A noble quest ..

10:10 PM
With big projects looming (each of which carrying increasingly bigger price tags), I found this article inspiring:


I decided to read the couple's blog for some inspiration. It wasn't the only money-related thought I'd had today. This morning, a friend posted a blog link, the idea was that money should be viewed as it is: A tool. Money is a tool. And I mean that in the pejorative.

Budgeting hasn't always been my strongest asset. In fact, I'll come right out and say it: Financially, I blow it. A lot. Since we started our membership at the gym, meals on those nights are NEVER home made anymore ($$$), and winter almost always means a stop for a coffee before work.

"But I deserve it. I got OUT of bed today" - me, to myself.

Justifying "just" $2-ish for an americano .. every day. ($2 x 5 days a week) x 52 weeks a year = $520 a year on COFFEE. I further justify this by saying it's my ONE luxury .. this is also probably a lie. I definitely have a tendency to pay myself first after payday (I only get one a month). This leaves the rest of the month quite lean. Not that I'm making all that much to begin with .. I'm a teacher at a private school. Educators aren't exactly flocking to the industry for the high paycheck.

As far as entertainment goes, we canceled our comcast account two years ago, saving us well over $2500. We only really go to the second-run theater near our house ($3.50 each) and rent other movies from Hastings ($0.99 a day) and stream hulu (FREE!) on the computer when we're able to get online. Sometimes our queue is overwhelmingly full. This decision wasn't a frugality measure, it was a renovation assistant - if we weren't wasting time watching HGTV all night *wishing*our house was finished, it might actually *gasp* get finished.

I discovered that our food budget is pretty generous for two after I did a little digging on where to trim and how to make our money last in the kitchen. We spend about $200 a month. That's it. $200 .. for groceries anyway. We've been known to splurge on a $5 hot-n-ready from Little Caesers after a long workout .. essentially undoing all the work we'd just put into our bodies, I suppose. Also, there's the "we never go out .. lets just treat ourselves. We've been good lately" ... this essentially acts as a catalyst for complete undoing of our financial progress. We treat ourselves a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I have friends who have food budgets in the $70-200 range, and that's it. We're talking "eating down the cupboards" budget. I complain about having "nothing to eat", when I really mean: nothing I want  to eat. (note to self: stop salivating over reading food blogs with pricey ingredients.) This usually consists of expensive things like soft cheese, fancy breads, and anything with an avocado. I am a great cook. I plan meals, but I'm no Frugal Gourmet - This is the extent of my food recycling:
  • Roast chicken
  • Chicken salad (or whatever)
  • Chicken soup
  • Pizza...
See? I'm not good at stretching, and honestly, I can't remember the last time I bought a roasting chicken.

I'm aware that this isn't DIRECTLY related to the house, but I'm taking a page from the couple in the blog and making it as public as possible to increase accountability so we can get to the (literal) end of our projects and still have a (figurative) roof over our heads.

In addition to the always-looming project agenda, we've gone and added a wedding to the mix. We're not big on the traditional (obviously), so the $40,000 wedding wasn't even in contention. (not that we could've afforded one) We both feel strongly that a wedding is fun. It's just a party. Marriage is sacred, the wedding isn't. We don't want it to be about 300 guests and this hip caterer or those kitschy details that cost a fortune. It's all about the both of us getting married and basking in the company of only our (truly) nearest and dearest. Bottom line: It's a party. A party at which we'll be married, but a party nonetheless.

I'm off track .. Here's the project we've been unwrapping this week (when we weren't sick in bed with fevers and the shakes [me], at work [both, but mostly D] or at the gym [both]):

BEHOLD! Our wee stairs! The weeest staircase there ever was! I know it's probably hard to figure out what's going on here .. That's D. sanding the stairs with 40 grit sandpaper. It looks amazing.

As you can see, it's close quarters. I was tasked with sanding between the balusters and the rounded edges of the stair tread - WITH AN ACTUAL SANDER! Granted, it was just this little guy...

...so I'm not sure I should be too confident yet.

Anyway, thanks for bearing with us! We have so much to do, and it's incredibly helpful to have an outlet to catalog all of this in! Even if we're just sending it out into the ether, it's nice to have this blog some days.


Things my mother told me ...

1:47 PM
Did your mother ever nag you to clean your room? Brush yo' teef? Save your pennies? My mother (probably) insisted I do all three. Not likely in ebonics, but my memory is spotty. It could totally happen. Totally ... but I digress.

Saving pennies is a fruitful venture. We hadn't intended to cash them in when we did, but I couldn't really leave them all over the floor. OKAY, backstory: As I was closing our closet door last Friday (Heading to Portland), I used my foot to push the vintage glass jug in front of the door so Lola didn't make a nest in my underwear (again) .. Well, there are two jugs there .. the smaller penny jar, holding approximately a gallon of pennies, and the larger (5 Gallon) jug, to hold the silver change. Well, I knocked the pennies into the silver change and busted the penny jar. So they got shuffled into a box, we vacuumed the glass and skipped town.

