Fiesta Fiesta

It's countdown time for the biggest bash of the year, the annual Halloween party. You may be saying to yourself, "Uh, did you notice that Halloween is over, by any chance?!" Well I did. This party is always on the Saturday after Halloween - this way, we take advantage of HUGE markdowns on Halloween stuff. Evil scheme, isn't it?

Well, in preparation for this momentous occassion - also the first huge party we've had at the house - we've had to hurry like heck to get a whole bunch of stuff done.

For the past two weekends, I've been painting the master bedroom the beautifully dark burgandy red color I picked out about two months ago. I was nervous about it, I must admit. It's a bold choice even for a dark-color-lover like me. But I love the result. The room makes me really happy. To accent the red, we've got splashes of gold in the room - the bedspread, the curtains, and, just this weekend, I re-upholstered my cedar chest in a gold microfiber fabric to match.

Meanwhile, Mike had Chad our carpenter over last weekend to stabilize the living room floor. In its before state, you would jump on the floor and everything in the room would jump with you. So they went down to the dusty musty crawl space of hell and jacked it up, stabilizing the whole area with wood supports - basically just a lot of shimming the floor up. (I think that's the right word.) Now you can jump all you want and the pictures stay on the wall! Perfect for a night of dancing!

Plus, BONUS! My couch de resistance was delivered today! I'm so excited - I haven't seen it yet, as I'm on lunch break at work right now. I was thinking of zipping home, but decided against it because I know I'm going to want to cuddle with the couch for about 5 hours. Anyway, this means that the couch and love seat that were in the living room can go upstairs to the office where we had originally planned to put them. Extra seating and space for party guests!

Tonight I'm doing some of the post-halloween sale shopping I talked about earlier. My friend Amanda is taking care of the food, Mike is taking care of the keg, and once we have everything assembled, Amanda will come over on Friday and we'll start the mad task of decorating and cooking up some delicious holiday specialties!

It's true, I wish I could have prepared the house more. I wish I could have all the bi-fold closet doors up and more recessed light trim. I wish Mike would install the pendant lights in my office and put in a breaker for the office outlets. I wish the outside was more organized and that our fire pit looked more presentable. Maybe next year, right? We had to focus on the important stuff.

Getting High In My House

Wait, no. That title is misleading isn't it? Well, probably got your attention. Again, Mike and I talked to a friend who's dad is friends with our house mover. He told him to tell us that he thought we should call the house mover again and let him know we have the money in our bank account.

So, I gave him a call, expecting to leave a message. Of course, the one time I want to leave a message, he answers the phone. (I feel like I'm being super annoying because I've called him so much... although once a month shouldn't be considered super annoying...) Anyway, he said he would be in the office Wednesday evening and could talk to me then. He also said he had a job he was doing near my house, sooo, he could do my house at the same time.

It's all very good news... except for the fact that my Halloween party is in less than 3 weeks. THE BIGGEST BASH O DA YEAR peepholes. I'm scared that my house will be in the air on the date of the party. I don't want to cancel, because I haven't been able to hold this party in two years! I'd be very sad. But I know if Bob says he has time to do the job - I need to jump on the opportunity.

Ooops #1,982,345

Everyday this house foils me. Once I complete one task - there they are, 10 others unfinished. I begged and pleaded and Mike finally gave himself to the house last weekend.

Our first task was trimming out the closets for doors. In the laundry/mudroom, we discovered that we hadn't counted on trim when we built the closet door opening. So the finished opening wasn't wide enough for the doors we had originally planned on. Now we have to go with one larger bi-fold and one smaller one instead of two large ones. Ooops #1.

Then we discovered that we had trimmed the inside of the guest room closet before it had been drywalled. So, we had to cut the drywall, get the old trim out of there, and nail on the correct trim boards. Ooops #2.

Next, we headed upstairs and trimmed the two closets there relatively painlessly. However, when we went to put on the one set of closet doors we had, we discovered that they were the short doors and not the tall doors the closet opening had been built for. Ooops #3. And we can't return these doors because they've already been opened and have sat in our garage for 4-6 months. AND and, they won't fit anywhere else either. Ooops #1,982,345. Nothing is ever easy!

We also installed the curtain rods on the second floor. That went well, no oops there, thank goodness. It's finally good to get the curtains I bought 2 months ago up in the bedroom. Privacy sweet privacy, if you know what I mean.

But then it was on to the kitchen and the super-sale cabinet pulls I bought online to replace the ugly knobs that were on all the cabinet doors and drawers earlier. You know, the ones that have also been sitting there a good 2-3 months or more. Well, turns out the supplied hardware is impossible to work with. I can't even tell you why, it would boggle your mind. Imagine screws that you have to cut and there's no template to tell you where to drill the 2nd hole for the pull and you can't screw in the screws all the way because of their weird blank space in the middle of the threads design ahhhhhhhh. We finally had to go to the Depot and buy washers so that the pulls could be installed correctly. I'm not sure if all the headache was worth the money I saved on the pulls themselves. And they're still not done yet. Fatigue set in after we finished the upper cabinets.

Rumors of Good News

I've been at work all night, watching random TV and ripping DVDs. Don't ask. I was thinking about our house. How much I want it up in the air. How much I hate waiting and waiting and not hearing. I looked back on blogs past to find out when it was the last time I'd heard from our contractor... it was a month ago, nearly to the day. What did he say then? That he was finishing up on several jobs and would mail us out a letter with a start date asap.

I really hoped I would have this job done before I made the first payment on our equity loan, but no such luck. I mailed it at the end of last week with a heavy heart. If we could just get the basement poured, I could get the appraisal done and get this damned PMI off my mortgage payment and pay this loan a lot easier, a lot faster.

Mike's friend Chad whos dad is friends with our contractor told Mike who told me that the contractor is the type of guy who makes you wait and wait and wait until you've nearly given up hope (Like I have) AND THEN, and only then, he shows up at your house and wants to do the job that very day! Only, when will our day come? If he wants to be crazay like that, fine, but I wish he'd let me know when he's randomly going to show up.

Meanwhile Mike and I put up curtains and vacuum the rugs and buy little red toaster ovens while we wait. I'd rather be tackling the basement.


The Wheel Wreath

So long ago in a galaxy far far oasis I promised you guys I'd show you a picture of the steering wheel wreath, made from the old steering wheel we found while digging up the yard. Oh, and you probably want to see that too - the excavation sensation that's gripping the nation... or at least I thought it was pretty cool the way we took down that annoying and ugly hill next to the garage.

So in this pic you can see the remnants of the hill to the right. Imagine that hill stretching up to the wall of the garage and all the way back... even beyond where that trailer is in the middle of the picture. That's what it used to look like. Now it's nearly flat. And there's my truck and my boat and way in the back is our John Deere skid steer.

Ok, on to the wreath. I forgot to take a before picture, so you'll just have to imagine what the rusty crusty steering wheel looks like underneath all the pretty stuff. I think it turned out pretty cool.
It looks better than this in real life. In the pic it just looks like a pile of leaves and flowers and the color's kinda off. Sorry everyone, all the pics on this site are taken with my Palm and the resolution isn't fantastic.

Middle - Middle

The upstairs office in the beginning of the middle of finish work. This was after the bad drywallers, before the good drywallers came to fix it. Notice the crappy cutting around the windows.

The office in its current, middle of the middle state. See the lovely color block between the windows? That art peice is a decorator fabric, found on Ebay that I stretched on an artists canvas. I call it Symmetic Ladies... no I don't, I just made that up.

The living room - beginning of the middle. Would you believe most of this junk is my friend Kylene's? Well it is, or it was. She lived with us briefly, but sadly, she began work nearly an hour away, so had to leave us.

The living room in its current state. Sans couch of course, that will take another 40 days to arrive, but the room is coming together nonetheless.

The downstairs bedroom when Mike and I had to live in it because the upstairs drywall wasn't good enough to live in yet and it was the middle of winter and there was no heat up there. (And all our crap was disorganized and all over the place.)

The downstairs, now a guest bedroom, but still containing a couple junky items that we don't have any other place for... plus all my girlie decor from college.

You've seen this before - the laundry room when we first moved in. Look, Kamikazee is sitting on a pile of kitchen tile, still yet uninstalled at this point.

The current laundry/mudroom. Notice the pile of carpet samples I have yet to cut into a cool carpet-tile-like pattern. Hmmm, if Kamikazee had just been sitting on them, the circle would be complete...

The kitchen - notice my computer on the kitchen table. This was again, because the upstairs wasn't done and we were still sanding drywall in the rest of the house. See that coat on the chair? I threw that over the CPU whenever we sanded.

The kitchen now. It's hard to see the details. Those three art peices on the wall are all paintings of martinis. I'm a big appletini girl.

My Bidding...

Last weekend Mike hit the trails in New Hampshire for a little off-road R&R on the Kawi with his guy pals. Meanwhile I was stuck at home, dealthy ill with some sort of nasty stomach bug/food poisoning/migrane/hormones/you know. Very first time I stuck my head in my toilet... quite a momentus occassion. That aweful green color did not help the nausea, I tell you.

