does calm me down. Some people read magazines... I read cookbooks. No biggie. Oh, and I forgot to mention I do follow some food bloggers as well (Mel is my absolute fave)..  Anyways, what happens with me reading cookbooks all the time? I try new recipes all of the time. I don't repeat a lot of recipes, unless I like them... a lot. Part of my schooling as a Dietitian was planning menus for cafeterias, which relied heavily on monthly menu cycles. I know some moms that do monthly meal rotations at home.. but not me. I think it might be related to my upbringing where my parents would ask us what we want to eat for dinner, so it was always spaghetti, bean burritos, milk gravy, taquitos, fish sticks, etc. So I ate the same things again and again and again as a kid/teenager. As a grown-up now, I really like trying new recipes, but I do have a few trusty dinners that I bust out from time to time.

Here are our household favorites:

Japanese Curry

Picture from pressure cooker Japanese curry

I know this isn't even a recipe because I just use whatever is in the box. But, I first tasted it during my days as a Hogi Yogi/Teriyaki Stix employee during my college days, and I've loved it ever since. I usually add onions, potatoes, carrots, and some sort of protein (chicken or tofu). The kids love it most of the time.

Cooks Illustrated Skillet Macaroni & Cheese

Photo from What We're Cooking blog

Easy-peasy less than 30-minute recipe that only gets one pan dirty. Need I say more? I grew up eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and I will literally never allow it in my house because of this recipe (and the fact that I think the blue box stuff is gross).

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Perfect Spaghetti Sauce

Photo from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Let me preface this by saying that I ate spaghetti so much growing up that I did not make it again until I found this recipe 4 years ago. I make the huge batch and freeze it in smaller batches for dinner portions. It is amazing and will change your life. No jarred spaghetti sauce for us.

Martha Stewart Tostadas

Picture from Martha Stewart Living

This is an old one from 2008. I just make this dish vegetarian with the bell peppers, onions, salsa and corn. I also add homemade refried beans to it as well.

Cooks Illustrated Classic Beef Stew 

Picture from Serious Eats

I grew up eating Dinty Moore canned beef stew, and I never once had stew freshly made. I made a half batch of this recipe when Graham and I were first married, and it was like my beloved childhood beef stew, but 100 times better. I don't make it that often because I try to limit red meat, but man.. it is delicious!

Cooks Illustrated Pasta e Fagioli

Photo from Eat it and Weep

This soup is so full of flavor it's hard to understand. It starts out with simple ingredients but is elevated with anchovy paste. Carter ate a TON of this soup when he was little.

King Arthur Flour Pizza Dough

Photo from King Arthur Flour

It took me a long time to find a pizza dough that I love. I've tried recipes from Alton Brown, America's Test Kitchen, Pioneer Woman, etc with success but were not easy to stretch out to proper pizza size. This dough is the easiest to work with, thereby making it my top pizza dough recipe. Some other honorable mentions are: Cooks Illustrated Deep Dish Chicago Pizza and Foodie with Family No-Knead Pizza.

Our Best Bites Sweet Pulled Pork Salad

Picture from Dinner for Everyone

If you have ever been to Cafe Rio or Costa Vida, then you know this salad. This homemade version is just as good as the restaurant.. and in the slow cooker, almost as easy! And do not skip the dressing, especially if you like cilantro. It is phenomenal.

Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Shepherd's Pie

Picture from Brownie Bites

This is another oldie but goodie. I've been making this for years. It's quick, but you will dirty about 4 pans in the process. I have yet to find a vegetarian version of shepherd's pie, so I'll keep making this one a couple times per year.

I have lots of repeat recipes for breakfasts, desserts, and side dishes, but not a ton for dinner. What are your family's favorites? Where do you get your recipes?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sherri's Favorite Things

So, I had a bit of nostalgia today and was looking at my old posts from my first year of marriage in 2008. Oh my gosh life has changed. Have I changed? Hmmmmmm, difficult question.. Probably. I'm still slightly cynical, even tempered, working full-time, witty, and sometimes sarcastic. Otherwise I guess I am different. Marriage and motherhood does that to you.

Anyways, I found an old blog post about some of my favorite things in 2008.. and now I want to update my list. It was mostly kitchen stuff back then. So, here we go 10 years later...

Favorite Food Items:

Crystal Lite Pure Energy
Stevia-sweetened drink with caffeine. Delicious.
Kirkland brand protein bars.
It took a while to get used to the taste, but they have actual chunks of chocolate and are a good source of fiber.

Favorite Kitchen Items:

KitchenAid mixer..
You'll be my baby for always and forever.

Swissmar peeler.
This thing is CHEAP but freaking amazing.

Favorite Electronic Items:

Orbi wi-fi router
We got this for our new bigger house, but started using it already. It is wayyyy better than a wi-fi extender.
Qustodio app
It helps with internet safety on mobile devices and gives me peace of mind.

Favorite Home Items:

Ecobee Smart Thermostat
I'm so excited to use this in the new house for energy efficiency and the programmable/smart options!
Frigidaire upright deep freezer
We had to replace our old one in October, and this freezer has a ton of storage and keeps food super cold without frostbite. FYI, not my freezer. I mostly freeze my own meals and food I make, and of course the giant bags of vegetables from Costco.

Favorite Clothing Items:

Athleta hybrid tights
This are beyond comfortable and have a lot of support for my post-baby belly. I got the ankle-length tights, and guess what, they're exactly the right length for my stumpy legs.

Bandolino velvet flat wedges with bow
Again, super comfy, pointy-toe shoes with a little bit of a heel. Totally my kind of shoe.

Favorite TV Shows:

Black Mirror by Netflix/BBC
Dark, astute, relevant, creepy.. We love this show (although Season 4 was really lacking).

The Great British Baking Show by BBC
So relaxing--I love the things they bake and I love that it's not the typical ridiculous competition shows that are on Food Network.

Makeup Items:

MAC Matchmaster foundation
Nothing else compares on my face, and I mean it. I've been around, and now I've found that it's the only one for me. I've been wearing it for almost five years now.

CoverFX Highlighting palette
I couldn't pick just one eyeshadow palette, so I decided on one for my face. This thing is amazing and gives me all kind of glow.

Anyways, I thought this was kind of fun. Maybe I won't wait 10 years next time to update.

House Update #1,000,000

Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit with the title.. but that's how it feels. And, my the title for my last update was a little mi...