November 30, 2009
Quick run down of our weekend:
Thursday- Thanksgiving! Included all of our families, the customary different Lunch/Dinner locals and required five hours of driving.
Friday- Sleep in and Black Friday shop a thon. Except we don't do the normal door buster shopping. The name of the game on Black Friday is to go on a mini road trip to shopping areas and to hit a new mall. What can we say? We're from Jersey, Malls are in our blood. This year we headed south and shopped for home improvement supplies.
Saturday- Worked on the Wee house. Which included two trips to the dump. Got to the Tree farm and picked up our Christmas tree!
Sunday- Cleaned the house, cleared out my DVR while ironing/folding laundry.
...and now its back to the daily grind.
November 25, 2009
Every year Preston and Steve host a week long food drive called Camp Out for Hunger. All the food collected goes Philabundance to help stock area pantry shelves and feed those in need. http://www.philabundance.org/events/2009_campout.asp
I've been meaning (the best of intentions) to get there and donate for years now, but never have. Usually I go the easier route and bring my canned goods into work, where they also go to Philabundance. This year I've decided to participate in Cans for Comments in order to make sure I get my butt out there!
Cans for Comments is simple, for every comment I get on the blog between now and Wednesday December 2, I'll match it with one can donated to the camp out*. You can comment on any post, old or new. Even a simple "Hi!" counts! I'm definitely going to get out there and donate anyway, but I just thought this would be a fun way to potentially up the donated amount.
* and because I have to be realistic about my own wallet, I'm going to have to cap this at 400. which is kind of a ridiculous goal anyway.
November 23, 2009
Probing further with the crowbar I jabbed at the edge of the floor coverings, peeling back the layers only to reveal that there is indeed a gap between the wall and the floor. The floor gives way as I put the crowbar through to the basement. Flip me. Now I'm really starting to freak out, because this could mean a lot of significant damage to the original floors. The same floors I was just really hopeful about getting spared because of all the covering layers.
Since the living room is still covered with lath, plaster and multiple layers there is no way I can see the extent of the damage from above. So I go right to the basement to check everything out from below. Let it be known that at 26 I'm still more than a little freaked out by basements. So I rarely go down into either of ours. Once in the basement it is not that hard to spot the damage. Right in the corner, by one of our basement windows (hence the sunlight that I could see) is a plank of wood that is completely rotted away and I can see right up into the living room.
However there is also some really good news, because from underneath I can not see another plank with that level of rot. In fact, the rest of the floor looks awesome from the underside! Gives me back the hope that we really will be able to refurbish the original floors eventually.
Cross your fingers for us! But please don't hold your breath, refinishing the floors will be one of the last things we're going to do in the house.
November 20, 2009
There were two big reasons we got the carpet up ASAP. The main reason was the smell. It was the kind of smell that makes you not want to breathe and had made permanent home in the carpet. No amount of airing out the house was going to get rid of it. Second reason was the floor underneath. You can see from the basement that the house has the original random width pine flooring. We were afraid of the damage that could have been cause by the wet carpets and wanted to get them off the wood immediately.
The thing about renovating an old house that rings true for everyone and every project is that one never knows what surprises they'll find out after uncovering things. Our carpets were no exception.
Sitting under the carpet on one side of the room was a layer of vinyl tiles that can only be described as the same ones my elementary school bathroom had. Head scratchingly odd right? Underneath those tiles there is a layer of a thin floor leveling type sheet. I only know this because I peeled away the soggy tile to see if they were attached to the floor or not.
We think these are the same tiles, except in our attic landing area. You can see the dry version of the under layer here, which hopefully has helped to save our floors from all the moisture.
The best part of all these layer of flooring? The act as the best shield between my plaster shoveling and the real floor that I could ever ask for. I don't have to worry at all as I scrape my shovel along the bottom scooping up dust. If we didn't have this protection I can tell you the job of removing all the plaster from this room would 10 times harder. I'd be a total freak about not messing up the floors!
