October 6, 2011

Le Sigh. Le Muffin Plague

Eight years ago I stood in a JC Penny dressing room as 20 year old trying on a pair of jeans. Admiring how Levi’s stepped it up a notch to introduce a new low rise selection and marveling at how I ever wore pants that came over my hips. Back in the early 2000’s I was rocking some serious low rise and skin tight denim around campus. All purchased from a multitude of mall stores, Cough Cough ::: Express Bikini Jean:: Cough.

Thankfully in the years that have followed my college graduation I’ve learned a thing or two about the benefits of a (slightly) higher rise and pants that don’t cut off your circulation when you sit down. My denim stash is much less “Jersey” than it used to be and I've slowly given up all my low rise/glittered/bejewelled jeans in favor of quality design and construction.

Which leads me to my old pants, I’ve been slowly turning over denim from daily wear to work wear over the past couple of years. My now work pants are currently covered in a paint, rips and stains of construction origin. Which is all just fine… except… they are all REALLY low rise.

I'll just admit it.

I get muffin top now in my old jeans.

While I still can get my old pants zipped up, and you better believe I’m taking that small victory, that doesn’t really mean they actually fit me anymore. A harsh reality that I think most women must face at some point in their lives: current body vs. the old body. My body has changed shape in the last 8 years, what with biology taking me from the fine boned, slim look of a college sophomore to the (not really) curvy statue of a corporate woman who spends her days sitting in front of the computer and commuting 3 hours a day.

In layman’s terms- Baby got some back now.

I’ve come to slowly slowly realize that I ...

a) need new work pants, a phrase alone that is contradictory to me. Work pants mean well worn and way past what is acceptable to leave the house in pants.

b) I do some heavy duty renovating and need a pair or two of serious pants or coveralls that can keep up. Old Express denim isn't exactly Ford tough when it is paired against plaster shrapnel.

c) Ultimately I have got to get rid of my renovation muffin top, it’s bad for my already piddling sense of self esteem. And it makes me feel guilty after housing a cheese steak for lunch on the weekends.

AndPlusAlso I’m sure my neighbors are tired of my crack hanging out every time I bend over on the job site. I know I’m tired of hiking my pants up before bending down to work.

This all leads me to my new shopping quest of procuring some new constructions pants. I’d like one pair of coveralls and one pair of jeans or pants, that should be enough for me to get rid of my old muffin offenders and get through the next couple years of work.

September 2, 2011

Nerdy Couch Confession

You know you have a Chesterfield addiction when...

you *gasp* and in a hushed whisper say "A Chesterfield", when that tufted awesomeness pops up during a scene in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Pt.2

The only way I could make this confession worse is when I tell you this all went down during the Midnight showing of HP7.2...

Sigh. I blame Sandra Bullock. It was a candid shot of her Chesterfield Couch in some rag years ago that got me started on this dark tufted path of obsession...

August 29, 2011

Irene. Is Riotously Evil Not Evaded.


I'm so glad that last week and it's multitude of natural disasters is, well, so last week.

Earthquake+ Hurricane Irene+ Tornado Activity + Flooding... I'm really ready for some boring weather going forward for the rest of the year. All these kids going back to school are going to have some interesting fodder for their " How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essays.

It is with an amazing amount of relief that I can report we suffered no major damages during the storm to any of our properties. Some limbs down, major flooding in our backyards, and an actual swimming pool in one of our basements. I'll take it. We're safe, my family is safe and our home is intact.

Unfortunately, my current town did not handle the flood waters so well and two bridges washed out almost completely during the 16' creek surge we had at the during the first bands of the storm. We think the bridge washed out sometime around 1am, because at 11:30 when Pete and I took a stroll around the neighborhood during a lull in the storm, the bridge was still there and seemed solid. There was an insane amount of water rushing into the lake, but nothing that appeared to be destructive. It was during that stroll that we went to check on our backyard, which slopes down a bit towards a teeny little drainage stream, was then about 20' deep, 75' wide and 100' across of water.

The words "We're Effed" came outta out our mouths when we saw how high the water had risen. A whole multitude of gratitudes came forth for our deep property and small, sloping hill. Had we gotten the rain that was expected, which was a good 4-5" more, I have almost no doubt I'd be singing a different tune right now.

The rain let up and we (thankfully) did not end up effed by mother nature.

As for the actual storm itself, I slept through it. Like a log. In fact, it was the best night of sleep I've gotten in a while. All the stress of the preperation and anitcipation, combined with the adrenaline of area Tornado warnings just conked me out for the night. You should have seen me during the Tornado warning, I packed an essentials backback, laced up my Timbs and sat in the hallway for 15 minutes with the cat in one arm and dog on her leash like the paranoid freak that I am.

Hurricane season is so much more nerve wracking as an adult. I liked it better when a Hurricane was a potential day off of school.

August 26, 2011

Waiting on Locust

Flippity Flip.

There is a hurricane coming our directly towards all four of our houses.

Listen, this Jersey girl lives in Jersey for a reason, and I deal with all negatives that come with living in the Garden State by all the counter balance positives. I like the beach, hate extreme weather, the great soil and love myself a good mall. In 2011 I've dealt with Blizzards, 115 Degree Heat Indexes, my first Earthquake and now Irene is threatening to storm herself through almost everyone I love.

And that my friends, scares the beejebus outta me.

The only thing I am really, incredibly, extremely grateful for is the warning time. We have about two days to mobilize and prepare; to set plans in motion and evacuate as needed. I'll take it. Two days seems like a luxurious amount of time compared to the minutes Joplin, MO had for the tornado that caused such unimaginable devastation earlier this year.

Last night after a long and stressful day at work, Pete and I hit up the grocery store and headed right over to the other house to prep as much as possible for Irene. We closed and locked all the windows, nailing some of the worse ones into the house. All the debris around the yard was pulled inside, things like picnic tables, scaffolding and the lawnmower got stashed in the safest place possible. All of Pete's tools got moved off of the garage floor, we put a lot of them inside the beastly '72 Land Cruiser. We also broke out the hammer and nailed up lots of extra supports for the front of the garage.

I am nervous as hell about how the garage is going to handle this hurricane. At least I can rest easy in knowing it was built to code and then some, all thanks to my Dad and his insistence in building quality construction. And all the hurricane straps are nailed in like woah. So, that is some relief.

Inside the house I tapped up a few windows and moved anything "valuable" into the center of the house. Hoping that if we get some blown out windows that things shouldn't get sucked out or ruined when the rain gets driven in.

We also grabbed our two chainsaws and gassed them up. They'll stay with us during the storm in case clean up is needed afterwards.

Tonight and tomorrow is prep for our house. Not going to lie, it makes me a little sick to my stomach thinking about everything that has to get done...

Please stay safe through the storm everyone. I know our homes are important to us, but nothing is like the people and pets who live inside of them.

xo, Eva

August 18, 2011

Not At The Big Top

The daylight is changing down here in South Jersey just a tiny bit, we’ve hit that time of year when nature cruelly reminds you that colder days and less sunshine are ahead and are coming faster than you'd like. Instead of exclaiming about how nice it is that the sun just went down at 9, we’re starting to see signs of the sunset starting earlier and earlier. As always late august reminds me of childhood and how I’d start to dream about the upcoming school year and all its unknown mysteries ahead.

