10.31.2010

18 Pounds of Candy

Halloween is very exciting on our street. Many kids get dropped off on Picardy to go trick or treating on our block and most of the neighbors do their part to keep it fun (one woman down the block has a GINORMOUS blow up spider on the side of her house).

Last year we made some pretty cool jack-o-lanterns



And this year I was excited to make some fun ones again.

So I broke out the drill for a fun polka dot pattern and whipped up a scream worthy pumpkin thanks to Edvard Munch

Once they were done I set them out on our porch

And this evening they greeted our many many many visitors (we went through 6 bags and 18 pounds of candy)


The polka dot one was a big hit, so I'll definitely be making a similar one next year. Hope everyone had a Happy (and safe) HALLOWEEN!!!!

10.28.2010

Trenching and Protecting

Yesterday while we trenched around the front of the house to protect from our minor termite issue, we also went ahead and addressed some of the issues that had arisen from our flower bed

While a flower bed like this certainly looks great, it unfortunately is a bed for rot :( Because it's filled with soil and plants with no proper drainage, the water sort of just sits in the flower bed and doesn't go anywhere.

So while we dug the trench around the front, we also dug out all of the soil from the flower bed

Once we had dug it all out Chris cleaned the top portion of the stucco and I poured in the termite solution

The bottom of the stucco connects with the foundation and there's a significant underhang from the stucco, so we bought a roofing cement product to even out the overhang and waterproof the transition

I'd never used the product, but immediately after opening it I felt the need for an art project

I grabbed the margin trowel and started spreading it out

Once I was finished I filled in the bottom of the flower bed with some gravel to provide better drainage


I waited overnight for the tar to dry, but this morning after my run I got out the shovel and filled the flower bed back in



And after a hose down to clean things up, it was looking good as new

Hopefully now the front of the house will be rot and termite free!

10.27.2010

Trenching for Termites

When we moved in we knew we had a minor terminte problem. The responsible homeowners we are we didn't do anything about it for nearly 2 years. We got a few bids in the range of nearly $2000, so we said, "No thanks, we'll take care of it ourselves." Part of the reason why we also decided to take care of it ourselves was because the termites hadn't gone crazy, they were only in one area, and they were pretty dormant.

Today, between last week's rain and the rain that is supposed to start again tonight, we decided to take care of the termite situation. Digging: a nice break from tiling. Just kidding, they both suck.

But digging we did.

I started on the side of the house, which, thanks to our fence building late last year, we now have access to

The termites were only present in the front corner of our house, so thankfully we were able to keep the digging to a minimum.

For our termite project we only needed to dig a small trench around the border of the house where the termites used to be present, pour a termite specific pest solution into the trench, put dirt back in the trench, and the repour the solution on top.

So dig dig dig I went


And Chris went dig dig dig in the front (and I later joined when my baby dig on the side was complete)


In the midst of digging we found 2 friends

Which we transplanted

Chris also took care of some digging and bracing under the house. Normally going under the house isn't my favorite thing to do, but I do it. This job however I did NOT want to do. In that front corner of the house there's about 11" of clearance, and I didn't want to have a panic attic from claustrophobia, so Chris took one for the team.

Once all the digging was done it was time to get the termite solutoin ready. We got out the $13 spray pump we bought at HD (that was amazingly made in the USA). After mixing a small amount in the pump for Chris to take under the house, we mixed up a bunch more in 2 five gallon buckets

While Chris took the pump under the house (equipped with a respirator) I took the buckets and got to work pouring the solution into the trenches in the front and side of the house

After the first round of pouring I filled in the trench and poured out the last of the solution of top

And after Chris emerged from under the house we cleaned things up and called the project done. I like it when I project starts AND finishes in one day :)

Finally Illuminating Recessed Lights

Waaaaaaay back when, we planned the bathroom lighting to have two small recessed lights over the shower because we knew our center light wouldn't provide enough light for the room

The problem is, those nice, small, damp-room-safe recessed lights we got at Home Depot are a mysetery to complete because Home Depot doesn't carry the proper light bulbs for them. DUH! Why, Home Depot, would you carry lights and not the right light bulbs? Grrrrr.

