Mista Lista: To Do/Ta Da List

Mista Lista’s back with the promised post about the KaZoo Get it done already To Do/Ta Da list of home repairs and improvements.  Here’s a breakdown of what made the list, organized by space.

Note: Some things are already crossed out because the KaZoos did those in the last couple of months.  Some things are half-crossed out because they are halfway done.  Don’t you love it when you can already cross something off the list you just made?  Do you ever write things on your list just so you can cross them off and feel that inflated sense of accomplishment?  It’s okay to tell Mista Lista. He understands. 

Yard

BackYard18

  • Add locking hardware to gate latch (currently just a wire/nail setup) (2)
  • Cut down imposing magnolia in side yard (2)
  • Trim trees, shrubs, and grasses (2)
  • Remove sago palms in the way of mowing (2)
  • Replace rotted fence board (2)
  • Test/correct sprinkler aim (2)
  • Clear easement behind fence to keep weeds out of our yard (2)
  • Remove overgrown (ugly) hedges (2)
  • Remove scalloped landscape edging (3)
  • Add new plants, mulch, and edging (3)
  • Shadowbox wood fence (3)
  • Upgrade fence (4)
  • Add sunporch? (4)
  • Add pool? (4)

Paved Areas, Garage, and Attic

Driveway_View_of_House

  • Fix garage door keyless entry that cannot be reset/changed for some reason (1)
  • Install paddleboard storage to get paddleboard out of the living room (2)
  • Install carpet squares for walking path around garage hazards (2)
  • Build garage racks for storage (2)
  • Uninstall wire shelving and cut to fit Master Bedroom Closet (2)
  • Pressure wash driveway, front sidewalk, and back patio (2)
  • Patch cracked concrete (2)
  • Fix attic stairs (2)
  • Find new home for plywood hurricane window covers to maximize floor space (3)
  • Install pegboard, hooks, etc.  for functional storage (3)
  • Add floor to attic for functional storage (3)
  • Paint (3)

House Exterior

FrontDoor2

  • Change locks (1)
  • Make key copies (1)
  • Install missing roof flashing (2)
  • Replace a couple of missing shingles (2)
  • Replace weather stripping back door (2)
  • Remove corrosion from back door (2)
  • Buy hurricane shutters to replace plywood (3)
  • New wind standard roof (3)
  • Replace front door (4)
  • Replace garage door with wind standard garage door (4)

House Interior

Foyer4

  • Install new smoke detector batteries (1)
  • Change air filter (1)
  • Install Nest thermostat (2)
  • Install carbon monoxide detector (2)
  • Install reverse osmosis system (2)
  • Replace windows with energy efficient windows (3)
  • Color correct light fixtures and door knobs (4)
  • Color correct faceplates/sockets/switches (4)

Foyer, Hallways, and Linen Closet

GuestHall

  • Tear out carpet and vinyl tile (1)
  • Scrape ceiling (3)
  • Paint walls and trim (3)
  • Upgrade flooring to hardwoods/real tile (3)
  • Redesign guest linen closet to function as coat closet (we have two linen closets but no coat closet!) (3)
  • Wainscoting, beadboard, board/batten in foyer (some sort of special wall treatment) (4)

Front Bedroom (Guest Bedroom/Home Office)

Front_Bedroom_1

 

KaZoo Family Note: There will be a forthcoming post about why this bedroom became high priority (and thus why a lot of things on this list that would normally be Phase 3 items were bumped up to Phase 1 items)!

  • Buy wooden dowel to “lock” broken window (1)
  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Scrape popcorn ceiling (1)
  • Prime and paint ceiling (1)
  • Prime and paint walls/trim (1)
  • Replace carpet with hardwood (3)
  • Upgrade shelving in closet (4)

Guest/Hall Bathroom

GuestBath

  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace toilet (3)
  • Replace shower head (3)
  • Replace sink hardware (3)
  • Replace vinyl tile floors with real tile (3)
  • Replace lighting (4)
  • Frame out mirror (4)

Side Bedroom/Nursery

GuestRoom4

  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Install ceiling fan (2)
  • Replace ceiling (2)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Upgrade to hardwood floors (3)
  • Upgrade shelving in closet (4)

Living Room

LivingRoom1

  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace carpet with hardwood (3)
  • Fix gas fireplace (4)
  • Apply new ceiling (Beadboard? Planked?) (4)

