Friday, May 23, 2008

Lighting a fire...

...under our asses. The roof is done (all but one little overhang in the backyard where they ran out of shingles-- they're coming to finish it later). I really, really, really prefer the grey color and the architectural texture.

And now, as Adam said, "It just makes the rest of our house look shittier." Time to get cracking!

Yesterday, we turned on the AC for the first time since we moved in. It wasn't so much hot, as muggy beyond belief. It's oppressive, the humidity we get down here, especially since we're in a river valley. And I've NEVER had central air conditioning in my entire life. Never even in a rental property. And I've never slept so comfortably.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guess what's in front of MY house?

That's right. Shingles. And not the chicken pox kind! The roofers are supposed to begin this morning, though I know they had a helluva house to work on down the street. But with the supplies in such close proximity, I can almost taste the new look of our house.

The bad news? I mean, isn't there always some bad news? I had the opportunity to go to Lebanon through work next month. We were monitoring the situation there closely, and then things really just blew up...And then they got better...but they've put off a lot of the important issues for later discussion. I've decided that in light of the things still unresolved and all the family obligations, it wouldn't be particularly responsible of me to go, just in case. It's still a little unstable and there's definitely risks involved. When you consider whether your will is in order and updated before going somewhere you don't have to go, it certainly makes you think. Not that I shouldn't take care of this anyway. It just, well... made me think about how much responsibility I carry in my personal life.

I've decided not to go. I'm really fucking sad about this whole turn of events. I've wanted to go to the Middle East for forever. And I would've been paid to do it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Attacked by robots

It appears that the evil comment robots got me last night. Sorry to anyone who commented and requested follow-up comments...Looks like I have to bust out the annoying robot blocker letters.


Stupid robots.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I just realized...

...what it is that I'm watching. The blue jay family is teaching the young ones to fly. What a lovely thing to have a front row seat for.

Never thought I'd have to weed the patio

It was a good weekend, but I can't say the things I accomplished warrant pictures, really. Doing regular house things like, oh say, cleaning. Laundry. Weeding the patio. Filling in the dog-dug holes in the backyard. Potting cat grass. Dishes. Cooking. Grocery shopping. These are things people are supposed to do all the time-- whether they're renovating or not-- right? I wouldn't really know. Spending every weekend on this little "project" meant we let our other house go to shit on a regular basis. I'm trying to keep up with things at this place now, while unpacking (still) and preparing for the final inspection. Sigh. Never enough time or money. I'm pretty sure that an abundance of one or the other of those things would solve the above dilemma.

The good news? The roofer stopped by yesterday and told us they had already pulled the permit for our house. YAY! But then again, this only brings us one step closer to making a trim decision. I'm starting to think perhaps a nice warm, deep gray? Or a gray/olive green-- Something like Sherwin Williams Ruskin Pewter or Green Bronze. I really wanted to do red-- like the picture a few posts below, but leaving all the vertical slats white-- but I'm getting a lot of negative feedback, albeit, some of it's from people like my mother who says, "I HATE all light colored houses with dark trim. So I won't like anything you show me. It looks country." She's a designer, who is perhaps a wee bit colorblind, but maybe I should rethink the red. I'm wondering if my overwhelming desire for a balance of color (as in, not all white) has led me a bit astray. I don't know. It's all a moot point until we get a roof, so. Hm.

Meanwhile, I tried some organic "no dig" granules in the yard and seeded over some of the bare spots. The granules were white pepper, thyme and peppermint oil. I also added some cayenne to the mix. First thing Simon did? He ate it. Apparently, unlike most dogs, he loves him some pepper. Next step is the designated digging area. Beyond that, I just keep sweeping the dirt back to its proper location every morning. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One step closer...

Looks like it is indeed a badged Eldredge. I found this:

From Sears, 1880s or 90s. So mine is an updated version of this, I believe, from 1910 and badged differently as "American." Same treadle and leg designs (minus the badge); same drawer hardware, and same case design (I understand many of these were very different). I think the badge would have been again located in that gaping oval in the center of the stand (there's little round holes, like it might have had something mounted there). Still don't know who branded this as the "American" model, but it would likely be Sears or Montgomery Ward, I think...I'll have to question my grandmother about where they ordered most of their things. She wouldn't have been born yet, but they may have only had access to one or two catalogs, as far out as they were.

