Range on the Home (Appliance Friday’s)

Hello there!

We come bearing…steel. We replaced our white 17-year-old Whirlpool gas range (it had a very strong gas smell and was not on the cheerleading squad) with a Frigidaire gas range, using one of our 10% coupons from Lowe’s. Don’t worry, we still have more. We explored the possibility of replacing the gas with electric (for familiarity of using electric and ease of cleaning), but the cost of running line to make a 240V outlet was basically the price of stove we picked out. Scratch that idea! So we decided to stick with gas, and went with a decent stainless steel five burner with good ratings. We made a great salmon dinner on it tonight and it passed the taste test—with frying colors!

Full of range

We are planning to go to Lowe’s tomorrow to get some expert advice on what kind of hinges would go best with our cabinet doors. But for the past few days we’ve been riding with the top down and it feels so good. We did the front and back yard today, and the front is really beginning to shape up into a nice lawn. It still needs TLC, but we are very satisfied with the potential of it. We will have more pics to show of this. The backyard is also a blank slate that needs to be carressed into something special.

On a happy note, our back neighbor Peggy directly behind us came by the house (the first time we met was very Wilson from Home Improvement-like) and brought us a loaf of fresh baked bread and card welcoming us to the neighborhood. Sweet lady! We have her to thank for all the great bird noises as she has multiple feeders set up in her backyard.

Happy Nesting!

Thermostatistical

We finally got around to swapping out the antiquated thermostat that was in place when we moved in to a better, faster, stronger one.

Historically unkind.

The old Honeywell model had a vague temperature slider that didn’t allow any fine-tuning or accurate depiction of what the temperature actually was or what temperature you wanted it to be. In this day and age where bills matter and energy is quantified in cents and dollars, we do not want to be leaving our money to the safe-cracking antics of guesstimated energy management.

Now being The Nest and everything it was an easy decision to choose our new thermostat based purely on naming commonalities. So we splurged and got the slick $250 Nest Thermostat conjured up by ex-Apple Tony Fadell. NOT. This is what we got:

Oh. My. Goodness.

A non-programmable thermostat that does the job at a tenth of the price of Nest! The Nest thermostat is a nice one for sure, but does not do anything special or amazing that current programmable thermostats on the market do (Honeywell has some similarly priced units that are uglier). It’s pretty, overpriced and makes people think it actually will save them money by learning their behaviors (coming, going, etc.). The main problem I have with Nest is that it cannot improve upon anything that comes before it in the HVAC system of residential HVAC systems. And because each house is made differently at different times with different materials and subject to unique weather conditions/aging, you can’t really benchmark a product like this and tote it as working for everyone producing the same great results (will Nest guarantee a dollar amount of savings that you are entitled to if you use their product? Impossible!). It’s a lost cause. Unless you overhaul the entire HVAC system and make that smart, then you won’t be doing yourselves any favors by purchasing the Nest and thinking you will be change the world. And that’s where the problem is, because homes will never be outfitted with “smart” HVAC systems because it’s not cost-beneficial right now to any parties (builder/contractor/buyer). I take that back. If you pay to play, you can have it.

How about the utopian but simple idea of controlling each vent damper in each room (with each room having separate temperature sensors) and when it’s time to go to sleep, opening up an iPhone app and tapping the preset BEDTIME, closing all the dampers in the house with the exception of the master bedroom and bathroom? Then in order to maintain the temperature that we set for those two perimeters (master bedroom and bathroom), your AC unit with variable speeds can run at a lower speed and for a shorter amount of time (thus, less energy) because the task of heating/cooling an entire house is made easier by heating/cooling an area of less cubic space (just the master bedroom and bathroom). That is intelligent.

Everything about Nest is fluff. If you really want to save money, follow this advice: dress comfortably in the house and open windows if the weather is pleasing, turn on your heating/cooling the least amount of time to satisfy comfortability, turn up the temperature when you leave home so your unit does not turn on, find out what temperature you can comfortably sleep at, etc. This is all pretty basic stuff, and the main thing to remember is the less your heating/cool unit runs, the more money you save. That’s the secret.

Happy Nesting!

Make Your Move!

