Monday, October 29, 2012

Scenes from a remodel

You know you're in the middle of a remodel when:
  • You have no time to dye your roots but the paint in your hair is helping to take the attention away.
  • The guys at Frazee Paint greet you by name.
  • Emigh Hardware is on your speed dial.
  • The contents of your purse one day include a screwdriver, a tape measure and a roll of toilet paper.
  • You walk up to the houses of perfect strangers with exterior paint chips in hand.
  • Your dog has paint on her snout.
  • Your blisters are getting blisters.
  • You fear a trip to the emergency room lest they suspect your bruised legs are not self-inflicted ladder wounds.
  • You have been wearing the same pants for four days in a row, and that is fine with you.
  • You visit someone who is recuperating from a hospital stay and you are silently wondering if they are happy with their choice of floor covering in the kitchen.This visit was made in paint covered clothing.
  • A conversation at the closest pizza parlor goes like this - "You mean to say if I order the sale priced $10 extra large pepperoni with cheese on just one side and mushrooms instead of pepperoni on that side - that somehow makes it a $20 two-topping pizza? But I'm saving you money on the cheese." You realize you are arguing with the Pizza Police with paint in your hair and four day old pants on. You are grateful there is no longer toilet paper in your purse.
Somehow, with all the things we had to do with the new house, I was in denial. I didn't imagine it to have that Quick Build vibe, but I feel like I should slap my name badge on when I get there. We even have various departments set up inside and out: the paint station, the paint cleaning up station, the safety items, the woodworking tools, the list goes on. We are too deep into it to see the light at the end of the Home Depot aisle, but we have made lots of progress in just two weeks.
New roof
New water heater
Attic insulation
Dry rot and yuck out of the bathroom walls
New tub installed
New window in bathroom
Paint almost finished in interior - trim and doors are next
Hole in wall patched and floor repaired where old heater used to be
There is more, but paint fumes are a known eater-upper of brain cells. I have just begun packing up the old house. The other day I was walking Molly down to the new place and she was getting antsy to get there once she saw it. I said, "Let's get you home, Little Girl." That was the first time I called it home. I used to always say Home is where your clothes are, but now I guess that changes to Home is where your power tools are.

Command Central

No longer a doggie door

Not quite ready for Mr. Bubbles

Hanging out in the California sunshine

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's all fun and games until someone pressure shoots paint in their eyes

Painting Party. Now there's a self-cancelling phrase if ever there was one.

Here were the guidelines for getting the new house - No painting to be done by either of us. None. The plan was to hire professionals - those people who know what they're doing, have all the equipment, know what they're doing, know what they're doing...

When the price came back too high, (or was it?) we figured we'd just have to do it ourselves. This meant paint every wall and every ceiling and 1/2 the cabinets and what else, what else? Oh yes, the outside. Some of our Moldovan friends came over and another very helpful family in charge of taping. The taping went like gang busters, these guys paint cars and they whipped out the taping in no time.

Then came the spraying. Anyone know how to work this thing? We need a dump bucket (that phrase scared me) and another priming bucket and of course the 5 gallon bucket of ceiling paint. It went on - it did. A little thick but it went on. But halfway through something got clogged. I think all the various buckets got confused and the whole spraying came to a halt.

We all went outside with the hose to figure out what was going on. It was a very good thing Ernst insisted all wore safety glasses, because before we knew it Igor got a face full of flat white ceiling paint. By then we were all laughing, even Igor. Did I mention there was pizza and Moldovan wine - homemade Moldovan wine? I did have the brilliant idea, I must say, to turn the bathtub we tore out of the house into a temporary paint washing station. All the stuff is going into the scary hole in the yard that's tied into the sewer system, or so we have been told.

The ceilings look great. I've been rolling the old fashioned way for 2 days now, that sprayer thing was just way too scary. They're at it again tonight. I decided to skip the fun and take the night off from painting. Maybe with all my extra time I'll whip up some of these paint-themed treats for when we spray the exterior? Maybe I've been breathing too many paint fumes?

But would they pair well with Moldovan wine?

In reality there are way more drips.

Here are suggestions from the Internet on How to Host a Painting Party. I think the only one we followed was the pizza rule.

