Friday, May 30, 2008

The unsatisfying task of painting trim

I've spent the past couple days painting the woodwork in the house. It was pretty worn out and tired looking in a few of the bedrooms and pretty knocked up downstairs - particularly the baseboards. They look much nicer but it's hard to find the satisfaction that I normally get from painting a room (i.e., painting walls). One more thing off the list, though.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I suck at painting windows

We have a baby coming to visit (with her parents, of course) this weekend and I was feeling a little panicked about our lead paint chips in our bedroom where they will be staying. I decided to take drastic measures and do some wet sanding of the window sills where the paint has been chipping off and only managed to make it all look worse than it did before. I am going to try a second coat tomorrow but I think that once they're gone I'm going to have to either strip it (yuck) or suck it up and get a heat gun (scary). What a nasty mess and I'm sure I have taken a few years off of my life in the process...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Landscaping done (a.k.a. I'm exhausted)

Thom and I worked quite a bit on the yard on Saturday, took yesterday off, and I finished it up today. I got what we have determined to be the two arborvitae out of the front and finished taking up what I could of the last yew's root ball. It was no easy task and I'm hoping I did a good enough job that it won't come back up again. We went to the nursery and got a few things to replace the shrubs with:
Northern Hi-Lights Azalea - it will be a pretty yellowish-white color
Hummingbird Summersweet - it will smell nice and will attract hummingbirds
Sarah Bernhardt Peony - I've always wanted a peony and I love how they smell and look

We had planted the other annuals and the hydrangea where the other two yews were so I think it will look nice as it all develops. I also put down some mulch and I think it all looks great. Now we just have to figure out how to haul all the waste down to get composted!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I hate yew

That was Thom's idea for today's blog title. Well, we finally started tackling a bit of real landscaping today. I finished taking out a bunch of things that I found out were called Salomon's Seal (aka pain in my ass) and then I planted some petunias, marigolds, and some impatiens. Thom mowed the lawn with our new $130 push reel mower (it did a nice job, we think, and it wasn't any harder to push than the big honking mower we had in Louisiana, he says).

Then we did the big work. We cut down and dug out two ewes in the front of our house. The first two weren't bad but then we tried to tackle the huge one on the corner. I had to finally give up for the day on that one. Right now, it just looks like a sad bonsai. Anyway, we replaced the two ewes with some hydrangea and we'll be excited for them to get bigger and bloom. I'm thinking about a peony out front too and we still have a nice rhododendron that we'll keep. It will all look really nice once we get the two junipers out too. We're tired, that's for sure! We are going to enjoy a good ol' Wisconsin meal now - brats, party potatoes, marinated cucumbers, and baked beans - with s'mores to finish it off! We have definitely earned this not-so-good-for-us dinner!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The last of the painting!

I finished painting the last two rooms today- the downstairs bathroom and Thom's "man village" upstairs (see before and after shots). I'm fairly happy with his room and the grey we picked but the bathroom is not really what I wanted. The color is nice but the walls are so bumpy from the add-on they did (this was originally a coat closet, we think) and my poor skim coating skills that it looks pretty bad. Anyway, I'm happy to have all wallpaper gone and all walls now painted. Hooray! Now, on to the big projects...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The battle of the maple tree

Well, I believe I may have won the battle of the maple tree. But they did not go without a fight. My poor fingers did not fare well in said battle and will probably not be gardening again for a few days at least. I was excited to use some of our economic stimulus money to buy some nice annuals and a couple hydrangeas to plant in the front, once we pull up the eyesore junipers. But, that will be another day...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's not easy (or cheap) being green

We finally got our economic stimulus payment (the only time I will be grateful for our current president) - and decided that buying a lawn mower was well overdue. We had decided to buy a push reel mower since we don't have much of a lawn to speak of and we are trying to be as green as possible in all of our home purchases and updates. We had seen one at the local HD but they no longer carry them - Lowe's too - and they say they don't plan to order more. We look online and these things aren't not cheap. You can pretty much buy a basic mower for not much more. Ridiculous. So now we're trying to find one locally (probably what we should have done first) but it's not easy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wallpaper: Worthy Adversary... Susie: Stronger

Yes, that's right, wallpaper - take that!

I am happy to report that our entire house is now a 100% wallpaper free zone (WFZ). Thom's room was the last to do and we'll paint it a nice grey this week.

I have nothing but the best to say about Wallwik - it made taking down 1900 sq ft of wallpaper much easier - and much less toxic - than it could have been. Highly recommend for anyone interested.

Sionara, wallpaper.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hooray! Last room of wallpaper to be destroyed today!

After several months of wallpaper scraping in our 1900 sq ft house, the final room of wallpaper will be taken down today. I am so happy to see it go and know that it will all be gone from our house - for-ev-ah!

We're also moving along on planning for our low-scale kitchen renovation. While we're pretty sure about the Ikea countertops and painting the kitchen cabinets, we're very torn about the flooring issue. While we really want cork plank flooring, it is a bit spendy ($700). When we look at short term alternatives, such as vinyl tile, it's really only a few hundred less ($300-$400), making us think we should wait and get what we want. I just don't know how much longer I, or the cat, can stand looking at that ugly 1970's harvest gold vinyl floor.

