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Stuff 'N Nonsense Spring Fever
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I have an itch.

It started small - like so many of these kinds of itches do - but it has the potential to spread.

What am I talking about? I have the itch to take on a project and I can only guess that it's a direct result of spring fever.

Since the day we purchased our home I had projects I wanted to do to make the house our home, little personal touches that put our individual stamp on things, but life got in the way and finances became uncomfortably tight (Hello mortgage payment, goodbye fun money!) so we set aside our grand ideas (new banister, new mantle, new carpet just to name a few) and focused on settling into our new budget and prioritizing so that our budget could accommodate our wants and needs.

Now, it's been a year since we purchased and we've settled into a routine of sorts and although money is still tight at times, we're no longer chafing at the mortgage payment or lamenting our slashed Starbucks fund.

We've adjusted and life is good.

Perhaps it's the routine that has me returning to our former wishes and desires for home improvement because suddenly, I've been consumed with the idea of doing something. Anything. And frankly, between you and me, if I don't put this energy to work somehow, I might go crazy. I'm starting to get to the point that when I look at my kitchen, I want to take a sledgehammer to the outdated white tile just to watch with unadulterated glee as they shatter into a million pieces. When I stare at the carpet in the sitting room I wonder what would happen if I started ripping it out with my bare hands and how long it would take before my husband realized my cheese had fallen off my cracker.

But seriously, the olive green paint in my bedroom is beginning to look like split green soup smeared on my walls and don't even get me started on that short thing in my backyard pretending to be an awning because we simply don't have the time for me to explain in full detail how much I loathe it.

See what I mean? It's overwhelming.

Of course, realistically, I can't tackle every project that's giving me fits without going bankrupt so I have to pick and choose. I figure even if I'm only able to do one project right now, at least that's progress and it'll cool my raging spring fever and the ever-tightening feeling in my chest as I slowly suffocate under the weight of my growing need to improve, modify, and flat-out change.

So I was faced with the quandary of how to narrow down the mile-long list without sacrificing my sanity (and with it, my family's).

Well, I tried finding the project that was vexing me the most.

And to be honest, it was a tough call but I decided on a modest kitchen remodel where I reface the cabinets and change the tile for granite, etc., but frankly, after receiving a few estimates the sticker shock stole the air from my lungs. I thought we were in a recession? Didn't someone get the memo that times are tough and people - more than ever - need deals? I guess you can surmise I was unhappy with the numbers that were slid my way. The words "highway robbery" jumped to mind but I realize that may simply be the painfully frugal penny-pincher in me balking so I haven't given up just yet. I've turned to Craigslist (a boon for the DIY and the penny-pincher) and I've been searching for items I don't mind buying gently used and certainly don't want to purchase retail. I've been watching a lot of home improvement videos on Youtube and I've been haunting the local hardware stores for workshops on DIY projects.

Unfortunately, although I'm certainly more fired up than ever to make some changes, I'm even more confused as to how to go about it.

The choices are endless and the selection process is exhausting! I've finally decided I want white cabinets (I think) and dark granite (or maybe not) and I think I want to keep my laminate flooring (or maybe I want sandstone) ... see what I mean? It's mind-boggling and certainly not helpful in my attempt to calm the "crazies" created by my spring fever affliction.

I completely understand the value of just being able to throw money at a project. The frustration level is easily worth a couple hundred dollars sacrificed! Alas, my budget doesn't allow for the luxury of putting money in a contractor's hand so I can walk away and expect everything to be perfect by the time I return from my shopping trip.

So, it's back to Craigslist, combing through the World Wide Web of Internet yard sales; procuring more estimates and bids in the hopes of finding that contractor willing to work with me; and resigning myself to the fact that the value I'm going to find is in my own muscle.

But for heaven's sake ... can someone explain to me how to design a custom backsplash? I'm at a loss.

Good grief, there's a reason I'm a writer and not in the trades.

Plainly, I suck at it.

Update: Found a tree service to take out two trees at a great price! Success is mine! Muaahhh!)

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.