Hello there!

Yes, we have moved in and are now officially occupying The Nest! We finished up most of the painting in the kitchen (we still have the baseboards to do and touch-ups here and there, but for the most part, let’s just say we are done!) We took the day off on Friday to do some last-minute moving preparation, using our faithful Blueberry to haul little/fragile things to and from the current/future residences on three separate trips to lighten the major moving load later that evening. Our good brother[/-in-law] Austin offered to help us with the move, so we are very thankful for that—thank you, Austin! We started around 9:30 PM and finished up everything by 12:30 AM. Good stuff!

Garage Sale…everything must GO! Someone picked up the kitty litter in no more than ten minutes after we posted this pic to Craigslist.

We initially reserved a 24′ truck, but for some reason it wasn’t available when we went to pick it up. So they hooked us up with a 16′ truck, and we tagged on some insurance and no dolly’s (we had two already) or furniture pads (we did scratch the kitchen table a little bit; Izzie was pissed!). We probably got out the door for about $100, but we’ll see after the holiday weekend how we did.

We constructed a deluxe makeshift bed for the night on the floor after we were done and enjoyed a much needed rest that night. The house was in terrific shape!

That couch looks straight, right?

We are probably going to leave this room like this, we like the atmosphere…

We will be cooking soon! Two weeks of take out isn’t as nice as it sounds.

“We did it!…*snore*”

Still looking beautiful after an exhausting day of moving and grooving

So on Saturday and today, we have been busy doing what people who just move do: unpack and set up shop. Besides the kitchen paint color, we still have plans to wave the magic color wand and get rid of the awkward brown color the previous owners thought would look good in the whole house. Little by little, step by step!

Nice to sleep in a bed again! We should make our bed in the morning…

Office space is looking better. And you are not a true designer if you do not have EXPEDIT…

The kitchen is so much…brighter! And we are going to leave the blinds off in the kitchen since it’s so nice to have that light coming in all the time and be able to look out in the backyard.

Whoa, that’s messy!

We are going to put these on the local forums to donate. We do not want roaches munching on these!

Izzie taking a break from unpacking.

Ignore the cats in the background making love!

Since we have Monday and Tuesday off, we are pacing ourselves and allowing for a good rest of the weekend setting up. Have a great Memorial Day weekend! We’d like to leave you with these two baby seals we found swimming in our bathtub!* **

*No actual seals were harmed in the posting of this image.

***No actual seals were harmed in the posting of this image.

Happy Nesting!

William Perry Has Entered The Building

Good evening and hello to you, wherever you are, whoever you are!

This will be a mini-update of The Nest, and we apologize for the lack of photos to accompany our progress. We have been progressing, and we guarantee you, the train has left the station and is well on its way, full steam ahead.

Last Friday was a good day because we finally got our fridge delivered to the house! And boy, is she a cutie.

Tell me, have you ever seen a moonwalking refrigerator delivery man?

Ah, this feels good!

Izzie had the pleasure of being home for the delivery and made sure to take some really fantastic pics of the drop-off. The delivery man did report a small leak at the water line valve, so we will have to follow up with that and replace the valve. From what we have researched though, it shouldn’t be too difficult to perform. But the ice is cold and everything seems to be running properly. It’s not loud at all and, with about 18.2 cubic feet of storage, will suit our needs just fine. The stainless steel comes through as being fingerprint-resistant and we can vouch for that claim after a myriad of sweaty, oily fingertips have graced its surface with nary a print left behind. If you didn’t know, the house did not come with a refrigerator, so we had to purchase one. There really wasn’t much going on in used appliances on Craigslist in College Station, so we made a trip to Lowe’s and purchased one that suited our needs and made us happy. And we can definitely say that we are happy with it. It sticks out a few inches from the door frame, but we are both skinny so it works out just fine. Today we managed to transport all of our food in our old refrigerator to the new one, but still have a lot of the dry goods in the pantry to bring over.