November 19, 2009
This past February we decided to celebrate our 7th Valentines day together by taking a little road trip south to spend the day in Washington DC. And it was the best day ever.
Started out with the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, which was mobbed. But that didn't matter since we weren't in a rush. To escape the crowds a bit we visited some of the less popular exhibits such as the soil one (which is really cool!). We also hung out in the hallways just looking at the architecture of the building.
After a few hours of being jostled by children we left and decided to walk to the Library of Congress. Despite going on vacation to DC for my entire childhood I had never been there!
Consulting the map on the Mall to figure out the best walking route to the Library of Congress. Which is not as close as it seems on the map. Well worth the walk if you have the time and the weather is nice.
What an amazing building. It was relatively empty so we were really about to take in the grandeur and magnitude of the area as we walked around it.
Then we entered the Library of Congress. And I pretty much died of happiness right away. I can't even describe to you how amazing the building is. There is something to see and marvel at in every single square inch of the space. You could stare at the stairs alone all day long and still notice something new every minute.
The whole building just felt amazing to me. I snuck a peek inside the actual library and vowed that I would get in there some day. They keep the library off limits to the general public, so you have to get special permission to access it or be part of a special tour. Everyday tours can see the library from above, but I want to be in the middle of it.
The Library closed at 5, so headed back over to the Smithsonian just in time to see all people pour out and the tour buses pull away. There were special extended hours on the Natural History Museum until 7, so we went back in and enjoyed the practically empty museum. All the really popular exhibits were so empty! It was fabulous. Except I lost my hat. Which was not so fabulous.
Jumped on the metro and headed over to our waiting romantic dinner local.
It was a wonderful dinner to end such a great day.
Sometimes you just need a break from everyday life. Even a day getaway can be enough to recharge your batteries and fill up on inspiration.
November 18, 2009
The good thing about that though, is the muscle fatigue doesn't kick in until much much later. So I could spend the rest of the day shoveling more plaster off the floor!
With the foyer mostly cleaned of plaster chunks and still shag carpeted, I turned my attention to the other side of the room.
November 17, 2009
Why? Oh because yesterday we got our first call for a showing in over a month. And we had to say no go to a request for a 3pm house tour. Reasons why not you ask?
Anyone inquiring about our house is notified that we require 24 hours notice for a showing. There are good reasons for that notice too. Both of us work full time about 45 miles away, so there is no swinging by on the lunch hour to make sure everything is show ready. Yeah, who is shocked that I don't live in a show ready 100% of the time house? Don't all raise your hands at once now...
Then there is the second issue of the pets. We have a cat and dog and they leave the house with us during showings. Especially the puppy, she can not be in the house with strange people and wouldn't do well crated in that situation. I don't know if you've ever toured a house with a dog, but its not a pleasant experience no matter how adorable the puppy is (or isn't). People want to see our house, they don't want to have to worry about a Bichon running all about and barking at them from the top of the stairs. And then there is the cat box issue. No one wants to smell a cat box. Even one that is clean and scooped, cause they just smell. So we clean ours and then hide it in a trunk for showings. Now you know our dirty selling secret.
Of course I don't mind someone trying to see if we can accommodate a less than 24 hours request on the house. Never know unless you ask! In fact we've OK'ed short notice buyers showings multiple times in the past whenever it has been possible. Even to the point of massively inconveniencing ourselves in order to get the house ready and pets out on time. That is just something you have to do when you're selling a house in this lame market. But some requests are just not workable.
It bums me out that we might miss this potential buyer, but then again I'm so bitter and jaded about selling that I don't care too much. Maybe they'll be interested again in a week when we drop the price and make an appointment again. Maybe not. I'm not convinced that our buyer is even out there. It feels like we are going to own this house forever.
