Monday, December 1, 2008

An old fashioned Brooklyn barn-raising

Once again - saved by my friends. I've been trying to work on the dining room forever, with a goal of having it "finished" for Thanksgiving. The brain and the brawn did a ton of work - but there was still a ton left to do. Once we got back from Nationals (and recovered from the party), we had 10 days to finish the sanding of the patched walls and ceiling, fill any spots that needed help (and then re-sand), and prime and paint the walls, ceiling, and moldings. Anything else that got done would be icing on the cake.

Everything was going according to the master plan (even though I scheduled myself to sand while hungover - dumb, dumb, dumb... but effective!) until some of the skim coating started pulling away from the evil wall. (It's evil because it needed so much work). Then it needed special primer (which smelled like painting with nail polish remover!), another layer of compound, which needed more sanding, which needed more priming... All of which had to be squeezed in during the week after work so that we'd have time to paint! It was only managed thanks to one very determined friend...

And then the weekend rolled around, with another layer of primer necessary, and all the painting. So - friends to the rescue yet again. A bunch of people came over on a chilly Saturday, and did amazing work. By the end of the day on Sun we had the entire dining room painted, the loose paint from the bathroom chipped off and the bathroom primed, the linoleum up on the dining room floor (that one was all Baj, great work!), and the furniture in the dining room! Scraped in under the wire. Thank heavens for amazing friends, yet again!

So we went from here:
From Dining Room
to here:
From Dining Room
Slide show of the mass effort:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mouse Butt

Finally, a picture of the mouse in Erin's bed. I wish we had video of our heroic capturing efforts, but sadly our hands were fully occupied. So you'll just have to imagine lightening fast reflexes with a tupperware container (mine), screaming and jumping (Erin's), and determined hunting (Stiletto's)...

From Mouse

Friday, October 24, 2008

There was a mouse in the house!

In Erin's bed to be precise. With some belated assistance from the cat, I caught it and threw it outside. I'll blog the full amusing story later - but any suggestions for vermin control that we can use with a cat in the house would be greatly appreciated...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stripping is not my forte.

Well, now that I have your attention... Ha.

So due to an unfortunate incident with my automatically locking house doors, the brain (my contractor, mentioned in the previous post) wasn't able to get much work done (and I hadn't hired the brawn on Fri as she was already booked). However, the brain had put up a bunch of paint stripper on the doorway in the dining room, so I had to take it off on Saturday. I think I may be missing a trick, because after hours of stripping, two coats of the stripper, and melted paint everywhere - that doorframe still looks painted. As do my gloves and the tools I was using. Argh. I left it, the brain and the brawn will be back next Tues and can hopefully rescue me.

Erin and I also spent a couple hours working in the backyard. We cleaned it up, did a bunch of weeding, and planted the two baby dogwoods that Max got for me. Translation - we threw out a ton of cat poop, stepped in some (byebye work shoes, you served me well), and made many new dirt patches which the cats were happy to poop in right in front of us. I think I'm going to try the cayenne pepper trick my friend told me about - apparently some cats ignore it, but some really don't like the smell, so maybe we can reduce the amount of yard pooping... Well, if nothing else, at least they seem to bury the poo in the dirt patches, vs leaving it on top of the grass. Yucky.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Warmer and dustier

Much work was done last week - and none of it by me. At least, none of it by my muscles. The wallet is exhausted from the workout though.

On Wed the insulation guys came. Despite being rather late (shocking), they were friendly and efficient. I now have an insulated attic and two new roof vents. The insulation is pretty cool - as environmentally friendly as fiberglass can be, with no added chemicals. It looks like the fake snow stuff you see in Christmas displays at the mall. I thought it was pretty well contained - until Erin came home and noticed it was falling out of her cabinet, where the drainpipe comes through. So much for keeping the cat out of the way!

On Friday I hired a couple contractors - one of my rugby coaches (the brain), and a rugby friend (the brawn. This is funny when you know the rugby friend. Sorry Hoop. You're huge too :P). They did some outstanding work in the dining room and the downstairs bathroom. The drywall is finished in the dining room, and the bad wall has the first skim coat on it. The bathroom fan now works, and they scraped off a bunch of the loose paint. AND - there's dust everywhere. We tried to clean, but I think the dust is still winning. There will be more on Fri when the next phase begins... But so nice to see progress in that room! Pics soon, thanks to Hoop.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baja's Doors Pt 2

And they're up - and they might not fall down and kill anyone! I put the third hinge in, and with some more muscles and patience from Max, we got them up. Perfect they are not, but for my first door hanging, not so bad.

All done - except for the five holes I have to patch from putting the crossbar too high at the beginning... In the process we also discovered that Erin is definitely the best person if chiseling is required - those art skills can be very handy in home repair ;) The one I did to add the third hinge is definitely not up to her standards.