Lowe’s has become our new favorite place, and we honestly go there almost every day to pick up odds and ends. Luckily we live right by one and usually takes about 6-7 minutes to get there. And with all the change of address business that we’ve been doing, we have been hoarding three 10% off Lowe’s coupons perfect for when the other major appliances enter the arena. For right now we are keeping an eye out on our house budget and will be waiting a month or two before contemplating our next major purchase (we have a few options: stove, microwave, washer/dryer, etc.).

It’s amazing what you find going down the aisles of Lowe’s. What we are learning is that there is definitely a healthy assortment of “things” that make certain tasks easier/more efficient. We bought these great Painter’s Pyramids that allow you to prop up your cabinets for easier painting on the sides, not to mention not sticking to the paper we laid out (we had an annoying problem with the paper sticking to the wet cabinets on the sides, and probably should have went with a fabric if we were to do it again without the Pyramids). There was a very big difference in how we approached painting the cabinets after we got these bad boys set up!

Penny approves of the Painter’s Pyramids

Tonight we went on a painting frenzy in the kitchen and got the first coat of paint up on the walls. Nadia came by again also to help out with that (thank you!) while the American Idol finals were on in the background. We are actually pleasantly surprised with the color and can’t wait to get the second coat on tomorrow night to see what it looks like. And we are happy because our method for picking the paint swatch for the kitchen literally took less than thirty seconds between the both of us, going back a few times between choices, saying “Done” and walking to the counter. We are taking comfort in knowing that some things in life are better when there is less thought involved. Obviously this cannot be prescribed to all situations (that would be carelessness!), but for things like paint colors in a house, if it turns out bad or not quite what we had in mind, we would live with it and love it and laugh because it really is paint, and paint is paint.

Over the past few days we’ve also managed to pick up some much needed lawn equipment (why does grass grow so fast?). If you have seen the movie The Avengers, go back to the theater where you saw it and ask for your money back, because you ain’t NEVER seen superheroes like this!

Everyone’s here…

We ran some numbers and the benefit of maintaining your own lawn as opposed to paying someone else to do it for you was the way to go. We purchased the least expensive self-propelled mower under the assumption that both husband and wife could take the reins if need be (we will revisit this assumption…) ($275), a corded edger ($84), and a cordless trimmer and blower ($130 bundled together). Matt took time to do the works on the front yard and back yard on Monday, and the results are astounding. Astounding. We will have more outdoor posts in the future, but trust us when we say it makes a huge difference to have the yard edged properly. We are still working at eradicating the dozen or so condos the fire ants have invested in on our property, but such eviction takes time, persistance, and many granules of death and destruction bestowed upon their rabid colonies.

So we will finish up painting the kitchen tomorrow. We are still working on the cabinet doors, and will get to those on Thursday and Friday. We took off on Friday and Tuesday (we have Monday off like a lot of folks), so we have a lofty five-day weekend ahead of us to do our packing, moving, unpacking and everything else in between. We will make up for the lack of pictures in the next post…believe it!

Happy Nesting

OPTIMUS PRIMER

‘Tis been a while since we’ve last updated, we know, we know, but that does not mean the train stayed at the station. Tuesday we started priming at The Nest–finally!

I am ready, I am willing

We too, are ready, master

We had a ball going all-in with two weapons, one for the nooks and crannies and the other being a small roller. We focused on the doors and cabinets; the doors doing them one side at a time, waiting, then going at the other side. This process seemed to work well, but boy, is it exhausting. Something we probably should have done was elevating the workstations higher since it can be such a hassle sometimes trying to get that “prime” coverage. But we worked at it and fortunately, our good friend Nadia decided to stop by and help us for a few hours in the evening. Thank you for helping out with Optimus Primer!

Hey, Nadia!

Mind the toes

So by the end of the night on Tuesday, we managed to pulverize the shell, doors and drawers with one coat of primer (some of the shell we finished up later, but it was minor). One thing though: that primer is the stinky stuff. We made a major boo-boo by not having enough proper ventilation, so tonight we opened up the windows and put on some masks, and that helped out a tremendous amount. You live and you learn.

Wednesday night was a busy time during the day as we had THREE vendors come by around noon time to do what they need to do.