This year I have no school to go back to. And I’ve spent most of the summer ignoring the one outlet I have for getting out all the thoughts, feelings and memories I have associated with this time in my life.

The truth is, Pete and I obsess about our housing. Paying, planning, selling, cleaning, decorating, fixing and living in them. Most of our free-time life revolves around our houses somehow. I just needed a little break from something in our house cycle, and also, maybe my job BLOCKED BLOGGER. Since my lunch break was my number one time to blog you can imagine how much that sucked. At first I was devastated and pretty sure it was just a glitch since the page would load and load and load until I got a time out error. But as the days turned into more days, I knew it was for real and that I was going to have to figure out a new way to keep up with blogging if that was what I wanted to do. So I thought about my blog, its life cycle, where it could go and if it was what I really wanted to do by putting out my 'dirty house laundry' on the internet for everyone to see and judge.

The problem with blogging at home? My office tends to run at about 95 degrees in the summer with it’s non- a/c having, summer sun getting self. I don’t even turn my home computer on unless I have to because I’m freaked out about overheating and loosing everything that I haven’t backed up (everything). Plus, I’m both uber lazy and very busy. Work and full time adult life, family, friends, holidays and all that jazz.

So with a few obstacles blocking my lazy self from blogging, I took the easy way out and gave my brain a break for a few months.

It was nice.

Until I started realizing that I was composing blog posts in my head without even realizing it. When I found that amazing $100 Chesterfield on Craigslist, I mentally started a post about it, and then I started the follow up post that detailed how it was already sold and despite my best effort to be slimy and offer him triple the asking price- I still didn’t get my dream couch.

Oh, and the time Pete and I had 30 more minutes worth of work to do for the day before a summer storm rolled in with no signs of quitting. I mentally was telling everyone how I might win the best/most crackpot dangerous DIY award of our drenching rain installation of a ledger board on the garage. Ladder/Rain/Drill… not the safest combo ever, but Pete needed to get it done that day for his sanity and I recognized that in him, so I worked while getting drenched to the bone. With promise of dry clothes and pizza afterward.

Projects went on.

The Summer Sweltered.

I met my newest love, who arrived in a 9lb11oz Nephew package.

Harry Potter Ended.

Life went on.

I just didn’t blog about it.

But I’m ready to get back to here, and hopefully everyone is ready to stick around for the rest of our house related follies

Sorry to disappoint any that thought maybe I ran away and joined the circus.

July 1, 2011

Lawn Maintenance, Shop Vac Style

The one where I tell you about how my husband had to vacuum the lawn.

57 has a few patches of grass to its name. Nice little bits of lawn in the front, and a big enough sized pad out back. The space out back would blend seamlessly into the other units and vague "no mans land" if a two sided fence coming off of the house did not offer a bit of separation from all that. Why two sided? One side got ripped down a few years back, and we decided to keep it open as a sort of gate/passageway to the back door.

This area out back is where kegs are kept for parties in all but the most frigid of winter weather, plays host to the nice weather beer pong games and, judging by the amount of butts in the air conditioning unit, is where the smokers go to get their nicotine fix on. The ground is a hybrid of greenery and an ancient cement landing pad. After these tenants moved out it also hosted shards of broken bottles. Not just ONE broken bottle spread about but it looked like someone was hoarding broken glass in our back yard. We have female tenants moving in next, I'm presuming that they are going to be like 97% of the female college population in their footwear choices and will wear flip flops all the time until it snows on the ground. At that point (again, presuming) they'll switch to uggs or toms. Flip flops + Broken Glass = No Bueno.

We want these girls to like 57. Perhaps like the place so much, that *gasp* they don't destroy it and give a crap about keeping it in decent condition.

So Pete did the most sensible thing he could think of to clean up the broken glass the backyard.

He vacuumed the grass with the shop vac.

It worked.

Shop-Vacs never cease to amaze me with their versatile vacuuming ability.

PS- We got an email from one of the tenants today asking when they could expect to see the security deposit back. Gave me a good chuckle.

June 30, 2011

Rubber Gloves Required

Here is a little peak into what our lives are like when we’re working on 57.

The first Saturday we got the keys back:

8 am: head out door

Buy much needed iced coffee at mcdonalds.

8:20- arrive at 57 braced for worst. Take a brief tour of the place mentally calculating damages and making notes of items that need to be replaced. Snap picture of the cabinets and measure them while jotting down the sizes on an old “how to compost” leaflet fished out of giant purse.

8:45 head off into Philly for a Habitat for Humanity RE-Store garage sale. Cheap prices plus 25%?! Yes please.

9:15 arrive at the garage sale which started a mere 15 minutes ago. The place is mobbed already.

9:20 Call dibs on a matching stainless stove and microwave set for the beach house.

9:25 Dibs again on a sink base.

9:45- I get in a long line with the tickets and my 6 free books and wait while Pete goes to snag a parking spot by the door. While waiting in line I watch multiple fights over a table set and grill happen. Also, lament that I can’t purchase the amazing French provincial buffet for uber cheap because of lack of space in house/trusty SUV.

10am- Buy all the items for… $146. Load the SUV where everything fits snuggly inside, curtsy of creative arranging. Amen for our large car. I’ve said it before but we could not do what we do with these houses without an SUV. It is essential to the way we do home renovations.

10:30- Go to Wal-Mart, pick up heavy duty cleaning supplies and some snack food to keep at 57.

11:30- Head over to Lowe’s for a few items for 57. Buy the exact model of dishwasher we’ve been eyeballing for the beach house on clearance for $200. Somehow, despite meaning to we’ve just bought the remaining appliances for the beach house. Squick.Have to leave dishwasher there for later pick up due to lack of SUV cargo space.

1pm- Picnic lunch in the shade outside of 57 on our scrap rug from the trunk, 57 smells too bad to eat in there.

1:30- Start scrubbing down the walls and bathroom floor. Sister-In-Law, Janet, comes over. Get almost the entire downstairs scrubbed with her help. Janet rocks. Go through a half gallon of bleach and heavy duty de-greaser.

7:00- Call it a night and head home

8:00- Head out the house showered and cleaned up for a quick trip to another Lowe’s to price out cabinets and get dinner.

8:30- Price out stock cabinets.

9:30- Ordering beer and nachos at a favorite bar to discuss the day and make a tentative budget for the place. Budget also gets written on scrap composting pamphlet.

11pm- Home. Crash into bed.

Busy and especially expensive Saturday, although, we got so much accomplished that I fell into bed feeling really good about the day. Which is really, the best way to feel when you're falling asleep.

June 29, 2011

The Draining Month Begins

Since 2004, this mid-june to mid-july has the potential to be my least favorite time of the year. It is when we get the keys back in hand from our college rental unit and have a scarce four weeks to make it habitable for the next group of renters. Every year we hope like crazy that our renters will want or can stay for an extra year (come on fifth year seniors!) Which means no clean out, no repairs and another year’s lease is signed with ease.

In the off years between renters the unit is an unholy mess and gargantuan effort to get the place in inspection passable condition, all in the short four week down time. When we have to deal with 57 – what I call the townhouse- it eats a giant amount of our summer work schedule right up that leaves us and our wallets drained.