In progress:
From BajaDoors

From BajaDoors


The Room Formerly Known as Scary

So by now we know that the small room off the kitchen (formerly known as the scary room, now knowns as Baja's room) was fixed up. A lot of work went in it, and it looks very good! I've been remiss in the photos, so here's the slideshow:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Do the research FIRST

Otherwise known as - Baja's doors part 1.

So Baja's room had no door. In fact, it had a vaguely middle-eastern look, with its pointed top, and no frame. Therefore, hanging a door in the opening was not going to be a joy. I concocted a brilliant plan - I would find double doors, like closet doors, put some wood around the outside of the doorway, and hang the doors from the wood.

The first phase went beautifully - I found lovely solid wood doors on Craigslist, for free! It was the actual hanging that began the difficulties... First, when hanging the wood, I didn't measure correctly and the cross piece was too high for the doors - it would show and the doors would not sit flush with it. Remove, recut, replace. Result - five extra holes I must now patch. The doors were too wide. No fear, I bought a new saw blade, and cut them. Door 1 cut beautifully. Door 2 did not. There was some burning. And curving of the cut. And general annoyance. Door 2 is no longer quite so beautiful.

Then to the hanging - Door 1 again went nicely. Door 2 is just plain evil. Firstly, because the radiator is too close to the door, it won't swing open all the way (that's ok, I knew that), and in order to put the door on, we had to chisel gouges in the wood of the "frame". Luckily Erin is good at that. However, I then went on to display a large inability to line the hinges up, resulting in the bottom hinge deciding to pull out of the (not solid wood, particle board) door. And there's not really enough room to attach the hinges, since the door won't open all the way. Can't get the pin in if we take the hinges apart, and can't get the drill in straight if we don't. So the screw heads will stick out. But at that point it had been a very long day, and Max sensibly suggested we finish that door later, once we figure out how to reattach the hinge.

It occurred to me today that I should really look to see how many hinges I should actually use, after assuming that two per door is fine. In a (not) shocking turn of events - I should be using three for these heavy doors. And I didn't place them on the door correctly, having assumed that they should be equidistant from the top and bottom. Not so much. It won't be too much of a big deal to add a hinge per door, but the placement will stay. But now I have to go get more hinges before we can finish. Buying them all at once on Sun would have been much easier. Hence the post title... And really, at this point I should know better!

Pics and results coming soon...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Yeah, ok, so I've totally slacked on the posting. But that's because despite working diligently on the house, I really haven't done anything of note. I really really want to (the dining room is just begging for new drywall and some floor removal), but somehow all the little jobs just take too damn long.

So what have I done since last post?
1. Hung a shelf in the bathroom. Expected completion time: 15 min (counting the time to get the tools from the basement). Actual completion time: 1 hr and 15 min, after discovering that I couldn't drill into the wall I originally chose because there is SOMETHING impermeable back there...
2. Worked on Erin's wall. Expected completion time: 1 day. Actual completion time: you think I'm done? Let's not be silly. I managed to put up the last coat of compound on the drywall, attach one piece of molding, discover that the other really wouldn't fit, decide not to scream, and sand part of the floor where the cabinet was. It may never be done. In fact, I may rip it down in a year when I'm less frustrated and re-do it. Because I can see the crookedness and gaps, and I haven't managed to cover them in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. I am REALLY not up to cabinetry level yet. Yes, I know, practice practice, but perhaps I should have started with a small table or something.
3. Set up the new Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen. Ok, that actually worked out quite well. It looks very nice, especially with all the orphaned plants I keep acquiring on top of it. I may remember to take a photo.
4. Work on Mom's porch. Expected results: finish one wall. Actual results: put up 3 new studs. Sigh.

Also, the damn bugs won't go away. I called the super expensive exterminators back for a follow up visit, and they essentially told me to live with the bugs. And to stop killing the ones I see (!!!!!!!!) so that they can carry the poison back to the nest to kill the ones I don't see. Um - yuck. I mean, we only see one every now and then, they aren't everywhere, but it's still a little embarrassing when I turn the basement light on and then wait at the top of the stairs for 45 sec to make sure the bugs have time to flee...

The rugby season starts for real next weekend, so I've no free weekends until November. Hopefully I'll be able to get some real work going on some Sundays though, because I am determined to "finish" the dining room by Thanksgiving! I mean, the stove works now and everything! And I am so very tired of looking at its unfinished-ness. (I rather imagine Erin feels the same way about her wall.) And so the challenge is out there - finish the dining room by Thanksgiving or bust!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I need to lie down.

It's been rather crazy for the past couple weeks. We've had quite the flurry of work, with the goal of making the room previously known as the scary room fit for human habitation by yesterday, and fixing some other long standing appliance issues. The work went down to the wire, but I think it happened. As per usual, there were some ups and downs.

