Chris' Tool Obsession: Fuji Mini-Mite 4

Quick note: we weren't compensated in anyway for this post, but if anyone wants to send us free stuff, I'm not going to send it back ;)

I'm not a huge fan of painting, but it's one of those things in home improvement that you just can't escape. With this in mind I figured I may as well make it a little easier, more fun and get better results in the process.

I already had an airless sprayer, but the cleanup for that is time consuming and the results sometimes leave something to be desired on furniture or cabinets. An HVLP sprays paint at a lower psi, too, so masking doesn't need to be quite as extensive.

The disadvantages of the HVLP system are that you have to thin the paint and you can only spray small batches at a time before you need to refill the reservoir.

The fine atomization produces a glass like surface with the proper technique, but it takes a bit of getting used to if you've used an airless before. Instead of needing to move the spray gun quickly to avoid build-up, you actually want to slow the gun down so the fine spray builds up some thickness.

It's great for small batches because it's relatively easy to clean and overspray isn't as much of a problem so prepping the space isn't as time consuming. This means I don't have to have a pimped out spray booth in order to spray a cabinet. I can just lay down a dropcloth and hang a piece of plastic from the rafters and get started. In contrast an airless would blow the plastic all over the place and make a huge mess. It's also small and highly portable so taking it to a job site to spray a build-in or some trim is a lot easier than bringing in an airless. Of course, since it's a sprayer, this also means no brush marks and an overall nicer finish.

All in all, I love my HVLP sprayer. I would have liked a 5 stage sprayer so I could avoid having to thin my paints quite so much, but the 4 stage handles them well and I saved a chunk of change for some more tools...


Before & After: the Nook

Holy fucking shit this post is a long time coming (though not as long as the one for our bedroom because we started building our bed a YEAR ago). I finally got in gear and started working on the nook at the beginning of December last year. Yes, 8 1/2 months ago. Yeah, I know, I told you it was a long time coming. Back then, the room looked like this

Back then we had drywall as "curtains" and there was just shit everywhere. It took many months - though it really shouldn't have because there really wasn't too much to do - but we are finally DONE. I was hoping to finish it before our party, but it didn't happen, boooo. 

In the days leading up to the party Chris applied the texture

And then I primed and painted

I was hoping to get the light hung, but the night before the party when I went to HD they didn't have any escutcheons for lights, so we couldn't hang it. Sigh. It ended up not being that big of a deal though because 98% of the time people were outside, so they didn't have a hanging light bulb to stare at :)

A week or two ago we FINALLY got to hanging the light (of course I got no pictures of Chris hanging it), but once we did that, we were done. Yay! We reused the light from the front room

We loved the light, but it just felt way too small for such a big room. So we took it down and saved it with then intention of using it in the nook when we finally got to it. And now....

It looks fantastic! Though I do have to confess it more often actually looks like this

Crap on the ground, Zoe flying by, shit all over the table :) But for one or two hours, it will look nice and clean :)

I love this room. I loved it when we first moved in, even though it was plain and ugly - ugly light, ugly paint color, ugly ceiling 

The room is small, but it took some time to get there. 

The pantry got organized (which involved getting rid of some really expired spices)

There was a ton of little things that had to fixed on the walls before we could paint. But I was SO EXCITED when I could finally get to painting


And it was really pretty when it was done. It looks so wonderful being the same color as our kitchen and I love how bright and cheery it is

And then it was the finishing touches of hanging the artwork, repairing the ceiling and then painting it. I am SO HAPPY to call another room in the house FINISHED. I love the artwork on the wall with the fun clock my mom had when we were little

And even though I wasn't planning on having these chairs in here because they belong to the eventual sports ticket table (whenever we actually get to building that...), I think they look really good. If I had my way I'd have the chairs be white, but hey, we have these chairs on hand and they look good

It's so wonderful to have a place to eat together as a family, and I love that

And it certainly looks better than before

Hooray for house progress and pretty rooms! :)


