LIFE AS YOU LIVE IT

HOME RENO: Refinishing the Hardwood Floors for under $600

05 May 2019


Prior to moving into our new home, one of the bigger projects that we opted to tackle ourselves was refinishing the hardwood floors on the main level. We weren't looking to sink thousands of dollars into the project which is why we went the DIY route. The two key factors that went into our decision to refinish them were (1) we weren't crazy about the color, and (2) they had 14 years of love starting to shine through. We were able to complete the project over two weekends which fit in nicely with our moving timeline.

I also feel as though I need to preface this post with the "we are not professionals" language. What we did worked for us, the floors look great and are holding up wonderfully after almost two years of semi-rough use (dragging an 800 pound piano across them, dogs running laps around the house, dropping heavy toys, etc.).

What we bought/rented:

Total project cost us: $567

Here are what the floors looked like before we started the project:




First.
We gave the floors a good sweeping and picked up the random odds and ends. We opted to remove our baseboards but that is only because we had plans of replacing the millwork all throughout the house. 

Second.
Watch 2,000 youtube videos until you work up the courage to let the drum sander touch the floors. Everyone recommends that you NEVER let the sander sit in one spot for any amount of time and to always keep it moving to prevent it from making stationary marks. We had a few instances where this happened. We started with 36 grit sand paper and worked out way up to 80 grit and then 100 grit. We had to use a palm sander to get some of the hard to reach places and in between some/most of the boards. Be sure to run with the grain.




Third.
After a grueling day of sanding (which you might think will never end), return the sander, sweep up all the dust and use tack clothes and a swiffer to remove everything you can't see and feel. It's there!


Fourth.
We water popped our floors by dipping a paint roller in a tray of water and then rolling that over the floors right before we stained. This opens everything up and helps condition the floors for a more even look.

Fifth.
Use a paintbrush to stain the perimeter of the floor in a small workable section. Once that has been done, apply stain to the floor in a timely manner so that there are no distinct lines. Before we moved onto the next section, we would use terry cloths to absorb and evenly distribute the stain.


Sixth.
Once the floors have dried (at least a day or two) use a deck sander to ruff them up before poly is applied. If you do not do this, you will get small bubbles like we did. This will need to be done in between each layer of poly. Make sure the poly is completely dry between each layer. Another mistake we made was applying another layer of poly too quickly which made it messy and caused more bubbles. We were able to easily fix that issue by running a deck sander over it after everything had dried.



Once everything was completely dried, we refrained from walking on the floors for a couple days and did not move anything into the house for a couple of weeks.



I don't have many after photos, but here's a great picture of the dog room with the new floors and trim!


Pictures and a video of the house when we first moved in can be found here!

And here's a shaky video of the adventure!


Ragnar Trail: Appalachians West Virginia + FREE Printable

16 September 2018

(Runner's Village)

One of my goals this year was to run a race every month, most of which thus far have been 5ks. Despite how huge and well known Ragnar races are, they are (shockingly) still pretty new being only 5 years old. We have a few local ones, Reach the Beach and Vermont, and I had been tossing around the idea of putting together a team for Reach the Beach in September. Coincidentally, my Aunt and Uncle were signed up for the Ragnar Appalachians Trail Relay and invited my sister and I to be apart of their team which was an opportunity we couldn't pass up! Despite it being a little bit of a haul (11 hours each way) we are both so glad that we did it as it is a one of a kind race!

(Running into the Transition Area after my first Leg)

Training:

I had been doing really well January through June and logged A LOT of miles, however, I completely dropped the ball in July and didn't run once. About a week before the Ragnar I decided it would be in my best interest to hop on the treadmill and run 3 - 4 miles a night, pitiful, I know. Surprisingly, I felt great for all 3 of my Ragnar Legs which were approximately 4, 5 and 7 miles. Granted, my mile times were nothing close to what I had been running, but that is to be expected with uphill trail running. They do have recommended training plans on the Ragnar website should you want to properly train for one, unlike me.

