Friday, February 28, 2014

Goals Year Three: One Year Later

I'm a little late writing the completion post for my third year of goals. Frankly, I think I have been putting it off as I am a little disappointed with not having completed as many as I would have liked. That said, I can pick out a few I went above and beyond on that help me justify a productive and exciting 2013. 

Some of my stand outs:

  • Visited 8 new states in 2013 (Count 'em up: Virginia, Utah, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maryland).
  • Purged over 200 items from our house between a September yard sale and Salvation Army donations throughout the year.
  • Sold 6 of my sets of Every Holiday Blocks (4 on Etsy, which includes an awesome review from one of the purchasers!). 
  • Our laundry room makeover is complete!


Culture Vulture
1. Read 15 books - Book club always helps out with this goal. Although without the 1-2-3 punch of The Hunger Games books this year, how quickly will I be able to add these up?
The Forgotten 500 - a WWII book club pick that most said was too textbooky, but I liked. I considered it a cross between Unbroken, Argo and In the Garden of Beasts.
The Accidental Tourist - enjoyed this one. Looks like its time I put the movie on my Netflix list. 
Lottery - a bit schmaltzy for my taste, but a quick read.
Lean In - great book club discussion and a business book I actually enjoyed reading! 
Telegraph Avenue - Michael Chabon wins me back after a couple not-so-greats (in my opinion).
World War Z - a realistically written oral history. Sad that the movie version didn't take the same approach. Could have been amazing.
The Last Lecture - a little different than I initially thought it would be, but great reminders to go after what you want in life.
Beautiful Ruins - time travel (well, not literally) to 1960s Italian coastline. Would be a dream.
Summer at Tiffany - a nice little story about a young woman's adventurous summer in NYC. Not much substance, but nice none the less.
Wild - a woman hiking the PCT, read days after returning from our own hike along the Appalachian. We did two hours, she did three months. 
Sunnyside - A story about war, movies, relationships Charlie Chaplin and Rin Tin Tin. Sometimes a bit hard to follow, but all in all good stuff from the author of Carter Beats the Devil.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Don't let the strange title stop you from picking this one up.
Four Fish - follow the stories of tuna, cod, salmon and sea bass. Makes you think about where our food is coming from: the wild or the farm?
Man's Search for Meaning - amazing first read from a Leadership Forum I am part of. Could change one's outlook on life.
The Fault in Our Stars - I'm almost done with this book club read. I'm not sure I like it as much as I would have liked. 

2. Watch 120 movies - The Netflix queue never has had less than 100 movies on it (yes, we still rock the hard discs in the mail). 
My list shows 113, but I know there were several documentaries and a few flicks thrown in that I neglected to do reviews for, so I feel good about saying that I hit this one pretty close if not over! Plus, we got through all 5 seasons (100 episodes) of the amazing show Fringe. That's gotta count for some extra credit, right?

3. Two trips to the theater - We just got back from The Book of Mormon after originally purchasing the tickets last summer. I can't stop singing the soundtrack. Of course, not out loud - I might get fired!
In April we saw a friend's play in Baltimore - the closest degree of separation I've had from the people who put on stage shows! 
 We saw John Oliver at the Chicago Theater in October - an anniversary gift from me to Bob.
Finally went to the ballet in Chicago! Saw The Nutcracker this holiday season.

4. Visit two museums - last year we checked out the Lichtenstein exhibit at the Art Institute - what's coming up there this year?
Certainly got my fill in DC. Highlights included the Newseum and American History Museum. We also visited the Art Institute in August as part of an anniversary celebration. Also got to the Shedd Aquarium for some fishy action.

5. Travel to three new cities - Work always helps me out here, with a planned trip this summer to Park City for an event. Add to this a potential DC/Baltimore visit in April and our big New England Road Trip for the fall and this one is in the bag.
DC - check! Baltimore - check! And several cities throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine put this one into extra credit zone (Killington, Burlington, Concord, Meredith, Portland, Bar Harbor and Kennebunk to name a few!). Amazingly, I hit up 8 new states in 2013 including Virginia, Utah, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Indiana, Arizona and Maryland!