Dining Area

Dining2

  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace light fixture (3)
  • Replace floors (tile? hardwood?) (3)
  • Install built-ins for china storage/buffet serving area (4)
  • Apply new ceiling (Beadboard? Planked?) (4)

Kitchen 

Kitchen1

  • Install our refrigerator (2)
  • Upgrade to gas range so normal family cooking can occur (2)
  • Upgrade range hood to functional one vented outside (instead of recirculating) (2)
  • Upgrade dishwasher (3)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace light fixtures (3)
  • Reconfigure island (3)
  • Replace floors (tile? hardwood?) (3)
  • Install wood cabinets (4)
  • Install new countertops (4)
  • Install new sink and smart faucet (4)
  • Install tile backsplash (4)
  • Upgrade pantry to be cabinet pull-outs instead of wire shelves (4)
  • Apply new ceiling (Beadboard? Planked?) (4)

Laundry Closet

LaundryCloset2

  • Install our washer and dryer (2)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace vinyl floors with real tile (3)
  • Upgrade shelving (3)

Master Bedroom & Master Closet

MasterBedroom1

  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Scrape ceiling (3)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Change closet configuration to allow for two levels of hanging (using extra shelving from garage) (3)
  • Replace carpet with hardwood (3)
  • Upgrade shelving in closet to non-wire rack closet system (4)
  • Build out coffered ceiling in MBR (4)

Master Bathroom 

MasterBathroom

KaZoo family note: After living here a few months, we’ve decided this room needs a full renovation fairly soon, primarily due to condition and layout (not sure what/if the builders were thinking). We are constantly running into doors, banging doors into other doors, trapping someone in the awkward toilet/tub/shower area while someone is opening the linen closet, and tripping on the “helpful” tub step.  We are also scared of the toilet, especially since the window is RIGHT OVER THE TOILET.  We can totally hear the neighbor getting his trash can and talking on his phone as we sit on the toilet.  The window glass does have some sort of shape-hiding treatment, but it isn’t really frosted in a concealing way. Plus, with the light on in the separate toilet/tub/shower area, our neighbors can easily tell (from their living area!) if we are cleansing our bodies and colons.  You can only cover waist-down in the shallow tub even if you are a small person like Amy, which renders the tub fairly useless for baths. The shower curtain leaks water into the floor because the shape of the tub + step surround separates the curtain from the liner too far, even if you use sticky tabs to adhere the liner to the shower surround.  And how did the original tub and toilet not match? Seriously? One is white, the other off-white, but both are original.  You will notice that most upgrades in this room have earned priority phase 3 instead of their usual phase 4 designation.

MasterBath1

  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace toilet (3)
  • Replace shower head (3)
  • Install more towel rods and robe hooks (3)
  • Replace vinyl tile floors with real tile (3)
  • Tear out awkward linen closet stealing space from vanity (3)
  • Tear out awkward doorway to toilet/tub/shower area (3)
  • Replace 1 old-person shallow tub/shower combo with 2 person garden tub (3)
  • Tile bath surround (3)
  • Steal space from torn-out linen closet to replace micro-sized “double” vanity with actual double vanity (3)
  • Replace mirror (3)
  • Replace lighting (3)
  • Replace sink hardware (3)

There’s work to be done for sure.  Henceforth, at the end of every month, Mista Lista will do an update of the To Do/Ta Da List post of what the KaZoos have accomplished (and what’s left to tackle).  We hope this will be good motivation for the KaZoos to turn the to do list into a “ta- da” list as soon as possible.  Plus, we suspicion that as we settle into our house more, we will have more ideas for nifty upgrades like cool shelves in the guest bath to help with storage and maximize the dead floor space around the toilet, so the to do side of the list will probably also grow.

You probably noticed that nearly all the to dos on this list are “fixed” items, or items that would typically stay with a house if the KaZoos ever needed/wanted to move again.  Mista Lista and the KaZoos don’t consider buying furniture, draperies, accessories, linens, rugs, etc. home improvement: Although they definitely make a house feel more like a home, they are a more portable kind of investment than ripping out your gas fireplace to take it with you (although we’ve seen houses where people have done that (!)).  No worries, though: Mista Lista’s working on lists of those needs/wants for each space, too, because that whole where’s-the-furniture-and-stuff thing is about to change, too (countdown to truck packing: 8 days!).