(Free Workout Schedule printable - you can purchase the rest of the planner here)

(Cousins and Sister!)

Packing:

I read a blog or two about what and how I should pack that offered a decent amount of insight as to what to expect. These are tips that I would pass along:
  1. Outfits - Pack your three different running outfits in separate ziplock bags (and then shove them back in the ziplock bag after your leg and don't open them again until you do your laundry)!
  2. Toilet Paper - Bring a roll of toilet paper with you and take some with you every time you go to the portos! They pumped ours at least 4 times throughout the weekend and kept running out of TP - NEVER a situation you want to be in right before a run!
  3. Lights - If you are running at night it is essential to have a headlamp. I also ran with a small flashlight and it made a huge difference. I was able to see roots on the ground much better and appreciated the extra light. 
  4. Battery Pack for your phone - Ragnar had a huge charging station up at the runner's village, however, when you are back at the tent, chances are your phone is next to dead. I use the Nike+ App to track my runs which kills my charge. It was nice having a battery pack to jolt my phone in the meantime.
  5. Warm Clothes - Despite what summer month you run in, it will get cold at night. I only brought some running leggings and wish I had some sweatpants I could have worn at night. They have Ragnar apparel for sale down at the Runner's Village if you forget. 
  6. Crappy Shoes - Pack the pair of shoes that you don't care about. Mine were destroyed from all of the mud (which is fine because I bought them 4 years ago at TJ Maxx). Solomon had a tent set up where you could borrow their shoes, however, they did run out quickly. That is what my sister opted to do since she brought her brand new fancy shoes.
  7. Don't over pack - in addition to any running gear and snacks that you bring, keep in mind that you will also need to bring camping supplies. 
(My sister and I after our early morning night runs!)

The Race:

Was very organized!
  • The trails are very well marked - there was never a moment where I felt "lost" or off trails, even at night! There are trail signs everywhere which are reflective and have small lights on them. 
  • There can be obstacles - it's a trail so there are lots of roots, slippery rocks and boulders that you have to climb over. Take your regular mile time and add 3-4 minutes. 
  • There is always another runner - it brought comfort knowing that there was always another runner on the trail somewhere close by, especially at night!
  • The last 1/4 mile was energizing - the last 1/4 mile of every leg for this Ragnar runs through a section of camps that are so wonderfully decorated and encouraging to run by. People are cheering and you are cruising!
(Our wonderful team!)

Other Thoughts from the Weekend:
  • Down Time - there's a lot of it! Which is nice because it gives you time to relax and enjoy everything they have set up at the Runner's Village and your camping experience. 
  • Take Advantage of Everything - Ragnar goes above and beyond to make sure you have a fun weekend. Take advantage of it! REI had various games and hammocks set up, there was a band performing Friday night, they had s'mores ALL NIGHT and into the morning on Saturday/Sunday (thank you, REI!), there was hot cocoa and coffee available, REI also had a "make your own key fob" tent, there were a lot of companies there promoting running gear which gave out free samples, there's a big bonfire, and a huge and carbalicious meal on Saturday that was catered. There was probably even more that I missed out on. 

Will I be Signing up for Another Ragnar?

ABSOLUTELY! We will (hopefully) be doing this same one again in 2019!


Organizing Macy Cat's Space + Free Printable

14 August 2018

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CelebratingMorris #CollectiveBias


I'm sure you are all very familiar with Morris (@morristhe9livescat), the orange tabby 9Lives® Cat - one of advertising's greatest icons! This year he is celebrating his 50th Adopt-i-versary! Morris made his debut in 1968 when Bob Martwick, an animal talent scout discovered him at a shelter in Hinsdale, IL. His charming personality landed him the official spokescat position with 9Lives where he went on to become one of the most famous cats and starred in over 50 commercials and appeared in a film with Burt Reynolds. Morris's Celebricat status didn't stop there! He visited countless schools to promote animal kindness and in 2007 he launched Morris' Million Cat Rescue® to save those animals in need of forever homes. He never forgot his humble beginnings as a rescue cat. He and 9Lives continue to bring great taste and balanced nutrition to the table all over the world and he will not rest until every cat finds their forever home. This cute video does a great job highlighting Morris and his success as the 9Lives Cat! 

