Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hobbits don't do well in the heat

This weekend was so incredibly warm, humid and all of those not-so-pleasant things, well that is if you're Garry and I. See, my husband looks very much like a tall-ish hobbit, or a leprechaun, take your pick. But for someone that is barrel chested and furry, hot weather is not so fun. 

Not to mention that I don't particularly care for hot and humid weather. I sweat a lot. I mean a LOT. It's kind of gross even though I know it's entirely functional and natural. I don't mind sweating when I'm actually doing something, but I don't want to be sweating just because I exist. 

Yesterday the heat got particularly bad so we installed our AC units in our living room and bedroom. Our poor little Auron was not handling the heat very well either. When I put him to bed he was panting pretty hard so we installed our AC unit in the bedroom at 10 p.m. last night. We all slept much better once that kicked in. 

We didn't get much accomplished over the weekend as it was just so hot. Well, I did manage to clean the house aside from our bedroom and the kitchen (which hopefully I'll get to tonight). In that process I burned my toes with the steam mop. Let me tell you - that REALLY hurts! Steam mops are wonderful things, but it's best to do that when you're actually paying attention instead of mindlessly daydreaming about artwork for your guest room. 

I even managed to clean up some of the baseboard (as it's looking a little rough) and I'm very thankful for the magic eraser sponges. If you haven't used them, they are the best thing ever. I removed so much grossness (which I'm embarrassed to admit was there in the first place) with just one of those damp sponges. They clean walls, wood, just about anything that you need something very slightly abrasive for. I like that the abrasiveness comes from baking soda and nothing crazy chemical-y. 

We try really hard to use products/cleaning methods that are environmentally friendly, however sometimes they just don't work. I bought a dish detergent (can't remember the brand) that was organic, environmentally friendly or whatever and that stuff just did not work. You pretty much have to "wash your dishes" before washing them in the dishwasher and to boot it was supposed to be efficient enough to only have to use a little bit, we ended up having to use twice the recommended amount to get our dishes "almost" clean. Augh. So it's back to our old detergent for now until I can find something that will actually work. 

Otherwise, some of the other methods we use have been really helpful: 
  • Steam mop (except when I burn my toes!). They clean the floors with a very hot steam which lifts all of the grime and dirt (and paint splatters) off of your floor. The pads are washable and all you need to clean your floors is some tap water. They clean our floors really well, however once in a while we do have to polish them. 
  • Microfiber cloths. These help eliminate the need for paper towels. We still keep them on hand for the really gross stuff, but for the most part (for dusting, windows, kitchen/table tops) we use the cloths. It has cut down on our paper towel use considerably and you can just throw them in the wash. I'm planning on picking up a few extra cloths to have on hand as sometimes they get pretty dirty before I get to the next room. (Or maybe I should just be better about cleaning so that doesn't happen?) 
  • Method brand cleaners. These products are environmentally friendly and they actually work really well. I usually get them at Target as they have the best stock. They're a little pricier than some cleaners, but fairly inexpensive compared to some other environmentally friendly cleaners out there. You only need a wee bit so the stuff lasts a good long time. I may have to stock up twice a year (but then again, maybe that's an indicator that I should clean more). 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bathroom redo - step 1 of a billion

It's been a long, long week of desperately trying to get better so I can actually get something accomplished this week. I'm feeling a LOT better than I did on Monday, so I'm hoping (weather permitting) I'll get some gardening accomplished over the long weekend.

That's right - I have three whole days off of work! Can you believe it? It's been a while since I've had that much time off and wasn't sick. Maybe I'll finally get around to weeding my garden this weekend...?

This week Garry was a saint and refinished our tub. I don't have any before photos for you guys (it was pretty bad) but I will have some "after" photos for you folks either this evening or tomorrow when we take all of the drop cloths down.

