Umm...Can We Build Stuff Yet?

A couple of quick announcements: first, Jessie taught me how to do HTML, so now all my pictures in previous posts are clickable links to see the full-size ones...so, enjoy that. Second, I apologize if our first day of blog creation/posting got everyone all hyped for a 6-post-per-day average, forever. Clearly, we don't keep up that kind of pace (we'll try harder). I feel like we've been running nonstop since we both got sick last week. This weekend, we'll get some serious progress made.

One of the reasons for that, is that in theory we will be able to figure out building permits for our lovely town. Unfortunately, in a town of around 2,000 people there isn't much for online support for such questions. By that, I mean there is zero online information about building permits, but that doesn't change the fact that we apparently need one to build a fence.

Of course, this doesn't stop us from picking up materials and starting it. My dad finally got a chance to come see the house and took a run to Home Depot so we could get more lumber with both cars at once. Along the way, I prodded his brain for handy rules of thumb for building things, as I often do. For example, common measurement for stair dimensions is 2 x rise + run = 27", meaning for our stair case we would have an 8" rise with an 11" tread width (2 x 8 + 11 = 27!).

At this point, you may be thinking, "wait, I thought he said they were building a fence...I think he's doing it wrong." Well, YOU'RE wrong. Turns out, our deck staircase wraps around down to the place where cars are supposed to park, which makes sense for that, but not for where we wanted to fence in an area for Optimus. So naturally we decided it made the most sense to add an identical staircase going out the other side of the current one and just build the fence straight off of that. This way, Optimus can walk right down into the yard, while the other staircase will have a spring-closed gate. There will be more detail on all this when we get more done on it this weekend.

We only spent an hour or two (me cutting the stringers while Jessie cut the decking boards for the treads) and got all the stair pieces cut and ready. At this point, we had to stop, because we don't have a building permit and we really need to dig two postholes to put the 4x4s in at the bottom to actually secure the stairs. Then, we have to dig another 18 postholes for the fence. Great. Looking forward to that. Hey, maybe the 96-degree heat and humidity can come back too. Can't wait...

The rest of the fence will come together really quickly once the posts are set because it is a cost-optimized fence, thus, it is way cheaper than any pre-made fence and while it won't be fancy, it will be effective, cheap, and easy, plus it will match the house reasonably well. Soon enough, we'll be able to let Optimus loose without literally letting him loose in the neighborhood. That will be a good thing.


Currently listening to "Ebon Coast" by Andy McKee


Enter the Dishwasher

BOOM! New appliance #1. Of course, there's Optimus, being nosy. Thank you to who ever dropped this brand-new dishwasher at the warehouse leading to a 75% discount for us. Not only does it looks way fancier, but it actually works! All that happened was some minor damage to the stainless on the top left corner of the door, so it wouldn't seal properly. Nothing that a can't be fixed with a rag, a pair of Vise-Grips, and a FUBAR (there will be a future post describing the awesomeness that is this demolition-specific tool...stay tuned).

Installing a dishwasher is not rocket science. It can be a colossal pain if the one currently installed has incredibly short hoses and wires leading to it. It can be really messy if the insulation installed around the original was just shredded packing peanuts that were apparently the only place in this whole house that has had mice in it. It is really gross when two boards are glued with Liquid Nails over the one tiny access hole to the aforementioned way-too-short hoses and wires in the ceiling of the basement under the mouse-infested playground known as the backside of a 20-yr-old dishwasher. You reach your arm into that hole, I'm not doing it. In a related story, I love run-on sentences.

While we're discussing the first of many major installs in this house, I'd like to discuss exactly why I prefer to plan things by how long I "expect it to take," as opposed to how long "it should take." For those of you not familiar with dishwasher installs, it's pretty simple business. There are a grand total of two hoses, three wires, and 5 screws you have to remove to install virtually every dishwasher. If everything goes to plan, then you can just follow these steps:

1. Locate the breaker to the dishwasher circuit and flip it. Turn off the water to the dishwasher, normally a valve under the sink tee'd into the hot water line. Now it is safe to work on it.
2. Open the door and look up to find the two screws attaching the dishwasher to the counter. Remove them. The dishwasher is now free from the counter.
3. Lay down on the floor and look at the panel underneath the door. Remove the two screws on either side of the kick panel. Set the panel and screws aside.
4. Locate the panel with all the warning labels about personal injury and all that with one screw (possibly will just be a bolt) and remove that screw/bolt. The box will pop open.
5. Under this box will be three wires: black, white, and green/copper. There should be wire nuts on the white and black wires, while the ground will be either a bare wire or green and screwed against the frame by a green screw. Loosen this screw, remove the wire nuts, and pull the wires out of the back of the box.
6. Locate the 3/8" NPT brass elbow on the other side. Remove the hose from the brass elbow, then remove the brass elbow.
7. Locate the the plastic, ribbed drain line with some rubber connector. Disconnect the hoses.
8. Pull out the dishwasher.

