Friday, August 28, 2015

Kitchen Remodel -- Phase 1

Once we decided we were going to do the remodel, we purchased the countertop kit (Giani Granite) via Amazon.  The kit involved painting a primer, painting the colors, and then putting on clear coats to seal the counter.  Each step had to set for about 4hours.  We did the math and figured out we could knock the counters out in 1 weekend but would need help with Bean (and could use help on the counters, too!).  So we enlisted the help of my parents!

My mom had actually been at our house earlier in the week.  Steve, Bean, and I had gone into IN the wekeend before to visit their county fair & go to an air show my dad was working at.  Steve came back to OH on Sunday night and my mom brought Bean/I back on Wednesday.  She stayed the night and headed back to IN on Thursday.  As she was about to leave, she was talking with Bean and Bean acted like she wanted to go with my mom.  So we went with it.  I quickly packed a bag and she got right in the car with my mom.  They waved goodbye and off they went!  I had a 24 hour kid-free window to get all my prep work done!

I was able to clean the counters really well with Brillo pads; tape paper up over the counters; and move everything off the counters and set the kitchen up for all the work.  Steve got home from work a little early and took the sink out -- no turning back! I had made dinner earlier in the day and had it warming in the oven, awaiting my parents and Bean to arrive! Once they arrived, we ate dinner (on paper plates for easy clean up!) and quickly got to work.  Mom did the bedtime routine with Bean while dad, Steve and I busted out the counter kit and did step 1 -- priming!

(Part of the prep work was to fill in all the seams with wood filler and sand for an even finish.)

(There were some dents in the edges of the counters that we fixed with the filler, too!)

(There was some silicone seal around the top of the coutners behind the stove.  Steve took a razor edge and got it off while I finished up cleaning the counters.)

(We opted not to put tape up along the walls.  We knew we were going to tile so we didn't care if paint got on the wall.  The primer was black and the base color for the countertop.  We had to let the primer dry 8 hours before doing the colors; so that's why we chose to put this on Friday night and do the color layers on Saturday.)

(All primed and ready to go! Let me just tell you how difficult it is to use a kitchen without it's counters and the stove and fridge in the middle.  It's ridiculously hard!)

We got to work on painting the "minerals" on the counters on Saturday morning.  There were 3 colors (in addition to the black primer) that was to be painted on the counters.  The kit came with some black paper that you could practice on so that you could figure out your desired look.  We decided that each of us (dad/Steve/I -- mom was still on Bean duty) would take 1 color and paint it on.  Then we'd each go one right after the other and paint (no need to wait in between colors).  After practicing a couple times with the sponges on the paper, we decided to go for it! 

(Steve took on the first color.  We stared him down as he painted.  My dad took on color 2, and then I'd do the final little details with color 3.  Color 1 was darkest - 3 was lightest.  I wanted the counters to be a little darker, so we didn't do much of #3.)

(Color 2 was my favorite so I told my dad to be heavy handed! Steve decided to smoke some pork for us for dinner.  So he had to go do a bunch with the smoker.  I took over the #1 color.  We liked to have a couple of feet inbetween us as we worked.)

(The hardest part was to be consistent.  Since you sort of worked in sections as you passed down along the counter.  You also had to make sure you left room for the next color, but not too much room!  We finally got in a flow and made a lot of progress.)

(The hardest part was to get the cracks where the back of the counter and top of the counter met.  If you weren't careful, you'd end up with a smear/blotch from the sponge.  We had little brushes for the fine details.  The back corner -seen above - was the hardest space because you had to reach and put your head under the cabinet. Ha!)

(The final look! We did just a little bit of the white color to make it shine in certain spots)

Once you got all the mineral colors on, you had to wait 4 hours before you started with the clear coats.  We decided there was no rush to get the clear coat on Saturday, since there wouldn't be enough time to get all the coats done in 1 day.  I didn't want to start on the clear coats, clean up the mess, just to pull it back out and use again the next day.  So we called it an early work day, enjoyed delicious pulled pork, and spent some time with my parents! Steve & dad played some computer games while mom and I watched movies and "Jammed"! 

We went straight back to work on Sunday morning.  My dad did the first clear coat.  They stuck around for a little bit and had to leave after lunch.  Steve got some input on dad over some of the next steps in the kitchen remodel before they left.  I put the second coat on during Bean's nap and the 3rd & last coat on after she went to bed!

