All I Want for Christmas 5

The yearly tradition continues! Want to see what I wanted in 2009? Click Here What about 2008? Click Here What about 2007? Click here. What about 2006? Click here.

And now for 2010:

Ok here we go:

1. New Downstairs Bathroom: stand up shower American Standard Champion toilet, small vanity, stand up shower, mosaic tile, river stone floor tile, pocket door

2. Kitchen: Fix drywall and repaint, new cabinets

 3. MudRoom: reinstall wainscot, baseboard trim, dining set from IKEA - the white round table and the wickerish chairs.

4. Living Room: crown moulding, reinstall that one crooked window, fix the durn curtain rod, fireplace?

5. Hallway/Stairway: banister, stairway trim, top stair step, dimmer for stair light, install octagonal window, second electrical outlet

6. Mikey's Room: fix closet light

7. Office: Closet organizer, door to the attic crawl space, bigger area rug

8. Bedroom: new mattress, new HDTV, more drawers for my Closetmaid set, door for attic loft space, window and closet door trim

9. Upstairs Bath: BUILD IT - frame it, electrify, insulate, drywall, paint, pretty tile, Corner Jacuzzi tub for two, new vanity, stand up shower, American Standard Champion toilet, pocket door, linen closet

10. Garage: Drywall and paint, Three garage doors, storage system with shelves

11. House exterior: new clapboard siding on the remaining 3 sides, complete farmer's porch stairs, window boxes, green shutters, lamppost, more nice plantings, a shed, chimney overlay, another chimney to vent wood stove, hammock, new driveway (ie, repour it), re-do the rocks

12. Basement: finish it off with a bathroom (toilet, vanity, stand up shower), bedroom, work room, and rec room (comfy dark colored furniture and rug, pool table, air hockey, HDTV and storage unit). And I want my wood stove hooked up down therez.

Amazing how much I was able to delete off the list this year! What an exciting time! There's finally l
light at the end of the tunnel after more then 6 years working, more then 5 years blogging!

Our goals for this year?
Complete the porch before winter really sets in
Re-side the new-window side of the house before winter really sets in
Complete the radiant heat
Install all new garage doors
Build the basement bathroom
Frame out the basement bedroom (since we're right there anyway)
Begin work on 1st and new 2nd floor bathroom


Rainy Sunday. No fun. Except if you decide to install radiant heating!

Now, if you recall (no, not the most famous reindeer of all) we ordered all the materials needed months ago from TruVal... but just hadn't had the time to pick them up and install. Until this past Sunday! The forecast was rainy and windy, so the guys weren't planning on working outside. But it was also going to be 50 degrees - what a perfect time to shut down the heat for the day! So Mike grabbed up all the tubing and fittings on his way home from work on Saturday.

Sunday, everything went fairly smoothly - for a heating job. Usually, when copper pipe is involved, it's a long, strenuous, expensive day. And we get leaks and other things go wrong... Plumbing is downright difficult! Mike's become rather adept at it over the years, but he's no master plumber. This experience was the exact opposite. The only real problem - and we knew it as soon as we started uncoiling the tubing - we didn't have enough to do the entire downstairs, only the living room. (And we also had to run to the DeepHo for about 10 extra feet...)

We cut and removed a couple of the long copper sections, then just attached one end of the tube at the beginning of the loop, snaked it up and down the floor joists, and attached it at the end of the loop. (Sounds like it took 5 minutes, but there was a lot of drilling and connecting involved.) At the end of the day, Mike strapped the entire living room section to hold the tubing up near the floor.

Pre-strapping - the white may look like wires. Nope it's tubing.
The concept is simple. Hot water travels through the pipes. Heat radiates out and up onto the floor. Then, heat radiates up from the floor and heats the room. We still have our baseboards, this just helps our home reach optimum temp faster and more efficiently. Plus, the floors are toasty.

We've had heating problemos in the past, mostly because our house is old, but partially because we didn't evenly distribute the length of baseboards when we installed. (Mikey's room, strangely enough, has the longest one, so if his door is closed, his room gets super warm while the rest of the house is at a normal temp.) The only zone downstairs is controlled by a thermostat in the living room. We had at first considered adding another zone for Mikey's room... but we think this will prove more economical and efficient.

We hope to complete the radiant heat in the rest of the downstairs soon, before it gets any colder around here. Of course, the porch still needs finishing. My "no-new-projects" rule is still kinda upheld... this just happened to be a "rainy-day-project." And that's totally different, right?