The process wasn't terribly difficult, even though our tub didn't want to cooperate at first. Here's the rundown of the process (even though I didn't participate because I was at work/still sick when Garry did it):

  • Clean the tub. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but getting the tub completely clean was integral to making sure the end result was what we wanted. The kit we bought had a cleaning solution and steel wool pad in it, but because the paint was chipping so bad the solution ended up flaking the paint even more. 
  • Plan B: scrape all of the paint off. We're no strangers to scraping paint (like our disasterous accent wall project that we eventually remedied with wood paneling) and luckily the paint came off relatively easily. 
  • Sand down the tub. Garry (and our friends Kal and Raine) took some light grit sandpaper and sanded the entire tub down so the surface was nice and smooth. 
  • Clean the tub (again). All of the dirt, dust and other debris had to be cleaned off in order for the solution to seal properly. 
  • Tape plastic drop cloths around the tub surround, fixtures and floor around the tub. The epoxy stuff was in a spray can so we had to make sure that if it got "outside the lines" something was protecting the rest of the bathroom. A few cheap plastic drop cloths and painter's tape did the job. 
  • Get the masks, turn on the air vent, open the bathroom window (and other windows in the house), move all the critters to the bedroom and shut the door (so they wouldn't be affected by fumes) and spray away! This step was a two-parter. You have to spray the first coat on (in a nice, even coat), wait 15-20 minutes and then spray a second coat on. 
  • Since our tub (after sanding it down) was already white, we only needed two coats. If you have a darker tub and you're going for a lighter color (or a light tub that you want darker) you'l need more. We only needed one can of the two-can set - so if we need to do it again down the road, we're all set. 
  • Wait 3 days for it to cure. This was the kind of sucky part. We couldn't use our (only) shower for 3 days. My cat was also thoroughly annoyed that he couldn't play in the tub. Luckily, our friends (that are almost done refinishing their bathroom) let us shower at their house.
Okay, see our friends Jeff and Eithne bought this old late-Victorian era house on the other side of town. The place needed a LOT of love and they were just the folks to give it to that sad little house. They bought it a few months ago and had a ton of work already done, like having new water pipes installed, new drywall in a few rooms and a whole bunch of other craziness. One major project that needed to be completed before they moved in was having the bathroom redone. Oh man, it was bad. They had to take out pretty much everything, down the studs. But let me tell you, that bathroom has become my new favorite bathing place. 

I don't have photos (because I was smelly and was just too excited to bathe), but let me describe it for you. The walls are painted this gorgeous cerulean blue from the midpoint up along with the ceiling. The floors are a soft white hex tile with light putty-grey grout (they aren't terribly in love with it, but I certainly am!), a gorgeous pedestal sink with large round mirror mounted over it is across the room from a small dresser used for bath essentials, a glittery chandelier hangs from the ceiling (or as Jeff calls it, the chandelier in the sh*t house) a fluffy white bathmat is placed invitingly in front of... this amazing claw-foot tub with a telephone shower handle and a large shower head for actual showers. 

I know! I'm insanely jealous too. 

So I begged asked nicely if I could indulge in a nice hot bath. Oddly enough folks, I had never taken a bath in a claw-foot tub before then. I know, what's wrong with me? Eithne happily granted my request and I took what was probably the most relaxing bath of my life. Wow... just wow. Looking at the light from the chandelier playing off of the gorgeous cerulean blue walls and ceiling and feeling like I'm underwater in the Mediterranean (not that I'd actually do that because I'm terrified of the ocean) was blissful. 

There plans are to add some board and batten on the lower half of the walls too. As I luxuriated in that gorgeous tub, I imagined some gorgeous Mediterranean artwork and some colorful towels to tie it all in. It's a huge bathroom - plenty of room for some substantial pieces. 

There's still a lot of work that they have planned for that house (her list makes mine look like a college student's weekly grocery shopping list), but just like everyone else who buys a house (especially one that really needs some love) you take it one project at a time. 

So our not nearly as impressive bath tub will be finished curing today. We still have plans to redo the tub surround and install new fixtures, but that's going to wait for a while until we can build up our savings again, as that's easily going to cost a few hundred dollars to do it how we want to.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Still on the mend

It makes me shudder hearing folks walking through the hallway in front of my office with the same "barking" cough that I have/had. It's like somehow I'm sort of responsible. Boo.

I'm still on the mend. While I feel infinitely better than I did last week, there is still a bunch of "gunk" in my chest and it's making me feel just about anything but productive.