  • Enercon – Window company who came by to replace two windows in the front room that were, at the time of purchase, cracked. The seller footed the bill on that. We had the option to replace the other three windows [that were slightly foggy], but we opted out and will find a later time to replace them. It wasn’t high on the priority list. But the new windows looked fantastic! (Comparison shot down below)
  • Dish Network – We basically needed to transfer this service to the new house, so we brought our receiver and remote with us, and they installed a new dish for us at no charge.
  • Suddenlink – We NEED the interwebz. We had Verizon at our leased residence, but found out on the phone when we called to transfer our service that they no longer supply DSL on its own; you have to purchase a home phone line with it. Forget that. We had a home phone line for the last two years and never used it. In fact, we even unplugged it within a couple months (we attempted to cancel it, but we would have spent more money to take it off rather than just keep it and not use it). It was only for telemarketers calling at  7 PM and College Station High School leaving messages saying so-and-so was not in class again. There are too many other options for communicating nowadays, and with the exception of emergencies when cell coverage isn’t there, landlines don’t really serve a real purpose in our household. Since we were not on a contract with Verizon anymore, we threw up the deuce and went with Suddenlink’s 1.5 Mbps cable internet for $25 a month. Couple that with our basic Dish Network package that includes all the local channels plus a few of the popular networks (AMC, HGTV, etc.) and we are going to be paying only $45 for both TV and internet. Now that’s news worth calling about.

Old window on the left, new window on the right. What clarity! Although it does seem like the old window had a tint on it, which helps with the some of the heat. The window guys definitely had fun coming through the rose bush in the front!

Speaking of the interwebz, Suddenlink supplied us with a modem, but we didn’t have a router. Well, we did, but it was a DSL router. So a trip to Best Buy yielded a great Apple product

Ba-dow

I definitely don’t have to endorse this company, I will just let you that this is far superior than anything else they had, in terms of ease of setup and practicality (and looks, of course). It was worth the extra pennies and will definitely fit right in with the rest of our Apple family.

So long story short, we did take the night off on Wednesday to enjoy a nice home-cooked meal on the floor with American Idol invading our eyes and ears.

Thursday we got back on the horse and worked on a second coat of primer on the cabinet doors and drawers. We also stopped by Lowe’s to grab two gallons of semi-gloss white paint and two gallons of our semi-gloss kitchen color paint.

Izzie approves of the refrigerator spot

We are still in the process of adding a second coat of primer to the doors, but Izzie went ahead and painted the drawers—lookin’ good!

Brr, it’s cold outside, I need another coat

Drawer Me Close To You

Tomorrow around 4–7 PM we take delivery of our cool refrigerator, so we definitely had to get that spot ready! Don’t worry, the rest of the kitchen will get color, we promise!

We used a robin egg as inspiration for the kitchen color, since we love scrambled eggs!

We were still getting the nooks and crannies on Thursday, including priming the baseboard in the kitchen.

Don’t mind the rather dead-looking right arm!

Rest of the shell is good to go for the first coat of paint this weekend!

Scalpel…

We are concurrently packing at our current residence, and making progress. We have set a moving date for next weekend, and need to get with Budget to take advantage of that 20% coupon. We will be painting, painting, painting this weekend and will be trying to finish up the kitchen entirely. At some point we’ll have to order hardware, but on the list higher than hardware is lawn equipment. That grass ain’t gonna cut itself!

We’d like to leave you with this…Happy Nesting!

Meow (this one is definitely staying!)

Plenty of Sanding, Life’s Still a Beach

This kitchen does not want to get primed! We spent a good three hours tonight at The Nest expecting to get through more tasks, but as it turns out the work has been taking longer than usual. Which is totally fine, and better for us to realize now just how much time is needed to do these things!

We bought a dolly today at lunch to transport some very hefty boxes to and from residences, and it has definitely proven tonight to be a big help. Our backs have thanked us many times already. We managed to bring over four big boxes in the CR-V along with some odds and ends, just to ease the big move with a big truck and big furniture. And why wouldn’t we, if we are traveling ten or so minutes with an empty car? For right now we are putting everything in the center of the living room, just because this area will receive the least amount of action throughout the whole painting and moving process.

