…as in “renovation”, not the city in Nevada. Last year we had a lot of damage due to a leaky roof. The damage spanned across the house in the upstairs rooms and it was awful. It’s never supposed to rain inside the house through the ceiling or fire alarm. We had the roof replaced but we never got around to fixing the damage because we were planning our wedding.

Then one fateful day in May, I was holed up with a summer flu — and I never get the flu. It hit me like a ton of bricks. And at that time, the curtain rod fell and clocked Kevin and he decided it was time to fix the upstairs at last. I couldn’t help. I wasn’t even going to work, I was so ill.

Kevin’s friend, Rodger, came over and the two of them started the process. There was a lot of scraping walls and ceilings, patching with spackle and drywall tape. A spray sealer was a great idea too. When the damage was mostly fixed, it was time to prime the room. It took two coats of primer to cover over the blue I had put in a few years ago. This in itself took two weeks, there was so much to do.

The room needed new colors. (And I may be getting the order wrong here.) Kevin wanted a warm beige with a dark blue accent wall. It’s a similar concept to our living room and I was all for the change. We painted — well, mostly Kevin painted because I was still weak. I got two walls done, but I wasn’t able to help with the rest of the room or the ceiling. Or the second coat.

The moldings needed to go also because we were going to put in laminate floors and apparently they need the molding gone to do so. Well, ok. And to help with everything, Kevin and Rodger had moved most of the furniture out of the room. When I could, I tried to pitch in moving the rest.

Then Kevin started ripping up the rug. It had to go. It’s been here for about fifteen years — though I like saying twenty for some reason. Our cats sometimes cough up a furball, so Kevin had gotten a spot cleaner to help. And using it in the same spot several times still picked up a lot of muck. Clearly there was a ton of dirt under the carpet. Time to go indeed.

I was starting to feel better, so I helped by ripping up the carpet padding. And then… the dreaded staples. They were certainly up to code, less than two inches apart all the way along every edge of every strip of padding. I sat on the fooor with a screwdriver in one hand and needle-nose pliers in the other. Not hard work, just tedious. And for whatever reason, there were so many padding fragments that the number of staples was unbearable.

We’ve been told we could hammer them down but every staple had a nub of old carpet pad under it. We wanted those gone, so dig, lift, twist, pull. Repeat. Ten thousand times. (That might be an exaggerated number.)

The dust and dirt! Hooey. Thank goodness for the shop vac!

Then it was off to do the closet in that room. The bedroom is large but the closet isn’t, so that made it a one-day, one-person project. I was able to get the carpet up, the padding, the staples, the carpet tacks, clear all the clothes out and the cabinet, and then paint it all. It took about eight hours on my own but I got it done.

Kevin’s dad came over at some point and showed Kevin how to replace the electrical outlets. That was cool because all the outlets were that almond beige color which never matched the moldings or any part of the room. The two worked a while and then Kevin finished up replacing every socket and light switch.


Curtains.jpgThe floor itself was one thing we were not comfortable doing ourselves. We had someone come to put that in for us. It was just one guy and he did an awesome job, though it took a couple hours longer than he had anticipated, mostly because the room is an odd shape and there were many, many cuts he needed to make.

Then it was off to curtain quest. We wanted to balance the new colors and I think we picked a great match set. Kevin also got new high hats for the ceiling that would complement the new floor.

Not done yet… new moldings were needed. Rodger was a godsend for this task too. He and Kevin took care of it all.

From there, it was time to bring back the furniture. Kevin was sorting things out before returning them to the room, taking the opportunity to pare down some things.

So that’s it… nope. We wanted to do all the rest of the upstairs too. We let the bedroom sit in its finished glory for a few days, maybe a week, and then we started clearing out the rest.

Kevin has a few antique pieces of furniture, one of which is cumbersome and hard to move. I used three sets of those moving men sliders to get it from the spare room, across the hall, and into the bedroom, where I switched from the plastic movers to the felt ones. I really didn’t want to risk scratching the floor. I also moved another heavy piece of furniture into the room, but that wasn’t nearly as bad.

Then it was time to rip up the carpet, padding, staples, strips, and moldings. What an ordeal. We also wanted to go with a new color there too. I was picturing a deep red. We went through several possibilities and got stuck between two. At some point, my gut said one thing and everyone else either said the other or didn’t know. So I went with No More Drama. Um, yeah… it was pretty dramatic. It was a vibrant lipstick color. Pretty… but not at all what I was going for.

