From Fiasco to Fabulous: A Tale of Flooring Triumph

One of the few things that was wrong with our house at the time of purchase was severely damaged laminate flooring in the kitchen. Water had caused the laminate to peel and buckle and a large swath of floor was unusable. This was, of course, inconvenient, as it was in the middle of the kitchen. Someday, we’d like to replace all the flooring upstairs. Right now, we’re leaning toward a dark, hard floor like bamboo, but as we watch Rory slipping and sliding across the dining room, that dream may have to die. Regardless of what we choose, new flooring is not in the budget right now but the kitchen was treacherous, not to mention dangerous. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the edges of many of the buckled pieces curved upward significantly and we found ourselves tripping constantly and crunching over the papery, bent boards. Luckily, we found a few extra pieces of flooring in the basement and Tyler decided to attempt to fix the affected area. He’d never attempted a project like this, but with a few tools and a weekend, he forged ahead.

Kitchen Floor Before (under the refrigerator)

Dirty and damaged.

It would be challenging, largely because our supply of materials were limited, but also because he’d have to reach the middle of the floor where the damage was. After moving the refrigerator out of the kitchen and loosening a few baseboards, Tyler got to work. He encountered constant challenges, ranging from a generous application of glue, to having to hone pieces of wood down to fit into tight areas to finally running out of new materials and having to cobble together un-warped bits from the removed boards to fill in spaces under the refrigerator.

In progress. Note the discoloration on the surface - that's mold from the water damage.

Two long, curse-filled days later, he had done it. It’s not perfect, but it is more than good enough and more than worth the agony of trying to fall asleep for my early day at work while he banged and clanged and despaired outside the bedroom door. I think it looks great! Especially considering our Plan B was “throw a rug over it”. I’m thrilled that I have such a handy husband – and one who is willing to work so hard to improve our home.

The damage extended into the hallway nook as well. Here you can see the finished, fixed, level floor. Hooray!


Ugly Duckling

I may have mentioned that we bought a house. Or, I may not have, because as it turns out, when you buy a house you become approximately 14 times as busy as you were before. Between moving, cleaning, sanding, painting, scrubbing, painting, fixing, painting, cleaning, painting, oh – and painting, we have disappeared from the map. I haven’t even had time to keep up with my facebook social life and I mean really, when you are too busy for facebook, you are too busy. In any case, the house that has been keeping us so busy is in the midst of its own duckling-to-swan transformation but before we reveal the after, I thought some of you might like to see what the house looked like before.

There are some aspects of the house I found hideous, such as the deep maroon accent walls in a sloppily painted mélange of drips, drops, and textures that made the color look more “blood-bath” than wine. There are other aspects that are not necessarily to my taste but that are perfectly adequate – for now (such as the plentiful use of builder-grade oak trim and cabinets). There are also aspects that were adequate but that I’ve already changed (such as the sheet glass mirrors above those oak bathroom cabinets) and some that are being changed imminently (I’m talking about you, suspiciously boring “contemporary” chandelier). But, all things considered, it’s a great house and we are very happy with our purchase.

It’s enormous, for starters. Nearly 2,700 square feet. It’s also newer (built in 2006) so there aren’t horrible, scary problems. The insulation is decent and keeps heat in and noise out. The yard could use some major love – but we have one, and it’s nicely sized and situated among friendly neighbors on a lovely cul-de-sac. Most of all, I love how light it is. The airy feeling sold me on the house. Oh, that and getting a ridiculously good deal on the purchase price. Tyler was swayed more by the enormous basement that conjured visions of massive LCD tvs, pool tables, and beer refrigerators, but we all have our price.

We couldn’t have found somewhere as nice as this in the area we wanted so I am pleased to report no buyer’s remorse. There are many things we’d like to do to enhance our little piece of home and I look forward to sharing many, many projects with you as we transform this house from the builder’s vision to our own.

For now, I will leave you with a few photos and the promise that already these pictures are outdated and that I will be sharing the new ones soon!

View of living room, dining room, kitchen from hallway.

View of the living room and front door, hallway from the dining room.

View of the kitchen from the dining room.

View of the kitchen from the laundry room.

View of the master bedroom from the master bathroom.

View of master bathroom from doorway.

View of the office from doorway.

View of office from window.

View of Rory's room (and the windowseat!) from door.

View of Rory's room from corner.

View of upstairs guest bath from doorway.

Upstairs guest bath vanity.

Stairs leading to basement.

View of main basement room from stairs. To the right is a storage room (not pictured).

