Renovation Roadtrip: Just a Girl with a Hammer

Alright, time to get caught up here! (you can read about our visits with 86'N It here, Turtle House here, DIY Diva here and Russet St. Reno here).

After Russet St. Reno we had to get from Wisconsin to Oregon. That is a LONG drive. As in 34 hours long. Ugh. We broke it up by driving a bit the night we left Wisconsin. But we were still left with a 16+ hour drive the next day going through Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. Oh my god it was long. But Montana in the morning was beautiful!

Would you like to see how snow makes me look creepy?

Creeeeeper. But I get so excited about snow. I love snow. And cows

After our loooong drives we pulled into Heather's house (from Just a Girl with a Hammer). We got the tour of her super cute casa, and then headed out for dinner. Heather and I had been texting earlier in the day about where we should go for dinner and she sent me and email with a rundown of her favorite restaurants and why they're awesome. It was great. Nerdy organizers unite! We picked a super tasty burger place and had a great dinner with her and her boyfriend Greg. We stayed at the restaurant for a couple hours and had a wonderful time gabbing and laughing.

After a looong night of sleep (we got tired a little early) we were rested and ready to go! Heather had a couple smaller projects lined up and we were happy to get some things checked off her lists for her.

First up was switching out a light fixture above her kitchen sink. Heather was apprehensive about switching it out herself because the wiring seemed a bit questionable, but Chris got it changed out lickity split

Next up was uncovering a junction box in her living room

Heather's living room has no overhead light and she was very suspicious. There appeared to be a box that was covered at some point and so she was hoping we'd be able to figure out what the hell was going on.

I was really excited to work on this task for Heather. Her living room is so awesome and she was jonesing for some good lighting (and seriously, who wouldn't be, a living room with no overhead light???) Chris used a chisel and broke away some plaster and very easily uncovered the junction box that was indeed covered over at some point

And you wanna know what? It had live wires in it. What a bunch of morons

Heather is so hilarious and honest, so it was fun to make the discovery with her. Does anyone need a fire extinguisher?

Chris was aghast at the shoddy electrical work and Heather and I just sort of had to laugh at the stupidity. That, and she had set out some super tasty lunch food by that time (after making us a super tasty breakfast) and so I was more concerned with eating and gabbing with her :)

Chris on the other hand was confounded

You see, we were able to account for all the wires in the box (again, that were just covered when they were live) except for one. There was one damn rogue wire that he could not figure out where the hell it was coming from. And Chris was beside himself about it

Heather was so understanding, nice and encouraging. But it was a hard realization to make that there was a possibility that we weren't going to be able to complete a project for someone. And it sucked. Chris looked and looked and looked

But that one wire seemed to just disappear. We felt so awful. The last thing we wanted to do was show up at someone's house, mess up a project and then basically hand them a bill because they'd have to hire an electrician. As Chris and I slipped into a renovation induced depression, Heather kept insisting that everything was okay. But it was so hard not to feel bad. We were really hoping to get it figured out so that 1) there wouldn't be questionable wiring in her house and 2) she wouldn't get stuck with a bill. But still, over and over and over again Heather assured us that it was okay.

You see, Heather is an awesome renovator: she understands what happens when you renovate - shit doesn't go according to plan. And while sometimes you want to pull your hair out when that happens, Heather knows and understands that from time to time it just doesn't work out. And while we (or maybe just me) were trying not to hyperventilate and Chris had conceded that we weren't going to be able to figure it out, Heather kept letting us know that it was no big deal at all and had Chris tell her exactly what the problem was so that she could let her electrician know what needed to be fixed. And then we had to let out a big huge sigh. And moved on. Sigh...

One thing we could do for her was chisel out a spot for her future light switch for her future ceiling light

Heather noticed that Chris didn't get smudges on the wall when he was working and was excited to take advantage of his cleanliness and knock out a spot for the switch. And plus, electricians always knock out way too much and leave you to patch a bunch around their messiness. Home renovators understand that if we knock out a hole too big, we're the ones who have to patch.

So after a chisel, the Fein and a bit of fishing we had a nice spot for the light switch

Then we pestered Heather for more things we could fix. We added weather-stripping to her side door

And then we added brackets to her bathroom vanity to make sure it was secure against the wall

And then, well, it was time to pack up. And this was the last time we were going to be packing.

Renovating with Heather was a great day. She is so honest and hilarious. It's fun working with someone who is sure of what they like, what works for them and how you can improve something. And I couldn't get over all of the amazing art she had in her house. Seriously, if I had spent as much time helping Chris as I did eating all the food she set up for us and walking around staring at her artwork, we might have found out where that damn wire went.

And as we packed up the car and wound down and got ready to go it was wonderful to get to share a day of minor failure with someone who was so understanding. Chis and I felt really guilty, but we had to shake it off. After visiting 5 houses and working on 10 different projects, failing at only 1 of them really wasn't too bad, and Heather kept assuring us not to worry.

I was thankful for everyone being so encouraging throughout the trip and thought about how lucky we were to get to share all of these amazing adventures with everyone. It really was a spectacular adventure.

Read about our adventures with Heather on her blog here.
Read about our visit on Tinkernation here.
Read about how to chisel and cut out for an electrical box on Bobvila.com here.


Bunny @ 86n It said...

I have so many comments I had to start taking notes:

1) I can't look at the creepy photo of you with the snow too long because it makes me laugh uncontrollably.

2) Heather needs more photos of herself on her blog. I had no idea that is what she looks like!

3) A "Happy Fucking Birthday" banner? Awesome.

4) Is Chris not the cutest ever? I'm sure he doesn't want to hear that, but the confounded photo just gets me!

5) You need to stop saying you failed. OMG. You guys rocked this roadtrip!

That is all. ;)

meryl rose said...


1) I told you I was a creeper! Although now I can't look at it without laughing either :)

2) I KNOW! She's so foxy, we all had no idea!

3) I loved that sign. Of course I would ;)

4) He IS the cutest ever :) But yes, I do agree, it is a great pic of him, I feel like it is such a good snapshot of that exact moment

5) ugh, I know, it just sucked to end the trip on that note, sigh...I promise we'll do better next time Heather! :)

Angie said...

I'm loving it !!! That creepy picture reminds me of "Here's Johnny"....still love you

Anonymous said...

Love the banner!

meryl rose said...

Haha, thanks Angie!

Anon.: I know, isn't that banner awesome!? I wanted to steal it.

Sarah @ St. Paul Haus said...

How come Michigan? How about MN? :). Haha. Similar!