November 16, 2009
I am shocked at how much dust two people are able to create. Seriously. I had to vacuum my dust mop, that is how bad it was. As much as I like to think my cleaning skills have improved over the years (and oh how they have!) the dust amount under my bed is proof I still have a long way to go. The bedroom is by far our most used and lived in room, so don't think that the rest of the house is as dust coated. (um, but it might be)
Someday I'll get the whole keeping on top of the housework thing down pat. I'm convinced that will come along at the same time I stop spilling my coffee down myself in the mornings. The two go hand in hand.
November 13, 2009
Pete and I have talked for hours about all of our options regarding what we want to do about getting this house sold. It is well known that winter is notoriously bad time to sell a house. The buyers are few and far between, with most people choosing to stay put through the holiday season and dreary winter months. Early spring is when buyers start to look again, focusing on closing during the late spring/summer so children can finish out the school year.
Do we keep our house on the market through the winter? Out goal after all, is to sell and ones house must be FOR SALE in order for that to happen. But do we hold out hope for the rare winter buyer? Or do we re-list in the spring so the house can get a fresh and clean appearance on the MLS hot sheet?
I've already seen a lot of homes in my town go off the market because of the impending slow season. Which is fine by me, because I'd rather be in a smaller sales pool where the house has a better chance of standing out. We learned that pulling your house off the market and then re listing in the spring does not reset the dreaded days on market count. I wonder if these people think that four months off will bring the counter back to zero. That Days on Market counter scares me, I don't want to be that house with the high number, cause then I think it scares buyers too.
After talking about all our options with our Realtors, we decided to keep the house on the market through the winter and in two weeks we're going to do (ANOTHER) major price drop. Two weeks because that will put us right past Thanksgiving and we'll have decorated the house for the holidays. Our house always feels really cozy and nice during the holiday season, so we think that it can only help if we manage get any showings.
So, There is our plan. Hopefully it works! and fingers crossed that we don't have to come up with a new one.
November 12, 2009
7. I'm really afraid of the dark. This spring we drove through the California/Nevada desert, the route between LA and Las Vegas. Pete pulled off the highway around midnight so we could look at the stars in a rare place with little light pollution. I wouldn't get out of the car because I was so scared! I think there was something said along the lines of renegade desert sand pirates mentioned as the reason. I looked out through the window (and locked door) at the stars.
Now to my seven bloggers...
Look to the right and see my new list of House and Home Bloggers? If you're on the list, consider the award awarded to you! Feel free to write up your own 7 things list, because I like learning more about all the people who give me interesting and inspiring things to read during my work day.
November 11, 2009
And a few hours later...
November 9, 2009
The separating wall between the bathroom and dining area. It was plaster, but a newer style that involved a heavy duty wire mesh screen placed behind the lath. The plaster seeps through the lath and glops into the wire openings, creating a death grip on the wire. In simple terms- this stuff is a bitch. Even the biggest plaster pia is no match for my husband. A little bit of saws all action and the wire mesh came down, sprinkling little bits of the honeycombed plaster everywhere.
Open floor plan! You can see into the living room now, but it won't be like that forever because the wall studs between the rooms are load bearing and we're not messing with that. We also don't think a completely open floor plan fits with a Victorian era house. For now it is fun to wave at each other while we work though.
No pictures of the cast iron tub being sledgehammered. It was in very poor condition, no shape for donating, so Pete got to work with the sledge hammer. I stood out of the way, cast iron sends out massive shrapnel. As you can imagine, the room was no longer clean at the end of the day.
November 3, 2009
I'm still not over this discovery. I hold grudges.
Hidden at the back of the foyer closet was this little bit of the houses history. The only remaining section of the downstairs that shows how the living room used to look. See the floor molding?! And that fantastic wallpaper! A little bit inside of me cried when I saw this.
This is like dangling awesome potential right in front of my face before quickly pulling it away and replacing it with wood paneled crap! I'm trying to peel off a little bit of the wallpaper to put in our scrapbook for the house. Its just too awesome to not try and save a piece.
November 2, 2009
ETA: Sorry about all the random shots with just my disembodied hands floating around. I was enthusiastically throwing my hands into the air and the husband decided to cut his spastic then fiance out of the picture.