Digital scrap items in the header, layouts and sidebar are by Miss Mint at or Jen Wilson at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Layouts

I've gotten a bit of scrapping done in between the other stuff (see below):

This LO uses Jen Wilson's new Academy line (Art Papers):

The Other Stuff: I can't remember if I mentioned this or not but the carpet in our front office is going to have to be replaced. It's crappy builder grade and some stains we shampooed out last year came back with a vengance in the heat of our un-airconditioned house. I'm too anal to live with it so I spent yesterday shopping for new floors. I went up to my favorite local store (Humble Carpet & Tile) to talk to my favorite sales rep (Bob Blue). He did our tile flawlessly last year and was happy to have me come back. We quickly negotiated a ROCKING deal on the last 10 boxes of some top-of-the-line laminate flooring they had left in stock. I'd had my heart set on wood but after thinking about how hard I am on the floor in there, and knowing that wood floors could warp and buckle in heat like what we just experienced without power, I decided the laminate would be great for our little office. I used to work in a flooring store and loved it so you're going to have to hear all the details! It's a gorgeous product in a unique medium-dark warm brown shade with an AC3 rating and 12 mm core (read: extremely rugged & durable. Aiden-proof.) I can't stand a hollow-sounding floor so we're getting upgraded underlayment and are going to install it ourselves! Brian is pretty excited about his new project!

I know we're probably not the only ones with some sort of carpet problems after Ike. If you need to recarpet a single bedroom or study, a remnant is the way to go in my opinion. They allow you to get a very expensive, gorgeous cut of carpet installed for the price of builder-grade. How? Because when a house is carpeted, extra is always ordered to ensure there is enough to finish the job in that dye lot. Installers are very good at piecing scraps so it's not unusual to have 12x6 - 12x15 foot rolls of carpet left over after a large job. (Carpet is most often milled and sold in widths of 12 feet.) These remnants go back into warehouse stock with little to NO cost associated with them because the entire amount of carpet material was billed to the original job. The store is then in the position to sell the remnant at a huge discount to make a bit of extra money while also saving you from paying full retail price. Problem is most people don't know about it, don't understand how it works or they assume remnants mean "second-quality" (it doesn't!) so stores end up with lots of remnants. THIS is the situation you're looking for!

Bob was kind enough to give me information about a local carpet dealer that has tons upon tooooons of carpet remnants in stock right now:

Hooker O W Floor Company
2129 Aldine Bender
Houston, TX 77032

You'll need to arrange for the store or a contracted installer with the store to do the installation. You won't be able to find anyone else reputable willing to install a remnant. (If they somehow mess up, they have to buy you replacement carpet at full retail price. No one but the remnant seller will take this risk.) Don't be shy, tell them what size room you need to carpet and ask if they have any top-of-the-line carpets they're wheeling and dealing on. Remember to measure the closet!

A Few Tips From Someone Familiar With The Business:

When buying any type of flooring from anyone, don't be shy about negotiating a price you like. Installation prices typically can't be negotiated because of contracts with the installers but material price can! It's like buying a car - you don't have to pay what's on the sticker. The best approach is 'The Honest Cheapskate'. Tell the sales rep what you want and that you're on a budget but don't reveal your budget. (If the sales rep asks you right off the bat what your budget is say "Not much." or "A little more than the cost to rip out the carpet and cover the slab with newspaper." The rep will get the hint that you need a special deal if he's going to win your business!) Ask about material already in stock, special pricing and job leftovers. Request a quote based on your square foot measurements, keeping in mind you'll need 10% additional material and additional products necessary for proper installation of your flooring product (like pad, underlayment, glue, patch, prep, float, grout...) Bug your eyes, say 'oh, no' and gawk at the first number then tell them you're really sorry that you can't do that price at all. This won't be hard - the price really will be more than what you wanted to hear. Then say "Is that the best price you can give us on that floor?" If they won't budge, say "Let's consider some less expensive options. What type of carpet/wood/tile can you do for [your budget minus $100 for taxes]?"