Luckily, Garry got over it rather quickly and is working on a few projects before he starts his summer job on Wednesday.

Yesterday he started mortaring the stones for our back yard fireplace. The plan is to finish them up today and set them tomorrow after the mortar has had some time to cure. We should have a working fire pit by Saturday!

Also on the agenda for Garry today is to refinish the bathtub. It's in pretty bad shape right now. The previous owner painted the tub and it has been chipping off over the last few months. The biggest problem is that the paint chunks are clogging the drain - and of course our tub looks gross.

We went ahead and bought a refinishing kit for about $30. Currently, the tub is a beige/almond color and it just doesn't look "right" in our bathroom, considering we have white wainscoting and trim. We're refinishing the tub white (it just makes sense so everything matches) and possibly sometime this year (probably later in the fall) we might get around to redoing the shower surround.

Garry is going to continue with school in the fall, which is awesome and I'm so proud of him, but it also means our income will be a little lower than normal after his GI Bill runs out after this following semester. So most of our projects will end up coming out of my income and it will take a lot longer to save up the bucks to take care of them.

Since we have a few projects that will require contractors help, I think those are going to have to wait until after he finishes his degree - which means we're looking at about 2 years down the road to start. Not really a fan, but financial stability is WAY more important than getting large-scale improvement projects taken care of. Of course, it also helps that we have loads of friends that can help us out with some of the "not really contractor-worthy, but still more than our expertise" projects.

One of those will be installing the drywall in the attic. It's not one of those projects that's necessarily rocket science, but it's something that we're not really "good" at either. Luckily we have a few friends that are fairly adept at drywall installation and will work for barbeque. Once we get that room squared away, I can paint (you know I'm twitching to do it too), start pricing out carpet installation and eventually move our office (and set up my craft room) upstairs. Oh that will be a happy day. My mouth is almost watering at the chance to go look at paint chips.

Part of that plan will also involve building some office furniture. Right now, Garry has a little desk. Ideally, he'd have a nice-sized desk where he can have room to do his homework and play video games until 3am do computer stuff. We're hoping to make the desk long enough so I will have room for a sewing/craft station. Of course, drawers and cubbies will be a huge part of the design as clever storage is a necessity!

Of course, that's a while down the road...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Well, what started as a sore throat turned into a week-long illness (that, admittedly I'm still getting over) that involved a fever, a lot of coughing, a sore chest and more mucus than I thought my body was capable of producing. I mean seriously? How does that happen?!

My fever finally broke late last night/sometime this morning. I woke up and felt slightly more capable of functioning than I had all week, so I went into work. It's been a CRAZY day so far, but I'm starting to get a bit worn out and figured I'd write here for a few minutes to give my brain a "break" from all the hard stuff.

This week we got quite a bit of rain, which my plants are eternally thankful for. My Japanese maple is looking much better and my rose of sharon is leafing beautifully. Even my iris is starting to bud - yay!

This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous weather-wise and I'm hoping to feel up to actually getting some gardening done. The bed needs to be weeded and since some of the wood squill had died back, I can replant them. I'm also hoping to plant my lilies too. I'm not sure if that's going to be more than I can handle or not - we'll just have to see.

I also noticed that some of my tulips are sending up more shoots. Odd. I didn't know they did that. Hm. Maybe we'll have more tulips later on this spring.

Garry will hopefully get around to fixing the huge hole in our tub surround today (where the soap dish just fell out) and get to refinishing the tub next week before he starts working for the summer.

Augh, it's not even mid-day yet and I'm already exhausted.

Oh, on a good note, the weed and feed we bought for our front lawn really helped a lot. Very excited about that! Now we don't have a ton of dandelions in our yard  for the dog will eat. The grass seed we planted in the backyard is also growing nicely (due to all the rain, I'm sure) so we'll get back there with the weed and feed once the grass really establishes itself - then we can have a nice, lush lawn. YAY!