View of main basement room from the window. You can see the door to the storage room, as well as the stairwell, and the arch that leads to the rest of the basement.

More pictures of the rest of the basement coming soon. There are two more bedrooms, a bathroom, and another large room in the basement.

Wrapping up January and Working through February- Goals in Action

As the few of you who read my blog may know, it is mostly for my own benefit. I like to be able to flip back through the pages of my life and blogs are a great way to infuse a little accountability into the goal-setting process. Many of you may have set goals at the beginning of January. Perhaps you’d like to join me and track your progress so far. How are you doing? Are you accomplishing what you wanted to? Are you taking steps to make those goals attainable? Or maybe your goals have shifted, is it time to reevaluate your priorities?



  • Work on book every day- Started out well, but then we got involved in the house and I skipped several days. Still, made a much more concerted effort to engage regularly with the novel writing process and feel the benefit of focusing – even if for only a few moments a day- on the book.
  • Get halfway done with 3rd rewrite, structural changes- Did not finish, but did complete my outline of the book, fixing all the major plot holes (hopefully), developing characters further, etc. This was a huge task. Got Chapter 1 Re-written.
  • Cut back on blog reading and tv watching- Cut out 2 blogs I used to read daily because I realized they sucked my time and just made me feel badly about myself, through no fault of the writers. The issue is mine and I took steps to rectify it.
  • Create list of short story contests, post in clear view- Done!
  • Jot down creative writing ideas once a week- Only did this once.
  • At least once – go somewhere and people watch and daydream- Done!
  • Share short stories with <name – Done! I am making more of an effort to “put myself out there” and risk the opinions of others.
  • Write an article for the newsletter – I made sure to give myself a writing assignment at work. It’s my favorite thing, so I need to make time for it.
  • Pitch article to a news source – For the first time I pitched an article to a major news/entertainment outlet. I doubt I will hear back from them but I took a first step.


  • Lose 4.5 lbs – Only lost 2. Maybe. My weight was down 2 lbs but mysteriously skyrocketed this week. It’s probably an alien baby.
  • Dessert once per week- Major fail
  • Exercise 5 times per week – interval training at least once, weight training at
  • least once- Done!
  • Get back into skating at least once per week- Done!
  • Misc. personal goals- Could do better next month

Life Mission

  • Write down my life mission and mission for the year, start sharing- Done!
  • Plan portfolio – get mostly done- Umm, I sort of started… This is an important task for me so I must make it a priority.


  • Eat at 1 new restaurant- TJs Burgers in Wichita
  • Try Yoga- Done!
  • Dance Lessons with Tyler- Pushed off to a less stressful month.
  • Go to a movie- True Grit.


  • Submit plan of study, begin spring semester- Decided to take the semester off.
  • Submit paper to conference- Done! And it was accepted! Another first for me.
  • Apply to scholarships– Done!




Top Priorities: Writing, Portfolio, Catching up with/making time for  friends


  • Work on book every day- So far, so good.
  • Finish 3rd rewrite, structural changes- I’ve posted drafts of chapters 2 and 3 for my readers to review.
  • Seek input of <name>, <name>, and <name>, my book readers and idea assistants ; )
  • Cut back on blog reading and tv watching
  • Write a new short story
  • Submit a short story to a contest
  • Jot down creative writing ideas at least once
  • At least once – go somewhere and people-watch and daydream
  • Write an article for the newsletter
  • Pitch an article to a news source


  • Lose 3 Lbs (Weigh in “officially” on Sat Feb 5)
  • Dessert once per week- So far I am doing excellently : ) Mostly because we don’t have anything delicious to eat and no time to make anything, but a win is a win.
  • Exercise 5 times per week – interval training at least once, weight training at least once- Goin’ well.
  • Skate once per week
  • Eyebrow wax, bang trim
  • Schedule dentist appt, whiten teeth

Life Mission

  • Share life mission on my blog, share blog with Erik and Steve
  • Work on biz ideas
  • Get portfolio online (BY END OF MONTH SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE UP)


  • Eat at 1 new restaurant
  • Go to a movie (The King’s Speech)
  • Plan trip to Boston


  • Get in touch with Dr. X, my erstwhile mentor, about my book


  • Spend time with <Friend A> at least once
  • Spend time with <Friend B> at least once
  • Call <Friend C>
  • Call <Friend D>
  • Call <Friend E>



What about you?

