Friday, July 22, 2016

Back when I thought I might end up in a homeless shelter (when I was newly divorced and searching for a job, and then 2 years ago after losing a job, and pretty much all the years in between because ANXIETY!!), I would look around at other people who seemed to have life easier and think "they are doing better because they are better at xyz" -- and my thinking always came back to performance.

I could not get away from the idea that if I could have worked harder... more hours... if I'd made different choices... gotten better grades in college... hadn't gotten married (anyone can tell you how being a single mom is your fault, in case you ever doubted it)... hell, if I'd chosen a different career altogether and moved to a different state... we could have avoided all this suffering.

That's the devil of personal performance: it's a slippery slope. "It's all your own fault!" you shout at yourself. Even if you worked hard at school, worked hard at your job, only had two children or less, raised them perfectly and then one day, an alligator leaps out of the lake at Disney world and eats your baby - it's your fault. (one extreme example I saw lately. You better believe a lot of secretly terrified people shouted on facebook that it was all the parents' fault because heaven forbid something like that happen to them. I call this phenomenon "the more popular method of shielding yourself from a voodoo curse".)

This past year has begun a totally new chapter of my life that looks nothing like the previous 15 years. My marriage to one of the "good ones" brought a lot of change. I don't have to be perfect in order to ensure that I am not in danger of being thrown out with the Monday trash, or handed a corporate threat or pink slip. Maybe he wishes I took a chill pill anxiety meds more frequently, but if so he never mentions it. ha!

First Anniversary! Still no hate! even though I panicked and almost fainted in the airport!
And even now I still have occasional nervous thoughts like "I better not gain weight" or "I should be cleaning the bathrooms more." We can't get free from every ounce of performance striving in this life, because it's written in our DNA. [The opposite affliction is NOTHING IS EVER MY FAULT - but that is reserved for those of us who are sociopaths and have no conscience, another genetic defect that 1 in 25 of us have. Sigh.]

We live in this world, yes, but most of us long for a change in our DNA. (Spiritual sight over physical sight, and all that.) If I only I could hang onto the right lenses consistently...
Posted by Katy On 3:43 PM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Monday, July 11, 2016

Well. I am sitting here with my concrete all torn up for the past month, still waiting for the civil engineering firm to come up with the "plans" to fix the bricks. This is not rocket science, people. I swear to God it is not. I SHOULD KNOW. The only reason I can't do this myself is because I am not registered and don't have my own stamp, so that means I had to hire these guys. SIGH.

So while we wait impatiently for these engineers to do something (I can't wait to see this bill!!) -- I've been making progress on the master bedroom.

Finally got a bed so the mattress isn't on the floor!!!!!
If you're following me on Instagram you've already seen some of this -- I ordered my drawer fronts and cabinet doors from a carpentry company (I'm tired) so the first shipment arrives tomorrow!

Okay. I am following a lot of trendy people on Instagram and Pinterest. You know, the hipster kind who swoon over very impractical, weird stuff. Like Kelly Wearstler, for example:
 OKAY. I am not a designer in Hollywood, so maybe I'm just way too out of touch. But I thought interior design was a separate category from "music video set design", or "modern art installation" ? I thought interior design was for people to live in.

Case in point: these photos going around the internet, as far as kitchen design trends:

"Antique rugs in the kitchen".. the latest craze. Like all the trends, this is very pretty and I like the look of it and all that. The issue is that I would NEVER purchase a precious, antique, expensive $$$$$ rug to put in the middle of my KITCHEN. I have 4 kids. I need a hose with a floor drain in there, not a precious rug! Am I the only one??
My kitchen rugs get disgusting and I have to take them out back on the patio and use the hose and a scrub brush on them, and then let them dry in the scorching Carolina sun.

I think I'm going to have to take a pass on high style, unfortunately. I actually feel a little rage when I look at these kitchens because I'm imagining my kids getting into the peanut butter and jelly. My kids are 9-13 years old so it's not like I have toddlers. (But really, I DO.)

I need to be able to relax in my house. Even if it takes valium and a little Slivovitz.

Posted by Katy On 9:23 PM 1 comment READ FULL POST

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

So the jackhammering came to a full.stop. because we discovered a bigger problem:

 the bricks were actually just stacked on top of the (improperly poured) concrete patios/porches. So not ONLY does the water drain up against the house, rot all the exterior doors, and can't be corrected without jackhammering up ALL OF THEM...