Window In

It's window-time! Now, break it down! Yes, yes, Sunday was Dia de Los Windows, as Mike set himself about cutting out plywood and installing the new window! I brought Mikey outside for the occasion, so we could watch the magic driveway-side.

Cutting cutting cutting (From Inside Out of course!)
Here it comes!

There it goes!

Hey, that's my kitchen! 

Here's Mikey helping on the stairs.

Mikey jots down the measurements

Unfortunately, installing the window was a bit more difficult. We had to shim and re-shim and level and re-level.... Mikey was throwing a fit because we wouldn't allow him to play with the Sazzall.... It was just madness! But we finally accomplished it with beautiful results:

Mikey holds the level, which he kept calling "Bubble" Strangely appropriate, but I think he was trying to say level.

Mike applies heat to adhere the ice and water - keeping those drafty winter winds out.
 After nearly 5 days, I'm still not used the view. We pushed the fridge over to it's proper location and I'm loving the extra room in that little dining area we have. Once we have a corner cabinet on the other side and the new fridge... look out world! But the best part is the loss of two tragically drafty old circa 1950's windows. We can already feel a big difference. Just in time too, as temps are dropping to the teens this week.

This coming weekend, the guys will hopefully be back at work on the stairs. And, now that the window's in, all that shingling on the mudroom end of the kitchen/mudroom side of the house has to go too. Then, that entire side can be sided. Lucky for us, we should have enough siding in stock. Will it all happen this Sunday? Probably no. Will it all happen before Christmas? Likely not. Will it all happen eventually? I hope so.

Stairs, Windows, and Random Plywood

Mike was feeling much better this Sunday. And, with cabin fever setting in, and Timmy due over (haha due-over) to work on the stairs, Mike decided to get himself back to work on the kitchen window. I had some friends coming over at 2:30pm, so the guys were on a strict stop-everything a las 2:30 deadline.

Mike measured the wall and the window, allowing for new-fridge and future-corner-cabinet width. Then, we decided on the exact placement of the new window.

Next step was to create the window frame and insulate the sans-window area. Then came the difficult part. You see - our mudroom was an addition, tacked on to what used to be a cement porch. Unfortunately, when they joined the exterior mudroom wall to the exterior kitchen wall, they did not do a very good job. The two walls are at two different depths....

So... if we want to side that entire side with siding and make it look like a nice, one-piece, continuous house with no stoopid additions that weren't done correctly... We would need to build out the kitchen wall to match the depth of the mudroom wall. Build it out how? Plywood. Layers of plywood.

Lucky for us, we happened to have plywood. Plywood in the basement, plywood in the garage, plywood in the garage addition... plywood plywood everywhere! Leftover from this that or the other project.

You can see here the puzzle of plywood Mike and our neighbor Richard put together. Amazing that we just happened to have just enough to complete the job. Unfortunately, the hunt for plywood + cutting of the plywood + installation of the plywood = longer then expected. Mike was hoping to be able to install the window before the 2:30 deadline, but just couldn't make it. He papered the plywood and called it done for the day.
MEANWHILE! Timmy was hard at work on the side steps. To start, he had to pull up some of the decking to make room for the first post. The second post went down on top of the footing Mike poured last weekend.

From there, it was a simple matter of framing and decking the landing, then the first step. By the time my guests were arriving between 2:30 and 3:00, they had a step to enter on. And by the time they left around 5:30, they had a second step to exit on.

Mike will need to pour some additional concrete for the final groundish-level landing step, but all in all, I'm totally psyched about how the steps came out. Mike decided to make them nice and big - key for bringing up large items, large amounts of people, large people, and holding hands with kids down the stairs.

To finish off the kitchen wall for temporary, Mike put up tar paper. This weekend, the window goes in, do or die. And Timmy will be back on Sunday as well. It's a whole new look for the holidays!

We're so happy to be wrapping up our summer/fall projects. Winter once again will take us indoors, where the basement bathroom will be taking shape soon.

PS - Guess who couldn't resist the Home Depot black Friday appliance sale? I GOT MY FRIDGE! It's the LG model lfx28978ST.... and I saved over $800. The MSRP is $2700 .... I bought for $1899. WITH 18 months of 0% financing and a 4 year extended warranty for only $80 extra!!! Boo-Yah! Only problem is I'll have to wait until Feb 5th for delivery. Backorder.


Shortly after I finished my last post, Mike returned home, and I discovered that I had my story all wrong. Mike was actually removing the windows at the time of the incident. He had a window in his hands and jumped down with it off the ladder... and right onto a nail, which was sticking out of a board on the ground.

