Scruba-dub-dub, but NOT in a tub!

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For those of you who know me, know I am OCD, and I tend to go a bit overboard with cleaning, but when it comes to taking over some one else’s old home… I’m gonna strip that baby down!  From my last blog post, you saw that I had removed all the cabinet faces and doors.  Now that I packed them up into my trunk, and lugged them to my parents house, it was time to clean them!

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I set up a system on the kitchen table- I laid out the labeled cabinet and drawer faces on the kitchen table, a little at a time: there are 21 total faces that need to be cleaned….. yeah I KNOW- A LOT.

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I had gone down to the Home Depot to find some industrial grade cleaning supplies- Dawn was just NOT gonna cut it.  I bumped into this woman in the aisle, and we started making small talk about cleaning.  I told her I had a lot of grease to deal with, and she suggested “Zep..” I was intrigued- do tell me more!  I thanked her and started looking at all my options.  There are plenty of Zep cleaners, but I was looking for something serious- nuclear warfare style. I found Zep 505, grabbed some gloves, sponges, and stainless steel brushes… I’m not going to lie- I rushed home to get started, I was very excited (sick, I know).

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I cut down a huge black trash bag to cover the surface of the Butcher Block, and placed ONE face at a time on there.  I put the posit it at the top right of the butcher block to make sure it followed the damn cabinets everywhere.  At first I was spraying the faces, letting it sit for a second, and using the front and back of the sponge to clean it.  It just wasn’t cutting it.  I busted out the stainless steel brush and went to town.  I can’t even describe to you the amount of grease that I scraped off each face.  I scrubbed and scrubbed.  I rinsed each cabinet after and hand dried them.  Some of them I had to re-wash/scrub because there was still some residue.  I managed to get into every nook and cranny!  I dried them off, and replaced the post-its.  I started placing the dry clean faces on a drop cloth in my parents dining room.  Have I mentioned they are less than thrilled that I have turned their home into a temporary workshop?

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Look how beautiful they are, all clean and pretty!  I couldn’t stop there though…. I realized that I spent (in total) 5 1/2 hours cleaning the faces (front and back) of these cabinets and doors, but the cabinet frames were left untouched…. so I went back to my new house, took a look around and realized  I had my work cut out for me.

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Every single shelf had faux marble contact paper on it.  No surface had been left untouched!  I personally can’t stand it, so I started ripping it off, and it must have been there for a while, because it came off easily.  Unfortunately, when you remove the contact paper it leaves a sticky residue behind.  So gross.  I knew all the surfaces would have to be cleaned.  So I got my bucket of hot hot water (scalding actually), my gloves, and brushes, and started with the bottom cabinets.  I knew instantly two things: 1) This was going to take forever and 2) I couldn’t stop I HAD to finish (OCD)- it’s a double edged sword. I knew I would feel better once I finished, but it was going to take a while to get there.  I scrubbed inside the cabinets, drawers, and the outsides, and even the hinges and drawer tracks.  This time it was ME who left no surface untouched! TAKE THAT!

 Ok, so at this point I am 4 hours in, a little delirious, but still motivated.  Jammin’ to a mix of Dave Matthews Band and Elvis in the background, I reached the range and overhead microwave.  Now I gave them a good stern look, and realized this was going to be a nasty job.  I had the cleaners come in, and they did the top of the range, and it looked great, but they didn’t do the underside of the microwave, or the walls next to the range….

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Honestly, when I looked under the microwave and adjacent cabinets and walls I almost vomited.  The surface was ORANGE with grease.  GROSS, GROSS, GROSS.  The wall to the right, was COVERED with grease splatter.  I began to panic.  I sprayed the surface, soaked it with hot water, and waited.  I loosened the gunk up a bit with a scratch sponge, but re-applied the cleaner.  At this point I have probably taken off about 10 years of my life because I didn’t use a mask- though I did use gloves, so give me some credit….  I used the stainless steel brush- brush brush brush brush…. but still the grease remained.  So I resorted to a flat razor.  I LITERALLY scraped the grease from the underside of the cabinets and wall.

Good news it, I managed to get it all done; Bad news is: it took me a total of 5 hours to clean all the cabinets and walls.

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Shovels, and Rakes, and Sifters, OH MY!

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One thing I REALLY don’t like doing is landscaping.  I love the outcome, but I hate putting in the manual labor.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike all landscaping- I like planting flowers and watering them…. but as for the heavy duty stuff- I’m all set.  My backyard is decent, but things can always be improved, right?  That’s what I thought.  The other day I posted this lovely picture on Renewed Reloved’s facebook page, and mentioned that my gate opens to my backyard just like it. 

However this one is so nice and tidy, clean and pretty…..

