100 Days of Home Improvement Day 46 to Day 58: Wedding planning vs Home Remodeling

Today is May 29th which makes it Day 58 in 100 days of Home Improvement. What have we done so far?

Started pruning the citrus trees – it makes picking fruit a lot easier. Also you get rid of all the diseased and dead parts of the tree. I don’t when was the last time the previous owners pruned the trees.

– Continue to reach out to other contractors – I know this is dragged out but you should collect as many estimates as possible. We are not looking for the lowest price. We’re looking for the best package for the best price. For examples, we’re looking for someone to professionally paint the common rooms. There are some professional painters that remove old paint, prime, and add new paint and there some that do all that including patching up cracks and removing some of the blisters in the wall.

– Continue to work in the patio and tiles – Most tedious project ever. There will be spurts we’ll be working on it everyday and days when we won’t because work and life happens.

– Collecting samples, lots of them – Who said the fun ends after you finish the wedding? I know the planning part of the process is fun because you go to food tastings and collect different fabrics and create boards but really, looking back it’s all frou frou stuff compared to remodeling. I’m glad I didn’t take the wedding planning too seriously. When you’re a homeowner, please, please collect as many samples as you can from paints to tiles to flooring. The things you choose to improve your home can rise in value. I hate to say this, but a wedding does not.

Above are samples of cork flooring I got from Durodesign. I discovered them when I attended the Pasadena Showcase House Event. There are some colors I requested that came out a lot darker than expected. Anyways I can always request for other swatches. I already decided out of the five, there were two I was going to use for our master room. From there I’ve been laying the samples around the bedroom taking photos in different parts of the room and in different lights. I’ll talk about that in a different post. Initially I thought I was going to commit to one color for the master bedroom but after placing the two in different parts of the room and taking pictures, I think I changed my mind.

20150516_232422

100 Days of Home Improvement: Day 33-Day 45

As of today May 16th, we’re still continuing our same projects which is the patio area, the grout cleaning/painting/sealing, and continuing to reach out for the best contractors.

We’re also pulling the weeds in front yard and cracks of the driveway. I also learned vinegar and salt is an effective weed killer and prevents them from growing back. That’s a small side project.

Things we learned about the home-ownership journey

  1. Electrical must go first – We have so many plans to knock down walls and replace the flooring in the living areas and the kitchen, but from our inspection all the electrical needs to be replaced and the circuit breaker needs to redone. Unfortunately electrical is the most expensive however it’ll make knocking down a couple walls so much easier since we already rerouted our electrical lines by then.
  2. Staying away from HGTV shows – Please do not tell us you saw an episode of Property Brothers or Love It or List It and suggesting us to do the same. We don’t even have these budgets to transform our home in 30 days. It feels so good to know these HGTV reality shows are fake so I don’t need to watch it. I remembered I loved watching House Hunters and House Hunters Internationals only to find out the couple on House Hunters were already in escrow. Watching it became pointless.
  3. Talk to other homeowners – Instead of binge watching HGTV shows, we’ve been talking to other homeowners from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances on their experiences with owning a home and doing renovations. In Los Angeles, a lot of the homes are older so almost everyone we’ve talked to has had similar experiences such as shallow ceilings, not retrofitted for earthquakes, too many doors, plumbing not connected to the city lines, the garage use to be a barn, etc. It’s nice talk about these things to other homeowners because they have referred us to their contractors and some county/city home renovation programs.
  4. Go interior designing events – I went to the Pasadena Showcase House of Design this past week. PSHD is a yearly event where a really large house is featured and interior designers get to design different rooms throughout the house. It was a great event and I picked up some ideas. Initially I thought “Not sure what I’m going to pick up from here since I don’t live in a mansion”. I’m happy to say I was very, very wrong. In the house tour, I found a room that had very similar bones to our additional: formerly the patio turned into an enclosed room, lots of windows, and wood plank walls. I think I know what to do with the additional now, I do have a photo of that room. I’m also obsessing over cork floors and light fixtures in the kitchen, I’ll save that for another post since I picked up so many (realistic) ideas from the event. At the PSHD, I picked up their booklet which goes over the details on all the rooms and there’s a resource page on where they purchased the furniture, the flooring, and the paint colors.

20150516_2324225. Collect lots of samples and free consultations – I love the resource page from the PSHD booklet. I’ve been looking at the business webpages asking for samples from paints (swatches and actual paint) to flooring. Whenever you can, get free consultations and free quotes before you commit.

