Archive for May, 2011

Goodbye, Unemployment

Dear Unemployment,

It is with bittersweet feelings that I write this note to you.  Over these past two months, we’ve really gotten to know each other.  We had some good times, right?  We traveled to New York City for a week of improv class at UCB Theater and hung out with Roy in Brooklyn.  We traveled to Los Angeles for a week of reuniting with my planner friends, spending a bit of time on the beach and recalling my planning roots.  We got some projects done around the house, including a good start on a kitchen remodel.  We entertained out of town visitors like Dave, Hirman and Christian.  I directed my first movie, and you were there to support me through it all giving me the time and space I needed to be creative.  We frequented the library and the free small business seminars.  We had lunch with my full-time employed friends, and spent most of it making them jealous.  I even managed to lose a few pounds, which doesn’t typically happen when I’m, ahem, involved.  And don’t get me started on the lazy mornings in bed together…

Yes, it’s been fun.  I wasn’t sure how we would get along at the beginning, but we made it work.  You were thrust upon me, surprisingly out of nowhere like a dreaded blind date that turned out more than okay.  We became a team, and anything was possible together.  Yes, I worried how I would afford our next date sometimes, but you listened when I said I had a budget to keep.  You understood me.

But tonight is our last night together.  As of tomorrow, I will be leaving you and getting into a committed relationship with your much older brother, Full-time Career.  I have high hopes for my future with him.  It’s just that I’ve known him longer and had a history with him before you came along.  I hope you understand.  He’s really all I know.  I’m looking forward to rekindling what we had before you came along to shake up my life.

And while I will always remember our spring fling, I have to do what’s right for me.  With him I feel mature, capable, responsible and needed.  I am free to be myself and travel the world with him.  I love myself more with him.  Sadly, I’ll be back to the land of the early bedtimes and setting my alarm.  But I will always remember the awesome times we had and how creative I felt with you.  I will always look back on this time in my life fondly with love.  I will miss you.

All my love,

Megan

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Kitchen Remodel Day 2: Budget Buster!

Day 2, Friday, started off well.  I immediately booked an electrician and plumber for the day, much to my surprise.  That was helpful for my daily stress level.  I took a quick trip to Mickey D’s for breakfast…I can totally see why people in construction keep a large soda nearby.  What’s a construction zone without a few empty McDonald’s cups hanging around? And man, those chicken biscuits are slammin’.

We had our daily plan all laid out.  My first task was to purchase a dishwasher.  I drove to the Sears Outlet allll the way out in Prince William County.  I was armed with a box – literally a rectangular prism – with four lists, one for each of the long sides.  I listed all the qualities I wanted in a dishwasher on one side.  I knew I wanted a Kenmore, white, 24″ built-in, plus other qualifications like a time delay, eco wash options, and very quiet.  Another side had a list of Consumer Reports Kenmore models listed in order for 2011 and 2010.  Still another side had a list of a few of the models I found online.  The final side had directions in case my phone died.

On my way to the store, my Dad let me know that both the plumber and the electrician were working on the kitchen.  Jackpot!

I looked and looked and looked for a dishwasher.  Yes, I’m indecisive, but there were so many choices!  And some of them were refurbished, so there was an extra layer of complexity.  I kept hearing Mike’s sage advice, “At some point, you just pick one.”  Done.  Don’t worry Aunt Bonnie, I ended up buying a new one still in the box.  It is hot.  Not quite as hot as my sink.  (I never knew I could love an object that couldn’t love me back!  That sink is hot.)  But the dishwasher is sexy, too.  I think I’ll leave them both a surprise for now.

Today was a budget busting day, for sure.  It ain’t cheap to have a plumber and electrician come visit you.  Then to buy a sassy dishwasher on top of that.  Whew!  And now I’m extremely thankful that I will have income incoming soon.  I probably would have bought a cheaper dishwasher, but the plumbers and electricians had to come (piece of mind that my house won’t have hidden leaks or burst into flames).  Have I mentioned how pretty my dishwasher is?

Since the electrician had to string a wire each for the new microwave range hood and the dishwasher, there were many holes in the wall to be patched.  Turns out one wall is standard drywall, but the other is lathe and plaster!  How exciting to have such old walls!

I spent the afternoon at the DC Dump taking care of a few pieces left over from the previous kitchen that didn’t find a new home and couldn’t be recycled.  Seriously, what city service has 4.5/5.0 stars on Yelp?  What city service has any reviews on Yelp?  Then, the lumber department at Home Depot was so empty that after waiting 15 minutes for someone to cut my plywood, I called the store to get a sales person to help.  Called.  No one picked up, then I finally spotted someone in an orange apron.  By the time I got home, it was around 6:00pm, so not much left in the day.  Haha!  Not true.  Dad and I made a subfloor!  That was fun.  Two sheets of plywood and about five different rounds of measuring and cutting and testing.  The cutting situation is us on the sidewalk holding the plywood on the retaining wall with our hands while using the table saw.  It takes two for public chaos folks.