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THIS is my reality

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See the similarities? Haha, no not yet, but the potential is there!  One thing I HATE is when people use stones and little pebbles to fill in their landscaping.  I know its easier than maintaining grass and flowers, but they end up everywhere.  Knowing my dogs, they will eat them, throw them in the air, and they will end up all over creation.  So my father, Mikey, and I have started shoveling out the stones and sifting them.  

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One thing you need to know about my dad… he LOVES to sift. Sift, sift, sift!  He always says “the dirt always comes out better this way!”  I think it ends up like powder and is harder to manage, but if it makes him happy- sift away!

The three of us managed to rake up a huge section of moss/crab-grass/stone and it looks a hell of a lot better.  We will continue to work our way down.  I’m trying not to feel anxiety as I look at all those stones… I’ve started pricing out sod, which I think will be the easiest thing to do.  I could potentially wait forever for the seed to catch, and in the meantime my dogs will track in mud through the house.  I think sod is an overall good investment for time and mental stability.

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Other yard work for the day consisted of the steps leading out from the dining room slider to the back yard.  I knew from inspection that the stairs were a tripping hazard, but found it hilarious when I started taking them apart.  So the structure of the stairs consisted of cinder blocks around the base, and built up to the top.  However, in the middle was merely mud and bricks on the surface….I’m pretty sure if you were heavy enough you could step right through it.  

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In one heave-hoe Mikey managed to yank out the whole side- literally the entire side.  Apparently the only thing holding the cinder blocks together was liquid nails. 

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We pulled the bricks out from the middle, which were merely resting on dirt, and put them aside; they may come in hand later, you never know!

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Within 20 minutes, all the steps were ripped apart, and all we were left with was a mound of dirt to sift.  Guess who was all excited about that? Yup you guessed it- Dad jumped right on it- look at his bucket over there with the screen!

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got it down to the pressure-treated wood.  What does that mean? and why should you care?  If you are going to do the work you might as well do it right! The piece of wood on top of the pressure treated wood was peeling, chipping and had some water damage.  Putting on new wood will provide the landing (whatever I decide to do with it) a solid start.  So there you have it, all in a days work!  Back to sifting rocks.  See you in a year <<sarcasm>>.

All Around The World….

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If my realtor (and friend) see’s this blog post he is going to kill me.  He advised me not to spend money to renovate, but you and I both know that is just foolish.  I knew that I definitely wanted to put granite in the kitchen.  I plan on giving the kitchen a cosmetic facelift, but whats the point when the counters are crusty?  Well….. I ventured on Groupon, and found a local granite/marble company that was offering a special.  I honestly made out like a bandit.  They are doing my kitchen countertops AND the master bath vanity with double sinks.  Sounds awesome, and easy right? Awesome- yes, easy-no!  They sent me to Leamar to pick out my granite.  I have to note, they were WONDERFUL, very nice and so very patient (cause Lord knows I will look at something ten times before I can make up my mind)…..

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I knew when I went there I was to look at two different stones: Caramel Crema and Alaska White (like you care what they are called….). I had a budget and had to stick to it, but let me tell you something…. when you walk into this ridiculously huge warehouse fillllllled with pieces of granite and marble from all around the world your mouth drops.  I was like a kid in a candy shop.  “oooo that’s pretty, how much is that?” He would simply reply “you need less than 40 square feet and that would cost you about $75,000,” I almost sh*t my pants and simply chuckled “I sure know how to pick ‘em!”

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Rows, upon rows, upon rows of slabs all for my choosing!  I was shown the piece that was right on budget (Caramel Crema) and I really liked it.  It has a great array of colors- creams, greens, grays, black, white… a mixture of everything really and a consistent pattern which will look good on a small surface.  However, I still wanted to see the other one (Alaska White) in person.

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The (Alaska White) slab was gorgeous, but I knew it was way over budget, so I crossed that off the list- phew.  It also helped seeing in person.  Yes, it is a beautiful slab, but it has a lot of movement.  By “movement” I mean a variety of pattern, it’s different all through out the slab, so everywhere you look is different.  Knowing that I only have a small amount of counter space to cover, I knew that the movement in this stone would not be appreciated and it would look to sporadic.Image

But then, I found myself eyeing a piece around the corner.  I should have ran, I know I should have, but I am gluten for punishment.  Well I came across this GORGEOUS slab, and the man told me “this is a higher priced stone…..” and I said “I understand, but what is this one called?”…. when he ever told me it was called “Crazy Horse” the historical buff in me got all pumped up! I made note to get a price on that piece too.  The poor man appeased me, thank god.  Although my mother was right there in my ear reminding me to stay on budget.  It didn’t hurt to get a price though, right?

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Well.  The wonderful people over at Pacific Stone in Maynard, MA provided me a quote for the two slabs that I chose.  As it turned out, “Crazy Horse” was way over budget, and will have to stay true to it’s historical state- in the past.

Pacific Stone will be coming on Thursday to do the template for the kitchen and master bath.  Now I just need to pop off the counters- that’s tomorrow’s assignment!