Ups -
--Most of the tin ceiling is in good condition.
--The subfloor under the linoleum is also mostly in good condition - and even the wood stain isn't that bad.
--New washing machine! It's very pretty. And my clothes came out quite clean! A Frigidaire front-loader.
--Finally the stove is fixed, courtesy of an appliance repair man. I have learned that it's about 40 years old, and is in solid shape. There's a screw that can turn the pilot light off, and it was off. The pilot assembly was also quite gunky. But he cleaned it and all is well. It's kind of cool - it takes 45 seconds to a minute to actually start once you turn it on, as it has to heat open a valve.
--We put some plants in the window guards. We look a little prettier :)

Downs -
--Part of the tin ceiling is not in good condition. And whatever the tin is covering is also not happy (i.e. falling on my head as I tacked up some aluminum flashing as a temporary fix). This will not be a fun repair, I suspect. And my interim repair job was super frustrating and very unattractive.
--There are no straight lines in my house. Seriously, I swear it. The small job of replacing a dropped ceiling panel in the hallway closet turned into a couple hours of swearing and attempts to make do, as everything was off-square and not the current standard size.
--More frightening large bugs were seen in the basement. Yes, I screamed. And chased them with Raid. Today I had a new (and much more expensive) exterminator come - they were really really thorough, and he seems pretty confident the bugs will be gone in a week. And he even left me some glue traps for future, though I'm pretty unexcited about having to pick up a piece of cardboard with bugs stuck all over it...
--Those brand new window guards are rusty already. So not amused. I will call the company, but really.
--Polyurethane is nearly impossible to remove from your skin. Damn stuff is clear, light (so it just feels like sweat when it gets on you), and I am still finding spots of it days later.
--Sneezing while wearing a respirator is only funny to spectators. Yick.

Neither here nor there yet -
--I had another plumber come and give me an estimate for the oil to gas conversion. His was much lower than my original guy. On the one hand that's really nice, but on the other hand now I have to figure out why...

Monday, July 28, 2008

What a mess.

This weekend's work started out quite nicely. We hung pictures in the living room, and cleaned out the scary room next to the kitchen. The living room looks much homier now! And then it just all went messy from there...

Max came over and helped on Sat. It took him an hour to do what would have taken me a full day - go Max! He pulled off all the baseboards in the dining room, so we can extend the drywall we put in to the floor (Dad, should I pull off the doorframe too?). Unexpectedly, this released a HUGE cloud of plaster dust. I don't know why I didn't think that would happen. Luckily the room was already taped off with plastic sheets as I was sanding down the first layer of patching I did... Anyway, quite the mess. It's also pretty ugly:

And then the paint removal started in the scary room off the kitchen. It has a tin ceiling - gorgeous! - and the paint was literally falling off. Because it's tin, all of the paint had to come down, since we can't just patch spots. Paint removal isn't pretty. A lot of the paint came down with a scraper (wielded by 3 friends!) and a lot of muscle, and Peel Away Smart Strip is hopefully removing the remainder as we speak. Though it too will take a lot of scraping and will make a big mess in removing. The worst part though was the discovery of several holes in the tin. It's no big deal to order new panels - my pattern is pretty common - but I'm truly scared of what I'll find under there when I go to replace it! It definitely rusted for a reason. I have some crossed fingers that whatever leaked has been fixed - but I'm so not holding my breath on that one...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Butcher, baker, and candlestick maker - and one uninvited guest.

All came over yesterday. And all were late! Really it was the insulation estimate guy, the window bar installers, and the plumber. The insulation guy said that his company didn't do my kind of attic and referred me to the group I had already spoken to. The window guys did a great job (pictures soon), though I kind of wish the bars had been painted with a matte finish. Should I have tipped them? I hope not. But I did give them water. And the plumber guy was really nice and really thorough (it turns out my chimney is clay lined, yay! - though the seams aren't perfect - not so yay), and will give me multiple quotes for my oil to gas conversion in a week.

And there was an uninvited bug guest. A big one in the basement. I missed it with the Raid (b/c I refused to go down there without Erin backing me up - yes, I know I'm a wuss), but did spray it where I thought he might be, causing my clean laundry to smell like Raid. Apparently to no avail, since Erin spotted him the next morning in the kitchen. At least, I hope it was him. One is enough. Ew. Think it might be time to call the exterminators again, and then put down some bait traps in the basement...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

See, we did do some work...