Since returning to 99% efficiency, leaving the customary 1% procrastination, I feel the need to be productive on the house this upcoming weekend. I mean really, when was the last time something got done? A project completed? I know we're waiting on the house lifter, and we're hesitant to spend excess dinero, but come on. There's so much to do that can be done.

I'm working on Saturday, so I'm going to tell Mike, we're working on the house on Sunday - no ifs, no ands, no skuttlebutts about it. We should at least finish the damn stairway. We put the first coat of stain/varnish on the steps what, a month ago?! We could at least give them a quick rub down with steal wool and hit 'em up with a second coat, if nothing else. The coats take 6 hours to dry, so ideally, we should do that Saturday night after work so they'd be ready for either a third coat or an install on Sunday.

Warm days are going to run short here on Cape Cod. We've already entered into what they call the Cat Nights.... you know, dog days of summer, cat nights? Anyhoo - if we're going to be sanding plaster and priming the hallway/stairway, I'd really love to have the doors and windows open with the fans-a-flyin' without freezing to death.

I don't think its too much to ask Mike to do my bidding for a day. And when did it become MY bidding anyway? It's our house, jeezus! You would think he'd want it done too. I know deep down he does, but he doesn't like sanding and carpentry's not his forte' either. Don't think we're fighting or anything, cause I've been lazy too and I admit it. I just have to take the initiative and stop being lazy first. Then I'll just feed him an Amp or two and we'll both have at it and have a wonderful time like we always do.

Good News

On the decorating side - I got an email from Fay from China with pictures of my sofa. My ACTUAL sofa that they just finished building. I ok-ed the pictures and hopefully it will be in the next shipment to LA and then to me! Here's one of the pictures Fay sent me.

Stagnant - Like Puddle Water

Doo bee doo, la la, na na, - OH, it's my audience. Hi everybody. Don't mind my quiet singing to myself, it's just a sign of my complete transition into boredom. Thousands of thousands of dollars are sitting in my savings account, just waiting to help lift up my house. And if not lift up my house, re-do my bathroom, build a fireplace - who knows what else! But, as happens very often in the wide world of contractors and homeowners, I have lost track of all my bargaining chips and am at the will of the contractor.

I talked to our house lifter last week... I hadn't heard from him for over a month, and so I called to say, "Hey what's going on? I thought you were going to do this job over the summer - SUMMER"S OVER!" Good news was, a mutal friend of ours mentioned us to him. Never hurts to have a connection, no matter how small... keeps things human.... or so I keep telling myself.

Anyway, he said he was finishing up a few jobs. Again confirmed that our house would be easy and he wasn't going anywhere. He said he'd get a letter/contract with a start date in the mail ASAP.

That was a week ago. *sigh* So here I am, back to twiddling my thumbs. I have a feeling it will be another month before I hear from him. And I'll have to call him. It's depressing. I know he's a good guy - he is the undisputed source for house lifting on Cape Cod and I'd never go anywhere else. I just wish we could be first on his list.

Resistance to the Couch de Resistaunce

Yes, yes, I know I stopped the previous post mid-sentence, but there's a REASON for it. Just yesterday I hopped online and took a peek at my lovely couch, which I check on every once in a while just to make sure it isn't a dream and the company hasn't gone out of business - you know, psychotic decorator obessive habits. AND THE PRICE HAD GONE UP.

I had a small freak out, considering I was still trying to save up to buy it. So I frantically emailed the company... I swear, I don't make a habit of emailing and complaining to companies. I know I've done it twice in the past couple months - but I'm really a nice, normal person, so don't think I'm a complaining-jane or something.

I recieved a return email from them today - I can purchase the sofa at the previous price. Of course, this is a one time, short term offer. So... despite the fact that I wasn't quite ready to buy the sofa, here I am, buying the sofa!

I can feel it underneath my butt already - the soft microfiber, the cushy ottoman for my dirty feet that I'll have to clean up now, and all those cushions in vibrant color. Maybe I needed this little push to get myself in gear buying this... now I just have to somehow tell Mike he can't have electricity in the garage yet because I bought a sofa.

Stripe that from the record!

Ah the living room. When we first saw it, it was lime green with a woven rug, some sparse furniture, and one, very seventies light fixture. (Which I kept by the way, and put in my guest room - it's oh so funky, just not for the living room.)

I didn't really have a plan for this room, but what I did have was a gorgous shade of dark, hunter green for the walls and a creamy cream color for the ceiling. It looked great when painted, but even then, I still didn't really have all the inspiration I needed. Then, I discovered the couch-de-resistaunce. This gorgeous creamy colored modern masterpeice with it's corner chaise and big cushy ottoman is going to be just the item that will make the room. Plus the pillows add the punch of color that all girls just love - a little red and a little purple to match my floor pillows. (Which are purple, duh.)

I've already anchored the floor to the ceiling and balanced the dark walls with a cream and white area rug with a modern square in square pattern. It'll be just fabulous with the sofa and the floor pillows.

Then, just last week, I discovered gold! Well... in my eyes anyway. I make a habit of checking the local VNA Thrift Store (one of the only ones in the mid-cape area to sell furniture and homegoods) on a weekly basis. Last Wednesday, the moment I walked in, I laid eyes on THE CHAIR. Clean modern lines, comfy cushioning, suedy soft fabric, and a stripe pattern in cream, green, red, and blue. It was love at first sight and I was carting it home the next morning. It's going to be a fine compliment to the couch... though I'm still

Escavation = New Sensation!

WOW! What a difference the escavation makes. Mike and I picked up the dump truck Saturday night and the escavator arrived early Sunday morning. In fact, I woke up to that familiar BEEP BEEP BEEP of the backup alarm. Mike started working around 9am so as not to offend our neighbors - who are pretty cool about this kinda stuff anyway - and stopped work around 5:30pm.
By noon, Mike was already nearly past the garage. By two, the bulk of the hill had been conquered. By 5:30, we had a big flat space where a hill used to be. We weren't able to completely grade the land, but getting rid of that hump was the hard part and that is done!

Next step, we'll create a tie wall to hold back the remaining cliff wall and shape the side yard. Also, we'll bring in some stone so we can park our boat beside the garage and out of the driveway. When we grade the rest of the side yard and take out a couple yucky evergreens, we'll be able to put in nice grass and other trees and plantings.

The only downside to our new flat space - now you can see into the messy backyard from the road... I guess now we need to clean that up too. It's good to have some motivation now and then.

The Escavation Culmination

I thought of something! Mike told me two nights ago, but I was too tired to remember right away. Ur, I need a latte - a lotta latte. Anyhoo - there is a good chance that we will have an escavator and a dump truck at our house this weekend to do some leveling next to the garage. In fact, we could get all the leveling we need done in one weekend with this equipment.

Normally, you'd have to shell out the big money for a weekend rental of big equipment - but Mike has a friend or two who have access to it. And, one said he'd come dig all weekend if Mike would just fix his jet ski. No problem! We'll see if we can borrow the dump truck from another friend of ours. The escavator can dig a lot of dirt, but it doesn't move very quickly. With the dump truck, the dirt could be escavated into the truck and then dumped into our hole of a back yard. It's much more efficient to keep the escavator digging then to dig a little, drive it in back, dump it out, drive front, dig a little more, and so on and so forth.

Mike's so excited - it's something about big machines that just thrills him over and over again. Even I have to admit that I love watching them go. I'll probably just set up my lawn chair in a good location and indulge the kid in me all afternoon.

In case you've forgotten our hilly dillema - we have a weird hill next to our garage that's just got to go. So, we're going to slope the landscape along the same level as our gradually sloping driveway. We'll leave the tree line at the top of the old hill alone to provide privacy and hold up the cliff wall, which we may reinforce later with some kind of wall or stone or something pretty.

With the hill gone, we can park our boat next to the garage and regain that yard space with some grass and other nice plantings. I'd like to ditch two evergreens that border the driveway - they're not looking so hot anyway - and add some nice trees of some sort. I'm not the plantiest of people, but I have a general idea of what a nice yard looks like. And, like everything else, I'll learn as I go.

Great Moments in Monotony

I have been so bored over the past few days. I mean, it's been a week since my last post! What's up with that?! Well, I guess nothing's been happening. Which is, as always, frustrating. But what do you want from me? It's the end of summer on Cape Cod and I realize that I haven't been taking advantage of that. So Mike and I took this past weekend to party it up and leave our troubles behind... except he installed my faucet wrong.

So I told you about my great faucet right? The nice pull out sprayer by Delta in shiny chrome? One of the newer, sleeker ones, not the older, big headed ones. I wanted it installed without the base - so it's just a lovely tower of chrome. However, I guess the problem is that the sink has three holes. (How easy I forget after just installing the darn sink a few months ago!) One of those can be filled with the free soap dispenser that came with the faucet, but what to do with the other one?