Well, at least we were certain now. Dark Crimson was next. And we also needed multiple coats of it. I really didn’t have a good time with the Behr paints this time around. Even the paint and primer cans needed two to three coats. Anyway, I still want to bring the color down into the stairwell, but that’s going to wait for now.

The new red looks awesome. It is a lot darker than the faded peach that was up there, so we may need to consider other lighting options, but still… I love it.

Kevin tackled the ceiling in there in between the red coats I was applying. And the length if this ordeal was wearing on me. I was making messes all over the place and needed to patch lots of paint splats up.

Two more rooms to go… one of them had a lot of water damage from the original impetus for this project. It took me two days and a lot of trips to the basement to clear the rooms. A few things went to the bedroom but everything else was relegated to the basement, which is a disaster zone of its own now.

Kevin continued his work with all the spackling and sanding and spackling again. The dust! White sand everywhere. But there was a lot to fix in the ceiling and the wall, so it was needed.

Next up — you guessed it — carpets. This time I had a dresser and a treadmill to work around in the one room. My trainer, David, helped me to move the sofa, chair, and bookcase out of Kevin’s office, so that was a great help. Kevin tackled half the carpet in that room and I took care of the rest while he was at work.

Jared came over and though we were supposed to be hanging out and playing games, he wanted to pitch in, so he helped with the moldings in both rooms and a handful of other stuff. Meanwhile, I was pulling up carpet staples and then tearing the other carpet out of the final closet. 

With the carpet all gone from the entire upstairs, we found the cable and phone wires coming up into Kevin’s office. They weren’t off in a corner, tucked away. No they were a few inches from one wall and a foot away from the other. That would really interfere with the flooring and it would look terrible having a hole in the floor for that in that location. We debated it but then decided we didn’t need either wire upstairs. We don’t even have cable TV in our house, nor a phoneline. So, sorry future owners of this house in twenty years… you will have to live off wi-fi. Merlin was a big help with untangling the wires.

This past week was all about paint for me. Of the seven days, I painted for six of them. Monday was Kevin’s office, and the mustard yellow we picked was perfect! I wanted to get that done first because we still had to get the flooring upstairs and I figured it was the best place to put it. But I was so frustrated with that paint! It just refused to cover. I started getting really sloppy with it, which meant fixing things later. (Grumble, grumble) 

We had almost 900 pounds of flooring that needed to be moved from the garage, up two flights of stairs and into the office. We asked for help with this. James was willing to carry the cumbersome boxes up and he came on Tuesday and shifted it all for us. Huge help!

My painting day on Tuesday was the spare room. We went with a deep green for it. Funny enough, it is called Garden Cucumber, and I’m allergic to cucumbers. In fact, three of the four colors on the swatch were poisonous to me. But it was a great color, so I’ll just have to avoid eating it.

Wednesday, I went through both rooms and gave them each another coat. I had to start with a second gallon of Saffron Strands because I had used a whole gallon on Monday. I should have gotten more Garden Cucumber but I hedged my bets and lost. Halfway through the extra coat in the green room, I ran out of paint.

Thursday, we didn’t do much of anything. Then Friday, it was time to do the rest of the green room’s additional coat. Saturday was ceiling day. Kevin handled the bulk of the ceilings with the roller while I worked the edges. And in doing so, I saw a lot of yellow and green places that needed patching, which was today’s task, along with the window trims. I’m officially tired of painting.

Merlin, our dear Project Kitty, was around for all of this, while Monty kept his distance. Merlin likes to know what’s going on, so he lingers. Well, today he jumped up onto the dresser, where I had out the tray of white paint. I just didn’t interrupt him in time. He scampered out, ran down the stairs with a white trail behind him, and sauntered into the living room, trekking across the area rug. When I went down to nab him, he shot off awkwardly — sticky with paint — onto the rug in the dining room. Fishing him out from there, he ran back into the living room and up the stairs, into the finished bedroom! White footprints on the new floor and the area rug. And he hunkered under the bed and needed to be chased out. His chest had taken paint, so squeezing under the bed made some white paint drag marks. Kevin teased him to the other side of the bed and I dragged him out — sorry kitty. Then it was a deep bath for him, while Kevin started the paint-paw cleanup process. This whole ordeal took almost an hour. He’s all back to normal now.

