Friday, December 19, 2014

Time flies when you're...

Having fun? Are they sure about that??

SO over a year and half since our last post, and not a whole lot to show for it.

I mean, we've done a lot, just not on this house-- moved out of and rented out 2 other houses, mostly. But hopefully that's about to change.

Having bought the house about 2 years ago, we finally, finally, finally finished unpacking the boxes downstairs. And while all these boxes and trash were piled up everywhere, collecting dog and cat hair and dust, some things were easy to overlook. Like the wallpaper.

My house looks like a scene from The Shining. Without the flooding blood.

That wallpaper is so ugly. And if you look closely at that picture, you'll see all the seams peeling. Stains. More ugly than you can shake a stick at. It's the entire entryway/great room. The entire stairwell. I hate it so much.

The rest of the house is mostly wallpaper. A lot of it is the paintable kind. 

It's in pretty good shape. Not my favorite, but I can live with it. I can CHANGE it. I was hopeful that our previous owners simply loved wallpaper. I went to a spot the dogs had taken a liking to and peeked behind it...


That's a crack. Pretty sure I'm dealing with plaster. And cracked plaster at that. There's probably a bigger reason that they used wallpaper than simply being fans of the stuff. Judging by some other things that they did-- electrical craziness, cheap materials in the kitchen, painting over the ORIGINAL brass doorknob plates-- my vote is with them taking the easy way out. 

So here is the real question: what should I do?????

First I should say that large portions of the wall won't be easy to reach. They're really high up and over stairs. 

So I guess option one is to "repair" the seams and paint over it. As old as it is, though, I'm not sure how well the seams would restick. 

Options two and three are to remove it and either patch and paint, or replace with paintable wallpaper.

And depending on what kind of plaster this is (i'll add some better photos later), that will dictate what kind of paint, correct? What if it's lime? Is latex simply out of the question??


Sunday, March 17, 2013


What a weekend this has been...

Last week we borrowed a truck from some friends to pick up wood for our deck railing-- insurance underwriters would like a railing on the deck, and we'd like to get it done.

We had such a plan, too-- we had braces for the 4X4 posts, handrails with routered holes for stiles, pre-cut stiles... Seriously. We had it all figured out.

First things first, Adam tried to put together one section on Friday and it was a disaster. He was there for hours and only finished one (of six) panels.

Saturday, while he worked, I tried my hand at it.

I took two helpers with me and gave them bully sticks as payment.

The main problem Adam had was that some stiles were shorter than others and fell out of their slots. So I dry-fitted a section and saw what he was talking about.

But I'd lined out all the stiles, and they were identical in length... which meant the problem was a warp in the longer handrails. Sigh. That's harder to deal with.

I tried every method of putting them together, I even had an extra pair of hands to help. I finally settled on a method of loosely taking each end together and wedging the stiles in one at a time, and screwing what I needed to as I went to tighten things up.

It was tedious, but it was coming along.

After I got one put together successfully, I swapped helpers.

One of the things I love about being in a new house is watching everything bloom in spring. These bradford pear trees are gorgeous (if stinky). I'm still waiting to see the fig trees and curly willow come to life.

Anyway, Adam came over after work, and we got finished with all but one section. And then we decided to put in a post and see how it went.

It didn't go well. The wooden railings were far too big and bulky and heavy for that deck. Just way too much.

So we're on to metal railings. They're lighter-weight and less unweildy. Here's hoping they work. I have to drive a bit to get to a hardware store that carries enough of them...

The panels we put together, however, will find new homes; the stairs inside are very, very low, and I worry about going over the side, and the dogs going over the side... So we'd planned on putting some sort of barrier up. These will work nicely for that. Or they might work for stair rails... or for back porch rails. They'll find a nice home.

Meanwhile, I've got to patch some dry-wall in the carriage house... among other things-- get my step-daughter's room painted. She insists on something close to TARDIS blue. Decisions, decisions.

Thankfully, it's spring break and I can hopefully squeeze in some work and moving.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

No barking from the dogs... no smog.

Today was a good day.

One of the reasons I've been sleep-deprived lately is that my newest pup has taken to barking from his crate very, very, very early in the morning. Last night he didn't. :)

Then we had our therpeutic agility class with our pit bull Robin. She knocked it outta the park. And then she met our friend Allen, who is helping us with some of the house reno, and she didn't bark or growl, or get scared at all. She's extremely shy and nervous with strangers, usually, but she was like a "normal" dog today and that puts a big ol' lump in my throat.

And then, we got a little done at the house. Got the hot water heater flushed... Got all mom's new cabinets into the carriage house and mocked up the space to make sure it all works.

Sink and faucet:

Countertops are a laminate in an uba tuba style:

Friday we got our refrigerator in...

And for adult Christmas-- upright freezer. I haven't been so excited about an appliance since I watched my first load of laundry spin around in our front-loader. 