As you can imagine, the soap dispenser has not been installed yet. I have to figure out what I want in the other hole and which side I want the soap dispenser on. I'm right handed, so I could go with the right....

You see how the lack of major progress has got me babbling on about faucets like a crazay woman? Ahhhhhh! I gots to get a list going for this weekend so I can stop driving myself to drink... oh wait, that's some good friends of mine who keep buying me shots.

A message, a Mike, and the framing.

Memories sweet memories.

Oh Yeah, And the Basement?

Ok - I've been posting a lot of random ramblings over the past week, reminiscing about the past, letting you in on some of my designs, and of course the passion that is SALE. But you may be wondering - what the heck is going on with the basement?

Well, here's an update. I have just today deposited the $35,000 check. (Boy did I feel like Richie Rich - but I know I have to resist the urge to splurg.) Mike and I are still very excited - he can't stop talking about what he wants to do down there when it's done: make a jacuzzi room, drive a car under there, build a bar... you know guys and their love of rumpus rooms. I on the other hand think of a second bathroom, another bedroom, and comfy wall to wall carpet you can kick your high heels off on and party it up at 3am after getting out of the bar for a little after hours... I guess our needs can co-exist if we plan well - except for that car part. I nipped that in the butt, we just don't have the right yard for getting a car down into the basement. (It won't be the walk out kind, you see.)

Anyway. So the money's in place. Where's the house mover? That's what I'd like to know. I called him on his cell a couple weeks ago... maybe even 3 or 4 weeks ago, I'll have to check my logs. I hate to call him on his cell, but he gave me the number and I hadn't heard from him. At that time he confirmed his willingness to do the job and assured me he'd be sending out a "letter" outlining what he would do, what he wouldn't do, the time frame, and the cost. This letter would also serve as the contract. Sounded good to me... although he then said something about not knowing our address, and then quickly said, "oh I'll get it later."

After we closed last Thursday, I left him a message on his shop answering machine. I said we'd just secured the funds and I left him our address and said I'd expect his letter. Well - no letter yet. Did we close just last Thursday? I think it was the Thursday previous. Yes, I think so. So it's been two weeks now and no letter yet.

I think if I don't hear from him next week I'll have to call him again. I get so nervous that he'll pull out after we went ahead and got the money. But he seemed in such a hurry to do the job! He kept saying "this summer" this summer" so I decided to be ahead of the game for once and took care of the funds. I hope I did the right thing.


Everybody loves to make fun of us Massholes and call our state Taxachusetts and we who live here just hang our heads and admit that it sux like a dyson. (That means it never loses sux-tion.) But this past weekend, the lovely state began its second annual sales tax holiday - ie, no sales tax for two days. (Some restrictions may apply, see Massachusetts for details.)

Great for back to school shopping, large purchases under $2500 that you've been itching to save 5% on, and of course, home reno nuts. Mike and I didn't have HUGE plans for this weekend - after all, a HUGE shopping trip means dealing with HUGE crowds, HUGE lines, HUGE traffic jams... all for relatively little savings consitering that we weren't buying anything close to the $2500 limit.

But there was one thing that came to mind as soon as I heard the reminder radio ads a couple weeks prior. One thing that we needed to complete the mind-numbing finish work on the house. What was it? That saw that cuts the moulding! And that's the technical girlie term for it. (Cut me some slack, I can't keep track of all the saws in the world - jig saw, band saw, chainsaw, hacksaw, sawz-all...)

So we hit the depot late Saturday night to avoid the crowds - in addition to the tax holiday, the depot had a bunch of in-store specials, which was awesome. We picked out the saw right away - on sale for $99. Then, as we walked the store I spotted the kitchen faucet I wanted on sale for $128! I almost didn't buy it, but Mike wanted me to and then I saw that it came with a free soap dispenser. That kicked it. Unfortunately that was the end and over my budget.

The luckiest part of the shopping trip came as we went to the self checkout. The faucet came up $115 - I guess it was on sale even more than I thought! Then, the kicker, the saw came up $77. Now I knew that had to be an error - it had already been marked down over $50! Well, we paid for it and left and laughed to ourselves at the bargain of it all.

We had a similar experience when we bought our insulation. The R30 - thickest, most expensive of the insulation - not to mention a huge package of it in a longer width - rang up at $10 a package instead of $40 a package!!! We were buying four packages of it at the time, so we really really saved on that one.

Of course, Mike didn't want to install the faucet on Saturday night and then he was gone fishing all Sunday... I'll have to wait I guess on that one. And he hasn't even opened his saw yet! I can't wait to get this house trimmed up either! Of course, I need to buy some trim first. Another day I suppose...

A Sticky Situation

Ok ok ok - so we all know that tape is important when you're painting. Especially if you're being artsy fartsy and creating shapes and color blocks and accent walls and ladeeda all over your house. For the past few months, I have been so angry at 3M and their Scotch brand blue painter's tape because it pulled off not only my 3 coats of primer, but also my drywall itself in places - leaving fuzzy brown marks where it should have been white.

When you've just finished building, insulating, drywalling, compounding, sanding, priming, taping, and painting - you're not exactly ready to say "oopsie doo, now I'm going to do it all over again because of a little brown fuzzy spot where the tape wripped off my wall."

So I just painted white over the brown... and you can't tell when you're a good distance away, but I was still kinda steemy about the whole affair.

And then I saw the new blue tape commercial.

And of course I was having not such a good day and so I leapt onto the 3M website and sent them a complaintative email. (Not something I normally do - you guys all know that I'm waaay too nice for that on a normal day.)

Well, would you believe I got a call from them yesterday? They asked me a few questions about my troubles and then asked me if I had more rooms to paint - I told them I still had the bedroom and hallway to do. And then they told me they'd be sending me a package of 3M products for my trouble to help me on my next projects! Wasn't that nice?

It was an itsy bitsy wrath and gloomy lime green and bright pink bathroomie...

This is your worst nightmare! I remember when Mike and I took our first tour of the house with our realtor and caught our first glimspe of the bathroom that wins the superlative in both Ugliness and Small-ness. As you can see, it combines the aweful gross yucky bright green with the equally aweful gross yucky bright pink to form.... duh duh duhhhhhhhh! A grucky preenk design disaster.

And, if that wasn't bad enough, this bad-adz bano sizes out at a whoppingly enormatron 6 by 7 feet. Now if you're sitting in front of your computer thinking that 6X7 is not so small, and that Mike and I could just put in a stand up shower and could have plenty of room for a nice vanity and some storage and a toilet that's not green - then you don't realize that this is our one and only bathroom and I want - scratch that, NEED a jacuzzi tub.

Now you're probably sitting in front of your computer thinking, "There Jess goes again, being rediculous and wanting something that is beyond the limits of her architecture." And believe it or not, up until about a week ago, I was thinking the same thing. The jacuzzi tub, toilet, and vanity would not, could not all fit in the bathroom. I had done several to-size layouts with tub, toilet, and vanity cutouts moving around on sheet of graph paper when we first moved into the house, but none worked. Of course I became ever-so frustrated and threw them all away, declaring that we'd have to tear the bathroom off the house and build a bigger one.

Then, just under a week ago I caught the premier of Small Spaces, Big Style on HGTV. These people lived in the tiniest homes and yet they managed to incorporate all their needs and style through creative thinking. I realized as the show ended that I had been looking at this little bathroom problem in the wrong way! Having a tiny bathroom wasn't, in fact, a problem. It was an opportunity to really be creative and stretch my desginer's wings.

Immediately I got out the graph paper again. I knew I had to give up the idea of having a corner jacuzzi, it was just too large. I looked online and found a tub I liked. (I knew I wanted one from the jacuzzi espree series, available at Lowes - check out a picture of the one I picked. Skirt included. Isn't it pretty?) This tub is 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. Our current tub (behind that lovely shower curtain in the picture) is only 4 feet long and 2 and a half feet wide. Can you imagine? It's very small. So this means the jacuzzi would not fit in that spot.

I decided to place the tub along the current toilet/window wall. The wall is 6ft long, so the 5ft tub pushed onto the back wall will leave a 1ft space (where that green sink is now) in which to put a small water/linen closet - depending on the room we have. (You know you always have to leave a little room for fudging around with when it comes to bathtubs.) This also means that the window will have to go - which is ok because it's an old lead paint window that needs to go anyway. We will replace it with a smaller or thinner rectangular window with frosted glass, which we will place higher on the wall.

The tub area will also incorporate a lover's shower - that's two shower heads, one on either side wall, each with their own controls. This has been a dream of mine and Mike's forever.

Where the original tub was, we will put the toilet area. (Right on the back right wall - toilet facing towards the tub.) I measured the current toilet nook, a 2 and a half by 3ft rectangle, and allotted the same space in the new location. (We'll be purchasing a new, super flush American Standard toilet and throwing away our plunger soon after.)