(All shiny after the clear coats! Now to let it cure and not use for a few days.  We decided to wait about a week before we'd put anything on it.  You aren't supposed to use any chemical cleaners on the counter.  I have a norwex cloth I use on it or just some mild dish soap.)

("When did the Ackermans get granite??" -- joke of the weekend.)

(We did easy meals for a few days and got some meals out.  But one can only go so long without a homecooked meal - especially when I do a homecooked meal every day normally!  Bean was being especially needy -- probably from her going back with my mom and then me being focused on the kitchen -- and wanted me to hold her.  I had to make dinner and we compromised with the carrier.)

(I get this look a lot!)

(Steve waited a week before installing the NEW sink.  Go big or go home, right?!  We got a new granite composite sink in "espresso".  I was hesitant to get the new sink.  I mean, we didn't NEED a new one.  The old one was sufficient.  But now I'm in love with it!)

(Even with the sink in place after a week, there was some plumbing that needed to be re-worked.  I ended up going almost 2 weeks without a sink in the kitchen.  I had to hand wash all the dishes in either our bath tub or this little sink in the kitchen bathroom.  I don't know which one was worse -- the small space in the bathroom, or bending over the big tub.  Either way, I'm so thankful for my kitchen sink back!)



(Look at that sink! And those counters! We also changed out the faucet and added a soap pump. Go big or go home, remember!)

(I'm in love!)

(So I don't even know if I should admit this, but we've already had 1 scratch in the counter.  I think Bean did it while "playing with water in the sink".  There was a fork ont he counter near the sink that I think she grabbed off and scraped the counter.  I did a little sanding and painted a couple coats of clear coat over it again.  Hopefully that'll work!  There's another spot on another counter that I'm not sure what happened.  It's got a sticky line of either something on it or the clear coat got messed up.  I'm currently pretending it doesn't exist.  I keep telling myself that there's really not much loss in the counters if the paint doesn't sustain our lifestyle.  It's better now than it was!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Brand New Kitchen

It's amazing how a few changes here and there can make a space feel brand new.  Last winter, when Steve proposed a summer kitchen remodel, I thought he was crazy.  I mean, the cabinets looked good; sure the counter top was a bit outdated; and it definitely needed paint; but a whole overhaul?!  He proposed new lights, tiling a backplash and then painting the countertops?!  I thought he was crazy. I couldn't envision his proposals.  I begrudgingly went along.

1 full month of hard work and I now hate myself for ever doubting!  I LOVE the new kitchen.  It's beautiful and bright and I actually WANT to spend time in there.  We still want to switch out 1 more light, and I need to do some ceiling work (touchup/paint).  But overall, it's checked off my list.

It's hard to capture the change in the entire room in pictures.  I'll break down my blogposts over the remodel into each phase:
*Phase 1 - Countertops & Sink
*Phase 2 - Tiling the Blacksplash & Lights
*Phase 3 - Painting & Clean-Up

But I'll leave you with some brief before/after shots!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Jersey Weekend

We try to make it out to Jersey once or twice a year to see Steve's grandparents.  It worked out for us all to get together a few weekends ago. Steve's parents flew in from Colorado, his brother from California, his sister from Ohio and his brother-in-law flew in from Europe (he had been away on business for several weeks).  

We bought the cheapest plane tickets we could find.  We flew a small airline (Spirit) that your ticket only buys you a seat on the plane. If you want to take luggage, pick your seats, or drink/food for you flight, you have to pay for each addition.  They allow you 1 free carryon item like a backpack (12"x14"x16").  Since Bean is under 2, she was a lap baby.  I took on the challenge of packing an entire weekend's worth of items into 2 small bags.  Challenge accepted!

(I got all over our clothes - including swim gear and flip flops - and toiletries into into my carryon.)

(I made a smaller entertainment bag for Bean and was able to put that bag into my carryon as well.)

(My carryon with all our items.  Steve had his computer, new camera, and our rain jackets in his backpack.  Our bags were heavy, but they were small!)

We left on Wednesday night after I was done babysitting.  We loaded up the car and headed to Detroit.  We stopped for dinner at our favorite restuarant in Toledo -- Maumee Bay Brew Pub.  We didn't get there until almost 7 and had to wait for a table.  Bean did great and the food was well worth the wait. We got back on the road just after 8:30 and still had about an hour to get to our hotel.  Once we got there (to the right one, went to the wrong one first, haha), Bean and I got ready for bed and we hit the hay! She slept in between Steve & I in a king bed.  We all pretty much slept great (I kept hearing people in the hall and even banging on our door) and woke up by 6am.  We got ready, got to the airport, and ready for our flight at 8:30!