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Mista Lista: Planning Your ‘Pairs and ‘Provements

A few weeks months ago, Mista Lista shared the KaZoo’s home shopping (house buying, not HSN, fools!) list.  Note: Mista Lista is like the B.A. Baracus of listmaking for home improvement and all things DIY, so feel free to read that last bit with your best Mr. T-as-B.A. impression.  In fact, feel free to read the entire post like that. Just for fun. #80sTVShowsRock #ATeamFan

Now Mista Lista is sharing how the KaZoos plan for home improvement and repairs because he pities the fool who doesn’t plan.

Not surprisingly, it involves lists and pictures (for Amy) and spreadsheet making (for Chris).  Here’s a breakdown of the process:

1.  Conduct your own home inspection.  If you had a home inspection, there might be some things that the home inspector recommends you address fairly soon, such as wood rot or evidence of shoddy roof repairs for a leaking roof.  As for everything else, go room by room (or space by space if you have an open floorplan like the KaZoos), making a list of everything that needs fixing, upgrading, replacing, changing, etc.  The more parties involved, the better, as more pairs of eyes help spot things others don’t notice.

2.  Divide your list into repairs and improvements.  If it needs fixing, removing, and/or replacing due to obvious problems, Mista Lista considers it a repair.  If there is no apparent problem with it (function), other than aesthetic appearance (f0rm), Mista Lista considers it an improvement.

3.  Rank order your repairs and improvements by priorities.  After making a seemingly endless list of repairs and improvements, how do you decide what to do first?  Mista Lista recommends a riff on the Time Management Matrix, made popular by Stephen Covey.  For those not familiar, the time management matrix has four quadrants as follows:

  1. Important and Urgent (emergencies, major projects with a firm deadline)
  2. Important Not Urgent (exercise, family time, setting goals)
  3. Urgent Not Important (time-sensitive interruptions to YOUR time, often thanks to someone else)
  4. Not Urgent Not Important (TV watching, surfing web aimlessly)

Covey recommends you start with items in quadrant 1 and then work through quadrants 2, 3, and 4 to manage your time.  He also recommends spending more time in quadrant 2 to minimize future quadrant 1 items.  For example, exercising regularly and planning healthy meals contributes to overall health, theoretically reducing your risk of illness, disease, and/or some kinds of medical emergencies.  For more information see Covey’s book: First Things First.  

How does this translate into home repair and improvement prioritization?  Mista Lista and the KaZoos use four similar categories for ranking their repairs and improvements.

Quadrant/Phase 1: Important and Urgent aka”Repair Now”

 Phase 1 consists of those repairs that need to get done as soon as you move into a home, such as addressing health and safety issues (e.g., changing the locks to keep out the creepers) and major repairs, depending on the condition of your home at time of sale, especially if you bought your home “as is,” frequently a condition of homes sold by owner or homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures.  Here, the goal is making your habitation inhabitable.

BackDoor

In the KaZoos’ case, a perfect item for this category is the removal of old carpet.  Amy has major allergies, and carpet, especially this loose pile variety, harbors allergens.   As a health issue, we need to tackle this right away, hence the Urgent and Important category.  However, we can address the problem by simply removing the carpet (repair) without us having to upgrade to better flooring right away (improvement). We KaZoos can live on concrete for awhile; a lot of people are intentionally doing concrete floors these day anyway.  #DelayedGratification #ConcreteIsCoolIMG_2642


Quadrant/Phase 2: Important Not Urgent aka “Repair in Near Future”

This is the planning and prevention phase of home improvement.  Yes, there is a phase of home improvement entirely devoted to planning and prevention of future quadrant 1 issues.  This is where you start setting your improvement goals and address minor repairs that aren’t immediately pressing. For the KaZoos, an example of a Phase 2 item would be addressing this magnolia tree that is way too close to the house.  Right now it does not pose an immediate threat, but cutting it down is important to prevent future problems/emergencies, such as major roof damage in hurricane season.

Westyard

 

Focusing on prevention by planning and making simple repairs along the way will likely save you time and money in subsequent phases and circumvent future Important and Urgent situations.  We’ve all seen those home improvement shows where the budget is $50k and during demolition, the renovation team discovers that the electrical and structural aren’t up to code, virtually consuming all of the budget, leaving the homeowners in tears that their beautiful hardwoods, pro grade appliances, and stone countertops are now entirely out of reach (cue violins).  Planning for problems in the budget up front (because they WILL happen–Murphy’s Law, fools) can help alleviate strain and unnecessary drama.