Now this was always the point where I got stuck when I was originally trying to design this bathroom. Sure, the tub and the toilet can squish in there, but where can I put the vanity and sink? Well, thinking about Small Spaces, Big Style, I decided to probe the internet for a compact wall sink or vanity.

The answer came from Lowes, who has a small, 2x2 corner vanity and medicine cabinet/mirror. So, imagine that you're sitting on the new toilet, facing the jacuzzi tub in the back right corner of the bano.... that may be kinda weird for you to think about, but bear with me. On your left, Mike and I will build a wall - thus enclosing the toilet area in a nook. Can you picture it? No? Well, here's a little (non-to-scale) plan for you.
Ok, so as you can see from the diagram, the corner vanity fits neatly into this little nook. Isn't that ingenious? Now, the design incorporates towel racks in a couple places: between the tub and toilet area and next to the two edges of the vanity. There will also be two hooks on the toilet area wall to hang my robe or a towel, etc.

Some of you may say, hey wait! How do you open the door? Well, I decided to replace the door with a bi-fold door for that very reason. Others may say, isn't that a teenie space beween the toilet area and the tub? The answer is, yes, but you'll still be able to squeeze by and it's a small sacrifice to be able to have the tub.

In addition to that one window over the tub, Mike and I will also put in a frosted glass skylight along with recessed lighting, sconces on either side of the medicine cabinet, and a red light special fan/heat lamp like they have in hotels.

The small space also will allow us to incorporate otherwise expensive features, like a river rock floor and gorgious mosaic wall tiles.

And plus, now we don't have to wrip the bathroom off the house to build a bigger one.

And now for something you'll really Like!

Though I've mentioned it before, I've never really told the entire dry wall story. It just stings so badly whenever I think about it. The walls are a constant reminder of how angry Mike and I still feel even months after. We worked so hard to demo and rebuild... it's such a dam shame that the walls look the way they do and don't reflect our high standards, care, and dedication.

One of the problems with old houses - with all old houses - the floors aren't level, the walls aren't even, and measuring is a constant battle when you're trying to remodel. After experiencing the frustration of re-measuring and wrong cutting and going back to the Depot for more wood again and again, Mike and I decided that rather than go out of our minds, it would be best to hire someone to do the drywall. Plus, time was running short on our mild time scale. It was maybe September, 2004. I was still hoping to be in the house for the annual Halloween Party, traditionally on the first weekend of November. We were tired, I was working a lot. Mike had switched jobs and now had to wake up around 4:30am. We were living at his parents' house, where a flea problem was so out of control that the cat avoided the floor for fear that fleas would jump on him. It was a very stressful time.

Our good friend James Pazakis, who had done some of the plumbing for us (before Mike had learned how to do it himself) recommended us to the dry wall guy that had worked for him before on some small projects. We took his advice and called him, and after he came and looked at the house and gave us an estimate, we hired him. (I don't blame James for what happened next - I don't think he had experience with this guy on a large project like ours.)

The terms were simple. We would pay him in thirds - one third when he bought the materials, one third when all of it was hung, and the last third when it was mudded and finished. Mike had him draw up a contract, and though I didn't look at it, I was sure it was fine and everything would be ok.

Well, he bought the drywall ok. A week after we hired him, it was sitting in our living room, so we paid him the first third and thought everything was great. This was going to be a quick and easy process. However, as the guy and his team began hanging, problems became apparant very quickly.

First, they barely had any tools. They needed to borrow our hammers, our ladders, our tape measures, Mike's toolbelt, our sharpies, our razor knives, our wood for scaffolding, and many other items. Mike and I did not mind lending these things, but it set us off right away. What professional dry wall contractor would not own these things himself? And as you can imagine, many of the above listed items ended up mysteriously disappearing. I recovered some items by rifling though their tool buckets when they weren't in the house - I wanted to steal some of their stuff, but none of it was worth stealing. That was the second thing that set us off. The few tools they did own, scrapers and the like, were all rusted and disgusting. Dry wall tools are not expensive and not difficult to maintain. What professional would not maintain his tools? And how did he manage to rust stainless steel anyway?

They got 75% of the hanging finished and asked us for the second third. Since things were going along well, we gave it to them in good faith. That was a mistake. From there out, their working visits to the house were few and spread out by weeks. If they came, they came for only an hour or two at a time - which made no sense to us since their drive to our house took a half hour each way. (Thank goodness we weren't paying for their gas.)

They complained that the house wasn't warm enough for the joint compound to set up, so we brought in two borrowed Redi-heaters for them. They complained that we needed to empty the house of the few items inside - we did. We had the pleasure of witnessing them spill over 5 gallons of water upstairs and not give a care that they did. I watched the water fall down the wall in the downstairs bedroom in horror and frantically used the sweatshirt off my back to mop it up. At this time I had my new washer and dryer still in their boxes in the kitchen - they used them like tables for their drinks and snacks. One day I discovered a full cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee sitting on its side on my washer. Thank god the lid was unopened. If it had spilt, it could have ruined the $700 machine, or at least caused some damage. What's more, I had to clean up their drinks/snacks/cigarrette butts daily. They had the nerve to even ask us to pick up a pizza for them and didn't offer us any.

Meanwhile, Mike and I were worried about their work. The walls did not look good - joints did not look good - outlet and switch boxes were cut out incorrectly - they gouged our new windows with the razor knives. Plus, they seemed to waste more dry wall than they put on the walls. A stack of odd peices grew and grew out in back of the house - some as large as a near quarter of a sheet. In addition, they threw their food and drink trash into the same pile. Mike and I were getting angry. The house was a mess - they threw joint compound around as if they were in a food fight. There were huge piles of it all over the floors - big drips on the windows - and they nearly ruined our stair treads, which we quickly moved out of the living room when we saw the plaster mess all over them. Yes, they offered to clean up the floors, but we knew that their idea of cleaning meant dumping gallons upon gallons of water all over the house - rediculous.

And still they showed up less and less. All the dry wall still wasn't hung. At this point we were into November, approaching December. My hopes for the Halloween party were long since shattered. The real kicker came around this time. They asked for the final payment. We were stunned - the work wasn't finished. For cripe's sake, everything still hadn't been hung!! Under our original agreement, we shouldn't have even paid them they second payment!

I asked Mike if I could see the contract. When I saw it, I was even more heartbroken. It wasn't a contract at all. It was mearly a letter stating "I'm Mr. So-and-so and I'm going to drywall your house." It wasn't even signed. I informed Mike it wasn't a contract. Tensions were high between us. Mike had a terrible lingering flu, the fleas were still biting, and the holidays were right around the corner. He told the dry wall guy that we wouldn't pay the full amount until the job was done, but he did offer him a partial payment. I was pissed. We were being way too nice.

Then, just as Mike got off the phone with the guy, we discovered that our garage had been broken into. The side door had been forced open with a crow bar - the marks were obvious. And it was funny because I had seen a shovel in the house earlier that evening that I could have sworn was in the garage. The dry wall guys broke into our garage. We were sure of it - possibly just for the shovel, but Mike is a mechanic with thousands of dollars worth of tools and other stealable equipment in the garage. I was glad that our two most expensive and portable possessions, the motorcycle and the ATV, had been moved to his parents' house earlier that week. As you can imagine, we were both livid.

We expected the job to be done before Thanksgiving. It wasn't. However, we were surprised to see the crew at the house the day after Thanksgiving, working away. At this point, we didn't even feel like it was our house. We hated being there with them. We hated looking at their work and finding more and more mistakes. We hated knowing that it was going to look horrible when it was painted. We hated knowing that we should have fired them - should have withheld the money - should have hidden our tools - but it was too late for all that and we were too nice to say anything.

In early December they were "done," even though the walls and the compound were very unfinished, unsanded, and certainly not done in many places. And would you believe - they asked for more money. A lot more money. Mike's mom, who gifted us the money to dry wall, handed them a check for the amount they wanted. I was furious that I hadn't been there to halt that. Of course it's easy for me to say that now - I probably would have been too nice if I had been there too.

We were left with the mess in the house and the mess outside of the house. We spend probably an extra couple hundred dollars taking all the excess drywall to the dump. We still, to this day, cannot clean the joint compound off the floors. We had to hire another couple guys to re-do the upstairs cathedral ceiling because it was so bad - and it's still not looking the way we wanted it to. Mike had to buy dry wall tools and re-compound and sand every single room in the house because they were so horribly done. The outlets and switches don't sit right in their boxes because the drywall was not cut correctly. And still on many walls I can see the tape, I can see where each sheet of drywall ends, I can see bumps and dips where the joints weren't sanded properly, and I get angry every time I do.

Mike and I decided that we should have bit the bullet and done the job ourselves. We ended up having to do plastering and sanding and cleaning anyhow. And I think we would have been so much more picky about how things were turning out. So now things like glossy paint are out. We have to buy larger than life outlet and switch plates to cover the poorly cut boxes.