For some reason, I'm feeling like everything has been put "on hold," especially since just getting sick this weekend. Maybe it's because Garry has spent half of his week off taking care of me instead of getting projects done like we had planned - or maybe because I'm not well enough yet to take care of some of these things. I mean, I have a million plans for projects that should get done this year (as you can see in previous posts), but to be honest, I'm not really sure how it's all going to get done.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Down with the sickness

Well folks, yesterday turned out to be a beautiful day for gardening, but I came down with some sort of sickness that included having a very sore and swollen throat along with a fever. Awesome. 

While watching the sunshine dance around the leaves outside, all I could do is whine that I felt crummy and wanted to weed my garden and there was nothing I could do about either at the moment. 

This morning I still had a fever and I still feel achy now, although not nearly as bad as I did this morning. My sinuses are getting clogged and I just know that the next week is going to be slightly miserable. 

On top of getting sick - on Friday night our house almost blew up. 

One of the burners on our oven wasn't working properly and was leaking gas. After I made dinner the CO monitor went off. We thought that it might just need new batteries (forgetting that it was actually hardwired to our electric), so we changed the battery and it still went off - along with the little red blinky light that said "get to fresh air." So we packed the kitties and put them in the car (it was late in the evening so it was cool outside) with the windows cracked and had Auron on the leash. 

We called the fire department, who then called NYSEG (our utilities provider) and long story short, they cut the gas line to our stove and we either need to get the stove fixed or replaced. *grumble* 

Looking at the prices of stoves, we're not sure if we want to have someone come and fix our range or just buy a new one. The only folks around that are able to service our Kenmore stove is Sears, and they charge $75 just to come and look at it. I'd hate to spend that money and then have them tell us "Oh yeah, this is shot to hell, you might as well buy a new stove." 

On the other hand, to buy a stove comparable to what we have, we'll have to spend at least $500-$600. That's a lot of cash. So I'm left wondering what will be the "better deal," but I'm leaning toward having it repaired. 

Other than the inconvenience of being sick and not having a working stove, let me just say how incredibly thankful I am that we have a CO meter in our house. We actually have ours hard-wired into the electrical system with a battery backup so we won't ever have to worry about it not working. The NYSEG person said that meter saved our lives, if we didn't have a meter and went to bed, we would have likely died in our sleep. That's incredibly crazy to think about (especially since I lived in a lot of apartments where there weren't CO meters, or even smoke detectors for that matter) but I'm glad that the bank required them for the sale. 

Maybe this weekend I'll get around to fussing with the garden. The weather is supposed to be nice and I don't have any plans to go anywhere. I think it might be nice to dig in there and get some things accomplished. 

Oh, my rose of sharon is FINALLY starting to go to leaf and one of my irises is going to bloom soon. YAY!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Date night

I can't tell you how many articles I've read about guidelines to keep your marriage happy and healthy that included having a consistent "date night" is one of the keys to happiness.

We tried the weekly "noodle night" and that was great for a while, but we're busy folks for the most part. Coming and going and people coming over, working late and all of that - it's really hard to stick to a weekly date night.

So instead of pressuring ourselves to do it, we just do it on a whim, or we plan something a little more special well ahead of time.

Last night, we went on our first "date night" since we got Auron over a month ago and it was definitely well needed. We went out to dinner and then saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Wow. Just wow. Folks, I was rendered speechless. I actually sat through most of the show with my mouth agape in awe. Just awesome. Neither of us had seen them live before, but were always impressed by the music. It was amazing watching such talented singers and musicians blend hard rock with orchestral pieces. Garry and I started learning how to play violin this winter and it was definitely an inspiration to keep practicing and learning.

We ended up going to bed much later than normal and woke up really tired, but it was worth it. Tonight we'll just have a nice, quiet dinner in and spend some time playing with Auron outside (poor little guy was in his crate most of the day yesterday since we were running around everywhere) as I'm sure he would love to romp around the yard on such a nice day.

I guess if I were to say what I think a good guideline to keeping a marriage happy and healthy is to communicate, know yourself and what you want in life (it's hard to communicate those things if you don't really know or take the time to think about it) and think before you act. I know it sounds easy, but sometimes it's more difficult than it looks.

Sometimes you don't really know what you want in life, or the things you want might be conflicting. Instead of freaking out, just take the time to sort through it. Tell your partner that you're sorting through it. Let them help if it's something they truly can help, but if not, don't be afraid to say that you have to sort it out in your own head. Respect your partner if they need to do the same.

