Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays! This has been a wonderful week - very busy and fun. I got my new kitchen for Christmas and Hanukkah and so did Peanut! Which one do you like best?

Our countertops were installed on Christmas eve, and our plumbing was completed today - so now we have a fully functional kitchen! I even hooked up the electric on the dishwasher (with a little tutelage). I do love the counters - they are the perfect color and I like how they look with the rest of the room. I've already made blueberry muffins and sugar cookies and we have a turkey in the oven right now. I am really looking forward to making an omelet tomorrow. I know Honey is looking forward to using the dishwasher instead of going down to the laundry room sink to do dishes every night!

We worked on some of the thresholds this week - we finished the transition from the rec room to the gym, and I daresay it is the best one yet. So good, in fact, that I want to go and redo all of the other ones. It really is true that practice makes perfect - you can see where our learning curve is in this house!

I'd like to get to some minor things like outlet covers and painting the baseboards, but I was impressed that we got the tree up and even got a few lights outside before Christmas day. We had to prioritize, and being festive came first. We've even been able to light the Menorah most nights.

We've got a few more big projects planned (a few windows replaced, new gutters, insulating the attic), but those are all being contracted out. So now it is just finish work for us - painting, trim, new closet doors, touch ups, and rearranging the furniture. Honey's mom is here this week and his brother and sister and their family will be here tomorrow. We are getting some work done this week, but I think we are really going to just enjoy the next couple of days of no longer roughing it.

I'm hoping to look just as happy cooking in the new kitchen as Peanut does in hers!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Lone Appliance

Honey and I just finished installing the microwave and I had no idea how beautiful it would be! I can just stare at it. We just need to connect the duct work and we can actually use it - the first working appliance in our kitchen! We are leaving the plastic on to protect it until we are all done, but you can still get an idea of how awesome the rest of the appliances will look against the wood. For future reference, it is best to cut the holes for the microwave duct work and screws BEFORE installing the cabinet on the wall. It is a little rough to drill and cut upside down and there is a little sawdust issue - safety glasses are great, but sawdust still got all down my shirt!

The guy from counterintelligence (I just love that name!) came to measure for our counters today. He had the coolest set up - a mechanical pen on a huge arm and tripod that was connected to his computer and literally drew a picture of the counters. I was totally enraptured by the whole thing - I felt like a little kid. I remember when CAD was the new thing and I decided that I wanted to learn it in like elementary or junior high - this just took me right back. The counter guy sent all of our measurements into the shop right over the computer and said they should call by the end of this week to set up install for next week. How fabulous!

Our floors are in as well - the Marmoleum looks great - I'll have to take another photo for those of you who clamor for the visual - I know the words are hard to understand sometimes :)

So our plumber should be here this week to install the gas line on the stove, the ice maker on the fridge, and set up the lines for the dishwasher. We should actually have all of our appliance in the kitchen and out of the living and dining rooms by this weekend. Then we can rearrange the living room and set up the tree and figure out where to put the menorah. Oh, and we can get the dining room table in off the sun porch :)

Here are some more pictures for fun - aren't the cabinets wild? It is hard to even remember what that wall looked like before - here it is with the washer and dryer in the kitchen! What a huge difference!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making Progress

So the floors in the kitchen will be installed tomorrow, and then we can put the appliances and countertops in! We (I really - Honey could care less) have been stressing about counters, but I believe we found a solution today - silestone is an engineered quartz that has some post consumer recycled content, has good ratings for air quality, looks nice, is maintenance free, is not insanely expensive, and is on sale at Home Depot! It's 10% off, with free edging and a free sink - so really that is a good deal. I'm waiting for the guy to call me back so I can run in and buy it. He says if we buy it before December 17th it can be installed before Christmas, which is something I was definitely not hearing about the other products we were considering. So we are totally in. Now we just need under cabinet lights, a disposal, and faucet and we'll be in business!

On the flip side, after all of the rain, we noticed a new wet spot this morning around the dining room light wiring. I was so sure there was not a problem, but now it looks like we have to have a roofer come check it out. It's always something!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where's the TV?

I had a period of a few years where I did not have a television. I got used to it, and really enjoyed it. I accomplished a lot during those years, as the pull of the couch was not so strong :). When honey moved in he brought a tremendous TV with him. It took up our whole tiny living room in the townhouse, and was the first thing you saw when you walked in the front door. Loved it. We had replaced that with a sleeker version, which was better, but still the first thing people saw. We are now putting that "small" TV in the gym and have the "big" TV in the family room. It is not gargantuan, just the right size for the distance from the couch. I've reconciled myself to having the TV, and having a big one, but not to having it on full view all the time. So this week, we were finally able to close it in! I love our new cabinet! It is the best of all worlds - we have a TV we can see from the couch, and enjoy watching a little home improvement TV (OK - a lot), but we can close it us and it looks like a lovely piece of furniture! Here is the before and after -

Pretty sweet huh?!
Of course, it came in a million parts and we had to piece it together with absurd instructions...but we are getting really good at that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still no kitchen

We are spending so much on food - going out and ordering in, processed and prepared foods, smaller sizes for our tiny fridge - it consumes my thoughts at times! I am trying to cook more at home, but it is really an effort. With scarce prep space, fridge space, and cooking options, we are limited. Tonight we had a blast from the past and made English muffin pizzas! Peanut loved them, so it was a success. Last night Honey grilled some steaks and I made a big salad. That worked out well too, but last week we did pre-marinated salmon and rice pilaf and boy, was that crummy! The salmon was rubbery and the pilaf was really salty. It is the little things I miss, like boiling water and making a pot of pasta on the stove. I am so excited to buy full size items - a gallon of milk, a large yogurt, a box of pasta - instead of single serving or snack sizes of everything. I can wait for that fridge to get plugged in!

i feel like we have done very little lately, but that is not really true. We are just in a little holding pattern until the floor arrives. Meanwhile, we have ordered windows and gutters, had estimates on insulation, and continue to work and play and live our regular lives. Each night we do a little - putting together office furniture or kitchen doors and drawers, unpacking another box, cleaning under the couch :) but I do feel like there is still so much to do. I know (hope) there will be a big burst of activity and lots will get accomplished in the next few weeks.

We do have a great office now - we both have our own huge desks and I got a new laptop this weekend, so I really have my own space I can clutter up as I see fit. I can't think of a time when I had this expanse of a desk - I might actually be able to functionally work from home now!

We do have a problem in that I can't find our "holiday" box. It has Hanukkah, Christmas, and Halloween stuff in it and it is blue, but that is as far as it goes right now. So Peanut and I collected pine cones today to decorate and put on our tree. She loved finding them and i hope she will have as much fun gussying them up!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Countertop Madness

Finding an environmentally friendly and budget friendly countertop is way harder than I had anticipated! I was looking forward to trying something new, and had my eye on recycled glass counters. I had seen some pricing, but did not factor in installation and boy, was I blown away when I got my first estimate! Enviroglas, which was my first choice was about 5 times more than granite. Icestone was about three times more than the granite. It is really tempting to just go for fresh quarried stone and toss the "being green" thing out the window. So now I am exploring all kinds of options. We had Richlite in our old house which is a paper and resin countertop. We loved it, and have added it to our list of ideas in addition to it's competitors Paperstone and Ecotop. We are also checking out Squak Mountain Stone which I suspect is quite pricey. The woman who invented it still does all of the manufacturing and helps with installations. I think she is a small shop with high levels of service.