Mike arrived for reinforcements!  Dad kept patching the walls, Mike got a bunch of drywall mud and I got dinner for the crew.  We finished up the patching, then I got to writing.  And now it’s now.  Late.  Almost 2:00 a.m. and I’m watching some of the saddest Oprah episodes from this last season while catching up on my DVR.  As if I don’t have other things to do.

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Kitchen Remodel Day 1: Woof!

Not a blog post about cute dogs, but rather about taking apart a kitchen.  Woo hoo!  Dad got to DC no problem, and we pretty much got right to work around 4:00 on Thursday afternoon. I spent the previous day cleaning out the kitchen and playing tetris trying to store it in the living room.  There is stuff everywhere, including under the sofa and packed under the kitchen table.  Everywhere.

Demo Day wasn’t anything like you see on HGTV with hammers and pieces flying all over the place and breaking camera lenses.  No, no, this was tame.  The upper cabinets came down pretty easily.  They were dirty and gross and sticky so we cleaned them up a bit.  Icky.

The bottom cabinets were tougher to remove, mostly because they were secured to the wall with some bit of bubbly foamy adhesive stuff and hidden nails.  That’s when we used hammers and brute force.  Oh yeah!  We put the cabinets on the sidewalk and marked them as “Free” and “Take me home” so hopefully someone would put them to good use.

Part of the fun is discovering what’s behind what’s “permanent”.  Under the cabinets on the floor was a subfloor, but no tile.  In other words, they tiled to (and just a little bit under) the cabinets.  Guess we’ll have to do something about that.

Dad and I got Taylor Gourmet for dinner, including an extra foot long that we saved for lunch the next day.  Yum.  We returned to find someone had taken one of the cabinets.  By the end of the night, another one was gone.  By the next morning, another one was gone.  Hopefully my neighbors will enjoy them and put them to good use!

I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night.  Once we uncovered the plumbing for the sink, we realized the lines came out directly where the new cabinet was going to go.  Reroute the plumbing?  Ugh.  I would have to find a plumber quickly on Friday morning.  My electrician was also unable to come on Friday because of  a death in the family, so I would scramble for an electrician, too.  That kept me up.

So, this is how my kitchen ended up on Thursday night…

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The Kitchen Plan

I wouldn’t be PlannerMegan without a plan, right?  Now that you’ve seen the “before” photos and seen just how drastically unorganized and chaotic the kitchen it, it’s time to share what’s going to happen in that tiny little room that feeds us.

The objectives:

  • Add a dishwasher
  • Increase storage with larger cabinets (going from 24″ to 42″ cabinets with doors will make a huge difference)
  • Increase counter top area by replacing the large sink with a smaller one
  • Add a range hood
  • Gain functionality, space and organization

I’m only working along the one wall to keep costs down.  Plus, I like the wall with the open shelving and butchers block storage.  There may be one or two surprises for that arrangement, but for the most part it stays as is.

The Appliances.  I have some major rearranging plans for the mid-term, so I’m not sure how long this kitchen may last.  For now, the fridge and stove stays.  They work just fine, fit with the new style and it would not be that environmentally friendly to just buy new ones for the sake of buying new ones.  I hate when remodels are advertised as environmentally friendly and they replace stuff that could be reused.  I also bought a used microwave and hope to buy a used dishwasher, so that should help keep costs down and less junk in the landfill.  If any of the appliances break, I’ll think about replacing them with new.  We’ll see.

The Workers.  I have a great three man crew ready for action!  This crew includes my Dad, HiM and me.  Yup, we’re doing it ourselves.  I have an electrician scheduled for Friday to make sure we can add a dishwasher and microwave to the wall without issues.  HiM will install the rest of the electrical, and the three of us will do everything else.  How fun is that?  I’m really pumped because I know we’ll make a great team.  Corby has also offered to stop by to help, but Corey just wants to get the hell out of dodge.  Bless his heart.  I don’t blame him.  If anyone else wants to assist, let me know!

The Schedule.  We really only have four days to do this since I start my new job on Monday, May 23rd.  Yeah, no pressure. We’ve pushed the renovation date back a few times.  I remember telling my parents back in early April that I didn’t want to push it back too far because I might be working full time, and they laughed at me!  Now who knows what she’s talking about?  But no worries.  Dad will still be here during the day to get things done, so no issues there.  And I’ll probably save the back splash project for another weekend, unless this weekend goes so swimmingly that I have extra time.  Of course I would like to just have it completely done, but it’s okay if there are still projects even if I’m terrible at finishing those projects later.