Quadrant/Phase 3: Urgent Not Important aka “Improve in Near Future” 

This is when your repairs should be complete (at least mostly), and you are entering a phase of homeostasis (pun intended), where you are simply trying to maintain your home and its value.  Phase 3 is also where you begin improvements that need to be done sooner than other items to facilitate homeostasis and your enjoyment of your home.  Note, these things may seem Urgent and Important, but improvements really do not count as Important things because you can live without them.  For the KaZoos, a good Phase 3 item is painting, where you get a big visual impact for a relatively small investment.  For us, painting helps our house reflect our identity, which motivates us to maintain it. Depending on your budget, Phase 3 items may be inexpensive upgrades or cosmetic improvements for the short term, whereas Phase 4 items may be that $$$$ whole kitchen renovation you’ve been planning for years.

Quadrant/Phase 4: Not Urgent Not Important aka “Improve in Distant Future”

Phase 4 is when you address things that would be nice to have but are truly cosmetic improvements. These could be things that would be a good longterm investment, but they just aren’t necessary for homeostasis and the happiness of your family at present.

Kitchen2

For example, upgrading the peeling thermofoil builder grade cabinets and scratched laminate countertops to something more durable is definitely in the works for the KaZoos, but since they are functional, there is no need to address these more expensive improvements until later.  This does not mean we will be dropping $50k on custom cabinets and countertops because (a) we aren’t those kind of people (b) we would not get a good return on that kind of investment in our neighborhood.  #FrugalFamilies

4. Organize your prioritized list.  After you’ve ranked your items using the four quadrant matrix, you can create a spreadsheet organizing your list of items by space and phase if you are like the KaZoos, or you can just stick with your reorganized list, depending on what works best for you.

5.  Track changes. Every month, the KaZoos revisit the list/spreadsheet to keep track of what needs to be done and what can be marked off.  It’s a good feeling (and good motivation!) to see the list of repairs shrinking so that we can start to focus on the improvements!

KaZoo Note: Next time, Mista Lista will take you on a tour of the KaZoo’s own To Do/Ta Da List, which will become a regular monthly feature at the end of the month.  You can be the ones who hold us accountable for getting stuff done, although Mista Lista is a tough taskmaster.  (Pity? What pity?!)

Something Old, Something New (Again): Succulent Garden

Remember this post and this picture?

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I wasn’t sure my herb garden would really be a success, not being an expert on herb growing by any means.  In fact, I half-expected the plants to wither and die, given that I had planted  herbs together that have conflicting watering needs (rosemary likes it dry, basil and parsley like it wet).  To my surprise, my herbs thrived–to the point that they were growing out of control, despite my pinching and pruning efforts.  Quickly it became apparent that this one container would not house them all, so I harvested all I could and transplanted the herbs to separate containers that now sit happily on a window sill in our new kitchen.

Once again, the antique stoneware vessel was empty, but remember how I initially wanted to use it for a succulent garden?  While I was in FL, Chris and I made a trip to Lowe’s. It was still quite chilly at the start of March, and the garden section was not doing a booming business.  However, they had beautiful new succulents, and Chris acquiesced to my succulent request.  Since cacti need a different type of soil, I purchased a bag of cactus soil, along with five different types of succulents.  Chris made sure we included an aloe plant and was most helpful in selecting the best looking succulents for shape, color, and variety.  Once again, I filled the bowl with river rocks for drainage, followed by a layer of cactus soil, and then added the succulents.

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At present, I like them in their dark soil (provides good contrast), but I may decide to add sand or black river rock to the top. Right now, I’m just enjoying the simple fact that I finally have super succulents!  They are sitting on the round oak dining table that Chris is currently using (thanks to my parents for another cast-off so that Chris could have furniture while ours is still in the city), where they get southern exposure thanks to the dining room window.  Hopefully he remembers to forget about them so they thrive! 😉

Decision Diaries Meets Furniture Fridays: When to Call for Backup

To DIY or not to DIY, that is today’s question.  More specifically, when do we move things ourselves, and when do we call in the pros?  Chris is relatively strong for someone with a tall, slender build.  I’m surprisingly strong for my very small size, but we aren’t the most compatible movers with each other because of the difference in height, arm length, center of gravity, etc.  We can handle most of our furniture, but there are a few key pieces that require a call for backup.  Who you gonna call?  Ghostbusters!  My dad.

My family moved enough times in my childhood/adulthood that I learned to carry my share of the load, literally.  My mom had back problems, so typically my dad and I carried things while she held the door open and ran pet interference so that animals didn’t get trampled  underfoot in the way.  Good thing my dad is as strong as an ox.  Paul Bunyan’s ox, to be exact.   When he was young, a tractor ran over his chest and he survived with only a few cracked ribs. He was recruited for college weightlifting.  He singlehandedly lifted a 700 pound upright piano into a truck (he used both  hands, but you know what I mean).  My daddy’s a strong man, but there’s one item he said he would never move again (understandably) as he nears retirement age: my baby grand piano.