When we got home, we decided to let coinstar handle the mess I made:

As you can see, saving pennies really adds up. Did you know a gallon of pennies is almost fifty bucks? If you opt for a gift card or eCertificate instead of cash, you don't have to pay their lousy (9.8%!) counting fee! We decided to get a card we can actually use ..

Lesson learned? I guess it's "don't kick the pennies"?



Portland for pleasure

2:15 PM
Back to Portland! This time, our trip had nothing to do with buying things related to our home. This was partly my anniversary gift to D from December. We have seen the singer William Fitzsimmons nearly every time he's been to Portland in the last three years. His music is lovely, soothing, introspective and, lets face it .. depressing as hell. Still, we love him and schlep nearly 7 hours each way to prove it. Before meeting Slater and Hoot for dinner, we strolled around 23rd ave in NW Portland for a bit to ogle some furniture. For all we're doing by hand and going the extra mile, I'm afraid we don't have the wherewithal to do all the customising we'd like, so Restoration Hardware it is. Lucky for us, the fabric we like is in style and the style we like is in stock.

While on 23rd, we decided to look at some houses for color inspiration.

This guy hasn't been loved in a looong time.

Lurking your house and taking photos from the hedges? Not creepy at all!

Here's the beardiest one of all! Mr. William "Down in the dumps"Fitzsimmons!

The beard gets bigger, the instruments get smaller. Have YOU ever seen a banjo-lele?

It seems to be a new tradition, that every time we're in Portland, Slater takes pictures of us together!

Not that I'm complaining. We look good.

We disagree about this photo -- I love it, he doesn't. I am writing today's entry .. so that's that.

Slater and Mr - bein' silky before brunch.

On Saturday, we were able to finally make our routine stop at Rejuvenation to be inspired. We are jonesing for a real bathroom, and this little corner setup has nearly everything we want! (Except four walls)

White porcelain hex tile with a black border and black accents? -check

Vanity that matches the profile of our window and door trim? - check

White subway tile? -check! (sidenote: I would put subway tile on nearly every tileable surface possible if Mr. would let me loose with the thinset. Probably for the best he doesn't.)

And a vintage medical cabinet for ancillary storage!

Next, we tried to decide which schoolhouse fixture would best accentuate our kitchen. I apologize for the crummy phone photos - the light doesn't tend to meter properly when you've got that much brightness in one picture!

Restored fir floors! I can't wait for ours to look that nice! Soon .. soon .. soooooon ...


Loads more happened on Saturday -- like the last-minute decision to extend our visit from one night to two! The rewards of that decision were endless .. We were able to meet up with Mr's awesome brother for dinner and drinks, hang out with Mr's oldest friend, Tony .. AND ANOTHER BREAKFAST OUT!

This bakery is great. For some reason, Mr always loves to get granola for breakfast .. This bakery has it. Me? I want all the eggs in town. Everyone wins! (I only had one egg .. for the record)

Oh .. then the rain started.

No worries, where we were heading, we didn't care about the weather. We were shopping for antiques! Please make note: Antiques are collectible. Collectibles aren't always antiques... shop on:
Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Something we can use! And want!

This toes the line, honestly. I don't have my own computer, you see .. Did anyone else have one of these as a kid?
Cartridge games! YES!

Don't get me wrong. I love the ocean as much as the next girl. Maybe not glued to EVERY available surface in our home, though. They're not subway tiles, after all!

Oh, we're back to this now?

And Stars antique mall has been redeemed by the two-headed chick!

I'll just add this to the ever-lengthening list of things I'll never own...


Once I was done being creeped-out by (neither antique, nor collectible) troll dolls, we headed back to Old Portland Hardware. I know I said we weren't there for house-related stuff, but we can't resist. It's a compulsion. We're powerless, really...

I am a sucker for old photographs. I have this photo of a kid from the 20's or 30's in my wallet. I don't know who he is or where the photo was taken. I bought it for $1 and there he lives. Frozen, forever .. next to my coffee punch card.

I was tempted to buy these for my brother in law .. But I didn't. (Not my best story .. they can't all be zingers!)

The perfect tub set-up!

Except, our tub will be bigger!

After we finished up there, we headed North, to Mississippi ave. to cruise for chicks:

..hey baby..

Just a man, checking out a coop.

Then this happened and suddenly, I was equipped to face to rest of my day.
And then we looked at bikes. I'll say this right now: I don't know crap about bikes. I know I have one. I like it. I painted it myself. I bought it for $10 on Craigslist .. and painted it blue. That's all I know. I don't know anything about this bike except that it is a Linus (is this good? No idea!) and is a delicious shade of cream and brown. I love it. It is cute.


And then we went home!


Have I ever mentioned that the Northwest is better than any other region? Because it is. It's a fact! Ocean, rivers, lakes, desert, mountains, rainforest, major metro areas and ghost towns .. all within an afternoon's drive. Beat that, everywhere else.