You still with me? That was a lot longer than I thought it would be when I started writing, but it seems pretty straight forward, right? The installation of the new dishwasher just reverses all of this, which you can do with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. That's it. It should take anyone who's used any tools before about 10 minutes to remove a dishwasher.

Here's where the added time comes in. First, in our house, about 1/3 of the wiring is knob-and-tube (if you don't know what this is, you are not alone, I had to look it up when I first heard about it) with old-style screw-in glass fuses. Gross. Luckily, the modern appliances were rewired on a modern breaker box with standard Romex 3-C wire. Unluckily, the breaker box is an unlabeled rat's nest, so I actually had to trace the wire through the floor, across the basement ceiling, to the breaker box, and inside to the specific breaker it was on (for the record, taking the faceplate off of a live breaker box is really, really not safe...but it is possible to do it safely). Just right there it's taken me 6 minutes to shut off the power when it should have taken me less than 1. That's a 500% delay.

Then, this particular old dishwasher's kick plate had actually rusted itself onto the face, requiring me to get my special prying tools (a flathead screwdriver), my persuading device (hammer or FUBAR), and a rag (to prevent damage to the cabinets in this process). Just getting that off took a few minutes, when it should have just been removing two easily reached screws. Then of course there's the shrapnel left behind by the mice all around the underside of this thing, which I have to clean out prior to reaching my arms under to try and wrestle loose the water line and power wires. It goes on and on from there.

Then you get ready to install the new dishwasher and get almost all the way in and find that naturally, the new dishwasher standard has switched to a 3/4" hose fitting instead of a standard 3/8" NPT, so a specific brass elbow fitting has to be purchased, further delaying the install and requiring another trip. It's always something like that. So what should be a 20 to 30-minute job ends up taking a couple hours, because of stupid, simply unfortunate little annoyances. In the end though, we got a sweet, fully-functioning (and Energy Star) dishwasher. In conclusion, DIY-everything is a huge investment of time and patience, but this house is going to be freaking awesome when we're done with it.


Currently watching "The Coup" episode of The Office

Tom Goes To Work

Now that I'm an expert at this blogging thing, I'm back, just a few minutes post-mastery.

Right now, I'd like to share the epic journey of "Tom Goes To Work" with everyone. So we bought this house, right? And it's really far from my office. In fact, of all the houses we considered, it is the furthest from my office of any of them (the environmentalist in me is screaming, but Jessie is probably just as concerned with my poor, run-on sentence structure and starting sentences with "and" and "I" (insert mischievous laugh here)). We're doing a couple of things to offset this awful commute, such as growing a lot of the food we eat and not going out to eat, which is helped by the fact that there is nowhere to eat within a 10-mile radius of here (although a local police officer told us he was excited to say that a Hardee's is going to be built this year).

However, the most direct way we can at least lessen this impact is via our awesome car. It has super powers. Not only does it get great gas mileage, but the blue color can beacon us from miles away (even at night) to tell us where we parked. Plus, it makes us stick out even more in Franklintonfieldville (I feel compelled to say that everyone here has been incredibly, overly nice, all the time and it is awesome, even though we are young, tattooed, import-hybrid driving liberals).

On my commute into and from work, I'm getting a verifiable 55+ mpg (see picture above for commute to the office yesterday morning). Last week, I picked up the unusually/specifically-long couch I made from my dad's office, where he had been using it to take naps between studios and classes. After disassembling the couch, the entire thing, including all the cushions, fit completely inside the car. Today, I grabbed a bunch of 8' boards for Jessie to build a bed and table out of, among other things, and just tossed them in on the way home from work. I am certainly very glad and appreciative of the fact that we are in a position to have a car like this.

