North Minneapolis Tornado Recovery Updates – Finished Bathroom (With pics!) and more.

Wow, it’s been a LONG few months here!

A you may recall, I demolished the bathroom– by myself! – back at the end of June. We’ve been picking away at the repairs and renovations in there ever since.

WELL. We’re finally DONE! YES! It feels so good to have a fully functional bathroom!

Let me share the photos! First, a couple before shots… it really was an ugly bathroom…

ugly bathroom (more…)

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies!

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

46 days. A month and a half. 6.5 weeks… this is how long we’ve been without a kitchen – since the North Minneapolis tornado smashed our house. Having never had to deal with renovations before, I’m constantly amazed at how long things are taking!

It’s coming along – we have a new ceiling and walls in there now – just one more mud/tape and some sanding, and then they’ll be ready for paint/etc. Then we should have our new floor by the end of this week, maybe early next week. After almost 7 weeks of drama, it sounds like we’ll finally have our walnut tree hauled out of the yard and off to the mill sometime today – YES! That’ll be a huge relief – I’ve been terrified that we’d end up losing it to rot, insects, or whatever. That would be absolutely devastating, for the loss of that gorgeous tree to be a complete waste. So… keep your fingers crossed that today is the day!

Ah, yeah… kitchen. So now that we’re finally seeing progress – and are thoroughly sick of eating restaurant and convenience foods – I’ve been thinking: What should our first meal from the new kitchen be? Should we go fancy and celebratory? Something simple, as to not mess up our pristine new kitchen? Go the other way, and do something super complicated that uses a ton of dishes, just because I can? Comfort food?

So – like I tend to do – I took to Twitter and Facebook to ask what YOU would do. If you were to go 2+ months without a kitchen, what would you cook as your first meal back? The most popular answer by far? COOKIES.

Me, I’m sorta leaning towards a roast turkey, with all the trimmings. It’s mostly healthy, definitely comfort food… and it’s the sort of home cooking that’s impossible to replicate with any restaurant meal. Salty, crispy skin… MMMmmm…

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

But…you guys want cookies! I happen to have photos of a lot of my cookie recipes, and no ability to make/photograph anything more seasonally appropriate quite yet.. so let’s have a week of cookie recipes!

This recipe was always popular when I’d make it personally for Christmas gifts, and eventually professionally in my holiday cookie trays. It also formed the basis of the Chewy Mint Chip Cookie Mix, which was a popular flavor before I discontinued the non-caffeinated mix flavors. It’s fudgy, soft, chewy, and rich… SO tasty.


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Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Updates, Bathroom Renovation … and the Demolition Playlist!


My tornado memoir – “Twisted” was released on 05/22/12! click here for more details, or to purchase!

Whew. It’s been a crazy few days. If you’ve been following on Twitter, you know the gist of it, but for the rest of you…

.. so it turns out, bathroom was damaged. We didn’t know, at the point the adjuster came by, but it doesn’t really matter – we blew past our coverage $30k in damages ago, so it’s a moot issue. Basically, the window dislodged – probably from the trees and crap that had gotten tossed between us and the neighbor on that side – and there’s a lot of water damage.

The guy who owned the house before us didn’t do the best job of … anything, really. House hasn’t had a permit pulled in over 30 years! So, after the storm, the window is sort of sagging – there’s about 1/2″ gap above it, straight out to the outside. Ew. That could explain some of the nasty bugs that have been getting in! Had we been living here / SHOWERING here, we might have noticed it earlier, but… like I said, moot point. We’d been planning to redo the bathroom anyway, so it’s not a HUGE catastrophe. We weren’t planning on having to make all these decisions / put out the money now, but… we just want it done. When the contractors are done in here, I want them done. I want all of the transitional crap, destruction, bare walls, and CHANGE done. I can’t see waking up ANYTIME soon and saying “hey… let’s tackle the bathroom now!”. We decided we need to just rip the bandaid off. Suck it up, get it all done. That’s what credit cards are for, right?

We picked out the new tiles for the bath/floor, and all of the stuff to do it. Then, the adventure began! (more…)

Minneapolis Tornado – A few updates


My tornado memoir – “Twisted” was released on 05/22/12! click here for more details, or to purchase!

