Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Books Lately

Happy Show Us Your Books day with Steph & Jana! I have a couple good books to share today even though I'm not fully back to my normal reading self. I'm sure I'll get back there eventually, I'm all about not forcing it.

A Woman Is No Man - Etaf Rum
three generations of palestinian women in brooklyn
I really hemmed and hawed over the category to put this book under - because it took me 4 and 1/2 months to read, it was the opposite of couldn't put it down. I started it in a not so great place of my life and didn't pick it up for weeks at a time (mainly because I didn't feel like reading and when I did, I wanted comfort and this is not that book). Finally, I picked it back up and flew through the second half. The topic of this book makes it hard to read so I doubt it'll be a finish-in-one-sitting for anyone. I don't know how much my 'meh-ness' with the first half of the book was me and how much was the book... I think mostly me. I really enjoyed the second half, if a book stomping all over your heart can be enjoyed. It broke my heart. So even though it took me ages and I didn't *love* the writing/first half, it goes up here and I do recommend it.
Ask Again, Yes - Mary Beth Keane
family drama
Read this for book club, it went over fairly well-ish. I had heard great things so perhaps my expectations were a bit high. I thought it was written really well. Definitely more character driven than plot driven, which I am normally okay with except in this one I feel like it needed just a tiny bit more of a plot, or fewer characters... I like character driven books but I feel like this one had too many characters to really connect to any of them properly. Though, perhaps that was the point, it was more of an overall look at their lives rather than a close up of a short period. I thought certain things could have been developed more or at least not skipped over... but overall, definitely enjoyed it and do recommend it. This is another I wasn't sure which category to put it in, but I finished it in a day and enjoyed reading it, so up here it goes.

Dear Girls - Ali Wong
ali wong's letters to her daughters/memoir
For some reason, I am always intrigued by memoirs even if I'm not a 'fan' of the celebrity. Some of the ones I've enjoyed the most are ones where I didn't know much about the person beforehand (Gabrielle Union, Leah Remini, Shonda Rhimes, Tina Fey to name a few, and yes, Tina's was like, 10 years ago, I am a fan now). I've never watched her standup, but I really enjoyed Always be my Maybe, so I figured why not. Long story long, parts of this were funny but I am not sure her sense of humour is really for me. If you are an Ali Wong fan, I recommend. If, like me, you didn't know much about her humour beforehand, maybe not. Also, it was a lot about marriage/pregnancy/babies, which, you know, not exactly things I find funny right now, but again, that's me and not the book.
Received from Netgalley.

Love on Lexington Avenue - Lauren Layne
I adore LL's books but the first in this series was a letdown, so I was hesitant to try this. But I figured I've read 18 of her books and out of all of those, only 4 of them were 3 stars, so not even bad, just not great. Anyway. This one follows in the same footsteps steam-wise (aka, none) but it was much more enjoyable - everything about it clicked for me. I adored the characters and the story, it was cute and funny, the ending was literally the cutest ending on the entire planet. Excited for the next one!
Received from Netgalley.
Awk-Weird - Avery Flynn
Avery Flynn can do no wrong in my eyes. This was adorable. Oops baby after one night stand is not normally my jam, and I tend to stay away from that trope anyway for obvious reasons, but again, Avery Flynn can do no wrong. I love love loved the found family in this one - made me think of my own found family. Very cute, definitely recommend if you like romance/her other books.
Received from Netgalley.

Still reading The Heart's Invisible Furies (about 20% in)

Linking up with Steph & Jana

Life According to Steph

I also re-read the first four in the Winston Brothers series, the second in the Charley Davidson series, the thirteenth in the Psy-Changeling series and the prequel novella in the His Dark Materials series (definitely continuing) - but don't have much to say about any of them except I enjoyed them all.

TL;DR - I recommend Ask Again, Yes and A Woman Is No Man.

Read anything decent lately?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

October 2019 Recap - What's New With You Link Up

Hello all, time for another what's new with you link up! Thanks again if you join me, I always appreciate it. You don't have to display the button if you don't want to, but don't forget to mention it somewhere in your post and check out some of the other posts! I'll be doing a monthly recap like I do every month.

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October was busy busy busy busy. I got the keys to my apartment on the 1st, but didn't properly move in/start sleeping there until the 4th. I got a lot of new stuff - nightstands, bed (and mattress), couch,  dresser, tv stand, tv, desk, bookshelf, cat condo(s)... thank goodness for my amazing friends who came over and put literally everything together - seriously, everything. I did nothing but feed them pizza and follow directions. There is no way I would have been able to do everything on my own, I am so thankful to them. 