But now the bricks might fall off the house, so we had to stop and call a civil engineering firm to make a house call (that costs $500 here in Columbia, in case you were wondering, and does not include all the reports/plans and recommendations).

Today I had 3 of the contractors, 3 engineers, and 3 extra neighborhood kids here. While 6 kids swam off my dock (and I had to periodically shout at them to stop doing dangerous or destructive crap - seriously. wth is wrong with boys?), the crew of people here discussed the fate of my stupid ugly brick and patios.

Prince Charming is usually the calm one who does not worry about stuff. Strangely there has been a role reversal on this one. He's freaking out about the money and I'm like -- whatever. I built a beach house with less money than this, AND I lost my job and had to sell it. Frankly, I've been through the worst with A LOT CUTER HOUSE, so my senses are completely dulled now.

Rip all the bricks off the house or don't -  what do I care? They're all ugly and deserve to be ground up into parking gravel anyway. pffft. 

Babysitting kinda puts me in a bad mood. I was thinking I need to go back to work but it seems so impossible with everything going on right now. Oh and -- still plugging away on that closet. I post pics on instagram for that one. I'll do a "before and after post" when it's finished.  (@katmhaddad)
Posted by Katy On 8:01 PM 7 comments READ FULL POST

Friday, June 3, 2016

I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself, as a person with plenty of money (note: not enough to live in California but enough to live like a king anywhere else.) and a strong desire to live on a beautiful lake. Pretend also that you are thinking of starting a kick-ass orphanage so you'll need a very large house, a dock, and multiple areas for TV watching etc. (JUST PRETEND OKAY??)  YOU, my friend, are on the hunt for a large luxury home on beautiful water, in the heat of the deep South. You like palm trees, jet skis, mint juleps, magnolias, and you don't mind large roaches. You are currently stuck in some God forsaken horrible climate like Chicago, and you are chomping at the bit to move here. Got it?
You open up Zillow and start looking at listings. When you pull up the interior photos, this is what you see:

and I don't mean to focus on just one house -- there are a bunch like this.

Are you feeling the dream slip away just a little bit? Are you disappointed? Were you hoping for something a little more "Sarah Richardson"?  And you walked into Miami Vice instead? Does this look like something you'd happily pay close to a million dollars for? Yes I realize that these are not California prices, but we're talking about the South here. In this price range you expect a lot.

In my efforts to plan this renovation, I have been checking out my theoretical "competition" by cruising Zillow and looking at pictures of million-dollar-lake-homes. Just to get the lay of the land, if you will.  Yes, the economy has been crap for a long time and there simply aren't that many buyers in this price range. So you have to work even harder to sell luxury real estate.  After searching MLS listings for a week, I am feeling both depressed and also hopeful about my chances at burning the comps.

{One night as I was flipping through photos of yet another 900k house on nice water - Prince Charming was sitting beside me and we saw a photo of a den with a wet bar. Someone had tried to force a mini fridge to fit inside an off-the-rack cabinet, but it was too deep so they turned it sideways and cut a hole in the side of the cabinet... and took the knob off the front door. It was awesome and terrible at the same time and I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. PC said "that could be us if we had slightly less awareness. It's very MacGuyver". What he meant to say is that he would totally do something like that if I wasn't here to stop him. ;)}
Posted by Katy On 10:35 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Friday, May 20, 2016

I know that I am the last person on earth to join Instagram but honestly - I don't love facebook so why would I jump on yet another sharing platform?  The thing is though, Instagram seems a lot easier to use for sharing photos of works-in-progress without having to write a whole blog post about it.
I am thinking of using Instagram to document the jackhammering and general construction chaos around here, since this place was mostly my nuerotic freak-out journal. Which I am sure that i will still need, never fear. :)
So far I like it better than facebook. Maybe Facebook and Twitter are for people who like to chat a lot (or get into online food fights), and Pinterest and Instagram are for the more visual? I like that I can follow all my arty friends and see their paintings and such, and also follow my favorite magazines... it's like Pinterest, only more personal. ? What do you think, and if you're on Instagram (and especially if you make art!!) say hello. We'll see how this goes.