(While waiting to board the plane, Steve took Bean around the airport to let her run off some energy.  They had a little play room for kids.  Bean loved playing with the airplane!)

(Bean slept on the plane! It was a perfect flight! The guy that was supposed to be in our row got moved to a different seat, so we had the row to ourselves.  We had space to stretch out and Bean was able to sleep the whole time.)

We got to Nanny/Poppy's before everyone else.  We were at there house by 11 am.  Since Bean got a small nap in the morning, we decided to eat some lunch then take her to a nearby zoo.  The Cape May Zoo is free (but they suggest a donation) so we figured even if we were there for 20 min, it would be worth it.  The zoo was neat, but it was also packed with people! I was surprised how busy it was for a Thursday morning.  

(Some of the animals were hard for Bean to see.  There were boardwalks that you walked over and near some of the animals, and she couldn't see them from her stroller.  Our favorite animals were the bears and giraffes!)

Even though she couldn't see all the animals, she still enjoyed the trip and we headed back in time for her to fall asleep in the car.  We stopped at a store on the way back so that she could sleep and I could pick up the necessities that didn't make the cut in our luggage - diapers, sunscreen, etc.  

Steve's dad, brother, sister and brother-in-law all arrived in the afternoon and evening.  We enjoyed catching up with everyone and of course watching Bean be crazy.  Bean slept in a pack'n'play in our bedroom.  Well, that was the plan.  She would go to sleep in it fine, but would wake up in the middle of the night.  I'd just throw her up in bed with us and she'd fall right to sleep.  I had a little fear that her sleeping with us at the hotel and then again in Jersey would take us back to where we were a few months ago when she'd only sleep in bed with me.  But that fear was silly.  She went right back to her normal sleeping when we got home.  

On Friday morning, we made up lunches and headed to the beach.  Just as we got in the car, it started to sprinkle.  The forecast all week called for torrential rain on Friday, but by Thursday it just said a 15% chance.  We took the risk and lost.  It was cold and rainy when we got to the beach.  We still went ahead and set up thinking it could clear up.  Bean was miserable and hateful.  She just sat on my lap and wouldn't do anything.  I can't blame her.  I'm not a fan of rain and the wind made it cold.  She usually loves playing in the rain, but I think the wind is what upset her.  

(Hateful selfie)

(Ashley did her best to try and get Bean to chill out.  It didn't work.  After a few minutes, she would just cry for me.)

(We were the only crazies at the beach!   Steve's mom arrived Friday morning.  She came straight from the airport to meet up with us.  We ate our lunch on the beach and then we called it quits.  Since the weather wasn't clearing up, I wanted to get Bean back to the house so she could take a good nap.  Just Steve, Bean and I left, everyone else stuck it out.  They were rewarded with the sun and warmth later in the day.)

(Steve's cousins who live nearby came and stayed the night while we were there.  Bean loved having the extra attention and playmates!)

(Playing on the golf course with Benjamin in the evening! Mommom and Poppy chaperoned and chased after the kids.  Mommom even helped Bean find a golf ball!)

(It took entirely too long to try to coordinate this picture.  This was the best I came up with after bribing Bean with chocolate.)

(On Saturday, we headed back to the beach!  Poppop, Steve, Bean and I got there first.  Bean was less than thrilled to be back at the beach.  However, she at least stood on the sand this time.  She stood in this spot for a good 15 min and wouldn't move.)

(She slowly transitioned from only standing to playing in the sand.  She still wouldn't move her feet though! Once everyone else arrived, she got lost in the spirit of the beach and finally moved from her spot.  I didn't catch a picture, but she spent a good while playing in the sand with Ashley & Ian! Bean also wouldn't take her shoes off.  Mommom tried multiple times without success to get them off.)

(What a better beach selfie!)

(We ate lunch at the beach and then Bean crashed.  She slept about an hour with me holding her.  She probably would have slept longer, but the tide was coming in and a big wave brought the water close to my chair and I startled her with my reaction.)