This year 57 might just be the death of me.

We’d been getting reports from our property management company, first year for them btw and it has been so worth it, about the condo and how was everything was in deplorable condition for a long while now. When the heater broke our HVAC guy gave us the skinny on the damage to the place and said he went right home and jumped in the shower after working on the unit because it was so gross. When we got the notice that the renters would not be returning for the next year we felt relief, these guys were trouble and the sooner they left our lives the better. However, in the meantime the unit was having trouble renting and we were getting feedback from the agents that all people they brought through got hassled by the current renters and that everyone was so appalled by the filth they wouldn’t consider renting it.

After a few really stressful months something AMAZING happened, the agent brought through a bunch of girls and a father to see the place. The girls got hassled and at that point the father gave the renter a piece of his mind about his actions and the condition that the place was kept in. (points to that dad) Amazingly, the girls signed the rental contract with us a week later!!! Angels sang down from the clouds.

All that happend in the spring, flash forward to the first week of June and our contract was now up with the current tenants. The moved out on Friday, we stopped by early Saturday morning to check the place out, opening the door we braced for the worst being that there was already visible damage to the outside of the place. I was expecting Camden. What we got was bad. Really bad. The worst we’ve ever gotten back and this was the only time we’ve ever had tenants for just a year.

However it wasn’t the bombed out crack house that I was expecting. It was more a beer soaked, dirt slimed, graffitti’d party den that was a bit of cross between a Frat house and a dive bar off of route 95. I also counted no less than 18 not-very-graphic-or anatomically correct man parts drawn on the wall. Everywhere I looked something was wrong. There were hand prints on the ceiling, vomit on floors, tons of giant holes in the walls and someone tried (and succeeded) to kick the front door in.

Here is a good part to mention that both Pete and I lived at this place, separately, for over three years. NOTHING LIKE THAT EVERY HAPPENED WHEN WE LIVED THERE. Pete will even tell you about the most epic party ever that he threw where the 5 surrounding towns had to bring in their police to break it up, and yet… nothing like this damage. The worst thing that ever happened was we caught someone peeing on Pete’s car.

Let me lay out a picture of what was broken:

- Dryer

- Stove

- A/c

- Hot water heater

- Downstairs vanity

- Four doors

- Every wall in the dining room

- All but one ceiling light is broken

- The light in the bathroom

- Upstairs medicine cabinet

- 3 yr old Carpet was shot

- All the walls in the living room have graffiti on them

- Fire Alarms ripped off the ceiling

- Upstairs window

- Front porch

- Walls in downstairs bathroom

- Every closet door is missing a handle

- And there are random bits of trim missing

- Shelves in closets

- Paint, can paint be broken? Cause this paint was up the creek bad.

The next month is just going to be splendid.

June 27, 2011

Upgrading the microwave cart

Let's go back about a month ago...

Eva: I'm going to throw this old microwave cart away. It's just getting in the way, taking up space and we have no use for it now.

Pete: Are you sure? Did you take a picture of it yet?

Eva: I'm positive I snapped a pic of it. There is no way I didn't.

The conversation ends with me bringing the 80's era wood paneled microwave cart out to the dumpster in bits. Last night I just checked my entire library of pictures. There is not one single picture of this horribly ugly wood sticker paneled thing anywhere hiding on my computer.

Blogging fail.

Unfortunately the before would have been helpful at just how far we were able to rejuvenate a little corner of the beach house for $110. Use your imagination and rest assured this microwave cart was just as horribly outdated as the rest of the condo.

Originally sitting in this little corner was hip height mdf wonder of a "wood look" cabinet that sat on wobbly plastic wheels. One of the doors sat a precarious angel, always threatening to fall off if you closed the door with too much force. On top of the doors sat one drawer that we shoved every take out menu and spare trash bag into. Topping off this whole shebang was the matching wood look microwave. Don't you wish you had a wood paneled microwave also?!

Since a full kitchen renovation is on the books for the future, but not anytime soon, we knew that we'd be keeping the stand alone micowave until the point of the gut reno. It really is wicked handy to have around and we're sure that our renters appreciate us having one. However, that flipping ugly cart had to go, it was bringing down the whole look of the stairs right back into the 80's. Putting the microwave on the counter was out as a solution. Our counter space in that kitchen is almost nil. There is really no room for a microwave on the counter at all.

We did some combing of craigslist but nothing struck our eye as working well for a new microwave cart. Falling back to ye old faithful for the beach house, the two of us planned an Ikea trip after work. It's not exactly a "trip" so much as there is an Ikea about 15 min from where we work, but we did make plans to hit up our fave non-shore pizza spot beforehand for some cheesy saucy goodness. The budget was "as low as we could get it", but we definitely didn't want to spend more than $100.

Surprisingly that amount of money doesn't give as many options as you might think.

After combing the aisles and displays in Ikea we settled on the Bekvam, a nice solid wood kitchen rack for $60. It was a nice and small option that didn't break the break and fit the space. The nicely compact box of parts fit neatly into the back of our sedan and we drove away with the mission accomplished.

A few days after buying the cart we found ourselves at Home Depot, which isn't that strange since we're there all.the.time, and while bringing up our cartload we walked out the store right by a bathroom fixture display. There was stopping on our part admiring the really good deals to be had and we both zero'd in on this one vanity cabinet w/ a soft gray/ ivory washed color that had clean shaker lines. For $99 it came with a stone top and under mounted sink, the quality of the piece was pretty damn good considering it's recession-friendly price tag.

Then I opened my big trap and " Wouldn't this look nice as the microwave cabinet?" came tumbling out before I could stop myself. Damn it Eva! I always make things more complicated. We already had a very nice cart purchased and this one was more expensive. This one was clearly nicer, and it would fill that awkward space under the stairs better. So we bought it and shoved the giant and unyielding box into the back of our SUV.

The next week, we journeyed back to Ikea to return the other cart and while browsing the fantastic "As-Is" section I snagged a large door/ side panel (?) in a black color for $3.50 to use as a protective extra counter on top of the sink vanity. The new counter also keeps the microwave from falling into the sink, we just assumed that the giagantor microwave would cover the smaller sink completely and it does... but almost doesn't. Which leaves the potential for a microwave-in-the-sink disaster at threat level red. We also didn't realize this until after the sink counter was glued down. Hence the new topper counter top!

Sink Vanity turned Microwave Cabinet: $99

Appliance Spray Paint- $6

Ikea Counter- $3.50

We're really happy with the new microwave cabinet, it fits in with our whole modernization effort of the beach house perfectly!

June 6, 2011

Opperation Staircase- Completed!

All throughout the month of May we had a deadline looming with the approaching Memorial Day holiday. That unofficial kick off of summer meant our beach condo rental season of the beach condo was gearing up to take off. Call me crazy, but I think our renters would be expecting stairs in a two floor condo. Which meant we had to find the time in the jam packed month to rock out the final steps to finishing up the stairs and hallway.

Desperate to not have a repeat of last years ridiculously stressful final project wrap up and pre-season cleaning, we made a realistic time line of what tasks were left. Being honest with ourselves and how much actual work was left made all the difference this year! Instead of stuffing everything into one workfest of a weekend we decided to stretch the time and break our project list into two weekends.