Also, the jackhammering crew never actually showed up this week (like they said they would - LOL!)  so I have to see what's up with that. Still building a closet, and getting ready for my first anniversary trip with Prince Charming - we're going to the Dominican and I'm excited.

And here are my boards I threw together - I sent these to some local real estate experts to determine if my renovation plans would fly here. There aren't any houses like this on this lake, and I was worried that I was doing something that wouldn't be popular. Imagine that all the houses here are done in a very "Tuscan country estate" vibe, with loads of heavy dark wood and earthy stone and brick. I was trying to figure out if there was a market for my Frenchy-European-coastal-living vibe. ;)

I guess we're going to find out!

Posted by Katy On 7:39 PM 5 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, May 12, 2016

As if I have time for a hobby right?

wine making supplies (and granite that I want to rip out.)

Thankfully brewing wine in my bathtub doesn't actually require lots of work.

I took my herd of minions to the strawberry farm, where I ordered them to Pick Berries!! For Mommy's Wine Making!! They decided this was fun so my plan worked.
I do let them eat some of the berries of course. I have finally found a practical use for 4 pre-teens. (Other than lying in front of the TV and trashing the kitchen 8 times per day)
Next I will be taking my minions to the blueberry farm. Because I will make ALL THE FLAVORS!

Using a cooler for the "fermentation tank" was the easiest way for us to make multiple gallons without buying more buckets.

And since our creepy black bathtub is not used for anything but storage of paint supplies right now, AND it gets a lot of warm sunlight for toasty yeast production, it makes a good fermentation area.
After 5 days of fermenting, we tried to use the hydrometer to measure the alcohol but according to our reading (we might have screwed this up), we had rocket fuel so we racked it quickly:

It looked really cloudy at first but after 3 weeks:
it looks clear and we are getting ready to rack again.

I hope it works out. FINGERS CROSSED!
Posted by Katy On 12:38 PM 2 comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jackhammering up the patios is, so far, a disaster. We are in the process of coming up with Plan B. The concrete must come up, but it will require a crew of people to get it done unless we want to spend a year doing it ourselves. :( This is where the "time vs. money" equation bites us in the butt, and I'm regularly dreaming about snakes slithering through the house. Subtle, no?

This took forever. We do not have the time for this. !!
Seriously after 8 years of a crap economy (and it looks like things won't be getting better anytime soon) this is truly the most ridiculous real estate venture I've ever touched, and that's really saying something.

Me and PC must have a death wish. (high stakes gambling with houses!!! Hit me again!! wooo!!) I guess we were made for each other.

In other news: the 90s are totally back. Since this monstrosity was built in 1997ish, I was thinking about the house that my parents built in 1990... and we had a teal front door and gray siding exactly like this:
I have no idea where this is from it was on Pinterest.

we had lots of gray tile and gray carpet and gray linoleum and teal and PEACH decor. Seriously how can this already be back in style??? It's only been 16 years since the 90s! right?  Doesn't it take longer for people to love certain colors all over again?
The color of every single bridesmaids' dress in the 90s!!!!
for crying out loud!
Now all I need is a peach toilet and countertop in the bathroom and I will be 15 years old again!
 well at least the toilets are still white. sigh.

OH! and BRASS is back too, followed closely by copper:
I have no idea where this came from either.
 I am not ready for all this to be back in style. It seems like we just finally got throttled with "midcentury modern" everything, (Jetsons' style furniture on every single shelter mag and blog), and that was the trend in the 50's... it seems like the cycles are speeding up?

and why don't the 70s ever get any love?

Posted by Katy On 11:38 PM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I've upgraded to a tool that I'm not capable of using safely! I feel like this is a milestone of some sort, right?  Finally - I might need to call 911 if I turn this on. woo!

Before PC left for the airport (another work trip), he busted a hole in the side patio with a sledgehammer. Just to "Explore" the concrete, mind you.

His last words to me as he grabbed his laptop and headed out the door were: "Hey I need you to powerwash the dock so I can stain it this weekend - and buy a jackhammer, ok?"
side bacony/patio. Smallest area that needs to be removed so we are starting here. :/

I said "yeah ok". (I have bronchitis and 4 kids, no problem.) 

Later as he was boarding a plane somewhere, he texted me "did you get the jackhammer yet? :) "

And I said no, I'm still sitting here in my jammies, coughing up a lung.