6. Book an international trip - OK, this might be one that gets put on the back burner, but hopefully not. With our New England Road Trip being our big to-do this year, here's hoping we'll have at least started talking about what 2014 has in store for us. Fingers crossed I finally get to cross South America off of my list!
While I suppose I can count a work trip to Toronto, the real excitement is coming up: Peru at the end of March!

7. Have a day of fun and culture with my niece - She's nearing four years old - the perfect age to check out the Shedd Aquarium if I do say so myself.
She is certainly a crafter off the ole block! We're planning a sleepover with her in these next couple months, so I've got to start stocking up now on my construction paper and supplies. 

How Entertaining
8. Take a knife skills class - Okay, I'm cheating just a little here because we just accomplished this long-standing goal this past week at The Chopping Block. Never fear me with a chef's knife again!
Done!

9. Make bread and cheese - We received a breadmaker as a wedding gift, and although it has gotten quite a bit of use already it has been driven by Mr. Kamicar. I'd like to find a couple recipes to try out. The idea of making my own mozzarella keeps popping up on Pinterest and I figure its time to give it a shot.
Didn't get to either of these, but I did buy a lot of bread and cheese from the local farmer's market. Does that count?

10. Invest in freezer meals - My recipes posts as of late have certainly had a theme - and our freezer is reaping the rewards. Keep 'em coming with at least 4 more meals like these breakfast burritos or this delish pasta.
Spent a long weekend making meatballs and sauce to freeze and later a chicken noodle soup. One more round of breakfast burritos is currently in our freezer and my tried and true Velvety Squash Soup found its way to the freezer this winter.

11. Host 3 parties - With the wedding yesterday's news, I am ready to plan a few smaller scale bashes. Not to mention we still have a ton of liquor left over from the reception.
Summer Party centered around my Birthday was a success. Our Harvest Party 2013 was great fun. Throughout the year I also hosted book club and a bunco night and we had a number of relatives over for Bob's grandmother's birthday party this past July!

12. Clean up as we go - I'm sure I am not the only one with this bad habit. I make a great meal and the dishes sit in the sink. Sometimes rinsed off, sometimes not. Why don't I just put them in the dishwasher you ask? Well, it is probably filled up with clean dishes we haven't put away yet! It is time to clean as we cook. I think we'll all be a lot happier in the end.
We have been doing a great job with this one! It is finally relaxing to look into the kitchen.

Health and Wellness
13. Cut down on soda - I don't think I overdue it to begin with - I'm not guzzling three before noon or anything, but some days I realized all I have had to drink that day is a soda for lunch and a soda with dinner and I get a little sad for myself.
I think I have done decent on this one, trying to drink different things and even filling up my water bottle at work every once in awhile!

14. Run another 5K - I failed miserably at hitting this goal last time. Literally got out to run three times since my big 5K of 2010. But I'm not giving up on me yet.
Not even close.

15. Safeguard - I'm talking wills, emergency plans and kits, checking out life insurance and all that good stuff you really don't ever want to tackle.
I started making an emergency kit, but it didn't really go anywhere. Need to figure out some motivation to get this one done.

16. Make appointments - It is a strange thing. I'm not scared of the dentist, I don't shudder at needles, and I can't say I am that bothered by wasting time in a stale waiting room reading an old Ladies Home Journal. What I am is a procrastinator. The type who doesn't make a dentist appointment until half her tooth breaks off because the temporary filling on the root canal she had seven months ago finally gives out. True Story. So, let 2013 be the year I make regular check up appointments for no other reason than keeping up with  keeping my health.
Well, the boys got taken to the vet and we found out they both need teeth extracted because of decay! I'll make a quick plug for oral care dry food, because I'm wishing we would have gone that route. . .other than that, I haven't been very good. Very behind on the dentist. . .



17. Eat more Fruits and Vegetables - Wait, how many servings a day are you supposed to have? Does pizza count? What about cold pizza? I'm thinking an easy way to start is to never leave home in the morning without a small container of grapes, carrot sticks, apple pieces, etc for snacks during the workday.
Check out my DIY Bistro Boxes. The snack packs continue most weeks, at least when I remember to go to the grocery store to stock up.