To be continued…

Easiest Alfredo Ever!

20150504_194813

Since we moved into the house we don’t have that much food in the fridge. We’re trying to adjust from eating takeout and Trader Joe’s meals everyday to going back to cooking with actual ingredients and it hasn’t been easy–I almost thought I forgot how to cook.

This alfredo sauce does not require a lot of fancy ingredients. I got this from Chow.com, they called it “Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara“. I did have butter, eggs, garlic, eggs, a small block of parmesan cheese, and dried spaghetti as the recipe calls for. I even added some frozen peas and some pork to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon (1/8 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • optional: pork
  • optional: peas

1. Cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until it’s al dente. While the spaghetti cooks, on a dutch oven or a skillet, cook the pork and set it aside to cool.

2. Using the same dutch oven or skillet you could melt the teaspoon of butter or you could just use the remaining fats from the pork. Toss in the garlic and saute until its fragrant.

3. Turn off the heat under the skillet. When the spaghetti is cooked al dente drain it, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the garlic and butter/pork fat mix. Add half the cheese and toss until well coated for about 1 minute. Add the eggs and toss for 1 minute more and then add the remaining cheese, black pepper, and the 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water.

4. Add the pork and the peas if you like. If you have other garnishes such as parsley or basil feel free to add those!

20150503_191152

100 Days of Home Improvement (Day 26-Day 32): Take some rest

4/27 (Day 26)

Started sealing parts of the living room.

4/28 (Day 27)

Fully sealed the bath tiles.

4/29 (Day 28)

Absolutely nothing because I was starting to feel sick.

4/30 (Day 29)

I got sick. No house related work today.

5/1 (Day 30)

We’ve been homeowners for a full month now — woohoo!

Turf Terminators came to our site — they truly do remove the grass and drought landscape for free. Our next step is to sell our palms trees.

Continued working on the pavers.

5/2 (Day 31)

We got a contractor to do an estimate to paint the exterior of the house. Great news is they also pressure wash the house, remove old paint, and patch the cracks. The price is reasonable but we’ll move forward after we get our grass removed and our lot landscaped. We already picked out our color scheme for the exterior.

5/3 (Day 32)

My parents and my sisters came over — our first family visitors! My mom and sister picked off the oranges, lemons, and kumquats in our lot since all of them produced A LOT of fruit. A LOT OF FRUIT — please take it home.

Since I was sick for the past few days, I finally went back to cleaning, painting, and sealing the grout again.

20150503_191152
Removed the our table from the dining area to begin doing the tiles here. 

Tossed out a lot of junk left by the previous homeowners.

K continues to do his home security project.

day 25

100 Days of Home Improvement, Day 25: Level Up

day 254/26/15 (Day 25)

– K has finally laid the first set of pavers on our newly leveled deck area.

– Continued to clean, paint, and seal the grout. Right now, I have three sets of tiles in different stages. In the kitchen, I started sealing the grout and tiles and we need to let that cure for at least 24 hours. In the hallway, I started painting the grout. In the living room addition, I started to clean the grout.

– Since our wet swiffer wipes didn’t really do a great job cleaning the mess on the kitchen ceiling, we used dry swiffers and soaked it in vinegar. The vinegar did a great job wiping the mess but I found myself throwing so many swiffers since the mess is so thick and one swiffer cannot clean a large area. To be continued.


We’re 25% done with the 100 Days of Home Improvement. How does it feel? It’s fine, it’s a lot of work. Welcome to homeowner-ship.

Though I’ve been looking through Pinterest for the newest recipes to try, I haven’t had a lot of time to cook. When we first moved in to our house, we didn’t have an oven so it was Trader Joe’s for days from their frozen gnocchi and other microwaveable goodies, then there salads and sushi. When we did get an oven, it was lots of pastas and there will be more pasta dishes in the future. Once in a while, I’ll make some garlic bread. Our latest quick food is the Golden Curry Sauce Tablets. One tablet yields to 6 cups of curry sauce and I add potatoes, beef, bok choy, onions, and eggplant. According to the packet, one tablet is 12 servings.

When it comes to homeowner-ship, you will be ok with staying in on weekends. I think since we moved in, this is our first weekend truly staying in and I’m fine with that. We made no trips to restaurants nor did board game night at a friend’s place. I really wanted to go to Artisanal LA this weekend, but I told myself there will be another one. I didn’t stay in to just renovate the house all weekend, but I finally caught on my reading and took a nap. Good weekend indeed.