Steve and I went for a walk and left Bean to play in the sand.  When I got back, she realized I had been gone and got a little clingy to me.  She wanted to go down and play in the water, but wanted ME to go with her.  So I took her down until the water was just below her knee.  When a wave would come, I'd pull her up and she'd "jump" the waves.  She LOVED the water and didn't care that it made her cold.  She would be shivering waiting for the waves, but she didn't care.  She cried when I made her go back and warm up. 

We stayed at the beach through the afternoon, and then headed back to the house to clean up and eat dinner.  Once that got accomplished, we loaded up the cars again and headed to the boardwalk for the evening.  It was cooler than we had prepared for, so I made good use of my rain jacket!

(Family photo on the boardwalk!)

(There was a lot going on and Bean loved to look at it all.  She especially liked watching the pirate and parrot moving around.  Everyone took turns pushing Bean in her stroller.  Our boardwalk snack of choice this year was ice cream.  We usually get funnel cake, but the birds were being crazy! And of course, no boardwalk stop is complete without a taffy purchase from Shriver's!)

(Even though it was past bedtime when we got back to the house, Bean was wound up.  We let her stay up and torture uncle Ian for a little while. Once she tired out, Mommom read her stories for the night.  She picked her books for the trip - a Sesame Street book, a Dora book, and a book about eating 5 fruits & veggies each day, haha.)

The weather on Sunday was beautiful and would have been the perfect beach day; however, since we were flying out later in the day, we didn't want to go to the beach in the same day.  So everyone stayed around the house and got to enjoy some last minute Bean fun.  Ashley brought down this little car from the toy room upstairs and Bean's eyes lit up.  She couldn't wait for Ashley to get ready to take her out for a spin.  

(Eagerly waiting Ashley to take her for a walk in the car!)

(Only issue was that there wasn't any place to put your feet.  I think the idea was more for the kid to do all the moving, and the pole was to steer.  However, Bean wanted to be pushed.  I tried to make her sit with her feet up on the top, but she kept pulling them down  -- of sliding off the seat, oops!)

(The walk in the car became quite the production.  I just took a couple pictures, but didn't go with the posse.  I gues they only made it about half the block before the turned back around.  The whole issue with where to put her feet wasn't worth the walk!)

When they came back from their walk, Steve decided he wanted to go on a donut run.  I never turn down a donut so I took orders -even though no one else wanted a donut.  They were all saving room for Manco & Manco's pizza.  So back to the donuts.  Steve found a local bakery via Trip Advisor that was nearby.  So Steve, Ian and I headed off for donuts!

(Chester's Pastry Pantry Bakery -- because a donut shop needs more than one name, haha.)

(Since Ashley stayed back to watch Bean, I told her I'd capture the ambiance of the shop.  They sold all sorts of goodies - gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, ice cream cakes, donuts, etc.)

(Ian wanted a picture with Chester.  Okay, maybe that isn't the official Chester, but who was I to crush Ian's dream?!)

(A girl after my own heart! Those donuts were delicious!)

(The rest of the morning was spent in the backyard playing with the car! Bean could crawl in & out and push the car around on her own.)

(She would also get Ian to push/pull her around the yard.  She would just let her feet rub in the grass.)

Scott & Ashley were the first to depart.  They had to head out right after lunch.  Our flight was later, so we were able to put Bean down for a nap.  We were all packed up and ready to go when she got up.  We said our goodbyes to everyone and headed to the airport with Nanny & Poppy.  We flew in and out of Atlantic City, which is like 20 minutes from their house.  Everyone else used the Philly airport, which was a couple hours away. 

(On the way back, we had to share our row with a lady.  She had the window and didn't seem bothered by Bean.  Bean was a little crazy on this flight. Since it was in the evening, she wasn't tired.  We entertained her with reading, coloring, and playing some Mickey and Dora apps on my phone.  Thankfully, the flight was short - 1.5 hours. Too much longer and I would've gone crazy!)

We got to Detroit around 7 in the evening.  We stopped at a Taco Bell (which ironically was the same one that we stopped at when we picked Steve up from Detroit after his China trip) and ate dinner.  Bean was tired and cranky and just wanted to continue watching Dora in the car.  So we obliged her crazy and let her zone out to Dora in the back.  We didn't get home until almost 10! Bean went right to sleep and was obviously glad to be home (and reunited with big "bay"!  We took her "little bay" with us leaving the bigger blanket she usually sleeps with at home).  Another great weekend with family in the books!