The nail didn't fully penetrate his foot, but went pretty deep. And lucky for Mike, it landed right through a nerve, making the injury very painful. He's been out of work and on crutches all week. The foot is looking much better today though, much to both our relief. Unbelievable how much a little nail can really mess you up.

Meanwhile, I've been working hard at leaving my own mark on the kitchen.

Mikey added the blue with a crayon... Of course, I thought to myself as he watched me write with a sharpie, "I should not be showing and encouraging him to write on the wall." Too late!

After that, Mikey and I did some decorating.

Beautiful porch & trees!

Mikey gets the candy canes!

And puts them on the tree


Second Time These Windows Sent Somebody to the Hospital

An explanation for that title is certainly due. Several years ago - pre-baby, pre-prego, for sure, I had a TRIP at my house. (TRIP = Totally Random Incredible Party) This TRIP was in honor of my bday, a small affair that turned a little crazay thanks to a little green fairie.

We were all in the kitchen when Mike tripped (literally this time) and his hand landed on one of the old windows... and when right through the glass. And me? I was so excited about the window breaking. "I hate these windows!" I think I yelled, and started punching out the remaining glass panes. I may have destroyed the neighborhood had the guys not pulled me away to the sink, where they washed my now bloody hand and bandaided me up. Then I ran off and started dancin' but that's another story.

Mike and I post-accident at the TRIP with Wigs!

The next morning, Mike and I woke up with swollen, painful wounds on our punching hands and had a nifty story to tell the morning crew at the ER.

That was the FIRST time the old kitchen windows sent someone to the hospital. Now let me set you up for the second time.

Sunday, Timmy's son had a brand new baby - so he was definitely excused for stair-duty. But Mike decided to get started anyway. He dug and poured the one needed sonotube footing.

He also prepared and poured the larger slab footing.

But after that, he was excited to rip off the siding on the kitchen. Excited... PSHAW. You couldn't keep that man from his mission. But I'm proud to say, he set himself a stop point. He'd take the siding off, but not the old shingles underneath. Good thing. If the shingles came off, that was the point of no return. Shingles off - you have to put up plywood, take out the old windows, and tyvek. And at this point it was 1pm, soooo... yeah. Shingles off - he'd be working til midnight.

I'm proud to say he stuck to his stop point too! He took off the siding and then cleaned up and that was it!

Here was the outside of the kitchen - this morning.

We're getting to the hospital story now...

So today Mike got some free time and decided to finish up the job. He took off all the shingles and repaired the sill, which was leaking air like crazy. I talked to Mike on the phone and he said he could already feel a difference in how the room was holding heat. Awesome, I thought.

Now... somewhere between the shingles off and the plywood on, there was an incident. I'm still not quite sure of the details, but basically - nail gun + foot = mucho malo. (Our framing gun has gained itself a little bit of a temperamental reputation. I'm scared of it, personally.) Thinking it wasn't so bad, Mike kept on working. He took out the windows and completed the plywood.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home from work, he was in a whole bunch of pain and decided to go to the ER. He's probably on his way back right now, actually. He sent me a text and said they had to cut into his foot. Sounds terrible! I almost don't want to hear the details. And I definitely don't want to see the foot, but I know that's the first thing he's going to want to show me.

Anyway! (I'm not thinking about it!) Those windows were cursed, and I'm so happy they're gone. This is not a trilogy!

Window Wating

What a difference from last weekend's hustle and bustle! This one was calm in comparison - a much needed breather for both of us, for sure. Sunday was calmer then calm, since the guys weren't able to come by to work on the porch. Stairs next weekend! We even have the materials list in hand and soon to be ordered up.

We actually attempted to go to Home Depot, since we needed less then our usual HUGE load of materials. Plus, I wanted to check out and purchase a big 'ol window for the kitchen. (Tax credit expires 12/31 people!) But, once again, HD let us down. They didn't have the right length of board. Ok, fine. I'll give them that. So Mike went to pick out the next longer, no problem. But all the boards were of very poor quality. He gave in quickly. We didn't need them at that very moment anyway, so why not order them?

Moving on to the kitchen window.
We currently have dos kitchen windows with the fridge in between.

We'd like to push the fridge over to the left, ditch that first left-side window, and install a larger window centered on the right hand side. A little Photoshop action and you can see the possible result:

Pretty sweet, right? Imagine this with a new fridge.... oooo, so cool. (Literally)

So I researched the possible fridges I might want and found that they all were about 36" wide. (By the by, that's like 6" wider then our current fridge... imagine the space!) I then measured the approx space taken up by our corner cabinet, since we'd need to install a second one to butt up to the fridge. That was about 6" additional. In total, I figured we'd have a max rough opening size of 60" by 48" - and that's the MAX.