The lesson here - always get a proper contract. Have all parties sign it. Make sure it outlines exact cost and time frame as well as the exact job of the contractor - ie, will hang, plaster, and sand dry wall, will order dumpster for site clean up, etc. Never be afraid to fire your contractor and never deviate from the payment plan or the contract. And always be sure to padlock your garage and change the locks on your doors if you deal with shady people.

Corky Little Bits

Well, we signed the loan documents last Thursday morning. So tomorrow or the next day, basement money will be in our bank account.

To celebrate this momentus occasion, we decided to catch up on some of those insanely procrastination-producing small tasks over the weekend. The first was the poop pipe, which we extended above the roof line at long last. Ahhh, the sweet smell of success. Literally! Unfortunately, now we have this stupid looking white PVC curling up the house - so we'll have to paint it, but that will be procrastinated until a later date.

Then, we stripped, sanded, and painted an old army locker that I found for free on the side of the road at the beginning of summer... like I've been wanting to do since the beginning of summer. Once it was done, we brought it into the mudroom and I put all of our coats in there - since we don't have a coat closet, all the coats were taking over MY closet. We can't have that, now can we?

We also got a chance to really do some cleaning and throwing out of crap. In the yard we still had an old window, old broken gutters, two halfs of a broken garden hose, the rotted cover to our boat that the previous owner wrecked when he left it out in the blizzardy winter, misc boat engine parts, random rusty metal peices and pipes, a bucket full of tile from when we tiled the kitchen floor... last winter, empty joint compound buckets, a car window screen that appeared magically in the yard, two kitchen faucets that sucked more than the third that we actually used, and a ten year old box fan that finally kicked the bucket.

Our neighbors passed us as we drove to the dump - I'm sure they were happy to see the truck loaded high with all that junk. This is an exciting blog isn't it? Today - we went to the dump. Yay dump! Bear with me people and I'll tell you a good story next. Getting rid of trash is very liberating.

In the house, I really started to organize stuff via techniques seen on one of my other HGTV favorites, Get Organized! One of the key parts to organization is storing everything together so you only need to go to one place when you need something. I consolodated all the gift wrap materials like shrink wrap, ribbons, baggies, etc. into the wrapping paper container instead of my closet. I cleaned out my 3 jewelry boxes and organized them - one for fine, fancy stuff and earrings (which had previously been strewn all willy-nilly over the bathroom cabinet) and one for ghetto bad girl hoochy coo stuff. (You know, the studded leather collar, the light up techno club necklace, the gothic armband - bet you never pegged me for a ghetto bad girl hoochy coo, did you? I'm a complex individual.) I was able to get rid of one jewelry box - and of course anything that was broken or hated imensely.

I finally got all the books out of the closet and milk crates and into the bookshelves. I then used the milk crates in the mudroom to organize my laundry and cleaning supplies. I also cleaned out the bathroom cabinets (which by the way, are leftover kitchen cabinets that just wouldn't fit in the kitchen) and I put everything into two tool boxes. Now maybe next week we can throw out those cabinets.

It feels good to be almost unpacked! How long has it been now? Ten months? We're making headway on really living here, not just staying here.

Partly Cloudy Means Mostly Cloudy

What a blah weekend. I had so much I wanted to get accomplished and barely any of it got done. This was supposed to be the anti-stink fix weekend. You see - the first stinky problem is upstairs in the bedroom - and I don't mean stinky as in, this sux or this is stupid or what the deuce? This is an actual smell. A smelly smell. A smelly smell that smells, smelly. (Ah, the philosophy of Mr. Krabs.)

What is this stink that, well, stinks? You'll love this - the poop pipe, you know, the vent for the septic, is right outside the bedroom window. Whoever did our Title5 plumbing was such a nincompoop. That pipe normally runs up above the roof line, but ours ends just about the bathroom roof, which, conveniently, is located right outside the master bedroom window. My side of the bed too! And so, as you can imagine, it constantly smells, and you can hear the water flowing from the toilet or shower to the septic, echoing out the pipe - such an attactive sound right?

This same plumber also devised a fantastic poop pipe design in the basement. The pipe that runs water and waste to the septic looks like this: L It's an L shape! There's barely any angle. Why is this a concern? Well, stuff... shiznit to be discustingly specific, could get stuck in the corner and clog the whole thing. Hopefully this issue will be resolved when we re-plumb after the house is up.

Anyway, we were going to run a length of pvc from the current vent up the roofline to where it's supposed to be. However - when we got back from the home depot on Saturday, we realized we forgot the brackets. Seeing as how we had already spent $75, I wasn't about to go back. Grrrr!

But that $75 wasn't just spent on pipe - our roof's not that high for crepe's sake! So we move on to our second stinky smelly problem, located conveniently under the poop pipe problem and therefore also underneath the bedroom - the trash cans. I'm sure many of you have had this problem this summer - animals knock over your trash cans, littering your trash everywhere and eating what's left of it, and you don't want to clean it up and procrastinate for a day or so, then the wind takes whatever it can carry and deposits it all over your yard, and you get mad because you didn't clean it up on day one, and if you're like me you're a girly girl and you don't want to touch that gross-ness, so you get a shovel and a pitch fork and you're braving swarms of killer flies, defending their feast to the last - in your work clothes no less - shovelling and pitch forking stuff back into the cans and dirt is flying and you dig up half the yard trying to get every last used tissue and apple core before you're late to work. It's just an aweful situation that no one should have to deal with unless they get paid a lot of money.

So Mike had a streak of motivation - motivated by not wanting to clean up the trash, which I understand - and we bought some plywood at the home depot to make a little trash can house. At least he got that completed - a small job that's worth it's weight in gold for the messy smelly job it saves us from. Plus it looks nicer that all that trash can/stuff that can't fit in trash can stuff in back of the house. And, right away we noticed that fresh air smell... at least from down on the ground. The bedroom still smells poopy.


Alrighty Mr. House Mover. My closing is set for next Thursday at 10am at mi casa. Money will be in our joint accout as of 5 days later. You said you wanted to do this job this summer... news flash! THIS is this summer. In fact, this is the last month of this summer, unless your summer extends until October. Or does it? Do I know my seasons? Should I go back to kindergarden and look at the seasons chart? When's the salsa? You know, the summer and winter salsa?

Maybe I'm excessive in calling September fall, but I just think of back to school, dropping temperatures, and early sunsets when I think of September. I am so eager to get this job done. It takes 5 weeks. During those 5 weeks I have to live with Mike's parents. It's not a bad thing... but his damn brother just pisses me off - and the dogs too. They stress out poor Kamikazee and he gets depressed and meows a lot.

Stylistic Pricess

I just took the HGTV, What's Your Design Style Quiz. Would you believe they hit it right on the money? Eccectic with a touch of: hip! That is so true. I have always described my style as modern, yet comfortable and always original. My friend Amanda, when we were younger, once told me that I could be an interior designer. Now, I have my chance!

So let me tell you about one of my room designs.
The Mudroom - first room you walk into entering the house. (Look at Kamikazee, contemplating the laundry... or maybe he's just thinking about pooping in the litter box below, who knows.) The inspiration for this room came from an episode of Debbie Travis's Painted House. (One of my favs, by the way - weekdays at 12:30pm. I watch it while I eat lunch.) On the episode, Debbie designed a bathroom using a soft green faux finish and clean white wainscott. Well, I just thought that soft look was perfect for a mudroom/laundry room. I mean, what's better than coming home from a 14 hour day and walking into a soft, relaxing space? Plus - laundry, soft - they just go together so nicely.

I picked out the most gorgeous stacking washer/dryer from LG - the first company to have a cool one, not like these wanna bees that are everywhere now by the way. It fits so nicely in this nice big laundry closet Mike was kind enough to build to my specifications. Now, I know it's hard to imagine now, but to the right of the washer/dryer will be white cabinets - upper and lower - with a countertop in between for folding and ironing. (Litter box will move to the soon-to-be-basement.) Now, imagine crisp white bi-fold six panel closet doors to close in the laundry area when I don't feel like displaying it.

The paint I chose for the room combines a darker and a lighter shade of blue. (The two shades are not so far off - they're right next to each other on the paint swatch thingie.) I did a base coat of the darker color and, after mixing the lighter with some glaze, sponged it on using a sponge roller, hand sponges, and a cut off kitchen sponge for the corners. It turned out beautiful! Just the soft look I was looking for. Then, Mike helped me add wainscott, chair rail height around the room. (Chair rail trim itself soon to come.) I painted the wainscott white and also kept the ceiling primer white.

Now, as I've worked on this room, I've thought about the scheme more and more - relaxing, soft, serene - and the colors - blues and whites - I am reminded of Cape Cod in and of itself. The white of the sand, the blue of the ocean. Blue shutters on a white cottage. Feeling blue when you're white in the middle of traffic...