If you're not making any headway, go to another store and start over. Some stores really don't give their sales reps the ability to negotiate so that the company can maintain high profit margins. Normally your sales rep will work with you if they can. Don't be afraid to walk away from a fair-but-not-what-you-had-hoped price to "think about it" and then call back the next day. The rep won't want to loose the sale and it gives him time to talk to those above him about approving a reduced price to win your business - something he may not have been able to do while you were there. Honestly NEED the price lower? Go get a vague quote for similar (or not-so-similar but still cheaper) flooring from a nearby competitor and call your rep to see if he's willing to match or come down on the price because you like his product color or installation record of his store better. In a stalemate, that tactic will usually send a rep running to his boss for discount pricing approval. Trust me, my office was next to the owner's and I frequently saw reps running down the hall to beg! LOL!

Additional Things I Would Do:

1. Your sales rep is actually the person that makes your experience a dream or a disaster so you need a good one. Call the store and ask to speak to someone in accounts receivable. (Because sales reps usually answer the phone and you don't want to leave this to chance.) When you get the office worker on the phone apologize for the interruption but tell them you need special help and ask which sales rep is the best to work with. You should get a very honest opinion from the person processing all their paperwork! There are two types of reps: Good Deal reps and Everything-Goes-Perfect-But-You-Pay-For-Perfection sales reps. You decide what you want. (Bob Blue at Humble Carpet & Tile is actually a Good Deal rep with a spotless installation track record. Very rare!) NOW ONLY WORK WITH THAT REP! Ask to speak with them or find out what days and hours they are working and go in the store ASKING for them the moment you walk in. Get the hours they work and come back if they're not in during your visit.

2. When you buy your floors, VERY CLEARLY tell the sales rep you want the best installation crew for the material you purchased and that you are willing to wait for them to do your job. Some sales reps will rush installation, assigning it to whoever is available, because they want the commission as quickly as possible but this can mean trouble for you. Trust me, it's WELL worth the couple day's wait to have the best crew install your floors. This is of the utmost importance for wood and tile.

3. Be difficult to please in the beginning when you're negotiating price then suddenly become extremely easy to work with. Your sales rep will understand you're serious but will greatly appreciate your understanding if one of the many, many companies, trucks and people involved with your flooring hit a snag that delays it. Again, being in a rush to get your floors in means you won't get the most ideal outcome possible. Insist on the best installation crew above all else.

P.S. If you are suspicious of some of the installation material charges, get the quote in writing then walk away to think about it and do some online research. Most products you'll be quoted for actually are necessary. Keep in mind you own the house so the condition of your slab is your problem - it's not the store's fault if the slab must be repaired prior to installation to ensure your floors go in properly! See the bottom of the post for more info.

4. If you are pleased, return to your sales rep for future purchases. They will appreciate the loyalty and you'll be shocked at how quickly they'll negotiate with you in the future. Even better, let your sales rep know what flooring you want to replace next and ask them to keep a lookout for special deals for you. If you were easy to work with, they'll be anxious to have you back.

5. Do not ever buy flooring from big box stores like Lowe's or Home Depot. While they have individual people who are good, kind and caring that work for them, the process of getting floors from the mill to your home is a surprisingly long one with a lot of people in between. Problems with the mill, the area distributor, the trucking contractors or the store that sold you the floor itself can cause huge delays. This is made worse by huge stores that are also arranging and organizing wood, tool and appliance orders and shipments. You need a store dedicated to just flooring with people who are going to constantly track your materials until they are properly laid in your home. On a side note, independent floorcovering stores always have the best installers because they pay them the most. I just can't stress enough how good installers can make a kinda nice floor look gorgeous and how bad installers can make an expensive floor look awful. And check out the list of questionable items below. They're FAMOUS for charging for unnecessary items!

