December 23, 2009

Split Focus

For almost as long as Pete and I have been together we've had to split our focus between multiple houses. There has never been only one project to tackle for us. I guess you could call us a combo of over ambitious mixed with a little bit of attention deficit. Because of that we tend to be all over the place sometimes when it comes to progress and what is coming up next. There are always a few things waiting in the wings.

Pete's first house, which I consider the first door, is now a college rental a half block from our Alma Matter. Funny side note, we have both lived there- but never while officially living there together. He had roommates until moving out for the Wtown house, which is when I then rented it with my girlfriends for my junior year of college. At first it was just being a landlord and having the fixer upper...

As the Wtown house plunged deeper into renovations we started to talk about how much we loved the house and what it was becoming. All our hypothetical plans revolved around keeping the house forever. In those future plans was the long term goal to get a place at the beach.

A few years later that goal got realized when Pete made settlement on a small one bedroom condo down the shore. And with that we walked on through the third door, which is on the third floor of 123 street. The condo greeted us with the wonderfulness that is older generation beach house decor. Think lots of fake plants, lighthouses and fish statues.

There we were, busy with life in general while balancing rentals and renovations on the house front. So what do we do? Simplify? No. We go out and buy the cheapest, biggest POS house in the whole county with the idea of 'flipping' it. Time goes on and while we're talking about all our flipping renovation plans it slowly start to dawn on us that we love the new crappy house. and that house is where our future really lies.

and that my friends is the (very condensed) story of how we got to the now. Which is a current gut renovation on an unlivable house, a home on the worst selling market in recent memory, tenants that have illegal cats and who painted the living room in leopard spots and a retreat that got hit the hardest when the real estate market crashed.

December 21, 2009

Snowy House Bound Weekend

This weekend Philadelphia and the surrounding area got slammed with a late fall storm. Highest recorded amount December snow fall ever! Our area of South Jersey was documenting amounts in the 2 foot range. As a lover of all things snow, this weekend was fantastic for me! Waking up to the snow falling Saturday morning I was like a kid again. I woke up early, which is unheard of for me on the weekends and just stared out the window watching the snow fall. Energized by the snow and my giant cup of coffee I buzzed around the house, cooking and cleaning for the rest of the morning.

At noon we decided to get bundled up and play outside for a little bit. Unfortunately there aren't any great sledding hills that we know of around us, so no sledding was to be had. There is a little hill in our backyard, but it leads directly into the stream and my tuck and roll off the sled technique hasn't been practiced in many years. So I'd be afraid my behind would end up taking a little dip if I attempted to sled down the hill. (Plus we don't have a sled)

Nala had a freaking blast running around the backyard in the snow! She was having level 10 amounts of fun.
Late at night we suited up again to check out the snow and nab some pictures of the house snow covered. It was around 10pm and the snow was still coming down pretty hard.

Moi, standing in the street. For reference I'm 5'6" and the snow was at my knees. It was even higher in the drifts! I tried to make a snow angel and could barely move. Pete called it a lovely snow blob.

Sunday morning my car was pretty much completely buried. It still looks like that. Only the SUV got dug out completely. We're going to be driving the SUV until the roads get cleared around us. Living out in the sticks means roads that stay yucky until a few days of sun later. There just aren't enough people driving over them to get anything but the main roads clear.

Sunday evening we drove to the Wee house to make sure it was ok. There was some concern about the crap shed in the backyard collapsing under the weight of the snow. Plus we needed to make sure the sidewalk was shoveled. Which it was thanks to our lovely and amazing neighbor! They definitely earned the cookies I spent all day baking.

The sunset looks so pretty reflecting off our abandoned Wee house.

December 16, 2009

Showing # 19

Yesterday we received a request for a showing! Exciting! The screeching halt of the real estate market hitting the winter season was and is being felt with our house. I don't really mind though. Like I've mentioned before, in order for one to sell their house it must be on the market and available for showings. The appointments have been pretty rare, so the inconvenience for us is very minimal aside from one or two showing ready cleanings.

Staying positive about ever selling the house is really important. If I don't work at being optimistic about every showing, I'll quickly feel defeated by the housing market and downward spiral into a pretty crappy funk. A deep funk that not even ice cream, beer and Star Wars can bring me out of. While cleaning last night I kept reminding myself that the house will eventually sell. It has to. It will. Even if this person isn't THE buyer, then at the very least we don't have to clean the house again this weekend.

