Resolutions revisited

29 12 2008

Part of the problem of having a blog is that you can’t ignore your new year resolutions.  There, they are, on Google’s cache for the rest of time, mocking me.  At the beginning of 2008 I made a list of things I would do this year.  Here’s the post.  I had four things on my list.  Let’s see how I did.

Replace the toilet paper holder?  Success!

That engineering degree is coming in really useful

Finish painting the stairway?  Success!

I used a really long stick to paint this

Do a better job with the dishes? Meh.

If you want them clean, come clean them.

Water the plants? FAIL!

Let's see... that used to be jalepeno plants


and that one used to be an African violet


started out as a tree; now more like a stick

Next year I’ll take better care of the yard.

Why it took me over a year to paint the stairs

7 08 2008

I’m big on excuses.  I’ve got lots of excuses for why nothing gets done around the house.  But Karen has employed a brilliant strategy.  She’s been playing along with this whole “house hunting” idea, and because of this many of these projects have been completed.  

So, what’s my excuse been this time?  I hate heights.  Let me clarify.  I hate ladders.  My first summer job was with a roofing contractor, so as long as there is something solid under my feet I am fine.  But ladders bounce.  They move when you climb them.  I hate them.  And I could paint that whole stairwell with my paint roller on a stick, but there was only one way to paint that window.  And that was to put up a ladder over the stairs.  Note that I had to lean out over the stairs to get to part of the window.

Just so you know, that blue painters’ tape is very difficult to remove after a year.  But the window did get painted, and I put up the new blinds as well.

This is exactly how those blinds are going to look forever.  I’m too short to reach those strings, so they’ll never get opened or closed.

A new page

8 06 2008

There’s a saying Karen and I picked up on that says “Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.” This post goes under that category. It’s been a year now since I finished work on the dining room, but I just hadn’t taken the pictures to show it off to the world (or my sister). But I’ve finally completed it, and you can click on it up there where it says The Dining Room Project. Let it never be said that I don’t finish what I start, I just finish it a year late.

BTW, it’s not too late to enter the Name My Child giveaway. Click here to enter.

My resolutions

1 01 2008

I’ve been neglecting my blog responsibilities, I know.  Sorry.

It’s January 1.  I feel older already.  I thought up some new year’s resolutions and I thought I’d share them.

This year I resolve to replace the toilet paper holder.

no, I haven’t done it yet

This year I resolve to finish painting the stairwell.

it’s only been 9 months…

This year I resolve to wash the dishes sooner.  What a smell.

they’re only four days old

And lastly, this year I resolve to do a better job of watering Karen’s plants.

it doesn’t matter what they used to be.

So there.  Some (kind of) realistic goals that I can actually reach.   I think.  At least I didn’t resolve to not ruin any more dinners.  How much sense would that make, really?

Making myself useful

23 09 2007

We bought our washing machine six years ago. You’d think they would last longer than that. But apparently not. Our motor died a spectacular death last week, making the downstairs lights flicker rapidly every time it tried to start spinning. I was given two options on the phone by the repair guy. Spend $250 to fix the motor or probably $350 to replace the whole thing. Fixing the machine wasn’t really worth it. But then I started looking online, and I found a motor on ebay for $160. I started thinking. I could save us two hundred bucks, or I could end up costing us an extra hundred sixty. Karen resignedly gave her support, so I ordered the part. It happened to be in state, so UPS ground got it here the next day.

First thing, I had to go get a new tool just so I could take out the old motor:

Oh no! I’ve got to buy something!

While I’m at Lowe’s, I really should get a new tool box.

I need somewhere to put it…

Even with this new tool, it was a real pain getting the old one out and the new one in. About a half hour each way.

Please, never break again.

I also had to drill a hole so I could mount the new startup capacitor:

I made all those electrical connections, too!

Karen was shocked and relieved to see that it worked. I was pleasantly surprised as well. They changed the design of the motor, so hopefully this one will last until the kids graduate college. Now, if I could only fix that toilet paper holder…

I lost the other piece…

Glutton for punishment

17 04 2007

I’m running behind on the dining room project. Topping that, there’s something else I need to do by April 28. It’s just a painting project, so hopefully it won’t take very long. I promise, there’s no wallpaper to remove. Actually, there was some patching of the wall needed, but I’ve done that already.

What lovely drapes!

This entry / stairwell is actually the first thing you see upon entering our house. Come in the front door (That’s it on the left, below), and you are greeted by another door and a flight of stairs (don’t ask). Choose wisely.

Which door to choose?

Go up the stairs and you’ll see a big ugly wall that probably hasn’t been painted since 1957. The walls and the ceiling are the same color since it’s very hard to reach up 20 feet to the ceiling. I’m going to try. I bought ceiling paint and everything. Here’s hoping it doesn’t look like a three year old painted it when I’m done.

Going up and up and up..

Can you believe we’ve been living here for three years and we haven’t done anything to this hallway yet? Can you see why we’ve been putting it off? Hey, another thing. One room, three different wall materials, maybe more. Going up the steps, wall to the right is plaster, wall in front is drywall, and wall to the left is plywood.

I love old houses.