But the plot thins, as we need a second vehicle, because as awesome as this car is, it is not two cars. Also, it cannot carry 4x8 sheets of plywood, OSB, jello, or sheetrock. Nor can it carry large furniture, or certain large appliances.

At this point we(possibly just me)'re hoping for a mid-90s Chevy diesel, because then we can offset the terrible mileage by using waste vegetable oil and biodiesel. In this situation, driving a big truck that runs on grease from Farmhouse would actually be better for the environment than the awesome Honda discussed above. Also, everywhere we drive will smell like wings, fries, and everything else that gets deep-fried at Farmhouse. You're welcome, Earth.

If you have any old diesel trucks you don't need anymore, you can ship them to address. Thanks in advance.


Currently listening to "Everlong" by The Foo Fighters

Breaking the Seal

Behold. My first blog post. I really don't know how I am supposed to feel about this.

Regardless, here it comes. Since Jessie's first post gave a very (very) brief overview of the house, I figured I'd share some of the more useless "Tom and Jessie's New House Trivia." For example, can you guess what gifts the previous owners left behind for us?

If you guessed a Mickey Mouse light switch plate, a bathroom drawer full of used Gillette razors, and a note from a mother to her child about behavioral care, you are correct. In the interest of patient confidentiality, I'll just post a picture of the light-switch plate, which happened to be in the deepest, darkest corner of the unfinished basement, mounted to a 3/8" OSB wall.

If I was to draw the line from Disney decorations to assume this was the kids' room, they must have hated their kids. I mean, they did get a window peering out to the backside of a large bush. Well, it's just a screen, the glass is missing. But hey, they got their own plumbing. Plus, they could lock the doors for privacy (the "they" in that sentence is the parents, as the locks are on the outside of the doors and are padlocks). You know, the more I talk about this, the more I feel like this was a murder house. Awesome to the max.

This house has got it coming. And IT is a long list of stuff. You'll see it as it comes up, as that is the purpose of this blog, but we've already started stripping paint, repainting, replacing appliances, taking off doors, and building furniture. Next on the list is: patching some missing singles on the roof, replumbing, rewiring, finishing the floors, knocking out walls.... ...actually, I think we're going to wait on that last one, at least for a week or two. In a couple weeks we'll have some assistance painting the outside of the house as well, possibly. Plus, we have to plant our garden with the quickness and make a sweet fence for a small part of the yard so we can just let Optimus run around outside a little.

Anyways, stay tuned, because now we're both posting...so get ready, or something. Obviously, Optimus is not ready, but he is keeping my left hip warm while I write this.


Currently listening to "Unraveling" by Sevendust

Contesting. No, not disputing.

Create...Share...Inspire (The CSI Project) is a craft blog that does weekly contests to see who comes up with the best projects to fit the theme.

For the last few months, this canvas has been sitting in a pile because I could not quite figure out how to finish it. I still haven't had that brilliant moment of clarity, but I am inspired by next week's contest at CSI, which is the "...Red, White and Blue!"

Stay with me here. If you are anything like me, you probably thought, "Ugh, how cheesy" and "...so they want us to create corny crafts about freedom and liberty? Yeah right." So I put it in the back of my mind because I want no part in decorating my house to look like an American flag. To me, those are the colors you would see in a country style decor of a middle aged mothers house complete with trinkets of little dolls and angels. Then again, I am definitely not the typical craft blogger.

Anyway, I saw the red streamers Jane and Jenn had decorated our house with and immediately knew they had to go on that canvas. I knew we were keeping those for some reason. Tom gets on me for keeping useless stuff, but otherwise, this would have just gone in the trash. I'm practically saving the planet here.

So here is my partially finished canvas, which is going to go in my future basement studio along with other geeky anatomy and history themed art. For now, maybe I'll just finish it and stick it in the dining room. Everybody loves anatomical hearts staring down at them while they eat. Ok, that was gross - especially for a vegetarian.

Finished product to come when I actually find a craft store around here and can get some Mod Podge.


Currently Listening to "Photograph" by Def Leppard

Knock Offs

This is one of the next things I'm working on, which will not be a queen, but a king size bed. That way, when we have more than one dog or kids or whatever, we can all snuggle in bed comfortably.

Ana of Knock-Off Wood has been one of the biggest inspirations to me ever since I discovered her blog about a month ago. After spending hours upon hours dreaming about every one of the plans, I came to the somber realization that I couldn't do anything until we moved.