Break it down (I hope to blog the progress every day)

  • Wednesday – clear out kitchen, create make-shift kitchen. Goal: completely empty by the end of the day.  Oh, and get my hair done and give killer improv show at Yola at 7:30.  Priorities!
  • Thursday – demo day.  Goal: old cabinets removed, tile out, down to studs by end of the day. Take stuff to dump.
  • Friday – electrician in the morning, hardwire for microwave and dishwasher. Start to put cabinets in.
  • Saturday – install cabinets, microwave, molding, door knobs, etc.
  • Sunday – install dishwasher, countertop, sink

So that’s a lot to tackle, but it’s completely do-able.

The Budget.  Ah, yes, the budget.  My early estimates were for about $3,450, then I bought cabinets!  Those puppies are not cheap even for a little kitchen like mine.  My revised budget has me spending about $4,300 for the entire project.  I’ve already spent $3,527, so making my budget seems pretty tight now since I still need a dishwasher and tiles and a bunch of small things that will add up quickly.  But totally do-able.  Having the time off has allowed me a great chance to research products and find some good deals.  It’s been a fun challenge to stay within my means.  Plus, it was daunting not knowing if I was going to be employed.  Now that I know I’ll have income again, it isn’t as scary and I’ve been able to splurge on a few items like my kitchen sink.

Initial Estimate Revised Estimate
Sink 500 300
Dishwasher 400 350
Cabinets & hardware 1,000 2,200
Counter tops 600 500
Range Hood/Microwave 250 250
Tile 200 200
Misc 500 500
Total 3,450 4,300

So there you have it, folks.  That’s the plan.  I should get to purchasing a dishwasher and cleaning out the kitchen.  I don’t really have anywhere to put stuff, so that’s sort of an issue at this point.  But blogging isn’t helping me to figure it out any faster, so onward!!  Thanks for reading!

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Kitchen “Before”

When I finished the bathroom, my one regret was that I didn’t have many “before” photos to compare.  I couldn’t appreciate the “after” in the best way because I wasn’t remembering the “before”.  Each time I walked into the bathroom, I would see the flaws that I created, and forgot how nonfunctional and not-so-pretty it was before I got to it.   Not this time!  I took a ton of photos to share.  Yay!

By the way, I’m not clear if this is a renovation or a remodel, so I’ll just use them interchangeably until someone sets me straight.

The whole reason for the renovation is to add a dishwasher.  One of my pet peeves on HGTV’s House Hunters is when the potential home buyers comment on how much they hate the kitchen.  The house hunters complain that it’s too small, lacking stainless steel appliances or drastically needs an update because it hasn’t been touched since the mid-80’s.  Uh, that’s okay folks.  Many of those kitchens are completely livable and functional!  We’ve created a snotty home-buying culture and it’s disgusting.  Don’t even get me started on how big garages and master closets need to be for these people!!  Bigger is not better.  But I digress.

So, we need a dishwasher.  Better said, I would like a dishwasher.  Could we live without one?  Sure.  But if I’m taking out cabinets to make room for a dishwasher, I might as well take out the whole shebang.  We need more storage.  The counter tops made of tile need another grouting and the front tiles are starting to loosen.  There is no back splash so the walls get dirty easily.  There is no hood over the stove to filter the smells from the cooking.  The cabinets are pretty cheap Ikea from quite a few years back and not exactly sturdy MDF.  Again, we have lived with it for a year and could probably live with it for another few years, or even until I sell the house.  But why not invest in my house, add value AND enjoy a fun and workable kitchen?

So, on to the photos!  That’s what you came for anyway.

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Directorial Debut

Have you seen Subsidized Corn and Friends’ 48 Hour Film Project submission yet?  If you’re coming from facebook (and about 92% of you usually do), then you’ve probably seen it.  If not, I present it here for your review, plus some behind-the-scenes insights that only a director can provide.

Oh, I didn’t tell you that I was the Director?  Silly me.  [insert southern guilty girly laugh]  You only get your first time once!  And yes, this was my first time.  The awesome cameraman Ivan had to teach me the shoutout order: “Quiet on the set!  Roll camera.  Action!  Cut!”  We lost the formality of it as soon as I jumped in for acting, but it worked out.  We lost a lot of formalities, and that worked very well for our group that already works well together informally.  I really enjoyed blocking and working with the actors, especially since I know these actors and their capabilities so well.  Actors were all improvisers, which made my job extremely easy, and included Laura, Nick, Darnell and me (from SubCo), HiM (Just Moxie) and Xavier (The Lodge).

A couple of things before you watch.  First, the rules.  There were some 120 to 140 entries, so each team was divided into screening groups of about 12-15 teams.  On Friday at 7:00pm, we picked a genre out of a hat.  Within each screening group were 14 genres, so no genre within the same screening group was repeated.  If you pulled a genre that you did not want to use, you had to wait until the end and pull from a supplementary list.  We decided that the only one we really were not interested in exploring for our first submission was the “western/musical” category.