I spoke too soon

I guess the quarter sized hail we had the other day actually did cause a little more damage. The HVAC inspector noticed some daylight coming through the roof yesterday. So I made Adam get up there and take care of it for me. I get vertigo, nausea. I can't get on and off the ladder at the top. Can't help but look down, and then it's all over for me. It's embarrassing.

But no worries-- we're supposed to be on the list to get our roof within the next week or two. The decking was plank, rather than plywood sheet, and some of the pieces that were broken by the hail have started to buckle, so whenever it happens, it needs to be soon.

And then we can get started on our new color scheme. I went to Lowe's last night and picked out, seriously, hundreds and hundreds of paint chips-- all the reds, greyish or olivey greens, and grays. I know they must hate me there, taking so many, but color corrected booths are the stupidest things I've ever seen. At any rate, I think we're now looking at a deep red with a very mid-tone gray (bordering on taupe, but more neutral) in addition to the existing white to accent the architectural features of the trim.

Can't decide much until the roof is on, but isn't it fun to dream?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pat us on the back

We passed another inspection! After all the nasty things I've said about the city inspectors, I think it's worth noting that the HVAC inspector was one of the nicest people I've met here in town. He sighed and clucked about our hail damage and what a shame it is, and he told me about the people a bit further north who had hail go though their wooden lap siding, through the sheetrock, and into the rooms. Ouch.

He also oohed and aahhed over my sewing machine.

It's not a Singer, so I'm trying to do a little research. Maybe you sewing fanatics out there can help me...Perhaps someone will accidentally click their way here through Google...

It has a list of the patent dates, ranging from 1879 to 1909. I don't think it's much later than '09, simply because I know that this was the machine my great grandmother used-- my grandmother was the youngest, born in 1918, and the oldest who just passed away a few weeks ago, was born in 1910, I think. It saw a LOT of use, which is why it's amazing what beautiful shape it's in.

It seems to work, by the way-- it needs a belt, but the needle does indeed go up and down when you crank the fly wheel. The "American" mark is all I see that indicates any company or model name. It also has what I think might be a buttonhole overseam contraption:

This was my first thought, anyway. Then I discovered that there was a company called the American Buttonhole and Overseam company, or thereabouts, and they marketed a sewing/buttonhole machine combo. But I can't find anything about them producing machines past the late 1800s. So I'm currently stumped. I suppose I'll hit up the library or the Smithsonian's digital archives. But I thought I'd throw it out there in case anyone knows anything...

Here's a few more details.

"It leads the world"

Pretty elaborate for a farming family out in the sticks, huh?


Monday, May 12, 2008

or this?

The color keeps looking all wrong once I get it into blogger. It's a deep plummy red-- not purple, not brown, not burgundy. And not washed out grayish looking.

Regardless, the house just shouldn't be white. I just don't know if I'm mentally prepared to paint it another color.

40,000 Roofs

That's the number of new roofs being installed in Fort Smith. At least, that's what I overheard at Lowe's. Man. That's a lotta shingles.

We have picked out what we're going with. We decided on gray-- Owens Corning Oakridge Architectural shingles, to be exact, in Estate Grey. Well, we thought gray, as opposed to our current green 3-tab roof, would give us some more options in terms of trim color. Green basically left us with variations on green and red-- festive at Christmas, but I'd like something a little less seasonal all year-round, I think.

So of course, I couldn't resist some Photoshop time. I've done the trim with a gray/blue and with a plummy color...Next question will be, do we paint the rest of the trim one of these colors, too? And do we leave the house white? I think we leave it white but, I don't know!

That's a gable vent-- I just drew in a quick one; I start to lose my patience.

ALSO! I will gladly accept any other suggestions for trim colors and combinations-- all the help we can get!!!

No, I am NOT kidding.

