Mischief Managed

August literally started off with a bang. At 2:35 am on the 1rst someone backed up a truck to our single car port garage door and bent it in. Ugh! Zach rush down the stairs and woke us up, but we figure the crumpling aluminum must have perturbed our slumber and nudged us out of sleep. It took a good 30 mins for Z to calm down and he hasn’t slept away from us since.

The house, folks, is not even a year old and this happens. Our deductible was higher than the repair cost, shaking my head (smh), so it was funded out of pocket. Whomever did this better have a good excuse. This ordeal has not been cool, especially since the cameras failed to catch the perps. (Line of sight issues.) The bad luck has to turn. We still have no yard and now this happens. Less money to reinvest in the property; more hassle to get things settled into place.

As long as they didn’t target our house and the other two neighboring dwellings just cause we could all afford the repairs, I can be at peace. Adds fuel to the fire, this whole you can afford it rhetoric. Sad. No one’s property should be stolen or vandalized based on that premise. Just because a person has means it doesn’t give you the right to decide how their money is to be spent. And no, not all damages to property are covered by insurance. Leave a note. Do the right thing.

I need a vacation…

Chateau Enginerd: The Builder To Do List

On the Week 2 blog post, we shared the list of items that were still owed to us by the builder. Almost 4 months in, the crew has barely tackled a few of the items, and many we did ourselves to shorten the list and get the ball rolling. The fence is still uneven and needs some adjustments to be cleared off the list. They haven’t been able to argue convincingly that the yard leveling work will ever happen so we are getting bids to pass them the bill later, if it isn’t resolved to our satisfaction. At least the A/C works now! (Install guys never attached the wiring for the unit to the breaker box. Wow!)

For those curious,  this is what is still missing per the contract:

1. Fence and sod.

2. A/C

3. Laundry vent – not working.

4. Railing.

5. Hot water in tub not working.

6. Two doors that close but don’t lock.

7. Keys to side and garage doors. (AUG 1)

8. Repainting of side of house and vent hole close outs. (Painting front door.)

9. Doorbell wire diagram or instructions.  (Looking into this myself.)

10. Master rain shower close out piece.

11. Hang cabinet in laundry room wall between sink and washer. (Done during the weekend.)

12. Steps on the backyard stairs.

13. Cleaning exterior of the house.

14. Broken screen on dining room window. Missing screens.

15. Removing construction debris from front yard.

16. Removing equipment from garage if fence is contracted out.

17. Talk to neighbors about their fence.

18. Installing lightbulbs for the air vents/fans.

19. Cabinet door pulls.

20. The one car garage door has a dent and cut in it that is visible and may lead to rusting.

21. Microwave 

It has been an interesting journey with these build crew and we still have hope and faith they will deliver. My husband can’t get over the door pulls being missing all this time. The money is tight and we are hoping to get this yard under control soon so we can use it more efficiently.

Finger’s crossed. 

“At least you have a house…”

Please. I beg y’all. Don’t confuse my complaints about the “list of items that still need to be taken care of by the builder” with ungratefulness. Telling anyone in my family that “at least you have a home” minimizes the entire ordeal and what is left of it. The fact that all these open items cost money and great inconvenience to our family should not be overlooked.

Yes, we can afford a home when a lot of people are homeless. And yes, maybe you would be bursting at the seams just to have these nuances as your problems but that doesn’t give you permission to “put us in our place” or remind us we should be grateful to your deity of choice. You asked me how the house was coming along. I didn’t volunteer the information to be critiqued or questioned. Sadly the situation is far from perfect and for a hefty investment we are peeved; the next steps left may include suing for damages, an action we rather not pursue. Never a dull moment in this household, especially when the open jobs are being completed slooooowllyyyy.

Maybe society has taught us the wrong quips to give as a reaction to someone’s news. Maybe we aren’t thinking and just blurt out what we think we should comment or state. In the end, I expect more from my peers because I can give them more than the preprogrammed responses. If I can take time from my busy life to consider you perhaps you all can return the favor? Can people stop trying to make me eat humble pie? Your serving of judgement leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 🤔🤔🤔🤔 Inconceivable!

