For the most part my kitchen has gotten much prettier over the past few months:
But while DIY giveth, DIY taketh away. The counter in the adjacent laundry room has been piled high with tools, supplies, and scrap wood for weeks. Best to keep everything handy, right?
And though I did not actually finish any projects this weekend my kitchen seems to be in a perpetual state of construction.
I know it’ll be over soon, and the end is actually in sight, but I am so ready to get my house in order again! I’m also in a hurry to finish up a couple of storage/organization projects that are on deck so that I can put everything in its place. It’s going to be awesome when it’s done but we’re not quite there yet.
So, remember how my washing machine broke on New Years’ and a few weeks later I got a great deal on a “new” (to me) pair of high efficiency machines? And then the new washer didn’t work? Well then we waited like a month for the part to come in, then another week to get it installed, only to learn that we didn’t even need that part but the good news is that WE NOW HAVE A WORKING WASHER! After two full months of living a washer-less existence the simple luxury of an appliance that washes clothes in my own home is not lost on me.
We definitely had a lot of help getting through this little bump in the road. Our friends Emily and Gina both helped us get a great deal on the machines and get the washer repaired at very little cost to us. This would have been an absolute nightmare if we’d bought these same machines on craigslist, but since Emily got them through her job we were able to get discounted parts and service. And our friends Cassie and Nic let us do laundry at their house for the past two months. Seriously, Cassie gave me permission to come wash clothes anytime. Their washer and dryer are on their enclosed back porch so I’d often stop by to toss a load in the washer while they were at work or still sleeping on weekends without them even knowing I was there. It was such a generous gesture that was so immensely helpful. So anyway, I wanted to do something to thank both families for helping us out while we were washer-less (did I mention that it was two months? That’s a long time to go without an appliance you’ve become accustomed to!).
I gathered together a framed print I already had (from this artist), some lavender dryer bags and hand soap, some pretty kitchen towels, and a mesh laundry bag to wrap it all up in. Total cost: about $15 each. I piled everything neatly in the bag and then tied it up with some twine.
I am not that great with gifts and don’t do things like this nearly as often as I should but these friends went out of their way to do us huge favors and I really wanted to thank them. I’m actually kind of wishing I’d bought a third set of everything for myself! I love lavender and those towels would look so cute in my kitchen.
Oh, and happy Mardi Gras! We are staying close to home today but rest assured that the carnival spirit is alive in my heart.
I have been itching to replace our washer and dryer since the day we bought our house nearly four years ago. They were old, loud, slow, and problematic. I cannot tell you how many times Nick and I have been back there adjusting leaky hoses or fighting to get the dryer to vent properly. In recent months it has actually gotten worse–we had to turn up the TV way on the other side of the house just to hear it over the sound of the washer entering its spin cycle. The dryer was just as bad. You could actually hear the motor struggling to keep going and it took three runs to actually dry a load of clothes. Around New Year’s the washer started leaking again and Nick finally threw in the towel. When El Cheapo says it’s time to buy a new one you know it’s really kicked the can.
As thrilled as I was to finally be replacing them, it was bittersweet because I knew that we couldn’t afford to run out and buy a pair of brand new beautiful front-loaders like I’d always dreamed of. But I did really want to get high-efficiency machines so I got creative in my search. Here’s where I looked:
Craigslist was the first place that I looked. There were a ton of options at various price points, but I was a little leery.
Pros: lots of options; wide variety of prices; room for negotiation.
Cons: delivery may not be available; risk of buying a lemon
Used appliance stores
I actually found these advertised in the appliance section on craigslist. Many of them seem to be run by appliance repairmen who buy broken machines and refurbish them. I almost bought a pair or GE Profile front loaders for $700 at one of these stores. Even if they don’t have a matching set, a lot of machines sold under different brand names are made by the same company and may look like a match even if they’re not. Another store in town had a Whirpool Duet and a Kenmore Elite that looked just alike ($625 total for the pair).