Playing the Property Game

Our little piece of Kansas

Tyler and I have (almost) bought a house! We’ve made an offer, accepted a counter offer, implicated ourselves in a contract, applied for financing, and are waiting on our inspection. If all goes well, we close March 1. This date is not only convenient given the timing of our lease, it is also a 2nd wedding anniversary present (we got married February 28, 2009). Go ahead, celebrate. We aren’t yet, though. Whether it’s because we’re new to this whole game or whether we are just waiting until everything is (literally) signed and delivered, we are no more than cautiously excited at the moment. So go ahead and cheer a little for us, because we’re acting like it ain’t no thang.

The details: a 2006 ranch with a fully finished basement in a nice, newish neighborhood on the south end of the town I grew up in. 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,600 square feet. More room than we need at the moment, but I am looking forward to having both a writing room and an office and Tyler has already claimed most of the basement as his (groan) “man-cave”. It will be nice to be able to make some permanent changes, living as we have for years now as renters. There are definitely some areas that need improving, but as a new house we are pleased that very few things need fixing.

I did not want a new house. I wanted an old house, with character. However, it turns out a new house works well for us. We are young. We are poor. Buying this house leaves us little left over for those massive repairs and renovations an old house can require. It will be my special challenge to learn how to infuse our new house with character. I’ve already spent many sleepless nights pondering what colors will look best with the oak trim (which at least initially we will not paint, even though I prefer fresh white). Try looking at a paint chip or a decorating magazine. I bet you don’t see much oak. There are always charming, wide, white borders in the show houses that help you compare and contrast “sandstone” with “glacial bay”. And yet, many many people live in houses with this ubiquitous oak trim. For me, this house presents the usual challenges; style and storage on a budget, finding ways to “make it ours”, creatively brainstorming cost-effective enhancements that will both add to the home’s value and make it a better place for us to live. The challenges are the same – but this time, my canvas is enormous.

Of course, there are other things we are excited about. We’re excited to live in a family-oriented community with excellent walking trails, parks, and schools. My parents live within walking distance just north of us, and my grandparents are only a couple of miles further in the same town. Our dog will have room to roam and a new dog park is in the works. I’m excited to make some new friends and get involved in the neighborhood; for the first time we will be living near other younger people – couples and families instead of cranky elderly people with yapping dogs and fetishes for garden statuary. (Note: Not all elderly people are cranky, but the ones that lived by us are.) Both of our commutes will be longer but our home will be more restful and we will be close to family and some of our great friends. Besides, anything that brings me closer to my lovely little niece is a plus in my book.

All in all, we are looking forward to this transition, despite the accompanying stress (which has already started) of moving, changing lifestyle, and increasing our financial obligations. I think it will be worth it. I don’t have any doubts or second thoughts; and that’s rare for me – I question everything, over-analyzing, making sure it is a good decision. This is a good decision. Now, to make it through the home inspection unscathed. Is it always this stressful buying a house or is this just a hurdle you have to cross?


Knock Off Decor

A project I did a few months ago is being featured on Knock Off Decor:

If you’re like me and love finding ways to do more with less you will love this site. It houses an ever-growing collection of projects from creative, crafty people who have seen something in stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, and Anthropologie and thought, I can make that.

I’m particularly loving this Anthro-inspired bedspread:

Goals and Such – Part IV




  • Plan trip(s) and make travel a priority

Around Wichita

  • Eat at 1 new restaurant each month (this one is easy)
  • Enjoy Wichita arts/culture at least once (Final Friday etc.)


  • Try yoga
  • Take a skating test
  • –>Test Juvenile, Intermediate MITF (Stretch goal: Novice MITF)
  • –> Test European Waltz, Foxtrot, one silver dance
  • –> Get back into ice dancing, attend Dance Weekend


  • Dance lessons (Whee!)
  • Schedule date nights (both of us)
  • Make it a priority to experience entertainment more (movies, etc.)


Goals and Such – Part III

This one is pretty big. Over the past couple of years I’ve been honing down a grand but vague life purpose. A mission, so to speak. There are many paths that lead there, but as long as I keep my purpose in mind, I feel like I am fulfilling my “life” goal(s). It is time to bring this picture more clearly into view.


Life Mission


–> The $$ are the key here, folks. Too much of our day is spent in work, and if that work is unsatisfying and draining, there is a problem. I am to solve this problem, or grow closer to solving it.


  • Write down my life mission and my mission for the year (by Feb 1)
  • Share this with as many people as I can


  • Investigate income-earning opportunities/ideas that would involve me helping people to hone their creative skills – to view creativity as a valuable asset
  • Establish an online portfolio and blog through which I can communicate