Here's a list of legitimate installation items you may be charged for:

Patch: A specific product meant to patch cracks & divits in your slab.
Float/Self-Leveler: A self-leveling concrete-type product to level out your floors. Used for every type of flooring installation except residential carpet, unless the slab is grossly uneven.
Prep/2-in-1/3-in-1: Patch & Float combined in one bag. Most stores use this because installers like it. It runs $48-$75 per bag (100 sf coverage) installed. Meaning although the bag itself only costs about $25-$40, the labor of prepping your slab is also included in the "bag price".
Carpet Pad: May or may not be included in the installation price but it's easy to get them to throw in basic 3/8 inch for free. Just tell them a competitor is doing it. And then consider upgrading to 1/2 inch solid urethane.
Underlayment/Vapor Barrier: Necessary for proper installation of laminate and floating wood floors.
Wood Glue: Necessary for installation of wood floors and is usually included in the wood installation price. 95% of wood flooring in Texas has to be glued to the slab and you must use a glue approved by the manufacturer so you don't void the warranty. ASK if they are using a manufacturer-approved glue. Most of the time these are name brand and will run $80-$150 per bucket. (100-150 sf coverage). Glitter is often put in name brand glue that you won't be able to see until it's dry. If you ever have a problem with the floor, they can tell if the right glue was used so don't let your sales rep talk you out of it!
Trim/Quarter Round: This goes along your baseboards to give your wood/laminate/tile floors a finished appearance. If you don't want it, you have the option of undercutting your baseboards and caulking at the edge instead for twice the price.
Transition Pieces: Like the name implies, they go where one type of flooring ends and another begins. You'll be charged for wood, laminate & rubber transition pieces. Some may need to be stained to match at an additional charge.
Undercutting Doors & Base Boards: This is required for extremely thick carpeting and wood products that are significantly taller than your current flooring. You can request your baseboards be undercut for small rooms if you don't like the appearance of quarter round trim.
Note: You might be asked to pay for a saw blade since one small to medium install will completely use up a circular blade. Typically this is just included in the undercutting labor price.
Grout: May or may not be included in tile installation price. Expect to pay $25-$40 per bag installed.
Caulk: Necessary for vinyl installations and common with other hard surface flooring installs. Be sure YOU pick out the color caulk you want if you're paying for it. If you're not charged, assume bright white caulk will be used, even against dark wood kitchen cabinets. Ask to buy coordinating caulk at your expense if you need to.
Wood Underlayment: Surprisingly this is necessary for nail-down wood floors and some second-floor hard surface flooring installations.
Demo/Removal/Disposal Fee: The store has to pay the contracter to remove the old flooring and they also have to pay to dump it but a lot of stores take advantage of this necessity and over-charge in this area. Removal should cost 1/2 the price of installation and the disposal fee should be less than $60. Most stores wisely factor this into the installation price to avoid upsetting customers.

Questionable Items:

Tack Strip: Should be included in the carpet installation price. It's dirt cheap, you really shouldn't be charged for this.
Z-bar: Should be included in the installation price unless you have an extensive area where carpet will meet a lower flooring like vinyl. (This is a transition piece that goes under the carpet to create a "wrapped" edge.) Z-bar charges can be a sneaky way for reps to add in an additional $25-$30 to your ticket total. A 6 foot piece costs about $10 installed if your job honestly needs extra z-bar.
Pade Glue: A drizzle is used to stick the pad to your slab so it doesn't move while the carpet is installed over it but you shouldn't be charged for this. Run screaming from any store that tries to add this to your ticket!
Mortar/Thinset: Should be included in the tile installation price or should represent 50¢ or less of the $3.50 per sf or less of the tile installation price.
Trowels/Tapping Blocks/Scraper Blades/Other Tools: Unless you're installing the flooring yourself and you asked the store to order these things for you they should not be on the ticket. Your installer will already own these tools or should buy them for himself if a specialty product, like mortar or glue, requires them for installation.
Slab Sealer: You shouldn't be charged unless you have water damage or you requested it.
Tile/Grout Sealer: Again, shouldn't be charged unless you requested it as an add-on.