Obsessive Painting Disorder

12 04 2007

I mentioned that we were away for Easter weekend. We got home from a three hour drive late in the afternoon Sunday, and I just had to start painting the walls in the dining room. Two and a half hours later the first coat of primer was on, only I could still see all the patches of spackling underneath the paint. So Monday afternoon another coat of primer went on, in another two and a half hours. Ugh, what a nightmare. But then something amazing happened. The patches disappeared. I saw a smooth white wall, ready for some color. It was just begging for some color. Karen came home and was pleasantly shocked. I was so excited after all this work, I waited until the kids were asleep and started painting Monday night. It was 10:30.

I learned something that night. After about 9:00 I’m very slow, no matter what I’m doing. Next thing I know it’s 2:00am and I’ve done the walls with windows, and that’s it. Three walls done, three to go, but this time I can get out the big roller.  It turns out that I did most of the detail work, because we’re not painting the windows, just leaving the stain alone and giving it some polyurethane. We’re very glad we made that decision.

Goodbye Green!

No more dining room pics until the job is done.

An inch of snow

5 04 2007

Mark and his snow machine 

Ever start a project, and then a half hour into it realize what you’ve gotten yourself into?

That was me in August, when I first tried to pull wallpaper off our dining room walls.  I saw the work ahead of me and ignored the project for the next six months.  Now I’m finally at the stage where I can paint.  When I think about all the hours I’ve put into this project it depresses me.  Probably 12 hours for pulling down the wallpaper, another 2 hours for washing off the glue and residual wallpaper backing, 7 hours for patching the uneven spots with spackling, and now 3 or so hours of sanding.  Sanding, that part of the project after which you can make snowmen with the kids – in the living room.

Ever start a project and then wish you’d never been born?

If you’re looking at patching a large portion of wall, or if you’re hanging drywall in your whole house, here are some pointers for when you’re sanding:

  • Don’t use much spackling at all.  It’s amazing how you think you’re only using a little and then it turns into lots and lots of dust.
  • When sanding, wear a hat.  When the water from the shower hit my hair, it hardened up like concrete.  For a brief moment I thought I was going to have to shave my head.
  • Wax all of your body hair off, including eyebrows and eyelashes.  Any exposed hair will become a magnet for the dust.
  • Purchase a hazmat containment unit for your room to keep the dust from getting out.  Now before I can paint I have to wash off the bread and the coffee maker and everything else in the kitchen, as well as everything in the living room.
  • If you use an electric sander, purchase an attachment that sucks the dust into your shop vac.  Do they make these?  That would have been a good thing to use.
  • If you don’t want it covered in dust, take it out of the room.  You don’t want to see my vacuum cleaner.

I had a fan sitting in the window blowing out, trying to keep the dust from the rest of the house.  Here’s what my window screen looks like now:

See, I was trying to blow the dust out the window…. 

If you know of methods or techniques that would’ve made my life easier on this project, please keep them to yourself.  Unless, of course, you just like being mean to me.

Wallpaper is evil

25 03 2007

I’m making slow progress on the dining room.  After about 12 hours of steaming the wallpaper is finally off, and on Saturday a very good friend with a lot of tools came by to help me put up the crown moulding.  I asked for his help because he has the tools, and he’s also quite a perfectionist.  It took longer than expected because I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, but I gotta admit it looks great.


This is why wallpaper is evil.  Tearing off the wallpaper did expose a crack in the wall behind it.  I think I can patch that.


I’ve now got the cold Karen had last weekend, so I suppose I’ll be bedridden tomorrow.  I’m such a pansy when I’m sick.  So I’m taking this opportunity to sponge off the last of the wallpaper glue so I can patch some holes, and finally get to painting.  That’s the fun part.  I’m also very good at it.  For those of you who don’t know about my last painting project, here’s a picture:


Yes, a full gallon of primer fell on the floor, upside down.  Karen had just said “You shouldn’t put the paint can on the rung of that stepladder.”  What does she know?

What’s next, more poached flounder?

5 03 2007

Okay, so maybe I’m not as fast a learner as I should be.  What’s rule #1 of home renovation?  It should be “Don’t tear off wallpaper unless you are fully prepared to re-hang drywall.”  Case in point:  When we bought our current house, the living room walls looked like this:


Fine, we’ll just paint and it will all be fine, right?  Wrong.  Underneath, the walls looked like this:


Oh, I’m sorry, you can’t see what’s really there?  Look closer:


Two rooms worth of new drywall and $1700 later we had a lovely living room that didn’t make our eyes hurt.  Lesson learned?  Perhaps not.  Here we are, two and a half years later, and I decided to tackle our dining room, shown here the day we moved in:


Now this makes my eyes hurt every day.  Who would purpose to make a room this dark?  We’ve got well over 200 watts of light bulbs in this room and we still can’t see our dinner.  I decide we’re going to paint this room to brighten it up a bit.  Okay, a lot.  Except there’s one problem.  There’s some sort of industrial adhesive holding the wallpaper to the wall.  It’s like the house is clinging to it, relying on the wallpaper for structural integrity.  And then I get this dose of bad news.  Wall #1 is finally free of wallpaper, so I start on wall #2.  Except this wall is not sheetrock.  I don’t even know what material it is, it feels like cardboard.  It’s some sort of wallboard made from a paper based material.  Boy does this thing soak up the steam.  I’m doing my best, people, but this house has it in for me.  And I know for a fact that two of these walls are plaster, so that’s going to be even more fun.  One room, three different wall materials, that’s going to look great, isn’t it?  If there’s butt-ugly wallpaper on the walls, there’s probably a reason nobody took it down.