Yes, that's right. MORE HAIL. This time, it was only nickel- to quarter-sized, and only lasted a few minutes, so it didn't really do any more damage. I was in my car, however, and it was a little frightening-- I can only imagine what it was like when the golf-ball stuff came down. It just kept exploding on the windshield.

And still, I think Fort Smith was spared the worst of it. Adam and the kiddo went to a minor league baseball game Saturday night and were delayed up there, 1 hour+ north, because of more hail, high winds, and tornadoes. So, yeah, all in all, it's ok. I know this system brought some really devastating tornadoes in Missouri, so my thoughts are certainly with them.

At any rate, not a lot else went on this weekend-- Adam's family came down for dinner Friday night, so I spent that afternoon sprucing up our 3 presentable rooms and the back patio. And we had the most awesome Cajun meal, at one of our favorite restaurants, so all was goo0d there. We bought all the supplies to complete one more section of fencing-- to give the dog a private yard to go to when we have company. This was a fiasco in itself. We tromped all over Lowe's looking for fencing panels, or even just the dog ears to build it from scratch. The garden people said it'd been moved to lumber, the lumber people couldn't be found...the kid who tried to help us in lumber saw us leaving and was able to get us talking to the guy in the store who "knows everything." He was finally able to help us. They'd stacked all the dogears out FRONT on the lumber end of the store. So we wrapped that up and went on our way.

Aaaand. That's about all we did this weekend. We found this cool vase on clearance at TJ Maxx, adn it is perfect for kitchen utensils: head shops? Remember your college dorm? Remember big pieces of fabric tie-dye and batiks and Indian sari fabrics that worked great for covering walls and ugly recliners that you found on the side of the road, or something. Yeah, full disclosure, I thought that was some hippie dippy shit and not punk rock enough for little old me. But I could appreciate some pretty prints. I was still a little girly, too, after all. Well my sister bought me a beautiful and enormous piece of hand printed Indian fabric for Christmas this year. She just thought it might come in handy what with the new house and everything-- I have to say, that that is some forward thinking for a high school student.

This fabric will be perfect for living room curtains, and there's just enough of it.

The colors and pattern are perfect. I love it!

But I had a sad moment this weekend, too-- I over slept and missed bidding on this, the coolest light in the world.

I could kick myself.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why is it so difficult?

Ugh. Apparently, the bank is going to hold our insurance money in escrow until we get the repairs done, releasing it one third at a time-- before we begin work, at 50% completion, and finally at 90% completion.

I mean, I get it-- they own more of the house than we do, and if we were scandalous thieves who took the money and let the bank foreclose, they couldn't recoup their investment. And they also claim the inspection done at each of these milestones helps protect the homeowner from ending up with shoddy work. I get it. I do. Everyone has been really nice in this whole debacle, too-- granted, it's not over yet and there's definitely time left for us to get bent over. However, everyone we've dealt with has been at the very least nice.

But it really, really sucks that we have to dip into credit to get it done (if it gets bad, I'll call and bitch and try to get more released). And it doubly sucks for someone like me, who has her own vast array of anxiety issues, that I am now left to obsess over. Like, what they mean by 50% and what happens if they don't like that we plan on replacing the garage door altogether rather than just reface it-- even though the insurance company is fine with this? And is there some way they can screw me? How long will this all take? Will they direct deposit it? Will I have to make requests for it like a trust? Or will I get a separate "credit" card for it-- one more thing to clog up my wallet and have to keep track of? When will I get the paperwork they claim they're sending...?

See why this is a problem?

Good fences make good dogs

Yeah, look. I know it's ghetto.

The dog won't stay out of the flower bed. He just keeps digging and digging and kicking dirt all over the patio, and tearing up the root system of the four o'clocks. I originally put up the wire thing you can kind of see in the pups go, he's pretty responsive to boundaries, however real. But that cool, wet dirt got the better of him and he ended up in the bed once again yesterday.

I thought maybe a more substantial looking blockade would help, so I used the ends we cut off of our fencing boards. unfortunately, the little plants that are struggling to come up, are doing so right at the brick border, and I didn't want to hammer the wood into them and crush the little guys.