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Folks, if you have seriously heavy and/or priceless items like antiques, pianos, solid wood pieces, and appliances on upper floors with stair access only, weigh the costs of preventable medical bills versus hiring professional movers.  You can even hire movers just to pack, pack and load, load, haul stuff downstairs, unload, etc., even if you plan to rent a moving truck to drive yourself and your belongings cross-country.  Trust me, there are times when it pays to pay someone else to do your work for you, especially when those people do this for a living.  Chris, my dad, and I will be moving all of our furniture, with the exception of my piano, which I am glad to say has already safely arrived at the new house, thanks to the careful work of Modern Piano Moving.  We shelled out a little over a grand (pun intended) for the move, but we had factored this into our budget for moving expenses, knowing it would be well worth it.

http://www.modernpiano.com/

There are a few other heavy/awkward pieces of furniture for which we needed my dad’s help, primarily because these are items that needed to go down a steep, narrow flight of stairs with a 90 degree turn, a low ceiling, two awkward railings, and an inconveniently placed newel post.    Even though I will miss decorating stairs with festive garland and lights for Christmas, we are so glad to not have stairs in our new house for a number of other reasons (self-moving being one of those!).  First in the lineup is our solid mahogany bedroom furniture.   Then there’s the elliptical, which gives me quivers just thinking about the time I tried to move it by myself and it landed upside down (cue imaginary gif of bad seesaw experience with lightweight me flying up on one end and it, with its heavy flywheel, banging down on the other).  We don’t recommend moving furniture alone.

Last but not certainly not least, there’s the evil twins: the washing machine and dryer.  You should have seen us get those things up the stairs in our townhome originally.  We literally rolled them end-over-end because there was no other way to get them up the stairs, and I’m still amazed that we succeeded. (We don’t recommend this method AT ALL.)  As we prepped to move them back downstairs, Chris and I had visions nightmares of these things picking up momentum and slamming clean through the drywall on the landing where the turn has to be made, hence why we called for backup.

Good news: We were able to move everything safely downstairs without damaging the furniture, the walls, or ourselves.  Now our furniture is all emptied and downstairs, ready for loading, which will happen in a couple of weeks.   We are all getting older, though, so time will tell whether or not we have to start calling in the real pros at some point.  Hopefully we won’t be moving again any time soon, though. *Fingers crossed*

Decision Diaries: (Feeling) Painted into a Corner

Back in November when we first learned that the bank had accepted our offer and we had an official closing date for the new Florida house, I went crazy brainstorming furniture layouts, design schemes, and home improvement ideas. Over Thanksgiving, Chris’s mom, an architect, advised us to paint and then put in new floors before moving our furniture into the house, and she loaded us up with floor samples to take back with us.  Echoing my MIL’s advice, my mom kept asking what paint colors we were planning to use throughout December.

One thing led to another, and by closing day, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted instead of being blissfully excited.  When Chris said we needed to finalize the paint colors so that we could get our paint ordered before the sale at Sherwin Williams ended, I could feel myself beginning to hyperventilate like Julia Roberts’ character in Runaway Bride.  Paper bag. Now.  I realized I was feeling painted into a corner by paint I hadn’t even purchased yet.  We decided to put on the brakes and didn’t buy anything home-improvementish for the house in December or January (Chris did get a mower through Craigslist, though).

So what’s the takeaway here?  Any professional will tell you that painting before putting in new floors before moving your furniture into a house is a good idea.  We agree.  However, it is never sensible and smart to make hurried decisions that you may live to regret, especially ones that involve dropping a considerable chunk of change.  For some people, $1k to paint a whole house at one time is no big deal, but for us it is because we are currently funding two separate residences (one rent, one mortgage, two sets of bills) on one income + student stipend for a few more months.  Shelling out another $10k for floors made us positively queasy.  We also needed to build our savings back up after making our down payment in December at the same time as Christmas travel + presents for lots of people. We chose to save instead of splurge a la Dave Ramsey style.   

As soon as we decided not to buy paint and floors, I could feel my blood pressure dropping and the chest pains subsiding.  Plus, after a couple of months of saving, we were ready to consider less expensive purchases, such as a gas stove.  The house came with a functional electric stove in extremely good condition, so why replace it instead of buying paint? Look closely. Very closely.