I've also been checking out craigslist, and found some silestone that a couple removed from their kitchen. There is enough there to do two of our bathrooms and still have leftovers, but the hard part is finding someone to pick it up, cut and polish it and bring it back to install it. We are working on that, but it doesn't help with the kitchen.

The very last bits of our kitchen cabinets should arrive tomorrow, and we can finally finish the cabinets. We are just waiting for the floor to arrive. So, I really ought to have this countertop thing nailed down by now...but I think we will be enjoying a plywood counter for quite some time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adding some chaos to the mix...

Really wonderful things are happening lately!
We got a new front door which is absolutely beautiful. Our new slider in the dining room was installed as well - it is so nice to have a door that seals and locks there. What a difference in the temperature!

Today, the electrical is being made functional - outlets and switches are going in as well as light bulbs and trim for the ceiling lighting. We also have our favorite cleaning crew here to help get rid of the drywall dust. By the end of the day, I suspect we won't even recognize the house.

The kitchen cabinets are up and we can really begin to see the kicthen take shape!

We do have a few significant things to do before the family arrives tomorrow. We need a shower curtain rod and a sink in the bath upstairs. I'm not sure we are going to get there. We also need to put the closet doors back on both of the guest rooms. Speaking of guest of them will not be a guest room for very long. As you know we love chaos and what better way to create it than to have another little one?! Yes, we are expecting - and the due date is the same as Peanuts was - imagine that!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oh my aching...everything!

We have been working hard this weekend. What else is new, right? Our most exciting event is that we installed our new Caroma dual flush toilet in the hall bath upstairs, and put the bathroom door back on so we could actually use it! So far, it seems great. It was really easy to install, and we have both tried it out and it works fine. We will need to put some instructions on the top of the tank for guests, so they know which button to choose :) The only issue with the toilet is that it is really long, and we bought two - one for the downstairs bath - which will be too long to allow access to the shower. We need to some up with some solution to that. I've already contacted the company to see if they sent the elongated bowl vs. the round...I think that may be the case. If so, it is an easy fix.

On the kitchen front, the walls are primed and the ceiling is painted (as of about 30 minutes ago!), although there is a little more sanding that the guys will do tomorrow. I'll need to go back and prime/paint once they are done. Honey and I put together the last few cabinets today - we just need to build the drawers now. The plan is for the cabinets to go in this week, but we have another snag. I pulled out one of the cover panels to check the size, and discovered that it is white instead of beech! AHHHHHHH! SO I had to recheck the entire IKEA order again, and it turns out that all of the upper cabinet cover panels are wrong as are the deco strips that hide the under cabinet lights. Another phone call to my buddy Cindy at IKEA was made. Hopefully we can work this out quickly. Maybe these are in stock and I can go pick them up at the store.

We did some trim work too - put a few thresholds in. We framed out a small wall to cover the water main in the guest room closet. It is crazy how the main travels through the house, but the worst part is that it is really loud - sounds like a waterfall whenever the water is turned on or a toilet is flushed. Our guests will be very unhappy in the leaking room. We found some soundproof drywall and are supposed to have a sheet delivered tomorrow. We'll cover it up and make a little access door for the shut off valve. We hope our guests have sweet dreams instead of dreams of rushing rivers.

I'm struggling with insulation and lighting right now. I'd like to do an eco friendly insulation, but it is tempting to go with the cheap and easy pink stuff. I'd also like to move towards LED lighting and away from CFL's and incandescents, but I love dimmer switches (we have them all over the house) and they are not really compatible. There are LED specific dimmer switches, but they look like the MUZAK controls in the office, and I'd have to but a whole lot of them. I think I'll keep researching both options, and probably just start putting LED's wherever I can. Make a slow transition - we can't do everything at once, right?!

I need to stretch. Painting ceiling can take a toll.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We have kitchen walls! Drywall has never been so lovely. The kitchen is walled, taped and plastered, and they will come back tomorrow to sand - we can likely paint this weekend! I am beyond excited about this. The bar wall is built and will be inspected tomorrow, and the outlets, lights and switches will be installed next Wednesday. Cabinets should start going up on Monday - which not only means we are one step closer to a functional kitchen, but I get a living room back and we can unpack all of the boxes laying around. Enjoy the view as much as I did...

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Now I am at the point where every time we finish a project I no longer feel elated. I just know the next project is right around the corner and am trudging ahead to finish that. I think this week will be a big one though, because our kitchen contractor starts tomorrow! I am hopeful that having drywall in the kitchen will make that whole section of the house more pulled together, safe, useful, and, oh yes - warm! It is freezing over there because there is nothing but plywood between us and the sky. I still look at it every day and yearn for skylights. I'm thinking it is still a possibility...

I'd like to clean the living room floor, because you can see under all of the furniture when you walk in the front door, and it is really dusty from all of the work. Sounds simple, but it is not. It is like a domino effect - once the kitchen cabinets go up, more than half the boxes that are all over the house can be unpacked of their dishes and pots and pans. Once that is done, we'll have room to move things around downstairs and finish our painting. Once the painting is done we can put up the artwork that lines the living room walls right now, and once that is up we can clean the living room floor! Seems like everything in this house is like that right now.

We have gotten a lot done this weekend - Honey's mom and a friend of hers came to stay with us and watch Peanut while we worked. We finished the baseboard and quarter round in the hall and the rec room, built a few more cabinets (IKEA did have the second pallet at the warehouse and delivered it yesterday - thank goodness!), and put up some blinds. We had begun to feel like we were in a fishbowl with our big picture window in the rec room where we spend most of our time. The blinds really make it feel cozy and far from any eyes - like people are that curious!

We are hosting Thanksgiving here in a little less than two weeks. I made reservations as our plan B, so should we have no way to cook, we'll still get turkey. Now, I am on to worrying about the number of functional toilets. We have three bathrooms. In the master bath, the toilet and sink are usable, and the shower probably is too, but we have yet to use it as the door leaks and it is really gross and cavelike. The hall bath has a tub, but no other fixtures, and the bath downstairs is fully functional although the toilet is a "hold it down forever and hope it really flushes" model. I am hopeful that our toilets come in this week and we can add a john to the upstairs bath so whoever sleeps in the upstairs guest room doesn't have to go all the way downstairs in the middle of the night to go. We are having some issues with the hall bath sink and counter as well - we have an odd size vanity and so anything we do has to be special order which = expensive and a long wait. We will have to do something though - even if we do plywood with a drop in sink as a temporary solution.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not so very green...