So I spread them apart, and now they look like jack-o-lantern teeth, and I managed to hammer my hand, which now hurts ALOT. And then I spread cayenne pepper water all over the bed and fence. We'll see how he does. The places where he's not digging are coming up like gangbusters

Meanwhile, the living room is kinda coming together. At least it looks like a place to sit and most of the boxes are out of the way. It makes me want to sit in it, and I guess that's all that matters.

Pay no attention to the shadeless lamp. It was a moving casualty.

We also finally got the insurance claim's itemized settlement statement and it's VERY detailed. We'll hire some of it out and do some of it ourselves. I'm just glad we can finally get moving on some of this crap.

Monday, May 5, 2008


There were other things that happened around here besides the backsplash. A new hummingbird feeder:

I know this is common knowledge, but seriously, how do they get away with charging so much for red-colored sugar water? We made out own hummingbird food. I'm working on a regular hanging bird feeder, so I'll post pics of that when I'm done.

A new hanging plant for the porch:

Our climbing rose has about 30 buds on it, and about 8 or so have started to open. The rose in the compost started blooming! Adam painted the broom closet and hot water heater closet doors and got those hung up. I mowed the yard.

And does this rings a bell?

I finally sucked it up and bought a textured vinyl window covering:

I really like it, but I also haven't checked its privacy level at night time, so I'll do that soon. I'ts pretty easy to install-- static cling and water!-- but I'd recommend using 2 people...

I'd call this our most productive weekend since we moved in. I feel a little bit re-energized!

Our long awaited arrival

I'd say that this house has been like giving birth, but it sure is taking longer than 9 months.

This was a good weekend, mostly because we hit some sort of Babysitters Club Book jackpot at the library's used book sale. They had about 45 of them at 25 cents each (I just reached for the "cents" key and it doesn't exist anymore :( I guess there's an option+ keystroke, but how very sad that it's not obvious; I just looked this up and, um, looks like maybe there never was one on a computer keyboard. Does this show my age, or how little I use that word...or both?). I think the kiddo was a little overwhelmed that we told her she could buy all of them-- she would only take 12.

Anyway, if we'd done nothing else all weekend, that alone would have made it great.

But luckily, we did get a ton of stuff wrapped up. First and foremost, as I mentioned in the last post, we got our backsplash installed. This is what it's looked like for about 8 months:

And now:

I cannot stress enough that it looks metallic-- not nearly so browny chocolate. The final layer is several thin sprays of metallic copper outdoor paint so the initial sheen is that of copper, then an oil rubbed bronze base coat. It's fairly dark under our cabinets, even with the lighting, so you see those subtle metallic highlights when standing in person. Unfortunately, with the flash, it washes out the highlights; without the flash, it just turns yellow. So there you go. We still have one side wall to do, and once we get an over the range microwave, we'll extend the backsplash behind the stove. I'm also faux finishing the outlet covers and switchplates to match.

I'll quickly explain the process for cheapest backsplash ever while it's still fresh.

These were 18X24 inch pressed aluminum panels from MBoss, Inc. ($6.50 each for 12, plus shipping). First we rubbed them with 00 steel wool and primed them with Rustoleum's heavy duty primer for rusty metal ($4/can, for 2 cans). Then we dry fit them into the space and used kitchen shears to cut out the window. We decided to split the back wall into 2 sections for ease of handling and storing and painting, etc. Once we had decided where the split would be (under the window), we glued the panels together using PL Construction Adhesive (there's an overlap in the pattern for this purpose). After each set was dry and adhered, I used a fine grit sanding block and my fingernail to get rid of any glue that squished out, and reprimed any places that had been sanded off. Then, we added the trim pieces. These are plastic edges that create a smooth transition to the countertop and in the corners. They're from Home Depot's plastic/composite backsplash panels kit usually housed back in the cabinet showroom ($0.99 each). I laid out the whole wall's worth of panels on the lawn and snapped on the edges, then made sure that the center seam would piece together naturally and adjusted the edges accordingly. Then I painted it all together.