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I spy with my little eye…that’s right: more little eyes.  Three little eyes and only one big eye, to be exact.  While the electric range has been serving Chris’s needs quite well during the week, cooking on it during the holidays was frustrating for me when making meals to share with a large group, and I knew this would drive me nuts sooner or later.  Most likely sooner, given my proclivity to cooking large batches of food to make meal prep during the week faster. It also took the oven FOREVER to bake things. We’re talking 40 minutes for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, folks.  Waiting the typical 25 minutes for their yummy deliciousness to be ready is already hard enough, but double the time?  Talk about delayed gratification.

When the gas company turned on our gas in December, they gave us a free installation coupon for any one appliance, good through March.  Since they also gave us the happy news that we have a ‘gas nub’ behind our oven, we knew we’d want to switch to gas at the earliest opportunity.  When we found out that it would be $140 regularly for them to install a gas range (and you have to pay $60 for installation if you get Sears to do it), we decided that purchasing our gas range during Sears’ Presidents’ Day sale (35% off Kenmore appliances + additional 10% online purchases + free delivery) and getting free installation would be a better idea than buying paint.

After doing some research, reading Consumer Reports (strongly recommend a subscription if you are making big $ purchases) and product reviews until our eyes rotted in their sockets (not really), and discussing our needs/wants, we narrowed our choices down to three Kenmore products.  We’ve had great experiences withKenmore appliances in the past, so we were comfortable/confident going with another Kenmore product.  After weighing features and prices, we selected the Kenmore 5.6 cu ft. Gas Range with True Convection Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel top as our winning gas range.  We actually chose not to get a Kenmore Elite or Kenmore Pro, primarily due to price but also because the regular Kenmore met all of our needs/wants.  See it here: http://www.sears.com/kenmore-30inch-freestanding-gas-range-w-convection-oven/p-02274343000P?prdNo=3&blockNo=3&blockType=G3

Unfortunately, the range we selected wasn’t 35% off, presumably because of the beautiful stainless steel top. Womp, womp.  We decided to get the $350 cheaper-but-same-model Kenmore 5.6 cu ft. Gas Range with True Convection Stainless Steel with Black top that was discounted, and we’re more than happy to be saving even more money that can go towards other things.  

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In the end, we saved $500 on the range and got free delivery, thanks to the awesome sales and two coupons/promotions we were also able to use towards our purchase.  Major score for us. We also Craiglisted our electric range and recouped $150 for it.

The gas range installation went rather smoothly, with only one small hiccup: There isn’t a regular electrical outlet behind our stove, so we had to plug the range into a wall outlet on its left (I know you’re thinking: Wait? I thought the original range was electric, so how is there not an outlet behind it (or how did they not notice this before)?  Answer: There is a special outlet at the bottom of the wall that was perfect for the electric range but not for our new gas range.)

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It’s a bit awkward-looking to say the least, but that’s something we can remedy in the near future, thanks to my dad who happens to be an electrical engineer and rather handy with home repairs and fixes in general.IMG_0383

Best part? It looks more high end than it actually is and cooks like a dream.  The burners light instantly (no repetitive clicking and hoping, for those of you familiar with older gas ranges), and all the special burners (simmer, turbo boil, etc.) perform their respective functions exceptionally well.

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My husband inaugurated the oven by baking yummy cookies, but unfortunately (for me) I was in the city at the time so did not get to enjoy them.He used soy-filled chocolate chips, so none for me anyway.  After eating some of his cookies, he decided my soy-free chips taste better. #foodallergies #smartman

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On my ‘spring break’ this past week, I joined Chris in FL and baked some of those pumpkin chocolate chip muffins again.  They were easily done in 20 minutes and could have probably have been taken out earlier than that–faster than the time range given in the recipe!  As for all those people who say that gas ovens don’t bake well, think again.  Double-fisted muffin eating may have happened in our household. Evidence, you ask?  They were devoured so quickly I didn’t even have time to snap a good pic.  Next up? My favorite pound cake recipe that hasn’t ever worked in an electric oven yet turned out perfectly every time in a gas oven.  Pound cake + fresh berries = Supreme Deliciousness.

Overall, moving more slowly down the path of home improvement is allowing us to savor every minute instead of sweating every dime and decision.  We’re enjoying the calm and contentment of knowing we will get around to doing things when the time is right.  After all, we’re on island  beach time here, and we’re good with that.