Without a real kitchen, cooking for our little family can be a tad difficult. We are healthy eaters, and I really do cook most meals at home almost every day in our real life. In this efficiency kitchen world, eating well has become really hard, and we have entered the world of processed and packaged food. I am astounded by the options in the grocery store - and I am talking Giant as my beloved Trader Joe's has little we can prepare easily right now. I am awed by aisles of boxes with "express" and "steam in the bag" and "no cook" written on them. It really took me about an hour to shop today because I am not used to the size of a Giant, nor am I versed in all of the types of microwavable and just add hot water meals, so I had to do a lot of label reading. The cost is astronomical as well. I am always amazed that I can get out of Trader Joe's with good fresh foods for the whole week for about $100. Now I am even more amazed as I spent well over that today and probably have enough for three or four days tops. Not to mention that little of it is fresh. Oh we have fruit and all, but storing salads in this mini fridge is hard, and trying to do real cooking in a toaster is tough too. We had microwave lasagna tonight - not horrid, but not fabulous either. I am a little concerned with the amount of sodium and MSG we are taking in with our Chinese and Thai microwave noodle meals, and little tubs of fruit or jello. I am also keenly aware of the amount of packaging we are tossing. I took for granted that most of our trash was compostable. We now fill up a kitchen bag every few days because of our high volume of boxes and tubs, and plastic wrappers. I am feeling not so green today and wishing for a real kitchen and real food.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy

Today was much more productive and fun than we had anticipated! Our IKEA trip went well -somehow we had really calm and helpful people on hand today. The consensus is that the shipping company only sent one pallet and still has the other one at the warehouse. A really wonderful manager (who helped me in the end last visit) is following up for us. We hope to have the rest of our kitchen shipped this week. We also got our 10% off that we should have gotten when we originally made our purchase, so that's always nice to have money back on the credit card. We made a day of it - had lunch at the store and shopped around for bookcases and desks while we were there. I had no idea they had such great food - I had salmon - yes I said salmon - yes at IKEA - and it was excellent! Peanut enjoyed her fruit cup at luch and listened to a Santa looking guy play the guitar.

When we got home, Honey hit the yard - and really seemed to make no headway with his little rake. It was a little distressing to watch, but we went out to join him and play. Peanut LOVED walking and jumping in the leaves - her smiles were ear to ear and the piles were way bigger than her! Our neighbors couldn't help but notice our plight - first one came by and loaned us a leaf blower. Then our next door neighbor came with his huge leaf vac/chipper/shredding machine and just tore it up! It was amazing - in an hour or so the whole yard was cleaned up! By tomorrow morning I'm sure we'll have a new leaf carpet though - one of the trees has yet to lose all of its leaves.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - our neighbors are great. We hung out at one of their houses for a while this evening around a fire pit while folks roasted marshmallows. We had another neighbor stop by yesterday to introduce herself and bring us a little cake! How sweet! And she has a daughter who babysits - I've already got her number:). I'm looking forward to getting to know all these people better and having them here when we are more put together.

This evening, we finished another section of the cork flooring by the stairs. It looks so warm and it feels so nice to stand on. We hope to have the whole lower level floor done by Tuesday. Speaking of which - Honey has off on Veterans Day! This new company really does things right.

So my favorite thing of late is my new washer. We got a high efficiency top loading washer and we have done several loads of regular wash in it which have been fine - easier than before but nothing earth shattering. I like that you can choose your settings and times and all - really customize it. Washing diapers in this washer has been a gift from heaven! Peanut uses cloth diapers and we have always washed them at home - never used a service. Well - I think it has never been easier or cleaner to do this! I can set it up to do a soak, and then it does a "super wash" with a sanitation cycle and an extra rinse. I used to have to do three separate wash cycles to get this all done, and now I can do it in only one or two AND they are cleaner, AND we are using way less water! The things that make me happy - sometimes I wonder...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This and That

When you are looking at homes to buy and see beautiful trees, please remember the fall. We did not think about this at all, and we now have the most leaves continuously falling that I think I have ever seen! They are all over our front yard, so you can't even see what a nice job mowing Honey has done, and are covering the sidewalk too. Our gutters were cleaned last week and already are filled up with the most gorgeous yellow leaves. We wouldn't trade these trees, but we certainly did not consider the tools or time it would cost! Off to borrow some rakes and a leaf blower from the neighbors before we splurge on our own.

We have been living here for a little over a week now, and we have a functional bathtub, two working toilets, and a little kitchen efficiency downstairs. We are hoping to have work start on rebuilding our kitchen by the end of next week. We have hired a green building contractor to do our drywall and hang the cabinets as well as lay the flooring and help with the countertop measure and ordering process. We can't wait to get started as we'd like to have Thanksgiving here, but we are preparing for plan B. Here is what our kitchen currently looks like -

Today we made a horrific discovery. We were building our IKEA kitchen cabinets and realized that a) our initial order was wrong b) we did not get what was on our initial order, and c) we are missing some very important parts of our kitchen (doors, the sink base...) and have lots of extra stuff we don't need (two extra pantry cabinets and a zillion 12" base cabinets). I've already called them and left a message but we plan on going there tomorrow first thing and trying to figure it all out. It just doesn't even match at all - the receipts are different from the original order and the packing slip is accurate for what we got - we just got the wrong stuff! Oh - another day at IKEA that I'm sure will be really entertaining.

We do have a few rooms that are starting to come together, though. The rec room is looking pretty good - just needs a little quarter round and we are done there. Our bedrooms are pretty well set, and the bathroom in the upstairs hall is starting to look more like a bathroom and less like a closet with a tub. We got the vanity in, and just need to install the sink top and toilet. We did decide to do the Caroma dual flush thanks to a comment on this blog! Hopefully it will work out for us - we should get it next week I think.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ah Verizon, how I have missed you!

As you can see, I have been a little out of touch lately! We had our internet, phone and TV all set up just before we moved in and though all was well with the world. Last Wednesday, our old systems got shut down, and we were all set to re point our email addresses and transfer our phone line, until...
Monday when we were told that in order to re point the emails, our old DSL account and new FIOS account needed to be in the same name. Well, Honey had set up the new account when we had our division of labor, so the names were not the same. Verizon can't have two people on an account - that would be crazy. So we had to cancel the service and have it disconnected and then do a new order for service in my name. OY! Of course, it took about three hours on the phone with them to figure out that was what needed to happen. And then another several calls each day since then to follow up. Finally this afternoon we have all systems go (although, our email addresses still do not work - I was told to give it 24 hours and then call back!).

So I am back on the blog and have a lot to catch up on. The short story is that we are working hard and are very tired! More to come...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A little slice of heaven!

We are in! While it is total chaos, and we are still trying to find a towel of toothpaste, we are so glad to be here. Yesterday morning I took a walk with crazy dog and Peanut and it was so wonderful waving to the neighbors (and them waving back!) and just enjoying our new space. It made me think of a song "Another Day In Paradise" - it's country - I know - a little corny - but here it is We just got our hot water on yesterday, and we have a little makeshift kitchen, but we are here and together and so happy I could just cry!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Since my last post, we have been so busy running to and fro, keeping contractors from stepping on one another, and working hard! Unfortunately, I was only able to work with the electrician on Wednesday morning and we spent most of the time ripping down the kitchen ceiling and cleaning up fallen insulation (add new insulation in attic to "to do" list and unexpected expenses...). I did have a brief moment of "hmmm, maybe we should raise the ceiling and add skylights" before snapping back to reality. While I didn't learn much about electrical renovation, we did make progress, and now the kitchen is wired!

