Category Archives: how-to

Garage Sale, Day 1

Today is the first day of our garage sale, so I’m keeping it simple on the blog. Earlier this week, the boys and I conjured up a great bit of summer fun with duct tape, a contractor trash bag and water.

Take a look at the Water Blob we made and let me know if you try this yourself. It was hours of fun using inexpensive materials we already had around the house. The fun was extended by the boys hovering over the computer creating mash-ups with the video segments I’d filmed. Best deal of the summer so far.

Stop by the garage sale if you’re a local. You’ll get the blog reader discount!

The Reluctant Renovator is now on Angie’s List!

shower ceiliing with Kohler water tilesNo, I’m not providing any home services, I’m writing! In the months since we purchased our house I’ve learned quite a few things about making home improvements and repairs, and now I get to share my best gems with Angie’s List members each month. Check out my first post: Tips for hiring a Chicagoland contractor.

So far, we’ve been more about HIY (hire it yourself) than DIY and, frankly, I’m liking it this way. I do hope to make better use of my tool belt and start digging in the dirt in the coming months, but I have to admit that things wouldn’t be looking quite so nice if we had completed major renovation tasks on our own.

Speaking of which, the guy in the photo on Angie’s List is David from Tigele Tile. Though Tigele owner Johann Janoschka, did note that our job was less grand than some of his projects, he and David did a great job. Our master bathroom looks fabulous. So good, in fact, that other tradesmen commented on the expert installation. Typically, tradesmen look at another guy’s work and tell you five ways they could have done it better.

Tigele also tiled our laundry room and kitchen floors. Johann scheduled his work around our other renovations and completed his portions on time.

We did encounter two issues: one was that we did not like the coiled heating element he first installed in the bathroom floor. Luckily, we noticed this in time and talked to Johann about installing a higher end heat mat. It cost us a little bit more money to get the mat, but we were happy to pay as the overall job price was reasonable.

The other issue was that when our plumber came to install the fixtures, we realized the fixture slots were tiled in too closely. Despite the fact that he was in Europe when this happened, I was able to contact Johann and one of his workers made it to our house in time for the plumber to complete his work that same day. (It would have been nice if the plumber mentioned at the time that he wouldn’t drill the tile to install the mounting for the hand spray, but frustratingly, he waited another week to share the news. Ugh. Don’t get me started on our plumber.)

Hmmm. I need to get that on Angie’s List, too, only in the review section.

By the way, you can also catch a bit of home improvement with a side of snark in my monthly post on Aiming Low’s Teach Channel.

Yes, yes, yes, more pics of the fab-o master bath to come. Between the lighting and the mirrors it’s hard to get good shots.

How to Make Oobleck

As I showed off the master bedroom (more to come this week!), I noted that my husband said sleeping on our comfy new Serta mattress set was like “sleeping on oobleck.” That may have left some of you scratching your heads in confusion, so I’m back to explain. Oobleck is a mixture of water and cornstarch in a roughly 1:1.5 ratio.

It’s an odd substance that at once has the properties of a liquid and a solid. It’s really fun to play with.

Take a look.

 

Oobleck is also a metaphor for life in that sometimes when you jump into a situation (even with the best of intentions) it can feel like you’re running into a brick wall. But if you soften up, relax and ease into things, it works out.

Ever feel like that in a social situation? Like, you show up to your first PTA meeting all eager and rearing to go only to feel like you’re on the outside of a well-established clique? You can walk away from situations like that, or you can keep going back and eventually, you’ll find your comfort spot.

Or perhaps, like Wonder Woman in the video, you’ll find yourself sinking in quicksand, so overwhelmed with volunteer “opportunities” that you won’t see your spouse until your kids graduate from high school.