Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Deck and Labeled Breaker Box

The back deck is done. It just needs to be decorated. P did a great job of mixing the new and old wood. It’s striped and looks intentional (and pretty cool). Once it seasons, I’ll stain it to match the two-tone gate. 

I had tall posts installed at the corners so that someday I can put a roof on it and screen it in (&*^#@! mosquitos!).

New supports, old stairs

The deck looks so good, it draws attention to the dismal state of my back yard. 

Someday it will be leveled and sprinklers will be installed. That’s the only way I’ll keep anything alive back there. I think I’ll build a small raised kitchen garden on the left and either paint a (peacock) mural on the shed or put up a trellis to block the view from the house. Add a winding path, climbing rose bush near the gate and a small grassy area and I will be happy.  But I think I had better fix the cracks in the drywall inside the house first.

Yup. It's a breaker box. Exciting, no?
 On the 4th of July, N came over and together we labeled the breaker box. You can tell from the floor plan that the outlets and light switches were added over time. We started by turning on all the lights, flipping a breaker switch and walking around to see what lights went out. We quickly learned it was much more efficient to stand next to the outlet (with a lamp plugged in) and flip each breaker switch until the light went out, then move onto the next outlet or light switch. A lamp plugged into the outlet worked much better than the current detector. We were getting false positives. Apparently there’s leftover juice in the outlet after the breaker switch is flipped—enough to light up the detector, but not enough to light a lamp.

Cute, yet useless helper

Directly below the breaker box. Um...I think maybe I should fix this...and paint my house,

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Skirting and the Back Deck Part 1

So I never posted about the skirting. After the house was leveled I had the floors insulated and the skirting replaced as intended.

Much better than this.

Trench dug and mesh up

3 coats plus placeholder for vent

In order to reskirt the back of the house, my back deck had to be partially disassembled. It was going to cost about $200 to have it reassembled. No problem.

The back deck was in pretty sad condition. It was saggy, missing a lot of pickets, the rail wasn't regulation height and was twisted and warped.
Sad, saggy deck
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, it was also in imminent danger of collapse. Once disassembled, it was clear that whoever built it was completely clueless. Most of the posts didn't even touch the ground and some were spaced four feet apart. There were no posts at all at the corners next to the house and the entire deck on that side was "supported" by the three nails attaching it to the house. My $200 turned into a $3,000 problem.  I had the whole thing rebuilt salvaging as much of the wood as possible.

Notice the post stops at the deck surface level. Nothing supporting this corner at all.

Nothing supporting this corner either. Just those 3 nails holding everything up.
What the heck is going on here?

I'm a Tree Killer

Notice anything different? Look at this old photo.

I had a couple trees removed. I couldn't help it. One was lifting my porch and the other was lifting the slab the A/C sits on and was damaging my roof. The porch column on the right is a good 8 inches higher than the one of the left. It's not going to settle back down, but at least it won't get any worse. They make stump removal products, but I need to look into them. I don't want to pour a bunch of harmful chemicals in the ground.

I now have a clear view of the street when sitting on my porch.

Yes, I know. My rail needs to be replaced.
Here's where the big tree was. I lost a rose bush in the process. I'll plant a new one. It'll probably do much better now that it will get full sun.

Lotsa saw dust!
Here's where the smaller tree on the side was.

Check out the new skirting!

This is what's left by the stump grinder.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bathroom Progress

The giant ugly cabinet is gone!

Apologies for the long, long pause between posts. I’ll try to get all the progress updates posted over the next couple weeks. First up, the bathroom. It’s almost there. All I have left to do is the window, hang art and  towel racks and possibly get another storage cabinet.


Realtor photo when house was on the market.
Realtor photo

Dang tiny bathroom but it won't all fit in the shot.

It was a lot of work, but the medicine cabinet came out great! I bought new screws, but the rest of the hardware is all original. 

I couldn't find copper screws, so had to settle for brass.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like before.

I’ve purchased new (antique) windows, but they are going to need to work before installation. The original (cracked) windows were rope and pulley and the newly purchased ones are not. They are also a slightly different size. I need to remove the glass from the frames and have them reframed to work in a rope and pulley system. In the meantime there is a lovely piece of lexan keeping the zombies out of the house at night. When I was having delusions that I’d get this project done quickly, I had just a sheet of plastic stapled to the wall. Zombies can silently cut through plastic without setting off my alarm, so my dad replaced it with non-breakable lexan when he was here visiting at the end of February.

It has green and yellow panels.

Next up either the skirting...or walls in the sewing room...or the deck..or the insulation, or the tree removal. Told you I've been busy!

Always wear protective gear when sanding!
In case you are wondering, yes, that's Captain Hammer on my shirt ... and these are not the hammer.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

20-Minute Meal: Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce, Asparagus and Rice

I did something that made me happy yesterday! I cooked on my stove and got to eat yummy food and watch someone else enjoying the result of my effort—truly satisfying. This meal took just 20 minutes to prepare and it is SO good. The secret it that the steak and asparagus both cook in the broiler. The rice is Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice. It cooks in the microwave in 90 seconds and it’s actually whole grain rice.

Steak with blue cheese sauce
Broiled asparagus
Brown and wild rice

Tenderloin steaks
1.5 oz of blue cheese per steak (room temp.)
1.5 tspn butter per steak (room temp.)
A few garlic cloves
Asparagus spears
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cut the woody ends from the asparagus spears. Make a tray out of tinfoil that fits the spears. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then shake the tray until spears are evenly coated. Broil until areas nearest flame turn brown, about 10-12 minutes.

Mix blue cheese and butter together. Grease broiler rack OR if you don’t have one, use rack from toaster over (put it on a cookie sheet). Chop garlic, rub onto steaks, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place steaks on broiler rack. Broil for about 6 minutes on each side. Spread cheese mixture directly on steaks and leave in broiler until it melts, or put cheese mixture in broiler (in oven safe bowl) until melted and pour over steaks once placed on plates. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Throw the rice in the microwave for 90 seconds and you’re ready to eat. I put my steaks and asparagus in the broiler at the same time and they were done at the same time. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Year of Happy

Hi guys. I'm getting personal today. I have never made a resolution that I remember. I always thought it best to strive for self-improvement year round, not just in January. The last couple years have been a rollercoaster of highs and lows for me (divorce, homeownership, health issues, job issues, winning the roller derby championship). It made me realize that maybe I should reevaluate how I view life, the world, and my place in it. And why not do it in January?

This year I want to spend more time each day being happy and/or doing things that make me happy. I know what some of those things are, others I will experiment with and see how they go.  Here’s a few of the known things. The plan is to revisit the list, add, delete and see how it changes over time.

1. Cook more (on my fabulous stove). I’ve started making a list of things I cook that I think are pretty good so that I can refer to it when I’m drawing a blank on dinner ideas. I’ll start printing out recipes I want to try when I see them. Maybe I’ll put them on the fridge next to the shopping list.


2. Don’t waste money. I’ve signed up for to help me see where exactly I spend it. This is related to the master home renovation list, but I’m not going to put deadlines on individual projects. Keeping it real.

3. Take better photos for this blog.

4. Jam more (roller derby). 

5. Don’t defeat myself/be an awesome blocker/most improved 2013 (roller derby). Inspiration: Self love via

That's me in red.

6. Explore career options that would make me want to jump out of bed in the morning. Inspiration:

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and productive 2013!