A couple pics -
The closet is finally finished, and has cleaning supplies back in it - yay for something off the list!
Max showing how he hung the clothes rod:

And last weekend we did a lot to Erin's wall. She finished sanding the drywall tape, and I managed to put up the top part of the cabinet, the baseboards, and some trim. Now you may laugh, but that actually took 5 hours. It was fraught with crookedness, inexpert tool use (me), poor planning (so what if I did the math wrong and the new piece of oak was too small?), and lots of decision making. Another trip to Lowe's and Dyke's Lumber (they have the best moldings) will be necessary. And for all of that, I actually think it went quite well. Erin is very happy that she can no longer see into the ceiling through her cabinet!

This weekend I'm off to Dad's for his pig roast, so there will be no work done by me. But I suspect there will be lots of planning and discussions ;)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Time flies...

When you're just plain busy! Last weekend I finished the closet (with some timely help from Max!), and worked a bit in the backyard. Max set up the composter, and we discovered there were actually some flowers growing in all those weeds. We also discovered that Dad brought some water in that dishwasher - which is really kind of impressive, all the way from Rochester! ;)

Pictures soon, I promise.

This weekend - I will make more progress on Erin's wall. With the goal of completion in the foreseeable future...

Monday, June 30, 2008

It's not quite as hot!

The roof is silvered! And I think it's really helped - don't get me wrong, it's still hot upstairs, but significantly cooler than before the silvering.

As per usual, it took much longer than I predicted, so of course we were up there in the hottest part of the day. That paint was impossible to stir! Stirring by hand = 30 minutes. Stirring with drill attachment = 5 minutes. Having a friend with enough smarts to make me go back to Lowe's for the attachment = priceless. Many thanks to said smart friend, who brought muscles and cheerfulness to the process in addition to brains.

The paint was also quite difficult to work with. Despite all attempts, we did manage to get it all over our shoes, on us, all over the painting poles. And all over the ladder to the roof, and a couple drips on the hallway floor (it's getting removed at some point anyway). We tried really hard to be neat! It's really tarry and hard to remove as well. Ick.

One silver roof:

Erin and I hung the window treatments too! Not having towels taped over my windows is a lovely thing. Now I just have to buy the curtain rods for the living room, and they'll be all done!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Heigh Ho Silver...

Ok, I didn't actually paint the roof last weekend. It rained. But with the assistance of my poor mom (who I'm sure really enjoys going to Lowe's every time she comes down), I did buy the paint. And discovered that the insulation is way too big to transport on my own - I'll have to have it delivered, or have a contractor do it (planning to call a friend's recommendation to see what's cheaper).

So this weekend, I'm gonna -
  • Paint the roof
  • Finish the closet (got the mortar and the quarter round last weekend)
  • Maybe even finish the base and top of Erin's cabinet.
  • And the window treatments all came in! Hanging those for sure.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The view from up here

I made it up to the roof this weekend. On the plus side, the view is lovely.

On the minus side, my roof is black and have have zero insulation in the "attic". Therefore - project next weekend will be to acquire silver roof paint and insulation, and paint the roof. Insulating it will have to wait for the week after. Why? Because it's HOT in the upstairs. And it'll make us that more environmentally sound.

I did also manage to do the last coat of joint compound on Erin's wall, hang the new mailbox, replace the broken outlet in my room (that one wasn't grounded to the outlet either Dad), and mostly seal up the downstairs closet. I just have to get the cement for the floor and a new piece of quarter round and it'll be done.

The project planning for the backyard fence is starting as well - all the lovely pictures in this slideshow are to show Dad the current backyard so we can figure out how to sink the posts for the fence where the patio is...


Friday, June 6, 2008

Projects this weekend

So have you noticed that everything takes me a million years to do? I have. Therefore the project list for this weekend is not terribly new and exciting:
  • Erin's wall
  • Downstairs closet
  • Investigate attic for insulation preparation
  • Hang mailbox #3
  • Replace broken outlet in my room.
It's good to have goals. Even if they seem to remain the same from week to week...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Projects this weekend

The trend continues - more work on Erin's wall. And hopefully the downstairs closet. I would really like to get back to the dining room, too. There will also be some banister stripping done, courtesy of a friend who actually likes that stuff, so if you want something to do on a rainy Sat, there's plenty available!

New windows!

Hooray! New windows are in! And I might be slightly high from the caulking fumes...

They look great, I'm excited about them. The guys did a really good job (at least, I think so now. I'll wait until tomorrow's rainstorm before drawing my full conclusion). Two of them look a little ridiculous to me - the windows are straight, but the existing outside moldings look a little crooked, which makes the windows kind of look like they are winking. But once the treatments are up, I don't think you'll be able to tell...

Anyway, I'm really excited to see how these do in making it quieter in here! As well as the breezes in the winters, of course... Pictures after we hang the window treatments.