The To-Do list looked something like this:

- Install steps

- Poly and silica coat steps

-Install handrail

- Switch out Microwave cabinet

-Paint "new" media cabinet

- Hang wall art

- Uber deep clean

- Pack up all "our stuff" and put rental items out

- Get burned on beach

In case you don't remember, we decided to make our winter/spring project in the beach condo the staircase and hallway. The staircase was a beat up blue carpeted nightmare topped with a plastic tube as a handrail. Ever since we replaced the hallway/upstairs landing blue carpet with the same laminate wood flooring as downstairs it wasn't a huge project to freshen up the space, but one that was really needed!

Where did I leave off with the stairs...ah yes. I was pissing and moaning about staining the wood steps and how despite my best efforts I couldn't get the stain to absorb evenly. Sigh. Such is a nature of pine and light stains, you can apparently condition the wood all you want but it will still absorb the stain with varying degree. Either that or I just plain suck at one the easiest diy tasks one can do. The great news is that after applying three coats of brush on poly the steps looked 75% than they did when simply stained. Perfectly acceptable for something that is only going to get stepped on IMO.

A big thorn in our sides during this project was wtf to do for the handrail. We checked out every single availible option and debated at length about what to do. Finally, it got down to two weeks left before Memorial day and we needed to pull the trigger on something. As luck would have it, we drive right by the showroom and warehouse of one of the biggest suppliers of sprial staircases in the USA on our way to work. We stopped in on way home and talked to a super nice sales guy about our options. At first he showed us this gorgous custom oak banister that I was drooling over, but it was $900. So I kindly cut the sales chase and said "That's gorgeous, but we're looking for something much more economical and in the DIY range. What do you offer?"

Which is how we ended up with a $300 brushed stainless coil in the back of our car as we pulled away 20 minutes later. It was the cheapest option that looked the best and that we could DIY. A black factory powder coat was availible for an extra $150, which I would have loved to get but could not justify opening the wallet even further for. Even though the railing was way more than we wanted to spend it was justifiable in the fact that we could not find a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g else that work. And rather than continually spend money here and there for experimental items we bit the bullet and bought the item for full blown retail.

Then, by the end of the weekend we had this:

The stairs are complete and I LOVE THEM.

Want to see what we started with? Check out the first post of Opperation Staircase HERE.

May 25, 2011

Skeeto Update

To follow up on my plea for mosquito advice here are the updates:

- a bat house is no beauno. Pete has put the ix-nay on that considering we back to woods with "natural" bat houses. It is true, we see plenty of bats playing in the evening air around our properties so no real need to attract more.

- fabric softener sheets= may help a bit. Last night I went out to work on my garden at dusk after work, and besides wearing leggings and high boots, I coated myself in Off and stuck fabric softener sheet around my person. One at the top of each boot and another in my ponytail. All bites received last night were on my lower back and upper thighs. I witnessed the bugs wanting (I could just tell they wanted to) to bite my knees and shins but ultimately steering clear of that area. No telling in how many sheets of fabric softener are needed for full body protection.

I'm wary of eating the raw garlic clove at day trick. Supposedly it makes you smell bad to mosquitoes, but I've tried it before for other health reasons and consuming raw garlic daily makes you smell bad in general. Garlic smell wafting outta your pores on the regular does not make you any friends. Unless you don't want friends. Then I highly recommend you swallow crushed raw garlic cloves with honey everyday before breakfast. Everyone will steer very clear, humans and bugs alike.

May 23, 2011

tiny little nest...

Isn't this just the funniest little thing? Any ideas as to what it could be?

If you guessed a wee hornet nest you'd be right. This 1" mini city in the clouds was inside my (quite rusty) wheelbarrow. Sucks for the hornets, but I had to destroy the tiny nest being as how I a) hate hornets b) I had to use the wheelbarrow for an actual purpose and c) am not in the business of hornet farming.

Quite a difference in size when you compare this to the bee hive I found inside the Wee house while tearing out walls...

May 19, 2011

Dead Snake. Live Tree Planting.

Problem: You have a mondo sized pile of dirt in your yard.

Issue: That dirt needs to level out a lot of yard square footage.

Final pickle: The task would break your back and cause a certain wife named me to stop talking to her husband after about hour 10 if done by hand with shovels and wheelbarrows. Potential for quite from jabber mouth wife- almost worth the sore muscles.

Solution: Ask brother in law if he would mind lending you his tractor for the job.


This all how we ended up with a kick ass tractor for a week to help us with getting the fill dirt spread to grade the land around the garage. All in all, the tractor was heavenly! It was such a workhorse and I think I'm in love. Not even kidding, I broached the topic of starting our search for one about two hours into using the borrow tractor. The thing just rocks. Buying one is not in the cards now, but maybe in the future, once we actually live in the Wee house, we'll be parking a tractor in our ginormous garage.

We also took advantage of the tractor by using to help us plant our long talked about willow tree. One of our long term landscaping goals was also to grow a weeping willow tree in the back of the back yard by the stream. The area is the perfect spot for planting a willow, they love being near a water source, lots of sun and should be kept father from structures with foundations since the root system can be extensive.

So why did we decide to go for the willow tree now? Time! Simply put, time is on our side with the house. When we do move into the house, in about a decade..., the tree will have had the necessary time to get established a little bit. In our personal experience with planting trees it takes about two years for the tree to get over the shock of transplanting and start to flourish. We did splurge for one older bigger tree at a nursery, and then trimmed the budget a bit by grabbing the glorified twig version from a big box store for much cheaper.

The older tree weighed a damn ton! Never under estimate how much a balled tree weighs people! It may look manageable, but I can assure they are quite the load. We learned that the hard way with our first married Christmas tree, a balled blue spruce that now is thriving in the Wee house yard. It just about killed our arm muscles to make that happen for a not quite four foot tree.

Using the tractor we were about to get the two willow trees and all of the necessary tree planting equipment- plus my super pale self - into the back yard with ease. Other tree planting equipment is a rake, shovel and brick of peat moss.

Funny thing about pictures is that while I look calm and smiley, the inside of me was gagging and trying not to look at the dead snake that Pete just beheaded which is just outside the frame of the shot.

As we rode the tractor to the backyard I had to hop off to grab my camera, right after I dismounted I saw the snake slithering away from the old shed. holymolyomg. I don't do slithery things. Screaming, and you better believe this former teeny bopper from jersey has a set of lungs on her, I ran back to the tractor and stood on top of it while freaking out. I grabbed the shovel, thrust it towards Pete screaming KILL IT. Poor guy didn't really have much choice in the matter what with his wife acting like a lunatic and all, he went ahead with beheading the snake.