And then I saw that the Christmas Tree Shop (discount junk for nick-nack junkies like myself - Don't you just loooooove a bargain! doot doot doo!) had interesting Cape Coddy signs such as "Route 6A" and Cottage for Rent and etc etc. (Hmmm, an "Etc etc" sign. I should market that.) So now, I'm going to combine a couple of those signs with some enlarged photos I took while on my boat and put those on one wall. (Close up on the waves of the wake, beautiful sunset clouds, and interesting, modern techie close ups of the boat gages and the compass that look oh so moderna.)

I'll combine those with a comfy big blue chair (from IKEA, yet to be bought) and a old timey woven rug with like colors. The chair will sit under a hanging tiffany lamp in the corner next to a table for reading. On the other side of the room, I'll have a mudroom type drop off station with a bench for taking off shoes and wet beach towels. Colorful plants will bring a touch of nature and add interest to an otherwise totally blue/white room. And, for contrast, and keeping with the eccesiast in me, there will be an old army locker in the corner, painted with black blackboard paint. This will jive with the planters, which... when I get them, will also be painted in blackboard paint.

HouseBlog-Log Stardate 7-26-2005

Final approval came down for the loan today. I was so excited. We're actually going to do this. Now I just have to wait for the house mover to mail me the contract... that is, of course, if he remembers my address. Sometimes I wonder if he has things organized on his end. I feel like I'm being a nuisance when I call, but I'm the type of person who needs to feel in control of things and know what's going on.

I picked up some 000 steel wool at the Home Depot this morning to sand the first coat of stain/varnish Mike and I put on the stair treads. Hopefully we'll do that tonight and get a second coat on there. Maybe, with a little luck, we'll be able to install them this weekend.

Everything is going so well... it's strange. But I still feel a little down because a client of mine just called to dispute an invoice. He thinks I charge waaaay too much, but I have researched my prices and feel they're more than reasonable. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Stuff like that just makes me so depressed because I'm a nice person and I like to keep everyone happy. I hate arguments.

That's just a little personal paragraph. I hope you houseblog fans don't mind too much. I just needed to vent to the world.

The Ups and Downs of Stairs

When we bought this house, the stairway was creepy creepy. The treads were short in length and the plaster walls on either side seemed to squish you. Especially since the left hand wall, as you went up, became slanted with the shape of the roof. Plus they were dark - no overhead lights, no lights from the front door foyer area below - only one blue glass light in the hallway upstairs.

To solve this - and this was one of my first brilliant ideas, was to eliminate the right hand wall. As you can see in the picture, the stairway empties into the frontdoor foyer/downstairs hallway area. (The downstairs hallway, by the way, used to be a long, useless closet. Can you imagine?) By eliminating a wall, the stairs feel more open and it gives the small area a much grander appearance.

On the upstairs side of things, we eliminated the dark stupid sketchy hallway, (as I think I've mentioned before) eliminated the hot, unventiated attic and created a cathedral ceiling, and made three rooms and a hallway into two large rooms with closets where no closets had previously existed.

Here's a picture of the shape of the right side of the upstairs office/den. Now, if you imagine that you're at this very moment visiting me and Mike - and we're very friendly to visitors and always have drinks and snacks on hand, please consider yourself welcome any time - anway. Mike and I are giving you a tour of the house and you are now standing in this very spot in the upstairs office/den.

Now, if you look to your right, you'll see my second brilliant idea regarding the stairs. To further that open feeling - and the cathedral ceiling certainly helps tall people because previously, the ceiling beat down so close to Mike's head, it was uncomfortable for him especially to walk up the stairs. To further further that open feeling though, I decided not to put up a right side wall in the office/den. Therefore, as you're coming up the stairs, you have open space on the bottom and the top. And, eventually, in the office/den, there will be a nice railing so you don't trip and fall to the first floor.

Ahhh, behold the splendor of the stairs!!! Now, at the top of this pic, you can just barely see that there is no wall in the upstairs, and obviously, on the bottom, the wall just follows the stairs. It doesn't go up and make you feel all claustrophobic as Mike and I give you the grand tour. And can you believe that hallway was a closet?! It was made to be a hallway! Previously, you had to walk through the downstairs bedroom to get upstairs. Pointless! (Downstairs bedroom is to the left of the front door.) We also eliminated the door from the living room, to the downstairs bedroom. Hello privacy!

Ok, those are the ups of stairs. Now for the downs. We discovered after taking all the walls down, that the stairs were not stable. They were barely being held up! So, if you look at the first pic in this post, you'll see Mike tacking the old treads on a new stair scaffolding. Of course, when we made a new stair scaffolding, taken in consideration with drywall, the old treads were not long enough. But, because at that time we had no new treads, Mike tacked on the old treads for temporary.... they've miraculously held up for 8 months now.

I made this sign to warn the electrician and, later, the drywallers - before I knew they were scum-bags who I would later wish bodily injury.

In the above pic, the drywall is up. However, we were royally screwed by our drywall guys and the drywall was not done correctly. The idiots broke the drywall that was supposed to form around the steps and it can't really be fixed. Grrrr! So this weekend Mike's been mudding and sanding away, trying to fix all the mistakes in the hallway/stairway. We've procrastinated this area of the house long enough - it's the only spot that hasn't been primed for paint!

We'd also been storing brand new treads in the downstairs closet... unfinished. So this weekend we grabbed some Varnish/Stain (it's all in one now, ooooo!) and began to stain. Those treads look gorgeous! I can't wait to get them on! When they're on I can start thinking about a nice railing! Of course, I need some new hardwood floors to match. I already picked out the ones I want from lumber liquidators, but the house has to be lifted first, I won't have new floors shifting around!

Mmmm.... kitty cat!

Meet Kamikazee - the cat who rules the roost. Several people have read my mention of him in my personal profile, but wondered, who is this mysterious cat? Well here he is. When you have a pet and you're doing renovations, you have to be especially careful of things like dust, chemicals, other hazardous conditions. We brought Kamikazee to the house on the same night that Mike and I moved in. Never feels like a home without your pet.

the waiting....

Still waiting... waiting for final approval from the loan peep-holes, waiting for the house mover to send us his contract, waiting to spend any money on anything else. Though there's still so much to do!

Here's a picture of Mike, hard at work on the stairway, taken nearly 6 months ago. I remember this night in particular because this is the night I finally managed to vacuum up the last remainders of the horsehair plaster that plagued us for the longest time after we tore it all off the walls. It lingered forever in piles that would not die. This night, all that remained was to vacuum in the crevacis between the wall and the floor.

It became difficult to work in late fall of 2004. The late evening sun of summer helped us through most of those after-work destruction sessions, but in fall, as the sun sank earlier and earlier, and the house, with little electricity and no lights, became overwhelmed with shadows and dark corners. We had one lamp left from the previous owners, which we plugged into the one outlet by the stairs there. For the upstairs, we had a drop light, which we could plug into the same one outlet and pass upstairs through the wall... or lack of wall as it were.

At this time I still had hope that the house would be completed enough to have my annual monster of a Halloween party.... turns out I was mistaken. I was barely in time for a Christmas party, but was so down about things at that point that I didn't have one. I didn't even have a tree. My first holiday season with Mike in our own house and no tree. No decor save for a couple candle lights in the downstairs windows and a wreath on the front door that nobody could see. It was a sad time, we were still riling from the dry wall fiasco and not getting along very well to boot. Hard to believe we're over half way through this year already. Maybe I should start planning for x-mas now...

Freak Out Central

All praise ELoan! Would you believe they don't even require an appraisal to give us the money we need for this foundation job? They looked up our home's value - can you believe it's already rated up to 280 from 235 just from market fluctuations? Told you my area was very up and coming! Imagine what it would be if we actually had an appraiser come in and look at all the amazing work we've done! (Which I'll have to do to get this darn PMI off my mortgage payment, which I'll have to do soon after the basement is in because that will make paying for my basement super easy!)

So - I have to get a few documents together and send them off to Eloan and within only 12 days, I'll have the dinero! So screw the list I made the other day. Now, all we have to do is get ready for the lifting -

I'm not sure if we have to pull the permit or not. I left a message for Bob Hayden this morning - hope he's not sick of me yet - told him we'd have the money, I just need an amount from him to make sure I'm taking out enough and asked if we needed to be doing anything else. If he pulls the permit, that would be awesome kay possum dudicator, but if not, we'll do it and then get to work on tearing up the concrete...

Did I mention the concrete? Well! Most of our house is just over dirt and rocks, so it can be lifted up easily. The mudroom, however, was once a porch and so sits on a concrete slab. When you lift a house, you can't lift a concrete slab, so what we have to do is go in there with a big 'ol jackhammer and break it up. Sounds messy - I'm not looking forward to cleaning up after it, but it needs to be done.

oooooooooooo! I'm so excited! I can't wait for the process to start!


I am a psychic - my dream came true! House Mover Bob Hayden called me yesterday and he is still committed to the job. He wants to lift my house this summer and he's going to give me a solid $ number soon. (Though he estimated $25-$30,000.) It's an easy job, he told me. Now I'm very excited, though there's so much to do!