Returning to our tasks, Kevin switched out the other outlets in the rooms and he installed Nest smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and a thermostat. The number of outlets upstairs is wild — yet not a one in the hallway somehow — and there’s an alarm in every room. Oh, and I almost forget, he did the light switches too.

We then emptied everything out of the three rooms because tomorrow is floor installation day! I carried the boxes and ladders down, and Kevin vacuumed everything once we replaced the filter on the shop vac.

After the floor goes it, we have to reset the rooms, which should be easy enough. Then we’re calling Rodger back to help us with (read: do for us) the moldings in the hallway and two rooms. Then we sort through the stuff in the basement and then we finally call this project done. 

But what a project it has been!





Advice for Wedding Guests

Following up my earlier notes on advice for the engaged couple planning a wedding, here are some tips for those attending another’s wedding.

The Day Is All About The Newlyweds. When you’re at a wedding, it’s not about you; it’s about the couple getting married. Yes, you are supposed to have fun, but it’s not your day to announce or initiate a proposal. It’s not the time to reveal a pregnancy or other major life change that will diminish the celebration already in progress.

Bring Some Kind Of Gift. Even if money is tight, you can still get a card or write a heartfelt poem. You do not have to be extravagant, but leave some kind of keepsake for the newlyweds.

Don’t Interfere With The Photographers. Everyone wants to get pictures and videos of the first kiss and the first dance, etc. Odds are, so does the couple and they hired people to record them. Stay out of the way of the hired professionals and get your shots another way. Be wary of where you are.

Don’t Complain To The Newlyweds. If something isn’t right with the food or whatever, tell the wait staff. Don’t bother the couple with those details on the day of the wedding. If it’s a real mess-up, tell the Best Man or Maid/Matron of Honor who man influence any tips that may be paid that night.

Don’t Get Plastered. Many weddings have an open bar and some people take full advantage of it. You may think you’re hilarious whipping your tie around and hooting and hollering, but save that for hanging out at a bar or club. Don’t become the spectacle of the night. All the focus is supposed to be on the newlyweds.

Approach The Couple. It’s okay to walk over to the newlyweds to offer your congratulations. They may make the effort to work the room and come to you, but even still, you can usually pop over to have a quick moment.

Don’t Hog The Couple. At the same point, be wary of how much of the couple’s time you’re taking. They may have a lot of guests they’re looking to spend time with. At a wedding with 100 guests, if the couple spends two minutes with each person, that’s 200 minutes, which is nearly three-and-a-half hours. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for other things, like speeches and cake cutting, etc.

Make Appropriate Speeches/Toasts Only. If you’re an honored guest asked to give a speech or if you’re at a wedding where you’re allowed to make an impromptu toast, be respectful. This is never the time to make reference to any past romantic relationships of either newlywed. Tell a funny story, sure, but not the most embarrassing ones. Be honest but don’t make it your goal to expose the flaws of either person. This is the day to offer positive well-wishes and guidance to a healthy and happy marriage.

If The Newlyweds Ask You To Join Them, Do It. You may not like to dance, but if you’re asked to join the dance floor, you can sway back and forth for a few minutes. Make it look like you’re enjoying it, too. This isn’t the time to say you’re busy, head to the bar, and walk back double-fisted. It’s an insult to the couple. Dance first, then go finish what you were doing.

Dress Appropriately. Some weddings are casual beach weddings and there is a certain dress code for that. Other weddings are held in churches or catering halls or mansions. Whatever you’re wearing, it should be nice. Jeans and polos are typically not the attire for the wedding. If you’re not up for a suit, then go for khakis and a button-down shirt, even if it’s short sleeve.

Posting Photos Online. Most people now have phones with decent cameras. At a wedding, people are dressed up nicely and they take pictures of themselves looking fabulous. They post them on social media, often with the wedded couple’s hashtag. But more and more people seem to be posting only pictures of themselves at the wedding and not the newlyweds. You’re at the wedding to honor them, so post pictures of yourself, sure, but make sure you’re including some snaps of the newlyweds.

Send Your Photos To The Couple. Similarly, if you’ve taken some photos at a wedding, be sure to go that extra step and share them with the newlyweds. They may have professional photographers taking shots too, but every added photo of the day really means a lot. It fills in the moments the photographers miss and it allows the newlyweds to experience a little bit of the day through your eyes. It’s easy enough to dump all the photos into a folder, zip it, and email it. Or put them on a site like Dropbox in a folder and send the newlyweds a link to the folder. It’s never too late to share those photos, either.

