Monday, November 16, 2009

We have had several significant house developments in the couple weeks since my last post. The most noticeable is that three trees were taken out between our and Andy's house. One was on our property, and two were on his property. They were all within a couple feet of his house and disturbing his foundation. He is going to replace them with smaller trees with less invasive roots; fruitless pears, I believe. This was our view from the back porch:

Here is the work being done:

And here it is now:

And best of all we got all the wood for next year's fires. Note the broken landscape lighting fixture on the bottom center. I think Richard broke each one on that side of the house while tossing wood. Truly, though, he just finished them off; I do not think a single one was really in good working order. He wants to replace them with something similar. That will be some time far from now.

Yeah...about the night time seems every time I think I have enough pictures and progress to post, I get near the end of writing and then realize I do not have an "after" picture. Because I only have the free time to post at night, I tend to just save what I have written and plan to get back to it the next day so that I can take a day time picture. But that does not really happen. The next thing I know, it has been two weeks, and my post is way too long and still not posted, so this is the best I can do, folks.

I finally remembered to take pictures of the entry stairs. When we first bought the house, they were solid gray, which is also the color of the decking on the porch. It looked to me like the porch just vomited up some stairs. The paint was peeling pretty badly. Here is what it looked like when we moved in:

Wow. Now that I go back and look at the picture, I realize just how bad it looked. Kinda creepy. It looks like there's an old forgotten widow dying in our house. Or maybe I'm just being dramatic. I also notice how awkward looking it is that only the top riser is painted the royal blue. Anyway, the same time we had the guys paint the fence we had them paint the stairs, too. And we changed the color just a bit. We made the risers white, but left the actual steps gray. I think it looks more inviting this way:

Oh shoot. I just realized the top riser is still royal blue. It is weird how much you see wrong with your house when you are scrutinizing pictures of it for the world to see. I will have to go outside during the daylight tomorrow and see if it is really that noticeable. For comparison here is the back porch, and its top riser is white:

I am not sure; I guess it looks better white. Feedback on this would be much appreciated. THE GAS CAN! Why is there always random bits of trashy clutter in our yard? It does not make me feel better that our neighbor is out there every single morning picking up the garbage that blows into his yard. He also does things like raking, mowing, and watering. Then he comes over to our tacky gas can yard and pulls weeds and such. Who needs an HOA? I do not need to pay a monthly fee to get a citation on my door. Good neighbor Andy just guilt trips the heck out of us. I am pretty sure he has worked in our yard at least once a month. And I have such landscaping ignorance that half the time I do not notice exactly what he has done. I pull into the driveway and just think, "Dang my house looks good today." Then Richard tells me Andy was working in the yard again. And he only does it when we are not home. I think it is because he does not want us to tell him not to do it. But we certainly do appreciate it. Hey we had the yard mowed once in the three months we have lived here. See:

Our problem is that we need a lawnmower. Note the gutter set on the sidewalk. We have since fixed that. We have done other yard work, too. I have picked up trash at least twice. Once I found this:

Richard was like, "Quit taking pictures of abandoned baby clothes in our yard, and help me rake some leaves!"

We also cut down a dead (apple?) tree.



We did not have the stump ground because we plan on including it into our landscaping. And because that would require money and a professional. I really think it will look good with roses grown over it. One day... when I learn how to make things grow.

I think that is all we have done outside so far. There has been a little progress on the inside. I decided to paint our bed's headboard and footboard because I really didn't like the rustic 90s knotty pine look. Is that what it is called? That is what I call it. Plus the flower decal always looked really chalky no matter what I used to clean it. Richard was highly skeptical of me wanting to paint his bachelor bed, but it was our compromise. See, he loves the bed because he thinks it is really comfortable. And I only hated the wood stain on it. What is comfort without style? Useless, that is what I say. And that is why I never buy furniture without him. Here is what I had to work with:

So first I primed it, since that is what I always see them do on HGTV. That part went okay. I used Valspar because the guy at Lowe's talked me into it, even though my mother recommended Kilz. You will see what happened to me for dismissing my wise mother's advice.

It looked fine. I patted myself on the back and kept working. Also mimicking HGTV, I put the blue tape on the part I wanted to be a different color. Then I painted on two coats of the first color. Then I pulled the tape off:

"That was not supposed to happen," I thought in my head while pulling off the tape, "Oh well. I had to paint over that primer anyway." So then I put tape on the first color around where I was going to put the second color. I put on two coats of the second color, and whether the primer had come off or not made no difference. It looked exactly the same. A waste of time that primer was. Then I pulled the tape off the first color thinking my project was now complete. But instead of looking like HGTV material, it looked like this:

I was livid at that point. I was stomping my feet and screaming with my ipod on, so I have no idea how inappropriately loud I was being. I had been working on this bed painting project for a week! Any spare daylight hours I had I was out in the garage painting or making one of many trips to the hardware store to get the right brushes and tape. And now my marital bed looked like it had been in the back of a pickup since 1992. It might have been the tape, but I really think it was the primer because even before I applied the top quality blue painter's tape with medium adhesion, I noticed the lightest touch of my fingernail to the primer was causing it to scratch and peel, but I just figured that was because I had not put the color on yet. I decided the bed was going to be finished by night fall or else it would be added to the firewood pile. I just said, "Screw it! Forget tape. I am doing ONE more blue coat where it peeled with the steadiest hand I can muster, and if it does not look good, forget it!" And we were very fortunate because I actually think it turned out gorgeous, contrary to all my expectations. You be the judge:

So for the first time since we disassembled our bed frame in Lake county six months ago, we have a mattress that does not sit directly on the floor. And Richard actually likes it. It reminds me of Wedgewood. I just got a brilliant idea. Richard's mother gave me a beautiful piece of Wedgewood that I have not been sure how to incorporate into my life, and now I think it will be a beautiful decoration in our bedroom. I am shocked it looks good at all since I have never painted furniture in my life, and I mixed the colors myself out of leftover paint we had for the exterior. And the fact that the flower decal does not look terrible even though I did it completely by hand with no tape really boosts my confidence about being able to paint the rest of the house. We are trying to paint the ceilings and walls of the living and dining room before the floor restorers come just before Christmas. Our goal is Christmas because that is when Richard's father, mother, and sister will all be here for a few days and will be seeing our house for the first time. Personally I do not mind painting after the floors are done, but Richard is very concerned about paint spilling on the floor. I'll be using the five gallons I have left of the Valspar primer, so really if I just put blue tape over the spills, they should come right off :) There will be no more use of blue tape over Valspar, unless of course the goal is paint removal. And there will be no future purchasing of Valspar. Period. Maybe I am not being fair; perhaps it was user error in not sanding the wood surface prior to primer. But it is called primer as in "prime" as in "number one" or "first," so was I really out of line in thinking no work had to be done prior to primer? I don't think so.

This is the longest blog ever, and it has the most pictures. Also, I now have designated in my schedule Monday evenings for blogging, so you might want to check back then. I might get to it more often than that as I have time, but with all the painting planned before Christmas, I predict Monday evenings will be challenging enough.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween et cetera

Here is what our house looked like on Halloween:

I must say the scariness of our house was lost in the picture due to my flash. There are no street lights, so the only light was from the green lights on the railing. And we played The Candyman soundtrack (thank you Ryan). It was very scary. Little kids had serious hesitation in coming up the stairs. We hope to add to our Halloween decorations over the year and eventually develop a haunted house of infamy. This year on decorations I spent less than $15. The lights were purchased for 90% off a couple Christmases ago. The two paper jack-o-lanterns on the bottom were 2 for $5 at Walgreens regular price. They are battery powered and resuable, so that's exciting. The top two are actual carved pumpkins costing $4 each. The black thing was a Martha Stuart project I found online made out of black garbage bags. I told Richard it was $40 marked down to $30, so I had to buy it. He actually believed me. Then I asked him to please have more faith in me than that.

I dressed up as Sarah Palin. It was very last minute.

I should have gone all out and cut real bangs. It only cost $9 for glasses in which I could not see and $11 for heels in which I could not walk. I was stumbling around all night. And it didn't help that Richard made up a really fun drinking game in which the four of us each picked a costume accessory, and anytime a trick-or-treater came with that accessory the other three had to take a shot. Mine was crowns, Genny's was wings, Richard's was anything Star Wars, and Ryan's was blue jeans. Ryan was losing terribly until all the teenagers found out we were giving out full-size candy bars. Good thing we were only taking shots of Boone's Farm*. Halloween was a blast this year.

Genny went as an 80s girl, but I thought she kinda looked like Bristol. Teens are dressing 80s now, aren't they?

The contractors came back for a day and got a lot more work done. I think they only have one or two days left. Namely they are going to install a gutter on the south side of the house and install a shower enclosure on the claw foot tub. After that, we will be totally free of our 203k commitments and be able to tackle things at our own pace to our own standards. I am greatly looking forward to that. The next big project we are working on is the back porch. Here it is from the outside:

Here it is just after we moved in. By the way almost none of the dates are correct on my pictures. I finally learned how to just omit the date altogether.

Here's what it looked like for the next two months while we lived in a construction zone:

And here's what it looks like at this very moment:

The contractors moved the washer and dryer to make it a more usable space. They also built a ramp which keeps them level, which is a big improvement. To finish the space, I need to scrape and paint the floor, put down some rugs, touch up the paint around the windows, scrape the paint off the transom glass, and replace the screen door hardware (it is very difficult to lock and shut). I also want to put a UV-blocking screen over the screens that are currently there to keep it cooler in summertime. And I want to put a shade over the light fixture, install a ceiling fan that is currently in the bathroom, and buy a large enough table to have coffee and breakfast comfortably. And I will probably add a utility sink where the plumbing was for the old washer, but I'm not completely sure yet. I hope I have some type of progress to report tomorrow.

* I don't really ever drink Boone's Farm. And I especially wouldn't shoot it. I'm all about true martinis or fine tequila neat. The last time I had Boone's Farm I was in high school, and it was with my mother. This was in accommodation of our guests. Please don't judge.