For once I would like to hear my peers congratulate me because I have achieved and persevered, not be passively aggressively handed my ass to me because I aspired to more and it didn’t work out 100%. So what if there are only three of us living in 2600 sq ft of space? My dog and family deserve to be comfortable too. 😉 And while we are at it, don’t assume we need to fill the space with children either. With an upcoming opportunity to go back to school and get matching MBAs for the wall, I can’t imagine making things more complex by getting knocked up and/or having to postpone graduation. Call me selfish but this is not my path, our path, for now. This is our happily ever after. 😎😄

Feel free to do as your heart desires. I promise not to shame you and to support you as you see fit. That’s what friends should be for, anyway…

UpCycled Air Conditioning Unit Pallet Home Decor 

When my builder had the A/C installed the crew left over some copper pipe, the original boxes and the pallets that kept the box structurally sound. Rather than selling or recycling them, I thought reusing one of these as a frame for the collectible hard liquors and wine bottles would be ideal since the house’s decor is a mix of industrial and farmhouse styles.

Sanding down the frame – stain prep.

To protect the frame, I decided to stain it with the leftover product I used for the Master Closet DIY. The color is called Kona and is a Varathane stain + poly mix that is very easy to use with a roller, cloth or brush. After about an hour of dry time, for each side of the pallet, on a clear 70° day, the frame was ready. To install it to the wall, I used keyhole brackets from an unused past project. You can use hooks and other fasteners, just make sure the loaded assy doesn’t exceed weight limits for the method you select.

Originally, I wanted to add wood shelves because the distance between cross members was high enough to stack two rows of bottles in the rack. However, I had a hard time figuring out how to do it without making the whole assembly too heavy for the plastic wall anchors I had at hand. On top of that, I would have needed to cut and sand wood to size, and would most likely need to add a lip to prevent the bottles from slipping. Taking the lazy route was made even easier when I found two hanging wire baskets on sale at HomeGoods that solved all these problems. To keep the assy light, I installed the baskets directly into the wall in between the openings. Ta da!

Finished assy with the wire shelves.

Now that I had the storage solution up, it was easy to place the bottles in the wire shelves and stack them up in the best possible pattern. You could easily make this pallet from reclaimed wood or scraps from your local hardware or lumber store if you don’t have a delivery with these smaller pallets coming your way. 😎😍🤔


Château Enginerd: Month 3

Time flies and in an instant, all you are left us with the memories. Being able to take a two person shower without bumping with the walls was well worth the wait. Knowing we won’t need to remodel any time soon to get the look and feel we want, priceless.

Zach is enjoying his big yard but appears to have gotten injured. We are giving him a few days to rest and heal before we take him to the vet. We evaluated his leg and he doesn’t seem to be in pain, indicative of a broken bone. My sister, with her vet assistant exp, gave him a quick once over and surmised it is muscular. Our little athlete needs rest and he seems to know it.


So far we have put up the decor and pictures that we thought were still relevant. The rest will be offered up via garage sale or FB marketplace. Weather permitting by the end of June these things will be gone and we can start 100% fresh. It didn’t come up to much, maybe 5 boxes out of what felt like 70. So many memories are kept stored in places we never revisit. We will only take with us what we know will make us lighter, happier.

It will be a while before we are running at the new pace. At least we have things set up now a bit more efficiently and with less clutter. Hopefully our builder will finish the honey do list soon. Can’t wait!

Enjoy the sunshine!

Unboxing the Past, Resetting the Future 

The worst part of moving to a new home when you are in your 30s is letting go of the stuff 20 year old you bought with those first paychecks. Most if the items are still in good condition but you don’t really need them anymore. Some were gifts from people you adore but have outgrown, and/or remnants of the business you left unfinished. Pajamas and knick knacks from Xmas past, the many baby shower and wedding giveaways that weren’t meant to last a decade or two, they all cluttered the new space in a way that was unexpected. Suddenly the meaning behind the keepsake changed; divorces, deaths and moves redefined the life you had planned and gave birth to the life you are now living.

Downsizing the beer and wine bottle collection to relevant pieces was both hard and strange. Surrendering a part of history because it was documented elsewhere was new and difficult. MrEnginerd and I take pictures of everything and document any changes that we observe. Our memory boxes and external hard drive are full of tickets, invitations, cards and mementos of the last 16 years together. It is almost as if we wanted to make sure these waypoints in the timeline were preserved. That there was evidence of the places and experiences we have had, especially those that involved others’ happiness. A few boxes of pure joy and/or deep grief and sadness. We even had a few articles from when we were going to become parents. (See Wrestling Infertility for more details on that journey.)