 So we still have a lot to do-- put together all the cabinets and flooring... and we've got great friends helping out. It's exciting, though, to see it all coming together.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More help...

And a couple more questions for which I am soliciting input--

Making ceramic tile anti-slip for people with mobility issues, specifically balance problems...? Any experience with anti-slip coatings or etchings? The tiles are really slick when damp.

And painting over wallpaper-- dos and don'ts.

I'm sure I'll address these more in future... but putting the bug out there in cyberland now. :)

Presidential Pluses

President's Day sales. Best thing ever. We saved over $1000 on some big purchases this weekend.

Got a great deal on a fridge at Best Buy, and bought all the cabinets, countertops, fridge, and washer/dryer for my mother's carriage house at Lowes. Got a new sofa and loveseat at Ashley on unexpected sale, too.

It almost went all pear-shaped, though...

After doing a ton of research on the best sales and prices, and consulting with my mother on what she wanted, choosing cabinets, laminates, deciding on fridge size, etc., I fought with the credit card company to credit my access line to reflect the payment I made in the morning (I'm kind of a miles whore), and finally settled on using the backup payment. I had squirreled away a 10% off coupon, and worked out that delivery of everything would be free due to the purchase of appliances.

I got it all in the shopping cart, punched in my coupon number and credit card number, felt very smug and pleased with my bargain results... and then error messages came up that they couldn't charge the following items to my card-- 11 of 12 items-- but they had graciously charged us for the washer/dryer AND used the coupon.

Awesome. At 10:30pm. The night the sale ended. And I had no more coupons.

I called the number, what I assumed would be a futile effort. I was prepared for having to ask to speak with supervisors-- assuming I got a human being on the phone in the first place. I was prepared to send screenshots to the customer service email, or march into the store. I was getting geared up to have to yell at someone. Now don't get me wrong, I used to work in retail customer service. I know it's a thankless job. But I know how to be pleasant and reasonable and explain to customers what I can and can't do, and I always offered to let them speak to a supervisor. Always.

Imagine my surprise when a friendly, human voice from a man named Christopher came on the line. He not only got all my items ordered in time for the sale, he applied the now lost coupon, and was empathetic, patient, understanding, and apologetic. It certainly helps that he was able to solve the problem, but beyond that, he was the consummate customer service professional. It kills me that he is probably not being paid what he is worth.

Now the only appliance left is the dog food fridge. We feed our dogs raw-- we have a pit, a pit/shar pei mix, and 2 labs. Home prepping food for 4 big dogs is only affordable if I can buy in bulk, so the upright freezer is largely for this purpose, and the extra fridge is for thawing and storing more immediate meals. And beer. Dog food is taking up the entire bottom shelf of our top-freezer fridge, and much of the middle shelf, as well as pretty much all but the door of the freezer, and most of the chest freezer. I currently have a 40lb block of chicken necks in our chest freezer and no good way to thaw them so I can grind them (I grind for a variety of reasons). I'd love to be able to buy 50lbs of chicken frames (20¢/lb, HEY!!), but I got nowhere to put 'em. To get this kind of stuff cheaply, I need to be able to buy in bulk.

And, well... there's never enough room for beer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's coming...

Lots of stuff coming.

We've been fairly busy in general. Our pup had to have a second surgery, so we've been in major recovery and oversight mode with him.

And our shy dog, Robin, started a Therapeutic Agility class for confidence building on Sunday afternoons. This house at least has a nice yard for our DIY minicourses.

But we have purchased a new fridge, and it's on its way. We picked out a new sofa and loveseat, which we're going to buy Saturday. We've picked up some lights and flooring samples for the carriage house.

And most importantly, we got our 10% off Lowes moving coupon, so we'll be stocking up, probably in the next week or so-- washer/dryer, fridge, cabinets, flooring, and more lights for the carriage house; fencing, porch rails, freezer, dog-food-and-beer fridge, paint, and more for the rest of the place.

And that's just the stuff we have to buy. We have a couple of storage units to raid. I'd like to paint an old dining table for the breakfast nook, and there's an antique sofa and high-backed chair that I'd love to drag out and have recovered.

Just a lot of STUFF on the horizon.

In the meantime, we're finally starting to move things that aren't needed every day. First load on my way to work today.


And a bookshelf. Thinking we'll actually wind up putting a tall bookshelf there. But at least it's in the house. And it fits in my little car, so that's good to know. We have 3 or 4 more of those. We don't own a truck, so the more that fits in the car, the better.

More soon, I hope.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Livin' the life

Flushing the whirlpool and watching Downton episodes. Puppies find the events of the evening boooooring.

And on a practical note... Used about 1/3 cup of bleach plus 2 T of Cascade powder; ran for 10 minutes, drained. Filled with cold water and ran for 5 minutes, drain. A few nasties came out, though not much. I think this whirlpool was used quite a lot.

On a side note, that rain shower head really doesn't seem appealing at all. As a friend pointed out, it's like someone peeing on your head. We're gonna need to do something about that...