On Wednesday and Thursday night, I re tiled the bathroom - it came out pretty well. There are a few spots that are messy and a few tiles I need to cut with a better saw that that dinky manual tile cutter, but overall I am pleased.

We hired someone to refinish our floors upstairs, and they started work yesterday. Apparently, there was no love lost between him and the electrician - almost had to break up a little territory fight - but they are doing beautiful work. Sanding the floors alone was a tremendous improvement. The second coat of sealer went on this morning, and they are really sparkling! The best part is they are using a water based low VOC sealer that really has no smell and is very safe to breathe, so Honey and I have been able to work while they seal and I have had no qualms about bringing Peanut around. They were hoping to be done today, but it is pouring and the sealer is taking a long time to dry, so the last coat wont go on until Monday. That will push some of the planned work for Monday, but there is much to do downstairs, so we will stay busy.

Honey and I finished the rec room floor and laid the office floor today. We went out and got all of the trim and base molding as well. We started at the Habitat Restore where trim is $2 a piece no matter what it is - that is really good! They have a lot of laminate and finished wood trim and we were looking for unfinished wood, so we only found two pieces - cost $4 but if we had bought them at Home Depot where we got our other trim they would have easily been $12-18. We saved those two pieces from a landfill and put a few dollars to a charity. I think they have a vanity sink top that might work for us too - we'll have to go back next week. They had a six burner gas stainless steel cook top and an exhaust hood that came from a display - all for under $2k. I almost cried - if only we didn't have our whole kitchen planned and in the works - I would work around those in an instant! It is a place to check out if you haven't been.

On the green front, I think we are doing pretty well. I would have liked to use recycled tiles in the bathroom, but they are really expensive. Had we done it ourselves from scratch, I think we would have gotten a lot of the tile and grout at the Restore. Since we had hired someone to do a fast no nonsense bath, we veered from course there, and obviously that did not work out for us! We have been doing a good job of reusing wood and other things from the house as we go, and have of course done all low/no VOC finishes.

Our next task will be to check out insulation options. Our outside kitchen wall is very thin and can't take extra insulation. Of course if we had figured that out before running the gas line, we could have added a true framed 2x4 wall and had no issues. But, our range installation guide is really specific and we didn't get everyone coordinated on this so we are going to just deal with the 1/2" insulation dilemma. We have also heard some about a spray on insulation for the attic that sounds really interesting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ranger Jim Would Be So Proud

Honey and I have missed our dads quite a lot throughout this whole process. They would have both been down here discussing the best way to do this or that, and instead of us busting our rears we would probably be getting them beers and kicking back a little more. His dad installed heating and air conditioning and could pretty much build or fix anything. My dad never met a project he didn't like. Growing up I truly thought he could build, fix, or make anything better. I know my "no fear" attitude towards home improvement came from him - you can always fix something if you break it - it's just stuff.

We had a guy who worked on our house when I was growing up named Charley Jones. He was a rough guy, smoked his cigarettes and gave one word answers. My dad always worked with him and learned as he went as well as got a better price on whatever renovation they were doing. Well, tomorrow starts my first apprenticeship a la Charley Jones. I'll be spending the next two days working with our electrician to wire our kitchen so I can learn as well as keep our costs down. When he offered this deal, I had to laugh - dad would be thrilled to learn about circuits and daisy chains and whatever else I'll be doing!

After a little more tiling last night I came to the rude realization that although my tile work looks pretty good, I was using the wrong mastic, using too much of it, and that we would need to remove it all and start over. So I got new bigger tiles today and all of the right supplies and Honey is over there right now prepping the wall all over again. One step forward, two steps back. On a better note, the plumbing was mostly done today - the only issue that remains is a leak in the gas line to the hot water heater. So we don't have hot water, but we do have water and heat!

Our current plan is to move in next Wednesday. Hmmmm. We are looking for a small refrigerator to set up our kitchenette in the office, and I've started packing some boxes. At least we will have the apartment until the 31st to shower and cook if we need to camp out here a little. Maybe it will make us eat more raw foods and do a little healthier cuisine for a while. I tend to think we might be grubbing for meals more than we think.

Peanut has been enjoying her visits to the house now that she can get down and move around in there a bit more. I had forgotten how much she loves to go up and down stairs! She loves to see the joggers and their dogs come by - she is always running down the hill towards them yelling "goggie!". At the apartment today, she had almost every toy she owns out in the living room and I was just envisioning the cozy rec room with all of her stuff and how nice it will be to once again have some more space so the toys don't look as though they are outnumbering us!

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Skills

Another hard working weekend has come and gone. We were all set to get down to business on Saturday when we got to the house and then, we had an unexpected development. I popped into the bathroom downstairs and noticed the bathroom ceiling dripping. OK. So I investigate, and find the bathtub faucet dripping. I try to shut it off but I can't, and the drain is not in right so it is dripping down around the drain and below the tub. I call the plumber to see if he noticed anything Friday, but he has not been working in that room at all, so he says he can come Monday to check it out and meanwhile we should shut the main off to stop the drip. After doing this, I cut into the very soggy ceiling with my utility knife and the whole area comes down on the floor dripping wet! I am thinking "Oh no! I was not prepared for all of this!"

So Honey arrives and takes in the scene, and after I cry a bit, we decide to clean the floors, paint the bedroom trim and deal with the vanity in the upstairs bathroom rather than think about the new leak. We got the floors cleaned up and covered with moisture barrier downstairs in the rec room in preparation for laying the cork floor on Sunday. The trim paint makes the bedroom walls pop - it needs one more coat but looks really pretty now. Unfortunately, we did have to demolish the vanity cabinet to get it out of the bathroom.

On Sunday, I learned how to tile. I got a few rows of 3 x 6 subway tile in before I realized what a huge mistake I had made choosing a smaller tile. I should have picked up the box of 4 x 8's! It's not hard, just tedious. We laid most of the rec room floor, and got much better at maintaining the proper spacing at the walls as we went along. We are planning on having some really substantial molding to cover up some big spaces we left before we knew better :). The cork does look really pretty and it is so cushy to walk on!

We got a call from the contractor who had a solution for us. He wanted to go half and half on a new vanity cabinet and keep on working on the house. After a long and heated discussion, we decided that since we didn't trust him to complete the work without jerry rigging something that we would not go that route thank you very much. Turns out, he felt that since the plumber and electrician were cutting up the walls, that he could do so too! Never mind that they are doing major system reconstruction and that they each asked prior to chopping a hole, and that the holes are all in the utility room, a closet ceiling, and the back room behind the rec room. He also was pretty upset with me for hiring painters. At least he admitted that. He still feels that I am a little nuts for being so upset...Anyway - he will drop off the key this week.