We have to get the house ship shape for an inspection by an appraiser.

Appraisal Goals:
Wood Floors
Finish the stairway
Stupid small stuff like outlet faceplates
At least window trim
Second zone of heat installed upstairs. (I doubt this will happen.)

I'm hoping to get the house appraised for at least $300,000. Praying, actually. We bought the house originally for $220,000 and it was appraised at that time for $235,000. I'm pretty confident that we'll reach or even exceed my goal - homes on Cape Cod are muy expensivo, our area is very up and coming, we have a good amount of land and a garage, plus all the improvements to the house itself.

I can barely contain the excitement - I mean, just day-before-yesterday near all hope was lost. But when I got the call yesterday, my energy was renewed. I began cleaning the house and put in all the electrical outlets upstairs that I had been procrastinating. Tonights task: finish painting the office.

Sad 'n Toasty

I had a dream the other night that Bob Hayden (building mover) called me and told me it would only be $25,000 to lift my house and pour my basement. I woke up depressed with the realization that he still hadn't returned my call, so I left him another message yesterday. Still no reply as of yet. Boo hoo.

Meanwhile, I tried to update my film with a current soundbite. (ie, I talk to the camera and tell it what's been happening with the house - then I shoot everything I talked about so I can edit it all together later.) My intention was to talk about the exicting phase of painting and decorating... but as I tried, I found I couldn't muster the joy. I just looked around me at the lack of productivity, remembered the quick thrills of demolition and construction, and felt miserable.

Where was the trim, the crown moulding, the chair rail, the wood floors? Why hadn't I cleaned the place up? Where were the outlets, faceplates, ceiling fan, and recessed light trim? Why wasn't the dimmer working properly? Where was some proper furniture? Why was one half of one wall missing paint?

Demolition and initial construction phases went by so quickly - I mean, we were so psyched to hurry up, move in, and get on with our lives... and get out of Mike's parents' house. But now that we've been living in our house - nothing seems to get done. And I know I've painted a little and Mike's been digging in the backyard - but what about all this annoying finish work on the inside? It's taking way too long.

And what's more - I can't get Mike to do my bidding! Now that may be the biznich in me talking, but somebody's got to do the stuff I can't do! I admit it ladies, I can't do everything.

When a spider needs killing, call Mike.
When your truck needs an oil change... or an engine change... or a paint change, Call Mike!
When you're totally in the bag and your hair needs holding, call Mike.

But with this finish work on the house... It's just so frustrating

Mi Officina!

I was released from all work-related duties last night, so what did I do? Set myself to some housely tasks, of course! The above picture shows my upstairs office/den. It's an older, pre-primer picture, but you get the basic idea of what it looks like, the architecture.

Hard to believe it used to be the "yellow happy room," which wasn't in fact very happy because it was old, gross, badly lit, walls full of wasps nests, lead paint windows, tiny closet, stupid hallway, and 7ft celing. And did I mention the ONE ELECTRICAL OUTLET? Oh please! Now this has the most, a 6-some outlet on the back wall, and 5 onesies spaced around the rest of the room. Edit SWEET! (Post producer's humor.) Plus we got rid of the original closet, hallway, and the wall over the stairs, making a balcony instead of a slim jim stairwell that makes large people claustrophobic and they fall down the stairs and break the front door off and land in the yard and cars crash when they see it happen, which causes a huge traffic jam on the road and it backs up to the Cape Cod canal bridges and there's so many cars that the bridges collapse, releasing Cape Cod from the rest of Massachusetts and sending it across the ocean where it finally settles down as the new island continent of OldPeoplia!

Where was I? Oh yeah. We also got rid of the low ceiling and pointless attic to create a marvelous cathedral ceiling complete with recessed and dropped lighting fixtures and a ceiling fan. We built a new closet and also an lofty attic space you can access through that square hole in the wall. Verah nass!

The color I chose for this room is an icey pink, combined with one wall of this gorgeous red/majenta wine color and some color blocking with the red/majenta wine color. All that pink will be balanced with a lot of black and white, so don't freak out that it look's like Barbie's office, because it's actually muy chic and moderna.

The red/majenta wine color, as you can imagine is pretty dark. So, rather than apply 15,000 coats of paint, I first poured a little of the dark color into the white primer - making a really Barbie Peepy pink color that was god aweful and I painted the wall and the color blocks with it. Then, I only had to apply 3 coats of pure red/majenta wine to get it to the great bold color I wanted. (Learned that on HGTV - thanks, I watch you religiously... actually I'm more like a cult follower...)

The only thing that sux about the above described technique is that I'm painting that color on part of the cathedral ceiling. (Because if you paint the slanty part, it drives the eye up, making the ceiling look higher and the room look bigger, even with a dark color- GET COLOR - watch it on HGTV... shouldn't they pay me for that? Gosh durn it, just give me my own show would you?) Anyway - today is TANGENT DAY, isn't it? And I've had a couple wild ones in this blog alone... ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand. Yesterday - the sun was hot enough here on good 'ol Cape Cod to weld your frame back together - the one you busted 4wheeling in places you shouldn't have been. So there I was at the tippy top of the ladder, painting and sweating and drinking an Appletini - an evil combination which darn near sent me over the top of the ladder.

But I've got the one wall primed and single coated on the upperside, dual coated on the lower bottom... yeah, the lower bottom. VS what? The mid and upper bottom? Time for another Appletini, it would seem. Too bad I'm at work.

Can 'yal Dig It?

I have a backyard. You'd never know it from my front yard, but I do have one. It actually stretches across the road nearly an acre and a half. We own a little peice of land across the street, but the main part of the yard is in the back - currently a giant hole and two oddly positioned hills that squeeze the garage nearly to death.

Mike has been digging out from the rightern-most hill, the biggest, with his John Deere skid steer. (Which has car tires on it and a busted bucket, making the task a real pain in the ask, if you know what I mean.) Anyway, our plan is to flatten the hills and put the dirt in the hole. The hole is so huge that we'd never fill it per say, but we can graduate the cliff that now exists there and bury all the prickers and poison ivy and gross stuff. Once all that's been done, Mike's going to build a dirt bike/4wheeler track in accordance with his fantasies of riding without being chased by police, greenies, or helicopers. (Because Plymouth feels the need to waste thousands of tax dollars just to chase a few Sunday riders in a HELICOPTER. Why? Why? But that's a tangent for another time.)

As we dig all this dirt though, the interesting thing is that we find stuff. And when I say stuff, I mean trash. But not yucky gross nasty ew trash - old trash. I mean, first 'ol Herb Allen owns it in 1910, and soon after, a depression era couple that for sure buried all their trash in the back yard. (Which may have created the odd hills, you never know. I'm just waiting to dig up a shed or a car or a coffin or something.) So first off, there's 39 tires at the bottom of the hole. 39 tires!!!! Insane! Also, plenty of metal, glass bottles, old lawn chairs, buckets, wire fencing and garden stuff and tools. The other day, though, we began to find really really old and interesting stuff.

First came the sicle. (Is that how you spell it?) You know, the tool the Grim Reeper holds. (Not Reaper, Reeper - like reep reep reep. Private joke. DK understands.) Now the wooden handle had long ago rotted away, but the metal part was intact. Maybe this was from when 'ol Herb Allen and his dad there farmed their own farms in their backyards.

Then, we found the steering wheel. Wouldn't it be crazy if it was from the fated Ford? The metal of it is all rusted, but the vinyl or plastic or whatever it is is mostly intact. And somebody scratched letters into the vinyl! They don't spell out any words as far as I can tell. I'm still trying to figure it out. I may make it into a wreath for my door - a little auto-art, my favorite! I'll be sure to post a pic of it when I'm done.

The Un-Photoshopped Among Us

I realized I forgot to include an un-photoshopped picture of my house for you happy bloggers to compare with - Here it is! TA-DA!

Aren't you impressed? No? Well, you will be. I'd like to point out some features that Robert Thompson added to the house when he bought it. You see that little triangular addition on the right side of the house? That's our mud room. When we tore out the ugly 70's style wood wall panelling poo and the ugly gross never was in style linoleum and the weird probably asbestos ceiling tiles - we made an interesting discovery. This addition is actually a pre-fabricated shed that sombody just attached to the house! The slope of the original roof, shingles still attached was maintained and everything. So I had to go up there in an attic space we created (by cutting two square holes in the upstairs wall) and tear off all the old shingles. Sound easy? PSHAW! It was mid August and hotter than hades! (Hay-dees, is that how you spell it?) I nearly died.

Anyhoo - behind that little addition is the two car garage... with only one door. Not one big door like normal garages with one door - one little door. Why? WHY? I'd like to ask someone what the rationale behind that was. I wonder if 'ol Herb Allen would have wanted a garage for the fated Ford? Probably not.

Demolition Party - How to Get It Done

Looking for a way to destroy stuff without getting your own hands dirty? Call onesixty demolition crew! At least that's what I did...

