Resolving on 2014

We’re back! The rumors of our deaths were greatly exaggerated – we simply had a crazy December and decided to take the month off. 2014’s here now, though, and we’re ready to get on with another awesome year.

The lister in me loves writing out my New Year’s Resolutions. It’s almost a ritual for me to get out pen and paper on New Year’s day and scratch out what I’d like my next year to look like.  Kevin (who’s not exactly a Type A lister), added his thoughts and the list below took shape.

HOUSE RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 1: Finish what we’ve started. There’s several projects around the Little House that we just haven’t quite put the finishing touches on yet. Not to name names, but… the backyard, office, laundry nook, and master bedroom. We’re so close to calling these spaces done; we just need to push through and get them to 100%.

New Rug Pre FievelResolution 2: Remodel the Bathroom. We’ve been talking about the big bathroom remodel for ages, but the time has finally come. We’re starting to work on finding the look we want and planning for the best time to be without a shower (since we only have one bathroom).

bathroom-progress2Resolution 3: Update the Kitchen. This goal is a big maybe. We’d love to retile the kitchen with the same tile we used in the office, paint the walls a sexy navy, and the trim a crisp white, but the logistics of tiling the kitchen are a bit daunting. More on that soon.

kitchen-ii1

PERSONAL RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 1: Get Healthy. In 2014 we’re going to hit the gym 3x a week… in the morning. Before work. Before the sun is up. I am the opposite of a morning person. I don’t see this going well. We’re also going to attempt to run the Dallas Metro PCS Half Marathon next December.  I’m also not a great runner. I can finish a 5k, but by the way I go on afterwords you’d think I just finished an ultramarathon. I wheeze. I gasp. I complain. And now I’ve agreed to run 13.1 miles with Kevin. If I can manage to keep both these goals it’ll be a miracle.

Hollywood Heights 5k

Resolution 2: Unplug. I stare at a computer screen eight hours a day. When Kevin’s not on his computer at work, he’s on his phone for conference calls. So this year we want to unplug while we’re home: go on more walks, ride our bikes, sit in the backyard with our phones in the house.

dogwood-canyon

Resolution 3: Simplify. We have a lot of stuff. We’re not even sure what all the stuff is; we just know that we have tubs and tubs of unknown possessions in our attic, garage, and spare bedroom. It’s time we organized and decluttered the Little House.

Hopefully we’ll be able to keep all our 2014 resolutions. I feel like 2014 is going to be a big year for us, but then again, I feel that way about every year. And I’m usually right.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions this year? Do you have any big plans? What do you think 2014 will hold for you?

Running Out of Time

Even though it’s all we’ve been writing about lately, the backyard isn’t the only thing getting in shape for our St. Patty’s day crawfish boil! Kev and I will be running in our very first 5K race, the Dash Down Greenville 5K, on the same morning (PS. There’s still spots open, so if you’re in the DFW area you should sign up and run the race with us!)

Dash Down Greenville

Back in December, we mentioned that we were starting the Couch to 5K training program. We thought we’d give a little update on our progress (just to keep us honest).

We’ve been traveling a ton since since the holidays, but we’ve managed to stick to the program pretty well. We’re starting our fourth week today and the workouts start to get pretty intense from here on out. The program uses intervals of walking and running to build up your stamina. We’re currently running right at 1.5 miles (halfway there!) and walking about one. We’re trying to keep our running around a nine minute mile (in hopes of finishing the race under thirty minutes).

couchto5k progress

We’re taken to running around a park on our evening runs. There’s always something going on there to distract us from the burning in our lungs: softball and kickball games, kids the playground, and pickup basketball games.

On the weekends (if the weather’s nice – and this time of year it always is), we take the puppies out to White Rock Lake and run down along the shore. It’s a great run and the girls love getting out and stretching their legs. We’ve even bought them backpacks so we can take water along for them!

doggie backpacks

We’re so excited for the race and for the boil! March really can’t get here soon enough!

How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you ever run with your puppies? Would your pup wear a doggy backpack?