Could we have let the snake live, yes. It wasn't going to do much to me besides give me a few (more) gray hairs if I ran into it again but I was freaked out and I don't respond well in situations like that andplusalso I flipping hate snakes. Afterwards I kept calling Pete Neville, which he didn't get at all because Deathly Hallows Pt.2 hasn't gotten released yet and he's never read the books. (Anyone else super excited for that scene? It's one of my favorites)

After the snake was dead we went on to the back yard to plant the trees. Planting trees in our yard is super easy since we don't have any bedrock laying just under our top soil. First you dig a big ass hole. We always aim for a hole twice the size of the root ball, and for the bigger tree the tractor did most of the digging. Then, you back fill the hole with a bit of the dirt and add some peat moss. Eyeball the amount to be even and enough that when you put the tree in the hole, it won't be completely buried. Trees are not tomatoes and should not be deeply buried when planting. We aim to get the root ball even or just above the ground.

Once the tree is in at the right level, put the rest of the leftover soil back. Water the crap out of the tree for a long time and don't be surprised if you don't see any growth or improvement right away. Trees take time to get established and over the shock of transplanting. At this point you stand back and admire the tree.

May 13, 2011

Plea for skeeter advice!

This weekend I told Pete that I'm pretty sure mosquitoes subscribe to a newsletter that clues them in on my location, if there is one lonely bug in a zip code then it will find me. Or if there are 50 million, they will all find me for feasting on. Just me. I can be right next a group of people and no one else will walk away with bites. Something about my A+ blood makes their tiny little insect hearts sing with happiness.

The bites cause a major reaction on me as well, they get all puffy and itch like hell for days. Especially compared to Pete, who usually gets a bump that is gone in two days. I also don't usually stop scratching until I start bleeding and a teeny bit beyond that point. Which all makes for some (not very)attractive legs in the summer...

Part of me really wants to include a picture of my legs just so you can all see I'm not being a drama queen. My legs get tore up in the summer because of bugs. the other part of me doesn't want to gross out my readers with legs that look like they've laid down in an ants nest covered in honey.

I digress.

The point of all this is to ask for help. I would like to spend my 28th summer not looking like I bug bitten mess. For once I don't want to have to wear pants in august because the bites look like my lower legs have been attacked by some ravenous beast, and I don't want to have to go through a box of band-aids a week trying to make the bites heal without scars.

Please, give me any tricks you know of to get the skeeters away. I'll do and try them all. Anything from skin so soft to pure deet to eat three cloves of garlic a day is welcome advice. Has anyone had luck with lawn treatments? I currently coat myself in Off before leaving the house and multiple times a day when working outside. But I still get bites. Lots of bites. Including one under my eye that makes me look like I've been rumbling in alleys with dancing gang members that carry switch-blades.

Thank you.

May 11, 2011

Clearing the yard...

Here is where I could go on and on and on about cleaning up the rest of the yard. But endless talking about yard work is really boring when I get down into the writing out the details. There isn't much of a method to clearing a yard either, so don't let anyone fool you into thinking there is. Pick a starting point and just work until it looks better. That method works for both big and small efforts.

Side yard waiting for clean -up.

We tackled the side yard, which was a mess of overgrown trees, creeping vines, cinder block and tree parts like roots and limbs. Since I'm a little bit more than scared of snakes I had this genius idea to beat the piss out of the piles/ground with a branch before going in to grab stuff. Smart eh? Scare any potential slithery things away! I'm pretty sure it worked since I didn't see any...on Saturday..

As the sun beat down on us, we worked on clearning everything up and piling it on the patio holding area. Cement in one pile, organic in another and random construction lumber in the final pile. There wasn't enough time to get to the dump, so everything sits waiting for this weekend when we're going to be taking at least one trip over to the county dump.

Our patio looks like it belongs with a crack house. I can't wait to tear that slab up and the lean-to down.

May 10, 2011

Cleaning up Concrete

Right after the dirt got delivered, we hit the Wawa for breakfast and my coffee. The call for the dirt delivery came much earlier than we anticipated, so getting out of the door fast was in order for us to get over to the Wee house with a certain amount of quickness. That speedy exit meant that I didn't get a chance to brew my needed morning coffee at home.

I love that about South Jersey, you're never far from a Wawa :)

After chowing down and caffeinating in the back yard we got down to the second order of business for the morning, cleaning up all our random concrete piles around the yard. Some from the removal of the old "garage" foundation, others from the construction of our new garage and then the odd ball piles of cement that where littered about the yard. We had a little less than two hours to get the trailer loaded and hustle our butts over to the recycle center. In theory 120 minutes sounds like a decent amount of time, but when it is reference to unearthing and moving concrete- it is not nearly enough time.

We worked out a pretty great method of attack of the topsoil and concrete pile. I took one side with a bevy of buckets and one of my crowbars for poking into the dirt and pulling out the big slabs. Pete hit up the other side with a metal rake and the tractor cart to help us move the larger bits and full buckets up to the front yard.

The pile afterward the massive pick through, see the post from yesterday for the before shot.

Being mindful of the clock and how much weight our poor SUV can handle towing, we had to call it quits on loading the concrete around 11 and hightail it outta there to get the recycle center before they close the gates for the day. We got there 5 minutes prior to last call and 35 minutes before closing time.

Once again, and certainly not for the last time, we found ourselves under the high tension wires unceremoniously chucking cement and cinder blocks into a giant pile of rubble. To avoid hitting the other with an errant throw to the pile we work on different sides of the trailer.

It took us 13 minutes to clear the trailer. Boom. Done.

The best part, all the disposal is freeeeeeeee and gets recycled. At the county dump we would have had to pay and everything would have ended up in the landfills. I love this place, I just wish they would take my wallpapered plaster walls.

May 9, 2011

Fun fact: Dirt is not cheap

I have sunburn on my back, bug bites on my neck, blisters on my palms, several broken fingernails and a bruised forearm. All that adds up to one really long weekend working outside on the Wee house. It really felt good to get back to business on the house, and busting out these long weekends of hard work. There is much to talk about, including the story of how Pete killed snake with a shovel. But that and other stories will come at a later time.

Despite the fact that the house is half gutted and the garage isn't completed, we decided to spend this weekend focusing on improving the yard a bit. No massive landscape effort to turn it into paradise, but we really needed to clean up the yard like woah. There were pockets of really overgrown jungle vines, random bits of the old garage's cement foundation piled up and cinder blocks scattered about. It just wasn't pretty and if we let everything to continue to grow with wild abandon over the summer it would be much harder to handle in the fall.

A major part of the weekend for us was going to be getting some fill dirt delivered and then working on grading the land around the garage/our driveway and side yard areas. The "natural" flow that our yard had before was disturbed by the new garage, and we really needed to boost the dirt up around the building. At first we started getting quotes on how much a load of topsoil would be, thinking that it better to just use that because of it's ability to grow grass and fill in low spots of land. However, the prices we were getting just put top soil out of our budget- it was about $22- 27$ per yard, we needed 18 yards and every single place was charging extra high delivery fees thanks to the current hefty price of diesel fuel. Then we found the price sheet for Winzingers, our trusty free concrete recycling center, and topsoil there was only $15 a yard, BUT fill dirt was only $5 a yard. Plus the insanely high cost to get it delivered, which was more than the actual dirt.

Our poor neighbors had to deal with this as their wake-up call on Saturday morning. I felt like a jerk for disturbing the neighbor calm with a dump load of dirt at that early hour.

The total still ended up being freakishly high for just dirt, but the final bill was a lot easier on our wallets with the fill option. Although, these prices really help to change the old adage of "cheaper than dirt", cause dirt is not cheap anymore.