Back at the 'ol HD, we checked out the window section. I didn't imagine they'd have anything in stock to meet our needs. I thought we'd be ordering something for sure. But believe it or not, they had a 4' x 4' sliding glass window with screen in stock for the low low price of just $107.

That seemed like a super low price to me. For some reason, I had it stuck in my head that we paid around $100 for the small sliding window above our stove. Maybe not.

Then I started thinking out loud, well we've got more room then that. Maybe this is going to be too small. But as Mike pointed out, "How big a view of the DRIVEWAY do you want."

Excellent point.

We were there, the window was there, it matched our over-the-stove slider, and it was only $107. I'd be a ding-dong not to buy it. So we did.

Mike was even half tempted to seize the day, rip all the siding off that side of the house, remove both old kitchen windows, install the new one, and plywood the entire side. (Since we probably have enough ply in the basement to do such a thing.) But he also really needed to do some wiring in his truck as well as an oil change and a few other maintenance type things in and around the garage. In the end, sanity won out and we didn't rip apart anything. Probably for the best. No job that large is ever so easy that you can complete it in one day. Something always goes awry.

Next weekend, our wood will arrive and stairs will be built, come what may.

This Organization brought to you by Rubbermaid

I've written much about ClosetMaid. Specifically, ClosetMaid completions in the now discontinued cherry color. I loved that closet organizer - thought it was awesome, chic, high brow, etc etc.

But I was wrong.

Time travel back a few weeks.... I go down to the basement to put away a jacket in my locker (yes locker, a metal locker) full of coats & winter hats/gloves/scarfs, only to discover that everything has gone moldy/musty over the summer. After meticulously washing and airing out everything, I decided that I just couldn't reload the locker. History would just repeat itself next summer and I'd have to repeat the cleaning process all over again.

Solution - An organizer for the mudroom/laundry closet featuring a section for hanging coats.

Now, back in the day, I had all these lofty closet ideas for this particular closet. But at this very moment, I just wanted all those coats, hats, gloves, and scarfs up and outta my way... especially with the party coming down on us. I decided it would be easy and inexpensive to buy a couple of those white metal shelves. On a whim, I went to Lowes to check 'em out.

What I found there was a set by Rubbermaid that was completely customizable. Brackets could be hung on the wall, and then you could move your shelves up and down at will, place clothes racks on whichever shelves you wanted, and purchase add-on pieces that you could also move at will. I was completely blown away. It's called Rubbermaid Configurations. I purchased the 4 to 8 ft set, since I needed 48" shelves. (The set came with two 48", three 22", a bunch of clothes hanger bars, and all the brackets and hardware.) Note that I've added the image and link from Amazon.com... but also note - I did my do-diligence on this one and calculated that Lowes had the best price. ($93 at Lowes. Amazon is cheaper yes, but not when you add the shipping.)

We installed the organizer easily in just about an hour one evening and I couldn't be happier with how it looks. PLUS, if I ever want to change my configuration, add shelves, add hangers, add a sliding bin or basket.... I CAN! Seriously, I'm still freaking out over it.

Those stoopid ClosetMaid completions sets suddenly pale in comparison. They're expensive #1. They don't come with as many shelves and hangers #2. They take forever to put together and install #3. Add on pieces are even more expensive #4. You can't change your design once it's installed #5. And the cherry color I loved originally has now been discontinued and I can't get any more add-ons #6. (Yes, many bloggers have come forward and offered to sell me their pieces, but the shipping is just too outrageous.)

I'm now toying with the idea of ripping out my completions sets and replacing them with Rubbermaid Configurations sets. That's how much I love how the Rubbermaid turned out in the mudroom.

Check it out! The clothes bar hangs right on the shelf, so you can move it if need be. Plus I still have room for my dresser, which houses our sheets, and my cleaning cart, vacuum, and trash. If I ever want to add more shelves and move the dresser - I CAN!

Flying and Dying

We'll begin with the dying - as in, dying of STRESS, first and foremost. Crazy deadlines at work plus three days at a conference plus Halloween party prep plus mad errands equals massive brain hemorrhage. And the weekend before last, we headed out to the Woodshed Halloween party... not good. Or maybe it was, but I can't remember half the night. All I know - Sunday the 31st was the worst day ever and I was soooo sick. All day sick. Dead sick. Can't get out of bed, embarrassed like crazy, missed taking my baby trick-or-treating, infuriated at my stoopid self sick.

