Thursday, April 30, 2009

In which we show the progress of the floors

In the beginning, there was carpet, and it was hideous and smelly.
Then Mrs. House and Mr. House tore out the carpet, and discovered a hideous black mess underneath, which we were able to clean. And that was good.

Removal of the carpet begat removal of the carpet tack strips (and staples), which was significantly less good.

And then the floor was cleaned by Mrs. House's father, which was wonderful and tedious.

Then our fathers sanded the floor, Mrs. House's father with the huge suction sander (not shown) and Mr. House's father with various hand sanders.

And then it was bare wood. Which needed to be sealed.

Prior to sealing there is the cleaning with nasty smelling chemicals.

Then the sealing of the floor with even nastier chemicals. Followed by more sanding, more cleaning, and more sealing.

And finally, we have a finished room, with a lovely floor, and a lovely Mrs. House watching some Seinfeld.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On Tools

Here at This Old Blog, we are fans of hand tools, which is to say tools powered by muscle, not by electricity, or petroleum byproducts.  This has more to do with aversion to noise pollution I think, rather than air or other pollution.   So we have a rather surprising number of crank drills, hand saws, and the like.

Correspondingly, when we needed a mower, we never even considered a gas mower, even though we have a great deal of grass.  (currently, we hope to remove that)  The only other options for lawns (besides sheep, goats, other ruminants) are push mowers and electric mowers.  Electric mowers are both costly, and powered, so noise.  So a push mower is the way to go for us. 

Here is the result of this impulse:

It is a Scott 18" reel mower, with a catch basket, bought from Home Despot [sic], just like most of our home items.  The whole thing came in a kit, which was sort of a pain to put together, since the handle came in several segments, and had to be assembled.  The various nuts are "tool-less" nuts, which are much looser than a wrench cranked version. we might replace them, since they get loose during use. 

In comparison to my father's reel mower, this one is much smoother in action, but harder to turn due to the multi segmented handle.  Saturday I mowed the whole of the lawn (10 baskets of grass), which took around two hours.   Good times! (let's get on removing some of that lawn!)

Next up, the Rumpas room floor...

Friday, April 24, 2009

trees, glorious trees!

So Mr. House has a whole plan for our backyard landscaping. It was one of the first things that he thought about and planned. We have a very thorough plant blueprint drawn and ready to be put into action. The thing we started realizing was - plants are expensive and very time consuming - the type of project we don't really need more of right now. The problem is that our backyard is not exactly a private oasis. It will take much time to get it to where we want it to be.

So with all these factors in mind (plus the fact that the window for planting is beginning to close or so I am told) we went out and bought two fruit trees last weekend from Capital Nursery. We went out on a hot day and scoured their many rows and rows of plants. We ended up buying a White Nectarine and a Black Fig. The nectarine is about a 7 or 8 foot beauty with many fruits beginning to grow already (that sadly had to be picked off in order for it to take root). The fig was a hearty 4 feet with a few good looking leaves. Luckily for us we brought the van, otherwise I don't know how we would have gotten them home. Here is Mr. House with the tree stretching all the way from the back to the very front.

After we got home we took a look at our backyard and roughly decided where they should go. Here is a picture looking to the right and then the left from the back porch.

Now you know what we have to work with. I would love to post the plant map that Mr. House drew now, BUT we don't have our scanner up yet so that will have to wait. Next Mr. House dug a big hole while I attempted to pull weeds and hoe the ground in that back planting bed.

Mr. House worked hard diggin that hole! Here he is taking a much needed break sittin in his hole.

The reason why Mr. House dug the hole so deep and big was to A. add fortified dirt around the roots and B. implant a drainage pipe so as to better water the tree. We put the pipe in its place and then filled it with rocks from our front flower beds for drainage.

Here is Mr. House with the tree all ready to move into its new home!

After we filled in with dirt and mulch on top, Mr. House secured it to stakes with spare painters rags (hey it's what we have on hand!) and I supervised.