Today, (and Saturday) I had to work a little bit (Oh man - it's hard to go back!) and then met the plumber to talk about the bathroom. He needs to replace the whole tub drain assembly and will fix the toilet flange too so we can install a toilet without a big production. I'm planning on going over to tile tonight and probably every night this week. I'm also leaning some electrical stuff this week! Our electrician has agreed to let me "work" for him while he wires our kitchen in order to bring the project cost down. I'll save a bit of cash and lean some new skills too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Did WHAT?????

I knew we had to hit some rough waters at some point. Thus far, our issues have been purely mechanical - the unexpected expenses coming from what we have found lurking behind the walls. I have been so pleased that I found a plumber and electrician we love, the painters have been great so far, and our contractor has been fine. Coming from someone who swore off all contractors after our last house remodel, this is a big deal. Today, my dislike of contractors was once again validated.

Last night, I sent Honey over to the house to lock up and check all the windows, etc. He found two of our guys finishing up with the bathroom and heading out. When he came home he said the vanity top was a little high and covered part of the electrical outlet. Maybe the vanity was sitting on something or not quite in yet - give the guys the benefit of the doubt - but he alerted me to check it out in the morning. So this morning, the house greets me with its beautiful new less colorful interior and I am happy. I do my rounds as usual, and everything is neat and orderly and work seems to be moving along.

As I turn on the bathroom light, I start to sweat. The vanity is in place, but the backsplash covers the bottom of the outlet. That is not nearly the issue though. The drywall has been cut out on the left side of the vanity and the studs have been shaved down in order to make it fit. Clearly, the vanity is the wrong size for the room. In addition, the sink is in the center, when we specifically discussed pushing the sink to the right so you would not have to sit on the toilet while you wash your hands. So, I stress, and I start painting. I'm fuming as the plumber arrives, the painters arrive, and finally the contractor. When I broached the subject of the vanity being the wrong size and maybe we should fit the cabinet to the room rather than destroying the room to fit the cabinet, he becomes agitated and tells me basically that it is my fault - I had already seen the cabinet in the living room and liked it. Since I didn't go and measure to check his work (which I should have!) I can't see how liking the cabinet amounts to knowing it will fit and set up the way we discussed. He's the contractor - I assume that is what he knows how to do. Bad assumption.

Anyway, we don't come up with a solution - he spends a lot of time telling me how he will shave down the drawers so they will still open and that the drywall can be shoved in there too, and no, Peanut will not trash the drywall the minute she opens the drawer... then he says if I don't want to deal with all of that then we need a custom cabinet and I agree. He and I both go off and continue working.

Well, if you can believe it, there is more. I leave to pick up Peanut from daycare, and then we come back to check on all of the work in the late afternoon. All of the contractors tools, equipment, truck, trailer, lawn sign, and stuff is gone. There is a printout on the vanity of a custom cabinet plan from Home Depot. I can't tell if this is what he ordered, something I am supposed to consider, or just so I know how much it will cost. No call, no note. Clearly, this is pushing a big button for him. Things like this happen with remodeling all of the time. I have never ever seen or heard of anything like this. Our bathroom has no wall tile, no fixtures, no light, medicine cabinet, no functional vanity, no toilet, and a completely destroyed wall! It looks like he finished (I say that loosely - there is no knob and the nails are sticking out and it's not plumb) installing the door to our bedroom. He still has not wired the lights in the gym, so we have random
wires hanging down in a dark room.

So I left a message on his cell, saying gosh I noticed all your stuff was gone and this printout here...what is it for? What is the plan? I've done the math and it looks like we might be OK - what we owe seems to be just about what he has yet to do. I am now faced with a half done bathroom that really needs to be functional within two weeks...and I need to figure out what to do about the studs. I think I will sister them if I can. Oy.

On the positive side of the day - our kitchen cabinets arrived and although they are in a million boxes, they are beautiful! So our weekend will likely be fixing the bathroom instead of laying the cork flooring downstairs as planned. Oh well - we could stand to learn something new.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Build It And They Will Come

Contractors descended upon the house this morning. At about 9:30 I realized that I had scheduled too many people for the same day! It all worked out fine - no one tripped over anyone else - buy boy there was a lot going on!

We've hired painters to do all of the patching, priming and painting in our living room, foyer, hall and rec room. There were just too many holes to patch and the foyer is too tall for me to get up there - I'm leaving that to the pros. They started this morning and by this afternoon the house was transformed. A skim coat on the gray splotchy faux finish made the walls smooth and clean, and the new primer makes everything bigger and sunnier. I spent the morning doing the second coat of paint on the bedroom walls upstairs and the insides of the closet in Peanut's room. I just can't stand the idea of her stuff touching old filth. Better to be on clean new paint.

Our heating folks also came to install the new duct work. We had some parts missing as the folks who lived here before had an electronic air filter that they took with them and just left the space between the furnace and the duct empty. Got to love that. Well, we discovered more missing today. On the left side of the furnace, the return is missing the back and side! It has a front and top so it looks fine until you look at it from the inside, when you notice it is not a duct but a piece of metal bent to look like a duct. In order to get to that to fix it, either the water heater needs to move or we need to cut a hole in the wall in the hallway. Drywall is cheaper than plumbing...

Contractor Mark came by and went over the kitchen plans with me. We may have him do our drywall in there and just hang the cabinets ourselves. He finished the grouting in the bathroom, taped and mudded a wall, and primed the bathroom walls. I picked out some tiles this afternoon for the shower (finally!) and went back to the house to show him, but he must have been all done with the chaos. I'll catch him tomorrow I'm sure.

The plumber came in and made the kitchen plumbing right! No more are there pipes along the floor and walls in the kitchen - they pop up out of the floor under the sink where they ought to be. We had the water shut off today so he can continue the work on the main. This is the time when I am so happy to have a well - at least we have water for clean up outside!

Our chimney was cleaned and inspected - it was filthy as anticipated. It also has some loose bricks, a big gap in the liner, and basically we can't use it until it is fixed. We have been living without a fireplace for quite some time - I'm not concerned about making it through the winter without it really. It is on the bottom of the priority list.

Two weeks from today we are moving in. That seems a little nuts, but I think we can have our bedrooms and the rec room set by then, which is really all we need for now. A microwave, mini fridge and some friends with a stove will keep us fed somewhat healthily for a few weeks until we can complete the kitchen. I'm just hopeful that we can get our hardwoods refinished before that day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My head is spinning will all that is still left to do and organize. As expected, we are finding the unexpected behind walls and so each step takes longer and more problem solving than we had planned for. We have a plumber and electrician we love and are having them help us wade through the craziness of this house's innards.

Our flooring arrived late last night (very late - I had to come home to put Peanut to bed and Honey had to bring in all 47 boxes on his own!) and can be installed once the basement walls are patched in the rec room and the office wall is taped and mudded. Hopefully that can be finished in time for Honey and I to lay the whole lower level floor this weekend. The bedrooms upstairs are now painted their true colors - they just need a second coat and the trim.