18. Wake up earlier - I sleep until the last possible second and then rush to get ready for work without time to even sit down. The sad part is I am not even sleeping that last hour. Just shutting my eyes and curling up tight to avoid getting up. If I can find a way to give myself an extra half hour at least a couple times a week I think I'll be a happier camper.
Sort of making this work - I definitely don't feel as rushed as I used to, but I could use a little more prodding in the morning! On weekends, however, I have definitely been getting up earlier. There is no better feeling than having most of your Saturday errands done by 10am!

Adventures in DIY and Home Ownership

19. The Second Bathroom - This could be a big one for the year - but luckily it is a small bathroom. A little bit of new floor tile, a pedestal sink, add some storage and we will be good to go.
Ideas have been forming and this is our "next big project" after the laundry room. Stay tuned!


20. Pinterest Projects - use the knowledge base and take on at least one new project a month based on the wonderful pins that make the world go round. Last year I made a rug and a project table. What will I find this year?
Nothing as huge as the shag rug, but some of my projects included a Halloween Diorama, Christmas Card Inspiration, Harvest Party recipes, an Easter centerpiece, Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese, and Christmas Present Tags

21. The Entryway - A small area, but with three potential additions: 1) hooks along the wall for coats and scarves. 2) a bench for putting on our dancin' shoes before heading out the door. 3) a small table with an option to collect our junk mail, keys and such.
The church pew is here! More to come. . .

22. Learn how to sew - the sewing machine Bob's mom got us for Christmas a couple years ago sits forlornly in my Project Table shelves. But, come March, my Aunt Christine will be heading down for ScrapFest 2013 (check out the 2012 festivities when my crafty aunt, sister and I all get together) and she's going to impart some knowledge.
Done! With a Halloween banner to prove it. 

23. Do something with all those Yarn Balls - I have 150 from our wedding centerpieces. So far I have used 1 to create a cute felt owl. Now I have 149. All ideas are welcome. 
I made 6 more of those felt owls and sold a half dozen at our yard sale. Still lots to go.

24. Pillows, pillows everywhere - It is a sad home indeed when you don't love any of your pillows. The couch pillows are flat and boring (and once so new and bright in this post!). Our bed pillows misshapen and unsupportive. It's time to upgrade.
Thanks to two generous gifts (completely unrelated, interestingly enough), our entryway bench now has two India-inspired pillows. We also recently splurged on our bedding and brought home two beautiful king-sized and down-filled firm pillows for the bed. A trip to Garden Ridge gave us two new couch pillows (and a new ottoman!)

25. The Laundry Room - like the Second Bathroom, this one takes a bit of doing. Our laundry room is less a room, and more a "large closet" but the walls go vertical forever so visions of a stacked washer and dryer and shelving as high as the eye can see for additional storage has had our wheels turning for quite some time. And, of course, we'll keep it classy with the cat litter box.
Done and Done! Check out our mini-series of posts: Getting a plan together and installing the washer, setting up the dryer and shelving, and the benefits of extra storage as demonstrated by our newly clean coat closet.

26. Build a hamper - this sort of goes along with the Laundry Room re-do, but our current method for collecting dirty clothes is by shoving a laundry basket in the corner of our bathroom. The cats have adopted this as their new bed. The idea is to use all of the wasted space against our bathroom wall and create an enclosed hamper with additional storage.
I knew this was a risky one to commit to. Nothing accomplished here, but perhaps soon?

Professional and Personal Development
27. Start driving in the city - Okay, so you can drive to your sister's house in the suburbs. That don't impress me much! Yeah, yeah Shania - I hear what you're saying. It's time to get over the fear and start tackling city driving (=one way streets, parallel parking and crazy Chicago cab drivers!)
I drove in my sister's new hometown. A bit white knuckled but a good start. . .need to do better here!