So… we had some drama last week, in dealing with the roofer we’d hired. Yes, hired – full quote, contract, and deposit paid. The owner of the company wanted to add a bunch of stuff after the fact, berated me on my own front lawn, threw his son (the one who quoted/did the contract) in under the bus, went off on a tangent about the people of North Minneapolis (Who are all “welfare scammers”, in his view), and eventually walked out on the contract, as they wanted more money for everything and didn’t want to honor the contract. Keep it clASSY, Pro-1 Construction!

The exchange did, however, give me a huge laugh after the fact. The monumentally obnoxious owner of the company was being incredibly condescending towards me. I called him out: “I am an intelligent, educated person, I don’t need your condescending attitude”. (more…)

More Updates, and Looking Ahead

Wow. Home buying can be such an ordeal! I’m totally a Type A logistics nerd, and even *I* was totally caught off guard by things that came up, took much longer than they needed to, etc. Wow.

So… we’re moved in! Mostly, anyway.

Moving day was a total mess. The movers weren’t able to stay long enough to finish the job, so we left some stuff in our basement, and the entire contents of our garage for another move date. Of course, with the Food and Wine Show this weekend… that’s not gonna happen til the weekend after. Sucks to be stuck with 2 extra weeks of rent (especially with all of the other expenses that have cropped up!), but… priorities.


House Updates – Photos!

One more day!

None of the windows are in, but we found some help with that, so hopefully… hopefully we’ll get it done today. Also, the walls are almost finished (living/dining room needs 1 more coat). The carpet goes in to the bedroom today, so that’s awesome – I’ve been dying to see the final result!

The company we hired to do our walls / painting / etc has been amazing. They’ve been so great to work with from the start – friendly, honest, reliable. Their work is incredible! Dakota Painting & Drywall. Seriously. I’d recommend them to anyone!

So, I need to go pack, here are some photos: (more…)

Checking in – Carpet Drama.

Less than a week til our move, and I just got a crappy phone call.

The carpet company we hired has been less than ideal to work with for the past few days. It’s been quite the contrast to our initial impressions: The first meeting went well, we picked a style and color we liked, the guy was nice and informative, etc.

Well, he came by to measure on Friday – a few hours later than scheduled. He needed 3-5 days to get the carpet in ordered. He knew we needed it installed on Friday the 25th, assured us that this would work.

… Except that they may not have our #1 choice in stock at his supplier, and we’d need to pick a second choice. First we’d heard of this, he’d been generous with the assurances til now.

Well, there weren’t any good second choices in the style we’d chosen – the only samples he’d brought to the measuring appointment. We grudgingly chose the least of all possible evils and hoped for the best. He said he’s place the order on Monday.

So today’s Tuesday, he calls to say that we can do an install on the weekend, maybe early next Monday. This is, of course, completely contrary to my explicitly telling him that we are moving IN on Saturday, and it will need to be installed before Friday evening. Says he’s not even getting the fabric IN til Friday, he has no guarantee of what time, AND the carpet will still need to come off the truck and be processed, blah blah.

Oh, and no, he can’t work around furniture, so if we move in on Saturday, we can’t have our bedroom furniture moved up there without carpet.

Never mind that we hired movers for a reason. Never mind that I can’t help with the lifting, and that my husband certainly can’t do it himself. Never mind the dates we gave him from day one. Never mind that we won’t have anywhere else to put our bedroom furniture on moving day, if we can’t have it put upstairs.

Oh, and CERTAINLY never mind that he could have ordered on Friday after the appointment – and several hours EARLIER YET, had he made the original appointment time.

I feel really ill.

Another Check-in: House and Sanity Updates

AUGH I am losing my mind. Some quick updates:

1. Art show cake is finished, photographed, and photos are off to the event coordinator! Woo! Something off my plate!

2. Major curtains are finished! Did the monster curtains for the bedroom on Saturday, they’re gorgeous. All I have left to do are 2 wide (but short!) curtains for the front entryway, and 2 smallish curtain sets for the 2 skylights in the bedroom. In the interest of preserving sanity, we’ll probably just tape something up until after the Food & Wine show on March 5-6… I just don’t have 2 spare brain cells to run together til then! I’m considering this “off my plate” in the meantime”.