Oh - and did I screw up? There was great debate over whether or not to tip them (I mean, it seems to be accepted that you don't tip plumbers and electricians, so does this apply to all skilled handymen?). I had money in my pocket ready to go - but the one guy just disappeared, and the head guy charged my card, shook my hand and was out the door. There didn't seem to be an expectant pause, so I didn't tip them. Was I wrong? Share your thoughts...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Erin's new wall

Finally, the pictures of Erin's new wall cabinets. I think they will eventually look quite lovely. They aren't the best of pictures, but the room is too narrow for me to capture them head-on. Anyway - base removal:

Dad rocking the wall:

Look, pretty cabinets!:

And the work continues...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who knew?

The front window replacements are being installed this Fri (please please let them be more soundproof!), so it was time to actually buy curtains and blinds/shades. After hours of looking with Erin, we still haven't completely settled on the shades. But I ordered the curtains. And really - who knew curtains are sold singly? Who in the world thinks, "I should dress up my windows. Guess I'll buy a curtain. Don't need two, that's just wasteful. One'll do me." Let's not even talk about why a single piece of fabric is $60... Gaak.

Also, I think Dad was right (hush Dad), and I do need to prioritize insulating the "attic". It was HOT upstairs last night, and it was only 80 degrees. I might boil when it's 100 outside. Researching.

I did do some actual work this weekend. Will post that later tonight with the pics.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lots to do - and lots done!

Ok, so I'm slacking a bit on the posting. Really I'm slacking on the picture taking, which is causing me to slack on the posting...

Dad managed a ton of stuff last weekend. I helped a little bit too. He cut down the dog-run style fence cutting my yard in half, planted two lilac bushes, closed up the pipe in the downstairs closet, and most exciting - began the closing of the destruction I wreaked on Erin's wall!

Originally I had just wanted to drywall off the wall, and either build a little closet or just close off the pipe. But Dad (who by his own admission has been watching a lot of DIY tv shows), had an idea of building in shelves that would mirror the existing ones on the other side of the room. The project was not without its struggles (things learned - not only should you actually draw full plans before beginning, you probably shouldn't measure and do math while hungover), but it's going to really look great! Dad got all the pieces up already, we just have the finish work left. And a couple molding-type pieces to put on. Pictures soon, I promise.

So this weekend - lots finish work to do on the cabinets and drywall, and the downstairs closet. I'd also like to take advantage of the nice weather to do some cleanup outside. Maybe even mow the weeds. It would also be exciting to try the new bbq...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Projects this weekend

Lots of possibilities! Dad's in town, so not quite sure what we'll manage. I know there will be some planting involved! Besides that, hopefully some work on Erin's wall, and maybe closing the downstairs pipe back up... I always either over- or under- estimate the amount of work we can do though!

Monday, May 12, 2008

And they're out!

Thanks to Frankie's muscles, the upper cabinets are now out and waiting for me to get rid of them somehow. No animals were harmed, but I did end up with a face full of dirt at one point. In the process we discovered that someone dropped the ceiling about 8 inches. Why would you do that? I mean, if you have a finished tall ceiling, why would you make it shorter? I know the heating might be more difficult if it's tall, but that's why you insulate the "attic"... Weird. I won't be tearing down the dropped ceiling any time soon though, I think I've created enough mess in Erin's room for a while...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Out damn cabinets!

The plumbers came, fixed, charged, and left. Now we have a fancy new pipe - and a lot of patching to do. Since the wall probably needs a great deal of help (and Dad is coming next weekend and can advise and assist), we decided to pull out the upper cabinets this weekend. Hopefully it won't take too long - actively seeking muscle for Sunday afternoon if anyone is around!

These are the cabinets we agreed on as replacements. We're only going to install the base piece with the sink - I hate overhead cabinets, and I think they are very inefficient. Mind, that could be due to my height, but still...

Now we just have to figure out how to cover that large wastepipe running up the entire wall.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Well, they put that in well...

This weekend we tore out the base cabinet in Erin's room in preparation for fixing the hugely cracked pipe. Admittedly I don't know much about kitchen installation - but I think they did a pretty good job installing it, because it took us forever to get it out! Highlights of pain included having to turn off the water to the entire house as the cutoff valve to the sink didn't work, another trip to the hardware store for a bigger wrench, hitting my elbow on the edge of the sink in the middle of a full-body sledgehammer swing, discovering little worms under the cabinet (EW), and the hole in the floor. Number of things accidentally destroyed: one. And I think we needed new molding for that door anyway.

This is what it looked like when I bought it (I forgot to take a newer before picture):

And this is what it looked like after 8 hours:

It was VERY DIRTY. You may be wondering why everything is covered in drywall, duct tape, and paper. Because Erin didn't want to sleep in a room with big holes in the walls and floor - can we really blame her? And why is the sink faucet hanging from the upper cabinets? Because I bought the wrong size caps for the pipes, and needed to put something on there so we could turn the water back on...