Some of the new stuff:

JR Ward (author of the black dagger brotherhood series if you are familiar with paranormal romance) did a thing with the Louisville Library and we got to meet her and then listen to her talk, it was so freaking awesome. 

Then, another friend and I went to go see JoJo Moyes - gah, I adore her! I love love love seeing authors. We got to chat with her and get our books signed, but no photo with her unfortunately.

In other random things - think I went to ikea three times? Once with a friend, so that was fun. It's about 2 hours away, so not too bad. Another time I went to their TJ Maxx afterwards and had way too much fun. I had a couple friends over to hang out and watch Hocus Pocus, though my apartment wasn't even a little bit ready for company. I got a little witch headband and a witch hat hair clip and the little hair clip one was the perfect size for Millie's head. Doesn't she look thrilled. There was a firepit birthday celebration night in there too, which was a ton of fun. Went to Nashville for the night for a halloween party, I was a 'witch' - as in I wore black and that little witch headband. It was a fun night. On actual halloween, I slapped some cat ears on for work. We did a little pot luck thing which was fun. Book club was Ask Again, Yes (SUYB on Tuesday!) and chili. I did read other books, but didn't really take photos apparently. Also watched some TV, went to the gym/ran a couple of times, but no photos so did it even happen?

In other non-fun things - said goodbye to Chelsea on the 2nd, but I mentioned that last time. We closed on the house and went to the courthouse to file the divorce paperwork. It was actually processed in like, 2 days, so we are officially divorced.

In cat news, they are both doing super well but I can tell them miss/notice KC & Chelsea's absence because they are both needy. Penny has always been very needy, but Millie is Miss Independent. I keep expecting her to get back to normal eventually, but it hasn't happened yet. She's gotten better, but still not the old Millie, and she might never be. But thankfully, they seem to have accepted the new place/life, no eating/bathroom issues and that's what matters. In case you missed it on instagram:

Long story short, the half wall/open stairs situation was a surprise when I got my keys. I hemmed and hawed and had a bit of a breakdown, but ultimately decided on staying and I'm really glad I did. Except for Penny hanging out in that window. But I don't know what to do - if I try to block it, she'll just try and go around it and be more likely to fall.

Other than that, they really are doing well. It's so weird to have photos of only the 2 cats now. Not bad, just... weird. Penny and Millie were always 'my' cats and Chelsea was more his, but still. I do miss her, but we are doing pretty well just the 3 of us. Especially when there is tuna involved (last photo).

Phew. So that's it from me! If you'd like to link up, please do so below:

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Click here to enter

So, what's new with you?

Monday, November 4, 2019

Link Up Reminder

Hello all! Just a quick reminder to anyone who wants to link up - this Thursday the 7th is the next What's New With You link up if you want to join me! 

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Friday, November 1, 2019

2019 November Goals

Well, it's been a hot minute since I did some goals. Felt like getting back to it.

In November, my goals are:

- get back into the gym and eating well - so, I lost about 25lbs going through everything because I wasn't eating and my heart rate was constantly going crazy. I was exercising occasionally, but not a lot because I didn't want to lose even more weight. When things calmed down/started moving forward, I found my appetite again and because I'd lost so much so quickly, I didn't care what I ate - lots of takeout, nachos, ice cream, chips and dip... not healthy, but at least I was eating and gaining a bit of weight back. But it's starting to get out of control and I don't want to die of a heart attack, so. My goal is to eat well 80% of the time and go to the gym/exercise 4-5 times per week.

- no shopping except thanksgiving weekend. I've gone a little crazy with shopping lately - mostly things I 'needed' for the apartment, then clothes because mine didn't fit after losing the weight, but I definitely need to slow my roll... until thanksgiving weekend.

Penny is very okay with the amount of shopping I have been doing. She loves plastic bags - hiding in them and eating them. So obviously I don't leave plastic bags hanging around.

- to do one scary thing. I've done a lot of things outside of my comfort zone lately, but most of them were out of necessity, so I'd like to do something scary (to me) on purpose.

- to get rid of some clothes. So, I went through my clothes months and months ago and had a bunch of things set aside to get rid of. Then, when I was packing, I used some of those clothes to protect breakables. It all got mixed in with my normal clothes when I unpacked and put things away, so now I need to go through everything again. It's okay though, because I've actually worn a few things I was going to get rid of because they fit me again. But I still have too much.

