Monday, June 30, 2008


This weekend began one of many trips to shop for appliances. We have never been the type of people to need brand new appliances or the latest stainless steel model. However, there is a point where even we feel that an upgrade might be necessary. Observe:

This is our microwave & oven.

The controls:

But at least it is clean:

I refuse to take the time the clean this beast, as that will make the purchase of a new one take longer. Plus, why waste my time! Yet, like a brave soul, I made brownies this weekend. The brownies were excellent (a little moist--the understatement of the year, let's say soupy instead), but the house smelled of burnt rubber. Let's hope this will be taken care of by next weekend!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Izzy Assault

Moving is always a stressful time for everyone involved, but especially for pets. Our cat, Izzy, has really been a good sport about it all. At least once the moving truck arrived and deposited all of the familiar things in and about the house. However, for some reason, she has it out for our carpet. Now this is our brand new carpet installed in the living room, stairway, and upstairs hall. Since the moment this carpet was installed, our cat has been trying to destroy it.

The first attack happened a few hours after the carpet was installed. Madi & I were at my parent's house for her morning nap, while the installation was taking place. Well, when the carpet installers left, they closed all of the bedroom doors. One thing Izzy despises is a closed door, especially a closed door that holds the only familiar items (Madi's crib and suitcase). So Izzy began her quest of trying to open that closed door. She failed, but the carpet received a quarter-sized hole at the base of Madi's doorway.

The second attack happened about five days after moving in. After breakfast, Izzy retired to the living room, where she redeposited (i.e. vomited) each tasty morsel. Hurrah for stain resistant carpet, and for getting the darker tan color.

The third and final attack happened Friday evening. I was putting the final coat of white paint on the dining room trim, which requires open windows, so they don't stick shut. In our jungle of a yard, bunnies are in abundance, so Izzy takes advantage of every window opportunity. Even if this means white painted paws. She catapulted herself in to the window, discovered her newly painted paws, took off across the dining room plywood floor, living room carpet, up the stairs, down the hallway, and dove under the guest room bed. Don't worry, the faint paw prints were removed with carpet cleaner, and the laminate wood flooring in the guest room only required a few finger nail scraps to be cleaned.

I just can't fathom what Izzy is thinking up for her next attack.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Teacher Qualities

1. Efficiency & Timeliness:
Now, I have been billed as a messy painter. Mainly because when I paint I reuse my painting clothes. A slather of various hued paints and primers coat this shirt and pants making them up for bid in a modern art museum. People seem to have a hard time understanding that myriad of paint decoupaging my clothing is not just from that day of painting. I also have a tendency to wipe up drips with my fingers and wipe this excess on my pants. Not only does this save you the hunt for a rag, it also allows you to never set down your paint brush. I will admit to painting quickly and a little sloppily at times. But in my defense, here is the dining room window before and after two coats (one more is still needed):

I have yet to paint the window shut, and except for a few streaks on the window glass, I have proven my expertise. One of my painting friends is the razer blade, as it can easily remove that slobber of paint off of the glass.

I will defend my messiness and quickness with calling it being efficient and timely. As a teacher, I did not have time to make sure each bulletin board display matched engineering quality of straightness and spacing. I did not have time to make each star on every paper graded a beautiful 5-pointed masterpiece. You learned to get things done quickly as your thirty minutes (25 after walking them there and back) of planning time dwindled into nothingness. So world, I am not messy, these are reused clothing. And world, I am not too quick, I am efficient. Afterall, my life now revolves around naps, and renovating a house on a one and a half hour to two hour time frame is not something to scoff at.

2. Resourcefulness
I blush to think of my secret tool chest for household projects. In our past house I removed wallpaper with a kitchen spatula. I have since purchased a scraper (which definitely did the job much better). I also bill this as a teacher quality. You use whatever you can find, whenever you need it. You don't have the luxury of time to search for the perfect tool for a job. You use a broken, tooth-dented pencil to scratch out a quick note to the paraprofessional. You quickly wipe your hand or sleeve across the chalkboard when all the erasers migrated to the opposite end of the tray. You learn to use what you have, not search for what you need. So in honor of resourcefulness, here are some of my favorite wallpaper removal tools (minus the spatula):

Yes, that is a spray bottle, scraper, vegetable/kitchen brush, and a butter knife. How else do you remove those stubborn paper scraps cemented behind the chair rail?

And to close, one final tip that captures both my efficiency and my resourcefulness. Instead of cleaning painting trays, brushes, and rollers after each use, simply put them in a plastic bag or cover them with plastic wrap until ready for the next coat of paint, like so:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Welcome to our Home. . . err, I mean Jungle. . .

The front:
The backyard:

I think these pictures speak for themselves. Once the inside is finished, the lumber company will be called in to deal with the amazon sprouting in our front and back yard.

