Monday, November 26, 2012

Appliances are junk

I realize this is not a very thankful post for the week after Thanksgiving.  Just to be clear, I am incredibly thankful for my hubby and my peanut, our wonderful families, our good jobs, our nice house, our fabulous friends.  What I'm not thankful for, is crappy appliance manufacturers who build stuff cheaply and charge you exorbitantly.  I already spoke in my kitchen post about the problems we've had with our brand new KitchenAid refrigerator.  We've had at least four service calls on the stupid thing since it was installed (all having to do with the ice maker) and that, to me, is redonk.  But this post is not really about out stupidly overpriced frig, or the range with a 'power burner' that not only doesn't boil water in 90 seconds but cannot seem to boil water in the same amount of time as the regular burners.  No, this post is all about our craptastic Maytag Bravos washing machine.  
A few weeks ago Shaun was traveling for work, and I realized (with ten loads of laundry saved up), that the washing machine wasn't working.  Now, we knew there was a bunch of socks/undies stuck under the drum of this thing because it STUNK to high heaven when we used it and little scraps of my Victoria's Secret underthings were sticking out of the bottom of the inner drum.  But, it kept limping along, so we just took things out immediately after washing so they wouldn't stink and made festive confetti out of the lacy bits.  This particular night, all I heard after pressing start was a revving noise and no action .  I was pretty pissed because this washer and dryer are just 4 years old and were #1 on the Consumer Reports 'best buys.'  Turns out there are several websites dedicated to hating (and wanting a class action lawsuit against) this particular set.  Awesome.  I did what any normal chick would do...I came home on my lunch break the next day and tried to take the damn thing apart in dress pants.  First, I turned off the water.  Riveting photo, I know.  
Then I put a bucket down to catch the spillage, and unfastened the water connectors on the unit to make sure the washer was getting water.  
Of course, there was nothing wrong here because there are these nice little mesh screens inside.  Duh. 
Then I unscrewed the top of the back part and found myself staring at electrical stuff with no clue if anything was out of place or messed up.  Duh, again.  
So then I tried to pry the top of the washer up to get access to the drum.  I used a screwdriver, a scraper, and some other random tools to try to pop the clamps holding it down, but I could not get them to release and was afraid I would damage the paint.  I did what you'd expect me to do, I cried for a while and ate my feelings (they tasted like ice cream) before heading back to work.  But LO, through some kind of miracle, a coworker friend offered up her husband to come take a look at it that night.  Yes, please!!!  He had that top up in no time.    
Then, the bottom was unscrewed, and the drum came out.  That's Jeff, the man who saved my sanity, and the best husband (that's not mine) ever.  
With the drum removed, you could see all the socks floating in the cesspool of old water at the bottom of the tub.  It smelled worse than a diaper blowout.  
And, I about died when this man I have only met one other time in my life pulled my destroyed undies out.  That would be the mess of pink elastic in the middle of this pile:
Oh, and all these socks came out of the water, too...
After all the socks were removed, he put things back together and ran a cycle.  
It ran for a while, and as it was going, I could see the drum spinning through the white plastic tub.  I find it strange that the only thing holding up that heavy drum is some cables and a plastic tub.  Jeff put the back panel back onto the washer and then, of course, it stopped running.
When the unit stopped again, Jeff tilted the whole thing forward and scouted around the waste water hose - and pulled out the longest sock I've ever seen!
That sock had completely blocked the waste hose and was preventing the washer from emptying, which in turn made the mechanical process stop.  The washer was sort of 'drowning' in old water, I guess you could say.  I'm happy to say that it's fixed now, but unfortunately there is not much I can do to prevent this problem.  There are no screens to prevent items from going over the sides of the drum, or into the waste hose.  For now, I've been making sure all smaller items are at the bottom of the washer so they can't jump ship, and all REALLY small items like baby socks and bibs are being washed in a mesh laundry bag.  It sucks that I should have to do that.  For once, I would love to just have something work without any special workarounds in place.  Do things like that even exist anymore?  
To close my bitchfest, here is a photo of me and peanut at the scene of the crime.  Yep, I have a mirror in my gross cinderblock laundry room.  It's so I can check out my fine self while washing clothes.  SNORT.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

5 months

I'm a little late here, Ashford turned 5 months on November 5, but he's still 2.5 weeks away from 6 months, so I guess it could be worse.  
He gave me so many cute poses and funny faces this month, that I accidentally took (and had to go through) almost 600 photos.  My eyes still haven't recovered.  The 5 month mark was a big one when it comes to a very important thing: his sleep.  The day after he turned 5 months, he went down for the night at 7:30 without a peep.  His body hit the mattress, he rolled to his side, and lay quiet immediately.  Say what?!
I thought he had dropped off into a baby coma or something.  I think it was just his time, because I didn't do anything differently that night.  We'd been letting him cry for up to a half hour, as long as he wasn't hysterical and was safe, etc.  Lately, we have been watching for his tired signs like a hawk, as soon as the 'eye rub' or 'avoiding eye contact' happens, he is hustled into his crib before you can say "epic meltdown."  
Yep, we are on to his game.  For the past week, Ash has been sleeping from about 7:00pm until about 6:00am without waking during the night.  Again, say what?!  It's so awesome.  He also naps for about 4-5 hours during the day.  Kid likes his sleep.  
On Nov 1, he was 15 pounds 8 ounces, still a skinny little guy for his length - almost 27 inches already!  He's still in some 3 month clothes but is wearing more 6 month stuff.  Heartbreaking to pack things away.  New Ashford activities: rolling front to back and back to front, sleeping almost exclusively on his belly, rocking on his hands and knees trying to crawl, looking for things that he drops, and sucking his thumb.  
What we're still working on: sitting (he just likes to move too much) and laughing.  I do my best comedy routines and I get a big smile and a little 'heheh,' but that's about it.  He only truly laughed continuously one time in September, and we've been trying since then to repeat it.      
Until then, I'm enjoying his smiles.  And some better sleep!  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our finished kitchen - 9 months later