Baby Weight

I am relatively open about my weight. Leading up to being pregnant I was probably in the best shape I've been in since I was 16 years old. Which isn't really saying a lot because I'm only 28. But I was getting super into running and had a goal for a sub 6 mile and a 21 minute 5k. Chris was my coach and I was running many miles each and every day. Then I got my stress fracture. Then I got pregnant. Then I had Zoe. I have never been someone who is good at "taking it easy" so my doctor was happy that I got pregnant because it really meant I had to take it easy to fully recover from my stress fracture. I still found many ways to work out while pregnant and worked out till 39 weeks. But my running went bye bye.

my family getting ready for the Road to Hana relay in 2010

After I had Zoe it took me a LONG time to get back into running. I realize that may sound strange because she's just barely over 1, but for someone who was running nearly every day for several years, taking a year+ off was a big deal. I've started running somewhat regularly again and earlier this week ran my fastest 5k I have in 2 years. And I felt AWESOME. I totally felt like a bad ass runner again. It's still several minutes slower than I was clocking in at in races, but it was something I felt really good about. I was proud of myself.

Two nights ago while planted in front of the TV and reading shitty news stories on my cell phone I came across an unnamed celebrity's post baby body pics. I felt awful that my immediate reaction was to be mad. This lady was 5 months postpartum and she was looking ROCKING. After I thought about it for a couple of seconds I felt really guilty that I felt so mad. I needed to revise and reorganize my feelings: I felt mad that I compared myself to something that isn't my #1 priority, yet still makes me upset.

I was thin in high school. I have played sports year round since about the age of 7 and being active was always just part of my family's life style. I am lucky that I was also fortunate to have inherited good genes. I didn't really ever think about weight. We always had healthy snacks on hand and I was just as happy to eat a handful of red vines as I was to eat some leftover salad in the fridge that my parents left for me.

yup, I'm awesome

When I got to college I took time off from sports and immediately gained about 15 pounds. It was the freshman + not being as active 15 (after all, I was no longer running a mile warm up before soccer practice every day). I didn't really worry about it though and after a year or two I got back into being active and exercising a lot because being physical makes me happy. I didn't think about working out in terms of losing weight, I worked out because I wanted to be more healthy and happy.

I was extremely adamant about working out while I was pregnant. When I had my first doctors appointment I told him about my recovering stress fracture. At that point I was working out 3 days a week and he told me 4 was okay - so I went for it. I went for walks, rode our recumbent bike, went to the gym, did free weights, went swimming. I was all about it. I loved the way it made me feel.

After I had Zoe I was eager to be active again. I had a tough time those first two weeks. There was certainly a part of me that wanted to lose weight because I felt a little too....jiggly. But I also wanted to get back to being me. And so when I was cleared by the doctor I started to work out again. It felt good, but I didn't go at it full throttle. It honestly took me until just a couple weeks ago till I really started PUSHING myself. Almost every run I used to take or every work out at the gym I used to do was balls out. I LOVED timing myself on runs and pushing myself as hard as I fucking could. I thrive on competition.

league champs!

But after Zoe, I really started just wanting to do it for me. I wanted to ease into working out because I didn't want to hurt myself and I wanted to take care of my body. I'm not saying that people who jump on the elliptical the second they have a baby aren't taking care of themselves, but that just wasn't what was in store for me. I think there is SO MUCH pressure to be able to say, "It took me 'X' amount of time to lose the baby weight," in the fastest amount of time. In those first several months I weighed myself pretty frequently. It was hard to see the number be high, but I knew that being healthy, recovering from a baby and taking care of my body was work that took time. And over time I stopped really weighing myself and just went on how I felt. When I got pregnant I was just under 140lbs, I gained about 45 pounds while pregnant, and I just weighed myself 2 minutes ago and I came in at 145.