Have Fun. The newlyweds are hoping you’re there to celebrate them and to have a good time, so go ahead and dance, tell jokes, be social, and have a good time. Don’t be too boisterous. Don’t drag people to the dance floor if they’ve declined your invitation. But otherwise, feel the joy and celebrate.

Advice For Planning a Wedding

Planning a wedding can be a huge undertaking, but it’s meant to be a huge event. As we went through this process, we read a lot online and heard a lot through the grapevine and we pulled the best of what we could from it all. For anyone looking for some advice or suggestions, we thought we’d offer some ideas. I’ve spent the past month typing up our memories of our wedding season and these tidbits are things that we felt were important throughout. Everyone has their own style and list of priorities, so take from this what you will. Without further ado, here’s what we recommend to the couple, both for the planning stages and during your wedding.

Work Together. Marriage is a partnership, so the ceremony that starts it all should be one too. There are so many aspects to a wedding, it’s impossible, and unfair, to leave the work heavily leaning on one person’s shoulder. Both members of the engaged couple need to split the work and to be wholly invested it, even when it feels like drudgery. People laugh about how the bride coordinates the grand majority and the groom seemingly just shows up. It should never be this way. Building our wedding together strengthened our relationship and if you can’t come together to set up the event that starts your married life together, what going to happen when you’re trying to decide on buying a house or having or raising kids?

Have A Theme. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. But choose something that represents both of you and make use of it throughout your wedding season. For us, it was the concept of magic and code and that graphic we had drawn for us. Yes, it cost us around $200 to have it created, but we used it on envelopes, RSVP cards, menus, programs, table signs, and so on. It was a great investment and a beautiful keepsake.

Remember That It’s YOUR Wedding. It’s your day. Everyone will give you advice. Let them. See it as them wanting to be involved. An idea or two may be useful to you but in the end do what you want to do. If money is a factor, find a balance. Offer the benefactor a table of guests to arrange or some part of the day they want some control over that won’t impact your other plans.

Involve Others. There is a lot of work to do so ask for help. Do your best not to overwhelm people. Be gracious when asking. Show your gratitude with dinner or a small gift. People want to be part of your day, so let them.

Contact Your Vendors Again. Odds are, there are some vendors you haven’t contacted in a while. Reach out, check in, make sure you’re all on the same page still. If two months have passed and you’ve had no interaction, then reach out. We ran into a critical issue because when we reached out, we were given the wrong information. When the estimated bill came after that, it was for nearly another thousand dollars that “should” have been included. It took three weeks to resolve and we weren’t even able to resolve it. We had to replace the vendor. If we hadn’t been in touch all along, it would have been a huge shock and stressor at the worst possible time.

Watch Your Budget. It is very easy to go over budget. One way to help this is to see if there are things you can do yourself instead of outsourcing. For us, that was printing our envelopes ourselves all throughout. It cost some ink but the savings were noticeable. We printed many things ourselves and used better paper for all of them. From consultation fees, setup fees, printing fees, and shipping fees, we saved a lot with a trip to Staples for supplies. Take the time to cost things out before just jumping the gun, unless it’s a task that will add massive stress and no one can help you with it. Sometimes hiring help is the answer too.

Pick Something And Splurge For It. It sounds contrary to the last piece of advice, but choose something you want that’s above and beyond and let yourself have it for your wedding. For us, it was our cake, dragon and all. It became a star feature of our day.

Revisit Your Venue. If you haven’t been back to your venue several times, then you should set up appointments and start going. It’s going to be your very special place for an important day in your life. Spend some time there taking it in repeatedly. Talk about where you see things being set up. We averaged a trip per month to our venue. In that time, we made several changes to where we wanted things. We even flipped the direction of the seats for the ceremony because we decided we wanted everyone to have the castle in the background, not someone’s backyard. We didn’t even realize it until our 6th or 7th trip. Other times, we just walked around and let the joy fill us up.

Consider A Second Photographer Instead Of A Photo Booth. If you price them out, they’re similar in cost. In a photo booth you get low quality shots with lots of goofy props. With a second photographer, you get to record much more of your special day with high quality photos. You can still set up a backdrop with goofy shots if you want a photo booth kind of effect, but having an extra professional photographer around will get you more bang for your buck. If you haven’t considered it, ask about the costs. You might be surprised.