It's okay to be angry too. No really, it is. It's okay to be angry, upset or otherwise pissed off at your partner. It happens. What matters is what you *do* with that anger. Figure out why you're angry. No, why you're really angry. Not just because your partner doesn't do the dishes when you ask or some other minutia. Find the real root of it and then discuss it. If those issues come up and you're constructive with it (instead of just getting mad and fighting) you will not only learn something about yourself, but you'll definitely strengthen your marriage or partnership.

It's also smart to know when something is worth bringing up. If it really is minutia, there's no sense in blowing up over it. Allow yourself time to think about why you're upset before doing anything (unless it's something really serious that is a danger to you or others then bring it up asap) and you may find that it's not as big of a deal as you originally thought, or that it was a misunderstanding, etc. That doesn't mean to bottle things up, it just means to think before you speak.

Communication is key in any relationship whether business, friendship, romantic, family... it doesn't matter. So many relationships fail because the folks involved just don't communicate well. Being with someone you communicate well with is helpful. But, even if you don't communicate so well now, you can always work on it. Communication goes both ways, so both of you need to be dedicated toward making it happen. Being compassionate also helps. Put yourself in your partner's shoes and really try to understand where they are coming from. It really does help.

Tomorrow the girls will be coming over for a little pre-wedding get-together (my friend is getting married in a month) to work on some of the centerpieces and what not. It should be a good time. I'm hoping the nice weather holds out until Sunday to tackle the flower bed, but it's starting to look like that might end up being a next weekend project.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Garden clean-up

You'll have to forgive me if this post is a bit rambly or otherwise incoherent. Garry and I got precious little sleep last night for no real reason - just one of those nights where we couldn't sleep. 

Our garden has been looking a little sad lately. The perennial bulbs that I planted are pretty much all dead due to not really looking at the life-span of the flowers, the crazy weather we're having this spring, and the local "stray-but-not-stray" cat chewing on my tulips and laying on my other plants (I caught her as I was leaving work the other day). 

On top of that, there are tons of weeds and other invasive plants growing in my little planter. I have TONS of lily of the valley growing. I really love lily of the valley. Don't get me wrong, but if I'm going to keep it in the planter it needs to somehow be "wrangled." The little voice in the back of my head is just laughing hysterically about that thought - pointing and laughing and saying "yeah... good luck with that one." 

So, here's my plan.

I'm going to dig up all the bulbs I planted last fall and replant them somewhere else in the front yard where I won't care so much if they die out quickly. 

THEN I'm going to ask my very dear, sweet, loving husband to take a little trip with me to the garden store (probably not until next weekend though) and purchase some white azalea bushes and plant those suckers. I also found some yellow peony that will look really pretty and will couple nicely with the daffodils that are pretty established. I have some white and pink hyacinth that will look nice along the border (along with the unruly lily of the valley) and I found this flower too: 

Photo from Summerstone Nursery's website, www.summerstonenursery.com

I mean who doesn't love Betty White? And I really love the color of this rose. It's a lovely peachy-pink color and will look lovely against the white azalea and the other plants I am planning for that space. I love antique roses too - there's just something so romantic about them. 

I have a bunch of blue/purple hyacinth, wood squill and other assorted tulips that will need to find a new home somewhere else in my garden - I'm not terribly sure where they're going to go to be honest. Possibly either in the tree rings or near the entryway until we can get the backyard perennial garden established (and then we'll move the hyacinth and wood squill back there - the tulips will stay in the front yard. 

Ideally it will look like this: 

If you can't read the type (my bad) the large white circles are the azalea, large yellow circles are the peony and the large pink circles are the Betty White rose. The little green circles are going to be either a varigated hosta or evergreen. (I haven't decided on what that will be yet). The little yellow circles are daffodils, the little white circles in the corners are white casablanca lily (which I already have) and the pink and white circles in the front are hyacinth (which I already have). 

The circles that are there are representative of the plants mature size - so it will be kind of puny for a few years. Azalea can get up to 4 feet in diameter, but you can always cut them back if you need to - as well as peony and rose bushes. The other perennials will multiply for sure, and will fill out the bed really nicely. 