Sigh. This house selling stuff. I'm not sold on it yet.

December 10, 2009

What I want...

... out of this renovation. Is simply to have a home that oozes livability.

December 8, 2009

Second Open House

Friday night our town had its Annual Christmas Tour. Which is one of the major events in our relatively small, South Jersey town. A few select homes in town open their doors up for the masses and welcome every last person in. All with tales about the home, notable past owners and showing off unique offering that the house has. Proceeds from the tour go toward our town's historical preservation society.

Our house was not on the tour.

However, Pete and I thought that given the amount of traffic that goes through the town during the tour that maybe it would be a good idea to have an open house. Get our visibility on the market up. Our realtor agreed to host the open house for two hours on Friday night. Over the course of the week we cleaned. We scrubbed. We swept. Every last holiday decoration got put up and plugged in. Cookies went into the oven and hot cider was simmering on the counter.

Not a person showed up.

Neither of us really expected anyone to stop by, but both of us were hoping that maybe someone would. Since we're not in the middle of town walking area we knew there would be no "oh I just was strolling by" foot traffic. But I was hoping that pure curiosity would get someone to come in.

After we stopped bashing our heads into the wall, we ate the cookies and talked. Now we're just happy that the house got sparkling clean and is completely decorated for the Holidays. We can relax a little bit and enjoy the next few crazy weeks fully.

December 7, 2009

Cans for Comments! Donated!

Thanks to all the readers who made a comment during the Cans for Comments drive! Overall I donated 29 cans of food to the 93.3 Preston and Steve Camp out for Hunger last week. With all the food collectively donated at the Camp out going towards Philabundance, a Philly area food bank.

Dropping of my giant tote bag full of food. This guy was so nice and very sincere in thanking us for the donation.
Me and all the food! That shopping cart full of food was all thanks to everyone who commented!We hung out inside the broadcast tent for a little while, but had leave to get to work on time.

Thank you again everyone who commented! I was so happy to do this. Hopefully next year I can raise even more cans!

December 3, 2009

Termite Damage

There are a variety of reasons why we decided to tear out all the walls and take most of the house down to studs. One of those very important reasons was so we could see and evaluate the condition of the house's bones. While everything looked to be on the up and up, you just never know about what is hiding behind the walls.

An inspection of the house revealed old termite damage and neither of us were really surprised to hear that. It's an old house, and old wood is very tasty to munching bugs. Thankfully there is currently no active damage and the damage isn't too extensive.

One of the first rooms to get the walls torn off was the future dining room. And. Well. It wasn't pretty. I'm telling you right now that this room has it firmly in its mind to be the problem child of the whole stinking house. Not only did I throw up (in my mouth) the first day that I worked on the room, but also its the only room (so far) that has presented us with any amount of termite damage on the beams.

The subtle blue arrows point to the damage.

Its pretty funny to see how only one or a few certain beams can get affected. Why only that one piece of wood? A lot of the damage in this room is very centralized in certain spots. Which makes it easier to fix. So, overall this damage isn't much of a surprise or a problem.

If we made the decision to not tear out the walls would I be worried? No. Not really. I'm of the school of thought that if an old home is still standing strong today, then its going to keep standing strong for a looonnnggg time. Despite the damage you would not believe how solid the room is still. Pretty crazy how they used to build houses back in the day.

Termite damage is fug.

December 2, 2009


Twenty eight equals the number of cans I just purchased for the food drive! I'm so excited to get to the Camp Out tomorrow to drop them off.


Cleaning up Lath (and the death of our fridge)

The day that I'm done with cleaning up the living room, I'm popping open a bottle of champagne. My goal is to have the room broom clean by the end of December. Which is fitting if I can get the timing right with the Champagne.

This last weekend was a massive throw out effort because no dump trips were done in November at all! Time spent in November at the Wee house hasn't been as much as previous months. Because of that we focused on doing as much demo as possible during our shorter visits.

Continued on with the plaster and lath clean up.