28. Volunteer once a month - Between dinners at Ronald McDonald House and a couple different Chicago Cares activities, it's just a matter of remembering to sign up months in advance!
Tuesday was always my volunteer day and I've been spending them as of late at my Second City writing class. Hmm, time to stop making excuses since I definitely didn't get something in once a month.

29. Donate to 3 charities/fundraising activities - Lets help some people out in the things they are fighting for, or fighting against.
Supported Global Explorers Kids by going to a benefit fundraiser on a recent Friday night with friends. Our company raises money every holiday season for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. I contributed to a department "Favorite Things" basket with a restaurant gift card. I'll "contribute vicariously" through Bob, who donated a day of his time and some dollars to the Alzheimer's Association's Longest Day.

30. Get better about birthdays - I'm not sure what happened. I used to be the one who always remembered a card, sent a gift at least a couple days in advance or generally kept your big day on my mind. 
I don't feel good about this one. I still feel as though I scramble to send a card on time. I'll think about what can make a positive impact to keep this one going.

31. Finish scrapbooks - I have kept scrapbook photo albums since freshman year of college (and scrapbooks in general since kindergarten) so it is a bit shameful that I haven't made my wedding scrapbook yet, let alone added any photos to the books since Christmas 2011. Yikes.
The wedding book is finally done! Now I need to set aside some time with my "life" album. Is this the year I finally catch up?

32. 80 blog posts - I have had a lackluster year in the post department - hopefully I can commit myself to at least a post a week and sometimes more to help keep the momentum up!
56 total from February 1 - January 31. Could be better, but I found myself without as many projects to focus on this year. I'm ready to kick this back up a notch!

Money Matters
33. Have at least 2 "no-spend" weekends - I wrote about one of these a long time ago in this post. I came close last weekend, but we had a quick run to Whole Foods which bumped us up to $30. It is amazing the dent it helps take out of our credit card bill when we decide against a drive to the suburbs for the day which results in going out for lunch, hitting up the stores, etc.
Achieved one of these right after Christmas. We ate lots of leftover pizza in the fridge and even got out of the house a bit. I'm going to ignore the fact that three days later we put a new washer and dryer on the credit card!

34. Achieve money goals - Bob and I set up a somewhat lofty savings goal for our first two years of marriage (you know, to prepare for....well, whatever might come next after love and marriage!) Let's stick with it Kamicars!
Doing very well here, although a bathroom remodel or big splurge on lighting could trip us up a bit in 2014.

35. Sell those blocks - I recently set up my Etsy shop for my Every Holiday Blocks. I am not sure how much like hotcakes they'll sell, but let's at least try to get them to sell like the tiny pancakes you make with that little bit of extra batter.
3/17/13 - 2 sold!
2 more sold before Christmas via Etsy. Woohoo!
2 more sold in February 2014!

36. Donate at least 1 bag of clothes - I think I do a good job regularly purging my closet, so keep it up. Bonus: this means more room for new clothes that you like to wear!
Done! We also took part in a family yard sale this past September, which helped me purge even more from our house.

Finally

36.5 The Standard Goal: Be a terrific Auntie to the best girls around! And a good wife, a good daughter, a good sister, a good co-worker, a good friend. . . .
No complaints so far. . .and Bob and I survived Year One of marriage!




Next up, determine my 2014 goals!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Closet Case

An added benefit of our new and improved laundry room storage solutions? Less junk filling up other areas of the house! In no time at all, the top shelf of our closet went from this:
To this: (apparently, I also learned how to turn the closet light on for better photos!)
The canvas bin holds scarves and gloves and various winter-wear. The other items include a few tablecloths that will slowly find a new home (can't wait for our linen closet in our renovated second bathroom down the road!) and 2 pull out drawers from our kitchen cabinets we didn't end up needing. I'm sure I can find a more suitable place for those in our storage area. 