I am okay with that. I do not need to have the flattest stomach. I am happy with how my clothes fit, happy with how I feel in my body. I will always have those little white stretch marks on my tummy. My skin will never be nearly as elastic. And by boobs are no longer perky - they're back to their little size. And slightly droopier. It took me 14 months to get within 5+ pounds of where I was pre-pregnancy. But I am happy with my lifestyle. I am happy to love running again. I am happy to take Zoe on those runs and have her face to cheer into when I run a good time. I hope that one day I can share being active with her. I loved playing baseball with my dad, running races with my step dad and going to the pool or boxing gym with my mom when I was little.

she already took my Nike sweatshirt to me and demanded I put it on her, so obviously she's ready to be an athlete

So here is my declaration to you: I will (absolutely TRY to) no longer care about my "baby weight." Who the fuck cares? Let us not be slaves to a scale. Let us eat that fabulous dessert. Let us work out because we want to instill an active and healthy lifestyle in our fabulous children. Let us be honest with ourselves and each other: baby weight is hard, and however quick or slow you lose it, you are still fucking awesome.


So, What's Next?

The time comes in every renovators life when the first project is done. Our house isn't DONE, but it is pretty close. The nook is now finished (I know, I need to post about the light we hung and a Before & After of course), and all that's left after that is Chris' office and the second half of the laundry room. Chris' office should be really simple - a couple patches on the walls, ceiling repair, then paint. And the laundry room just needs the rest of the flooring, cabinets, new paint, and some other small things here and there. Still two rooms, but in the grand scheme of things, not a lot of work at all.

Then of course we are now a family of three, we need room for working on projects and we need room for storing materials for future projects we will be working on. We have a two car garage, but now that we're working full time on our handyman business, that workshop is getting used daily and we're running out of space for the tools and materials we need on a daily basis. On top of that, we regularly buy large quantities of materials for projects we've got down the line in a couple of days or weeks and we are running out of places to store them. Our front room is a regular storage spot for materials waiting to be organized, installed or built for a client. It's not that our house doesn't have enough space, it's just not laid out great for us. For instance, the front room is probably a few hundred square feet of space that we don't really use ever - except to exercise in with our recumbent bike and free weights and pile building materials in. And I always feel bad about that.

So what comes next? Well, I posted on Facebook last week that we did something CRAZY: we put an offer on a house. We didn't get it, grrrr (I'll fill you in later in this post about it), but it did let the cat out of the bag that we're beginning to think about where we are, what we need, what we want and what comes next. Some of you commented on the post that you were wondering if we were going to move soon because we're almost done on this house (and that seems to be what crazy renovators do). And the answer is: yes, we would like to move. And here are the details:

If it was up to Chris we would move away (probably to Michigan). Chris has always wanted land and to be self sufficient. We both really fell in love with Michigan while on the Renovation Roadtrip and now are lucky to have (what I would hope to call) friends living there :) And in neighboring states as well :) But I just can't do it. I am a Bay Area girl at heart (4 generations here) and the thought of leaving makes my heart hurt. 90% of my family lives within an hour of our house. And I love that. So I have made Chris stay in the Bay Area :)

Then comes the question of WHERE in the Bay Area. Again, Chris wants LAND, so we had thought about moving to the outskirts a bit where we can get more land for A LOT cheaper than around here. However, now that we've started our business, about 95% of our clients (and just about all of our regulars) live in the city of Oakland. That's super nice and super convenient. On days when we need to drive around to several client's houses it's nice knowing that it will never take more than 20 minutes to get to someone's house. However, if we lived in another city (if you know Bay Area traffic), that commute will significantly change. And building up a new client base is always a question mark. And even if we did, it isn't like we would leave our existing clients, so it would mean driving to and from Oakland to "INSERT HERE" city, very frequently. And end up costing a lot more in gas. And a truck doesn't get great gas mileage.

Not to mention, I have the deepest soft spot in my heart for Oakland. I did not grow up here, but instead grew up in Albany and Berkeley. I moved to Oakland when I was about 21, lured by the affordable rents. And I loved it. I loved how diverse it was (4th in the US), how there was always something going on, how proud people were to be from here. It just kind of felt awesome. I also have a soft spot for the underdog, and Oakland has definitely had struggles (I did my senior thesis as an art major as a video installation on the social and economic differences of living "above" or "below" I-580 that goes through our 'town'). I get sad when people get well paid jobs, have kids, "grow up" and decide to leave Oakland. And I didn't want to do that.