This morning I went to get a permit for the removal of the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Oh what a process! We were there for over two hours and still haven't completed the process. Peanut was signing "milk" and getting tired and crabby, so I decided to bail and finish this tomorrow. I was getting ready for the building review and it seemed the guy was being pretty picky, so I figured my little line drawing might not cut it anyway - I'll make a nice drawing and hope to get there early tomorrow.

This afternoon we'll go over to the house to check out the flooring, check in with contractor Mark, meet with the electrician about the kitchen, and make some decisions about who is doing our kitchen - us or someone else!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Things I Have Learned About Toilets

  • There are different sizes - 10", 12", and 14" rough ins - and ours is over 11" but not quite 12" which means that the toilets for a 12" will fit, but have less of a space behind the tank than they should.
  • Different toilet manufacturers give more or less room for a fudge factor with the rough in. Toto gives more space with some of their models than say Kohler.
  • There are lots of ways toilets work! Gravity assist, siphon....I don't even remember.
  • There are entire websites, group chats, and info sites devoted to toilet performance discussions and reviews!
  • Dual flush toilets are "hard to install" according to most people who don't buy into the dual flush idea overall.
  • There is a lot of discussion about how high the water is in the bowl and whether or not your kids can aim well enough that you don't have to constantly clean the bowl.
  • There are all kinds of high tech ways to reduce "skid marks". Who knew? The finish on the toilet, the size of the opening, the shape of the bowl... all things to consider.
  • I will go completely out of my mind choosing a toilet that will fit our rough in, work for our babe, us, our guests, and use less water, and stay clean, and not cost a fortune, and be simple to install.


What a difference a little paint makes! I am sore and tired, but all of the upstairs bedrooms are primed and their ceilings are painted - no more black and maroon walls! We had a little contest between Olympic (Lowes) no VOC primer and Sherwin Williams Harmony no VOC primer and the Harmony won hands down. The Olympic was runny and had trouble covering the dark colors while the Harmony was think and covered nicely. So, after the attempt to save some $ on paint failed, we promptly bought 8 about $400 worth of paint this weekend. The colors are beautiful - the ceilings already look so nice and warm with their "morning sun" glowy cream coats.

The tile is in on the bathroom floor and the last shreds of vinyl were pried up from the concrete floor downstairs today. Poor honey worked so hard at that - it was brutal. These tiles were really stuck to the concrete, which was a sad thing since all of our other flooring has come out so easily. Both of us have not been to the gym in a few days, but we certainly got our workouts this weekend. We used a power roller for much of the painting, which made it fast, but boy is it heavy! I'll have shoulders like Lara Croft by the time we are done.

The kitchen stud walls came down and we can really see how the layout will look. We've been going back and forth on finishing the kitchen ourselves or having our kitchen guy help out. He is supposed to come walk through on Wednesday and we are scheduled to start with him on Thursday. We go back and forth feeling as though we are already doing so much on our own so why not continue, and feeling like it might be nice to just hand it all over.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just Fun Show and Tell

Here is an example of the craziness we see all over the house. This junction was behind the wall, without a junction box. The microwave was hardwired here. This wouldn't be so scary except the wire was pulled from the outlet that the range was connected to. So two appliances connected to one circuit with completely unsafe fire hazard wiring.

Here is a shot of our calendar on the apartment wall. It is the only way anyone remembers what the plan for each day is and what needs to be followed up on.

Well, this one is a little blurry, but you will note that the plumbing on the right is for the old washer and dryer that were in the kitchen, and the pipes come off of that set up and travel completely around the corner and wall to the sink area. All of the pipes are exposed, every cabinet must have been cut to make this work. The black pipe you see is the vent/drain and the smaller copper pipes at the floor are the hot and cold water lines. This, we did not anticipate - I really thought it was the other way around - the sink
branched off to the washer. Ah, wishful thinking!

Customer Service? Do We Have That?

It has been a heck of a day. Peanut and I met the plumber this morning and went over the plan for the day, then we dashed off to IKEA to order our kitchen cabinets. Since this will be my second IKEA kitchen, I have a clue as to what I am doing, and have already completed and reviewed the plan a million times on the planning tool. SO we get there and I upload the plan, print it out and I think "great - we should be out of here in no time!". Ahhhh, no. We got the brand new kitchen associate who took TWO HOURS to review and verify that all the parts were there and the doors were the right finish and the toe kicks were all there.... And then, we bought everything and went to set up delivery, when we discovered that the wine rack in our plan has been discontinued and it is out of stock! Well, if the wine rack goes that screws up my wall cabinet plan, so now I have to replace it with another cabinet. The act of "returning" the wine rack and replacing it with a cabinet and adding it to the current delivery order rather than me going to self serve for part of it and having the cabinet door sent UPS (!?) takes no less than five people and another 2 hours.

Meanwhile, my tiny one has been cooped up in her ERGO all day and is just itching to move. We finally get out of there and head back to the house. In my perfect world, our day included time to go home and have lunch and maybe spin around the playground. Since it is now 2:30pm, and I have not eaten and Peanut only had a little fruit and granola bar at IKEA, we must stop and grab a bite on the way to meet the contractor at 3pm. OK, it is the most horrific idea, but we stop at Burger King of all places! So I'm driving down the road and handing fries and bits of chicken over the back seat to my little one who hasn't the foggiest idea about fast food, but is saying "MMMM" every time I ask if she wants another. Oh yes, she loved it to my dismay. Of course, we arrived at the house, talked with the plumber (and paid him!), met up with my Honey, and got the tiles figured out with the contractor before I could finally sit down and wolf that whopper down. It is 9:30 and I am still feeling that mistake.

We are looking forward to a long weekend of work and hoping to get much done. On tap for tomorrow: prime all of the bedrooms, prep the floors downstairs for the cork, and finish taking the soffitts and wall down in the kitchen. We've also got a few more lights to install, and our contractor will hopefully be done tiling the bathroom floor and will be putting the wall up between the office and the utility room. We hope to finish all of the painting this week, lay the flooring next weekend, and start having the wiring and plumbing in the kitchen done while we build our cabinets which should arrive by the end of next week. We've got three more weekends before we move in!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cash is flying out of our hands

Even knowing how much work and how much money we had planned on putting into this house has not helped me feel any less stressed about actually writing the checks. Maybe it is a good sign, a sign that things are moving quickly and we will have a livable house very soon. Maybe it is a sign that our budget is not nearly enough for all of the help this house needs. I'm sure this doom and gloom economy is not helping the feeling that we are just watching our bank accounts disappear...

We do, however, have a great house and there really is a lot that has been accomplished so far. We are not even a week in to our renovation and we are ready to paint the bedrooms, the wall in the gym is down, the wall in the office is being rebuilt, the new bathtub is in, the bathroom subfloor and tile backer went in today, we have a new electrical panel with wiring to code, we have lights that work (and look good too) in most of the rooms, and the kitchen is completely gutted and ready to be new next week. Our appliances are being ordered tomorrow, our cork flooring arrives tomorrow, and I plan on ordering the kitchen cabinets tomorrow as well.

