Nov 30, 2009

Baby Bash - part 1

After all the house prep, it was time for party prep. I'm not one to go crazy with decorations, I like to keep things sensible and practical. So I decided on decor that became useful gifts:

This is a towel cake, a spin on the diaper cake. Why didn't I do a diaper cake? The mother-to-be is going to use disposable diapers instead of cloth. And using disposable diapers seemed unsanitary as they cannot be washed before use.

Plus who couldn't use towels? They can be wash cloths, burp cloths, cleaning rags, snot rags, butt wipes, whatever! I actually put 4 hand towels in the middle of the bottom tier, as filler and for variety. And sort of a little surprise when it's being taken apart.

I also strung up various sized onesies between 2 curtain rods. If I had paid more attention to detail, I would have taken down the clock and painting behind it. Don't judge me.

Nov 25, 2009

House Decency - part 10

In addition to the front and back patios, I wanted to spruce up some of the plants around the property.

I hacked away at the New Zealand Flax. I took out my anger from my eye-gouging-incident.

I also hacked away at the Creeping Fig because it can't happen enough or often enough. When in doubt, cut the fig. And then keep cutting some more.

Does anyone know if an electric hedger would work on creeping fig or is this plant too floppy for it?

Nov 24, 2009

House Decency - part 9

It may not seem like it after cutting out old drywall and putting in a new piece but raking and general cleaning outside was a lot of work. Let me list the reasons:

  1. Raking on an incline is not fun.
  2. Raking a mostly dirt area is dusty.
  3. The incline is full of not only dirt, but also little rocks.
  4. Piles of leaves and little rocks can be heavy.
  5. At the bottom of the incline is our patio. which meant it got really dirty before getting clean.
  6. Ditto for the patio furniture.
  7. It's autumn so the wind blows. Wind made plants move and therefore I got poked - make that stabbed, directly in my right eyeball by a stiff New Zealand Flax.
  8. It's autumn and the leaves won't stop dropping so it's somewhat futile. And the results are really short lived.
After all that labor, we were able to start cleaning it up:

We swept the patio. Hosed off the patio furniture. Hosed down the patio. Scrubbed the cooler.

And then I scored these door mats at Target for $2.50 each (I got 1 for each set of sliding doors). They're great because not only are they dirt cheap (pun intended) but they are wider than most mats, and the boyfriend has a thing for roosters.

The front patio required very little work. Just sweeping, moving some plants around, and placing a couple chairs and moving the coffee table under here:

We decided to hang my house number sign here. It matches the coffee table and the door. And makes sense to put it in the front of the house, right?

Does it look like a lot of effort into this? Probably not.

Nov 23, 2009

House Decency - part 8

Next up, clean the fireplace. Why? Well it was going to be the gift mantle for the shower, my spin on the gift table. Because I don't have any more tables, or room for one. And the mantle would be dead space anyway.
So I gave it a good wipe down with soapy warm water, so it would be ready for clean little baby gifts.

I think it worked out pretty well. Where do you put gifts? How do you clean a brick fireplace?

Nov 20, 2009

House Decency - part 7

A huge home urgency is the kitchen is when you are without one. Ironically, once it is to a completely functional state, the details become hardly a priority at all. For over 6 months.

On our list for the kitchen:

1. Filler strips for the gaps on each side of the dishwasher

When we installed the dishwasher, we pretty much just plugged it in and rolled it into place. There were gaps on either side that exposed the insulation surrounding the exterior. We could just remove the insulation so it would be more inconspicuous, but then it wouldn't be as quiet or as heat efficient. So we rolled out the dishwasher, ripped some filler strips, installed with metal brackets behind them, and wheeled the dishwasher back into place. I think it gives a more polished look. No?

2. Install dishwasher air gap

Technically, our dishwasher model doesn't require it (I think most newer dishwashers don't). But it's always a good idea to build and install to code, so when you decide to sell, you won't have to explain or argue this. Just do it. And plan for it (we had an extra hole cut in the granite for it, during the installation). An air gap connects between the dishwasher to the disposer and prevents dirty drain water from backing up into the appliance. To install, connect a flexible hose from the dishwasher drain to the disposer's inlet (or if you don't have a disposer, to the sink's drain trap). You can also form the hose into a high arc for bonus points or if you're not using an air gap but want to take precaution.

3. Install last cabinet filler strip above fridge

I've been pondering what to do with this last gap. Ideally it would be functional, squeezing one last bit of storage out of this tiny kitchen. The only thing I've been able to think of is a place to put cookbooks, but books are heavy. And making this little sliver of a space strong enough to hold heavy books while keeping all brackets and hardware discreet would be a challenge. So for now, we wedged a piece of filler strip there. Should we keep it like this? Any other ideas?

4. Mount ice maker water filter

It was just lying in the back of the sink cabinet. It came with mounting brackets, so why not use them and get it out of the way?