So we will most likely stay in Oakland.

We definitely want to get the biggest lot we can afford. Again, if it was up to Chris we'd have 500 acres and a bunch of goats, sheep, chickens and an orchard. So if we can find 1/500th of that, that would be awesome. The trouble is - at least around here - whenever you're able to get a big lot, the house is ginormous, and we don't either want or need that. To us, the size of our current house is great (1600 sf), it's just not laid out the way we use. If we could find a 1600 sf house laid out differently than ours is now and on even just 1/2 acre with good workshop and storage space, that would just be downright awesome. Of course that all comes with a price because the Bay Area is NOT cheap. Our budget for a fixer would buy us two finished 2000 sf houses in OK City for example. Oy.

We tossed around the idea of building our own home and acting as the general contractors to save money. There were a couple lots we looked into that were "cheap" because of interesting obstacles. We went to the city to look into them, talked with a couple contractors, ran some numbers and ultimately decided that building from scratch probably isn't for us. There are all sorts of question marks when you build from scratch (especially around here) that if you're working on a tight budget can completely fuck you up. We made the decision that it would just be too tight of a fit.

I got my real estate license about 3 years ago for my brother's company. With the prospect of looking for a future house for us and my dad and step mom relocating to the area I decided it might finally be time to get myself access to the MLS and start looking. About a week after I got access the most AMAZING fixer came onto the market. It was on an acre, in Oakland, ridiculously in need of fixing, off in a more "country" area (if that's possible). And it was being offered sort of close to our budget. It was definitely a diamond in the rough. I called Chris about it while he was at work, we looked at it that night and I told my parents about it. We all talked about it, sent pictures, ran numbers, had them look at it etc. It was a DUMP

11310 Elvessa St, Oakland, CA 94605

Yup, that's a completely collapsed floor. 

But there was so much potential

11310 Elvessa St, Oakland, CA 94605

Because of the condition of the house, you absolutely needed 100% cash to make the purchase.While we've been really good savers, we do not by ANY means have enough money to pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars up front to purchase the home. So we pulled together and got help from family and presented an offer. We happened to meet the listing agent while checking out the house with my dad and step mom and she was really nice and we chatted for a while. She knew how much we loved the house and we were happy she had a face to go along with the offer we put together (along with a letter). There ended up being 9 offers, and we lost out to someone who was likely an investor that bid $135k over asking. Sigh. The agent called to let us know that we had lost and was very, very nice about everything. She let us know that we were actually second in line, which I'm not sure if that made it hurt more or less. 

I'm confident in saying that Chris and I were COMPLETELY heartbroken that we lost out. I was at work at the A's when I found out last week and literally cried quietly in the corner to myself. Luckily a girlfriend was working that game with me and she was amazingly nice while I silently sobbed. I had to call Chris during an inning break to tell him the awful news. And when I got home I sobbed to him. I sobbed the next day. And more in the next couple of days after. Our family was sad for us, our friends were sad for us. We were very sad. It was on an acre, with two out buildings (one of which was a full in law), more square footage than we needed and in a neighborhood that was completely family friendly and super cute and close to a city owned park. 

It fucking sucked ginormous donkey balls.

But the same thing happened when we were looking for this house. We put an offer on one before this and we lost out and I was depressed beyond belief. I thought nothing would work out after and hey, we got this place and it is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME than that place would have ever been. So I know we just have to lift our head up and keep looking. 

Of course, that means that at some point we will be leaving Picardy. That will be a VERY sad day. I have loved this house and it has been an amazing home to transform. I couldn't have really asked for anything better for a first home adventure. Our house has so much character and I feel a great sense of pride to have brought it back to life. Our neighbors are awesome and our street is amazing. But it's just not as conducive to how our family has developed and how we live our life.

So there you have it folks: we're on the move. But first we need to finish some things up :) It may take a while - a week, a month, a year - but there will be another project on the horizon. 