We pulled “Thriller/suspense.”  Luckily, you are allowed to combine genres as long as the original one is represented.  As funny as we think we are, we were prepared to make anything we did a comedy.  Of course.

So each group had a unique genre, but all groups were assigned three components that must be represented (or face disqualification).  For this event, we needed to include a teacher named Riley Tompkins, a pencil and this line of dialog, “I’m taking it one day at a time.”  The film had to be between 4-7 minutes long.

Friday night as soon as we received that information, our writers got to writing.  We had a crack writing team of Laura (our team leader, writer, actor and editor extraordinaire), Mike (aka HiM) and Laura’s friend Kristen.  They only needed 1.5 hours to develop an awesome concept and another 2 hours to work out a script.  I am convinced that without this great script, the weekend would not have gone so smoothly.  Meanwhile, all the non-writers gathered at my place to start finding locations, props, costumes, etc. that would be needed based on the concept.  This is where the writers created magic because we only needed one location to film (instead of running all over town) and each of the actors could wear costumes and make up they already had.  Brilliant.  I stayed up late that night working over and over the script to compose each scene in my head and what type of direction each character would need.  I enjoyed that part and should probably look over my notes now that the film is completed – how close did I come to my Saturday 2:00 am vision?

Saturday morning at a more reasonable hour we gathered at Nick and Lylie’s house, which became our studio for the day.  It was not only the perfect location for filming, but also an easy location for having meetings, eating lunch, and relaxing if you weren’t in the scene.  The filming went smoothly, and we wrapped up by 5:00.  That’s when Laura and Ivan worked their magic… there were a few hours of technical difficulties that they worked through, which is why putting together a film in 48 hours is both magic and tough.  Laura edited through the night, while the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed a nice night out even though we were spent.

Mid afternoon Sunday, I met up with Laura to help her stay awake to finish the movie.  Poor girl!  She edited and I mostly watched and helped her keep tabs of things that you forget about when working on a few hours of sleep.  She dropped in the music which was composed specifically for this film by two of her friends.  They each got a copy of the script on Saturday morning and wrote pieces just for this film.  How cool is it that our film has a sound track?  In the last hour, through the power of Google, Laura and I learned to make rolling credits using Adobe Premiere CS4, if that means anything to anyone.  Yes, we had about one hour to make credits, render, then save/burn to a disk.  At that point, it looked something like this.

We hustled, and Laura’s boyfriend Brian helped us Mac deficient folks finish up stuff.  “Go!” he kept yelling as I was hustling to make the 7:00 deadline.  The drop off was in my neighborhood, so I knew what was up.  I got there a few minutes before 7:00 and no one seemed to be rushed or panicked.  That’s not the film community I know!  Oh, right, the films were due at 7:30.  Well, well, look at us with 30 minutes to spare!

I am extremely proud of this team and our effort.  Our two goals for this project were 1. produce a film that we were proud of and 2. have fun.  We definitely did both of those!  I really hope you enjoy it because we put our little hearts and souls into this baby!

So with that, I present to you:  On the Move

Up next, Laura and I want to continue the fun and do a bloopers reel and a director’s cut.  Probably stuff that only we would find funny or interesting, but another fun project with extra film footage and some editing time!

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Holding Hands

There is nothing sweeter than two people holding hands.  It shows security and intimacy and love and friendship and support all at the same time.  Watching an elderly couple hold hands is about as sweet as it gets.

In my daily perusal through the interwebs (which is very exciting), I came across this hysterical link about how to hold hands.  I just had to share it because it is the perfect mix of ridiculously funny and amazingly sweet at the same time.  Like yogurt covered pretzels.

The adorable factor is pretty high because you can imagine some awkward preteen acne-faced boy thinking about holding hands with some cute but shy girl he has a crush on.  Funny in that there are tips like “Try not to hold hands with someone you like when you are freezing, because cold hands can be a major turn-off.” and “Visualize how it will feel. If you are nervous, think of how good it will feel if the other person holds back.”  I’m pretty sure they mean if the other person squeezes back instead of “holds back”.  Poor kids.

Then they include the video of otters who demonstrate the hand holding methods previously described.  Tip: Watch the video all the way through.  If it doesn’t melt your heart, then you’ve had a pretty tough day and you probably needed this.  And if you need an extra added dose of cuteness, this is one of my go to websites for making me smile.  Yeah, even though I’m not a cutesy, fluffy over-the-top animal lover, I can’t help but have my heart warmed by these photos.  But who am I kidding, I read it for the articles.

Time to reflect on what is good in life, folks.

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