There was this cement strip that separates that far bed from the rest of the grass that was kind of awkward, so we decided to use those wavy brick trim pieces all along the cement and build up the bed by a few inches. We have a bunch of the brick things in the yard, I think enough to finish the whole span along the fence. I think it creates a much needed definition between the two spaces. So here is the finished product with just a part of what the new wall will look like.

It got dark before we had time to plant the fig so we planted that the next day. Now we need to find one more tree, perhaps a plum tree, to go along the back fence.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

welcome into our home internets!

We are now online. Which allows me the opportunity to post this picture of what we looked like cooking dinner tonight!

Just kidding. That pic was stolen from, one of our favorite websites! More pictures and content to come!

Modern conveniences

Moving always reveals your deep dark secrets. You find things that you forgot you had, hidden away in drawers, the back of a closet, beneath the pile of laundry. It also can bring out the side of yourself that you try to keep hidden, the mean, anal-retentive side. The side that gets annoyed when things aren't packed a certain way or dusted before they are moved.

Anyway back to the subject...

There are so many things that we have that we don't need. Of this list of unnecessary things there are items that I love, and items I wish I could get rid of. On the list of things that I love are small kitchen appliances. Because of the size of our old kitchen, many of these little treasures were hidden away so deep that I forgot we had them. OR I knew we had them, but it was such a bother to dig it out, use it, clean it and put it back that they rarely were used. As I was packing up I compiled a list of all the small appliances and vowed to use them in the new house. But for many of them, I'm just not sure what to even do with them. So I am asking you all for advice! Below is my list of small appliances with their past frequency of use. Please leave your ideas about how we should use them in the comments. I would also appreciate off-the-wall ideas (if you only knew how seriously I am thinking about using my blender as a door stop . . . ) Maybe when we get around to using some of the ideas I will post the results!

  1. Toaster - Frequency: Often
  2. Mini Food Processor - Frequency: Often/Occasionally
  3. Panini Griddler - Frequency: Occasionally/Rarely
  4. Stand Mixer - Frequency: Occasionally/Rarely
  5. Crockpot - Frequency: Rarely
  6. Electric Fondue Pot - Frequency: Rarely
  7. Sandwich Press - Frequency: Rarely
  8. Frother - Frequency: Rarely/Never
  9. Blender - Frequency: Rarely/Never
  10. Waffle Maker - Frequency: Rarely/Once
  11. Instant Hot Shot - Frequency: Never/Still in box

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Part of the "fun" of moving is dragging all of your services along with you. Since we were moving from an apartment to a house, we had to start a few services we did not have previously (like water), and move the rest. One of the things we were looking forward to was ditching Comcast for a mix of AT&T and DishNetwork. Unfortunately, a perusal of the AT&T website indicated that our area only had "basic", or what I like to call "pathetic" DSL speed, instead of the very nice high speed. [768kbps vs. 6mbps]

Since we were previously averaging a 6mbps download, with peaks of 12mbps, obviously this would be a large service downgrade. Frantic, we searched all over the Internet for other service providers, striking out with each. It seems that DSL from AT&T and Comcast were our only options.

So we had to go with Comcast again. A quick call to their "knowledgeable" staff indicated that they now have a 16mbps service available as part of a package with digital cable, and a VOIP phone. After chatting with the guy for a while, we established that it was possible to get a package with the faster service, more digital channels, HBO, a DVR, HD, and the phone. He threw in install of another cable port for free... so I am not feeling completely ripped off, but I still would have liked to venture beyond the Comcast fold.

So there you have our status, Internet-less, and back with Comcast. Updates to follow after install. I am particularly interested in reporting back about the VOIP experience, since upgrading our computer system to provide this service is a long term goal (probably through an ASTRIX box)

Friday, April 10, 2009


Yesterday we put the second coat of poly-urathane on the hardwood. The first went on pretty well, but took much longer to dry than it said on the can, and further, had drips and thick spots which did not cure at all. Mrs. House and her father sanded and cleaned the floors, and then after the mineral spirts had dried, her dad swabbed another layer on top of that. I think there will be a picture set showing the exciting steps of this process soon.