We took some time to go through everything on the floor of the coat closet and discovered just how much we had accumulated in our tool/junk boxes over the last couple years. 
Weeks earlier I had started this clear out process of the coat closet floor by getting rid of two plastic crates that were taking up tons of room and weren't really serving much purpose. It was a little bittersweet. I bought the crates my freshman year of college and for years they served as my poor man's nightstand, with one stacked on the other and a scarf draped over the top. This was my humble attempt at decor at age 19.
photo source
Here's the frightening before photo of "the box":
Bob took this one on last Saturday afternoon. We also pulled out a bin from our media center that held tons of cords, plugs and electronic stuff. As usual, the cats did their fair share of helping organize.
I had an extra plastic bin handy, so we replaced the cardboard box that had somehow survived the last two moves and purged the wiring that no longer worked, the chargers that had nothing to charge and a bunch of old or expired home repair items.

Bob separated out any wiring or electronics and we dropped them off to recycle at our local Best Buy. The rest went in the trash or in a bin to keep in our storage unit (lesser needed items like extension cords and extra cable)

The bin now sits on the closet floor and holds a smaller plastic shoebox sized bin containing screws, nails and all that DIY goodness, flashlights and batteries, tape, spackle and sandpaper and much more. Better than a cardboard box.
Besides the toolboxes, our drills and this bin, the only other thing we needed to make room for was the vacuum cleaner. It's much more accessible than it used to be, though that hasn't made the prospect of vacuuming any more exciting to me. . .
I must be on an elfa roll after finishing our laundry room because I love the idea of maximizing the space in this closet even more. We could easily pack away our winter coats in the summer and spring coats in the winter to give us half of the space back for vertical shelving. As it is, Bob and I are neck and neck with 10 coats each hanging up. We also have all our our reusable grocery bags hanging from a few hangers at the end. 

Here's the basic idea of what I'm thinking we could make work:
photo source
Long term though, we'd love to remove those goofy accordion doors and put a barn door entrance to the closet. We certainly have the wall space on the one side of the closet to do this and an attractive door could double as "art." That big green wall is just too large for any of our pieces we've tried to find homes for so it remains blank and expansive.
And seeing photos like this on Pinterest are enough to make one swoon 
I better not get ahead of myself. . .that project may need to wait it's turn until 2015. . .

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Laundry Room Makeover - Dryer'd and Shelf'd

The plot thickens. After a week with our new washing machine in place, it was time for another weekend full of laundry room projects!
First up, the dryer. I mentioned in the last post that we didn't want to attempt to install it ourselves and chance messing up the gas line. I found a few local appliance repair shops in the area via Yelp and called for quotes. A couple didn't even do installations, which narrowed down my search. After a couple days, we had someone booked to come out to get our old dryer disconnected, new dryer fixed up and the vents cleaned out. Bright and early on a Saturday morning, the old dryer was moved out of its home and put in temporary storage in our garage space. 
The floor was swept up and later bleached and mopped to match the left side which got the same treatment the week before. This also allowed me to reach all of the water heater pipes to give them a good dusting with a wet cloth. Years of dust had built up back there. But don't say we didn't reap a reward for all of the work. A dollar twenty seven found in the debris.
Our new dryer has a steam function, so we hooked up an extra hose from the cold water tap using a Y connector we picked up at Home Depot.
A new dryer vent hose was added, the gas line turned back on and Bob and the technician lifted with their legs to get the dryer stacked on top of the washing machine. The room was starting to come together!
It turns out those model numbers are even sneakier than I originally thought (recall we bought different models washer and dryer from separate online sources). I had ordered a kit to secure the appliances together from the back, for safe stacking, but it turns out the connector was a little on the short side. A follow up order to Amazon was quickly placed. This part is yet to be done, but key to helping keep our dryer in place.

Okay, now onto the fun part: The Container Store's elfa sale! We measured and configured to create a plan for how many shelves we could get to store the most stuff in our new and improved laundry closet. 

We walked into the Container Store expecting to buy white shelving, but after seeing it in action, we had second thoughts. The appliances were white and the walls were white. How much whiteness could one handle?
But we didn't want the typical wood color either. And then this display walked into our lives:
The grayish brown tones would add a bit of color to the laundry room, without going overboard. We sketched out our needs and sent the worker to the back to load all of our new shelves up!
Here's what we ended up with: 
4 25x16 shelves for along the side wall
4 24x20 shelves to span across the top of the dryer (2 rows)
2 84" hang standards
1 60" hang standard (for the far left side)
1 56" top track
8 packages of 2 shelf spacers
6 large shelf brackets
8 smaller shelf brackets
2 packages of drywall and plaster anchors

We saved over $100 with the 30% elfa sale going on, which clocked us in at about $260 before taxes for all of these goodies. Although we think we are going to return one of the shelves, as we ended up liking how spaced out the three smaller sized ones are.