I did finally get myself over to Northern Tool.

All I managed to do was haul the thing onto the patio, get half of it out of the box, and put the wheels on the cart. :/ IT'S SO HEAVY I CANNOT LIFT IT!

And we have miles acres entire vistas!!! of concrete to remove. ...... :(

... to be continued...

Posted by Katy On 2:00 PM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The irrigation system for this property is fed by the lake, which is the only reason we use it. If I had to pay for city water to keep this gigantic property green, it would be dead brown in a heartbeat. When I moved here last year I noticed that the sprinklers in the front yard appeared to be broken. According to PC, he believed that the cable guys had broken the pipe in one spot. Because his job/life demands were so ovewhelming after he bought this place, he had zero time for landscaping issues. We finally got around to fixing it this weekend.
Guess what? Both AT&T and Time Warner Cable had run cable here in the past, and both companies hit the irrigation pipes. We fixed the first one, then found the second one ---
when water burst out of the ground like a geyser. We fixed the second one, and then we found the THIRD spot ---

and this one pissed me off the most. Those jerks totally KNEW they destroyed the pipe, because an 18 inch section is completely missing and the cable runs right beside it. !!! We ended up digging way past dark in the mud, and I may or may not have been drinking and twisted my ankle when I fell in one of the holes. :)

So we fixed the third broken spot... turned the water on and waited for another geyser somewhere in the yard...
and discovered a couple of sprinkler heads we didn't know existed, when they suddenly shot out of the ground after years of lying useless.

We also cut down some more trees, and I'm still working on building the new closet. But I guess the biggest news is that PC and I have come to a decision on whether we are going to stay here and put the hard work and $$$ required into this Money Pit.

Honestly, I am tired, I have 4 kids who are still only one step above poop-throwing monkeys, and this house is gigantic and overwhelming. I voted to sell this wreck and buy something finished. PC vetoed this. He likes it here too much, and we've got 10 more years until all the kids are gone. I am making peace with this.. I am not excited but I don't have the energy to move again either. !!

I know that PC and I have the background and skills  - I'm just not sure if the energy/strength is going to hold out. This will be our final fixer-upper. The next place is going to be small and near a beach, but this time it will be much farther south than Tybee Island. :)
Posted by Katy On 10:12 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The builder just left - he was here with 3 different subs to discuss how on EARTH they can fix all of our concrete disasters without spending the equivalent of the national budget of Guam. Bless it. I feel a little panicky.

I'm supposed to be building a new master closet. Kinda like this one:

Except this is the room we started with:
So far we've filled in the big loft "holes", relocated the attic access in the ceiling, relocated the ceiling lights and vent, patched ceiling, pulled up some of the floor, etc:
and now I'm building the base of the new closets, which are going to look somewhat like this:

I never bothered learning sketchup since I have CAD, but that means my drawings aren't as cool. :)

For almost a year now I've been living out of boxes because the gigantic "Dressing Room" located off the master bath is the only place to store the gym equipment (NOT MINE), and also store a lot of other crap. I have plans for this room to be flexible--
For those of you who know PC in real life, don't tell him I posted a picture of our messy closet online. lol. He doesn't read this blog so he won't know!

I do not need a dressing room this size. I rotate my yoga pants (home attire) with my jeans (public attire). We need this to be more flexible so that it can function as a second home office, a "gym", or maybe a sewing/work room. (ha.) I thought I would build storage in here so that someone else could use this as a dressing room if they wanted, but for me it's not practical. I need a place for all my various equipment (not gym equipment. such a waste of space I think but whatEVAH.)

OK. SO I've been staring at a pile of 2X4's, trying to find my motivation this week. I had Lasik surgery a month ago (yay!) but then I had a rare complication (of course I did - you know it) and so I'm on round-the-clock steroid drops until it corrects itself. sweet.
Hope y'all are getting through the pollen blast and have planted some fun veggies by now!

Posted by Katy On 12:21 PM 2 comments READ FULL POST

About Me

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For many years I was a mechanical engineer and a single mom of 3. Suddenly I am now a married mom of 4 and I'm working full time on remodeling my latest gigantic project (lake house). I previously built a tiny house on Tybee Island that I sold in 2015, and I'm always designing and building the unexpected. Stop by for the house stuff, stay for the panic attacks. (kidding. maybe. ha. ha....)

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