- to put things away, organise, declutter and purge stuff. When I was packing, I was kind of in a daze and just shoving things in boxes. As I was unpacking, I realised I have certain things I won't use anymore and things I've outgrown/no longer want in my life. But I kept putting it off because it was too overwhelming on top of just unpacking/surviving. Now I feel a bit more settled, I want to go through and get rid of all those things.

All of my boxes are unpacked but that doesn't mean everything is put away or neat... clearly, I need to do that and get rid of some stuff.

- to shop from my pantry/freezer. I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to food, which is all good and fine except when you move from a house to an apartment and can't organise anything because you have too damn much. Obviously I'll still need to go to the grocery for a few things like milk and produce, but I *could* survive on what I have for at least a month, I think.

- no solo eating out. Again, because of the moving and the being lazy, I was eating out way too much. It wasn't bothering me too much since, hey, I was eating again, but it's adding up and so are the pounds, ha. There's no need for me to eat out on my own anytime soon.

- 1 happy/grateful/positive thing daily. I will probably do this on instagram, because it is super easy to document things like that. Basically I want to find 1 thing each day that makes me happy/grateful/think positively. I have those thoughts anyway, but they are easy to forget when I'm in a sad mood, so I thought if I recorded them and could easily look at them in one go, that would help get me out of those moods. I thought about doing 3 per day, but baby steps.

This photo has no point, but I didn't want Millie to be left out. Ha.

So, that seems like a lot written out like that, but I feel like they all work well together. We'll see. Here's to a good month. Got any goals for November?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Ikea kitchen renovation: reveal!

Do you remember (the 21st night of September) when I talked about the plan for our kitchen renovation?

When I was researching ikea kitchens, or kitchen renovations in general, I would see people say 'oh we did this 6 months ago, only getting around to finishing/posting now' and I would be all up on my high horse and think 'goodness gracious me, these lazy ass people are so lazy with their laziness, get 'er done why don't you' and here is me now, over two years later. We hadn't even really technically finished until right before we listed the house, when we finally painted the ceiling.

So, yeah, closed on the house yesterday so it is officially not ours anymore. It was pretty hard to say goodbye to a place I loved living in, especially because it wasn't just the house I was saying goodbye to, but that life. But, it is what it is and all that. Onwards and upwards. I figured better late than never with sharing this post in case anyone wants to see it.

As a reminder, here is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house:

We knocked out the wall leading to the living areas before we even moved in, so we lost the cabinets on that wall. Most of the drawers didn't open and the majority of the shelves in the cabinets were falling apart. The dishwasher didn't work and there was nowhere to store food. We had two microwaves though. It doesn't seem that bad but it really was not functional at all and we bought the house knowing we'd be renovating asap, not just 'one day' like some projects (cough, bathrooms).

So this is what we lived with for two or three months, I think:

You'll notice the very classy garbage bags and tea towels over sharp edges because I didn't think the whole living after a demo before the reno thing through. Also, we had to place a rug in between the rooms where the walls and cabinets were because you could see into the basement, the cabinets had been built straight on top of the subfloor and I guess part of it came up with the cabinets. So we had to put new subfloor and underlayment down before our new flooring and cabinets, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

You can check out the shopping and demo process here if you'd like, I won't recap that again. But here is everything:

I know Ikea gets a bad rap for things being cheap and hard to put together and maybe that is the case with some items, I don't know. But the kitchen was - in my opinion - very easy to put together and I think the quality is fantastic. I can actually say that too, because we used it for over 2 years. But again, getting ahead of ourselves.

So we did the demo, then we did the floors. We painted the walls. We should have painted the ceiling somewhere in here, oops. The next step is to start assembling things and attaching the metal suspension rail thing to the walls. I did most of the assembling while KC and his brother did the metal thing. If you have ever put together furniture, you can put together ikea cabinets. The only one that gave us any strife was the peninsula because you kind of have to figure it out yourself because each kitchen will be different. It's meant to go up against a wall, on the metal rail thing, but because it's a peninsula, it didn't. KC built some wood into the floor to secure it, I admit I didn't pay all the attention. But it was sturdy AF and I took some photos of it so apparently I did pay attention. The back was exposed so we covered it with some beadboard panel stuff from Home Depot. I googled and found a paint match thanks to someone on the internet, I don't remember who, but there you go.It exists.

Oh, and in general our walls/floors gave us strife because nothing in our house was completely level or straight. The joys of an older house.