  • Send out cute invites. Evites are the easiest, but if you go the mail route, you could write the invite on real paint chip sheets.
  • Have lots of food and beverages on hand. For lunch or dinner, order pizza. During the day, have snacks flowing to keep the gang energized.
  • Be sure to snap pics along the way; you'll want before and after shots.
  • Have a plan of attack. To prevent things from getting chaotic, let everyone know the order baseboards, ceiling, walls, and doors need to be painted.
  • Be prepared with enough supplies, including paint, primer, brushes, rollers, drop cloths, and tape. Ask friends to bring spare tools they may have.
For the rest of the tips, read more.
  • When everyone gets there, brief the group on painting basics so that everyone is on the same page.
  • If it's a big project, start early so you're not painting in the dark!
  • For a competitive bunch working on multiple rooms, have a contest for the best room!
  • Keep everyone pumped up with some tunes.
  • At the end of the day, plan to end the event with a rented movie and glass of wine or a trip out of the fumes.
photo credit -

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A roof over our heads

When the closing of the house was delayed, two of the big concerns were:

The Roof
The Weather

Usually by this time of year I would be hoping for rain, lots of rain. I can't get enough precipitation and should really live in Seattle. A Moldovan friend calls me "Bobocela' - that's little duckling in Romanian. The nickname came from my bright yellow rain coat I love to wear on dreary (or as I like to say wonderful) winter days, but the water-loving description fits well too.

Little did we know that the weather we'd be running up against would be a late season heat wave. Our roofers were sweating bullets as they tore off the old and installed the new one. I should have brought them large ice chests full of cold sodas, but it was just too hot to think straight. After only four days of construction, we were already beat.

The roofing contractor was so hot and tired by Friday evening, he said they would have to come back on Saturday to finish. Ernst, speaking from fatigue, told him he was welcome to take a dump in our pool. Wait, he said, I meant a leak. No, a leap or a dunk, those are the words he was shooting for.  It's going to be great to get this finished and get our brains back.

The roof is done, and we're relieved since the forecast for Monday is a nice rainy storm. All is good. Winter you can come now. Well, not in full force, we still need to paint the exterior. It should look so much better painted the proposed colors - lime green with purple trim.

Did I just make you spit coffee all over your screen? Actually, the outside color will remain a surprise. If it looks bad, well at this point it's water off a duck's back.


still during - didn't get a good after picture and my camera is dead
Hmm, all that money and from the pictures it looks just the same! That represents years and years of new cute outfits. And the shoes - don't get me started on the shoes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Beast and the Beauty

 There's Fungus Among Us!

We knew it wouldn't be pretty, but it's still shocking to see the innards of a house. Mold, mildew and some dry rot just for fun, here is the look behind the bathtub. It actually looked really cool when they ripped out that big window - a nice view right out to the pool. But we'll be getting a bit more privacy with a smaller window.

It just needs some bubble bath and soft lighting.

Too pretty to slice up.
There's Yeast Among Us

We were invited to dinner at our Moldovan friend's house. A nice respite after all that mold. They sent us home with this nice gift. I've never baked anything quite so beautiful for a major celebration, let alone for a ordinary old weeknight. And then to just hand it out while we were parting as if it were a Tupperware full of leftovers? I would have beat a drum or yelled "I created bread!" But she just gave it to us - ho hum, here's some bread. Am I sure that I'm gluten sensitive, really?
"Cut into it you fool!"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

House Whoas

As in Whoa! But I'm sure the woes will come soon enough.

Well, that certainly was stressful. We knew buying a house could be a wild ride, but we weren’t expecting a roller coaster without seat belts.

Our short sale, with an FHA 203K construction loan added on just for fun, had to close 45 days after our offer was accepted. After the 45 days, if the loan wasn’t funded, it would at that point turn into a foreclosure rather than a short sale. The deadline? Monday at 2:30. The time the loan funded? Monday at 1:00. Our stomachs have just stopped churning.

So now the fun starts - a little remodel. Just “piddly stuff” as our contractor says. I’m glad he thinks so. Here are some before pictures. 

Here it is! Just kidding, that's the little pool house.

The Back Forty

The Redwood Grove

The front, soon to have a new roof and exterior color

Self explanatory

Scary piddly stuff

The soon-to-be not a doggy door

The good part of the kitchen

The 80's side of the kitchen. It's having an identity crisis.

If there isn't a bright pink wall, it's just not nearly as much fun.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

House earrings and other investments

During our engagement, I inherited a bit of cash from my Grandmother's estate. Did we spend it on kicking the wedding up a notch? No, we kept to our simple plan. Did we put it into a down payment on real estate in Davis, which would now be worth a pretty penny? No, we didn't. We traveled. For us buying a house has been the big Road Not Taken. We don't have any regrets.

Our first trip to Europe, and specifically to Ukraine, was life changing. Visiting Kiev in 1993 was an eye-opening jolt of reality. We met incredibly wonderful people living in such harsh conditions. Never before had I appreciated the basics, like having healthy teeth or something simple such as soap in the stores. On that first trip we also traveled to Prague, back when Prague was still cheap and cool. Ernst bought me a pair of earrings - two little red wooden house earrings. I love them and always get compliments when I wear them. Our joke was we owned not just one, but two houses. A duplex, in fact.