This new house was meant to be a fresh start. The walls are covered with the items that represent this new incarnation of ourselves. We let go of the old, the worn out and the unnecessary to open up room for whatever the next decades bring to us or take us. If you are one of our friends and are wondering if we kept memories related to you around you are either missing the point of a cleanse or may need some affirmation that we still care. (We do.) After 30 weddings, 50+ showers of all kind and our own milestones, you learn what to keep and from whom. Carrying the weight of remembering all these events was a burden we choose to lighten. We don’t expect people to have our big happy smiling faces on their walls anymore, unless you are our grandparents. 😀 The next time you walk into our house, virtually or otherwise, I hope you can appreciate the evolutionary leap forward we took. These are the wiser, stronger and more sophisticated versions of us. (And hopefully more entertaining and less boring.)
Once the garage sales and such are completed, we will deal with whatever refuses to leave us. Maybe those items will give us a new direction or remind us of roads we left unexplored. Maybe they will become someone else’s bounty when we drop them off at the donation bin. Life defines us in ways we may never comprehend. For now, we will do our best to define our path despite all the unwanted challenges. I sincerely hope the best is yet to come.


Château Enginerd, Month 2

It has been two months since we moved to our new home and the upgrades and updates are almost completed on the inside. Check out the Master Closet Under $500 DIY, the Industrial TP holders, the pantry update and the light switch replacement for more info. We are still waiting on the inspection for the exterior door addition but since the door is functional we don’t mind it as much. We also switched out a cabinet for open shelving, added the master closet set up and put up shelves in the office. Phew! No more moving boxes left either. Yay! Almost there!

The term turn key is one of those elusive subjects for us because there is always something worth personalizing like the paint scheme or the light fixtures. We had a few things to add before moving in but we had to get in quickly. The construction dust became our friend and mortal enemy. Now that we have had the first deep cleaning, the flooring and trims are performing to the expectations, even with the dog nail scratches. Refinish the hard woods is a bit overboard so we are looking at products that help reduce their appearance. Stay tuned!

The fence still needs to be raised and updated, along with the builder do list. I’m not happy this process has taken forever but the building season is on full swing so we are lower in the priority totem pole. Trying to help ourselves, we have done some of this owed stuff on our own. Annoying because we paid for the house to be finished and the traditional trope or got paid and ran away is materializing. Not sure how much more time we can wait until legal action makes more sense than being nice. Honey attracts more ants but darn, where did my ants go?

I do feel like a million bucks whenever I fix a construction boo-boo but I rather have it taken care of by the pros…

Stay tuned!

10 Quick Updates That Add Charm and Value To Your Home

Our new home felt a bit dull. (See Chateâu Enginerd, Month 2.) The items we asked to be customized where done 95% correctly so we had to finish some items ourselves because the builder was taking forever to get to them. Because of this the house was not move in ready, and well, adding more construction dust to it as we move in wasn’t going to hurt much. Some of these add ons may require permits and expert crews to pull off but they are worth every penny.

1. Remove cabinets and replace with open shelving.

As long as the shelves you are replacing measure the same length and width of the ones inside the cabinets, you will not loose storage space. This is a great alternative to store plates, mugs, cups or glassware that gets used all the time and is meant to be seen. The shelves can be wood, metal or any material combination you can think off, and if you are not sure what matches your kitchen check our HGTV and home good store catalogues for hints. The cabinets should come off in 5 mins or less and may require two people to accomplish.

2. Add cabinetry to the laundry room.

Instead of adding floating shelves or open storage, we installed the removed cabinets to the laundry room on top of our utility sink. Since the cabinets were the same it was a no brainer. Most Pinterest ideas have shelves on top of front loading washers and dryers, with a few cabinets on top of the shelf/shelves. Add a nice light fixture or update to recessed lighting and you can make a laundry room functional and charming. Check Pinterest for ideas.