Problem - You've got this crazay house built in 1910, redone in 1953. You've got horsehair plaster walls without any insulation underneath and they all have to come down so you can put drywall up. How do you do it quickly and easily?


I created this invitation in photoshop based on a real demolition permit I saw online. Then, I gave it out to all my psychotic friends. Deal was - we'll provide beer and BBQ, you provide the muscle. On the day of the party, everybody came over, put on their dust masks, and went to work with their destruction tool of choice. By the end of the day, the house was gutted.

Of course, we never imagined the giant mess it would make. After filling two giant dumpsters, we still had plaster, dust, and wooden slats everywhere... and it all lingered throughout the house for over six months.

Ahhh memories

I started logging house film footage into my computer last night. It's amazing to remember what it looked like a mere year ago! Especially since the "before" footage is only about 5 minutes long. Right after we bought the house, Mike and I had at it like hungry animals. Did I mention it's our first house? We started tearing apart walls and within a week the upstairs was bare - within two weeks, so was the downstairs.

This picture came during the electrifing phase of wiring. At the time, I was working my butt off, but refused to be left out of the electrical system design. So I wrote what I wanted on little slips of paper and nailed them where I wanted the switches/outlets/dimmers/lights/etc. Writing on the studs proved to be illegiable in most locations. Unlike new construction, the old studs are a dark brown/black color that doesn't show a sharpie very well.

Having Trouble Getting It Up?

This is a Cape Cod house - well, technically we're on the other side of the bridge, but Bourne carries over, so I still can say I live on Cape Cod. Anyway - this Cape Cod house has a Cape Cod basement.

What's a Cape Cod basement? You don't want one. A Cape Cod basement is an unfinished partial opening or crawl space under the house. And when I say unfinished, it's a nice way of saying, it's dirt and rocks. Some old Cape Cod homes sit up on cinder blocks, some older, like ours, sit on a bed of rocks. That's right, rocks. Some other Cape Cod homes sit right on the dirt. Makes you feel real stable and clean, doesn't it?

Why don't you want a Cape Cod basement? Well, even if you do like dirt, you don't like what it attracts into your house. Direct contact with soil can cause insect and termite problems as well as rot. If you've got a partial opening in your Cape Cod basement like we do, a place where you can actually stand and hang out... though why would you want to.... you've got a warm little critter house, situated nicely under yours. Our critter - the snake.

That's right - snakes. And because our walls and floors pass through right to the basement, these guys can slither their way right up into the living area. Though our snakes are harmless, they're not the most pleasant of house guests and they refuse to pay rent.

What's the Cape Cod basement solution? Lift the entire house and pour a proper foundation. Now some of your eyeballs may be popping out of your head right now. How can you lift an entire house? What happens to all the stuff inside? What if it falls? How high do they lift it? Can I still live in it while it's up in the air? All these issues ran through my head too when the idea was first suggested to me.

The Process: Here's what happens when you lift a house -
  • First, of course, you want to turn off, disconnect, and clamp off everything. What do I mean by everything? All electrical wires, all plumbing pipes, all everything tethering the house to the basement. (Mike and I have to do that, but that's ok cause we connected it all and we can do it again. You people in the blog world may have to hire someone if you're not too handy)
  • Then, they run some heavy duty beams under the house. A kind of scaffolding seat that the house will sit on as it goes up. This is a long process in itself, especially if you have a large home.
  • After that's all in place, the house starts going up - slowly! It's not like they're going to yank it right off its frame because that would cause all sorts of damage. It takes a long time, perhaps even an entire day, to lift the house up all the way - Just enough for the foundation guys to get underneath.
  • Then the foundation guys go in with the forms, basically the molds that will shape out your basement walls. We want to pour 9ft walls instead of standard 8ft walls because that would allow us to later finish off the basement, thus increasing our square footage. (A little more money, but well worth it.)
  • Next they pour it, it dries, and the house is placed neatly back on top. The floor of the basement can be poured later.
  • At the end of all that, you have to connect up everything you disconnected.
  • The whole process takes about a month and you can't live in the house while it's happening. And why would you because your water and stuff are all disconnected.
Sounds great, Jess, what's the trouble? Well, we had first planned on lifting the house when the interior was completely torn apart. Makes sense, doesn't it? Less chance of damage to walls when there are no walls! Famous Cape Cod house lifter Bob Hayden visited our house and told us $10,000 to lift it up and put it down again. Very reasonable. However, we couldn't get anyone to do the foundation. Our calls weren't returned, people who were supposed to visit the house did not, and finally we recieved an estimate that was so out of the ballpark that we figured he just didn't want or didn't have time to do the job. Damn independent contractors! Especially here on Cape Cod where millionaire 2 week vacation home owners on Nantucket get first priority while born and raised year round Cape Codders get squit.

That's my soapbox and I'm sticking to it. Anyway. Now the walls are up and we've been living in the house since Christmas time 2004. When we mentioned the above sob story to our carpenter friend, he suggested we call Hayden back and ask him to do the entire job start to finish. We'd never thought of that and called him right away about 4 months ago. Again he came out, listened to what we wanted, and gave us his impressions of what it might cost. $30-35,000 - expensive, you may think so. But just think of all that regained floor space and the convenience of a basement, plus the benefit of getting rid of the snakes and insects and blah blah blah described above. We measured around the house and sent him the measurements so he could give us a definitive number.

Well, it's been over a month since I sent that along and he still hasn't gotten back to us. I called him two weeks ago and he never returned my call. I'm going to call him tonight. I have his name written on my hand in fact! Without a definitive number, I can't go and get a loan, which I'd need of course. URG! How frustrating! I want this done and I'm not taking "No," or "I don't have time," or "It'll cost you $500,000" or non-returned correspondence anymore.

The Dream

Soon after purchasing the house, I took the real estate listing photo into Photoshop. The above picture is the result... and also my dream result after the completion of the renovation. Though I began this blog late in the game - after falling in love with www.houseblogs.net There's still penty to do before the house is going to look anything like this.

History Lesson

The year - 1910.
Herbert Allen along with his wife purchase a peice of land directly next to his father Frank's house in Bourndale, MA. There, they build a small, two story house that looked a lot like a barn.

Now Frank Allen was quite an interesting character. He, like most of the other residents of Bourndale, worked at the foundry, which was right down the street. However, he wasn't the most devoted employeer, preferring to hit the bottle a couple days a week instead of going to work. When drunk, Frank was quite the fighter and could have become a professional boxer save for his inability to take even a few hits. On one occassion, some of his friends tested his intoxicated deterity and challenged him to jump in and out of a barrel, thinking they'd get a laugh when he flipped on his face or sent the barrel barrelling down the road. But Frank had the last laugh when he effortlessly jumped up and into that barrel and out again without the use of his hands - pretty good for a drunk guy, huh?

Little Herb couldn't stand his father in this state. He preferred to hang out down the street at a neighbors house. (This house became the Bourndale General Store and then, within the last year, changed owners and became Picola's Pizzaria.) It's rather ironic that Herbert ended up building his own home right next to his father's after making such an effort to get away from him when he was younger.

Herbert was a thrifty sort of man and he and his wife argued frequently when she decided that it would be nice to have a car to drive into the adjacent towns of Wareham and Sandwich. There, they could make more money than they could at Bourndale's little foundry and ax factory. You have to remember of course, at this period in time, they were probably looking at Ford's Model T - the car you could have in any color you wanted, as long as it was black.

Though Herb put up quite a fight against getting the car, his wife's Scottish temper won the war. However, even after purchasing the vehicle, Herb did not like to drive or ride in it. Finally, on one 4th of July, his wife convinced him to drive with her to the parade in Wareham. He grungingly agreed, though when they got there, he continued to sulk in the car while she watched the parade. After a time, Herb decided that maybe he should just relax and enjoy himself as well, so he got out of the car. At just that moment, however, a crazed parade goer flailing his arms about, hitting Herb straight in the head. Herbert Allen later died from head injuries sustained from that hit.

His wife moved out of the house shortly after and rented it to several people before selling it in 1945. It was sold again in 1947 and then, again in 1953 to Robert Thompson. The house was badly in need of updating and repairs at this point, as you can imagine. Robert and his wife Myrtle made many improvments and additions to the house. Robert was quite a handy person and worked a lot with wood. He even made toys for the Palmer brothers who lived next door and still live there to this day. He also loved cats and was known to leave the doors to the house open so his cats could come and go as they pleased. The author of "Bourndale: The Forgotten Village" called the house under Robert Thompson's capable hands, "...an asset to the community..."

However, after they overhauled the house in the mid-fifties, the Thompsons made no further improvements. Being a depression era couple, they squarely believed if it aint broke, don't fix it. They lived in the house until their deaths in the late 90's, early 2000's.

Then, in May of 2004, the engaged couple Mike Banis and Jessica Ferguson bought the house, again in desparate need of updating and repair. This is where our story begins.