2013, A Look Ahead: Doggy Domicile

Ready or not, 2013 is here. In 2012 we survived super storms, Twinkie shortages, and the end of the world. How is 2013 going to top that? Here at the Little House, we have a whole year of projects planned to rock our 2013. This week, we’re going to share some of those plans with you (just to keep us honest in the coming year). Today we look at building a new Little House… for our puppies.

It’s no secret that Kevin and I are nuts about our pups (we dedicated an entire week to them back in August!). They’re both rescue mutts, but right now they’re the closest thing we have to kids. They’re big girls; Rosie is a 2 1/2-year-old black and tan coonhound (weighing in at 65lbs) and Indy is a year-old lab/great pyranees/who-knows-what-else mix that tips the scale at about 85 lbs.

Puppies

While Kevin and I are at work, the girls stay out back of the Little House (we can’t trust them inside). Typically, the weather in Dallas is pretty great and they’re perfectly content to lay in the shade all day. There are days, however, when it’s either too hot or too rainy for them to be outside without some form of shelter. And since we tore down the only roofed structure in the backyard, they no longer have any way to get out of the elements.

It’s time we built them a doghouse (or two). Here’s some of our inspiration photos:

Dog House(via)

We love the traditional “doghouse-ness” of this design. It would be simple to construct, but we’re afraid it wouldn’t get enough airflow for our hot Texas summers. We’d probably end up adding windows of some sort.

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(via)

This would be much more labor intensive, but it’s got vents, plenty of room, AND a sun porch for hanging out in the summertime. What more could a puppy ask for?

Green dog house

(via)

This green doghouse really caught our attention. We love the growing space above and the fun, colorful design. This would probably be the easiest of the three to construct and it could easily be converted to a duplex for both girls.

This will likely be one of the projects we tackle in the near future. Our girls really, really need a dry, safe place to call home!

Have you ever built a dog house? Where do your puppies live? Can you trust your pups inside?

2013, A Look Ahead: The Weekender

Ready or not, 2013 is here. In 2012 we survived super storms, Twinkie shortages, and the end of the world. How is 2013 going to top that? Here at the Little House, we have a whole year of projects planned to rock our 2013. This week, we’re going to share some of those plans with you (just to keep us honest in the coming year). Today we take a look at our new project series, The Weekenders!

Kevin and I aren’t the best at project execution. Just take our back yard for an example. We started demolition way back in March 2012. Our goal to finish the project is March…2013. We’ve been living with a muddy, half demoed yard for almost a year. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not lazy. We’re just busy. We have too many irons in the fire.

One of our New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 is to finish what we start. While we’re planning on finishing some big projects this year like the master bedroom, backyard, and bathroom, we’d also like to tackle some smaller projects without them spiraling out of control and taking months. That’s how we came up with the idea of Weekenders.

Weekender projects are designed to be just that… things we can tackle start to finish in a weekend. There may be some research and planning on the front end, but once the safety glasses go on, work won’t stop until the last power tool has been put to rest.

Here’s a few of the Weekenders we have planned for 2013.

1. The Laundry. Our little laundry closet is functional, but just barely. There’s not much storage, what shelves we do have are are rickety and prone to falling off the wall, and the trim around the door hardly deserves to be called “trim” at all. A cheap and quick makeover could have our little laundry looking much more dapper in just two days.

Laundry Progress

2. The Countertops. We’re in love with almost everything about our butcher block countertops – except their color. They’re an orangey blonde stain that doesn’t mesh with the darker wood tones in the rest of the house. We’d like to sand them down, restain, and properly seal them in a rich, walnutty stain.

kitchen-ii1

3. The attic. We don’t have any photos of our attic, but let me paint you a word picture. Imagine gray ductwork draped helter skelter here and there, while piles of odd electronics provide tripping hazards as you make your way through a maze of blue and gray plastic totes, filled to the brim and sometimes overflowing into the tub below, labeled, but never actually containing what’s promised. Now multiply that times fifty and make it about 200 F (in the summer) and that’s our attic. This is what we’d like to spend a weekend doing: emptying the attic, donating a TON of unused items, then building these nifty shelves to hold our maze of tubs and boxes.