We'll get a small load of topsoil in the fall and use that as a thin frosting layer for the grass seed something to grab onto. So what if we had to pick part of a curb and asphalt out of the pile, the fill dirt was going to serve it's purpose of filling in the low spots...

The dirt delivery was just the kick off of our hard working weekend! Anyone else accomplish a ton during this past weekend? Or did you get to enjoy fabulous weather without having cheap dirt stuck to the sweat that was all over your body?

May 3, 2011

no go on plaster disposal plans

When we took our leftover cement and cinder block to the recycle center we also brought along a bucket of plaster with us. The point was to ask the center if they would accept the plaster for recycling for free. If they did take it, that would save us bundle of cash on the county dump fees where you are charged by weight. Plaster is heavy y'all.

Good news: They'll take it.

Bad news: They won't take it if it has wallpaper attached.

Dream Killing News: Every inch of our house has wallpaper on top of the plaster.

For about five minutes I debated how practical it would be to scrape off a century's worth of wallpaper from all remaining plaster surfaces of our house before demoing the plaster for recycling. Then I remembered- our old wallpaper seemed to be put up with a permanent sticking charm. No amount of warm vinegar/fabric softener water will loosen the wallpaper's death grip on our walls and this delusional plan of mine shouldn't even be attempted.

So we're back to square one when it comes time demo the rest of our walls. Buckets and paying for the county dump. Fun times.

May 2, 2011

Saving money to lose it

This year Pete and I have been focusing on lowering our financial output. Which is a fancy pants way of saying we've busy been searching out ways to save our dollars. You always read advice in how to save that has you watching the nickles and dimes, but we decided to attack with the big guns and go after a few ginormous bills that where making our checkbooks weep.

Besides, I already brew my morning cup of coffee at home and forgo the fancy afternoon lattes.

First up was the home insurance on the Wee house. Do you have any idea how much coverage on a vacant property that is in the midst renovation costs? It is mind-blowingly expensive. When when we got the coverage it was hard to find someone who would even write the policy for us.

What? You don't want to insure this hot mess of a house that is sitting empty and gutted? I can't even imagine why...

A few months ago, Pete's parents found themselves with an empty house that they needed to insure. They got refered to a company that writes vacant property policies and the quote came in way less than what we were paying. Call us flabbergasted. We raced to the phone and inquired about a policy for ourselves. Turns out, we could get the same coverage we have now ( we have a few riders on our policy for injury because of the reno's ) through them for about $1,500 less than our current payment. Yeah...That is comma in our savings amount.

Needless to say, we switched insurance and are super happy to put that money into the garage and renovations instead.

Next up was our Wtown taxes. New Jersey has notoriously high property taxes. It is a fact of life for living in the Garden State and the price we all pay for being with a 30 minute drive to mall or Target at any location in the state. Way back in 2007, when the market was still *hot*, our entire town got reassessed on the home values and after that reassessment our property taxes doubled. Which was not so awesome.

Last year we failed to sell our house for something very close to the assessed value. (Also not awesome). Which led us to believe something along the lines of " Hey. The town is wrong. We can't sell our house for this much, so it can't be worth X amount." So this tax year, we filed for the lowering of our property assessment, which would lower our property taxes.

The whole petitioning process cost us $5 and about an hours worth of time in filling out forms. We asked for an insanely low amount, but it was also the price that we honestly think that our house could possibly sell for if we needed to unload it asap. So there was some justification in our minds for the price point we choose. The adjuster called us, and basically was like " um, how are you asking for this price? There is no way you're house could be worth this little when compared to the comps."

Ahhh we beg to differ...

None of those other comps have a train running next to their house. And despite all the appraisers, property assessors, real estate agents and mortgage lenders we've had out to the house- not one person can give us a nailed down price on how much the train hurts the value of our home.

We met with the lovely lady who came by to inspect the digs, there was home tour conducted of casa and property. She sat down with us and agreed with our appeal. Not quite for the rock bottom price we proposed, but that was a long shot anyway. We reached a happy middle number and signed off on the OK. The new taxable assessment is about 12.5k lower than the previous amount and brings our taxes down a sweet couple hundred a year.

Despite the fact that it means our house has lost value (uh-duh) I'm still filing this whole tax appeal process as #winning.

Did I mention that we got notice that our college rental property taxes are going up? Oh, I haven't? Well that is long story for another time, but in the shortest summary: Taxes are going up the exact amount we just saved between the insurance and appeal.


April 21, 2011

Apparently winter can't last forever

The weather is warming up finally down here in South Jersey, which means that with each rise of the mercury my mood is correspondingly rising as well. The rise in mood helps me to remain positive even while working outside on the garage and renovations, funny how something like spring can help you recapture your motivation to work hard. I still have to double layer my pants when I work over at the Wee house, leggings under jeans, but no longer do I need to wear a fuzzy hat and gloves!

Last weekend we got a ton of stuff done for the house- including taking an entire load of cement to a recycling center and DIY disposing it for free! Sure you have to drive back into an extra creepy looking desolate back woods South Jersey area, complete with humming high tension wires, to get to the deposit pile. However anywhere we can save money during this renovation is so helpful, especially when you factor in how much the cement chunks would have cost to throw out at the dump, so I'll take the atmosphere of a slasher flick to save money. I'm guessing we're saving about $400 to DIY ourselves like this, which is a sweet chunk of change that we could use on other things instead.

In other related news, we got our first failed inspection for the garage barn. The demo permit could not be closed out yet, due to all that nasty piles of concrete and cinder we have laying around. The bright "fail" sticker is so sad looking on our table. We're working on rectifying that failed situation and out of sympathy for our neighbors who've been staring at all this leftover shit for over a year.

Warmer weather means a lot more work to get done around here. After such a long blah winter though, I'm ready to step it up in the home department.

April 7, 2011

I heart distractions

If diversionary and self-distraction tactics was a class, I'd get an A+.

Currently I'm using up all my old banked yoga classes to breath deep and cope with the fact we just got told about the current state of our townhouse rental, and it isn't pretty. I'm fuming mad that adults would treat a decent property like it was some crack house in Camden. Then I remember that shitheads are all around and in the course of renting to college students I'd be sure to get some doozeys. Like the time our old tenants didn't want to tell us the toilet was broken and we got a water bill that was the equivalent of filling two Olympic swimming pools. Part of me wants to send pictures of the place with all the damage to their parents...

This all leads to me to two things.

The first is a favorite mantra of mine, I repeat it myself when I'm having a rough go of it and feel a little down. "time marches on". In a day, week, month, year...I'll be somewhere new. Feeling something else. Knowing that despite what it going on in my life, time will go on and my life will change with it.

The second is my current obsession with hunting down the *perfect* Chesterfield sofa. I have an obsessive personality, so expect to hear about this couch about 9,775 more times in the coming days. Also expect for me to never actually purchase a Chesterfield, but only to feverishly stalk one down in my free time.

Remember: commitment issues + a cat whose radar is set on "destroy all furniture" + garage build budget + current couches in decent condition = not the greatest idea for me to buy a couch. However, this hunt is the perfect diversionary tactic from our townhouse issues of late. Something else for my scattered mind to focus on, rather than just being cranky about the rental.

