Monday, June 30, 2008

So. . .yeah. . .um,

I had to push the stairs back to Wednesday, the dumpster people haven't called me back to pick it up and my patients is running thin with the whole parking-on-the-street deal, and I was too busy with family parties, dinners and picking out puppies to get work done. Now, it is Monday - no work done today. Tomorrow I have an appointment at 6:30 and then I have to knock down the fence/half brick wall in order to get the stairs in. So, yeah, um, I'm stressed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Takin' care of business

I am starting to see the green grass at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday I managed to schedule the work to move the deck stairs and the patio/fence work. The deck guys come on Monday (MONDAY!!!) June 30th. The fence and patio people come the following Monday, July 7th. We have not had workers in our house for a whole two weeks now - so its time to get some work accomplished! After this is over, we are on a serious hiatus from external help for at least two months. Not only it is a huge financial burden, but it is also very hard to have people in and out of the house all day. Dan and I worry about someone letting our precious kitties out into the wild, or not locking the door when they leave and getting robbed. Among other things.

The backyard demolition really has been a lot of work. I think if I would have to do it over again, I would have paid the landscapers to do the work. Doing it ourselves saved about 50% of the cost. However, it took us a month, we had to give up our parking to a dumpster, watch the dumpster, etc. Also, the physical labor was intense. If the planters had been filled with straight up dirt it would not have been that bad, but they contained lots of cement chunks and other debris.

The next debate is whether to lay the sod in August, or wait until the end of September? I just don't know if I want to live with a dirt yard for all that time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sweet Rewards

Maybe when the backyard is done, and we'll get this sweet hammock as a reward for a (fingers-crossed) job well done. Because, after all that work, we'll totally need to spend more money.


I was tagged by Corey at Baltimore Rowhouse. The rules: Answer the following questions about yourself. At the end of the post you pass on the questions to 6 (or so) other bloggers and list their names. Then write them a comment telling them that they've been tagged and ask them to read your blog.

1. What did you do 10 years ago?

I was a cocktail waitressing my way through the summer. The only thing I had remote relation to home improvement was sometimes (if I was really lucky), I got to work the beer tub - which was an old tub filled with ice and ... beer.

2. Five items on your to-do list today:

1 - Look in the dumpster to see if we can possibly fit in more bricks
2 - Call the landscapers (again) to nail down a date to start work
3 - check in with the stained glass artist about when we can pick up our house numbers
4 - look around for some new lights for the front of the house
5 - update the budget list (yikes!)

3. Snacks I enjoy:

Anything that is bad for me. Also: brie cheese, munchies mix, berries, crackers of all kinds.

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?

I would buy more houses to renovate, maybe a whole historic neighborhood - that would be amazing! I would open a small shop with prepared foods and a seasonal restaurant attached. Operating a small farm to go with my little shop would be cool, as would having a barn with lots of tools in it.

5. Places I would live:

BOSTON!!! (well, I would like to move back - does that count?), New York (lived there too, I am not good at this game), Vermont, Maine, Georgia, Portland, New Hampshire.

6. Bloggers I am passing the challenge onto are:

Becoming-Home, Mabel's House, Katiedid, Girlmeetsglamour, 86'n it,

Thanks Washingtonian!

I missed it, but back in May the Washingtonian gave me some props!

back to the situation at hand

The last thing we need to do in the yard is knock down the last remaining brick wall and then the crew can come in for the patio/fence/stairs work. When it comes down to the renovations we have done I can't help but be overwhelmed by all the choices. This one proves no different. While I decided on flagstone for the patio, I had to choose the design I wanted. Done. Now we have moved onto the fence, which I have now chosen:This image is of a stained fence, ours will be regular cedar or pressure treated wood. My original goal was to get all the yard work done by July 15th. Not so much. I think we are looking at August 15th now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I am now obsessed with wallpaper

The archway that connects the "dining room" with the kitchen has a small amount of wall space on either side. I am thinking of putting some wallpaper there.

Or, maybe the Salcey . . .

There are some really great wallpapers out there - but they can cost over $100 a roll. Which is pricey for a large area. Doing a small space, like one wall might be something worthwhile.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Glory days!

It has been a great and productive weekend. I was finally able to get the large mirror off my floor and up above the mantle, some books in the bookshelf and plenty of work done on the backyard. I am exhausted, but it was all worth it. I hate having those projects hanging over my head. Much more to be done, but at least I was able to rearrange the living room/dining room into a functional space. Here are some pics:

The backyard I had some help with , and by that I mean I got three guys to come and do all the work while I supervised. It was pathetic. But, time is running out and I need to get the project rolling so that is that. Right now, the fence posts on the left are hanging on for dear life. Lets home the rain storms we are in for this week don't knock it down. It should be about 2 weeks before we can get the new fence up and I am not ready to share a communal backyard with my neighbors dog, or his poop.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bedroom thoughts. . .

I discovered this site Polyvore which allows you to create this cool collage of anything you want. So, I made one for my bedroom. The furniture we already have (well, the bed comes on Saturday) and the rest is some ideas to go along with it. I couldn't import the duvet set because they don't make it anymore. Boo. But you can get a gander at it here in a crappy far away picture. Also, picture the grass cloth wallpaper . . .

Thursday, June 19, 2008


After we bought the house we noticed the assessed value was far over what we paid and thought it was a good time to appeal it and save some dough on taxes. A couple weeks ago we received a letter from the city in the mail. I didn't open it. Why? Well, it seems they have recently set up a sneaky camera in our area to "catch" speeders. Then, the send you a photo of your car and the alleged violation. I "may" have received one or . . .two of those in the same month. Anyway, once I finally opened the dreaded letter, I was pleasantly surprised to see our appeal had gone through and our assessed value was lowered. I called the appraiser this morning all giddy to hear her tell us how much we would be saving. I was thinking to myself of the glorious items I could buy with our big fat savings. Hammock, check. New dinnerware, yup. Furniture, right-o. She was as pleasant as can be (not what you would expect, right?) and explained to me how this would actually not be effecting my taxes for the 2009 year. Huh? Anyway, it was all confusing and I had that thing happen again when I just hear a buzzing and then I hung up. Still poor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picture Rail

What about adding a picture rail and painting the section above it white and wallpapering below? Hmmm...

Kind of like in picture #2.

P.S. I wish I was this good at photoshop! This picture comes from this super blog.

can we talk about "grass" . . .

Grasscloth that is. Why? Were you thinking something else? I am thinking about putting it in our bedroom. It looks pretty nice and has a really warm feel to it. My problem is . . . too much? It is too much for the space? Wallpaper is back people, and I am jumping on that train. Here is a picture I saw:But, they have a nice cathedral ceiling. We . . . do not.

Speaking of the bedroom and design, the bed frame arrives this week and I will post pictures of it all soon.

She's a brick . . . yard.

With the heat wave, the thunderstorms, and our laziness, the backyard is really taking a long time. We have the dumpster for two more weeks so we really need to get it done by then. I think I am going to have to hire a few helping hands for a day or two this weekend. We have made some decent progress though:

There is really no more pile of bricks, instead just a pile of brick pieces. I suppose it is time to invest in a wheelbarrow. So, more to come on that soon.

In the meantime we have been getting some quotes to replace the gutters in the front of the house. They are built into the facade and are just old. Last night we had the roofer over to talk about our options (he had looked at the situation last week). This guy, Steve, talked for an hour and a half straight. At one point Dan started coughing and I found out later this was a weak attempt to cover up his laughter. During the ramblings about the new fake slate options and the copper gutters that last up to 90 years and I won't even be alive then and copper costs more than gold now (yay.), my mind started to turn off and all I heard was static. Seriously, it was the most exhausting conversation I have ever had with someone. Also, who knew gutters were so expensive? After he left I was so tired I could hardly form a sentence as we stumbled to the local watering hole for something to eat ('cause no one was cooking, that's for sure). I wonder if maybe that's a strategy he has, tucker you out so you just hand him your life savings to stop talking. It almost worked, though I don't think a signed contract would hold up in court as out signatures would end up as slanted lines from weakness.

On another note, my neighbors lovely grapes are growing quickly! It just so happens all the fruit is on our side of the lattice. Shucks. I am not sure if we can really eat the grapes though. Anyone know? I see the birds eat them a lot. But, if I find they are people-friendly, those birds are going to be in for a battle. Seriously, I will mount 62 plastic owls on my deck and make sure my cats sit at the backdoor making that weird cackling sound they make when they see birds (what is with that?). My neighbors would love that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I live in one of those neighborhoods . . .

Those neighborhoods are the kind that are in development. The houses are still expensive (but less so than other areas), there are new trendy restaurants next to boarded up or empty shops, and the neighbors are a mix of people from all ethnic and economic backgrounds. It's great, exciting, and there are always new things to discover. When new people move into the neighborhood, it is rare that I actually see who they are. With tall privacy fences and hot summers, it is more likely they stay indoors. What I do see, is a new car or two. I hate to admit it, but I judge them by the type of wheels they roll in. A giant SUV with spinning rims . . . says, I care about what I look like and not about the environment, a minivan says there may be some kids, a classic car shows someone is into antiques, an old van with tinted bubble windows and an antenna on the top says there is a sting operation on the neighborhood. We currently have a mix of cars ranging from an orange VW beetle to a large transportation van.

Last week, a new prius came into the scene. . .will they put up a solar panel, plant a green roof? Time will tell.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Come check out my interview with the Prince of Petworth here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's getting hot in here. . .

Nature is cruel! This weekend (ie: full days I can work on the house) was filled with sunny blistering hot days which broke records and made us break out in a sweat. Not the days you want to be hauling bricks. But, we did some work and made a noticeable dent in the pile on Saturday. I did not go out of the house on Sunday, instead I finally organized our bedroom (um, yeah, it took 5 hours). Dan worked outside for an hour and a half and got a bunch more of the brick moved into the dumpsters.

So, you know how I like to break stuff right? Well, the building behind my office is being demolished, like the whole thing. My office window is about 20 feet from the building and I have the best view of the cranes, the smashing, and the O.M.F.G.-that-is-a-mini-bulldozer. I spent about 20 minutes one day watching them remove the outside wall. It was magical. Then, I had to stop because I noticed that they were watching me. I waved and put my Gizmo figurine in my window to watch them instead. Oh, yeah, I have an originally Gizmo and you are so jealous.

Also, I totally painted part of the fireplace with the wrong paint and now I have to get some more and do it again. Bummer. But, I can't really do anything until the heat wave is over (Wednesday!) so I will be taking it easy until then.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm a skinny fat

Last night I decided that I had to get to work on whittling down the brick pile. I began tossing the bricks and concrete to the end of the yard and then throwing them into the dumpster. I am sure my neighbors were psyched by the noise I was making. Essentially, it was like completing in a shot-put competition. Since it has been raining the last couple nights, this was really the first night I could do some work at a decent time. I told myself I would at least work for an hour. Well, after 20 minutes my heart was racing so hard it reminded me of the time at the gym (which was a long time ago) the elliptical machine shut off because my heart rate was too high. I had to take a break. It was seriously depressing. If you saw me you would say "she probably is in OK shape". Not true! I am in dire need of a personal trainer to bark at me as I run around the park. Apparently people like me are called "Skinny Fats".

45 minutes later and I think I depleted the pile of rock by about 10% and depleted my energy about 95%. I was actually nauseous. Alright, pity party over now.

This weekend we are having a heat wave. Yiipppeeee!! I can't wait to work in that type of heat! This also limits the work days from 9am to about noon since that is when the yard fills with sun. I think this project is going to take a month . . . I should have just paid someone else to do it. Let this be a lesson to anyone attempting something similar.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I demand a retraction!

It turns out, I was quoted in yesterday's Express blog log. You can see it by downloading yesterday's edition and heading to page 36. Although, they referred to me as a man. Which I am not. RETRACTION!!! Kidding. But seriously, I am not a dude - just a lady who likes home renovations and smashing stuff and is called Ben. So . . . yeah. . . I can see how this is confusing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Halfway there . . .

The construction portion of the fireplace is complete. Now all that is left is flooring and painting. Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We mean business!

Our dumpster arrived exactly on time with the most courtliest driver. He also parked the large metal tub with extreme precision. Dan and I stood in amazement as he practically parallel parked the steel beast in one corner or our parking area. The price was also fantastic and he stayed and showed us everything we had to do and more importantly . . . what NOT to do. I guess there is a big problem with people chucking stuff into your dumpster, so they suggested tarping it. He explained that people see the dumpster and say, "Thank you Jesus, now I can clean out my attic!". Since we can only put brick and concrete in our yellow savior, that would mean we would have to climb in (a no-no in the dumpster world) and pull out all that stuff. We tarped it right away.

I also have someone who is taking some of the brick away and using it for an art project, and another who is re-using it for a patio/walkway area. People love free stuff. Which is fine with me, because it gets recycled and we don't have to pay for someone to take it. I love Craigslist.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

Saturday was an aggravating day because it rained and ruined some of my plans. It wasn't just a light pleasant rain. It was a oh-shit-seal-up-the-windows-before-the-house-floods type if rain. So, I went to work finishing up some of the interior work I have been putting off. I painted the back of the front door and put another coat of varnish on the front (I'll put pictures when it is all done). I also painted the exterior of the fireplace because it was all scraped up. That didn't go so well and I will have to do it again soon.

A few more little projects later, and we were having a great dinner with our friends Matt & Michelle on our back deck. We were talking about our projects and how we were going to start on the backyard the following day. I finished by saying "want to come over", and to my surprise, they actually did. But, they had plans. Sure they did.

Sunday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn, and headed out to Home Depot to pick up some new plants for the front yard and to get a sledgehammer to start the planter demolition. I opted for the 8lb sledgehammer since I couldn't swing the other ones with ease (you can now mentally picture me swinging sledgehammers in the store). Once I came back I started to smash a couple of the bricks and realized it was going to be a back-breaking task. Little did I know what was to come. Dan soon came out to help and we proceeded to take down about 1/5 of the planter in an hour. We were getting into a funk about the project and how long it was going to take. It was like swinging an 8lb bat into a 6lb baseball that did not move and then picking up the 6lb baseball and throwing it three feet. My back and arms started to get shaky after about 30 minutes of that. It also didn't help that a bird shit on my neck and in my hair. Disgusting! Just when we were settling on the idea that we would not take the whole thing down in one day, Matt & Michelle pulled up. Taaa-daaa!!!! They ditched their plans to smash some bricks. It was our saving grace and we couldn't have been more pleased. Two hours later the planter was pretty much down and we soon realized the bricks went about four layers into the ground. This posed a problem. To dig them out and try to smash them was really hard, so we still have more work to do. Although we worked almost the entire day yesterday, it wasn't enough to get it all done. My jello arms also could barely pick up a brick in the end.

My tetanus shot came in handy when I scraped my shin on a rusted wire basket we pulled from the planter. Thanks Dr. Davis! I also ended up with about 10 welts on my legs from hitting myself with the sledgehammer, shovel or bricks. Oh, and although I put sunscreen on my arms and shoulders, I completely forgot about the back of my neck and arms. Sunburn city here I come! So, once again, I am a mess. At the end of the day I showered and put on shorts that Dan quickly called my "I-give-up-shorts", which reinforced that I did not look my best. My mind was also heavy with the fact we had a gigantic pile of rubble in the back and no place to put it.

Anyway, here are some pictures of what it looks like now:
I am not sure if these pictures capture the magnitude of this brick pile - but it is scary. Thankfully I ordered a dumpster and they are bringing it by today!

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