Attic storage

There are a ton of other Weekender projects we’d like to tackle, but these are the biggest.

What Weekender project would you like to tackle?

2013, A Look Ahead: Roofing: Questions to Ask a Contractor

Hi everyone, today is going to be a Handyman Wednesday special of 2013, A Look Ahead. Specifically, we’re going to be replacing our roof. Normally, I would go about recruiting friends and family and replace our roof myself. However, the insurance company will be replacing our roof because of a hail storm last June. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of questions you should ask every contractor before you hire them.

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hiring a contractor

1. Are you licensed? NEVER EVER EVER hire a contractor that isn’t licensed. You’re asking for shady work that doesn’t meet code if you do.

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2. What insurance do you carry? They should carry BOTH Liability insurance and Workers Compensation insurance. The Liability protects your home from damage by the contractor. The Workers Comp covers any of his employees that may get hurt while working on your house.

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3. Do you pull the required building permits and what are they? Always make sure that permits are pulled by your contractor. This means that a city inspector will come check his work and make sure it’s safe. This is a requirement for anyone I’m looking to hire.

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4. Who will be in charge of the job once it starts? Make sure the contractor himself or a high level foreman will be in charge of the work, especially when sub-contractors are involved. If a foreman is in charge, ask to meet him and see the job he’s currently working on.

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5. Ask for references! Then call them and ask 3 basic questions: Did the job get done in time and on budget? How well did the company meet their promises? Would you use them again?

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6. Ask for an itemized bid. He has to do this anyway, so it’s not more work for him. This way, if you want to cut costs, you can easily see where. If he resists giving you this, it’s a major red flag because he may be hiding something.

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7. Is your bid and estimate or a fixed price? If it’s an estimate, ask for a fixed price bid. If he still says no, drop him.

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8. How long have you been doing business in this town? If they have been working for 5 years or more they typically have a list of sub-contractors they know and are comfortable with; ask which ones.

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9. Who are your main suppliers? Find out, then go talk to them. Sometimes these will give the best insight into problems incurred in the past (bills, unhappy customers, etc).

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10. Do you guarantee your work? Have you been involved in any lawsuits on previous jobs? These questions should shine light on the quality of work done by the contractor and how confident they are in their work.

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contractor gear

Last but not least, how do you like them? Are they forthcoming with details or do you have to pry it out of them? Does he seem like a bully or headstrong? Can he give you daily updates? Do you trust the guy? Does he look you in the eye when he shakes your hand? Sometimes, a gut can throw up warning signs that are missed above. Never hire anyone you wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting and talking with. Openness and honesty is never overrated!

What questions do you ask contractors that I don’t have above? Have you had your roof replaced? If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled? Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn’t zigzag?

2013, A Look Ahead: The Bathroom

Ready or not, 2013 is here. In 2012 we survived super storms, Twinkie shortages, and the end of the world. How is 2013 going to top that? Here at the Little House, we have a whole year of projects planned to rock our 2013. This week, we’re going to share some of those plans with you (just to keep us honest in the coming year). This time we take a look at our upcoming bathroom remodel.

The Little House has one bathroom. One teeny, tiny, seafoam dream of a bathroom.

bathroom-progress2

While we’re actually pretty fond of the original tile (especially the white hexagon tile on the floor), it’s in really bad shape. In the shower it’s cracked beyond repair in several places. There’s even a corner that’s broken off entirely and someone tried to stick it back up with a lot of caulk.

What we’re really in love with is the arch over the shower. It’s an original feature of our little 1940 home that’s echoed in other architectural elements throughout the house. And that’s about it. The vanity, while new, has no counter space and little usable storage. The lighting… don’t get me started on the lighting. It’s bad. Really bad.

We’re planning on doing a full gut to the studs, then drywalling and tiling ourselves. We’ll keep the bathroom’s current vintage vibe by tiling halfway up the wall with white subway tile, much like YHL did here. For the floor, we’re going to add a touch of vintage glam with Carrara marble hex tiles. We love the sparkly white background shot with veins of smoky gray.

carrara hex

We’ll reuse the existing toilet as the previous owner installed it just before we bought the house. We’re also going to reuse the original bathtub. It’s a deep cast iron tub that is both too big to get out of the house and too expensive to replace. Instead, we’ll have a local company re-enamel the tub, giving it a new skin and new life (perfect for kitty hide and seek).