The systems of the house have been the most expensive and necessary part of this remodel so far. I've already mentioned a little about the electricity, we are now on to the water issues. The water main comes into the house at the front, goes through a closet, up a wall and through the utility room where it meets up with the water meeter. That is where the main shut off valve is right now. So, if there is a problem with the pipe from the main to the shut off, we have no way to stop the water aside from having the water company come and shut off the main at the street. So we have the plumber coming tomorrow morning to put a new main shut off valve on the water coming into the house, and help us figure out how to deal with the pipe running through the closet! He will also untie the well and city water - they were illegally attached when the prior owner did not pay his water bill and decided to just use the well for the whole house.

We continue to have luck with craigslist and freecycle. Our toilet went today and someone has claimed our vanity cabinets and laminate counter tops for pickup this weekend. Our metal scavenger was back today for the cast iron tub, the old electrical panel and meter, and all of the wire (I had no idea wire could be recycled!). We did order a dumpster to arrive on Saturday - we have quite a bit of old subflooring, drywall, carpet, and other non-recyclable things. Hopefully we will just need one, and we can continue to be careful with how much we toss.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The rest of our lives

I am so wrapped up in this renovation, that I forget about the rest of our lives. My tiny Peanut is getting to be such a big girl I can hardly stand it. She is such a joy - on all of our outings and errands and meeting with contractors, she is cheerful and social, and always gives a smile and wave. She makes my day, and sometimes I think she makes other people's too :) Our little family has been doing well throughout all of this stress, and we are all looking forward to our new home and neighborhood. I think the dog has no idea how she will love to bound around in that yard!

A tad bit sore

After such a productive weekend, I am felling a little like I am running in place today. We are getting ready for the energy star and watersense tax holiday next weekend, compiling a list of our appliances and fixtures and trying to find the best deal for it all. It should really pay off since we need every single appliance and new faucets and toilets throughout the house!

We had some more materials saved from the landfill - someone came from to pick up our discarded tiles from the kitchen. He planned on using them for a project with his church group. I'm still working on the range and all that leftover lumber. It seems there is a market for most anything.

We did choose our cork flooring for the lower level today and ordered online - that is one thing that has been amazing through this. Prices online are so much lower than the store! We got quotes of $10/square foot for cork and wound up paying just over $3 for the same thing on They will ship it to us and leave it on our driveway. Pretty nice. If you are willing to do the research, it is worth it.

Tomorrow the electrician arrives! He will ground the house (hmmm, seems pretty important...wonder why it was not grounded before?) and clean up all of the abandoned and hot wires in the utility room. I'm excited to give someone a tour without an electric shock warning! We also start to rebuild a wall, tear down another one and demo the hall bathroom upstairs. I'm just going to head over with Peanut in the morning, let everyone in and get out of their way. We'll head over to do some appliance shopping and price comparison at Bray and Scarf, Ferguson, and Sears.

I really understand now how hard general contractors work. Keeping track of each step of each project, ordering materials, prepping the site, and keeping things rolling is really time consuming. My hands are also sore from wielding a screwdriver, crowbar, and drill all weekend!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Much Less Stinky

Another busy day for us while sweet Peanut got to play. She stayed with her aunts and cousin this afternoon and refused to nap because she was so entranced with the cat. She has a had a busy weekend of fun while mom and dad have worked.

Eco-Jani came today and scrubbed our house all day long! They literally washed the ceilings and walls, windows and doors, and all of the floors. They cleaned the inside of the fireplace! By the time they were done, we could have moved in tonight. We can no longer smell any smoke in the house - it is all fresh and clean. I am telling you, I don't think I have ever had a house so clean. They used all green products too, so it was fine to be there while they cleaned and it smells wonderful! If you need a cleaner try them - They even gave us a bag full of Seventh Generation cleaners. I was absolutely astonished at the job these folks did. We may have to treat ourselves to a regular cleaning service.

Sadly, we had to spray the shrooms with some fungicide this morning. I almost want to post a warning, but I don't want to draw more attention to them... We put some makeshift downspouts on - we have had rivers of water shooting out of the gutters and straight into the foundation walls for weeks now, and not owning the house yet, we could do nothing but cringe. Travis got busy with the crowbar and got all of the tile off the kitchen walls, and most of the drywall gone from the wall between the kitchen and dining room. We can start to see the vision for the kitchen - it is already so much brighter.

Once again, craigslist has come into play today. Our dishwasher was hauled off as well as the kitchen floor. Yes, I said the floor. I started to pull it up and realized it was clic/lock tiles rather than vinyl. After popping a few pieces out pretty easily, the guy came for the dishwasher and I offered the floor as well. He said sure and I just sat back while they pulled it up! We've got quite a few intact tiles that we have put on CL as well. This demo ain't so rough!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tearin' It Up

Our first workday was really productive! We were able to get the disgusting black carpet up and out of the rec room, hall, and bedroom downstairs. I don't even want to know what was on that carpet and pad. It looked like one day they just decided to put down carpet - no cleaning the floor, just "let's lay a carpet - how about black?!". There were leaves and money, matches,, papers, and lots of dirt under that carpet. Once we pulled that up, we pulled the black hearth tiles out and with them came some of the vinyl that was under the carpet. So out that came too - pretty easily. We dismantled the big stage (the rec room was decked out as a theatre room) and got part of the second one out. Those may be the most well built and solid things in the entire house. We took several interior doors and closet doors out, and replaced the rails in the back portion of our split rail fence.

Meanwhile, we had a craigslist fiesta! The cabinets, washer, dryer, and refrigerator were removed and hauled off, and we expect someone to pick up the dishwasher tomorrow. So the kitchen has essentially been gutted without us doing a thing. Even the tile is just falling off the walls. Pretty sweet deal! The kitchen plumbing is a little crazy, and there is so much dirt! We found pictures, bills, business cards, change, and some odds and ends under and behind the cabinets. I'm so glad we were able to give our kitchen away. Much of the lumber we took out from the stages is in great condition, so we will either use it or freecycle it. Same goes for the closet doors. We did have a lot of trash today, but I think overall our impact on the landfill is a lot less than it might be without freecycle and craigslist.

Peanut got to play with grandma and her man - they took her to the petting zoo and the playground. She had a wonderful day being doted on and snuggled! She came to visit at the new house, and got to play a little in the yard.

Our neighbors had an Octoberfest, and we stopped by for a few after we ended our workday. It was great to meet folks and hear some stories about our houses' sordid past. Apparently, we had a bunch of teenager hanging out in our backyard last night. As I suspected, we are still the party house. We'll have to nip that...

So tired and I can already feel the sore muscles. Tomorrow is another opportunity to make this house our own!

