Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Closet Conundrum

Closets without Doors are:
Great! I love the curtain idea.
OK. Sometimes it's done right, sometimes it looks messy
I don't want to fight a curtain to get to my stuff
I like a nice sturdy door to contain all my junk thank you very much
Curtain doors look like a HGTV DIY renovation good wrong
Too trendy, tacky, and kinda lame. free polls

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The beginning of the end . . .

I hope. With the new year approaching it's time to think about what the next plans will be. 2009 will wrap up the renovations with completing the bathrooms, kitchen, downstairs floors, deck and painting (among other small projects). The goal is to finish by summer's end and begin to actual enjoy our space by fall without thinking about making any changes.

Step 1 - clean out the clutter. Stuff is taking over our life and space. Since we have no basement and one small storage closet we are taking the first part of 2009 to clear out and clean up all the junk. This may require storage space elsewhere - but hey, I'm all good with that. Most of the stuff we never use anyway. Getting the "stuff" out will allow us to organize and live more peacefully. At least, that's the idea. Eh, maybe we'll just toast to our junk and call it a day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home from the Holidays

After a nice trip visiting friend's and family we are back at DC Rowhouse. The house is filled with luggage and gifts. We'll probably leave it like that for about a week as we fight over the Wii fit (you can snowboard with it!!). After that, we'll start to work on the house again. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just for giggles . . .

Somehow, the memory of shopping for our very first "grown-up" apartment popped into my head and I erupted in laughter from my office. My poor office mates must have found this very creepy/annoying.

Let me set the stage:

It's 2002 and Dan and I have decided to live together and move into a "real" apartment in Boston. We went to see a real estate agent and asked them to show us some properties. Now, we didn't have all that much scratch so we settled on something "under 1500, maybe more like 1200" for a price range and initially refused to look outside of Boston proper. I don't quite remember how many apartments we were show by this particular agent, but, I do know two things: he drove us around in a car and illegally parked at every stop, and he showed us the most fucked up apartment I have ever seen in my like (and I have seen some doosies).

We got to an apartment in the Fenway area and from the outside it seemed just okay. It was in a larger building and this realtor explains it was a two bedroom and going for 1400. He knocks on the door. It seemed like the tenants were home. I heard someone coming to the door. I felt promise building in my heart as I waited. Maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't have to look at anymore places and I could just plunk down in this one. The door began to open. Have you seen the Goonies? Yes? Well, Ma Fratelli answered the door and Sloth is plopped down in a chair behind her in the living room - which is a trapezoid shaped space of about 50 square feet. Ma Fratelli is also wearing her pants above her belly button and some tall white sport socks with red stripes on the top. I have no idea what she was wearing for a shirt, I believe this is because my eyes barely left the floor. I just remember panic setting in that I even had to set foot in this place.

Ah, the floor. The low grade basement-type carpeting had probably never been vacuumed. The two bedrooms that were directly off the living room, were filled with bare mattresses and a messes I can only describe as being the place were all good things go to die. The galley kitchen branched from the living room and was filled with trash. Some of the cabinet knobs littered the ground. I am assuming Sloth pulled them off (because he is super strong in Goonies and I will assume that applies to this person too) and simply dropped them out of his meaty hands onto the "carpet". I have no recollection of the bathroom. I don't think I wanted to even head down that road.

This "apartment" was probably all of 600 square feet and I am so thankful, because I was in and out of there in about 2 minutes. We were all silent when we left. It probably took about a week to process that visual massacre. The fact that I can still remember it so well 6 years later proves that it certainly made an impression.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Lights

On my way to the gym this morning pre-6am (I know, sick) I noticed how many people had their holiday lights still on. Did these people forget to shut them off the night before, or this their thing - leaving them on all night. This year, I put up some lights on our deck and I had the feeling I would constantly forget to turn them off. Enter the best product ever. I picked mine up from Walmart for 8 bucks, but they are all the same thing. It has a sensor that turns the lights on at dusk for a set amount of time (2 hours, 4 hours, etc). It's genius. Now, instead of tripping up the steps when I come home, there is a lovely light display. Seriously, it's amazing. Also, it's pretty eco-friendly since it only allows the lights to be on for a set amount of time and you never have to worry about shutting them off.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Decorations: Encased Lights

Another cool thing I saw on the holiday house tour was the mini-light strands wrapped in fabric. This picture doesn't do it justice:

It was best showcased with some greenery wrapping up a spiral staircase:

Again, this was done by Casa Da Mar.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My next house. ..

Will have to have an island in the kitchen. And, I want it to look just like this:

This counter top glows via lights underneath. So amazing!!! It makes the space interesting without having an overwhelming feature present all the time. More on this kitchen can be found here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

House & Blog Anniversary!

Well, we have owned the house for a whole year now. Feels like 3-4 months to me (Dear Father Time, please stop moving at a rapid pace). It is pretty hard to believe a whole year has passed. I have definitely learned a lot, become more tired, and maybe a little crankier. Lazier, for sure. Though the shiny-newness of the house has worn off, I am still excited to finish the rest of my projects.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Decorating

I think the time has come that people are in full gear for Holiday decorations in their house. While I am lagging behind, what with the pumpkin still on the front steps and all, I certainly have seen many ideas to share. I recently went on a holiday home tour and found some great and inexpensive ideas to share. The first, which I saw last year in Martha Stewart Living, was to hang ornaments in your windows. Here is Martha's rendition:

The interior designer I saw had them hung on ribbons and draped over the window lever - so they hung on the lower half of the window. This was a great idea because you can use a smaller ornament, cause no damage to your window casing, and hang it and remove it with ease. Well done! The information on the designer (whose decorating ideas were to die for) can be found at

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Over at they have a great bathroom remodel featured. I love the sink. I also love. . .the toilet paper holder.

I guess I am pretty into bathroom accessories lately. Perhaps it's because I can't begin my bathroom remodel just yet. The planning stage is the best part anyway. My tryst to Waterworks yesterday really got the wheels in my head turning. Now, I just have to find some ice blue crackle ceramic tile that is not 35 bucks a square foot.

Anyway, this TP holder rocks! It would also solve two fight in my house. The first is that someone NEVER refills the TP. This same person (I will not name names here) also likes to leave copies of the New Yorker littered around the floor or shelf. I found a similar piece at Potterybarn (it may be the actual one from the photo - who knows!):

Anyway, I'll add this to the longer-than-life list of things to get.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Have you been to Waterworks? If you haven't, you need to go.

This afternoon I sauntered in myself. I was there to check out their amazing products and get some ideas. Now, can I afford a 2k faucet? No. Can I steal their ideas and buy one that looks like it? Yes. Yes, I can. The showroom in Georgetown is magnificent and the amazing line of tile upstairs was heavenly. I have to say, the staff was pretty nice and helpful. The bad thing was the snob factor was pretty high on the snotty scale. But, once I told them I was actually remodeling and not just leaving greasy fingerprints in their studio - they seems a little more helpful.

The specialty tile they have is insane. When you get down to it, ordering a few pieces of amazing craftsmanship can add a huge impact to your overall look. A border of hand glazed tile it what I have in mind. Until then, I'll just have to ponder over the tile samples she gave me and hope the economy gets better.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fall. . .

Nope. I didn't take a digger (though, it is quite likely knowing my affinity for accidents). Fall, the season, seems to be ending. Tonight I'll try and take my dead mums and rotting pumpkin off the front steps. Doesn't that sound inviting?

I'm not going nuts with holiday decorations this year. No tree, at least. My folks will have a tree and I will bask in it's soft glow. No need to have one at DC Rowhouse too. This year, I'm a little sensitive about cutting down a 20 year old tree for decoration. So, just one for my family seems OK.

Did this post cheer you up? too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hotel Rack

According to Google Analytics, many people who visit DC Rowhouse are interested in the train rack post from a while back. So, I figured I should share some new knowledge. They are also called. . . "hotel racks". Seriously . . . can your mind handle it? Here are some great examples I found for every price range.

A UK store Wild & Funk has this baby for 150 pounds. It's pretty nice and they also show it being used as a coat rack - very versatile.

Sears has this puppy for $84.99. It's a little different with the rounded edges.

Absolute Home carries a lovely model for about $255 (and that's the discounted price). For those of us on with champagne dreams and beer budgets, this one from Organize-it-online has some potential.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Back in March I listed the "phases" of work to be done. Let's see where I am 8 months later. Here is the list with items completed crossed off:

Phase 1: hardwood floor upstairs, new front door, install stained glass house numbers, paint house exterior, new exterior lighting, new mailboxes installed, phone and cable jacks.

Phase 2: re-frame the fireplace, fix hardwood floors, paint interior, washer/dryer closet repair to fit unit, lights in dining room

Phase 3: Kitchen remodel, refinish hardwood downstairs

Phase 4: Exterior landscaping, fence replacement, deck repair, patio correction/replacement, front fence upgrade

Phase 5: Hall & Master bathroom remodeling

It seems there has been a lot of skipping around. That said, only two more items until "phase 1" is done! I think realistically, it would be great to get the rest of the items done in 2009. Which would mean it took 2 years to renovate the house. Oh. Dear. God. Back in December 2007, when we bought the house, I thought a year of hard work would really do the trick. Wrong! The planning and prep and making the projects are done in the right sequence is really the hardest process. Researching how and where to spend your money takes such a long time! It sure does feel good to see all those items crossed off though!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ring, Ring

So, I have something to confess. We STILL don't have a phone working. Then Comcast called. They, well they offered us a deal we couldn't refuse OK?! Essentially giving us more channels (more, more, more. . . how do you like it? how do you like it?) and rolling in a phone with FREE LOCAL AND LONG DISTANCE calling for the same price we are paying now (maybe a little less actually).

Then, the embarrassing part comes in:

The cable guy: I am here to install the digital phone.

Me: Awesome!

CG: where is your phone now?

Me: Oh, Um, it's in the kitchen, but we plug it right into the network interface outside, through the kitchen window.

CG: I see. ::stares at me with a disapproving glare::

Me (standing in front of the sink to hide a pile of dishes): Yeah, so it would be nice to not do that anymore.

CG: Uh-huh.

Later on. . .

CG: All set!

Me: Great! Now I can close the window all the way since it's getting colder out.

CG: Riiiiiiight.

Soon after, I called Dan:

Me: they hooked up the new phone!

Dan: Great!

Me: Well, it's through the internet modem until we fix the phone lines and then they can hook it up through there.

Dan: So, we still only have the phone plugged into one spot.

Me: ::deep breath:: Yup.

Dan: So essentially the same thing we had before.

Me: Yeah, except this time... it's FREE!!!

Another example of a lot of effort with little to no result. Ta-da!!!

End Scene.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I was watching "Generation Renovation" on HGTV, which features a NJ designer's home. Her name is Tracey Butler and she is AMAZING! Here are some photos of her home I snagged from her website. There are many many more on there to browse through. My favorite part was the amazing striped marble floor in one of her baths:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The End of the Tile

I must say, through all the mix-ups with the tile - the company has been more than gracious. Today they refunded my account for the entire payment. So, that's done. Thank god!

Now, it has come to my attention that I have few weekends left before the end of the year. In fact, I only have three. The others are filled with Turkey, Trees, presents and candy. It will be interesting to see if I actually get my ass in gear to get anything done. Ideally I would like to finish painting the fireplace (read:living and dining room) and install the recessed cabinet in the downstairs bathroom. But, with our recent hectic schedules there has been a mounting list of things to get done to, I don't know, function in the real world. Clean undies = good. Smelly dishes = bad. We need to get these down soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

O.M.G.The Tile

I opened the tile box. Although the color was OK, the tile was broken on the edge. Now, I am up to my ears in packing peanuts and tile I now hate because it has been such a huge pain in my ass. With the weather turning colder, it sure would be nice to strike up a nice fire. With the fireplace unfinished, it doesn't look like that will be happening. Maybe by January?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Packing Peanuts

The first box of tile I recieved was filled with packing peanuts. When the company had to send me another shipment, I forgot to ask them if they could pack it in newspaper (easy to recycle) instead of the peanuts. See, the peanuts suck. They get EVERYWHERE, defy the boundaries when it comes to sweeping (static!) and Nina the Cat is a little obsessed with them. In fact, the new box, which lays in the livingroom, had a small hole in it. Nina pawed a lot of the peanuts out. Bad KITTY! When Dylan the Cat when to play king of the hill on the box - she attacked his tail with a fury I have never seen. Apparently, it's not a big deal if the cats eat them (they are made of starch?) - but I am not condoning it anyway.

Anyway, the point of all this was to let you know you can recycle (or allow someone to re-use) the packing peanuts! Find a location near you here:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More tile

The new tile pieces arrived though I am yet to open the box. This is partially because I don't want to deal with the 4,000 peanuts they use as packing materials, and partially because I don't want to find unmatched tile within.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The great tile debate

I ordered some tiles for the fireplace. They came in. This is what I got:
These are obviously not the same color. The two on the ends being a far lighter shade then the ones in the middle. At this point I can't even deal with returning them. I hope the company will just give me a refund so I don't have to lug 45 pounds of tile to UPS.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Nina loves house projects! She likes to be right in on the action:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Front lights!

Here are some crappy pictures of the new front lights. I have no idea why they are so fuzzy. But, it will give you an idea.

Oh hey! The new fountain wanted to say "what's up" too...


Psst. There are dudes moving into an abandoned house in my neighborhood. This house is a shell. I mean, just framing and some wires. You can't live there. I am currently spying on them as they move in mattresses and weird looking couches.

The house was for sale a couple months ago, but the sign left quickly. I don't think it sol. Now there is a U-haul. With stuff. I saw them carry in a roll of brown carpet. Are they going to, gulp, throw this over the rotting plywood? Seriously, there are sheets of white plastic covering the windows of this place. It is not safe. Not to mention, I think that squatters bring down housing values.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I know... it's been awhile.

I am still working on adjusting my camera to take some great shots of all the work we have been doing at casa DC Rowhouse. Though, I have to admit, the last few weeks have been extremely busy with... work. Like real work that I get paid for. It's always getting in the way.

One thing that makes DC Rowhouse so special is that it is in DC. Not, in the outlying area, smack dab in the district. Thus, making this Tuesday an extra snazzy day for me and my neighbors. Standing in line to vote so close to the capitol building and white house (to name two) was a great feeling. Trying to go to bed at a reasonable hour however, was not. I watched the election results until 10:30 and then headed off to bed. At that time, it looked like Obama was going to win and I just wanted to find out in the morning instead of biting all my fingernails off while watching county by county results come in from say . . . Virginia. With the cats keeping me company (Dan was still at work) I settled into bed. I couldn't sleep. I had too much energy from the day. So, I began doing what I always to before going to bed - mapping out my dream house building plans. 11pm - still wide awake. 11:15pm - all hell breaks loose outside. Fireworks shooting, horns honking, people screaming running outside and down the streets screaming. Since 93% of the district voted for Obama, I knew at that point they had called it. Running to the window as the cats dove under the bed for cover from all the noise I saw fireworks and tears of joy from neighbors. It was great. Until the next day when Dan called me at work:

Dan: Hey, do you think you can grab the paper when you see one?

Me: OK, you didn't get one.

Dan: Nope, all sold out.

Me: Oh, crap.

Dan: What?

Me: You know how we canceled the paper to only Sundays a couple months ago, but they were still giving it to us everyday?

Dan: Yeah. . .

Me: Well, they called last week and I told them to stop giving it to us because we don't read it all the time and it is wasteful.

Dan: Oh. So, we could've had the paper this morning on our door instead of running to every store in town.

Me: Yup.

Dan: Crap.

So, we didn't get a paper. That sucks. Wanna give me yours?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fireplace Tile

I ordered (and received!) marble tile for in front of the fireplace. For now, it's just sitting on top of the plywood where the old tile was removed - but hey, it's a little progress. I was originally going to go with a white carerra marble, but after looking at it it seemed a little cold next to the warm walls and the new hardwood color we have choose. But, of the four tiles I ordered, I have two colors. One darker then the other. So, I either have to send them back, or order new ones. Either way, not so pleased. But, the looks pretty good lined up so far. I would show you a pictures, but my camera is being a huge jerk. If it doesn't shape up I will dip it in water - see how it likes that! Or, maybe not.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Technical Difficulties II

I have many new projects to show you, but my camera is being a brat. Every photo comes out blurry.

I'm working on it. . .

Friday, October 24, 2008


When we moved from NYC to DC a couple years ago, I was thrilled to have central air. While New York summers are hot and standing in the subway with a million strangers on a 100 degree day is unpleasant, the summers in DC were muggy and brutal! House hunting in July was a big, big mistake!

This brings us to today. With the yard looking spiffy and the new patio a dream come true there is one sore spot on it. The huge ugly air conditioner. In searching for a cover for the air conditioner I found this great DIY project for a lovely lattice covering.

Hey, what's one more thing to add to the list. . . right?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Take your leaf blower and . . .

Well, you have use your imagination on the rest of the title. So last night, I am trying to rest after a days work and my neighbor decides to start using her leaf blower in the front of the house. Since our front windows (which were not fully closed since we haven't latched them for winter yet) are about 8 feet from the sidewalk, this provided a noisy fifteen minutes or so.

Then, I went to take the trash out. And, noticed she blew all her leaves onto our side. Ah... Um... What? Hello? Ma'am?! Not OK. Not OK at all. Seriously, her lawn patch was all clear, and our looked like it had been double-frosted in autumn. Not to mention a lot of the leaves also blew into our stairway down into the stairwell which is a huge pain in the ass to clear out - and makes our tenant's life a little unpleasant I am sure.

So, if she thinks her kids are getting Halloween candy from us - she better think again. Kidding. I'll just give them raisins.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's the deal: Kitchen Cabinets

I want white cabinets. I have picked them out. They live in a little place called a catalog. But, in recent weeks I have been a little disappointed with their price. Could I possibly get them cheaper and have the same look? I investigated.

My choice: Maple Shaker-style semi-custom cabinets painted white.

Cheaper option: Laminate faced cabinets, which would run be about 30-60% less.

In looking into if this is something to consider I took the advice I received from many to look at the Ikea cabinets because many have said "I know Ikea can be crap, but the cabinets are pretty good". Um, I had my doubts. Now, the cabinets are about 60% (or more!) less than those I had picked out but you have to put them together. Now, for all the Ikea furniture I have put together I have learned: it's not fun and it's easy to break something or mess it up. When I argued the drawers felt horrible in the store the response from Ikeans (those are supportive of Ikea and all their wares) replied "Do you know have many people have pulled on those drawers?". Yeah, but of I average a lifetime of use it might be the same thing. Needless to say, no dice.

The next choice is to get the laminate or thermofoil cabinets at a big box store. They come put together and can even be installed for you. So, not bad. They have a similar construction to the cabinets I picked out, but the front is coated in a laminate (or plastic paper sheet) that allows for easy cleaning and care. Sounds good I thought? But, then I heard about the drawbacks. Bubbling, burning, warping. Since it really is just paper on your cabinets, if you get them wet for too long they will tend to warp. Spill hot coffee down the side and uh-oh you may have a problem. You've all seen something of plastic get too hot - so you know what I am talking about. My folks still have burned counters in the bathroom my sister and I used growing up from hot curling iron (what's up mall bangs!) - not saying it was me, just sayin' I know what happens to laminate. I even read one testimonial from a woman whose toaster warped her cabinets above it. And, since you can't just sand them down or re-paint, you have to either replace the door or the cabinet. I guess this just didn't seem that appealing to me.

That said, my maple cabinets are still my numero uno!

What to read more about cabinets? Check out this Better Homes & Gardens article:

Stupid Markets

I know. The market is getting worse. I haven't opened my 401k updates in a long time. I simply pop them in the shredder. I mean, I am young enough to ride this out so I am simply turning a blind eye right now. That said it's probably not the best time to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a kitchen renovation. So, it's been postponed.

Now, it's not like there are not fifty other less expensive projects to be done! In fact, this is probably for the best. The new focus will be on painting, wiring, closets, molding, oh I could go on and on. Hey, who knows, with Linen's 'n Things closing I might be able to get some good deals. Now, if only I could use this trick for tools . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Future Plans Friday 3

After our vacation it made me realize how amazing it would be to have a pool at home. We even thought about turning our entire yard into a pool. We would have to take a dip to get to the car. Not so practical if you are carrying your groceries or dry cleaning home I suppose.

Anyway, here are some amazing pools that I love:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh Holy Ceiling. . .

The electrician is here and is jacking up my ceiling. He has a little saw and is making holes for the new lights. I get to monitor (and be a little helper too). The good news is that we have a drop ceiling in our first floor - which makes out "real" ceiling about 10 feet. Getting rid of these crappy lights is a joy. I also love gadgets and electricians have plenty of them so checking out his gear is making my day a little better.

UPDATE: Electrician has injured himself! He scraped his elbow on some drywall. Blood. Everywhere. Don't worry, while I bandaged him up (which I think he was impressed with my First Aid supplies) I told him I get hurt a lot too. In fact, I got three substantial injuries in the four days we were on vacation. That's right, not even renovating. Just vacationing. I just recovered the ability to hear out of my left ear yesterday and I have a gash that is pretty nasty on my right ankle. The last injury... well, let's just say when you are heading down a water slide and the guide tells you to lift your butt up in your tube - you better listen. Unless you want a black and blue bottom for a while. But, it's great to know I am not alone. Even the pros get injuries.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vacation Inspiration

I have a sickness. I'll call it "Renovation Intoxication". This past weekend we took a vacation and one of the first things I did was to take pictures of the amazing bathroom. Next, I thoroughly inspected it's materials and brands (they used Kohler by the way). Anyway, enjoy the pics for your inspiration:
Look at the marble. Ooohhh . . .
Why would we want a phone in the bathroom? No one wants to be on the other line. . .
A TV on the other hand, now that is something I can get on board with.
There seems to be a new trend with windows to the bedroom above hotel tubs . . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Making it work

It's time to put up those lights I got so long ago and I have decided Thursday will be the day. This time the professionals are coming and I am thrilled to be able to actually see some new lights on the dining room/living room open space that don't make me squint in horror when they are turned on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Future Plans Friday: 2

A ladder. Dan is always asking if we have a place to put a ladder. Yes, we have tall ceilings, but we also have a tiny rowhouse. The ladder will have to wait for another day. Check out some cool ones here:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

DIY Water Fountain: Part III

Last night, as we were heading out of the house, Dan mentioned to me that the fountain no longer had water in it. Now, this happened when we didn't have a hole in the bottom (evaporation), but none the less I was a wee bit concerned.

I have a feeling this is going to require more testing. . .

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

DIY Water Fountain: Part II

This post has taken a while because the 1st attempt was a failure and it took awhile to figure out how to make the darn thing work without leaking. This is what didn't work: punch out the hole at the bottom of the pot, thread the water fountain piece through, and seal it with caulk. Why won't this work? The pot we used was terra cotta and the caulking simply pealed off. So, it took a little asking around to find out what the best substance to use in order to seal the hole in the bottom. The answer? EPOXY PUTTY!! (Thanks Clayton!)

So, the next attempt was a great success. I mixed the putty and sealed the hole (with the cord threaded through) and all worked well. Now the fountain is cordless (well, from the surface that is) as it is all hidden in the mulch.

Pictures to come. . .

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's here!

The front door light is here! But, it's only one. The smaller one has been back-ordered until late October. Once those are up, the front of the house will finally be complete! I will make sure to do a before and after montage with pictures.

In other news, I can figured out how to "fix" the side of the stairs and look forward to figuring it out.

Also, the closet quote is tonight so things should be moving along in that area!! I can't wait to get some closure on this (get it? Closure... ha ha. I know, lame).

Friday, October 3, 2008

An evening of Political and Backyard Parties. . .

Enjoying the backyard last night was great! The lawn looked perfect and a good time was had by all! Here are some photos:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Like sand through an hourglass...

It's October. Umm... why can't it be June? Time is flying by so fast and the projects just keep remaining half done? Why can't our mystery worker come back and finish projects INSIDE the house?

Tuesday night we are getting a quote for the closet doors and I already now it's over budget. We have spent 40% of our total budget so far and still have plenty left. The kitchen and bathrooms with eat up most of the rest, so it seems we will be doing more of the heavy lifting in some areas. It feels like money really flies away so fast.

Since the Senate passed the bail-out bill, and there is hope in the House, we are monitoring the mortgage rates pretty closely. Time to refinance? Our mortgage broker seems to think so. Hey, that mean more $ we can spend renovating. Sounds good to me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dress Up

Well, it's time to play dress up with the backyard. I must say... things are looking mighty nice back there. Just some extra work tonight and it will be all ready for our backyard BBQ tomorrow evening.

We mowed the lawn for the first time this weekend and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Now we just have to organize the furniture and we should be in business! It's nice to finally be able to enjoy some of our hard work and efforts. Once the deck is finished it will be perfect - but until then, its a far cry from what it used to be!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ignorance is bliss

I haven't look at the renovation budget in a long time. Mainly because I had it all mapped out with plans that I knew were in the price range so I didn't need to consult it recently.

When trying to organize the closets this past weekend, I realized I have 3 (yup, 3!) light fixtures in huge boxes waiting to be hung. One for the dining room, one for the living room, and one for the bathroom. It's time for those to go up! I called the electrician that has the best reputation in my neighborhood and spoke to them about the situation (changing the recessed lights to the pendant lights) and they walked me through the estimate and all it entailed with great detail. They then gave me a high end estimate and I made an appointment for them to come out and take a look.

Wouldn't you know that the high end estimate was just as I had budgeted! Ahh... the joy. I had first cringed a little after hearing the number, then frantically rushed to the budget spreadsheet to see if I had even included this in there or if this was one of my "extras". I love when I am ahead of myself. It's the best feeling.

Soon, there will be an actual light in the dining room/section! Oh, and more importantly, more space in my closets!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Premade Heaven

I know I was "suppose" to have already started re-doing the decking, but I haven't. It will probably happen in late October, early November. That said, my Dad was telling me about some pre-made railing sections at Lowe's. Has anyone used them? It seems like a big time saver to me...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The waiting game

I really want the first floor to be done. Mainly, so I can enjoy it and start really decorating. For instance, we do not have a coffee table now because we don't want one more thing to move when we renovate. Makes sense.

Since we will most likely have to vacate the house during the first floor renovation for a few days, does it make sense to do it over the Christmas holiday? Do contractors work then? Is this a good idea, or a terrible idea? I can't decide. It would make sense since we would be staying at my folks house for a few days anyway, might as well have people working on the house. Or... not. This would also mean I wouldn't be able to see their progress. Scary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cats + yard = not awesome

I love cats. In fact, I have two. Dylan and Nina. But, a little black neighborhood kitty has now made our yard his/her litter box. When I caught the little fella in our yard before the grass came, I was not worried. Now, I find a little present on the lawn and I think I know who it belongs too. Last week Phantom (I might as well name the kitty, and since s/he is a phantom pooper - this fits) was up on the deck twice in one day (morning and night) peeking through the glass door. When we went over, s/he ran away. Not sure what to do with this situation.

Since we have to water the grass morning and night (that stops today though!), I went out Monday night to move the sprinkler and *thought* I closed the backdoor as I rushed back in to watch Heroes. About 15 minutes later I glanced over to see the door ajar. No kittens to be found (Dylan and Nina are indoor cats). Dan rushed upstairs to find Nina as I hurried outback with the flashlight. Thankfully the sprinkler was on and prevented Dylan from heading into the yard and slipping under the gate (this is how Phantom squeezes in). However, he was under our neighbors deck on top of their basement roof. A small crawl space. Twenty minutes (and one tuna can of bait) later, I wrestled him out and scurried back in the house. He was pissed. Since he is also over 20 pounds, this is not an easy feat. He is strong too - and was not too happy about cutting his outside freedom short. Oh, until he ate some of the tuna, then it was all cool.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The grass is coming in quite nicely! **pictures to come later** However, it seems its now time to mow it. The question is, what do we get for a mower? A small non-powered push mover and then just rake the clippings? A small gas push mover, or an electric? There is something about the electric movers that really scare me though. How many people have run over that cord? Not a good thought.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Future Plans Friday: Outdoor Kitchens

I love to cook. Dan loves to grill. So, it would seem fitting for us to have an outdoor kitchen. This is most definitely in my future plans. It won't be as fancy as some of those shown here - but a girl can dream, right?
* photo from This Old House

* photo from

Check out this photo slide on HGTV!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the Dark

I am feeling a little in the dark about where my front door lights are. I mean, are they building them from scratch or something?

In other news, looks like we are going to try and get the first level done by year's end or soon after. Though there is question on how we are going to do it. Since we are going to be refinishing all the flooring on the first floor, how are we going to live there? We could do what we did last time and go to a hotel - but that was mainly for the showering (since we don't have a full bath on the first floor). This time, we can technically live upstairs and just use plastic sheeting to cut off the downstairs (dust, I will never forget, the dust). The trouble is, how do we get up there? There really is one way. A ladder from the deck to the second floor. I can see it now. Climbing up the ladder with a backpack filled with pop-tarts and Bud Light after a hard day of work. Maybe this is not the best of ideas. . ..

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Economy Shmonomy

So, the gov't bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - whoopie. They were essentially run by the gov't anyway. But, AIG?! Um...I can almost hear the coin jars emptying around the country. With gas and food prices on the rise, the housing market struggling, unemployment rising and the stock market declining, it seems like a scary time to get taking out money and renovating. Or, is it? There is something to be said about putting money into your home as a safe investment, though the flip side side if you are either borrowing that money or taking it out of another investment. Pile on top of this a weak housing market and the question comes of whether a return on your investment will be granted when the time comes. McMansions, flat-screens, and kitchens with granite counter tops and stainless steal appliances have seemed to become an average rather than an exception. Now that we see those who obtained those commodities floundering, what will the new market look like? Will we see prices falling in inflated areas over a longer period rather than just the "slump" we are currently in?

In many ways, renovating a home is a luxury. In most cases those who do it are not buying an inhabitable building or renovating for safety or functionality - it is mainly aesthetic reasons. In our case, the house is perfectly sound. Yes, there are phone and cable problems that need to be worked out - but the house is functional and secure, just not the prettiest of all spaces.

It will certainly be interesting to see where is all leads. With programs like "flip this house" and other home improvement shows on the rise, the amount of jobs and businesses within home renovation have certainly expanded. I realize this is just one of the areas that is going to be compromised by our economic standings, though it is one I think about on a daily basis when running to the hardware store or writing checks to contractors. While the trend fall from travertine and back to ceramic? Will flat screens fall... flat? I guess we will all just have to wait and see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Update

I have learned my lesson. Never set a date for a project, it just won't happen. You can plan for something, sure, no problemo. Just don't lock it down in stone. It will not happen. Unless your project involves one simple task with one tool, don't bet on it buster. With all my talk of how this past Saturday was going to be my front yard renovation completion, something was bound to go wrong. While somethings were accomplished, the larger projects still remain in limbo. The lights for the front doors did not show up as they were being shipped directly from the manufacturer. Then, Sunday brought a wave of heat that made breathing a sport, which brought our plans to work on the deck to a screeching halt.

Overall, the weekend was not a bust. I painted both front and back doors of our rental unit, replaced the doorbell, put up new sconces in the front "hall", painted the front hall, hung some coat racks, and painted the front door trim. Since the front is not finished, I'll save its reveal until the job is done.

Meet our old sconce. It's not pretty people. It was painted on, holding "debris" and just plain ugly:

While changing the sconce I decided to install a new organization center for coats and bags and mail. Here is the before:

And, the after:

Not the best picture, but you get the idea. Hopefully this will stop our coats and bag piling up on the dining room table. But, I'm not going to count on it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Backyard Teaser

Here is a "moodboard" of some recent additions to the backyard. The real photos will be posted in the near future.

Injuries Obtained

  • Sprained Toe/Foot: 1
  • Blood Blisters: 2
  • Splinters under fingernail: 1
  • Bird Shit on me: 1
  • Eye Injuries: 3
  • Burns: 0
  • Falls off ladder: 0 (this is because we don't have a ladder yet)
  • Headaches: too many to itemize
  • Broken Bones: 0
  • Bandages Needed: 5
  • Electric Shocks: 2
  • Stiches: 0
  • Bruises: way too many