We initially planned on stopping by the post office during our lunch break, but found out that we could submit our Change of Address info online for $1 each. And in return, we received a very useful Lowe’s “homeowner” coupon that’ll give us 10% of our purchase up to $5000. This will definitely come in handy when we are ready to pull the trigger on the rest of our major kitchen appliances and washer/dryer. We also got a Budget 15% and 20% off coupon, which we will also excitedly take advantage of come major moving day.

Priming was put on hold, as we had to tend to tasks on the cabinet doors/cabinets and kitchen cabinet shell. We picked up some Fine/Extra Fine grit sandpaper blocks and went to town on everything, so that when the primer and paint do hit the wood, it’ll take better and have a smoother finish.

Sandwoman

And of course, Sandman

After sanding the doors/drawers, we did a quick moistened wipe-down to remove the excess dust particles and set those aside to dry. Then we did a rinse and repeat cycle on the kitchen cabinet shell as there were a lot of places that were splintering and needed to be leveled out.

Señor Frog Tape

We heard good things about this particular brand of painter’s tape and the green color was, in the end, irresistible. And as with possessing two circular objects that could resemble so many wonderful things in life, we took a five-minute breather to reenact the stirring performance of The Frog Prince:

Thespian One

Thespian Two

Cut that out! After a bag of popcorn and Sweet Leaf tea, we decided to resume working, finishing taping off the rest of the kitchen cabinet shell.

Look at that form!

Izzie did not know she was actually doing a very popular Cambodian sitting stance…

The Cambodian Squat

So it’s nearing 9:00 PM, and Izzie decides to go into meltdown mode. Observe:

I’VE HAD IT!!!

“Can we go hommmeee…” *zombie voice*

This is the coveted refrigerator space that we are making sure is all done up by the time the doorbell rings.

Cool it, bro

We have already talked about the game plan for tomorrow night and we will, will have primed everything that needs to be primed. You have been forewarned—the blog title for tomorrow will be called…Optimus Prime

Happy Nesting

Scrub-A-Dub-Dub

We had a two-hour window that we were able to return to The Nest for two hours tonight, and we brought Penny with us for the first time! We weren’t quite sure how she would react, as there is a small, yappy Pomeranian to the left of us that greeted us on earlier dates to the house. It’s not an obnoxious dog though, which is good, because we enjoy hearing the many birds that frequent the yard.

Shhh. I’m listening.

Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we assigned ourselves two tasks, but only managed to get to one completed: preparing the cabinet doors/drawers and cabinet shell inside for priming, which we’ll tackle this week after work.

We set up a work area in the backyard, filled up a bucket of soap and water, and grabbed the spray bottle of Goo Gone for the really sticky, grimy buildup that populated some of the pieces.

Izzie hard at work

Goo Goo Gone Gone

After having set the pieces out in the sun to dry up, we brought them back into the living room. We will need to give them a quick sanding before we go to town on them, but unfortunately we didn’t have any on hand. And the tracks need to come off of the drawers.

Hangin’ out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride

Izzie took the top, I took the bottom. A lot of grime near the microwave, but Goo Gone definitely helps to alleviate that. We will need to do a major Frog Tape session next time we’re here, so that’s something to look forward to!

You’re So Cool

It is an absolute necessity in 2012 to have a refrigerator in the home, and since The Nest did not come with one when we signed on the dotted line, it would be a good idea to have one by the end of the month (it works out great since our lease at our current town home ends at the same time) when we move in.

We purchased a refrigerator from Lowe’s last week, and asked for delivery of it to be next week after the kitchen is nicely painted. We had a few prerequisites in place:

    • Stainless-steel finish (It just looks nice…)
    • Top-Freezer Configuration (The least expensive type of configuration)
    • Stainless-steel handles (instead of black)
    • Energy Star certified (mainly fluff, but makes a tiny difference in energy consumption)
    • Counter-depth (or as close as we could get to it)

We didn’t desire the fancy models nor did we want to pay that much for one. We asked ourselves philosophically while scratching our chins: “Will having this fridge that costs XX more make our lives more fulfilling?” The answer is no. We wanted a functional stainless-steel model that looked nice and didn’t break the bank, and so that’s exactly what we looked for and purchased.