Oh, Hello Stranger

Well, where have YOU been? :)

Yes, it's true, it's been OVER SIX WEEKS since my last blog post. That's crazy. And by far the longest break I've ever taken. Even longer than the declared break I took at the end of last year. This time, I sorta just disappeared from the blogging world without a trace. If you follow us on Facebook, you'd know that I didn't fall into the Pacific (thanks Rosedel :) that gave me a good chuckle) because I have posted photos and status updates every once in a while. But, in all honestly, work on our house has nearly vanished.

When Chris left his day job to pursue our handyman and design business, we hoped to be busy and that business would continue to develop. And lucky for us, it really did. Chris used to work 7 days a week pretty consistently before he left his job to manage the demand, and now that he is working for our business full-time he's still working 6 days a week, and very frequently 7. It's awesome to know that we made the right decision and that Chris is staying so busy and we're developing a great client base and getting so much work. It's wonderful to get checks mailed to you and see your business grow. And it's wonderful to see Chris be so successful at this.

Then there's the bunch of jobs I have. I work for our business too, but I also still work for my brother's real estate company and for the A's. Oh, and there's Zoe who I am the primary caregiver of about 60% of the time during the week.

I'm not trying to make excuses or anything, I just wanted to give you the honest reason of why I have had ZERO posts lately --> there just flat out has been no time. Even if I wanted to write a post regarding our house, the only thing we've done in the last 6 weeks is hang the light in the nook - and that was only about 10 days ago.

But exciting things have happened (and are hopefully in the pipeline) that I would love to clue you in on, I just didn't know if you would be interested. I have found that when I write renovation or design related posts that are actually not related to our house (a bathroom for my mom and CBH, or a fireplace for my dad and Wendy for example) that there are not nearly as many visitors to this here ol' blog, and so I haven't wanted to write about projects we're working on because I thought no one would be interested. What I need to remember however, is that I started this blog for myself and what renovation work was going on for us. And later, what our family became. I need to not care how many readers I get, because that's never been what it was really about for me. It was about sharing with a computer screen and however many family members I thought were reading along. The fact that other "strangers" started reading as well and I sorta kinda became friends with some of them was just an awesome added bonus.

Somewhere along the way I did start caring about how many comments I got, or how many blog views there were. I got sad when readership would dip or people seemed uninterested. I need to get back to not caring. That's not to say that I don't care that you read my blog - because I amazingly DO - but I need to remember that I started this for myself, and so if I want to write about a home inspection we did on Saturday at a house my dad and Wendy are hopefully going to be buying in Oakland, I should not care if only 7 people read it because that's what I want to write about and that's what's actually going on in our lives. I have always prided myself on being honest, and to be completely honest - I love writing about renovation and construction and design and my family, and sometimes that work is not going to be on our house because 1) we're nearly done with it and 2) we're just so fucking busy.

So, my fair readers, I have a couple things to say in summary:

1) I will come back, I will post - I love and miss blogging and I need to get back into it

2) Those posts will not be nearly as consistent as they used to be. Shit, I used to post FIVE TIMES A WEEK. Then it dropped to four, then to three, and now, who knows? Some weeks I may be too busy or maybe I have nothing to talk about, but they will be there. Maybe some weeks three, maybe some weeks none.

3) Posts will not always be about our house. One of the amazing things about the offer my dad and Wendy are putting in, is that it's for a house that needs a fair amount of cosmetic fixing - which means we get to have fun! I used to refrain from these posts because they weren't about "us," but now, hey, this is what our life is --> we are working folks who are working on work. I will not care if people don't like reading about installing bracing on a cracked foundation that isn't our house. Chris may discover some great new tool that he loves and that is super helpful on some random job that he's worked on. While I used to not write those posts as much, frankly, that is the work we're doing and the work we are interested in, so that's what I'm going to write about.

There you have it folks. I have returned, to hopefully somewhat normalcy :) And while I hope you continue to stay tuned and read along wherever this journey takes us, I also understand if my interests and blogging frequency are not what you are interested in, that's fine too - I bid you a friendly good-bye and have fun. We all gotta do what's best for us.