We used Sophisticated Finishes Blackened Bronze, an acrylic medium with powdered bronze mixed in (Michaels, $8/ bottle, for 2 bottles), so it looks a little more authentic. It's also rated for outdoor use. I brushed it on very thinly with a sponge brush and then very, very lightly patted it with another sponge brush to take out the brush strokes. After it dried, I misted several layers of the outdoor copper spray paint (Krylon, I think, about $4) until it looked like we wanted it. We decided it would be best to err on the side of copper, considering how dark it is under there. (FYI-- we used outdoor grade everything so it could withstand getting wet.)

After they were painted, we dry fit, yet again. We had to scoot the edge pieces down on one side and shim a place where the concrete wall dips, but everything fit well otherwise. While the panels were up there for fitting, we applied blue tape up against them on the counter so we knew where they laid. We pulled them out and ran a bead of siliconized caulk behind the taped line (NOT silicone caulk, after what happened last time...), then applied PL adhesive to the back of the panels. Of course, we ran out halfway through one panel and you only have about 10-15 minutes with this stuff, so I had to sprint to the hardware store. They didn't have any of this particular brand, so I opted for Liquid Nails Heavy Duty. Liquid Nails hasn't failed me yet-- my dad even tiled the upper portion of their mantle with liquid nail. It's the best. Anyway, we'll see how it holds up. We set the panels onto the caulk and raised them into place. So far so good.

And that's it.

See? No flash turns EVERYTHING yellow. But this pic shows how our lights are like little spotlights.

I know it sounds like a lot of steps, and it's certainly not the swankiest or most polished looking backsplash possible, but with an uneven concrete wall, and at about $150 total, this seemed like the way to go. Throw in another $15 of testing paints and that's a grand total that would barely buy the plywood, hardibacker, thinset and tapcons that we'd need to tile-- forget paying for the tile itself! That wall was just a nightmare. Even if it lasts us a few years, I'll be a happy camper. Hell, we could have set a toddler up there with a pack of magic markers and it would have been better than what we had.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Patience is not my strong suit

Lots to report from the weekend, but I can't upload all the pictures until the morning...Still, I couldn't wait to report the one thing I CAN show you.

Remember this?

Now it looks like this!

Eeeeee! It's so exciting! And it's even better from this angle:

The backsplash is up! More details and pics to come...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Oh boy!

The claims adjuster called yesterday and told me he had some extra time and was able to come by early. I wasn't able to leave work, so Adam handled it. The guy couldn't do an estimate on the spot-- too much to figure up-- and it's gonna be a lot, I think. New roof on house and garage, new carport, new wood clapboard on the garage, new ceilings in at least 2 rooms, new insulation, new love seat, paint on ceilings and garage and 2 sides of the house, new gas street light, new screens on part of the house, maybe a new heat pump (to replace our new heat pump) depending on what the experts say when they see it...the list goes on much further than that. No telling what the depreciation will be, but the majority of these things need to be taken care of, so we'll see most of that money in the end. Fingers crossed we can get on a roofers list sometime soon; with most of the decking needing to be replaced, there's gonna be a lot of people who won't even want to talk to us...

Anyway, the kiddo had an after school event yesterday, so I killed some time in Target while I waited to get her. A couple of hours there is a very bad thing. The dollar section has gardening stuff, so I got a couple of little planters and new gloves-- and a headband so I can look pretty whilst I work in the mud. Then I picked up necessary things like toilet paper and aluminum foil...and then I meandered into the patio/gardening/seasonal section. Lo and behold, there hung a hammock for $30!! I really don't even have that kind of money to spend, but I've never seen such a deal, so of course I bought it and I'll let you know how it goes; it was too dark to hang it, and it probably will be again tonight by the time we get home.

There was, however, time to pick our little strawberry, and we all had a taste. I forgot how much better homegrown strawberries are. My grandfather grew them, and in one or two bumper crop years, I sold them at the farmers market. Nothing beats strawberry shortcake that you don't have to sweeten.

At any rate, I'm excited-- lots going on, these days. Plans to get the backsplash up this weekend, then there's the used book sale at the library, and the hippies have started their outdoor movie showings, so things are finally picking up around the house and around town. Just have to keep moving on the important things, or it'll be feet up in the hammock for me!