Nov 24, 2010

Thanks, but No Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all (2) of you reading this! This year, we're saying no to turkey and yes to tofurky:

More accurately, we're saying no to having turkey on the dinner table. But yes to sponsoring one:

And specifically, this turkey:

This is Harley*. He is in Farm Sanctuary's California shelter, you know, just chilling out.

The adoption certificate is on the way! Stay tuned. And have a great holiday!

*no relation to this Harley

Nov 17, 2010

Window Opportunity

Here was our list of pros and cons to help us come to this decision:

Pros of DIY:
  1. all money goes towards the windows, which means we can get top of the line windows
  2. top of the line windows would obviously qualify for the energy efficiency tax credit
  3. after this project, we'd know how to install windows
  4. $400 off right off the bat by opening 2 new Home Depot credit cards
  5. rental of truck is pretty cheap (we get first hour free with the Home Depot credit card)
  6. rental of scaffolding is pretty cheap (like $70 a week)
Cons of DIY:
  1. rental of a vehicle to pick up the windows
  2. rental of extra tall ladders and scaffolding
  3. need tons of caulk to seal around the windows, and other finishing touches
  4. disposing old windows
  5. we have a 2 story house
  6. I'm not very big or strong
  7. if we broke or dropped a window, that's a lot of money wasted
  8. if we broke or dropped a window, that's several weeks until a replacement arrives (and see #1 of this list)
  9. we're going into rainy season
Pros of pros (professionals):
  1. the windows they offer qualify for the energy efficiency tax credit
  2. we sign the dotted line and they do everything in 1 day
  3. we instantly free up a lot of time by not having to study up on this and making several hundred trips to the hardware store
  4. we instantly free up a lot of time by not planning to do this on nights and weekends
  5. they guarantee their labor
  6. they have all the proper permits and know all the current city codes and laws
  7. we don't have to source tools or ladders
  8. we don't have to worry about how to get the new windows here
  9. we don't have to worry about how to get rid of the old windows
Cons of pros (professionals):
  1. it costs a lot more
  2. they will see our messy house
So as you can see by my lists above (or by the photo), we decided to get 'er done by the pros.

When they came to give us a free quote, they informed us that our city's new laws require all windows to be tempered glass, and they have all the appropriate permits that are apparently required to do this job. We didn't know about any of this.

We got a quote and it seemed reasonable, at less than double the price of DIY, for better windows (rated #1 by J.D. Power and Associates), with an awesome warranty - a double lifetime warranty. What's that? It means that the warranty carries over to the next homeowners as well. And it covers accidental breakage. And we can use our Home Depot credit card to finance this super blingy job.

This was all music to my ears.

So we offered him leftover Halloween candy, signed on the dotted lines, and handed over our plastic.


Nov 10, 2010

Window Shopping

We have been window shopping (literally) because we are getting NEW WINDOWS! I am not sure if I have mentioned before that our windows are original to our 1973 house, which means they have been around longer than my parents have been in this country!

Here are photos of our current windows from the exterior:

And a close up on the interior:

And here's how I've dealt with them for the past 2 years:

Unfortunately the new retrofits won't cover this stuff up so we'll have to finally address it:

We measured all 9 of our windows last week. We are planning to get 3 casements, 7 side sliding, and 1 picture window. So we are replacing all 9 windows in our home. And if you're crunching the numbers you'll see that it looks like I do funny math but we are upgrading our old windows while we're at it - adding 3 casements. And that doesn't add up either because 2 of the casements are going in 1 window. Y'all are keeping me accountable!

Why are we replacing our windows? Why don't we want to stay in the 70's with our old aluminum frames that rock back and forth instead of slide? Well here is the number one reason, but also because there's a Federal Tax Credit for Consumer Energy Efficiency that expires at the end of this year. That's in a little over a month. We love to wait until the last minute (and Rylie breaking her leg last year didn't help the matter either)...

Anyway, with the tax credit, you get 30% of the cost (not including labor and installation) back up to $1500. Reaching that $1500 max is no problem when you're doing an entire house. And if you plan on getting new windows, just go ahead and do the whole house - everything will match and labor will be quicker/easier/cheaper. And you have to get qualifying windows (but why wouldn't you? The ones that don't qualify must suck). Just be sure to file tax form 5695 with your 2010 return, and keep a copy of your manufacturer's certification statement for your records (a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying that their product qualifies for this credit which can be found on their website).

So much research to do - what brand? Vinyl? Grids? Casements? Egress? Tempered? Hinges on which sides? And THE biggest question is - DIY or get 'er done by professionals or a combination of the two? Suggestions?

Nov 8, 2010

Accidental Gardening

Apparently it's not just grass that requires water to grow, it's other plants as well. Here's a surprise I discovered recently:

They are tiny but I didn't even plant these. They probably came from seeds in the compost. I love accidental gardening!

Nov 5, 2010

Jump Around

Look at me!


Nov 4, 2010

Snake Along

Look what Rylie found on our walk through the area behind our property:

A snake of some kind (not rattlesnake). Any idea what? Something ate off its head, I'm guessing coyote, but why would they leave the rest of the body behind? Maybe it was venomous and died after eating the head and before it could finish? I'm really curious...

Nov 3, 2010

On Borrowed Grass

Since it's been raining a bit, we actually have a lawn now! Who knew that grass required water? Even after nearly depriving it of the wet stuff for 2 years!

Here's a picture of what our lawn looked like before we moved in (and ripped out the evil Creeping Fig):

Here is what our lawn has looked like the last 2 years:

Now add this:
(photo credit: Scott's)

And here is what our lawn looks like now:

The only drawback is that the dogs cannot be near the fertilizer for 24 hours. And I covered every inch of grass on our property.


Looks like we'll be using the neighbor's lawn for the dogs to potty on...

Nov 2, 2010

Jerk Around


Nov 1, 2010

Pick Up Our Marbles

Although we may have lost our minds in any given home project, we've definitely picked up some literal marble for the master bath renovation:

You're looking at 7 packs of yummy chocolate marble tile in the back of Mitsi:

Just look at those tasty veins. I think this is going to be my favorite aspect of the new master bath.

See how those stacks of marble tile are now magically stacked in the garage? Yep, that was from yours truly. You just missed the gun show.