Fiev in tub

We’re really excited to get started on this project! We’ll probably begin demolition once we get the backyard finished, so start looking for our planning posts sometime this spring!

Have you ever remodeled a bathroom? Any tips on surviving without your only bathroom during a remodel? We’re planning on doing this through the hot months so we can “shower” outside in the hose!

2013, A Look Ahead: The Backyard

Ready or not, 2013 is here. In 2012 we survived super storms, Twinkie shortages, and the end of the world. How is 2013 going to top that? Here at the Little House, we have a whole year of projects planned to rock our 2013. This week, we’re going to share some of those plans with you (just to keep us honest in the coming year). First up? The backyard.

We began demolition on the backyard way back in March of last year. Thanks to Dallas’ 100 degree summers, stubborn concrete, and a spate of other problems, we didn’t finish demoing until December. But now that the rubble’s cleared and we can take a look around, we have one heck of a blank canvas to work with.

Little Backyard Sans Hot Tub

Kevin and I are running our first ever 5K on March 16, the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. After the race, we’re having a huge St. Pat’s Day crawfish boil… in our backyard. That’s right, this project has an expiration date. We’ve got to get moving because we only have 68 days before the party!

And there’s a lot to do before we can have a yard that looks like this:

floorplanner

Now that both structures are gone (you can read more about their removal here, here, here, here, and here), we’re able to get started making the backyard of our dreams. Besides our raised veggie garden you see there on the right, our backyard will feature a roughly 20′ x 25′ crushed granite patio (more on that here) complete with bar and sunken fire pit along with our existing deck (to which we’re planning on add wrap-around stairs). Plus both our deck and 8′ privacy fence will be professionally restained this spring thanks to our insurance settlement from last summer’s hail storm.

We have a lot to do in 68 days. Here’s our current list, but it seems to be growing every day as we think of necessary intermediate steps for each project.

  • Remove old bar
  • Remove old hot tub/covered deck
  • Grade patio area (away from the house, towards the alley)
  • Install sprinkler system (we’re DIYing it)
  • Run electrical for the patio (will probably have a professional do this)
  • Excavate patio area
  • Build fire pit and bar foundation
  • Build patio
  • Build bar
  • Build wrap-around stairs on existing deck
  • Have deck and fence restained
  • Add furniture
  • Add accessories
  • Sod backyard (probably with Jamur Zoysia grass)
  • Plant flowers
  • Have HUGE crawfish boil!!

Doable in 68 days? Probably not. Are we going to try it anyway? You betcha! Plus we have a little added hurry up to the project as well: the best time to lay sod in Dallas is in the spring, right after things start to green up. Down here, that’s late February/early March. If we miss this date, we’ll have to wait until things cool down this fall to have a lush, green backyard!

What are your plans for the year? Are you going to remodel anything big? What are you doing for St. Pat’s?

A Little Year in Review: 2012

Holy moly, it’s 2013! Can you believe it? Where did the time go!?

It seems just like yesterday we were revealing our built-in Ikea desks in our office from three Expedit bookcases and two Vika Amon desktops. We’ve not done much more in the office, but have big plans to replace the flooring and rip down the horrible drop ceiling!

Ikea desk hack expedit vika amon

In March, we finished and planted the Little Garden. We had big dreams, but the Texas weather had other ideas. Between 100 degree days and monster hail storms, we ended up with far less veggies than we’d hoped. We’ve got big plans for 2013 though, including a roll-up shade cloth for the tomatoes and painting our gutter gardens!

DIY raised garden

Taking advantage of the perfect Texas spring weather, we worked on revamping the Little House’s curb appeal in May. We ripped out some ugly, giant bushes, sewed some new pillows for our Adirondacks, and planted a ton of perennial flowers. This year we hope to re-sod and added even more flowers.

final-after

In June, we shared our plans for redecorating our very brown bedroom. We’re still not 100% done, but we’re getting there.

