Renovation Plans in Warp Speed

Our slow and steady renovation plans got a big jolt last week. Our contractor’s availability changed, and he asked if we could move up our plans. You know, from late April/May to next week. No biggie.

We were always planning to do the demolition part of the job ourselves, to keep from having to pay for a contractor’s time for work we knew we could do. We asked ourselves if we thought we could get all the stones form the wall down, remove all the paneling, get all the materials together, in a week. Challenge (very hesitantly) accepted.

We tried to set daily renovation goals for ourselves, starting this past Saturday. First task at hand was buying some of the materials we needed, which mainly was the tiles and grout. We decided to go with the herringbone pattern, which was #1 in my previous tile post, and as a bonus, we found it for cheaper at another store. Task number 1, complete!

While buying tile was pretty easy, task number 2 was not. We removed all the stones from what I have not-so-affectionately been calling the rock wall. We started prepping by taping plastic at the doorways of the room, to help keep the dust from heading all over the house. Here’s a before photo as I’m getting the plastic in place.


Then, we put on ear, eye, and respiratory protection and went to work. Dan used a kind of jackhammer tool to chip away at the mortar holding the rocks together. It was a slow start, but we eventually moved into a good groove of getting the rocks out of the wall and carrying them out of the room for disposal. We were lucky enough to have two extra sets of hands helping us – Dan’s mom and dad – which really helped speed up the process. Without them, it would have easily taken us another day of hard work.


Even with help, it took a full day of backbreaking work to get those rocks down. And we did it!


Just as I was about to head upstairs to get in the shower, I noticed the plastic barriers didn’t do much to stop the spread of dust around the house. In fact, my kitchen floor looked like no one had cleaned it (because no one had lived in the home) for many years. I guess we didn’t do that great of a job keeping the plastic in place. Don’t make that mistake – it took forever to get the house even somewhat clean again.

We still have lots to do this week, so we’ll get a bit ahead in real time than I can keep up with blogging. I’ll do my best to share updates as quickly as I can – once I wash all the dust out of my hair.

Taco Tuesday Tostadas

I had other posts plan for this week, but you know. Life happened. We’re still hard at work on renovation plans, and more family room updates are to come (eventually), but I just had to share the recipe for these simple, clean out the fridge tostadas that I made for taco Tuesday last night.

I know, the picture isn’t great. I was so hungry I didn’t want to take the time to actually stage the photo. Instead, I snapped this pic mere seconds before I dug in.



For the baked tortillas:

4 corn tortillas

pinch salt

cooking spray

For the toppings:

1 can refried beans

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 roma tomato, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup spinach, chopped

Optional garnishes: cheese, sour cream (or greek yogurt), guacamole, black olives, corn



Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Put four corn tortillas on the pan, spray each side with more cooking spray, and sprinkle some salt on top. Use a fork to poke each tortilla about four times, which will prevent them from rising. Set aside while the oven gets up to temperature.

Next, pour the refried beans into a pan and heat over a low flame. The beans are cooked, you just want to warm them. Stir every once in a while, to prevent sticking. Meanwhile, start chopping the tomatoes, green onions, and spinach and getting together the other toppings.

Once the oven reaches 400 degrees, cook the tortillas for about 4 minutes, flip them, then cook for 4 minutes more. Depending on your oven, you may need a bit more time. Once the tortillas were nice and crispy, I removed them from the oven and kept them warm until I was ready to serve the tostadas.

I always create a build-your-own bar when making these, but if you wanted to assemble them for others, I’d suggest topping the tortilla with the refried beans, then the rice (smashing down the rice a bit so it sticks in the beans), the spinach, the tomatoes, then all the optional, use whatever you have toppings like the cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Two were all I needed to fill my belly. We did have some beans and rice left over, so Dan mixed them together and we ate it as a dip with some tortilla chips we had.