All told, I'll have to buy 13 plants. I can move everything else around to the front. Yeah, they're already "done" for the season so to speak, but I can move them there so they can establish themselves for next year's growing season. At the very least, I'll have the white azalea bloom this year along with whatever greenery we'll have and it will look nice. Is it so wrong to want a nice, lush garden? 

I didn't add the lily of the valley in there, but it will fill in the "bare" spots between plants. I have so much of it that I'm not really even sure I'll keep all of it - so we'll have to see. 

The other "garden" in front of our large window is doing okay. My rose of Sharon isn't doing so hot. I mean it's budding and all, but that's about it. Understandably, it doesn't flower until late summer/early fall and we planted them in November last year, so it might be a while before that stars to happen. Plus, I planted some delphinium seeds, which take an entire year before they grow. 

Patience... patience patience... it's not like I don't have other projects to deal with in the meantime. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Updated project list

I realized this morning that I haven't updated our project list in a while. I was thinking that we really haven't gotten that much accomplished since moving in last August, boy was I wrong! I managed to cross a ton of things off my list, but at the same time, I added a bunch too. I really hope that doesn't cancel it all out.

Here's our updated project list by room or area:

House Exterior

  • Weed and feed front lawn
  • Fix crumbling concrete patio and sidewalk 
  • Reseed front lawn
  • Weed garden bed 
  • Move bulbs to another part of the front garden/plant in pots to save for back garden
  • Re-mortar planter bed 
  • Plant rose bushes/shrubs in planter
  • Build window boxes for large front window
  • Gussy-up the front porch (buy a bench, add either some hanging baskets or a planter) 
  • Replace decorative trellis and handrail 
  • Repaint shutters, trim, garage door and house exterior
  • Take out shrub on slope, terrace and add perennial garden 
  • Take out shrub next to the house
  • Pull out myrtle on the left side of the house
  • Add landscaping rock or some other drainage material on the left side of house
  • Build slate planter around the main window garden (to match planter)

Back yard 

  • Cut down pine trees
  • Grind up pine stumps 
  • Take our shrubs and stumps  (we're not completely finished with this - there are still a few left)
  • Reseed lawn
  • Add chain link fencing 
  • Take out brick planters
  • Cut down broken pine tree (contractor) 
  • Take off canopy thing from garage door
  • Plant some large shrubs (possibly evergreen?) to create a natural privacy fence on the back edge of fence
  • Finish building the fire pit
  • Install picket fence and pergola (or archway) for perennial garden
  • Plant perennial garden 
  • Create paved stone deck off of garage 
  • Fence in alcove area for vegetable garden
  • Build raised beds for vegetable gardening 
  • Organize garage admittedly, we're still working on this, but we've made some huge progress since AJ moved out
  • Replace door to the backyard 
  • Redo concrete floor
  • Redo drywall 
  • Install peg board and organizational bins/shelves for tools 
  • Paint 
  • Build and install folding work table 
Living Room/Entryway
  • Paint 
  • Install overhead light 
  • Finish back wall  (oh my gods I was so excited when this was finished)
  • Replace doorbell 
  • Install crown molding/baseboard and window trim 
  • Create mail sorter 
  • Build new tv console 
  • Figure out how to get a fireplace in there
  • Install dishwasher
  • Install counter top 
  • Install back splash 
  • Paint 
  • Create kitchen chalkboard
  • Tear out mini cabinet
  • Install trim around tile 
  • Install track lighting 
  • Install iron chandelier over dining area 
  • Build farmhouse-style table and benches for dining nook 
  • Use reclaimed wood (in garage) to make shelf on long wall 
  • Add crown molding/baseboard/window trim
  • Sew curtains for window
  • Take out scalloped wood piece 
  • Finish cabinet space next to dishwasher
  • Install new flooring
Master bedroom
  • Repaint 
  • Install crown molding/baseboard/window trim 
  • Install closet organization system 
  • Install bi-fold doors for closet  
  • Refinish dressers (or purchase new) 
  • Hang new curtain rods/curtains
  • Sew new curtains/quilt
  • Install possible 3rd window? 
Guest room
  • Paint
  • Replace overhead light fixture 
  • Install crown molding/baseboard/window trim
  • Add lighting
  • Insulate properly 
  • Fix carpet
  • Install fan
  • Install new tub tile 
  • Refinish tub
  • Install new tub hardware 
  • Fix hole in wall from previous light switch
  • Repaint/fix wainscoting 
  • Add cabinets 
  • Install new flooring 
  • Make alcove wider/deeper
  • Route plumbing/electric to new alcove 
  • Build double vanity 
  • Install double vanity/mirrors/lighting 
  • Insulate
  • Install heating
  • Drywall 
  • Wire for electric outlets 
  • Replace windows 
  • Install carpet 
  • Install baseboard/window molding 
  • Create built-ins 
  • Paint 
  • Create office area? 
  • Install skylights?
  • Install master bath?
  • Move washer and dryer together for laundry area 
  • Replace furnace and water heater
  • Replace electric panel
  • Vapor seal 
  • Install sub-floor
  • Frame out rooms 
  • Run proper electric/plumbing for each room
  • Replace windows 
  • Install carpet and tile (where needed)
  • Fix stairwell 
  • Install drywall and drop ceiling 
  • Install baseboard/window molding and trim
  • Install overhead lighting
  • Paint 
  • Create half-bath
  • Create bar area 
What's funny is that the guest room is the most "completed" room in our house. Mostly because there isn't much we needed to do to it in the first place which is really nice. However, when we have a kid that room will become the baby room and we'll need to do some work (mostly in the realm of decorating and acquiring furniture). 