The base cabinet is now in the basement, as we thought it could be repurposed into a lovely laundry area. I wish there was video of the two of us getting that thing down a flight of stairs, through the house, out the back door, down into the basement, and around a basement corner - but sadly, you'll just have to imagine it. The bump on Erin's head is gone I think, and my bruising is fading... ;)


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Plumbing update

Well, the nice plumber came. And exhibited a certain amount of awe - and sympathy. Then he told me I have to rip out the base cabinets in Erin's room so they can replace the pipe up there as well. Depending on whether or not the pipe to the roof is cracked, I may also have to rip out the upper cabinets. Argh.

Erin is trying not to admit it, but she's kind of excited - since she hates the current backsplash and cabinets. Don't worry Erin, I won't put the backsplash back up ;) We'll talk about the cabinets. But it is annoying, especially because it's her bedroom I'm tearing up.

So, more deconstruction this weekend! Totally wreaking havoc with my "finish dining room before June" plan. At this rate...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shock and awe.

So I did open up the closet wall to locate the source of the leak from Erin's sink. It looks so innocent, does it not?

Oh, but behind that blank exterior... was the biggest crack in a pipe I've ever seen! Seriously, exactly how does a pipe crack this far? I think the plumber is going to LOVE me on Wednesday.

This thing is cracked floor to ceiling. It's kind of hard to tell from the pictures, but it's a really wide crack - at least an inch wide, and in some cases even bigger.

And then I tried to fix the drip in the tub again, only to discover that yet another piece of the hot water faucet is broken. The faucet seat. And I don't have the proper tool to remove it. Hopefully I can get the wrench today and give it a shot, or the plumber will love me even more.

So I salvaged my wounded pride by finally hooking up the stereo pieces. Something successfully done!

Now someone really needs to help me find that cute plumber to date...

Friday, April 25, 2008


That is the new sound from the downstairs tub. Argh. Guessing the cold water faucet needs some assistance. But that's really annoying b/c there is not currently a way to get to the stem, I'll have to carve a hole. Why must the plumbing torment me so?

Apparently then it will be a weekend o'plumbing -
  • check out the cold water faucet
  • open the wall for the leaky pipe
  • maybe get back up to the skim coating.
Guess I should have found that plumber to date.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm a terrible skim coater.

Truly. I can only hope I get better - at least I'm getting lots of practice! Last weekend I spent two days starting to fill in the lumpy ugly part of the dining room ceiling. It'll take several coats to bring it all up to the same level, I think. While filling, I decided to see how smooth I could get it, as the last coat will have to be damn smooth. Consensus - well, if I wanted the ceiling to look like the ocean... Lots more to do there.

I also tried the Peel Away 6 on part of the moldings. It did ok, but not outstanding. I need to try the Peel Away 1 and 7 I think. And of course try my not-yet-built infrared paint remover. But the real question is - who paints moldings GREEN? Seriously, 3 layers down was green paint! Ick.

The plumber also came on Monday. I have to open a wall in the downstairs closet to try to locate the leak from Erin's sink. On the list for this weekend...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Projects this weekend

Ok, I've got goals. Gotta get some stuff DONE this weekend. Um - or more done than now...
Planning on lots of work in dining room - walls and ceiling and moldings. Other than that, just whatever we can manage. Oh - and we have to make some room in the funny little kitchen room, b/c the plumber is coming on Monday morning...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Go AWAY bugs!

We saw another waterbug on Friday. There was some screaming involved, I admit it. I really really hate those things. But the cat had spotted this one and was kind of playing with it, so at least it wasn't moving too quickly... Ick. I called an exterminator. He came this morning at 8 am (so early!), and I learned waaaaaay too much about waterbugs. He also had some comments to make about my columns downstairs, and the termites. Why does nothing ever get fixed without creating more things to worry about fixing?

One of the things he said was that if you don't use a sink/drain for a while, the water evaporates out of the trap, and the buggles come in through there. This piece of info provided the sharp prod I needed to actually call the plumber to fix Erin's sink - don't want any more entrances for those uninvited guests! He comes on Monday morning. He's also fixing the leak on the expansion tank and the weird pipe in the funny little kitchen room...

Have to admit, it was kind of odd to have someone fix something in the house without any involvement from me. A little bit nice, too ;)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Projects this weekend

I have to admit, I'm not quite sure what's up for this weekend. I've decided to rugby it up on Sat (as a spectator, not a player), so I'm losing a day. Hopefully I'll:
  • look at some replacement window options (in Staten Island, not so convenient!)
  • do some more work on dining room ceiling and wall
  • install Erin's new doorknob.
We shall see. Every once in a while I must remember there's more to do in the world than fix a house...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Clean clean clean!

Yes! For once, we ended the weekend with the overall house slightly cleaner than it was before the weekend! Finally we may have broken the cycle!