The Frigidaire LFHT1817LF. It received a decent amount of reviews on Lowe’s (we always take these with a grain of salt) and met the wish list. It also came with 10% off, free delivery and installation, and free icemaker (score!). Out the door with everything, including a water line cable (about $12) and tax was under $700, and we felt very comfortable with that given the vast selection of refridgerators available at all kinds of price points.

We don’t have a washer and dryer yet, but we do have some very generous friends from work who offered us Saturdays at their place for that. The microwave has a broken handle but works fine, as does the gas stove. The dishwasher is fine as well, although it is connected to an extension cord (which was noted in the inspection) that could be definitely be a hazard. We are planning to hand-wash things for a little while until we figure out what we want to do about that.

There will be pics of the refrigerator in place come next weekend, but it should be a good fit and a welcome addition in sprucing up the kitchen (and fulfilling the need of keeping perishable edibles edible). We will note that the house was built in 1995, and the current kitchen appliances appear to be original.

Translation: White was definitely in during 1995.

Day 2 of Cleaning…Success!

We came, we saw, we cleaned. We finished our second day of cleaning and did more than we expected by the end of the night. The living room, front room, kitchen, utility room and master bedroom and bathroom were all checked off the list. We must note that this is a pretty “surface” cleaning (massaging baseboards, windows, outlets, switch plates/removing ghastly gold towel bars and toilet paper tubes, etc.) that entails copious amounts of radioactive-looking cleaner and self-serve elbow grease. We will be priming the kitchen the next time we make it back to the house, so we took the necessary precautions today to go ahead and prep the kitchen. And that means taking off all the cabinet doors, drawers and hardware…

Doors Galores

Our dirty drawers

Bling bling!

The cabinet doors had some pretty uninspiring hardware: a mix of plastic/metal and worst of all, the travel was terrible. But the doors are good to go for now (they have some notches on the inside of them where the old hardware resided, but that’s nitpicking!), and will look a world apart once we get some off-white paint and nickel pulls on them. The plan is to use the doors we have but buy new hardware that doesn’t involve any plastic parts and a more mature closing/opening mechanism. We talked about even leaving the doors off for a while while we get things figured out. We’ll also add some pulls for the doors and drawers down the line.

After the kitchen was done we wandered outside in the backyard and swept the porch area (still some mowed residue and random nails since we just had a new roof put on). It was great to spend more time in the house, because the first day we definitely felt like squatters laying on the carpet of someone else’s house and cleaning their toilets.

On Monday we will be back at The Nest ready to prime the kitchen, so stay tuned!

And the Cleaning Begins…

Last night was our first night to clean at the house and we were scrubbing, rubbing, scraping, polishing, spraying, brushing and de-yuckifying The Nest, as nobody likes anybody else’s grime on their new digs. We found some small critters scurrying around, wishing us well and hoping to see us some time soon, which will be tonight after work. We thought we would be able to tackle a bigger chunk of the house, but alas, these things take time and we only did one side of the house (three smaller rooms, the guest bathroom and a hallway). Tonight we will tackle the front sitting area, the living room, and the master bedroom/bathroom. After that we can finally move onto the kitchen and prime and paint before our new refrigerator is delivered next weekend.

If only all the birds and woodland animals could come and help us clean… only in Snow White! Once everything has passed our stringent personal inspection, then we’ll move on and begin working on the kitchen.

Here’s what we have planned for the kitchen in a loosely-constructed chronological ordering:

Coming Up

  • Paint the walls
  • Purchase and install a refrigerator
  • Remove cabinet doors and drawers, then prime and paint
  • Purchase better hinges for the doors
  • Purchase upgraded cabinet doors and drawer pulls
  • Fix the blinds
In The Future
  • Purchase and install a globe pendant lamp, and some new mini pendants on the breakfast bar.
  • Update the appliances (gas range, microwave, dishwasher)
  • Purchase and install new tile for the kitchen floors
  • Install concrete/granite/silestone/hard surface countertops
  • Replace the backsplash with some shiny metallic subway tiles
  • Open up the wall into the living room and extend the breakfast bar

Thank you Papa John!