Also when that happens, our attic will become the new "guest room." We're still debating over the possibility of installing a master suite upstairs (which would essentially be the guest suite since we'll be still sleeping downstairs next door to the kiddo), but it will depend largely on space and cost. We won't really have a good idea if something like that is going to work until we talk to a contractor and install the drywall. 

The great part about our house is the flexibility it offers. We can use our rooms for multiple purposes. It would be too difficult (if we decide to go this route) to turn the attic into a full-fledged guest suite and use the current guest room as our office until we have a kid. Once that happens, we can always move the "office" into the basement. 

If we decide not to put a full bath in the attic, then we will use that space as our permanent office area (it will be sectioned off) and build a second full bath in the basement. Yeah, I know it sounds a little weird, but we have PLENTY of space in our basement for a full bath. We're planning on at least putting a half-bath in there, and figure that we can add a sleeper sofa (for when Garry has friends over for late-night gaming sessions) and some other comfy and stylish furniture to create a fun space for friends and family gatherings. We also have a huge dining table that we need to possibly refinish that we can use for family gatherings. So in reality, our basement will become a recreation room/bar/family dining/laundry area. 

It is going to take a LOT of work friends. Luckily, Garry was offered a job and we'll be able to set aside anywhere from $500 - $1,000 a month toward projects. It will still take us a few years to get to everything, but I think we should have this project list completed in about 5-7 years, considering the amount of money and work it will take to finish the basement in particular. 

This year, we're hoping to complete at least:
  • Fix crumbling concrete patio and sidewalk 
  • Reseed front lawn
  • Weed garden bed 
  • Move bulbs to another part of the front garden/plant in pots to save for back garden
  • Re-mortar planter bed 
  • Plant rose bushes/shrubs in planter 
  • Pull out myrtle on the left side of the house
  • Cut down broken pine tree (contractor) 
  • Take off canopy thing from garage door
  • Plant some large shrubs (possibly evergreen?) to create a natural privacy fence on the back edge of fence
  • Finish building the fire pit
  • Install crown molding/baseboard and window trim on first floor
  • Create mail sorter 
  • Install trim around back splash tile 
  • Install track lighting in kitchen
  • Install iron chandelier over dining area  
  • Sew curtains for kitchen windows/bedroom and living room
  • Repaint bedroom  
  • Replace overhead light fixture in guest room 
  • Install new tub tile 
  • Refinish tub
  • Install new tub hardware 
  • Fix hole in wall from previous light switch in bathroom
  • Repaint/fix wainscoting in bathroom
  • Paint bathroom
  • Drywall attic
  • Wire for electric outlets in attic 
It looks like a long list, but the first few items I'm planning on tackling this weekend and the backyard items on that list will hopefully be taken care of in the next two months. The only two "large" projects on our list for this year include installing the electric boxes and drywall in the attic and installing new tile in the bathroom and refinishing the tub. Everything else is a "Saturday afternoon" project. 