The other debate we've been having is about the ceiling. As I think I mentioned, when they renovated the kitchen in what can only be assumed the 1970s, they decided to put a drop ceiling in. For whatever reason, they smashed out the plaster when they did it. So we need a new ceiling. I think it would make the most sense to just put up some drywall (and it would be the cheapest) but then we'll need to think about what kind of lighting we want to replace the two fluorescent fixtures with. We're leaning toward some of the cool newer track lighting to give us some directable light and to save some money so we don't have to hire an electrician (I hope) least the people on HGTV didn't need to!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Plant Identification 101: Do you know what this is?

I admit it, I have little to scarce amounts of knowledge when it comes to gardening. I know you put things in the ground and you water them and they (sometimes) grow -- but that's about it. I'm able to identify dandelions and have been furiously pulling those but have come across this stuff and I don't have any idea what it is. It seems to be springing up all around the house and the ones that have gotten big, like in the photo above, are a pain in the tookus to pull out. What are they? And how do I get rid of them?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Temporary kitchen renovation

I painted the downstairs bathroom this morning with the Kilz primer and I think it will do the trick on the mold issue. We then went to the Lowe's and looked a bit at some different flooring options. Our idea is that it will be a temporary kitchen renovation - basically just updating the look of things until we can afford a major (read: expensive) renovation. So painting the cabinets makes sense. We've been struggling with the idea of painting them but it made me feel better to see that many of the original kitchen cabinets in the 1920s were also painted.

I think the next big decision will be what we do with the ceiling. When Thom peeked up under the dropped tile ceiling a couple months ago, we saw that they had knocked down all the plaster on the ceiling so we either will have to put up drywall or we can put in one of the newer dropped ceilings that have the faux tin ceiling look. We'd then have to figure out what to do about lighting so I can get rid of the godawful fluorescent light in there.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Got the painting estimate

We received the painting estimate and I was pleasantly surprised. It's $1700 for the one side of the house, including a pressure wash, scraping, sanding, priming, and two coats of Sherwin-Williams exterior paint. I think we're going to go with it after we check references. While we could certainly do it ourselves for less, I'm not sure the time, effort, and probable broken bones are worth the effort.

We're planning for the end of June for the work so I'll put up some before and afters when it comes to that time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This is what I'm talkin' about

First of all, I gotta say it: I am impressed that my whining got the attention of the Vice President of TurboTax. Who knew that executives read my blog? I'm humbled...or something.

Anyway, here's a bit of my inspiration for our low cost kitchen renovation (read: until we get some real equity and can make a real upgrade). I'm excited for this and hope it won't cost too much $$!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Economic Stimulus Blues

I'm very bummed out. I just came to learn that we will not be receiving our economic stimulus payment by direct deposit since we used TurboTax and had them take our fees out of our refund. Basically, the government doesn't have our direct deposit information - it was a third party (Santa Barbara Bank Blah Blah Blah) that set up a temporary account. So we'll be getting a paper check. This wouldn't be so bad but we moved after we filed our taxes so we may not get it until June or July since it takes 8-12 weeks for the government to process the address change. Sigh...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Planning for kitchen

I think I finally wore Thom down and talked him into painting the kitchen cabinets. As much as we'd like to completely renovate the kitchen I don't think we'll be able to afford it for awhile and painting seems like a much cheaper way to update the kitchen. I think we'll go white and (re)paint the kitchen a silvery-blue color and that way I can get my slate backsplash. We're also looking at the Ikea wood countertops that are dirt cheap. We're still considering cork flooring and also looking at the faux tin ceiling since we already have the dropped ceiling in the kitchen - we'll just put in some can lights and a new pendant. Anyway, I think for a few hundred dollars we can make it look really nice.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Much better!

I got the first coat on the hallway and it looks much better than that old nasty wallpaper. Of course, it just makes the ugly carpet look even uglier...but here's the before and after.

I have shut the door on the bathroom problem, literally, for the day. However, our friend Paul (a.k.a. Wonder Dude) recommended using Kilz primer on it and then skim coating as necessary. This is a much easier solution than what I was envisioning. Once again, Paul has saved me from unnecessary and much more difficult work with a simple solution. Hooray Paul!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Oh #@*%!

Beware ye who taketh down the old wallpaper.

I was rocking and rolling priming the downstairs hallway and thought, hey, why don't I just prime the downstairs bathroom while I'm at it (it's literally the smallest bathroom I've ever seen - it may even rival an airplane bathroom for size -- Thom calls it the Harry Potter Bathroom being under the stairs and all).  Anyway, the wallpaper has been peeling off so I just figured, what the heck. Well, I came to discover this beautiful mold lurking under the wallpaper on the ceiling. You can also see the get-up I donned to pull off the wallpaper. 

So, now I'm not sure what to do. I know, after living in Louisiana after Katrina, that one can use hot water and bleach but I wonder how much of this is in the drywall. Do we just yank the drywall out or will bleach work? Any ideas? What a mess...