Then I woke up at 5am Monday and had to go to the conference.... (And now we go with the flying...)
Got back Wednesday night and started editing for Thursday and Friday deadlines...
Managed my Friday deadline by the skin of my teeth - like done at 4pm skin of my teeth....
And rushed out of work like a rocket to do party errands....
Cut errands short because Mike was sick....
Put the baby to bed and went back out to the grocery store....
Came home and made jello shots until 10pm.
Woke up early and didn't stop party prep until the party officially started at 8pm Saturday eve...
Partied until 2am and had an awesome time.
Woke up at 10 and cleaned until 3pm....
Then collapsed on the couch and watched movies while hacking my lungs out.

Did I mention I've been sick with a cold since Wednesday?!

 Mini Mummy Pizzas

Snake Sandwiches

Decor - Note Peeps are Werewolves this year

I'm Goldilocks

Jello Shots going fast

Group Pics

Can Dance

I'm so pretty!

You all have no idea how glad I am that it's all over. And everything was a success at that! The party was a hit and still the talk of the town two days later. The clients are happy with their videos. Mike is feeling better. I'm still sick, but at least I don't have madness to deal with. The only complaint I received:

Not enough jello shots. And I knew that, but I had no time to run to the liquor store on Friday night. It was too late by the time I was back out running errands. It's sad, because I can remember the days when we made 10 boxes worth of jello shots and were stuffing them down people's throats all night.... next year.

But ASIDE from all of that, let's reverse the clock and head back to Sunday 10/31. Yes, I was sick as a dog, but be that as it may, Mike and the guys still managed to install 4 out of 5 railings. (The 5th couldn't be installed since the last pole hasn't been wrapped since the stairs haven't been done since we needed the temporary stairs for the party!)

This pic was taken post party - note that we also cleaned up and brought back the furniture for the occasion. The party also gave us an opportunity to test out the electrical with my collection of halloween icicle lights. It worked perfectly! Mike even picked up a bunch of small hooks, which we screwed into the trim, to hold up the lights. These hooks will stay in permanently for all future holiday lighting opportunities.

This weekend, we hope work will commence again! Stairs... here we come.


Gung-ho, that was me. Bloggin on a mission and then POOF, drop off the face of the blogosphere for near to a week... leaving thousands in anger and suspense.

Or not.

But flaky and manic as I've been, it's all been for good reason. I've been extremely focused on crossing off items on that 'ol to-do list. First off, the electrical hook-up on the porch. Turns out, we had 9 of the 10 needed outlets in stock. And, Mike decided to patch the porch in with an already under-loaded breaker. So we didn't need that either.  So so... we were able to complete the wiring without having to head to the DeepHo.

But that doesn't mean we didn't head down there anyway. I still had a pole to return! And despite his grumblings, Mike was as glad as I was to bring it back and receive a $33 store credit, which we used to purchase porch outlet covers and concrete.

While at the HD, we checked out the garage doors, which I'm planning to purchase for Mike for X-mas. (No secret. He knows, I know, and we're both happy about it.) This whole freakin' time, we thought they were mad expensive.

Years ago, when we were still in drywall-phase of the house, I had Overhead Door come and look at my garage for door-cost estimation purposes. Well, I don't know whether it was me looking so young, my house looking so old, or my vehicle and yard looking so.... redneck.... But the door dude had the audacity to ask my drywall guys if I "paid my bills." And I was so insulted that I completely severed contact with them - despite the fact that I had the cash and was ready to go at that moment.

But I realize now, it was meant to be. Because the HD has insulated garage doors in stock in store.... for the price of just around $250. When I saw, I sh*t. We don't need no fancy pants doors. We don't need no windows. (And we don't need no grammar either.) And apparently, we don't need to pay upwards of $1,000! Another $150-$200 and you can get yourself a nice garage door opener, complete with two remotes, an exterior keypad, and an interior button.

So, back to the current HD visit. After I had seen the doors and the prices on the internet, we just had to find out if they came with all the springs, tracks, etc. needed to install. Sure enough, everything came in the box! Amazing, isn't it? Three doors, coming right up this holiday season!

HD visit: successful on so many levels.
Electrical: complete!

And now for the bad news. Or, I should say, postponement news. Timmy was called into work on Sunday and couldn't come over to work on the stairs. Mike used the time to complete the electrical, so I can't complain too much. I was really hoping and dreaming that we'd be able to get the concrete poured.