Oh THOSE Mushrooms

A few weeks ago when it rained, I noticed there were a lot of mushrooms in the yard. I started doing some Internet searches on how to get rid of them, and came across a lot of information about types of mushrooms. I was thinking about the artwork in one of the bedrooms - there is chalkboard paint on the entire room and really lovely shroom art and graffiti all over it - and wondered...were those mushrooms THOSE mushrooms? I decided I would take a picture and post it on an identification website to see what we had. The next day, I go to the house with my camera, and the mushrooms are all gone! Well, that happened twice, so I started to think we had folks doing a little harvesting the crop. Yesterday, we had a man "in the know" at the house. The ADT guy used to work for the sheriffs office and said he could ID the shrooms. We searched and searched, and finally, I spied one slim brown stalk. We have professional confirmation of my initial suspicions! Hopefully the ATF won't bust down our door before we get rid of them. Ah, the joys of buying the neighborhood party house!

Homeowners Again

It's official - we closed on our house yesterday afternoon! It was so fast and easy, which is just a complete contrast to the rest of this process. I just haven't had the guts to look at the bank account balances yet. These foreclosures are nuts - there was no plan of getting us the keys. It was a little afterthought and the decision was that we go back to the house and get the key out of the lock box and assume someone will come for the box and the for sale sign at some point. We have a locksmith coming this morning to change the locks anyway. He will also be able to get us in to the shop in the back of the carport that we have not yet been able to access. Could be exciting!

Friday, October 3, 2008


It seemed this day would never arrive, but here we are! We close on our new house this afternoon, and I can't wait to start tearing carpet out. The gas and water were finally turned on yesterday (water was still off when the inspectors arrived!) and we completed our inspections of the furnace and other appliances. To our absolute shock - everything worked! We truly expected to have a house full of non-functional systems. Our front hall in the apartment has our calendar covered with appointments and tasks and it just keeps getting more full, but now comes the fun part - we get to start making this house our home.

My tasks for today are finalizing my appliance selections, scheduling the cleaners, plumber, electrician, and HVAC contractors, and I need to go grocery shopping - the dog has no food. I've been working on the appliances for a while, and thought I had it all figured out when I discovered that the fridge I want is not energy star compliant! That just can't be! So now we either spend an extra 1k on a fridge in the same product line, or we risk having the finishes be different and get the original pick, which was a KitchenAid fridge. Oy! Of course, I have a spreadsheet going for this as well. What a complete geek.

My mom and her boyfriend are here to help watch Peanut while we get some work done this weekend. They are having a great time with our little muffin - everything she does is the cutest ever - but who's biased? :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It IS easy being green!

So last night I put the kitchen cabinets and appliances on craigslist and said they were free to anyone who could un-install and remove them by the end of the weekend. I just couldn't see us putting all of that in a landfill, and while most of the appliances may not work, I said that someone who may want to tinker a bit might be able to fix them. Well, within 45 minutes I had two takers and by this morning there were seven people vying for the opportunity to do my demo for free and keep these things out of the trash! What a beautiful thing! I took some photos today of the bathrooms to see if I can get them gone in the same way...


After much ado yesterday, the gas bill is now paid and our title is clear! We plan on closing on Friday, and I am beginning to think that just might happen. Peanut and I went over to the house today with a friend and her babe to do a little tour. It was so nice to see the babies playing in the yard - a vision of things to come! We also walked over to the trails at the end of the neighborhood and took a little stroll in the wilderness. It seemed like we were way out in the middle of nowhere instead of suburban VA. This neighborhood just keeps getting better. Our neighbors seem great, the school is close a good, and we've got trails and a park so close by. I think we have picked a great place to live!

Monday, September 29, 2008

we just need a little gas!

We have already rescheduled our closing on the house from last Friday to this Wednesday. As of today, the gas company still did not show the balance on the account had been paid. They won't turn the gas on until the account is cleared. Better yet, we can't go to closing because there is a lien on the house because of the unpaid gas bill! So now we are scheduled to close on Friday. I have been spinning my wheels thinking about everything that needs to be done since last week, so I sure hope we can get the gas on and get the house inspected in order to close. That way, I can stop spinning and START WORKING! I never realized how much I really love gas...

the end to one obsession

After what seems like a zillion kitchen plans, we made a discovery yesterday that seems to have brought the IKEA Planner madness to an end. At Sears, we found a beautiful Jenn Air freestanding range that has a gas cook top and electric ovens below! Eureka! In addition, the burner controls are on the top right, so little hands can't reach them, and the larger lower over can cook by convection as well as conventionally. The top oven is the perfect size for everyday cooking. This find has eliminated my obsessive quizzing of everyone - "Range or wall oven and cook top?" and has made the kitchen planning much easier since we have found the goddess of all cooking appliances!

Friday, September 19, 2008

imaginary construction

The hardest thing about remodeling a foreclosure is not owning it yet. We are chomping at the bit to just get in and start doing things, but closing is not until next week. Meanwhile, we continue to meet with contractors and get estimates on all of the work to be done. This morning, we met with an electrician who kindly pointed out several more items that if not fixed are a not to code and b very unsafe. Thanks. The list gets longer, and I see our $ not stretching as far as I'd like... Oh well.

We should be able to start working next Friday afternoon after we close. I say "should" because the gas has still not been turned on in the house yet. There is some difficulty in getting the gas company to send a bill to the listing agent so they can pay it and get reimbursed by the bank. We have yet to check the furnace or any of the gas appliances. So if we haven't got gas flowing, we may have to push back closing. On the flip side, the well has been fixed which we did not expect. Saved us some money that will probably go to the electrician :)

While we wait to get in the house, I obsess about the kitchen. I have drawn up literally hundreds of kitchen plans at this point. I have researched cabinet makers, counter tops, name it. In my attempt to go green, I am looking at things I would not have thought of before. I'm trying to find out if a cabinet has particleboard in it and if it does, does it have added formaldehyde? Do the finished have VOC's? Is there an unfinished option? The hard part is that solid wood cabinets are much more expensive of course than the less eco friendly ones. Cabinets seem to be the hardest for me - some of the other materials are easy choices because of their appearance and their "greenness". Recycled glass tiles are gorgeous - it is just a question of how much of the tile is actually recycled. Same with counter tops. Anyway, I could go on (and on and on) about kitchen materials and the benefits of a layout with the oven and cook top separated vs. having a range. Maybe later. I need to go read some of my kitchen remodeling books from the library!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


So we are planning on doing some work ourselves on the new house, but we've been there before and would love to hire some folks to do some of the dirty work. This whole week has been about meeting lots of contractors, designers and handy people. We have been to the house almost every day, and poor Peanut has just about had it. She is so happy to run around on the sidewalk, but once we go inside, into the Ergo she goes and it is HOT with no power on and being so close and snuggled into mommy. She has be a very sweaty, rosy cheeked munchkin this week. I just can't let her down since we have no idea what is on the floors and she will put anything she finds in her mouth.

We have had some good meetings with folks - it looks promising. I think we will be able to hire someone to do most if not all of the kitchen at least. We are meeting with someone tomorrow who is giving us an estimate on cleaning too, which I'd really love to pass along and not do ourselves. The house was owned by some really heavy smokers and the ceiling and walls need to be scrubbed before they are painted to get the stench out. It is not going to be fun work and really I'd rather save my energy for painting over all of the garish colors. What is the deal? Almost every foreclosure we looked at had crazy colors on all of the walls. Beware - if you have bizarre colorful walls, your house might be next!