The wallpaper paste removal began in the hallway, thanks to a good friend. It looks much better (though the wall itself needs lots of work), and no longer makes me shudder when I brush against it. The removal makes a pretty big mess though, so we washed the walls and scrubbed the hallway floors - sparkling! We have to figure out how to get to the area over the stairs. We have some ideas, but any others would be gratefully accepted.

Thanks to more good friends, the basement is now as clean as a basement will be (though despite urging, I still think we will not be holding Thanksgiving in the 'torture room' in the basement). We re-arranged, vacuumed, cleaned up debris, and hooked up the dryer.

I started investigating the crappy portion of the ceiling in the dining room. It looks like they tried to replaster at some point, but the plaster is very gritty and doesn't look too sturdy. Kind of looks like crumbly cement. I'm going to try to repair it with setting-type joint compound, as several sites have recommended. If that doesn't work I'll have to just take it down and put a piece of drywall up there.

Erin did some sanding on that wall - and then an absolutely marvelous job of cleaning the dust (some of which was still there from original drywall sanding!). Although the dining room will become messy again very soon, it feels much more relaxed to me...

New low-flow showerheads are up! Haven't checked w/Erin yet, but mine is a vast improvement over the one that was there.

And yes, I'm still flipped out about the waterbug Erin had to hunt down in her room on Thursday night. We've sprayed with this Orthomax stuff from Home Depot, hope it works. Next step is to sprinkle boric acid up in the attic. I'm accepting volunteers for that - extra beer for hazard pay...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Projects this weekend

Lot of mish-mash to do this weekend:
  • install new showerheads
  • more clean-up
  • empty out dining room
  • test out peel-away
  • experiment with dining room ceiling
Hopefully this will give us a good grounding for more exciting things soon!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Windows. To replace or not. Discuss.

My windows are crappy. This should not surprise anyone - not like the house was heavy on upgrades - but replacements are called for. At the very least, the downstairs windows should lock without the aid of a large bolt. And personally I feel as though you should not feel a breeze on the opposite side of the room when the windows are closed...

So here's the subject for debate. At least 2 windows will be replaced as soon as I schedule the installer. But do I replace 4 windows and do the whole first floor? Or 5 windows and do the whole front of the house? All 10 windows will have to be replaced eventually, but I can't afford to do it all now... Talk amongst yourselves ;)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kitchen Pictures

Ok, Dad has been waiting patiently for these - painted kitchen pics, from wall prep to gorgeousness:

Slideshow for today:

Friday, March 21, 2008

I am Mighty Mouse!

Combo'd with Wonder Woman!

Ok, maybe not quite so much. But I fixed the downstairs tub hot water! Take that Home Depot! Take that plumbing supply stores! Hooray for the power of Google! Also hooray for, who not only have pictures of their faucet stems (so I could find the one that looked like mine), but also actually had the faucet stem and shipped it super fast. Now I suppose I'd better actually call the plumber to estimate the other leaks.

And apparently the house is challenging me to a duel, because this morning the upstairs tub hot water started dripping. But I shall overcome.

Projects this weekend are about clean-up:
  • clean the downstairs
  • hang the mailbox
  • tidy the basement so I can actually find the tools
  • take the rest of the tape off in the kitchen

That sort of thing :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One painted kitchen

So many questions come to mind when painting. There are the philosophical (how many cracks must a woman patch?), the practical (can you really see that painting mistake from the floor?), the technological (why does it take 4 hours for the paint to dry?), and the anatomical (how did I get paint under my chin?). It also gives a great full body workout! I encourage you all to try it - should you need a place for the attempt, I can offer a dining room, an office, and a hallway... Kidding. Sort of.

Anyway, after four days of patching and sanding (over the past couple weeks), we finally primed and painted the kitchen! For those of you thinking to yourselves, "Damn, Erin and Sarah are slow! I can paint a room in an hour!" well, so can we. But these aren't your boring fresh
smooth drywall walls - these are lovely used and abused plaster! Almost 100 years old. So plenty of nicks, cracks, bulges, and challenges to work through. One application of patching compound is never enough. In fact, in several cases I'm not sure four was enough...

But it looks great! Just imagine that for a bit while I try to remember to upload the pictures ;)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Projects this weekend

Head cold permitting, I swear we are actually priming and painting the kitchen this weekend. Really. I can feel it. Additionally, it would be nice to:
  • Hang the mailbox
  • Install the new toilet flapper
  • Set up the dryer
And I have firm goals involving waking up without an alarm...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Painting Pictures!

Finally, sorry for the delay. The blue is the funny little room off my bedroom, the brown is my bedroom, and the gray is the living room. Erin's pink room was done(ish) already.

The living room took three coats, the blue room two, and the brown one two (I think?).