I found out, by the way, that we in fact do not need sonotubes because we're not going to pour footings. We're going to pour pads. Big pads! iPads! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) So the entire footprint of the stairs will be concrete. This is beneficial in a few ways. First, it is a far lesser pain in the butt then to dig and pour footings. Second, with concrete under the entire stairway, there's no chance of annoying plant growth. I'm cool with that.

Unfortunately, we don't know what materials we'll need for the stairs, so we couldn't purchase those. The railings, however, I am going to have Mike purchase tomorrow for delivery on Friday. I figure, if the guys pour the pads on Sunday, they're going to need to dry. What to do while the concrete is drying? How about some railings! Sounds good to me, I just need to remember to send Mike to work with the paperwork that shows what to order.

Truck'pdate, Smidgets, and Upcoming Electrical

At around 11pm Tuesday night, the truck arrived! (Safe and sound, I might add, much to our relief.) So here it is, Thursday, and I haven't even gotten much more then a glimpse of it. I was in bed when it arrived, rushed out of the house Wednesday morning, rushed into the house Wednesday night, crashed early to bed, and rushed out of the house this morning... not that it mattered, because the truck was gone at that point anyway. Mike drove it to work today.

How, you ask?

Turns out, he didn't need to wait 24hrs for that fuel pump. He ordered it in the AM - received it in the PM - and went straight to work as soon as he got home. I had no clue what was going on. He didn't even come in to say, "Hi what's up? Got to get to work, the fuel pump came in early." Oh well. I found out eventually. (Although I didn't know how it turned out, since I crashed early. Apparently, it turned out just fine if he's driving the thing....)

The early fuel pump pushed back my electrical plans. Honestly, I thought Mike had just plain forgot about it, but he texted me this morning, "Got to do some wiring for you tonight." Silly me, I'm imagining he's still talking about the truck. I thought, "Why the heck would that be for me??" Then it hit me - DUR. I'm the one that forgot... but only for a second.

So there's the outlets and the breaker... should probably get concrete and some sonotubes for the stair footings.... unless Mike had those at his store. Speaking of which, how bigga footings we talking about here? Do we need a hole digger? I have no clue. And if the side steps are going up the side of the house.... is that side going to need de-siding?! And if we're in the process of de-siding the side, should I be ordering a nice picture window for the kitchen, where new siding equals new window configuration because you don't want to side just to de-side and re-side?!

These are all questions I do not have the answers to.

Speaking of stuff we need, I should probably add trim for front door to that list. And speaking of the front door - where the heck is the doorbell button?! We really need to put that thing back on again.

And it's Thursday - should I be ordering materials from Morse right now?! Should I be ordering railings from Morse right now? Should I be asking you all these questions?!

Probably not. You'd probably go nuts and tell me to buy up the whole Home Depot.

OH - DOODES! I'm seriously going to return that extra steel basement support thing we've had in our basement for the last three-four years. I don't even care if I only get $2 for it. (But $1 and I'm walkin.) And no Mike is going to stop me this time. MUAH-HA-HA-HA!

But seriously, all questions aside, we need to have electrical up and running and we need to prepare for Sunday. *Was that just thunder?! Why does it rain every time we need to buy concrete?*

Switching topics - I finally remembered to take those pics for you.

Ok, so a little out of focus, but you can see the Smidget clearly here. Think it's no big deal? Doesn't look anything fancy to you? Well, just check out the wide shot:

It looks good. I mean, real good. And it's not even puttied and painted yet! (At this point I'm losing faith that I'll have the painting completed by party-time.) Another brilliant Tim-Idea.

Electrical updates due tomorrow!

Pole Wrapped

Yesterday was a perfect day for pole wrapping. Sun, fair temps, low wind... heavenly fall to say the least. And within a few short hours, the three guys had finished 4 poles!!! They would have even finished the last and final fourth pole, but this one is currently holding up our temporary steps... which, we're still in need of at the moment.

Plus, Timmy had a marvel idea. (And once I explain this, you'll see why I just love him to death!) You see, to fit the posts, the white pre-primed wood needed to be cut down by just a smidget. Obviously, that leaves us with a bunch of scrap smidgets. Trash, you ask? I would have thought so too. That is, until Timmy held one up to the ceiling where the trim meets the bead board. USE THE SMIDGETS TO TRIM THE CEILING! Oh my god, it was a revelation and it looked fabulous! So simple, but we never would have thought of it. We would have just gone out and spent hundreds of more dollars on trim, then burned the smidgets come January when burn season opens up.
Timmy, once again, saved us some big bucks. So I was so happy and excited to write him out a big check that very afternoon. (And, he never asks for any money... usually refuses it, actually. Which made me all the happier to finally be able to give him a substantial amount.)

