Monthly Archives: March 2011

Pictures of cuteness and love have finally arrived

At long last, pictures of Frankie have arrived…..


I love nobody this much…

I decided to make a queen size quilt for my bed. After all that effort I put into painting my bedroom, I figured I needed a quilt that went with it for the bed. Since last July, I started collecting fabrics for the quilt top. In January, I started sewing the top together. I got it completed last weekend. This week, I took two days off work to put the three layers together. It took me 12 hours – almost 10 of them hand basting the three layers together. That was 12 hours on my hands and knees on your complex’s party room floor with a needle in my hand. I now have one bloodied fingertip, 2 blistered fingertips and strained muscles all over my body. The only thing that miraculously doesn’t hurt is my back.

Nobody…. and I mean nobody… is getting a queen sized quilt out of me for a gift. I don’t love anyone enough to incur this kind of pain. I am not even sure I love myself this much. I do have a queen sized quilt cut out (for me) so I will probably do this exercise one more time but then I am done unless I am willing to farm this out to someone else and pay for it. It is simply not worth it for the time, energy and pain.

New financial goals

Not sure if you noticed that my sidebar has changed and my emergency fund is now funded for 4 months. This is where I had decided to stop before moving on to my next goal – chopping down my mortgage.

Originally, my mortgage was going to end when I was 69 years old. With some minor additional payments in my mortgage, I have chopped off one year of my mortgage. But I still think that paying on my mortgage until I am 68 is a serious financial issue. I don’t want to be retired and paying this mortgage nor do I want to be forced to work until I am 68 to pay it. So…. my goal is to make additional payments until I have 7 years paid off and I can finish my mortgage when I am 62.

My goal is to accomplish this by the end of 2012. Naturally, this means that I will be keeping my second job until the end of 2012. I have pretty much accepted that I will be working my life away for the next 2 years but I hope the pay-off in the end is a much more secure financial future.

I know you want to be tortured!

So let me tell you about what I am doing in my kitchen.

I decided at Christmas that I would really like to do something – ANYTHING – with my kitchen. I also figured (oh! how wrong I was), that I could do the first stage really cheaply. So I budgeted about 1200$ and went to work on my calculating….

What I really wanted to do was simply rearrange the cupboards on two walls of my kitchen so that I could realize more cabinet space and more counter top space. Additionally, I wanted to replace my sink since I was tired of looking at its rusted ass and to install an over-range-microwave.

Estimate for sink: somewhere between 100$ and 300$
This all depended on whether I went with a cheap stainless steel option or cast iron. I decided to do neither when it came down to it. I bought a reasonably inexpensive stainless steel sink (but not the cheapest) and then completely blew the budget on the faucet and soap dispenser. Apparently, I could not find a single solitary faucet that I liked for under 300$. I also didn’t think to budget for the plumbing bits and pieces that I would need to purchase to install the new sink.
Total cost: approx. 475$
End result: WAY OVER BUDGET but I love my sink. And apparently so does Frankie. She loves to sit next to the sink and watch the faucet do its job.

Microwave: Estimate 200$
Once the sink was installed and the garbage disposal was removed, I now had the circuit free to reroute it to the microwave. We spent 25$ on electrical supplies to do this and it took Eduardo and I two afternoons to do the electrical work. I then bought the microwave for 200$ and applied a 50$ Best Buy gift certificate towards the purchase price. It took Eduardo and I another afternoon to install the microwave. This was well worth it. I LOVE this microwave and I think it looks fantastic.
Total Cost: 175$
End Result: Within budget despite the fact that I didn’t think to budget for the electrical supplies.

Estimate for cabinets: 300 to 350$
After rearranging the cabinets, I discovered that I had 15 inches of wall space left over that I could purchase cabinets for. I could not find matching cabinetry although I looked everywhere. I can only assume that my cabinets were discontinued. I decided to buy a 12 inch cabinet with a glass front. I hoped that I would be able to put a left-over door from my other cabinet set onto the front of it and if I couldn’t… hopefully the glass door would blend in better than a cabinet door that was close but not identical. For the remaining 3 inches, I wanted to buy a small pull-out unit that I could put my spices in. This would open up a whole 1/3 of another wall cabinet for other items. These two items got priced out at 375$. I was pretty impressed that I managed to get this basically on budget given that I had no idea how much cabinets cost and just threw out an estimate. But then I spoke to the guy I selected to do my countertop (whole ‘nother story below) about doing a custom cabinet. For the same amount of money to buy the 12 inch cabinet, he will make me a 12 inch cabinet and fit my left over cabinet door on it…. as well, he will take the 24 inch wall unit that I am converting into a bookcase to be installed elsewhere in the kitchen and rip down the width so it will fit its new space better. So I am actually getting more work done for the same price. So… after congratulating myself on a job well done with my budget, I am now investigating spending more money on cabinetry.
Total Cost: 375$
End Result: Almost in budget until you see below!

The other night, I subscribed to Small Spaces, Big Style. I was dying for some HGTV and needed a fix. In that show they highlighted a ‘small’ kitchen that was ONLY 10×10. I actually didn’t think that was all that small given that mine is 9×11. But I digress. They showed the installation of a drawer in the toe kick. The toe kick is that little recessed area at the bottom of your cabinets where your toes go when you stand in front of the cabinets working. You can put in all kinds of narrow items such as cookie sheets and baking pans. I did some googling on this and it is actually not that uncommon. What a fantastic idea! and best implemented when my cabinets are NOT installed right? So I am going to talk to my countertop guy about doing this.
Estimate? 300$ for 3 drawers

Counter top: 200$ for one section
I needed a new counter top for the long counter top next to the dining room. I was taking the tall pantry out of there and putting just base cabinetry in the area. This meant that the counter top already along that wall was going to be too short. For the other counter top area, I was simply going to cut down one of the counter tops I was ripping out. I found an economical butcher block counter top from IKEA. I wasn’t sure how long it would last but it simply needed to last 3 or 4 years until I could save up to redo all the counter tops. And then when I was talking about what I was going to do with Dave (my step-father), he said that he didn’t want to install the counter top in my kitchen because it was made out of an inappropriate wood species for the job. I am sure if I insisted, he would have installed it but this simply wasn’t the hill I wanted to die on. He was helping me out – for free I might add – and coming down on vacation to do it and I didn’t want that vacation to be miserable because I was forcing him to do something he wasn’t happy about. So I looked around at some other options and called a guy that sold butcher block counter tops. I went into their store to look at the butcher block, the granite and some convincing talk about laminate counter tops (which I HATE). I got pricing on the butcher block – 500$, granite (750$) and solid surface (so expensive he didn’t actually give me the price). This was truly way more than I wanted to spend and I was totally concerned that this counter which I just paid a lot of money for was not going to be matchable in 3 to 4 years when I wanted to replace the other two counter tops. So I looked at laminate and looked at laminate and looked at laminate. My main concern was the chipping and lifting from the underlying MDF. Haven’t you see that in a million places? I also hated the faux wood and stone looks which comprised most of the options and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go with a solid colour. I looked at little samples and I googled a million pictures. At long last, I found a picture of a counter top with stainless steel edging. I feel in love. I discovered that the laminate was actually discontinued last summer. OH NO! I called the counter top guy and asked them to look for what I needed. They found it… but this meant I was going to have to do ALL of my counter tops right now rather than wait. I wasn’t going to find this laminate in a year. Laminate counter tops are actually very economical but that stainless steel edging was not!
Total cost: 788$ for all three counter tops installed including cutting a hole for the sink.
End result: I am sure everybody knows that 788$ is no where near 200$. This is a a budget buster. But… in the long run this is a much cheaper option. I was thinking of some kind of recycled glass or solid surface counter top that was going to run 2-3,000$ for the entire kitchen. Falling in love with this might be expensive in the short term but it is cheap compared to other options I was looking at.

But… the counter top guy said that it would be best if I pulled out the base cabinets under the sink and installed them properly as well as putting in a half support near the dishwasher. There is no support at the end of the counter top and you can see where it is pulling away from the wall and the forward edge is leaning down making it difficult to close the dishwasher because the head space is disappearing under the lean. So now I realize that all my cabinets are going to have to be uninstalled and removed leaving me with a completely empty kitchen. Hmmm… isn’t this the perfect time to install flooring? Isn’t it easier to install flooring when no cabinets exist? And the answer to that is yes! so I started researching flooring….

Estimate: never included in original estimate
I was originally thinking of VCT that run around 1$ a square foot. But they are made from PVC which I wasn’t convinced that I wanted in my house. My next choice was a limestone composite tile that still had some PVC in it but not nearly to the same degree. That would run more into the 2 – 3$ range. And then the floor guy looked at my floor after we peeled up a couple of tiles and said that he really didn’t recommend putting down glue down tiles unless the underlying floor was complete free of crap and adhesive. Which – lets face it – it was not. So I looked at click flooring – and looked at click flooring and looked at even more click flooring. This guy was incredibly patient. I narrowed it down to some painted cork from Globus cork and Marmoleum (which I had researched in the past). Then I got the pricing – cork: 8.50$ a square foot vs Marmoleum: 5.50$ a square foot. I think we all know what I selected. Originally, I wanted my entryway and kitchen to be floored in the same flooring so it wouldn’t look choppy. But then I got to thinking that perhaps I should floor the dining room in the same flooring so that when I take that half wall down and turn it all into one room – the flooring will make it look like one room. Clearly, none of this was in the budget and I was wondering what budget line I was going to be stealing this money from. I also have decided to do the flooring on my own since installation costs are not affordable on top of the cost of the flooring. And then I did my taxes….
Total cost: 1500$
End result: My tax return was 1700$ I am completely covered for this overrun. Still installing it on my own although I know it is going to cost me a case of beer and a meal to get some help with the dining room and taught how to complete the job.

As you can see…. my cheap kitchen renovation has turned into a not so cheap renovation. I have went from my original budgeted 1200$ to about 4000$ which I think it still dirt cheap in comparison to some renovations I have heard about.

What do you get for 4000$?
– new kitchen counter tops with stainless steel edging – 13 ft
– new painted backsplash (just 15$)
– repositioned light switch (free)
– new entryway, kitchen and dining room flooring – 275 sq feet
– 1 custom wall cabinet
– 3 toe kick drawers custom built
– 1 wall pull out for my spices – off the shelf
– repositioning or leveling of my existing base cabinets (free)
– re-purposing of a wall cabinet into a built-in book case for my cook books
– new shelving for the dining room wall
– new sink and faucet
– new microwave

My kitchen will look completely new despite the fact that the structural bones of it (the cabinets) are the same old cabinets. And I expect to get a lot more storage space just by a bit of augmentation of my existing cabinets. You don’t have to gut your kitchen and your pocketbook to get a new look and a whole lot more utility out of it.

And you might think this post is long but it is a summary of what I am doing. Unlike my RL friends, you didn’t have to listen to the blow-by-blow and the agonizing over the choices. Consider yourself not tortured quite as much as you could have been!