20150425_171250

Day 18-24: Baby Steps

When people tell me they’re taking “baby steps” towards better habits such as eating healthier, exercising, and quit smoking, it irritates me.  Most of the time what they really mean is they’re executing this habit once a week or most likely never. I do believe “taking baby steps” is a simple way to achieve bigger goals through doing small, daily wins.

When a baby learns to walk, they practice everyday. One day they stand-up and fall down. The next day, they stand-up and fall down. The following day, they stand-up, lift up one foot off the ground, and fall down, etc.

For ourselves, we do a little home improvement everyday whether it’s after work, after exercising, or after binge-watching on Netflix we’re doing small daily tasks towards renovating the home to our liking. Also it makes larger tasks such as redoing the deck and repainting the grout more manageable.

wpid-wp-1429491506458.jpg
Sledgehammers!

April 19th (Day 18)
– finished building bookshelf one — it will go to our office room. The office space is slowly coming together.
– Continued to work on the deck this morning.
– Got sledgehammers from my parents. Now we can smash concrete together instead of sharing a trench shovel.
April 20th (Day 19)
– Applied for the Home Energy Improvement Program from LADWP — we hope we qualify.

April 21 (Day 20)
– filling the shelves with books in the office.
– fixed the pins holding the door to the second entrance.

April 22nd ( Day 21)
– ever since we got a sledgehammer smashing concrete has been a lot easier

– continued organizing the office
– reached out Turf Terminators — they remove your grass for free and will assist in drought landscaping your lot. We want to get rid of the grass in our front yard. K has been getting rid of the grass in the backyard even though we did not have a lot of grass to start.

April 23rd (Day 22)
– Took a break.

April 24th (Day 23)
– Reached out to our electrical contractor to receive the final quote. We’re still in the process of looking for other electrical contractors. We’ll talk more about getting contractors later.
– Progress of the deck area and our backyard:
IMG_20150424_132000IMG_20150424_132132

April 25th (Day 24)
– K continues to smash concrete and work on the deck area. The ETA on completing the deck area will be before the end of 100 days. He’s been working on the deck area since Day 1.
– We discovered the terrible paint job in the kitchen ceiling was not a terrible paint job — it was just a big mess. We are still in the process of cleaning off whatever it is on the ceiling. The wet swiffer wipes are barely doing the job.

20150425_182419
This is not paint.
20150425_182413
Our Swiffer wipes did minimal effort.

– Started cleaning the grout using white vinegar and baking soda. We’re starting a small section in the kitchen and a small section in the hallway. Beneath all that dirt was this terra cotta color and I thought something looked missing. I took a quick trip to Home Depot and bought some grout paint. It made a huge difference and it looks like we bought new tiles. Got a few hundred square feet of tiles to go. During the work week, I wouldn’t be surprised if I only worked on two tiles per day. Cleaning grout alone takes the most time.

20150425_102752
Before: Dirty, old grout. Vinegar was soaking through the grime.
20150425_111115
Beneath all that dirt….
20150425_171250
After: New grout paint. Now off to doing it so many times over. You must wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry before sealing it.
18697_10155474848010444_2044902383708554505_n

100 Days of Home Improvement (Day 12-17): We had our first visitor

20150410_184840
The big mess in our yard Day 12 and on…

April 13th (Day 12)

– Break time! Didn’t do anything. Come on, we just completed installing the oven, the hood range, and the ducting!

April 14th (Day 13)

– Dusting the blinds

– cleaning the moldings

– organize the closet

April 15th (Day 14)
– We had a room full of empty boxes and we got rid of them

April 16th (Day 15)

– organized the closet

– Finally emptied that big suitcase

April 17th (Day 16)

Worked on the backyard and smashed some concrete. We decided we are going to re-purpose the concrete as drainage for our deck area and our upcoming raised produce garden. No, we did not use a jack hammer. After a hard days work, we had Komodo.

18697_10155474848010444_2044902383708554505_n 1610915_10155474801065444_3663118923444710590_n

April 18th (Day 17)

We had a friend come over and he’s our first guest. We had other guests before but this was during escrow. Having our first guest expedited our unpacking and cleaning…but it’s still a mess.

Speaking of clean, we got our couch cleaned. I’m still not sure how it got so dirty during the move. Check out Professional Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Services, LLC; they did a great job. It looks better than when we first bought the couch.

20150417_071145

20150417_071214

Before….20150418_172322After! It’s so pristine!