Anyhoo - check out the new frontal view:

 Pretty swank, isn't it? (I forgot a pic of the smidget trim - I will try to grab one tomorrow.)

Once the poles were finished, the guys attempted to complete the trim up on the gambrel. (At the peak there.) However, something about having the wrong saw or no blade or something like that prevented them from completing it, and they ended for the day.

Plans for next Sunday - the steps begin! Concrete will need to be poured for the step footings, which I had never realized before. Once it cures, the steps can be built. Then - duh duh duh duh - railings. With the Halloween season upon us, I'm hoping to get an early jump on the railings. I have these crazy imaginings that I'll order them and have Mike pre-assemble all the sections so we're ready to slap them up as soon as possible.

Whether he'll be hip to that idea is another story. Hopefully, (oh please oh please) his new truck will be arriving via pro vehicle transport tomorrow. And once it's in our driveway, he's going to do nothing until he installs the needed fuel pump.

But I warned him last night! I said, I'm going to need the electrical on the porch hooked up for Halloween lighting. And I'm going to need it like, this week. On the shopping list there: all the outlets and a new breaker. With the truck arriving tomorrow, we should actually go out and purchase those like... oh, I dunno... NOW.

Halloween Party is Nov 6th.... the race to the finish is ON!

Week of A Million Catastrophes!

Well, of course #1 Catastrophe: Mike returned from South Butt late Monday night/early Tuesday morning sans Dodge. And upon his return, I got the entire U-Haul scoop, which was, unbelievably, worse then I could have ever imagined. (Full disclosure expose' to come!)

#2 Catastrophe: A crazy guy set my office building on fire last Monday night. Thank god our offices are in back - they sustained no damage. But due to the arson investigation and then lack of electrical power, we were unable to get into the building until late Thursday afternoon.

#3 Catastrophe: Crazy mad deadline rush at work Thurs-Fri!!!

And #4 - #1 million Catastrophe were of course, smaller in nature, but all directly related to the first three major catastrophes.

All in all, a week that most certainly took some years off my life. But, amidst all the stress, I have good news to report.

Firstly, Mike and I found ourselves together on Tuesday.... yes! Together on a weekday during normal business hours! (Imagine that?) So after Mike finished his lengthy phone calls to U-Haul, we high tailed it over to Morse Lumber to pick out railings for the farmer's porch. Azek was the composite brand recommended to us - good quality, a best seller, and no-maintenance. (You have to think to yourself - do you really want to re-paint railings year after year? Square poles and trim are one thing - one easy thing. A whole buncha railings and balusters?! A whole buncha pain-in-the-butt.)

We selected a basic white model - no frills, but complete with the bracket-hiding kit or whatever they call it. We'd need 8 sections, not including the stairways. (The figuring for those will come at a later date, as we haven't spoken to Timmy about them yet.) Total cost, approx. $1400.

That probably sounds outrageous.... and, admittedly, we could probably purchase wood for 1/3 of that... but I just don't want to go wood. Wood posts - fine. Wood trim - fine. Wood railings?! Not so much, in my opinion. We saved a boatload going wood on the rest of the porch, so I feel like we can spluurge a little bit where it's going to count.

We didn't order, since we want to check in with Timmy and make sure it's cool. Luckily, what we want is in stock, can be delivered next day, and likely be installed by Mike in one weekend. Each section comes in a box. You just put the pieces together and then attach to the poles. Hopefully, it will be easy.

(Pole wrap hasn't been completed yet, as the guys took this Sunday off, which worked out for us as you'll see in a moment.)

Secondly, 4Runner #1 has been sold! Though I didn't get quite as much as I was hoping, it's gone and the buyer was very happy with it and understood all its problems and quirks. Sweet. Two vehicles down, one to go.

Third, I return you to this past Sunday. As I said, the guys took a break from the porch, so Mike jumped on the opportunity to get Dodge #2 put together. (You know, the one in pieces in the back yard?) He devoted near to the entire day on it and stopped just short of 100% completion. He'll need a little more time, but when it's as tidy as can be for $0, it can be put up for sale as is. And with the sale of Dodge #2, we'll have no more extra vehicles!!!! (Amazing to think.)

Monday, Columbus Day, I took it upon myself to paint the garage and garage addition. I painted the garage white about two years ago.... then we picked out a grey siding for the house. So that white was in need of an update, plus the addition needed a coat of SOMETHING before winter. And what better time then a random Monday off?