Precious real estate
Once we caught the travel bug we found the only cure was to travel more. We traveled cheap, but for long stretches and to some far away corners of Europe. There went down payment after down payment, invested instead in memories and priceless friendships. But now our little red houses have a third addition, one much larger. This one is the real kind. Yes, we are finally taking the plunge. We officially are no longer renters but mortgage payers. We signed the papers on 10-11-12. :O)

We had to be some of the pickiest house hunters our real estate agent ever met. Our requirements? Not long on description, but very specific about one thing. Location. Location. Location. We were looking for a house in a tiny little area of Sacramento, namely the neighborhood we already live in. We were hoping for a place with less yard work and definitely not a pool. Our wonderful agent Austin Nejera would email us listing after listing in nearby areas, but he finally got used to our dogged stubbornness to stay planted right here.

Because of the limited area we were interested in, we only looked at three houses total, and put a bid on two of them.

The first one taught me to never tour a house on a rainy day. It was one of the few pouring down days we had last winter, and it made all the ickiness of the house seem even ickier. It was also too big, with another large room added on the back and an extra bathroom. It's just the two of us and we don't need so much space. That made it easier to say no to that dreary house.

The second house was so much nicer! It had a wonderful enclosed patio with lots of windows - the perfect room to stage a Moldovan party from. It also had a man cave in the backyard. I've come to be a real fan of the man cave. It was the same exact layout as the house we rent now and was on the street behind us. It was basically just paint then move-in ready. The kitchen was on the livable side of funky for my taste, and it would have been an easy transition. And I thought how wonderful to have a smaller yard to take care of. Our bid of $26,000 higher than the asking price was the second place finisher. Drat! We really, really wanted that house.

So we went back to waiting. It's sort of a strange feeling walking through your own neighborhood wondering which house will go on the market next. It made me feel like a home vulture.

And then we heard some news from our friends, a family who's presence in our neighborhood is one of the reasons why we love it here so. They were going to short sale and did we want to try to bid for it? Talk about feeling like a vulture. Us getting it would only happen if they lost it. My emotions were a wreck, I felt guilty for even wanting the place. We put in an offer at the asking price (this time with a "Beg Letter" with a picture of us and Molly in her kiddie pool) and the bank accepted our offer and we jumped through all the lending company hoops and it's official. We are buying a house in a great location, our own neighborhood. A house with a huge yard. And a pool. Yes, it has a pool. If the dog could talk, she would congratulate us for thinking like Golden Retrievers. Who knows, if she wasn't in the picture, literally, we might still be looking.

We submitted this with our offer. "We need a bigger pool!"

This was our first dog Kodie the night before he died, being spoiled by the kids of the house. Maybe we could just all live there?

Happy Ten Eleven Twelve Day

There have been so many fun fall dates now that we're in the "pre-teen years" of this century.

For us, of course there was our big October bash on 10-10-10 celebrating our 19.25 anniversary. An admittedly strange anniversary to remember, but who could let that great day pass by without a party? Not I.

And then of course the perfect day for Igor and Rafaela to get married? I butted in with my suggestion for their wedding date and they ran with it, 11-11-11.

And now here we are on a silly little Thursday, completely wasted by the great date of 10-11-12. How sad that Ten Eleven Twelve is going down as a do nothing day. So ho hum. Hmm, when does 12-12-12 land? 11-12-13? After 12-13-14 we're out of chances and all the cool dates are gone. The countdown begins.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Things you don't want to hear in the morning

Annoying bird calls (the song birds have all switched to rap)
A jack hammer (there ought to be a law)
Your husband saying "The dog got into a skunk last night, I'm late for work, you're going to have to deal with it." (Homeward Bound should have rated her higher on level of difficulty - she is a three paws pup!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Da Da Sisterhood quilt

Some of my quilts get done at breakneck speed. While life falls apart around me - no food to eat, dishes piling up, laundry overflowing - a quilt gets designed, cut out, sewn together, snipped and washed in a marathon session. These aren't good for the house, or my hands or my back or my loved ones. But boy can I crank one out when I'm on a roll.

This quilt was in the making for 16 months, a new snail paced record. It's a gift for our friends Dennis and Julie, our fellow Romanian language learners in our congregation. Julie and I are lagging behind our families, founding members of the Da Da Sisterhood. In the middle of all the material gathering, Julie's mom died. That made this quilt much more sentimental and it was more pressure to get it right. Added to that, Julie was trying to track down some little clothes from her boys that had been worn by their cousins.

so cute, and so small

Finally it's done, finished up in this last blast of summer. I have never sewn with so many checks and plaids, not a favorite of mine because it's hard to get them straight when you're putting four squares of them together. But the plaids add such a cute touch. I was so nervous to cut up that itty bitty boys flannel shirt - what pressure. I had to tell myself, OK you do this all the time, you cut up old clothes and make quilts, just do it. But it was so small, any goof would make it unusable. I got one square, front and back, that was all. But it's my favorite, because the boys who wore that little shirt have grown up to be two really wonderful young men who we adore. Here is your quilt Dennis and Julie, a very Happy Belated Anniversary to you all.

so cute and so big