Archive for the 'house' Category

Of rodents and cheese

There are these mountain rats that are really cute (and Heidi thinks they’re tasty) but they really can’t live in our garage and collect all of our shiny items in their nests. Between the actual pack rats and my husband’s pack-ratish ways, there was a giant mess in the garage. I should have taken a before picture, but it was just so terrible… The car barely fit and there was rat and mouse poop everywhere. This is the product of nearly 2 straight days of cleaning over the weekend. By me.
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I plugged a bunch of holes, both from the garage to the house, and from the garage to outside, with either metal sheet or steel wool. Hopefully that keeps them from getting out. Happily we have vigilant and capable cats, so the mice and rats don’t live long if they come in the house. So far I’ve killed 4 mice and a rat in the garage, but the mice laugh at our attempts to get rid of them. That is a mouse nest in a box of mouse killer.
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In more pleasant news, I also made a soft cheese (lactic cheese) over the weekend, and it turned out quite tasty. It’s sort of the consistency of soft cream cheese, but tangier, and it made for delicious filling for crepes for Sunday breakfast along with some blueberries. I’ve also mixed it with some Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute spice mix, which is very tasty on toast or crackers.
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This week, for a change

Let’s take a break from ancient history and talk about the past week. Not in any chronological order: We went to see the River of Lights with our in-town relatives. For future reference: Get there at about 7:30, the parking had started to clear out by then.
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We got a new toilet seat, because the other one broke off while Ken was cleaning it last week. He must be a very thorough cleaner! Of course it was right before we were having a party at our house. But the new toilet seat is very exciting because it’s a soft close thing, so no more banging toilet seat! It’s possible that home ownership has made me even more boring than I used to be.
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My clutch stopped working last weekend, so Ken ordered the master cylinder and installed it on Friday. My car also got a new battery, and has suspension parts sitting in the trunk that will be installed in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be like a brand-new car! Little Civic needs to keep going for another year or so, maybe then I’ll consider getting a newer car.
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Obviously this was my favorite thing at the River of Lights.
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I think this was my cousin-in-laws favorite.
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We had a star party at our house, where I tried to teach a roomful of people how to make the stars that my dad’s family makes at Christmas. We had moderate success with the stars, but the party was fun anyhow. Ken made some really good food.
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An old motel near our house burned to the ground. The flames were impressive. Ken took this from our front porch, I think. Just left of center I think you can see a firefighter, and the ground rises up above the structure there, so he’s already elevated. Happily, nobody was hurt, but some people definitely lost everything the week before Christmas.
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We’ve also been spending a fair amount of time stripping the new to us engine for the truck that Ken ordered off of Ebay. Hopefully someday that will be a series of posts of it’s own. But for now, the good news is that it is mostly disassembled, and the innards look pristine, which means it will be an excellent replacement engine. Also, having a phone with a camera makes me far less prone to lug the big camera down to the shop, hence the bad pictures.
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In the extremely likely event that I don’t post anything more before Christmas: Merry Christmas!

Dining room table

Look, my table is empty! This is SO rare. It’s so embarrassing. There’s only 2 of us, why can’t we keep our table cleaned off?!

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Other than the amazing fact that you can actually see the table, I’d like to point out several things that make me happy. There are a TON of wildflowers blooming right now because it’s been raining quite a bit recently, so I decided to cut some and see if they’d last in a vase. They did quite nicely until Cosmo ate them…

Second, note the trivets, which we use pretty much every day. The brass one is from Keeler Brass, where my Grandpa worked for umpteen years, and the green one is a gift from my friend.

Third, look at that awesome tablecloth! My sister Sara sent me a piece of awesome printed fabric from Uganda, and it’s the perfect size for my table! The plastic over top keeps the food (and more importantly the solder, diesel oil, paint, cat vomit and etc) off of my pretty fabric.

Give us advice

We were originally planning to add on to this house in 2015, and included in the addition was going to be re-siding the whole house because the siding and the framing around the windows in particular is in somewhat sad shape. However, that addition has been put on indefinite hold for various reasons, mostly involving uncertainty in whether we really want to tie ourselves down to this house for the rest of our lives. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but an addition would be a huge financial commitment.