5. Install toe kick under base cabinets

You may have noticed from the icemaker waterline installation that we hadn't put in the toe kick. It just wasn't a high priority. But had we done it right after we installed the waterline to the freezer, I'm sure there wouldn't be massive dust bunnies under there. Or the random garlic clove. Or baby carrot. Or two.

6. Burial for found creatures

While doing said home projects, I discovered a dead green leaf bug in the garage (I think it's called a Katydid). I took this opportunity to bury him, along with the hummingbird that's been in our freezer for 9 months. I put the 2 together in the deep hole left by the For Sale post in our front lawn. I hope that hummingbirds and katydids get along...

So now the kitchen is complete. Almost. I would deem it 99.5% finished. The last 2 things to do are install crown molding and some corner shelves. We have the materials for both projects, it's just figuring out how and when to do this...

Nov 19, 2009

House Decency - part 6

Since we had some electrical items on our to-do list, we had to turn off the electricity to the house. So we figured we might as well do all the electrical things at once (and during daylight hours for heat and light reasons) so that we only had to deal with the lack of power once. We rely on our modem for internet for music and entertainment. And to power our landline (cordless phones). And to power our coffeemaker.

1. The bathrooms were the only rooms left that did not have rocker switches and screwless outlet faceplates installed to match those throughout the house.



2. The outlet in the kitchen in the granite was white. It was supposed to be temporary but we hadn't gotten around to purchasing the black GFCi outlet, even though we special ordered the ebony screwless faceplate. I don't have a before pic but here's the after:

That was supposed to be it on our list of electrical things to do. However in doing the guest bath upstairs we rewired wrong and it ended up controlling the garage's electrical work. And then in fixing that, we blew a circuit. We left our house in a very vulnerable state in search of replacement - with the garage door wide open, new motorcycle exposed, dog with broken leg at home uncrated, but we did leave the main breakers off.

Luckily the hardware store is only a few miles away and our favorite staff member (Jason) was working that day. And he knew electrical. And us. And the dogs. And the dogs love him. And I like to think we get special treatment. So we replaced the breaker and after a couple unplanned additional hours, we finally were able to scratch electrical off our list. BTW, circuit breakers are expensive! Those are the things they keep locked up in cases.

Plus it's annoying to reset all the clocks on the microwave, range, and clock radio, and coffeemaker*.

*Have you noticed that we are a household run by coffee? More specifically caffeine, because we use our electric kettle for tea as well. We are equal opportunity caffeine addicts.

Nov 18, 2009

House Decency - part 5

After sanding the joint compound, and then painting, another item on the list was caulking the gaps in various places. Here is the gap underneath the stairway banister:

Here it is now after a bead of caulking:

And around the corbels supporting the bar counter (see previous post for before picture):

I used the finishing tool that came with the removing tool. I don't bother with painter's tape. Very little effort and polished results. You just have to deal with having to say caulking.

Nov 17, 2009

House Decency - part 4

Since we were repairing drywall using joint compound, we decided to fill in all the dings and nail holes in the walls of the rest of the house. Most of the work is the prep and clean up. And since that's unavoidable, I figure that it might as well be done everywhere because it's pretty much zero extra effort to fix up multiple imperfections, rather than one.

I like to do everything in stages. So first I go around the house with painter's tape and mark all imperfections with it:

These were some marks from the granite bar counter installation.

Some screw holes because we missed the stud when we installed this corbel, which supports the bar counter.

Something we didn't do, but had always bothered us - a big dent/chip in the texture underneath the thermostat.

Nail hole in the powder room (which never got filled in because we haven't painted any of the bathrooms, so therefore do not have any existing paint to match).

And of course the drywall repair behind the door needed several coats of paint in addition to primer to get into the nooks and crannies of the texture.

Nov 16, 2009

House Decency - part 3

One of the first items on our list to tackle, was the hole in the wall behind the doorknob. The previous owners patched the area up a couple times, and even added a plastic stop there, but we decided we could do better than that (IOW, the right way):

First, we cut out the patched up area completely. Then we kept cutting until we reached 2 studs.

Look at all the patch gunk we discovered!

Then we cut out a a piece of new drywall to insert into the hole. We screwed errr nailed* the new piece into the studs.

We then went over the seams with joint compound and sanded after it was dry.

Then primed, and 3 coats of paint, and problem solved!

*Our battery to the cordless drill is dead. This is making life around the house really difficult. We could use a sympathy drill...

Nov 10, 2009

House Decency - part 2

On the list was to refinish the other bar stool. That is still a work in progress right now (but nearly over!), as I just put on the final coat of polyurethane. But here is how I reupholstered the seat:

First go find fabric that tickles your fancy. I liked this punchy graphic print and thought it would stand out nicely against the newly refinished wood.

Then, I removed the staples holding the former fabric (navy blue with stripes) with a flat head screwdriver. That showed the original seat which is a stiff, off white canvas (with stains). I decided to leave this on because the pelon under the seat was attached to this. Then I staged my new fabric over the seat making sure there was enough around the edges to staple through.

Begin by stapling in the center of each side to hold it in place. Make sure that the fabric is lined up correctly (especially if you have stripes) so nothing is off center or crooked.

I recommend tucking the raw edges underneath for extra grippage and less chances for the fabric to fray.

Pull tight as you go along and take care around the corners.

Done. Now attach to your chair and have a seat!

Nov 9, 2009

House Decency

We are having a celebration this weekend for parents-to-be Brandon and Yuan! And it's going to be at our house. So that meant a lot of de-ghettofying had to be done.

Here's what our to-do list was at the start of the weekend:

  1. Get a new coffeemaker so that we can get this list done (I broke the carafe to the existing one. Note to self, granite is harder than glass. That's why I got a stainless steel one, see above)
  2. Electrical work to install new GFCi outlet in powder room, guest bath, new rocker switches and new GFCi outlet in kitchen
  3. Drywall repair to fix hole in wall behind garage entry door from the door knob (caused by us freaking out during this incident)
  4. Patch up various nail holes and wall dings
  5. Texturize over said patch ups
  6. Paint over said patch ups, and touch ups throughout the house
  7. Caulking under bar counter corbels
  8. Rip and install toe kick along base cabinets in kitchen
  9. Rip and install filler strips in kitchen
  10. Install dishwasher air gap hose
  11. Mount water filter connected to ice maker
  12. Strip, stain, refinish bar stool #2 (here is stool #1)
  13. Attack creeping fig as much as possible
  14. Trim New Zealand Flax along driveway
  15. Prime and paint 2 side tables
  16. Clean fireplace
  17. Sweep up patio
  18. Rake leaves
And of course general cleaning. We didn't accomplish everything on that list but we did quite a bit. And of course we encountered some things along the way (what home project would be complete without some unexpected hurdles?), like wiring the guest bath wrong so that it controlled the garage electricity as well. And then fixing it only to blow a circuit breaker. And then going to get a new one and discovering how expensive those suckers are!

Nov 6, 2009

Mater Tots

Here are the fruits of my non-labor:

I bought this Lemon Boy tomato seedling back in May and have been neglecting it ever since.

This is the third batch that I've plucked. I continue to ignore this plant while it produces sweet tomatoes. My kind of gardening!

Nov 5, 2009

Low-sitting Fruit

One of my latest scores at a moving sale:

It was a good deal, not a deal of the century, but good enough to pick it up without having a need or want for one of these. Care to guess how much I shelled out?

Nov 4, 2009

Garden Grounds

A few weeks ago, I came across this at Starbucks:

I hadn't seen this in over 4 years, so I thought they had stopped doing it. And of course 4 years ago I did not have a garden. Or plants, really. But now, I have a use maybe even a need for this!

This is a bag of old coffee grounds that can be used in your garden. It's supposed to be beneficial to your garden. And best of all, it's being kept out of a landfill.

The bag states that it can be used directly to your garden or plants or your compost. Since we are regular coffee drinkers at home, I already have a regular supply of grounds going into the compost, so I decided to use this for my Azalea shrub.

So I guess we'll see what happens in the spring...

Nov 3, 2009

Dung It

This post is about excrement (doggy doo - excited?). And more specifically, how I choose to bag it. If you have read this post and this post, then you would certainly understand this post.

I don't buy poop bags because I'm cheap. And it's just money into the trash (I was going to say down the drain but that wouldn't be technically correct). So I reuse existing bags that otherwise would go into a landfill empty.

  1. Newspaper bag (I shred and toss the newspaper into the compost)
  2. Small shopping bag from Jo-Ann (watch out for those cut out handles!)
  3. Bag that SOLO plastic cups come in
  4. Bag that Rite Aid plastic cups come in
  5. Bag that Shoppers Value plastic cups come in
  6. Hardware store bag that hold nuts, bolts, screws (extra tough but a little too short to tie big poo)

  1. Bread bag (long and sturdy for those messy poops that require pulling up grass with it)
  2. Tortilla bag (not quite long enough to tie easily, so reserve this for little dry turdlets that can be contained with that thin ziplock seal)
  3. English muffin bag (a slimmer version of the bread bag)
  4. Shredded carrots bag (same use as tortilla bag, see #2! No pun intended)
  5. Produce bag (this is the ultimate, it will never fail you if you snag them unused. They're long and can be stuffed easily into your pocket and have a large capacity. One of these suckers can rid a whole yard of well-formed-excrement in one go. The only downside is that they are clear so if you are on a walk, others will see the lovely contents you are toting around.)
With 4 dogs here for a week, that meant a lot of poop at various times of the day in assorted sizes, shapes, colors and smells. So I got creative with my turd baggage. If you have any other suggestions, let me know - gosh dung it!