Pros: great prices; warranties usually included; confidence that the machine has been recently serviced; delivery often available.
Cons: limited selection; stores may be located in unsavory neighborhoods
When I posted on Facebook asking whether anyone I knew had purchased from a particular used appliance store in town before, a friend contacted me to tell me that she could get me a really good deal on a pair of high-efficiency top loaders through her job. Now I’m not saying everyone is going to have a friend with an amazing hook-up like this, but you may be surprised to learn that someone you know is looking to sell for a steal or knows someone who is.
Pros: not having to deal with strangers; possibility that you could get a great deal like I did.
Cons: limited selection; delivery may be complicated; warranty may not be available
Luckily for us, Emily both has a truck and is super handy so she delivered them, helped us get them all set up, and hauled the old ones away to give to a friend of hers who works on old appliances. To thank her we treated her and her wife and toddler (one of Jack’s BFF’s) to lunch. New-to-us washer and dryer and family lunch date sounds like a win-win to me! As for the washer and dryer, they’re Whirlpool Cabrios and they are beautiful. Opinions seem mixed about these and high-efficiency machines in general. Some people love them and some people hate them, but we decided to take the risk. These are not brand new and we’re having a small problem with the washer not spinning properly but an appliance-repairman friend of Emily’s is coming out to look at it and hopefully it will be an easy fix. And as for the grand total we paid: $525! These retail for about $800 each new so even if we have to pay for a repair I still think we got a great deal.
We went about 10 days without a washer, during which time Jack was sick with a stomach virus, so even if our new washer isn’t quite working properly right off the bat I am still thrilled to have it. And if anyone has had a similar issue with their machine that they were able to resolve please let me know! I’ve read a couple of possible causes online and am tempted to open it up myself to see if I can fix it.
So, after I painted my green dresser earlier this year I ran into a small problem: the cat food and water bowls we keep on top were really roughing up the finish. In fact, the paint started to peel along the back edge of the dresser, probably from water that spilled and then sat. I got in It took much longer than I expected but finally, after a few months, I found a cute vintage tray at a thrift store for only $2. I thought my problems were solved but I was wrong, because the metal tray quickly rusted, especially in the middle where the kitties’ shared bowl of water sits.
But never fear, spray paint to the rescue! I don’t get to do much pink in this house, but the tray is so small that I thought it would be fun. The can cost me just under $4 after coupon at Hobby Lobby.
I didn’t take any pictures of the painting process, I guess because it seemed pretty self-explanatory. I brought the tray outside, gave it a quick cleaning, placed it on some cardboard, and misted it with several thin coats of paint until the design and rust were both completely covered. I waited for it to dry before flipping it over to paint the back, then coated the whole thing with a protective sealant that I already had (Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel). I left it outside for a day to finish curing and then brought it in to regain its rightful place in the world.
The finish is not quite perfect, probably because I didn’t take the time to sand it down before painting, but since its purpose is literally only to contain bowls of cat food I’m not stressing over the details (do I ever stress over details???). In the picture above you can see the peeling paint on the dresser peeking out at the very back. This is what I get for painting laminate–and I even used primer that time!
The pop of pink is a fun addition to the laundry room, which is sort of subtly colorful with the green dresser and floral fabric. I feel like the white walls make it really easy to add color without it being overwhelming.
I took all three animals to the vet yesterday and the doc said that Pistachio, at a whopping 14 pounds, is overweight. It seems like an easy enough solution–switch the 1/2 cup scoop in their food jar out for a 1/4 cup one and consider getting her some catnip. If only it was that easy for me to lose weight! They also want us to bring Juliet back to get her teeth cleaned, but after dropping over $300 just on the visit and medicine yesterday I’m hesitant–have any of you found an at-home alternative to professional teeth cleaning? I’ve had dogs all my life and can not remember my parents ever brushing their dogs’ teeth so this feels sort of like a made up problem to me, but whatever.