While I was bundling up the lath I got a potentially killer idea about how to re-use it! We're going to need flooring for the two front rooms. Since those rooms are made from a converted front porch they just have a slab with fug carpet. Hunting down matching or period hardwoods for those rooms could be really tough and expensive. Laying tile would likely be the easiest flooring, but sometimes that can be so cold and I'd rather have a warmer feel that goes throughout the entire downstairs. Well... lath is already trimmed and cut to size. It's old wood. Why not see if it can be laid down, stained and poly'd as our front room floor?! I'm going to do a test area over the winter to see if this idea can work. If it does work then I'll start stock piling all the lath we'll need.

Every single bucked we owned was full, all 60 something of them. Loading them into the trailer took I learned from my past mistake and ditched the two at a time in favor of being able to move the next day.

Then, a miracle occurred. Pete decided that we should throw out the fridge! I've been campaigning against the Wee house fridge since we bought the freaking house. He's been really resistant about getting rid of it. Saying its helpful to have extra fridges or he could put it in the garage as a beer fridge. You know me. I love beer and I prefer to spiff stuff up to keep it out of landfills. But this fridge. This fridge is past spiffing and I don't want my beer in that! It was old (not energy efficient in the least) and has been growing mold for years. I don't want to even talk about the smell because it makes me gag just thinking about it.

First we find out that the fridge can't fit through the front door. So Pete takes the fast route of sledge hammering off the doors. Then the door hinges won't fit through, so he sledges the fridge more. Now the fridge is just fitting through the door frame, but only after taking out one of our screen doors. It was like survival of strongest between the door and the fridge. Poor door never stood a chance.

At this point I'm on the outside of the house trying to pull the flipping thing out, Pete is pushing it from the inside and all I have visions of is this giant fridge falling on me. I'm looking around for cushy spot that are clean of debris so I can land and roll out of the way to avoid being crushed.

There are no pictures of this. Sorry. We were both a little preoccupied.

Eventually the fridge is outside. I'm just thankful it didn't fall on me.

Don't forget about Cans for Comments!

December 1, 2009

Second Chance Inc. Baltimore, MD

Two years ago my chatty cathy husband was purchasing a doorknob from a antique dealer in Berlin, MD (super cute town btw), and somehow the topic of architectural salvage came up. The dealer told Pete about these great salvage warehouses in Baltimore that we should check out. Explaining that they are open to the public and packed full of unique salvaged items and antiques. After leaving both of us promptly forgot the name of the warehouses.

A few months go by and we decide to take our annual Black Friday road trip south. Thank goodness for Google, because Second Chance, Inc popped up on the top search results.

Our area of SJ is about an hour and a half from Baltimore with no traffic, so we planned our Black Friday 2007 around visiting Second Chance. It. was. awesome. There was no buying anything, just the two of us wandering around in a happy daze, pointing out all the cool stuff.

Now we're back to present day.

It has been two years since our last visit to Second Chance and the annual Black Friday shopping road trip was approaching. Last year we went North and ended up at Macy's Herald Square (so much fun!), so we decided to again head down to Baltimore to see what Second Chance had in store for us.

Inside of Warehouse 4:

The entire place is stocked with loose cabinets of all sizes and finishes. There are complete kitchens that are available for purchase, countertops and all. You can really score a deal here on cabinets, but its going to take time and exact measurements to get everything right. But what bargain hunter doesn't mind the leg work and digging to save big?

These columns are perfect for what we have in mind for the living room area. With built in glass storage area at the bottom...
Warehouse 1 is my favorite! I can't help it. Everything is so interesting and fun to look at. All the salvaged house bits just inspire me to work harder on our renovation so we can get to actually SHOP here for needed elements. Instead of just looking and imaging.

Need some stair spindles? Or matching Newel Posts? Can't wait to knock out the wall by the stairs and open everything up. Definitely coming back to pick out what we want when that happens.
There are just a few shutters....

Why hello Corbels. You are my new obsession.

I adore these wood burning stoves. They are exactly what I want for our living room- someday.

Antique painted and chipping tin ceiling. I would love to get a sheet of this to put on the wall as an art piece.

Fantastic chippy mantle. I love it, even though I feel like I get lead poisoning just from looking at it.

I can't wait to get back there when we have a better idea of what the Wee house is going to need!

Don't forget about Cans for Comments!