Morris's adopt-i-versary reminded me of when we drove Macy Cat all the way from her country home in Ohio to her new digs in Boston (she truly is a city girl at heart). My family adopted her a few years prior but she didn't mesh well with the other cats which is why L and I scooped her up! She lived with us in the city for three years up until we moved her out to New Hampshire. With all of the changes and exciting additions going on around here (we added 8 more paws this past year), we thought it would be the perfect time to set her up for success this summer by finally organizing "her" drawer in the house. 

We have a bureau by our door that houses frequently reached for items which includes leashes, collars, grooming supplies, treats, pet food, hats, gloves and other miscellaneous items. Macy’s drawer (along with all the others) have been slightly neglected and became a throw all for random pet items. We keep Macy Cat's litter box and dry food upstairs in the laundry room so that Thing 1 and Thing 2 keep their Scoobi-Doo noses out of it, however, her wet food, grooming supplies, toys, extra bowls and any medicine are all corralled in one of the bureau drawers. 

completely emptied and vacuumed out the drawer, removed any clutter and then cut some wrapping paper down to use as a drawer liner. While Macy Cat may never actually look in this drawer, I will, and having the exciting drawer liner will certainly brighten my day every time I look at it.


I played tetris with a few different containers before I was able to find the “perfect fit”. It’s nice having a spot to put her grooming supplies somewhere separate from her wet food and extra bowls. 


I had this organizing project in mind, and was brainstorming ideas on my 11 hour drive home from a weekend camping/running trip. I stopped to pump gas and saw a Dollar General in the same plaza, swooped in and picked up some of Macy Cat's preferred wet food, 9Lives! We stocked her drawer up with Meaty Pate with Chicken and Tuna and Super Supper (Coupon for $0.50 off when you purchase 4) along with a few other flavors that we already had on hand. 


Every time I open this drawer I get a big smile across my face - thanks Morris! After all, 9Lives celebrates and champions all cats! You might also enjoy checking out Morris's Cat Pack!
  

How do you organize your pet supplies?

In the spirit of Macy Cat and Morris, I wanted to share a Pet Care printable that will make things easier for you and your pet sitter. 


DIY: Paint Stirrer Table

08 July 2018


I've been on the hunt for a piece of furniture that resembled a butcher block but with more dramatic coloration for a reasonable price. Of course that doesn't exist on my budget so I moseyed on over to ye ole faithful Amazon and Home Depot to attempt to DIY my vision. Like every project I seem to take on there was one small fail, however, I am pleasantly pleased with how this one turned out and am ready to start on a second one -- let's be real, the second one has been sitting in my basement half finished for months now. But when the motivation bug bites again, at least I have my ducks in a row! 

WHAT IS IT?

It's a ton of stained paint stirrers glued onto a piece of plywood with hairpin legs. 

I used a 4' x 8' piece of pre-sanded 1/2" thick plywood

WHAT YOU NEED:

Here's what I bought:
Other items that I used:
  • Screws
  • Gloves
  • Sander or Sand Paper
  • Painters Tape
  • Some type of weight
Dark Walnut is one of my favorite stains - we used it on our floors (hence the large can). I also used Ebony, Driftwood and Special Walnut for this project.

I bought 30" hairpin legs and they seem to be a great height for what we use the table for.

THE PROCESS:

Putting this together was relatively simple. I started by sanding the edges of the plywood. Once everything was as smooth as butter, I threw a layer of dark walnut stain on both sides of the plywood. 