My poor husband bears the brunt of my "omg I love this" craigslist find random emails. They usually go something like this...

In regards to this posting:




3800.00 CASH ONLY !!!

From: Eva

To: Peter

Wizzing with happy over this gorgeous couch Boo on the price though. http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/fuo/2309015131.html

From: Peter

To: Eva

CRAP WOW that’s expensive for a 10 yr old couch that the leather looks bad worn, not nice worn! Color is kinda neat but not too sure about it. But still, the price? They have to be kidding. What are they $6k new?

From: Eva

To: Peter

They range in price, but you usually aren’t looking at much more than 6-7k for a new one. Even the ones from Restoration Hardware aren’t as much as this one! I thought the color was awesome! It’s “unexpected” :) But the price? Really? Someone is high.

From: Peter

To: Eva

That’s just ridiculous. If you pay $6k for anything new, you have to expect to lose 1/3 of the value as soon as you walk out of the showroom. Even most cars are close to that. That comes to $3900 and that was in 2001 – and that’s if the 10 yrs is true which I have my doubts.

From: Eva

To: Peter

Sometimes I wonder about these CL people. What logic goes through their head as they looked at the couch and said “ Self. That couch is worth more than a 10 year old Toyota. There are going to be buyers lining up to my purchase my circa-1994 blue sofa for sure”

If it was 90% off that price I’d buy it. Or at least think about buying it.

The End.

April 1, 2011

Faux Shopping

Happy April Fools!

No jokes here, mainly because I'm terrible at playing jokes on people. My face can't stay still and before three words of the prank are out of my mouth I'm doubled over in a giggling fit. Can we say, sure give away? This is why I can't play poker, despite being part of the same body my mouth has a mind of its own and I'm always apt to blurt out things that need to stay inside!

Since I'm still a wee bit of a grump over the house renovation and situation stuff I've now turned my attention to my favorite form of house therapy- Pretty pictures and imaginary shopping. That usually helps me refuel with inspiration and ideas for the future. So here is a smattering of the random shopping that I've been obsessively looking at lately: Ralph Lauren Talmadge Hill Bedding:

Specifically the large plaid duvet cover of the collection. I got my hands on the duvet at the outlet and it was very much still out of my price range, but I did marvel over what a quality item it seemed to be. The fabric was luscious, warm and inviting for long winters naps. I think the Americana Preppy plaid look fit into our houses colonial cottage styling well. Our old duvet cover is getting a little worn after three seasons, so I'm going to make it my personal challenge to procure this RL duvet for our bed by next winter at a great price.

Chesterfield Sofas: Specifically a well broken-in used Chesterfield. Something about their stately tufted lines makes me weak in the knees. Even if a good 50% of my friends say they scream "lawyers office". Each week I comb through Craigslist to see if any are available within a four hour drive and if they could be 'the one' for me. Certainly we don't need a new couch right now, especially because I think I would crumple to the floor in hysterical tears the first time my cat used the couch as a scratching post. Even though there isn't likely to be a new sofa that crossed my door in a long long time I still love to hunt for one.

I think I'm one of those extra weird people who enjoys the search for an item way way way more than actually owning it. Which would explain why I'm terrible with commitment to things. Except Pete. He's awesome and I'm very committed to him. But I don't really think of him as a "thing".

Next up on my obsessive search is a rug that is as perfect as the Dash and Albert Cat's Paw rug for our dining room but one that fits our budget better. I did a little measuring and we need a 7x9 or 8x8 rug on the dining room floor so it doesn't look like someone wearing a tiny coat. The Cat's Paw jumps from 5x8 (too small) for $400-ish right on up to 8x10 for $800. Way out of my pocketbook's comfort zone right now for a rug. No matter how awesome and perfect it may be....And despite my constant searching I just can't find anything that makes me jump up and down with excitement yet.

Here is what I'm looking for in a vauge, short descriptions:

- Would like it to have yellow in it

-Vintage looking a plus

- No comtempory designs

- Doesn't look cheap ( hard to tell over the internet)

- Light and colorful

- Under $300

Lately I've been checking up on PB twitter account, to see if they are going to run any special promotions on rugs for the outlets. I've been there before when they ran a "take an additional 50%" promo, so my fingers are crossed that is coming again this spring. I'll for sure drive my rear end out to Lancaster to see what kind of potential deal could await there.

Anything anyone else is obsessively fake shopping for lately?

March 29, 2011

Crank Pot is Me

New Jersey missed the memo that it is currently spring. We're dealing with January temperatures here where the mercury dips down into the freezing zone at night and barely gets enough sunshine out during the day to do a damn warmth wise. It is so cold for March that we had to turn out heater back on, after we though we shut it down for the season two weeks ago.

In this weather it tends to be the wind that does you in comfort wise. Turning an otherwise enjoyable sunny cold weather day, into some sort of horrible blustery experience where you curse the sky for taunting you with cold sunshine and whatever the reason is that makes you be outside. It's been in that cold sunshine where we've been spending some quality weekend time at the garage lately.

However, once there I've been maxing out after two hours of work because the weather and house situation makes me incredibly grumpy. Pete witnesses his normally way perky wife morph into some sort of snappy bitch from hell in about 90 minutes. The last half hour has got to be torture for him as I stomp around the place ready to snap necks, complete with eye rolling and glares. Until I finally give up work in a fit and go to the warmest place in the house to stew in silence alone. Sitting on the plastic wrapped screen porch on top of an empty dresser. Staring at the rusty screens and astro turfed cement, wondering what the hell I was thinking with this house, with all our houses, until it is time to leave.

The worst part about my fits is that I can't stop it from happening and nothing short of leaving the work site gets me back to normal. My natural disposition is to be an optimist that has a perma smile plastered on my face. That crummy attitude isn't who I am at all. But the houses are just draining me right now. I feel like they're four giant leeches that I can't shake off even though I so desperately want to be rid of them and move on with my life.

Anyone whose ever done any home renovations who didn't tell you that they hit low points along the journey is full of lies. Lying to safe face about their decision. Lying to themselves. Or so pumped full of something that makes all work blend into a happy fuzzy haze.

Overall, I'm frustrated at our shitty homes and a little burnt out. Those feelings are just my reality right now. Will I turn around again? Yes. I know I will. Being cyclical with my emotions is a standard MO for me. Sometime along the line I'll get my optimism back, my drive and the ability to pound out 12 hour shifts of hard work for our future on our craptastic houses. But currently, I want to stew in the cold non-spring weather being a miserable bitch about everything house related.

There you go.

True confessionals of a DIY'er.

March 23, 2011

Pretty new air nail gun!

Our air nailer is dead.

Died. Gone. Bought the farm. Bit the spoon. Finished.
You might remember this is the same air nailer that pooped out some time back in September. When it up and left Pete up on the roof high and dr, where he had to start swinging a hammer in order to finish the purlins. At that time we debated buying a new nailer, but being in the midst of shelling out big bucks for the garage construction we really didn't want to part with the $200 it would cost for a spanky new air nailer. Thankfully Pete was able to apply his ridiculously mechanical brain towards the nailer, opened it up and spiffed it back up to life.