Master Mood Board

In July, we started one of our very favorite features: Handyman Wednesdays, where Kevin shares tips and tricks for the little jobs around the house. On the first HMW ever, Kevin shared the essential tools every DIYer needs. Since then, he’s shared tips on everything from replacing an electrical plug and installing an outdoor light to bargaining tips and when to rent vs. buy a new tool. Kevin’s always looking for new HMW ideas, so if there’s anything you’d like to see this year, let us know!

Kevin the EE whiz

By September we were in full swing on our backyard demolition. We had removed the free-standing bar and were well on our way to removing the offending structures completely from our backyard. It wouldn’t be until December, though, before we’d get the last of the structures out of here. In the process, we’d used our first jackhammers, conned our friends into helping us, and eventually gave in and hired some day labor. The result? We have a structure-free back yard!

Little Backyard Sans Hot Tub

Our most popular post this year was our Fall Pinterest Challenge entry, faux pinch pleat curtains ala House of Hepworths. We set a new record for most site views ever the day we posted this project!

Pinch Pleat Curtains

WordPress.com sent out our year in review last week. We posted exactly 200 posts in 2012 and had a little over 55,000 views. When we saw those numbers, we were floored. We never imagined that anyone would actually read our little blog when we started!

Kevin and I had such an amazing 2012, both as a couple and as bloggers! We’re so blessed and so thankful to be where we are and thankful that you stop by our little labor of love every day! Have a wonderful and blessed 2013!

Our First 5K

Can you believe we’re already midway through December?! Christmas is a week away and New  Years only a week after that! We have no idea where 2012 went, but with 2013 only two weeks away, Kevin and I have started thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions.

Last year, we resolved to get healthy. One big part of that resolution was to run our first 5K, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen in 2012.

It is happening in 2013, though! We’ve already signed up for the Dash Down Greenville 5K on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, benefiting the North Texas Food Bank. The registration was $50 and is non-refundable, so there’s no backing out now!

Dash Down Greenville

We’re using the fabulous Couch to 5K app to get us ready for the big day. It coaches you through ten weeks of interval workouts that gradually get your running 3 miles.  (PS. We don’t have any affiliation with the app… we just love it)!

couch to 5K

Our race is March 16, 2013! If you’re in the DFW area, sign up and come run with us! It’s only $25 a person and the proceeds go to a great cause. And the best part? We’re having a crawfish bowl at the Little House after!

Have you started thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions yet? How have you done on this year’s resolutions? Have you ever ran a 5K (or eaten at a big ol’ crawfish boil)?

Little House. Big Resolutions: A Check-Up V

Happy Friday! You’re just in time to catch the end of our series checking up on where we are with our New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve shared how we’re making strides towards getting healthy and disconnecting from technology and how we’ve gotten of to a slow start towards being a better neighbor and expanding LHBH.

Resolution #5: Be Twenty-Something

This is hands down the easiest resolution. Kevin and I are bent on acting like we’re twenty-something… because we are. Yes, we have some major responsibilities- professional careers, mortgage, car payment (soon)- but we want to enjoy this time of our lives. We’re young, without children, with two good jobs and we intend to live it up and party like it’s 1999. Okay, not 1999. We were only 12 then.

What have we been doing to be twenty-something? We went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans! We rented a minivan, drove the eight hours to NOLA with six of our best friends, rented a hotel room on Canal Street, and collected more beads than we could carry (literally). It was an awesome time.

We’ve got a couple more trips up our sleeves, including one to Europe, a possible cruise, a surprise trip on our anniversary (Kevin’s booked the tickets, but won’t tell me where), and a plan for Vegas. We’ve also got front row tickets for the Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw concert on June 9 (the day after my birthday!). We’re having a crawfish boil with our friends on St. Patrick’s day and running a 5K.

PS. We got our Greenling basket yesterday evening! It was packed to the gills with leafy goodness. Kevin was super excited. I can’t wait to share what we make with what was inside!

Have a great Friday. Any big plans?