So we searched other stores to no avail. Double grrrrr. All the bulbs we found at other places were the right length but not the correct amount of prongs into the fixture, or the right amount of prongs, but the wrong length (ie, it came OUT of the recessed can.)

FINALLY, Chris and I found some online. So now, our bathroom is properly illuminated, yay!


Who would have thought these lights would be so hard to find?

Before (with just our center light)

After

Now on to more tiling....

10.26.2010

3 Hours, 68 Tiles

After the crappy leak discovery Sunday morning and before we had to leave to build some shelving for a past teacher of mine in his and his wife's garage, Chris and I got some tiling in.

Chris had a good idea of cutting the corners off of one of our sponges to make little triangle sponges that were great for cleaning in the cracks so we don't have to scrape so much later



We continued tiling up the small shower wall


We got up as high as the other wall, so we stopped and waited till we have a lengthwise tile cutting solution.

Once we finished that bit we went to the left. We started with the line of tile on the top of the tub and extended it out the other way towards the wall (using nails to hold up the bottom line like before)


Next time we'll tile down to the bottom and fill that area in, but we wanted to make sure the line from the tub was perfect and level, and measuring from the bottom to the top and starting from the bottom is a quick way to ensure that doesn't happen. So, although this way makes things a little more difficult, we know things will be in line with each other and be straight and level


We were left with a little tiny sliver in the corner...

...but that piece was much too small for the tile cutter to make, so again, we'll have to wait till we have our tile cutting solution worked out.

And now, for the tile stats: 3 hours and 68 tiles is roughly 23 tiles an hour. Pretty good considering we did a decent amount up high so Chris had to stand on the tub while I shuffled around and handed everything to him, and we did the line extending to the wall which involved hammering all the nails in to keep things level. Add 3 to our tiling total and we're at 20 hours.

10.25.2010

Really? REALLY?

This isn't what I like to discover on a Sunday morning



That's right, a fucking LEAK in my art room. The same room we essentially REBUILT a year ago




Chris and I were REALLY pissed off. It was not a great way to start work on Sunday morning, especially considering we didn't get any work done on Saturday and we were only going to get a 1/2 day out of Sunday.

So we got up on the ladder and inspected things


And we're pretty sure we know what went wrong. Not to put the blame on anyone else and say we do a great job on everything (although, I think we do a good job, I know there are plenty of things we could get better at), but this one is thankfully not our fault. Our stucco guy didn't tie in the new stucco to the old stucco very well and if you press on the stucco just above the window...

...you can actually feel the stucco give way a bit and tell that the connection isn't great.

So that sucks. What sucks more is that we first hired our stucco guys through a contractor. One of them, Lupe, was great. We tried to get his number, so next time we needed stucco done we could just call him directly. We missed out though :( and didn't get it. One of the other guys, Rafael, was pretty good, so we got his number. Since then he's been doing our stucco work. But, the risk you take just hiring a laborer outside of the contractor is there is pretty much no recourse we can take in terms of a warranty, etc. So, it's our mistake :( Big lesson learned.

So from now on Rafael will NOT be getting called do the stucco.

Our neighbor is having his house repainted and that's down on our list of things to do. We had his contractor come over to check out our house to see how much work/cost it would be to do ours (while we would really like to paint the house ourselves, because of the state of the stucco and paint all around the house, it will be a TON of prep and so it might be something that is better left up to the professionals to make sure it gets done right and doesn't take us 9 months). When he was talking with us about it he also noticed the poor state of the stucco and paint and talked with us about getting a friend of his who does stucco to do a skim coat over one of the sides of the house. We'll have to check this guy out and get some references, but if all goes well, hopefully we'll have a new stucco guy.

And when we tackle getting the back of the house stucco'd...

... (A LOT of work to get there) we'll have him break away the stucco around the leaking window to repair it.

Overall, some pretty crappy news to wake up to, but a solution that's not terrible and won't take too terribly long to fix. And in the grand scheme of housework, I guess that's not too bad. But we would like it if projects went according to plan once, just once.