WHEW! Long post. Sorry, I get carried away with flooring stuff! LOL! Hope this helps someone!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Show Off

WARNING: Bragging of the worst kind after TWO YEARS of not being able to wear anything skinny is below!

Who knew it would be a hurricane that helped me reach my goal? The stress of it combined with my house-turned-sauna over two weeks did the trick:

Thanks for the new wardrobe offer babe but the look on your face when you saw what jeans I had on last night was all I needed. ;) Second to college, this is the longest goal I have worked towards and reached. I'm proud of myself!

If this blog post surprises you then let me say it surprised me, too. Earlier this week I grabbed my old jeans by accident (I have the same jeans a size up) when I was running out of clean clothes after Ike. I slid them on, seriously ANGRY about why they were so tight and how could I have possibly gained weight eating so much lean grilled food? Then I realized the design on the pocket was slightly different and ripped them off in disbelief to gawk at the tag. We'll be eating a lot more grilled chicken and veggies from now on!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AC or No AC

The hybriding must go on! And I have been looking forward to Halloween for months! Here is what I managed to get done both before and after Ike. (It really did help me take my mind off the heat.) See the Peppermint Creative Hybrid Gallery for a list of supplies and tons of other ideas!

Witch Card:

Pumpkin Card: (Made with some items from our CT embellishment swap!)

P.S. You can get that DARLING pumpkin stamp in a set for $1 at Target right now! I just bought it this last weekend, along with the $1 acrylic stamping block. (You'll need the acrylic block.) I was impressed with how well it worked! I am thinking of going back for the coordinating leaf set.
Bewitching Halloween Mini Hanger:

I'll be honest and admit that I didn't really know what I was making, I just started glueing things to each other and came up with this! LOL!
Mr. Fix It Garage Sign:

Bri was none too impressed that the hybrids are spilling out to take up wall space in the garage...but he did smile at the sign! :D
Would you believe after cleaning the house, cropping these photos and uploading them to the gallery I also found the time to order the little pink mini buckets for the Valentine treat craft we're doing in January? They should be here in two weeks, giving me plenty of time to make a sample before the December sign-ups begin.
Can you tell I've been suffering (sort of) from a lack of photoshop and craft projects?!! I even got three new colors of vinyl and haven't been able to play with them! The horror! LOL! Well, back to the fun. ;)


The power came back on Wednesday afternoon. I spent most of the evening running around like a manic OCD cleaning lady, scrubbing the wind-blown dirt off everything in sight. The task is daunting. I SWORE that I wouldn't turn my computer on today but Super Saturday things needed to be tended to and it was unavoidable. Which means writing on my blog was unavoidable....LOL!

I miss my CT's so much. Thank you for all understanding, the prayers and the encouragement to put my boys first. The kitchen is gleaming and I'm already feeling better! Nothing like a hurricane to force you to scrub your fridge & freezer out like new and then spring clean all over again....

I have sooooo much to talk about but my time online needs to be short. For now let me point you towards Miss Mint's newly redesigned and STUNNING! website with 28 New Products!!! I'm itching to get the hybrids I completed before Ike (and during the power outages) up in the gallery but I can't stand to look at dirty things a moment longer so I'll post them as soon as I can!

I also haven't forgotten my promise to post a list of the things my 12 days without electricity taught me to have on-hand. So much to do!

A special thank you to Kelsey Call and Krissy Cotten. I practically lived at their houses, using their washer, dryer, water & electricity to keep our family clean and healthy this last week. (Not to mention their Chi irons to keep me looking somewhat human.) I am humbled that they generously fed us so many lunches and dinners. How can I ever thank you? Earrings & other handmade baubles seem like they're not enough (although I can hear Kelsey objecting - a new pair of earrings for a load of wash would be fine with her!) Thank you ladies. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I'm not used to being on the recieving end so you can rest assured I'll tip the scales even once again with something truly delightful but that I know will never be near the unselfish love and concern you showed my family these last twelve days. Sincerely, thank you.