My dad and Mrs. House's dad also installed our new entry area light. They had fun figuring out the status of all the wires crammed into the box, and also when the mounting screw went into the pigtail cover and touched the hot wire. Pictures of the light to come as well. Basicaly I am a big tease.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we are hoping to move in... we will see how that goes. Hopefully it will not be too bad, since most of our stuff has proceeded us. Today I am working late, so Mrs. House will be doing even more of the work than usual.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fireplace ideas

So I do really love our brick fireplace wall that separates the living room from the dining area. The only trouble is, I really have no idea what to do with it. It puzzles me. I know a few things are wrong. For example, the mantel is too high on the wall. It looks very awkward way up there all alone. Also, the color of the wood is all wrong because it has no contrast with the brick.

Secondly, we have the insert. At first I wasn't sold on the idea of having an insert because it takes away from the whole romantic notion of having open flame in the middle of your home. Also, lets face it, they are not very attractive. But when the home inspector did the inspection that insert was the one and only thing that he said was done perfectly and had no problems. There was no way I was going to go to all that effort to fix something that wasn't broken when we have a list a mile long of things that ARE broken. So the insert stays. Plus they are energy efficient and all that jazz.

Also, there is just so much brick! So much RED brick. Which is a good thing, don't get me wrong. But it presents another design problem of what to put on it and where.

I was browsing one of my favorite places to get home design inspiration - saucy dwellings - I saw this photo and fell in love.

So that started me on a mission to find an antique or faux-antique fireplace mantel. Which I have already found some leads on craigslist! I just have to determine the budget, measure the fireplace to get the size and figure out how to move and install what could basically be a huge block of cement.

I also am getting some ideas as to what I want to go above the fireplace, but I am keeping that under wraps for now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Solar Water heater

With a southern exposure, and an electric hot water heater, the mind naturally turns to installing a solar water heater as a way to save energy, and ultimately money. A quick poke around this site indicates that we may be able to get rebates for around $3000 from the State and SMUD, as well as a 30% tax credit on our 2010 Federal taxes. With an average install cost of something around $8000, this would bring the long term effective cost of a solar hotwater heater to something like $2600, and therefore makes the eventual repayment of the installation costs.

On the further bonus side, that would also free up the hot water closet for the server and switches, and move a source of potential water leakage away from our new tile/hardwood.

Maybe this is something to spend our federal stimulus money on. (along with new energy efficient windows?)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

tile, tile everwhere!

We finally have the tile nearly finished (it just needs to be sealed)! This was one of our biggest, and surely our most expensive projects.

Here is what it looked like before. Please note the ugly brown carpet (I first typed that as 'crapet' - which I think is a better descriptive word, I will have to remember to use that one). Also note the linoleum in a lovely half moon shape. The linoleum actually wasn't that bad but there were no hardwoods in the dining area so for continuity we figured we might as well do the whole thing at one time.

Here is what it looked like after we took the crapet off, with the pad stuff down.

Here is a very messy shot during painting week. Its true what they say, the kitchen is the heart of any home,  especially during a painting party. Also note the GREEN walls and the orange pads are gone!

Ok now are about to get down to work. Here come the dads to take out all of the underlayment. Thanks dads! That was some hard work!

One of three layers of linoleum that we had to dig up

Also please note the huge scorched part of the floor that we found! Yay fire damage!

And now for the finished tile!

Getting so close to living in our first home now!
Tune in next time for "Wood Floors: A Facelift"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Quick update

We have floors!

Thanks to the superlative efforts of the fathers (and some much needed last minute help from the brother/cousin brigade), we rid our house of underlayment (33 man hours of work), fixed up the hard wood floors, installed carpet ($), and are currently having tile installed($$$), which looks great so far.

Still to come, linoleum for the master bathroom, and some sort of leveler for the rumpas room, followed by carpet in there. Slightly further down the line is patching the sunroom's concrete floor, and then cleaning and repainting it with floor epoxy.

This weekend we are moving furniture, after which we need to clean the old house, finish the wood floors at the new house, and then move in for good. Sort of scary, that...