We got it all home and started to unwrap our goodies. Bob pencil marked how high the top track should go and the hardest part of the job began. We found that a few of our attempts to drill thwarted, and it took Bob several tries and our masonry drill bit to get the job done.  Fun fact: it was Superbowl Sunday, hence the Elway jersey. Sadly, Bob's Broncos could not deliver him the win that evening.
One little outlet made most of the track placement decisions for us. The outlet is placed smack dab in the middle of the wall, which meant the metal track for hanging the shelves had to go on either the left or right side of it. Too far to the left, and it would be behind the washing machine. Too far to the right, and the shelves would run into the water heater. So we had one exact spot that we could start our shelves at.

After that, though, it was quite simple. The hangs were hung, the brackets were bracketed and the shelves were shelfed. We played around with the heights a bit, thinking about what would go on each shelf. We could have gone even higher for the top shelf, save for us not being able to reach anything we put up there even with a step stool!
Then came the shelf styling! We knew the cat litter box would go on the floor underneath the shelving, so the bottom shelf (as low as it could go because of the dryer venting and gas line) hold our scoop and whatnot for cleaning out the box. The next shelf up contains cleaning products and laundry detergents. I used a blue and cream hue-d bin bought at Target a long time ago to hold most of the stuff, aside from the main stuff we always grab.
Finally, a place for our bulk buy of paper towel! I robbed from Peter to pay Paul by dumping out a green canvas bin of hats to hold the extra rolls. I eventually found another bin to hold onto our hats, so they only stayed dumped out on our closet floor for a few hours. Next up, the real "long term" storage begins. Above the dryer we have various coolers, aerobed, sleeping bag and cat carriers. Things are pretty spaced out at this stage, leaving us plenty of room for more.
With everything in place, the room had finally taken shape!
In retrospect, we probably could have gotten away with 30" shelves across the top left as opposed to 24". However, with our outlet issue in mind, it would have been cutting it extremely close to the wall edge, so we are thinking we are better off having bought the way we did. This also allows us to buy something very skinny and very tall to lean against that edge. Hmmm. . .what would it be?
But wait, there's more! Not wanting to deal with brooms and mops lazily leaning against the inside wall, we looked for hanger options to keep them in place. The Container Store gave us this heavy duty beauty, the Grook, for $20. We got it up on the wall and quickly filled in the slots with our cleaning tools.
What makeover post would be complete without a before and after shot?
The only things outstanding are a hook system to hang up the ironing board, and placement of some art on the left wall to color things up a bit. Stay tuned for developments there, but in the meantime - won't you join me on my entryway bench as I stare at my new laundry room??

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Laundry Room Makeover - A Plan and a New Washing Machine

I guess it was meant to be. 

Bob and I spent the holidays listing out our intended 2014 house projects to determine what we would be tackling first. I pushed for the second bathroom, while he had his sights set on a new kitchen sink (and the new kitchen to go with it!). Then, fate intervened when our washing machine decided to make like a broken top and forget how to spin. Ahh, nothin' like a good "top" joke!

We thought it was a fluke when we found one load of laundry soaking wet at the end of the wash cycle, but quickly realized that the clothes weren't spinning, instead just sitting in soapy water for 20 minutes until the draining mechanism kicked in. So, I made like a Pioneer Woman and wrung out our duds in the bathtub until they were somewhat ready for the dryer. The next day we started trolling the web for a new Washer and Dryer set.