And then a few months later, Pete fell from the second story of the garage. During that fall, he dropped the air nailer onto the cement floor and then landed a sheet of plywood combined with his entire body weight on top of the nailer. Apparently all those things are a deadly combo for an already on the brink nailer, because shortly after all that happened, the nailer ceased to work indefinitely.

In case it is not abundantly clear from my posts- WE NEED A FRAMING AIR NAILER.

Since we try not to look at dropping two Benjamin's lightly, a ton of research went into finding a new nailer. Almost immediately we discounted getting the same air nailer, a Porter Cable, again. Overall we weren't thrilled with the longevity performance. It wasn't that old, only about 6 years, and did break once before dropping it onto cement. We don't count the falling incident against the performance, since it was human error. Frankly I would expect something to last longer given the amount of use the nailer got combined with how well we (mostly) treat our tools.

Shopping for a new nailer at ye' olde orange warehouse store.

There was much debate about using clipped head vs. round heads, as well as which brand we should go for between Bostitch, Dewalt and Hitachi. Why those brands? Bostitch is the brand of our siding nailer and we've been pleased with that so far. Dewalt because I'm a total whore for their brands and believe they make a quality product. Hitachi is another brand we've heard good things about and is aimed at Pros, so we thought it could handle the amount of work that we'll be throwing toward it during this renovation.
Ultimately, it was the clipped head Hitachi that won out.

Which I find, strangely enough, really pretty. That just excites the girly girl inside of me to use it more!

March 17, 2011

Happy St.Pat's!

For our first anniversary back in 2009 Pete and I took a trip to Emerald Isle...

He got food poisoning and I drank my weight in Guinness and Bulmers.

Once Pete was on the mend, we spent a lovely morning learning about our favorite beer

and I finally got to see a real castle!

although I never did pretend I was a princess when I was little. Usually my imagination had me as the stable hand or had some equally not glamorous position within the castle walls.

This uber lame and extremely last minute photo essay (which is composed of snatched pictures from facebook) covers about 1/10th of our Ireland trip and is my way of wishing everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

March 15, 2011

Stain boo-boo

This weekend marked my first ever solo staining project...the stair treads for our spiral staircase.

Let's just say, my staining for this project wouldn't be categorized as winning.

The truth is the physical process of staining the wood was incredibly easy. Brush on, count to ten, wipe off and then let dry. The frustrating and non-winning part came when I tried to get a uniform stain on the wood. Despite using a wood condition prior to the stain, my warm honey colored stain came out looking like I dropped melted red crayons onto the stairs and then chiseled the wax off with a putty knife. Random spots drank up a lot of the red and parts of the stairs ended up looking uber splotchy. Overall the stairs look great and I'm really happy with the actual color of the stain, just sad that it looks so blotchy.

I'm not sure if I need more practice, another type of wood or a different color stain all together I've heard that darker color stain is easier to work with because it just cover so much and makes the imperfections a lot harder to notice.


Since these imperfections are noticable (especially to me) I'm not sure about the next steps I should take to fix/hide them. The option is out there to sand down and re-stain every stair but I'm afraid that would just leave me in the same predicament and would eat up a lot of time. Currently my favorite option is to remind myself that the stairs are going to be set in a darker corner of the condo, away from direct sunlight and are going to get stepped on by a whole host of not-so-gentle feet over the years. When I tell myself that, 'perfection and show quality' isn't what is what is exactly needed there. Also, I may have deluded myself into thinking that a coat of poly will help. Don't ask me how or why, I just hold on to the thought that poly will make it all better.

Hopefully I just needed to step away from the project and revist it with fresh eyes that aren't so critical. Maybe the blotches will have magically fixed themselves yesterday?!

Am I the only one out there that has failed on staining pine with a light color? Wait. Don't answer. I don't think I can handle the truth of knowing that I fubar'ed something that is so basic in the DIY world...

March 7, 2011

Opperation Staircase... p3.

A weekend or two later, Pete and I returned to beach condo ready to finish painting the stairs. As much as the two toned look works for some people, we wanted the whole staircase to be a pretty glossy black. In the interest of being able to still use the stairs- you know, to access the only bathroom and bedroom in the joint- we had to work using the paint every other stair method.
Which how we ended up with this spunky black and gray painted staircase after the second go-round with primer was applied. The black stairs were dry and we were able to walk upstairs very carefully while waiting for the gray primer to dry.
The poor dog was so confused about why she couldn't follow us up the stairs anymore! We had to carry her up and down the stairs to make sure she didn't end up a mess of white puppy streaked with paint.

Left of the project To-Do's:

Reveal pretty all-black stairs! (They look awesome. so awesome that I forgot to snap a pic.)

Find flexible stair rail. Any suggestions? We threw out the hideous plastic tube that used to be on there. It was really bad looking and we didn't want to be tempted to put it back on there out of laziness/desperation

Router the wooden steps out. It took multiple attempts (last count was 4 tries) but we finally got all the wood we needed for the project.

Stain steps.

Attach steps to stairs.

Show off the new door that Pete built for our heater closet.

Find/make wall art for stairway walls.

Find a free weekend to take the trip down to the condo to put it all together. This alone is going to be tricky for us, suddenly we're on the verge of spring around here and I'm finding our calendars are threatening us having no available weekend free time.

March 2, 2011

Priming and Painting the Stairs...

Moving back to our current spiral staircase renovation:

We left off with the stairs ready for an application of our heavy duty primer, Shelac Based Zinsser primer tinted a lovely shade of gray. The tint helps to provide a perfect base to our glossy black paint, or any darker paint.

Why Shellac? Mainly because it is uber durable and offers a great surface for the actual paint to grab onto. We really don't want to ever have to repaint the stairs again during our tenure of ownership at the condo, and they get a lot of high traffic abuse during the summer months. You can see in the pictures that a lot of the stairs had some rust stain issues, and even though we were using black paint, we didn't want anything to leak through the final coat. Also, it's made from beetles, like crawly little bugs, I find that pretty interesting...

When it came time for painting, we did the every other stair method for coverage,that way the we could still utilize the stairs, since the only bathroom in the place is on the second floor. Hoofing it up the stairs every other one with no railing is murder on your knees and for people with balance issues (me.).

A few hours later, after the primer was extra dry... we cracked open the black paint and started rolling away. That night we were under an extreme time crunch, so the black paint had to get down and then we needed to get outta there asap. Which worked out because the fumes from the paint and primer were almost overwhelming us. The night ended with us getting outta there without being able to take a moment to step back and check out the transformation taking place.

March 1, 2011

Look for Less: Couch Edition

I haven't noticed the Oasis at C&B until recently, when it caught my eye in the catalog spread. Very casual in comfy chic kinda way. Something I'd want to put in a sun room or in a shore house. Not that long ago, I got a chance to plop down on the Oasis in the store.

( It was awesome. I love couches that aren't mine)

Then I noticed the Landon sofa at Macy's:
The price comes in at $1,099, which is about 1k off the full retail price of the Oasis.

There are some differences I can spot right off the bat in the picture but you do have to go photo hunting for most of them...The one thing I'd want to make sure of is that the bottom cushions are as cushy and wonderful as the C&B version. They don't look as full in the photos, but photos can be a little deceiving.