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However, if we’re not re-siding we do at least need to repair some weather damaged window trim and re-paint, because the current paint is falling off and there’s not a lot of wood left to the window trim. The problem is rapidly getting worse in the intense sun, so we probably need to address this within the next couple of months. Please ignore the construction materials, etc on the front porch. Someday soon those will be moved down to the shop and we can have an enjoyable front porch that’s not filled with garbage. I can’t wait!
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So, do we tackle the job ourselves? It’s going to require some fairly serious ladder work on 2 sides of the house. The other 2 sides have roofs that can be stood upon to do the upper parts. If it were just that we needed to paint I think I’d go for it, but there is definitely a lot of scraping and sanding that we’ll need to do first. I think we will at least get a couple of quotes to see how much it would cost to have somebody else do it for us. Or maybe we do the parts we can reach and have the professionals do the parts that require serious ladders? Anybody painted their 2 story house and have any advice?

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This is the current view from the front of the house. Any so-called curb appeal (not that we have curbs on which to stand and allow the house to be appealing) is utterly destroyed by that hideous propane tank. I believe that we are allowed to paint the tank, so that would probably help. Now for the fun question – what color should we paint the house? Neither Ken nor I like the current color. Sometime in the next six months we’re going to replace the rest of the original windows, so all the windows will have white edges at that point. Ken is campaigning for a tan color with white trim. I have yet to be convinced that that won’t just be super boring. Any thoughts? What about the propane tank? Maybe we should paint it in a cammo pattern so you don’t notice it!

We got a shop.

First there was a bunch of rabbitbrush and cacti. Then some men came with a bobcat and made a flat spot.
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Then some other men came and drilled big holes.
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Very big holes.
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Then a frame appeared.
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A wall, even!
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Then we got concrete, and then finally we did some work ourselves, installing gutters. While wearing head-nets because the gnats were unbelievably awful.
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Given the amount of work putting up simple gutters turned out to be, I’m extremely pleased that we had other people come and put up the rest of the shop. This past week we waterproofed the floor, and all that remains until it’s fully completed is getting electricity installed. Minor detail, right?

Next project: Replace the engine in the truck. Fun stuff.

Look, we did more work on our house!

I may have a “before” picture of this area outside our sliding door, but it would require some digging to find it. When we had to replace the bottom of the wall and the deck I pulled out the brick that used to be here. It was more like brick flakes at that point. For the past year and a half it has languished as a pile of rubble, providing a beautiful tableau outside our living room. Or not. Last week I moved what was left of the old brick and concrete and cleaned things up to start the process of fixing it.
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In that photo above you can see a big puddle of water. One of the problems we were trying to fix was getting that puddle to drain, because it’s probably not healthy to have a big lake that close to the house every time it rains. By time I thought to take that picture, Ken had already used a masonry blade on our circular saw to make a couple of cuts in the concrete to make a channel to drain the lake. My aunt and uncle helped us move a whole pallet’s worth of concrete (our third for this place, if anyone’s counting), so thanks to them for the concrete stacked there.

This is a picture looking from the other direction after the grooves were cut and the drain pipe laid. The fencing was supposed to act like rebar. The flashing with the gravel along the bottom of the door is supposed to keep water out of the crawlspace under the house and keep the wood from rotting again. I may need new shoes, my pink socks are sticking out in more than one place…
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No project would be complete without snaking the water hose through the living room to get it to reach…
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Because I like to provide utterly confusing angles on my photos that are in no way correlated with each other, this is the wet poured concrete as pictured from the sliding door. I basically mixed all that concrete by myself. In a wheelbarrow with a shovel. 14 60# bags. My arms were tired. Ken might have helped a little bit. But really, I did most of the mixing.
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And now in the most un-satisfying ending ever, I don’t have a final finished picture. The concrete cracked a bit (because we had no idea what we were doing), but I think once it cures completely we can fill the crack and seal everything. The good news is that the puddle definitely drains beautifully through the drain pipe. It’s definitely not the most beautiful concrete ever poured, but I think it’s not too bad for a couple of extreme amateurs, and a big improvement over the brick flakes in terms of both waterproofness and aesthetics.

Painting

Look! I got some art to put on our bare walls! This lovely painting of a mountain near our home town was done by a friend I grew up with. She is the little sister of the guy who stole one of my best friends when their family moved to town and started to come to our church. Got all that? Turns out that a boy who’s also into computers is more fun for a boy to hang out with than the girl whose computer interests are limited to Oregon Trail and Math Blaster. Oh well. I can’t remember exactly how old I was when they moved to town, maybe 11 or 12, but we were all friends through high school, so it’s all good. Anyway, Melanie is a couple of years younger than me and she’s a great painter.

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Here’s a link to her Facebook pageĀ  Thanks for the painting, Melanie, it reminds me of home!


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