3. Add Bluetooth speakers to the shower heads or vent fans.


I like to listen to music when I am in the shower and either solution gets the job done. My husband was skeptical but he loves to use the speaker and found practical applications beyond making and receiving calls – which we haven’t tried to do, yet – like hearing TV and radio content beamed from his cellphone. You can enjoy audio books or programming while you clean or complete your grooming routines. Kids will love hearing stories and signing along. Fun for the whole family. It’s a braggable solution too. 😉

3. Install LED dimmable Edison/vintage style lightbulbs.

Costco sells the Feit electric lightbulbs very cheaply and so does Home Depot/Lowes. Makes sure that you get the correct light tone output (some are yellowish some have white light). Pair it with industrial looking mason jar or lamp shades to give it an old school industrial or farmhouse look. They even sell bulbs for desk lapms and floor lamps. Have fun with this idea.

4. Paint rock, tile or flooring to brighten or tie in a room.

Concrete floors can be painted and sealed easily which is a good way to update a garage but did you know you could paint over laminate and wood? You can sand down and restain a floor or you can use special interior paint to achieve a similar result. Some design firms will paint and distress the work to give it an antique feel to it. Vinyl tile is easy to update as well and there are a ton of videos and Pinterest ideas to choose from for inspiration. Check it out!

5. Replace wire shelves with wood.

Change out pantry, linen and room closet wireframe shelves for wood planks. Depending on the budget you can do common board, pine, oak or plywood. Be aware that the harder the wood the more expensive it will get per linear foot. Use contact paper, paint or stain to tie in the look with existing color schemes. Check out the DIY pantry makeover blog post for ideas.

6. Use ship lap to accentuate a wall.

Copyright HGTV/Magnolia Homes

Ship lap is not just for Farmhouse style homes anymore. Make any wall pop in a room by adding wood planks that fit your style. If you don’t have the budget and like the look, you can use ship lap paneling. Vertical or horizontal, it doesn’t matter, as long as you like it. Leave it unstained or paint it bold colors for a unique finish.

7. Replace or add a chandelier in the main entrance area or room.

Chandeliers don’t have to be 8ft tall to amaze guests and find a place in your home. Mini chandeliers are making a splash in the interior design scene and transcend the plain light fixture trend. Use pendant lights when possible if the chandelier is too much. Improved lighting can make a house seem bigger so it is important to choose fixtures that have multiple light bulbs and illuminate the space well.

8. Replace existing ceiling mounted light fixtures with canned lights.

There are a few LED canned light replacements that do not require a can light fixture to be installed; they are self contained units. Ranging from $25+, these lights can make an old school kitchen look modern in a matter of minutes. If you already have canned lights, you can update them to LED and add the color changing fixtures for effect.

9. Revamp the front porch

If you have craftsman style colums around your porch, you can cover them up with real stone or veneers. If you don’t have columns, you can easily add them too. A nice railing in wood or wrought iron can look nice if you need to make sure kids and pets are secured while enjoying the space. In some cases a screened in porch can be ideal to avoid mosquitoes and insect bites. You can also turn it into a four or three season room to help keep the heat or cold out while enjoying the area.

10. Update the mailbox


If your house has a rural or on post mailbox you can get creative with this piece. Get a unique mailbox, like a Star Wars themed one, or wrap the post in stone. Include the mailbox as part of the gate or fence, if possible, to amp up the security of your mail. There are models that include package drop boxes to thwart package thieves. The sky is the limit as long as the box is postmaster approved!

Fixer Upper (HGTV)

If there ever was a show that has inpired me to do my own thing is this one. Chip and Joanna Gaines are a dynamic duo, the married couple we all strive to be. She is the literal beauty of the operation, the looks, hearts and soul of the transformations. He is the brawn, the nothing is impossible if you put some muscle and thought into it. Plus he is the realtor. 😎 They don’t let raising four children and managing 10 projects at a time scare them or stop them. No excuses. Faith and talent sees them through.

Every time they renovate a house my heart grows with love, hope and warmth. From the engineering to the decorations everything is done with great care in the most frugal/not wasteful way. They recycle materials from the torn down houses and use them to build finishing touches that add character and history, honoring the story of the residences they restore for those brave enough to take on a fixer upper. They are inspired by jobs no one else would undertake. These are the kind of people you want to trust with your home.

Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTVs Fixer Upper

Having gone through the experience of customizing a home from scratch, the value of their collective endeavors and enterprising spirit is admirable and, well, awesome.  They move heaven and earth to get you into your dream home as quickly and painlessly as possible, and within budget. I envy their prowess, charisma, charm and integrity. They get it done, Texas style!

Watch all the shiplap and wood glory in HD on HGTV. Binge! It’s so worth it.


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