After all the cabinet boxes are assembled and the metal rail is up, you hang the cabinet boxes and attach them to one another. Super easy, way easier than (I assume) individually attaching each cabinet to a wall and then making sure the next one is exactly level. The rail skips that part - make the rail level, cabinets are level. However, because they hang on a rail, they kind of tip a bit so they come with these little plastic things that go on the bottom of the cabinet so they sit flush with the wall. Hard to explain and of course I didn't take a photo, but the little plastic things are hidden by the side panels you later attach.

Ikea cabinet boxes come in two colours, I think, white and brown. The doors and panels are the things that are different. My doors were off white and you couldn't really tell unless you put something bright white next to it. But it did mean we had to put a panel on any exposed sides of the boxes. Then you attach the doors and slot in the shelves. The base cabinets come with legs that you can adjust to make everything level - this came in handy with our wonky house. Then you attach the toe kick things to them. As for the uppers, I didn't want to waste any space with crown molding, so we just put some wood up there and painted it. KC built a little shelf above the sink for my cook books and other random kitchen stuff.

Pictures of the process:

And of course, would it be a post of mine if I didn't share photos of the cats somehow being involved?

All done! It was definitely hard work, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I may well do it again if I ever buy another house. The hardest thing of the whole project was ripping up the old lino, two layers. That was backbreaking work. Putting together ikea cabinets was a cinch compared to that. I do think the demo of the old cabinets/soffits and hanging the metal rail was a bit more difficult than assembling the cabinets, but like I said, KC and his brother did the majority of that.

If we had continued living in the house, we eventually would have replaced the light fixtures and the table and chairs. They just weren't priorities so we never got around to them. Here are some nicer, more recent, pictures from the listing:

Ikea actually discontinued my island - they have a similar one, but I don't love it - so thankfully I was able to keep it (it's currently wrapped in plastic in storage) and hopefully I'll be able to use it one day in a new house. I am weirdly overly sentimental about some things so I don't want some 'old life' things in my 'new life', but for some reason, the island is not one of those things. I love it, I want it, I kept it. Perhaps I'll feel differently down the line, only time will tell.

And because we're all a little nosy here is my source/price list - though, most of it is 'ish' because I ended up returning things, buying extra things, etc. 

Flooring: Vinyl tile - $400
Dishwasher: Maytag - $500
Microwave: Whirlpool - $229
Gas oven: Whirlpool - $600
Sink: Ruvati - $369
Faucet: Delta - $350
Disposal & accessories: InSinkErator and switch - $230
Bagster: Home Depot + Waste Management - $150
Fridge: Whirlpool - $900 (we bought this a year and a half later, but still).
Cabinets, countertops & handles: Ikea (GRIMSLÖVEKBACKEN & ORRNÄS) - $4,500ish (this includes the stenstorp island that is discontinued, I think this is the replacement). I ended up taking a bunch of stuff back from our original order and getting a bunch of money back. I then bought heaps of little fun kitchen things and I've since bought 3 of those 'secret' drawers (drawer within a drawer), a replacement drawer front and a replacement cabinet door so that's why I have no idea what my total ended up being. I bought the replacement door/drawer front for user error reasons, not ikea quality reasons.

Unfortunately, I don't exactly remember all the other costs, like drywall, plumbing, electrical, HVAC etc and they wouldn't be true market costs anyway because I work for a construction company and have a lot of contacts. I also included all the smaller things in our budget - like decor (clock, rug, blinds), island stools, and a bunch of fun kitchen things like organisation doodads, but I didn't want to detail them all out here. We also did a few other things around the same time - new bathroom vanity and faucet, electrical and HVAC work in other areas but we figured while they were there... So it's kind of hard to tell the true cost of it all. We had a total budget of $10k which may seem like a lot to some and pittance to others, but it was our budget and we stayed under it which was the goal.

Final thoughts:
- surprisingly easy to put together, definitely easy to do it yourself
- very affordable and way better quality than other options that were in our price range
- speaking of, the quality is outstanding. We had absolutely zero issues.
- my favourite things were the island, the big sink and the pantry. I didn't think I would like the island, didn't think it would be enough room to actually do anything, but obviously I adored it so much I took it with me.

We ended up doing a little coat rack hook wall right behind the back door, which I also really loved, you can see it in the listing photos.

So, phew! All done. Would 100% recommend an ikea kitchen. Will 100% do it again, unless the next house I buy already has a great kitchen. I was very sad to say goodbye to this house, but I was especially sad to say goodbye to the kitchen. I might have taken some videos and spent like half an hour just sitting and looking at it. I really loved that kitchen.

Anywho. There you go. Hopefully this was entertaining to read/look at pictures/helps someone on the internet if they want to do an ikea kitchen.