Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Year in Review


It's that time of year again, and for my own reasons I feel the need to make a list (new year's organizational tendencies kicking in) of things worthy of being in our 'Year in Review':

1. We decided to sell our house, bucking the trend of our usual claim of 'we might sell the house'. And we sold it in a week.

2. We worked like crazy people to finish our house so we could sell it: tiling an entranceway; renovating the master bathroom and powder room; and painting every single door, window and piece of moulding.

3. We bought a dining room table that we both love (and now it's in storage).

4. We went to Seattle for my birthday, and did the same for Trevor's birthday.

5. I started my letterform collection.

6. I sewed my first quilt (wonky, but who's counting?).

7. We bought a house, and inherited a huge mess.

I'm not one for making resolutions, but I have big hopes and dreams this year of moving out of our cramped trailer and into our house. We've got 365 days to make it happen!

(Image snagged from here.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry, Merry

This is as festive as we're getting this year, throwing some mini lights and the odd ornament around the reno shelf. Here's hoping next year will be different!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Frosty Sunrise

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights were a challenge this year. In past years, I've channelled my inner exterior illumination demon (usually takes the form of Martha Stewart with an extra shot of OCD holding a light pole) to put up Christmas lights. Not so this year.

This will be known as the year where I got owned by our new yard.

The light pole (for stringing lights into trees) snapped in the autumn, so this explains why none of our lights make it over the 6 foot mark. Also challenging is our power situation (being drawn off our trailer, which is known for shorting out if you run the microwave and toaster at the same time).

And this explains why it looks like a crazy person ran in circles weaving through trees, fencing, and the odd birdbath.*

(*and it took me a week to convince myself to live with it and not to go out there and fix it. I think the freezing temperatures might have had a hand in this.)

At one point I just threw it over a branch and ran towards the fence.

If you stop and cover your eyes just the right way, it does look pretty. I think. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

9 Christmas Gift Ideas for DIYers

We've been renovating for a while (years) and over that time I've found that there are certain tools that get used over and over, or just make a job easier. So I figured I'd sprinkle a little glitter over these items and suggest them as gift ideas for DIYers:Rigid Wet/Dry Vac
We have this vacuum and it rocks my world. It has lots of power (a must for me, I don't want to mess around) and a large diameter hose. So far I've used it to suck up gravel, dog kibble (from the ceiling), small chunks of blown-in insulation (complete with rat poop, YUCK), drywall dust and all sorts of other goodies.
This is Trevor's go-to tool. He's got a ton of screwdrivers, but this allows him to just carry one tool instead of running back and forth and searching for the right screwdriver.
Crappy paintbrushes just make for more work. I'm a fan of the Purdy brushes because they keep their shape and don't get those bristles that decide they no longer want to be part of the group and fly off to the left or right. They make painting trim slightly more enjoyable.

I get a bit intimidated with air tools, but a little brad nailer is a piece of cake to use, and fairly lightweight (compared to a framing nailer, which I won't touch because I get the shaky jello arms).
A DIY staple, and I particularly enjoy the green (!) with this Hitachi model.
I have these exact gloves and they're great for protecting your hands. I used to use the bulky leather gloves and I'd rather set fire to them than use them again.
So handy for cushioning your knees, and the straps are thick enough so you don't feel like you're being sliced with knives behind your knees (my cheaper ones did this, even through pants).
Stop buying the cheapy-cheap caulking guns! (This one is around $5, so not bad.) We have a cheapy-cheap model and I can't stand using it -- the trigger sticks and it's uncomfortable to hold -- which increases caulking rage.
Trevor's handier than me with tools, but I'm his assistant. One of the pains of being an assistant is always hunting down tools and passing them to your handier partner. With a tool belt I get hassled less and tools don't go missing (as much).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Exterior planning

So far we've had the fascia boards replaced, new roof put on and gutters installed (hurrah!). Windows have arrived and are waiting to be installed. Here's the grand plan for each side of the house.

The south side of the house, also home to the kitchen and two bedrooms upstairs:


The north side of the house, with the family room below (the window seat will be under the large window at the bottom). The green door (of course) is where the mud room will be. We're adding a window upstairs in the master bedroom, which will have a nice view looking out to the pond (ps - check out our awesome appliance storage!):



I'm not a huge fan of the back of the house, it reminds me of a tall, stacked building -- really boxy and boring (and so different from the cottage look of the front). I want to do something different with the deck on the back (eventually), it's fairly shallow and I'd like to see it made a little more interesting (which always means more money). The bottom level on the left hand side with the double doors will be my studio, on the main level is the kitchen and mud room window, and on the top floor (left to right) a bedroom, the main bathroom and we're removing the window from the master bedroom to make way for the walk-in closet that will be there:


Friday, December 4, 2009

The night the tent blew away

The one that made it.

With all the crazy storms that have come rolling in lately, (and the fact that we don't have any good places to store things) we had a few casualties. The major one besides power/water/heat loss was our poor storage tent. We have two, one that made it, and the other that didn't.

It up and left during the night, and coincidentally, Trevor had a dream that night that it had blown away so he got up to look out the window, and lo and behold it had taken flight. It wasn't like we just sat the tent on the grass, Trevor had pounded rebar into the ground to hold it down -- but Mother Nature just laughed at that and flung them out like bent toothpicks.

The tent managed to drift/tumble/gracefully take flight to this location, and not the ravine further back:

Boo tent! Boo Mother Nature!!

Here's the really sad part, because of all the rain, we haven't been able to get back out to resurrect it to it's former glory (and pound in double the rebar, and then say 'screw you' Mother Nature). Luckily we weren't actually storing anything in it yet (another issue altogether).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Because everyone could use a little duck bum in their day

Monday, November 30, 2009

The mud room

This is where we're currently at with the mud room. Thanks to the well-placed wood stove we had to re-frame (okay, Trevor did the framing, I'm moral support) the corner of the wall that went on a lovely diagonal.

We also had to replace all of the subfloor in this room because the dirty old owners kept three washers and two dryers in it -- and they leaked like mad. Oh, the was also a rat superhighway behind those machines as well between that floor and the basement.

Let's relive that moment when we first moved in and had this visual spectacle of laundry-o-rama:
Ew.

But look on the bright side, at least the brass boob light is gone (boob lights...they follow me everywhere):


For your viewing pleasure, the new (clean and smelling like wood, not anything else) subfloors:


And look! A CORNER! (Clouds open up, beam of light shines down.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Goodbye chimney!


The badly placed chimney that ran it's way on a angle through the old laundry room and family room (and really was in a hallway, you know, somewhere where everyone can comfortably snuggle up around it), went straight down into the basement, and straight up through the master bedroom. It's gone for good, and all we have to remember it by is the hole.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rainy days

It's been raining like crazy lately, and things around here are waterlogged and muddy (from taking that photo above until now, the wheelbarrow is overflowing). Puddles are everywhere, and places that dip down and turn flat are small lakes. The duck pond has risen a ton -- all of the plants I put in at the end of the summer are gone (hopefully they come back!). Wellies are a must around here! Even with all of that, there are still a few pretty areas that I've managed to find:
Mushrooms, of the flat mushroom-y kind. (I know nothing about mushrooms.)

More mushrooms.

A piece of the fence in the pond, with all the leaves that blew in (which, by the way, I haven't touched a rake this year thanks to the wind).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making window decisions


I originally wanted black windows (and still do) but the reality of black windows means taking a $3000 hit to our budget, and you can do a lot elsewhere in the house with that chunk of money.

We went with Jeld-wen Premium Vinyl single-hung windows, as they provide an even sight line (Trevor was highly particular about that). An even sight line means that the windows are symmetrical -- one side doesn't have a thicker frame than the other.

I've also adjusted the door style in the little mock-up above (still green, of course!). I like the idea of the vee-groove style on the front as we're considering interior doors that use the same vee-groove detail. Not trying to be matchy-matchy, but I don't want to do the typical craftsman door that you see used in new builds all over the place lately.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Underground electrical

Another surprise was finding out that the pole the power line runs on to the house is illegal -- it's not the proper treated wood, and even has fake marks on it to mimic a proper pole. We wanted to run the power underground anyways as the way the line was running into the house was pulling off the fascia boards. We've also upped the power to the house to a 200 amp service (originally we had toyed with an electric on-demand water heater, which is a power hog, but we've scrapped that idea). This extra cost early on will hopefully pay off when we get around to adding on a garage and large master suite -- all ideas for the future.

But, getting back to the nitty gritty:

There was a lot of digging to be done (not by hand, thankfully!). Check out the horrible wiener dog sign on the pole, it still needs to come down.

Dig, dig, dig! (And you can see the bad pole to the left of the trench.)

The mega spool of wire.

We also ran wire and cables to the end of the driveway in preparation for a gate to be built one day. You have no idea how glad I'll be when we have one -- just this week someone curious showed up unannounced and opened the door to the trailer (no knocking or anything!) when I was here. I think I'll go invest in a big stick in the meantime.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The basement, and other horrible things.

When we first put an offer in on the house, we weren't allowed to see the basement. It was so full of hoarded items that you physically couldn't enter it. On inspection day, the sellers were nice enough to push enough items out of the basement (and dump it out in the back yard...until we moved in) so we could see it. At least we were pleasantly surprised to find it in great shape -- no cracks or leaks...but the SMELL, oh the smell. (Urine has a way of insulting your nose and making your eyes water; it's like a form of torture.)

With around 75% of the basement's contents rotting in the yard, we were still left with the leftovers, which had to be dealt with in order to tackle the basement and put a hex on the pee-pee smell.

Of course, I had to document some of the entertaining finds:

Wiener dog door knocker anyone?

Dog food found gathered in the ceiling. The work of squirrels or an industrious pooch?

An entire box of gummy bears. Surprisingly these hadn't been pillaged by the rats and mice.

The freezer. Scary, and one of the last things to go. We filled 5 bin liner bags full of bread (in the form of buns, pizza shells, tortillas, and loaves of every shape and size), the odd headless fish, bacon-wrapped scallops, chicken, homemade borscht and a metal tray of raspberries.

A small bunch of things worth salvaging: an antique door, metal calliper set and a box of brass knobs.

This, however, was NOT worth salvaging (and kind of scares the crap out of me).

All of the heavy cobwebs just added to the decor and overall creepy feeling of the basement.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where things are at

Things have been a little jumbled lately and my lack of blog posts stems mostly from a busy October with days stretching into weekends with my regular studio work. Trevor had more than a few lonely weekends working on the house with me stuck in front of a computer meeting deadlines. I think I needed a break from the regular blog posts as it meant I would be sitting in front of computer (again!). Here's hoping I'm back to some regularly scheduled programming!

Welcome to some photos of the inside of the house:

This is the view from the front door heading upstairs (oh, and that lovely blue tarp is the entrance to our only working bathroom). Insulation is the enemy here, especially blown-in attic insulation that has been plagued by a rat/mouse city development. Nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies more than thinking we have uninvited guests skipping above us using our insulation as their personal toilet. And nothing was worse than having to take it down and clean it up. (There was a point where I wondered if we'd ever reclaim the house -- the rodent poop outnumbered us 100000 to 1.)

The view into the kitchen. There's still some insulation in the walls to be taken out.

This will eventually be where the kitchen island will sit, and beyond that a closed-in mudroom. The chimney is being taken down as well.

Looking into the family room.

And lastly, looking up to the master bedroom. You can see how ridiculous it was to design a chimney to come up through the house, chopping room away from the mudroom storage and the bedroom.