Monday, September 22, 2008


We are *STILL* without power. More and more friends get electricity as the days go by but our entire chunk of the neighborhood is still dark. Centerpoint. Grrrrr.....

For friends & family wondering we are well. The power is the only thing wrong. Our house didn't have any major damage, our roof is fine, we didn't loose any trees nor were any of us injured. The only "bad" things have been the heat and life without power.

The contents of our fridge & freezer were 100% lost. It's unplugged, standing with both doors wide open in my kitchen, smelling faintly of bleach and looking brand new all over again. Not so bad! LOL!

We are having to keep the doors & windows open to attempt to circulate the 88-90 degree air. This is blowing in small bits of dirt, dust and plant debris but there's not much I can do about it. We have to be careful in the heat. Even mildly strenuous activities like house cleaning, rough housing and rushing from room to room cause over-heating which, without AC or power, can land you in the ER for IV fluids because of heat exhaustion. This is something I would have never seen coming. You would think without the distraction of the computer I would have drawers, closets & cabinets completely cleaned out and organized or a massive amount of the things on my to-do list checked off. It's just the opposite - I'm struggling to ignore the fine dust that only my vacuum can completely rid my floors of and looking past the pile of necessary flashlight, lantern & candle clutter on the table. Everything has dropped to a basic minimum and I'm ashamed to admit that keeping Aiden feed, hydrated and happy is all I have the strength for. I haul laundry to friend's houses and grab precious moments of time online. (Might I add that I'm sorry my inbox was full if you tried to e-mail me. However, I'm tempted to completely cancel Super Saturday if someone doesn't let us borrow a generator so we can keep Aiden's milk cold!)

Once power is restored, internet will soon follow but I won't be online much. I'm already feeling overwhelmed by the deep cleaning I'll need to do around the house, the "spring cleaning" type chores that will need to be re-done and the jumbo items - like the dog bed - that I will need to wash. It will be October 18 or later before I am back to normal. (October 18 is Super Saturday - that fun but pain-in-my-butt day I can't wait to be done with!) I'll be MIA until then putting my family's needs first.

My Freinds: Thank you so much for your love and support! The constant stream of dinner invites and offers to let me use your laundry rooms have made me so thankful for all of you. I love you all! Where would I be this week without you? Probably hot and naked with no clean clothes! LOL!

My Designers & CT's: I've missed you sooooo much! Two weeks without my computer has felt like an eternity. Believe me, my creativity has been replenished and is bubbling over. I'm ready to get back in the saddle once my house is put back together and my family is again comfortable! Hugs from Houston!

To Everyone Else: I'll post a more extensive list of what you would need to have in a similar situation but for now let me say a special thank you to Brian's Aunt in Grand Rapids. It was her e-mail that made me think to add disposable plates, utensils and paper goods to our stash of hurricane supplies. It has made a huge difference. Our house does not smell of dirty dishes and we have not had any pests because we can throw everything away and keep it outside of the house. Thank you for taking the time to send that e-mail, Brian and I sincerely appreciate your advice. In the future I will prepare similarly but I'm going to hunt for some new cook books and emergency survival books. I want to know what people several centuries ago knew that I do not. We also will be looking to add another battery powered camping lantern, with plenty of D cell batteries, so that we don't have to share one large light. And I'll probably order books several at a time from Amazon, keeping two or three that I want to read on-hand for next year's storm season. Sitting still and reading has been the only way to survive in the heat.

In short, we are doing well. We were lucky, we are blessed and we are being taken care of by good friends who have become even closer through it all. When I got home last week after being at my parents, I could feel the neighborly love in the air. It was like some sort of time warp back to the 1950's. Children playing in the street all day, friends stopping by to say hi, sharing of everything you could's been magical. I'm anxious for the power to come back on but I know when it does the magic will be lost. We'll go back to life, busy as ever. But Ike, as nasty as he was, gave us a reminder. Friends abound and family is precious. See you in October!