I talked to my brother who recently purchased his first home with his wife and they were lamenting about "how long" it's taking to save up money to start the projects. The thing is, Garry and I do a lot of work ourselves, prioritize what needs to be taken care of and take care of as many "free" or "low cost" projects as we can (like painting or small-scale decorating projects). We also shop sales and take advantage of coupons  when they become available. Saving money is important, you need to make sure you have some cash to fall back on if something unexpected comes up, but you need to invest in your home to build equity also. This is why it's important to not pay too much for a house - so you can have the funds to do repair and upgrades and still have some left over for fun stuff too (then again, some of these projects are considered "fun stuff" for us... call us weird).

Our plan is to have the bulk of the major projects taken care of  before we have a kid - that way all we need to do down the road is some updating and maintenance and that extra money can go toward spoiling taking care of our kiddo. We know it's unrealistic to have the basement completely finished (although that would rock) but at least having it "finished" (dry wall and flooring installed) would be a great place to be. 

Also, we have a lot of amazing friends who are willing to help us out for the low low price of throwing some food on the grill or ordering a pizza and some wings when we're all finished. They're awesome like that.

Anyone else have a crazy list of seemingly endless house projects out there? 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Random project starts and some lawn maintenance

It's been a crazy few weeks with us! I have been terrible about posting, but other than taking care of our puppy Auron and just getting through the day, we haven't really finished much of anything.

Now that we're getting a proper amount of rain, out lawn is finally starting to grow - along with all of the weeds.  *grumble* On Saturday we picked up some weed and feed and grass seed to remedy some of the lawn problems we've been having.

If you remember, last fall we spent some time working on our front lawn. We had a giant blue spruce taken town and we had to lime the area where all the pine needles were and plant some grass seed. Well, that part of the yard looks pretty good, but now the rest of the yard doesn't look anything like it. Womp womp. So we bought a seed spreader, some grass seed so we can "overseed" the lawn and some weed and feed to kill off the weeds that are growing everywhere in our yard.

What we did was seed the backyard (it's really sparse!) and then used the weed and feed in the front lawn. Hopefully we'll start seeing a difference in a few days.

Our flower bed is starting to die out. Boo! Unfortunately, the bulbs I chose weren't ones that necessarily last very long. At some point we'll be pulling those out, dividing them, and replanting them in other places in our front garden area and replacing them with some longer-lasting flowering shrubs and rose bushes. I'm thinking of getting some azalea and possibly peony to go with the roses, not sure yet.

I'm also dreaming of some ideas to fence in my perennial garden in our backyard, mainly because everything I want to plant is poisonous to dogs and I don't want anything bad happening to my little fur baby. I would love to have an arbor as well...

Oh so many projects... I think for now just getting the large pine tree out and the non-poisonous shrubs in will make a huge difference. I think if we start from the back fence line and work our way outwards it will help us decide how big our perennial garden should be (I could realistically take up half of the yard if I'm not careful). I also want to plant a flowering dogwood tree in the back right-hand corner (there's a clothesline pole there now) which will take up a considerable amount of space and will change what I can and can't plant in there.

What I *really* need is to give my list of plants I want to plant to someone and have them draw up a plan. I'm not terribly good with outdoor designing I guess.

Also in the backyard we're working on putting the fire pit in! Yay! Finally! We have all of the materials, now just for a few days of warm, sunny weather where we're not busy... which means, we'll be lucky if we get it done before fall.

Right now the stones are just stacked where they need to be. We still have to mortar the stones together (one on top of the other so we have 6 sections of 2 stacked stones) and then make sure they're level in the ground before mortaring them together and adding the decorative cap stones. We also need to find a metal grate per local fire regulations.

Oh, I *did* recently finish a project at the house too... I'll post photos and the tutorial on that. :)