There was also a ton of cleaning done, and loose paint scraping - somehow I did not capture a photo of the brave (and well balanced) friend hanging off the ladder and over the staircase to get the hallway ceiling - but do not fear, I will capture the work before we patch! Yes, I must get better at using the camera. Somehow I'd rather actually work than photograph - which is just silly.

Slideshow for today:

Monday, March 10, 2008

These jeans are clean!

I know that because I washed them myself! After only two trips to the hardware store, and a well timed piece of advice from Aunt Deb, the washer works without leaking (keep fingers crossed for a while though). No plumber needed! The dryer isn't fully set up since the hose was too short, but we got a new hose so that should be done this week too. And in the meantime, clothes dried pretty quickly in the basement, which is the preferred method of drying anyway.

After many hours of sanding and patching, the kitchen walls are almost ready for priming. Somehow I always underestimate the amount of time the prep takes (and the amount of havoc all that sanding wreaks)... But one final sand on a couple spots, and we should be good. Erin did some marvelous work recreating parts of the wall out of patching compound. The taping was completed too - nice lines Onna!

The downstairs closet was cleaned, and I even hung the new smoke/carbon monoxide detector (it was propped on the stairs, don't worry Dad). I felt the installation had to be prioritized, after I accidentally kicked the first one down the stairs... That was a waste of $36.

To maintain the length of the to-do list, we discovered on Sat that the oven doesn't heat up. Anyone have expertise with gas ovens?

The Home Depot window salesman came to give me an estimate for the replacements, including installation. Who knew windows were so expensive? I mean, 50 year guarantees and full glass coverage is great - but for $680 per window? Ow.
And those were the all vinyl ones. The ones with the wood on the inside made me actually choke. Getting another company in for a comparative estimate...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Projects this weekend

To continue the trend, there will be some plumbing work. We'd also like to:
  • finish patching the kitchen
  • prime the kitchen
  • paint the kitchen
  • clean up the basement (to make room for the DRYER, thanks guys!)
  • get shelves for the kitchen
  • clean the downstairs closet
  • hang the new mailbox
  • and just maybe, start removing the wallpaper paste from the hallway.

I realize that there's really no way we'll actually accomplish all that, but at least we know what we'd like to. And the Home Depot installer is coming to give an estimate on replacing the windows. So if you want to play, let me know!

Monday, March 3, 2008

I may need to date a plumber.

Anyone know a cute one? Maybe one without the stereotypical saggy pants and potbelly?

Ok, fine. I'll learn to do it myself. Maybe. Saturday I unpacked for forever, saving the exciting plumbing plans for Sun. On Sunday I cleaned the washing machine and hung the clothesline (thanks Mom!). All was going well - until both water cutoff valves to the washer started dripping everywhere. We'll just add this to the list. And Erin and I went to Home Depot to find the replacement faucet stem for the downstairs bathroom, only to be told it was so old they no longer carry them. I'm losing my confidence in my ability to repair it myself. Why must the plumbing industry be so non-standardized?

So far, we have a leaky expansion tank, leaky upstairs kitchen sink (betcha that one's gonna get me), dripping toilet, no faucet for the hot water in the downstairs tub, weirdly disattached pipe in the funny little room downstairs, and the washing machine issue. Oh, and possibly the downstairs sink may be dripping, must investigate. So send that cute plumber boy my way...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Projects this weekend (besides unpacking)

Plumbing and plumbing.
--Replace the downstairs toilet flapper etc
--Try not to get incredibly frustrated re-installing the downstairs faucet stem, in the hope we can then turn off the hot water in the shower

If we get really energetic, we might prime the kitchen.

A big flurry of action

Yes. It was a long week of completing priming, painting, cleaning, packing, moving, slightly unpacking, and collapsing.

Along the way, we discovered that the upstairs bedchin sink leaks into the basement, the downstairs bathroom tub faucet won't actually turn off the hot water, and the windows are more like breezeways.

But the paint colors look terrific! And we did manage to finish our three goal rooms, and they look really fantastic.

Pictures coming very soon, when I unpack the cord that connects my camera to the laptop...


Wall prep naturally leads to painting - lots and lots of painting. Which takes much longer than you would reasonably expect, but I suppose that's why I don't make a living estimating paint jobs... Once again, my friends came through in the pinch.

Slide show for today:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wall prep

The next weekend was all about wall prep. The moms helped us finalize the colors - then my mom guided me through the longest hardware store trip yet, while Erin and Aunt Deb patched, sanded, and cleaned.

Our intrepid friends continued on with their sanding and patching, and finally got to move on to priming! The goal is to paint Erin's bedchin, my room, and the living room before we move in, and there's quite a way to go...

I spent a lot of time scraping the loose paint from my walls, and then trying to patch them. I've gotten much better at the patching, but there's just no reason for it to take so long!

Slide show for today: