Archive for the ‘Then & Now’ Category

Well, helloooo there.  Long time, no chat.  It’s been so long, in fact, my Aunt Holly emailed to ask if the blog moved because she hadn’t seen an update in a while.  Nope, we’re still here!  (Hi, Holly!) 🙂  I’ll explain the prolonged absence, I promise… but first… we need say goodbye.

Goodbye to the old, ugly, white, leather couches that occupied our living room:

Goodbye to the guest bedroom furniture… since baby’s need for a space to play now trumps a queen bed for guests:

Ignore the ugly bedspread! We did have a really nice Angela Adams duvet cover on there, but never bothered taking a pic. Oh well!

Goodbye to the brown leather couch in the family room:

Ahh... yes... in with the new already.

(well, not a real goodbye for the brown couch… just a move for that old girl)

Finally, the saddest of all… Goodbye Nikon 18-105 lens:

Sweet girl took an unfortunate plunge onto the tile floor and is getting a trip to Nikon Hospital.  We don’t know how long she’ll be in inpatient therapy.  For now, her cousin, our 50mm fixed lens is the only one we’ve got to snap shots around the Dream and of the wee one.

For those who speak “photog” – you know that’s a challenge to only shoot with a 50mm lens.  However, it will also be excellent practice and will hopefully make me a better photographer (silver lining!).

So… as you can see… we’ve had some MAJOR changes in the Dream lately.  I can’t wait to update you on what we’ve done/are doing with all of those newly empty spaces… good things, my friends, exciting things.

However, it’s not all goodbye.  We’ll also say, “Hello!” to the newest Dream dweller:

Yep!  Baby #2 is on the way!  I am due in mid-October and we are THRILLED.

So is Kenton, he just doesn’t know it yet.

Just like last time, the first trimester of pregnancy was easy-peasy, but left me with little-to-no energy.  Hopefully, that explains my absence as of late.  If my options were sleep or blog – sleep won EVERY. TIME.  As of this week, though, I’m officially entering trimester #2, which is good because I clearly have a lot of work to do!

PS: I’ve finally updated Kenton’s monthly pics.  Check them out here.

PPS: Follow me on Twitter or Instagram (mrsdreamer), where I definitely update more than once every three weeks!

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This whole working mom thing is not for sissies.  You’ve got to be organized and on zee proverbial ball.

Mornings, in particular, are preshush.  Amen?

Lately, I’ve been trying to shave every possible time hiccup out of my day.  I wash my hair at night so it takes less time in the AM.  I prep baby’s meals and mom & dad’s lunch the night before.  Latte duty is delegated to Mr. Dreamer while I’m “serving” breakfast to the wee one.  I usually opt to wait and eat my oatmeal at my desk.  That means I haven’t had warm oatmeal in a while, but at least I’m at my desk about five minutes earlier than I would be if I ate it at home.  Every second counts, people.  EVERY. SECOND.

That means that digging around for my makeup, brushes, makeup brushes and other AM necessities in this nonsense was becoming an issue:

Ugh.  Pretty awful, eh?

A complete overhaul of the master bathroom is in the looong range Dreamcast.  That room needs more help than I even care to think about.  So, a quick, simple and cheap solution would have to do…

[ENTER SCENE]: The $2.28 utensil organizer from Walmart.


Now, I know I’m not the first person in the world to think of this solution, but I did think of it on my own and feel brilliant for it.  Check it out:


I feel so much better.  Everything has a place.  It’s easy to find.  It just makes me happy.

Isn’t that so much better?

You know what’s also better?  Our master bedroom.  A loooong time ago, I showed you what it looked like.


The good news is it looks absolutely nothing like this now.  I suppose I owe you an update.  That’s coming… soon.

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We can hardly believe our Dream is a year old!

Okay, that’s a lie.  She’s actually 23 years old.

But, she’s a year old to us.

Today, we celebrate ONE YEAR since we signed our lives away and got the keys to our Dream.  In honor of this special day, let’s look back on what we’ve accomplished in our first year:

Whew!  Now, we’re tired.  But, no rest for the weary!  We still have A LOT to do to make the Dream truly dreamy (including a tad more work on the landscaping, eh?  Hey, give us a break, the average temperature here right now is 104!).  Here are some of our future projects… which one do you think we should tackle first?:

We definitely have our work cut out for us.  Help us decide what to do next!

Thanks, hopefully we’ll get to all of these projects in year 2 of livin’ in the Dream.   But now, we’re off to eat cake and toast year #1!

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For our first official post of the summer, what better topic than the backyard grill/BBQ?

Who wouldn’t dream of having a custom-built BBQ on your patio?  Nice feature, huh?  Kinda pricey though.  Unless you “inherit” the sad shell of a former such luxury with your foreclosed home, which you bought with your super-handy hubs, whose ultra-super-handy-pops is always willing to lend a helping hand.

surveying the scene

So… here’s what we started with…

Ugly.  Sad. Pitiful.  EYESORE.

So bad, in fact, we put up plywood support and duct-taped plastic tablecloths over this thing in an attempt to sheild it from view during our Open Dream Party.  It was the perfect spot to serve drinks, including this YUMMY sangria, but we would never force our guests to see the extreme DIY home improvement project that awaited us underneath.

But once we did have the time/energy to tackle it – we think the results are quite impressive!

Here’s how the Dream boys got ‘er done:

filled a gaping hole in the back with recycled pavers we found in the backyard

the hole in front was measured, cut and filled so that our existing grill would be a perfect fit

after the el-crappo tile on top was removed.... the surface was re-enforced with plywood and Dura Rock

new tile went on that surface like a breeze

it took just a couple of hours to set and grout

after a little paint to cover the new stucco (DIY) job...

voila! the eyesore is now quite nice to gaze upon

The BEST part?  The entire project, which the pro’s would charge thousands to do, cost us less than $150.  Here’s how:

Mortar = $6

Bricks/Pavers to fill holes = Free!  Recycled from ones we dug up on the backyard

Plywood/wood = $19

Dura Rock = $16

Tile/grout = $90

Paint = already had

Grill = already had

Labor = FREE!

Total cost = $131

Yep, you can color us happy and know that we’ll be enjoying many a grilled meal in the future.

Happy Summer!

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Any idea what weighs 45 tons?  Hmm… let’s ask Google that question…

this GE switcher/4-axle diesel locomotive...

this whale, who had an unfortunate run-in with a cargo ship...

the crane that took out this house (yikes!)...

and (of course) the world's largest time capsule...

So, perhaps that puts into perspective the “Dreamer Load” dumped on our yard…

these two piles represent about half of our load

That, my friends, would be 45 tons of landscaping rocks.  So, why would we subject ourselves to this rock invasion?  Well, we have a few good reasons:

1) We live in the desert – so grass is not only difficult to keep alive, it requires a lot of water – which is a precious resource in these parts

2) The city we live in offers a rebate if we convert our grass into “desert-scape” that requires less water

3) Desert-scape landscaping is easier to maintain

4) We think the rocks – with some soon-to-be-added desert plants – add to the southwest charm of our Dream

So, with that decision made, we headed out on a field trip – to rock quarries – to check out the rock options.  What we found was a dizzying array of choices.  First, we had to pick a color:

(work with us here... we have yet to invest in photo shop)

Then, we had to pick a size…

size matters

We both agreed on the size, 1/2 inch screened.  Too much bigger looks chunky.  Too much smaller looks dirty/sandy.  However, we did disagree on the color.  Mr. Dreamer preferred a red tone, while Mrs. Dreamer leaned towards brown.  In the end, Mrs. Dreamer proved most persuasive and we went with Apache Brown.  It’s not the cheapest rock available – but we decided that this was a job we only want to do once and we might as well spend a bit more cash on a color we really like – instead of the cheapest one.  It ended up looking very nice and we’re quite pleased with the choice.

With that decision made, now we needed to know how much rock it would take to cover our yard.  From the professional estimates we got, we knew that 1 ton of 1/2″ rock covers 120 square feet with a two-inch depth.  But how much square footage are we working with???  To find out, we used a super-cool website, www.floorplanner.com, for free! (One “pro” offered to do the exact same thing for us for $250.)  We just walked around the perimeter with measuring tape, sketched out what we planned to do, plugged in those numbers and voila! Here’s what it looks like:

our lot is 1/5 of an acre

The brown areas are where we planned to put the rock.  This program allowed us to calculate the square footage of just that area.  Turned out to be 5,400 square feet – plug that into the earlier equation and it turned out we needed 45 tons!

So, now we knew the color, size and amount of rock needed – we just needed to pull the trigger and make the purchase.  We thought that by skipping the fancy landscaping show rooms and heading straight to the quarries, we could cut down on the cost.  We were wrong!  The average cost for the Apache Brown rock we wanted at those places was $45/ton.  So, Mr. Dreamer took to one of our favorite websites, Craig’s List, to hunt down a better deal – and we got one!  For just $33/ton – we were able to buy the exact rock we needed through an independent trucker.

we highly recommend Justin at Phoenix Materials, Inc!

Our order took two double-dump truck trips… and the delivery drew our neighbors out into the street to check it out… who doesn’t love watching big machinery at work?

Check out video of the action here.

In his wake, Justin left behind four HUGE piles for us to work with…

the tough part is about to begin

The rocker-pro’s who so willingly offered us free estimates on our dreamscaping… were going to charge us $25/ton to spread the rock.  With 45 tons, that’s $1,125!  (Yes, that’s in addition to the cost of the rock itself.)  That was a bit steep for us…  So, we managed to convince some (totally awesome) friends and family to come over and help us.  With our eight-member crew, we were able to spread most of the rock in one Saturday – and all we had to pay for was breakfast and lunch… SCORE!

But before we could spread the rock… we had to demo the yard…

bobcat vs. random brick fence eyesore

clearly, the bobcat is the winner here

the bobcat also scraped away the struggling lawn

the sections the bobcat couldn't get to had to be hacked away by hand

Once those areas were clear, the back-breaking job of shoveling and raking all 45 tons of rock into place began…

mr dreamer shows us how it's done

Not too many pictures of this phase, since all 8 sets of hands were working hard.  We were all quite impressed with what we were able to accomplish in one day!  Keep in mind that this is still in the “during” phase of our dreamscaping process… but here are some after shots of the great rock dump…

Look pretty blah?  Actually, that was our goal during this phase.  We needed to get our long-neglected foreclosed-upon yard back to a blank slate so we could start from scratch.  Next up:

the plants we selected to dress up our rocks

But first, I fear some rambunctious bulldogs may take over the blog to tell their side of the story…

huh? did someone say bulldogs?

*Rail car photo found here, Whale photo found here, Crane vs. House photo found here, Time Capsule photo found here.

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Nope.  No exciting announcements.  (As if the blog is the place we’d first announce a dream in the oven?!)

Just another little Then & Now action for you… the Dream Family room.  As we’ve mentioned before, the family room is an extension of our kitchen – a lovely feature that was on our “must” list while Dream shopping.  We’ve already told you how we had a design challenge on our hands with our color schemes and how we’ve tied the rooms together with some A-list-Pottery-Barn-esque fabric.  So, here is what we were working with…




Everything is different, except for the flooring.  Which wasn’t hard because the house was empty and the walls were white!  The hubs did a great job installing a new ceiling fan that actually matches our decor…

you can see the box valances found their way into this room as well...

ah, yes, the cork collection grows. but do you notice anything different?

We opted to switch out the white frames you previously saw for brown so these photos tie in better with…

this collection of photos from our France trip that flank our tv

All of these frames are from Ikea — steals for $5 (5×7) and $10 (8×10).  We’re sticklers for cohesiveness and flow… while these may not be the best quality, nobody’s going to get too close… they perfectly serve their purpose for now.

And now for the rest of the highlights:

cozy chair in the corner with a "Mrs. Dreamer" original pillow - same fabric as the valances

There’s still a lot to do…

  • Clearly, we’re in need of a “real” coffee table!
  • We’d love to put an area rug under said coffee table – but two smelly, drooly Bulldogs make that seem unlikely
  • Eventually, we’ll replace the off-white leather (hand-me-downs-of-which-we-are-so-grateful) furniture with brown leather — easier to keep clean and will better match our aesthetic tastes
  • Next up: painting the ceilings the same color as the walls (Colonial Buff by Sherwin Williams) and adding CROWN MOLDING!  Can’t wait!  We think that’s going to take the room to a whole new level.

We did not pay full price for ONE thing in this room (YAY!). Most of it we had before and moved with us into the Dream, but here’s a rundown so you can see where we spend our time NOT paying full price:

  • Couch, love seat, chair, ottoman – hand-me-downs from the parents
  • Media cabinet – consignment store (My Sister’s Attic)
  • TV – gift
  • Bar – Craig’s List
  • Lamps by couch – from a woman who is dealer for a big-furniture-chain – she advertised on Craig’s List and now we’re on her “list” (!)  More exciting finds to come from that… 🙂
  • Lamp behind chair – we’ve had the stand forever, but scored a new shade at a charity auction for $5
  • C&B Wicker side table – charity auction (retails for $90, we got it for $12)
  • Tile side table – My Sister’s Attic
  • Frames – Ikea
  • Photos in frames – taken ourselves on our trip to France
  • Clock – Holland Boone, using a gift certificate from our wedding
  • Globe – Marshall’s/Home Goods
  • Black vases – Costco (with a coupon)
  • Throw – TJ Maxx
  • Pillow – self-made
  • Valance – self-made
  • Blinds – Home Depot (with coupon)
  • Curtains and rod – Ikea

Oh yeah, we feel g-o-o-d about that!

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Like most foreclosed homes, ours came sans appliances.  Well, it did have “appliances” – that we’re pretty sure the bank found along the curb on bulk trash day and threw them in so the kitchen appeared “applianced.”  We were not fooled and promptly purchased new kitchen appliances.  However, there was one pesky “mini-appliance” that had to wait.  The garbage disposal.

Have you ever lived without a garbage disposal?  We don’t recommend it.  But, for the last five months, we’ve survived.  Not anymore.

Cue: McDreamy…

inspecting the first of many instruction sheets

a curious bulldog assesses the "before"

Here is where we get really vulnerable with you.  Our kitchen was a DISASTER throughout the duration of this project.  First up, the contents of our under-the-sink cabinet:

how does all this stuff fit under there anyway?!

After “prepping” the area, Mr. Dreamer went to work switching the pipes so the new garbage disposal could be under the right sink – something Mrs. Dreamer really wanted, but cannot explain why.

no pipes - just a gaping hole, but that's a good thing at this point

with a little more fanagling... amidst the mess...

the drain is switched! brilliant!

Now, we ready for it…

the holy grail of garbage disposals.

If you have to install one yourself – you might as well go for the gold.

which is exactly what McDreamy did!

and that's reason to celebrate. cheers!

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There she sat, perched on the sink, neck extended in a mocking stare. Weathered and leaking… her taunting presence the topic of a few nightmares… her demise the topic for a few dreams.

This story's antagonist

this story's antagonist

Those dreams began morphing into reality during a three-hour mega trip to Home Depot. You may ask how spending three hours in Home Depot was dreamy? Well, in full disclosure, it was not. In an effort to get all of the necessary supplies for our extended DIY list (and take advantage of a 10 percent off coupon) we walked through every isle of the store. That plan proved futile and since, we’ve made nearly daily trips to the DIY Mecca.

one stood out from the rest

one stood out from the rest

However, during that stroll we spotted her, our dreamcet, and the DIY wheels started churning. After researching prices on our iPhones, we passed on snatching her up at first glance. A survey of online prices found that we could save $80 by ordering her online (technology rocks!). Sorry, Home Depot…while you kicked your blue-clad competitor’s butt in pricing, you couldn’t compete with your online rivals.

ready to become part of the dream

ready to become part of the dream

Installing a new faucet is straightforward. However, removing an old faucet, one that has been leaking, thus rusting into place, for 10 plus years is a whole other beast. A basin wrench is a must as well as a great deal of patience. And remember…when finesse fails a little brute force with pipe wrench pliers is a great problem solver. And–FYI–remember to shut off the water lines before removal.

100409 012With the old nightmare removed, it was a breeze installing our dreamcet. Just tighten the mounting bolt and appropriately connect the hot and cold water lines.

installed and ready for action

installed and ready for action

The coup de grâce was adding the coordinating soap dispenser, again, courtesy of an online retailer ($56 savings).

the finishing touch

the finishing touch

In recap:

  1. Installing a new kitchen faucet is straightforward.
  2. Removal of your existing faucet can be (is likely ;)) difficult. Don’t forget your brute force.
  3. Conduct research if you want to score a deal on a faucet.

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The kitchen is done.  Happy dance time!





If you don’t count the new stainless steel appliances, we did the entire thing for about $700!  (But, we did score a great deal on the appliances by buying them all at the same time at a locally-owned store and scouring the scratch-n-dent room.)

As you can see, we “inherited” some not-so-dreamy aqua-turquoise-green-blue-gray (everyone that sees them sees a different color) counter tops.  We have grand plans for much further down the road to replace them, but that was not in the budget for now.  So, we embraced the green-blue-brightness by painting the cabinets white (Greek Villa by Sherwin Williams).  We also added some warmth to the walls with  Colony Buff (also by S.W.) – at 50% color in the kitchen, full color in the family room, which you’ll have to wait and see later (but if you squint really hard, you can peek from the dining room mirror.)

100409 085

another angle on the kitchen

In addition to finishing the kitchen this weekend, we also finished the family room, guest bathroom, almost finished the guest bedroom, did some stuff in the living room/dining room (not priorities right now), spiffed up the front landscaping, cleaned up the backyard and hung some paintings, photos and mirrors.

it wasn't all pain-free

it wasn't all pain-free

It’s been a BUSY DIY weekend around the Dream.  (Bummer, though, the sewing machine pulled a diva move, spattered, sputtered, and quit on us (hoochie).  So, we’re not sure we’ll have pillows in party-time… hmm…)  Anyway, this is about all the blog-energy we have left… but, our many projects promise to produce many a future post… here are some previews:

painting cabinets (a HUGE undertaking and one we - and our family/friends that helped) are glad is done

painting cabinets (a HUGE undertaking and one we are GLAD is done)

our dream was "born" before microwaves were common household appliances... which meant some creative woodworking to get this sucker in place

our dream was "born" before microwaves were common household appliances... which meant some creative woodworking to get this sucker in place

knobs & pulls are tricky things... best to call in the pro's... (thankfully, our friend's dad is a pro!)

knobs & pulls are tricky things... best to call in the pro's... (thankfully, we have a connection...)

new faucet. installed. works great. no plumber bill!

new faucet. installed. works great. no plumber bill!

are they box valances?  or are they cornice boards?  you'll see in a future post... but the better question... can you spot the seams?

are they box valances or cornice boards? you'll see in a future post... but the better question... can you spot the seams?

Alrighty.  That’s enough for now.  Just one parting shot of our kitchen with a fork firmly in place (she’s done!).

you can see how the chalkboard fits in...

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