To be honest, I don’t want to look at fabric, thread, or a sewing machine for a LONG time after we’re finished… this house has about a million windows. Each curtain being made is heavy and lined.. augh.

3. I am running on schedule with the final steps of Evil Cake Overlord. As I do the final formatting, it’s really hitting me, just how aptly this book is named. There are some ridiculously awesome recipes in here – aside from our entire custom menu, there are things like Jasmine-Plum Upside Down Cake, a chocolate/peanut butter/ ganache / pretzel torte… yum! Very evil, indeed!

4. The secondary drywall guy that we were bartering with for just the ceiling of the garage is AWOL. Different company than the one handling all of the interior house work… it’s stressing me out. Was supposed to be done Friday, then this weekend.. not a word. With the ridiculous amount of crap that gets stored in the garage (handyman/packrat husband)… if it doesn’t get done before we move it, it won’t get done, period.

5. The wallpaper has been removed from both offices, and they’re ready to sand/prime/etc. We have narrowed down paint colors, but not decided. Though I’d originally picked a pale purple to go with my deep plum colored office furniture, I’m now reconsidering it. Thinking a pale peach or mint green, pulling from the tapestry fabric in the curtains.

6. Our crazy fancy alarm system goes in today, so I’ll be feeling MUCH less stressed about the idea of getting broken into while we’re not there. Yeah, the neighborhood is not the best, but I don’t think I’ll be worried once we move in. I’m just paranoid until I get to KNOW the block.

7. We are no more packed today than we were when I posted my last update. Yikes.

8. A lot of the work that my husband is doing at the house is WAY behind schedule. We got totally caught off guard with the appliances delivery problems, and he’s spent most of the past few days shoveling through an entire winter’s worth of snow in the backyard and back driveway. He finally got it cleared yesterday… just in time deal with everything that fell YESTERDAY. We definitely didn’t factor several days of snow clearing into his already tight schedule 🙁

He was supposed to be done plywooding the crawl spaces in the bedroom, and on to replacing the main floor windows. Plywooding needs to be done before carpet goes in upstairs on Friday. Windows SHOULD be done before the wall people start repairing / painting the living/diningroom walls this week, after they finish the bedroom.

Now that my work at the house (curtains) is done and I’m focusing on meeting my other deadlines, I’m feeling really useless and helpless. Even if I HAD the time to contribute at the new house, I am utterly useless in that area. My aptitudes definitely fall on the “homemaker” end of the spectrum, not the handyman end. Rather than being a help, I’d slow things down: not being able to identify tools, having to be shown how to do things, etc. Augh. I just wish I could help!!

Fun fact, I have 2 scars. One is a little lightning bolt on my eyelid, the result of an unfortunate accident with a Nintendo game (don’t ask). The other is a little 1/4″ nick on my wrist from the last time I did any “handyman” stuff, but in 7th grade shop. Yeah. That band saw did NOT like me. This is exactly why my husband is perfectly happy with restricting my duties to logistics, wrangling contractors and utilities, and making curtains.

I think that’s about it for now. Really hoping that we have enough Ritalin, wine, and A535 to get through the next week. 1 week from today, we SHOULD be all moved over to the new house, and just doing final cleanup at our current house!

Checking in – House updates.

Whew! Just over 24 hours in, and this home ownership thing is really kicking my ass! I’m crazy CRAZY busy until March 7th, so after this post, updates will be pretty short and probably point form. Here’s where we are now:


Updates, Kitchen Design, and … Sushi?

So, I have some updates on the house situation. We have our appliances picked out and purchased! Thank you, Sears Outlet, for existing. Love getting steep discounts on stuff we need for our completely un-outfitted new kitchen. We are SO excited to be getting stainless steel appliances, something we’ve both be coveting for a very long time.

While we’re feeling SO relieved to have those major decisions/purchases out of the way, part of it terrifies me. You see, up until signing off on those purchase/delivery forms, the kitchen was a completely blank canvas. We could do ANYTHING we wanted. The floor, the cabinets… all coming out. It was *completely* blank.

Well, now we’ve committed to something. Not even a little “something”, like, say, the curtains in there.. something that could be swapped out if need be to accommodate future design decisions. No. This is a major “something”, and the first building block. The whole kitchen will end up being designed around the decisions we made with our appliances.

As Sam Beckett said on many occasions… Oh Boy.