Back two years ago, I did the job with a roller and a brush... and it took me hours upon laborious hours. Days, in fact. Yes, I'm pretty sure it took me days. This time around, however, I had a new painting weapon. A super duper power painter.  This thing painted one side of the garage is less then 5 minutes. It took longer to clear away all the mechanical misc from either side then it did to paint! I was blown away! A little bit of touching up on the trim from over-spray and the job was done.

Of course the job still took all day.... Why? Well, the clearing and cleaning up of all the mechanic misc of course! (I took the initiative and loaded up that garage addition. I mean, come on. It was empty and all this junk was outside, next to the garage. Ridiculous!)

Just check out the awesome results:

Look, Ma, no junk!

 Complete With Matching Addition

And the Other Side - One Hood and One Wheelbarrow Left, not too shabby

We survived the Week of a Million Catastrophes and somehow managed to come out.... well, not on top, but pretty high in elevation nonetheless. At this point, no expectations for this week. My brain is no longer processing information.

When Things Are Too Quiet...

With Mike and a couple of his friends off on a Dodge 2500 extended cab buying adventure, and Mikey being such a sleepy baby, I was able to take in some serious R&R on Sunday. Plus, Timmy and Richard were over to start on the posts - and they brought me a coffee! Life is good, right?

Timmy had to leave around noon, so it was a short work day, but they got one post wrapped with a promise that the rest will fly, since they now have the method down. The two plan to return to work one night this week at earliest. Sweet! I was happy with that, for sure.

Plus, I finally got someone who will come to the house and design the yard for me in terms of plantings and such. Woo-hoo! He and I tentatively decided to meet up perhaps next weekend or even some time this week if the opportunity presents itself.

Everything was so smooth.... so relaxing.... So I should have known that the sheet was about to hit the fan. And when I say sheet, I mean U-Haul. And when I say hit the fan, I mean smack us in the face with the wrong trailer. Let me elaborate.

Firstly, understand that this particular Dodge 2500 is in its current condition, un-driveable. Needs work. (Not much - and the price is right - it's worth it.) In Mike's words the truck is "awesome" and just what he's been looking for. We're saving in total $6500 - $7500 on this vehicle.

Here's the initial catch - the boys had to travel a good distance and way into the sticks of South Butt* to pick up the thing. Mike enlisted his BFF Andy and his Dodge diesel along with another friend to help. Mike reserved a large U-Haul trailer at the South Butt location for the price of $250 at our local U-Haul office. The one-way trailer would save us big time in fuel and tolls. The guys would travel down sans trailer, pick it up at U-Haul, and then drive back and return the trailer to our local U-Haul office. Good deal.

Or so it would have been if it had happened as it was reserved.

Mike purchases the truck this morning and the guys go to pick up the trailer and U-Haul. But the one they have is not the trailer Mike reserved. It's too small. It's also $450..... ok hold the phone right there, nearly double the dough for a smaller trailer?! But it's all they've got and Mike grudgingly pays for and takes it in the hope that it will work.

It doesn't work. It's too small.

The boys spend the next 4 hours in a desperate search of South Butt for a proper trailer. But Butt is a rural area and choices are limited... very limited. After four hours of wasted time, the guys have exhausted all resources without a solution. Mike is forced to put the Dodge 2500 in self-storage at the South Butt U-Haul. Lucky for us, at least they agreed to give him that for free.

And now they're en route home. Without the truck. We'll now have to pay to have a professional vehicle transport go down to get it. Add that cost to the cost of this trip - the fuel, the tolls, the food and bev for three guys, the one night hotel stay, and not to mention the 48 total hours of 100% wasted time. Does not compute!

Mike had near to $1500 extra with him on the trip and spent it all on the above mentioned trip-related expenses. So we're basically out $1500 plus another $500-$1000 for a vehicle transport?!!

I'm livid and I haven't even heard the entire story yet. U-Haul is going to get it from me. They owe me at least $2000, but I know I'll never see it. I'm going to read them the riot act though.

By the time you read this, the boys will be home, as I have delayed the post time of this post.
I can't wait to begin drafting my complaint.

*When I say "South Butt," I hope you all realize that I am disguising the actual location with a silly name that's fun to say in conversation. If there is a real place called South Butt and it has a U-Haul office - I recognize and admit that it had nothing to do with any of this wrong-doing.

Get a home insurance quote from Direct Line,
voted Britain’s number 1 insurance provider.