It's 9pm, I have a cold, my baby is sleeping, and I should be, too.  But I can't go to bed because I've been meaning to share the official 'after' pics of the kitchen for over a week.  Finally, here is the finished kitchen!  
Here is a before, just for funsies.
We mostly finished it in February and since then we had a baby, realized we hate our appliances, procrastinated on putting up the shelves, and lived without switchplate covers.  
I wouldn't change anything.  Except our KitchenAid appliances, which are crap!  That range is supposed to have a power burner that boils water super fast, but I swear it takes longer than a regular one.  This next picture is the best representation of the paint color, Behr Lotus Leaf.  
Here is a before of the sink wall.  Yikes.  Notice the sweet trash compactor.  Hello, 1980!
Our faucet is so good looking, and it only cost me $85!
The counters are a quartzite called Phantom Green.  It is pretty much black, but the veining is a slightly aqua-tinted white.
We hate this KitchenAid counter-depth refrigerator.  We have had four service calls on this thing (the ice maker, of course) in the first 5 months we owned it.  Unacceptable.  
I can barely remember when the frig wall used to look like this!
The lighting is all from Rejuvenation except for the can lights and under cabinet lights.  
Our gorgeous shelves!  I couldn't be happier with them.  All of our daily white dishes fit perfectly and we use them so quickly there is no way they will get dusty.  Well, maybe the small plates will - who really uses those, anyway?   
We LOVE our Sharp drawer microwave, by the way.  This is the best place for a microwave, in my opinion!  This counter is raised up to 42" to make it easy to use.  The Restoration Hardware Lugarno pulls and knobs on the cabinets make me giggle with glee, they are so shiny and beautiful.  I am not even mad that I had a mental breakdown installing them.     
We spent a lot on this kitchen, but walking into the room and loving what you see is worth it to me.  
Last details - I have to actually make the curtains (right now it's just fabric pinned to the rods) and I'd like to cut the table down to a more reasonable height and get some stools.  
Until then, I'm enjoying walking in the back door and seeing our finished space!
If you have specific questions about stuff in the kitchen, I'm sure a search on the blog would find it for you - but I love getting emails/comments, so send them my way!   

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Renovation Roadtrip Results

Ooo, all the words in my title started with R!  That is how you BLOG, people!  I wanted to show you all what Meryl and Chris did to our house.  Because, rest assured, I didn't do much but act goofy and take pictures.  Anywho, we originally wanted to tackle our sad storage space of a basement, but we realized that was a can of worms we didn't want to open right now.  So, we turned to a few other smaller projects.  One was installing a new storm door on the door to our deck above the garage.  Here it is the first day we saw the place, with the old storm door laying there against the house:
It has been without a storm door for who knows how long, and the bedroom leading out to the deck was always freezing in the winter.  First we ripped out the existing frame from the old door, it was so rusted the screws kind of crumbled out.
When we pulled out the frame, there were holes left in the rubber membrane roof up here, so we had to fill the voids with some GREAT STUFF!
Then Chris was a genius and got some flashing to cover the rotted parts of the door frame.  
Meryl was official direction-reciter.
In no time at all, that door was up!
Mission accomplished.
Now I just need to scrape and paint the main door.  Ew.
The next thing we needed help with, was those blasted kitchen shelves.  
I put another coat of Deft spray lacquer on the shelves....
...while Chris did some surgery to the brackets
A 1/2in glass and tile bit made some dandy holes in the subway tile for the brackets to be attached with toggle bolts, since this side had no stud.
I almost wept with joy when I saw those brackets getting attached.  
How he managed to get them all lined up perfectly is beyond me, I always mess up even though I measure twice and drill once.  
Beautiful!  
Chris was a genius and picked up these screw covers that can be stained and everything.  
I used the matching stain and also sprayed them with the spray lacquer.  
Before:
After:
After the shelves were done, Chris helped us put a vent cover on the open toe-kick vent beneath the cabinet.  That vent used to freeze the floor with A/C in the summer, so I'm happy to have a way to control it.  
He also put all the switch plate covers on the outlets and switches.  We had lots of areas where the tile needed to be notched out.  If I can't just screw it on, I sort of say 'no thanks' and leave it be.  I'm so grateful all these finishing touches are done!
I'm taking photos of the finished kitchen for the official post right now, that will come later this week.  In the meantime, check out Chris and Meryl's post on their Renovation Roadtrip stop at our house here!  
Thanks so much, guys!