We have a subscription to Consumer Reports which helped us sift through the hundreds of makes, models and modes of W/Ds out there. We knew three things: a) we wanted stackable; b) we wanted front loaders and c) we wanted quiet. We eventually landed on the Whirpool Duet as a cost effective and attractive option. 
First, some background on our laundry room. We count ourselves very lucky that in a city condo we have more than just a closet that holds the machines with no room for anything else. We are instead blessed with a couple rows of wire shelving and room for our cats' litter box, in addition to our water heater and utilities. But here's the thing. The door opens to the inside which instantly loses us some space along the wall.  This makes loading the washing machine or grabbing the ironing board from behind the door difficult.
Knowing that we wanted front loaders, the door had to say goodbye. At a 90 degree angle, the open washer door would interfere with the door to the room, plus we wanted to make sure we used all of the available space to our advantage. So we removed the door, with eventual plans to put in a pocket door. Let this serve as our "before shot."
I placed an order for the washing machine through Sears.com, making sure to go through the ShopDiscover link on our Discover card website so we can get additional cashback on the purchase. We marked it for pick up at the nearest Sears, not wanting to spring for delivery or installation charges. This also gave us the excuse to run to Home Depot and buy a hand cart that will surely be used for years to come for house projects and moves!
We hemmed and hawed a bit longer when it came to the dryer. We have a gas hook-up, which already was a bit more expensive an option. Somehow we stumbled onto the Sears Outlet website and found a few good options. The site let us "name our own price" so we trial and error'd this until the site accepted our offer. We ended up saving at least $600 going this route. The only caveats? The purchase was a floor model with a small scratch at the bottom and we had to drive out to Naperville to pick it up. Ahh well, it gave us the excuse to make a day of it out in the 'burbs. 
Oh, yes, one more catch. We ended up buying a different model dryer because of this deal. Those model numbers are sneaky like that! The main difference ends up being that the dryer has a white swoosh across the top and the washer has a silver swoosh. Both models do have chrome rimmed drums, so the differences are truly minor to us.

The dryer sat in our hallway for a couple weeks until we had an installer come out to help us. Although in the end turning off the gas line was literally a flick of the switch, I was concerned about us trying to do this ourselves and blowing up the building. We maximized the technician's visit by having him clean our dryer vents. Which is a job I am sure a lot of people skip, but if you read any home maintenance sites you will be scared to death of the fire hazard these lint traps pose! But more on the dryer install in the next post. . .

So while the dryer sat waiting to be installed, we knew we needed this washer in place, like, the second we had it in hand! We had not yet broken down and gone to the laundromat yet, but the clothes pile in our hamper was nearing epic proportions.
Using our new handy dandy hand cart, We finagled the washer into our apartment and unpacked it. But wait! I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we needed to get rid of the existing machine. It currently sits in our storage area in the garage, waiting to go up to appliance heaven. We just need to do some research about our best options for where to drop it off.
Bob unhooked the nozzles and hoses and pulled the washer out of its space. Years of dirt, dust, lint and general grossness greeted us from behind the machine. This was made ten times worse by the soapy, standing water in the drain pipe getting dumped out onto an old towel. I started gagging as soon as I started cleaning the floor up. It. Was. Disgusting.
After the floor was sweeped, bleached and mopped, Bob got to work on adding new hoses to the cold and hot water taps. Everything I read suggested that new hoses should be installed when you put in a new system, so we ran to the Ace down the block and bought new tubes.
And then we went back to Ace and bought the right tubes.
With everything in place, including the drain hose, We pushed the washer into the spot and plugged 'er in. 
As you can see below, we also got a step ahead by taking down the wire shelving. I said goodbye to most of those empty boxes that were on the second shelf and we found other homes for the rest of it. My habit of keeping boxes from products stems from wanting to have organized moves. When I was able to put the tea kettle back in its original box with each move I was a happy camper. However, this meant I needed to move and store a cardboard tea kettle box five different times. I finally purged. 

Visions of The Container Store's 30% elfa sale danced in our heads. . . 
5 loads of laundry later, we smiled contently knowing we were a third of the way there. Stay tuned for the how-to's on our dryer installation and shelf styling! Until then, just know that I have spent at least a full hour since Sunday morning sitting on our entryway bench staring at our new and improved laundry room!