I divided the stirrers up evenly into four different section and stained them one by one (wearing gloves is a must if you don't want to go into work the next day with multicolored digits). 

My project manager overseeing my work. He has high standards - after all it did end up going in his room. 


Voila! Pat yourself on the back, this part can take awhile!


Once the stirrers were dried, I cut the ends off with a miter saw and laid them out on the plywood in a somewhat random pattern. Once everything looked good, I broke out the liquid nails!


I used a few weights to keep everything in place overnight.
I'm shocked the sawhorses weren't crushed.

Final step is to screw on the legs. I used painter's tape to help measure where I wanted them to line up.



WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO:

Lesson learned. Do not poly this table. I tried this and the poly caused a handful of the stirrers to warp and pull away from the plywood. I ended up having to rip them up and replace them entirely. 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

I will be buying a piece of glass to put over this table to prevent dirt and other shenanigans from getting down in between the stirrers and to also create a flat surface. It's a gamble every time I put a beverage on top of it right now as it is slightly uneven with all the stirrers.

TO SUM IT UP:

I LOVE THIS TABLE. I'm pleased with how it turned out and receive compliments on it frequently. I love that it incorporates different colors of wood which makes it easy to decorate the room. Almost everything matches it... especially the floors! I moved it into the "dog room" which I am slowly transitioning into the dog room/office to serve as a desk.



Welcome to New Hampshire, Phoebe!

22 March 2018



Ever since we took our beloved Griffin home (the day we moved into our new house) we knew that it would only be a matter of time before we added a second pup to the pack. Who knew that opportunity would knock so soon? We adopted Griffin in May when he was 2.5 months old and like any puppy, it was a full time job training him to be the little winner that he is today. Knowing how much work was involved with a puppy, we decided to hold off until after L took a big test for his job in November. As with Griffy we were never actively looking for a certain type/breed/age/color, however, when a friend of ours in Ohio posted that she had golden retriever puppies that needed homes, the wheels started to turn. We entertained the idea of adding a 3 month old golden, but closed the door on that idea when we figured transporting one from Ohio to New Hampshire would be next to impossible. Well, L, being the little miracle worker that he is told his dad about them, and a few weeks later he came down with not one but two pups! On our birthday weekend!


L and I had decided to take two and surprise my sister with one for Christmas (she has been actively looking for a golden puppy for awhile now - it was a perfect plan!)



Needless to say, L's dad said that they were perfect co-pilots that didn't make a peep the entire time. We had "the girls" to ourselves for 3 weeks and had perfected puppy cleanup and had more puppy snuggles and cuddles than we knew what to do with. Griffin had taken on the "older brother" roll wonderfully and played so well with them.


Fast forward to Christmas! The only people who knew about "the girls" were my mom, L's family, our extended family, everyone we worked with, the UPS man, the post office girls, our neighbors, and everyone's brother. The only people who didn't know about the puppies were my dad, both my sisters and my brother. My mom should get an award for not spilling the beans because I could barely keep it together. It was the only thing I could talk about.


I had to let mom in on "Code Gold" because I needed her help in arranging the surprise at her house where Christmas was hosted. We had everything down to the T. I arrived, distracted everyone while Mom snuck out to the Jeep and smuggled the puppies into the house one by one up the back entrance into her closet. 

We typically open gifts one at a time, but mom and I were rushing a little bit which my sisters caught on to. After we had all finished unwrapping gifts I snuck upstairs to grab one of the pups. I stuck her in an Extra Large boat and tote and pulled the ole "I have one more gift" line.


Needless to say she was on Cloud 9 and despite her finance's face, I'm pretty sure that little golden girl has him wrapped about her little paw now.


Phoebe and Wixey have varying personalities. From the day they arrived, we noticed that Phoebe was very active, loved to play with Griffin and barked a lot, while Wixey liked to keep to herself and was much calmer. Phoebe and Griffin bonded instantly which made for an easy match.





Here we are three months later and still in puppy heaven.




 
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