Remember That People Are People. Even those with the best intentions can mess up. It’s not always on purpose. It can be hard to separate your expectations from actions taken by others. Do what you can to communicate your needs to others before something occurs. And when something happens, evaluate it. Address it if needed. Don’t let it fester and ruin your day or the preparation for your day.

Taste Your Food. This is a before and after tidbit. You should make an effort to sample the cuisine of the venue before selecting items for your guests. Maybe the shrimp scampi is a favorite but the caterer adds seasoning you’re not expecting because that’s how they cook it. See if your caterer operates a restaurant or has showcases. Make it a special midway-to-wedding date night. Then during your wedding, make sure you eat it there too. You’ll be running for a long time that day and you need sustenance. It’s not rude to have something to eat during your own party.

Find Something For Your Most Important People To Do. Certain roles are traditionally assigned automatically and unless you’re changing them, then some people may feel left out. If you don’t want that, then find something for them to do. They could be ushers, flower bearers, ceremony readers. They could give a toast or speech or have a dance. Set boundaries if needed so toasts are kept short. Consider asking them to share the toast with someone you trust to ensure nothing untoward is in there.

Write Your Own Ceremony. This is not as possible for all weddings, but if you’re able to, then spend time customizing your ceremony and making something that represents you. Whoever officiates your ceremony should be completely clear about what he or she will say. There shouldn’t be any surprises from the person presiding over your wedding.

Make An Effort To See Your Guests. During the reception, you should enjoy yourself, surely. But part of that should be in spending time with all of your guests. You can’t spend a lot of individual time but do it in groups. There’s nothing more awkward for a guest who comes to celebrate your day, brings you a gift, and never even gets to look you in the eye and wish you well. Some guests will seek you out but others will see you’re busy and not want to crowd you.

Thank Your Guests Personally. When you open your gifts, keep a record of each one. When you write your thank you notes, make a reference to each gift. If you were given money, make a reference to what you plan to do with it. Thank you notes should never be done in bulk or as a form letter. It is insulting but you may never directly hear that part. Show respect and gratitude by writing personalized notes. If someone did not give you a gift but they attended the wedding, then simply thank them for celebrating with you on your day.

Watch Your Alcohol Consumption. Lots of people drink at their wedding. Make a conscious effort not to drink much. Be sober or no more than tipsy all night long. You will remember so much more of your special day. When you’ve spent a lot of money and time putting this all together, you should want to remember it.

Designate Helpers For Your Day. Typically, members of your wedding party should be responsible for in-the-moment decisions during your wedding. You shouldn’t be dealing with paying vendors yourself. You shouldn’t be deciding if it’s okay for Uncle So-And-So to make an impromptu speech. You shouldn’t be concerned about Cousin Whosiewhatsit getting home safely that night. Your wedding party should be informed ahead of time of your wishes and then be in charge of those issues. For instance, we did not allow our guests to make music requests with our DJ but our wedding party had the power to allow a song or two if they knew it and felt it fit the night. We also had a car on standby if needed and members of our wedding party knew when to make use of it.

Keep A Record Along The Way. Whether it’s a journal, a set of computer files, photos, or physical scraps of these, keep a record of the process you went through in setting up your wedding. It’s amazing when you look back at all you did to set up your day. Consider making a scrapbook or blogging or journaling about it. Let it be an additional keepsake for yourself that you can look back on and be proud of.

Enjoy Yourself. Remember on your day that emotions will be high so focus on the positive. Laugh, dance, eat, be merry. If someone is stressing you out, hand them off to a helper to deal with. It’s your day and it is supposed to be the happiest day you know. Don’t let the little things get in the way. We had an arrangement of flowers on our arbor but the wind knocked it over and destroyed the arrangement. No one was hurt but the flowers were ruined. Our wedding party pitched in and came up with an alternative on the spot. We could have let it ruin our day, seeing it as a sign of terrible things to come. But we chose to focus on the result instead. No one else knew of the flowers on the arbor. It didn’t change the essence of our day at all.

Take A Moment Or Two Together. This was advice we’d heard a few times. Somewhere during your reception, step back and take some time to look around and just take everything in together. Look at the revelry your love inspired and feel the joy and honor your guests have for you. Escape once or twice to have some alone time. Cherish that time together.