Yes, I could do a little better, but it's not nearly as funny. Here is the best view of the front of our house.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Remember that lovely blue striped/flowered wallpaper in the dining room. Of course you do, it is scarred into your memory. Well, my task this week was to remove it. I am happy to report finishing early. Now comes sanding the walls, fixing nail holes, resanding the walls, and scraping the stubborn wallpaper near the chair rail. After that, PAINT, which should begin this weekend. I'll be sure to post after pictures.

Dirt Addition

3 large dogs + 2 adults = our home's original owners + at least 15 years residency

2 dogs + 3 cats + 2 kids + 2 adults = the owners previous to us + 3 years of no cleaning

15 years + 3 years + no cleaning or changing of curtains/carpets, etc. = too much dirt to stand

I am not one to mind dirt necessarily. I am not a anti-bacterial soap dispenser carrier. I do not vacuum every day or even week. I am not afraid to eat an apple unwashed or a chip that has touched the floor. I do subscribe to the belief that "a little dirt never hurt". However, there comes a point when things just need to be cleaned. And of course dogs, cats, kids, etc. can add to the need to clean. Now an influx of kids and pets does not mean that a house has to be filthy, if you take an occasional moment to clean. I'm not sure those living here previously understood that.

Let me paint a picture for you: The day of our final walk through/closing has arrived. We were not naive. We remembered a house needing lots of renovations, some love, and money. However, we did not expect a house unlivable. After the moving company moved the furniture and personal belongings, the previous owner did nothing about cleaning up. Take a moment, walk into your living room, and move the sofa. Now imagine leaving everything you just saw there for someone else to find. YUCK! But that's what we got--an inch thick layer of dust, hair, and dirt on all the carpets and curtains. Not convinced? Think I am exaggerating? Here's a picture to help you.

This is what is behind the master bedroom toilet stuck to the wall. I know, I know. No one cleans behind the toilet. But this level of dirt was also found in the kitchen cabinets, and in the fridge (which was left turned off and shut thus leaving a large amount of mold). Could you imagine eating off plates that sat in this filth?

The nice thing is that our house comes equipped with a central vacuum system. The movers accidentally moved some of these central vacuum parts, so the previous owners were nice enough to ship them back to us. Unfortunately, the extension parts were clogged with pine needles and an abundance of dog-scented hair. I have witnesses who will testify to the stench that filled the kitchen as I unpacked that box!

I am happy to report that the dirt war is over. Our vacuum succeeded. It is now in control of the dust mites and mold spores. We were victorious! The dirt is vanquished.

1 vacuum + 1 bottle of bleach + 1 container of clorox wipes = a clean house

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Battle of the Blue

The best way to describe our house prior to our takeover was with one word: blue. I don't know if any of you remember that oh-so-popular decor in the late 80's, early 90's of the country blue. Well, our house modeled that fashion perfectly.

All of our trim--blue, all of our window panes--blue, (who paints the center of your window pane a color other than white?)

all of our carpet--blue,

the doors--blue, the basement walls--blue. And the wallpaper in the dining room sported, surprise, surprise, blue stripes with blue flowers dispersed among the lines. Everywhere you looked your eyes were inundated with that pale, sky blue.

Now don't get me wrong--I love the color blue. It was my favorite color up until 12th grade, when I discovered purple. Our living room furniture is a gray-blue leather. Blue is beautiful. Just not when it covers every inch of your house. It is then that you begin to dream in blue. So one of our first tasks was to remove the blue! One coat of primer and two coats of semi-gloss later, we are happy to announce that most of the blue trim is now gone. The blue carpet also made a lovely march to the trash can. I am proud to say that in order to take the blue carpet picture, I had to hunt for a piece of that blue carpet. One remnant remains in our master bathroom protecting the shower from the ladder we have posted in there to work on the walls.

And if you'll look closely at that blue carpet, you'll notice something that we have also seen our fair share of--dirt! There is a number of dog and cat hairs mixed with who knows what! That picture is just a preview of my next post which will be all about dirt and the condition of our home prior to move in!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I have been pondering since becoming an avid blog reader what I could possibly add to the blogging world as a writer. As I am a stay-at-home mom of a ten month old, many would advise a mommy's blog. However, I just didn't feel that I could add a new dimension on this much tried blogging topic. Plus, with living close to our family, I just didn't feel that it was a needed aspect. With the purchase of our new-to-us home and the beginnings of renovation, the blog topic hit me, need I say--like a hammer. Why not chronicle our process of making this much worn house into our home. So welcome! I hope you'll enjoy reading about our home repair projects. Some things to look forward to: wallpaper removal, respackling kitchen walls, tile projects, tree removal, and landscaping. So go grab your spray bottle and a wallpaper scraper, and I'll meet you in the kitchen!