So we are now in our new house with our new (Christmas present from last year) chop saw set up in the basement and I have some semblance of free time. We have always had a bed without a headboard and I decided that was no longer acceptable. I can't wait to finish this, but I must since I am waiting on some more lumber. Booo.

Anyway, I'm not sure what color or stain the bed will have, but I am in love with the first two shown.

If you have never come across this before, you should most definitely check out Ana's blog. She does building plans for people of all levels of expertise and draws on inspirations from places like the Pottery Barn and Ikea. Her blog can be found here.


Currently Listening to "Cherry Lane" by Ryan Adams

Drooling Over Craft Blogs

Well, we have had our stuff for about 4 days now and haven't really gotten a chance to put any of it away. As soon as we unloaded the moving truck, Tom got sick. He has not taken a sick day the whole time he has been at this job (3 years) except for when I was sick. This week, he took two days in a row! Guess moving across the country and settling into a new house can really wear a person out. Just as he was heading back to work, he passed that lovely bug on to me. So I have been laying on the couch all day (which is amazingly comfortable and handmade by my talented husband) and have spent another day on my computer...looking at craft blogs...again. *Sigh*

Needless to say, I haven't gotten anything done today, but there are a few things from yesterday. One of our upcoming plans is to paint the entire house and this picture is taken in the living room, which is the first thing people see when they walk into our home. We definitely wanted to get rid of the pastel yellow and go with something a little more us. Mainly earthy colors - browns, greens, orange, aqua, etc. So yesterday I put up a few colors on the wall.

Tom says he likes the orange. I think I agree with him. We're thinking teal for the dining room/office/my craft area and the bathroom. By we, I mean me. He has basically granted me creative freedom, but I still run everything by him to get his opinion.

In Portland, we got this dresser at an estate sale for around $5-10. Going to estate sales in the late mornings on Sundays is the most amazing thing ever. Everything is at least half off and they usually end up charging you less for everything just because they want to get it out of the house. We have scored some amazing bargains that way, which I will share in later posts. Back to my original point, I got this dresser and we had some yellow paint around, so I painted it but ran out before I could paint the drawers. So the drawers are still the original ugly gold color with a yellow background. TERRIBLE...which is probably why it lived in the basement of our old house. In addition, at least half of the knobs are missing.

Since I could not wait to bust out the orange No-VOC paint from Rodda Paint in Portland, I had to find something

Here is the work in progress. I'm going to put another coat of orange on there (maybe), do some sanding and beating on the dresser with tools and whatnot and then do some antiquing with a dark brown stain. While I haven't done this before, I've read about it a lot. That practically makes me a pro, right?

As you can see, the area is a complete mess. At least we have one room that is semi-tidy, which is the future guest room, which is also the room we are sleeping in whilst working on our bedroom. To appease Tom's need for absolute organization, I figured having at least one room in the house that was clean and organized would help him out, but that is about all I have been able to do so far.

Speaking of all I've been doing, this whole sitting on the couch all day thing isn't too bad. At least it gives me a chance to update the blog so our near and dear can know what is going on in our lives instead of feeling guilty about not working on the house 24/7. Besides, cuddling with Mr. Optimus Prime is great. He is an amazing foot warmer and has been wonderful company for me during the long days when Tom has been at work. I love the crap out of him. He's awesome.

Tom says his head looks huge. I just think he looks adorable.

Maybe I can muster the strength to meander around the house and take a few pictures of things I've done so far. Maybe I'll just end up trying to organize the kitchen so I can use my new Kitchen aid mixer...but I will most likely end up using my new Dremel Max Multi-tool. More to come on that and other sweet new tools I have been able to finally use.


Currently Listening to "Daybreak in Dixie" by Jackstraw


Our House is a Very Very Very Fine House

Yes, I have an unhealthy adoration for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Anyway, here are some pictures to give a basic idea of what our new home looks like. These were taken back in April when we were looking at the house, but nothing has changed much since then. In the next few days, I'll update with the few things we have done since moving in last Tuesday, which is very little since our moving truck got here on Monday afternoon. Right now, the house is in a state of utter disarray from unloading the truck while trying to find the right place for every little thing and still trying to get some cleaning and reorganizing done. Disaster zone. There are paint chips all over the floor from starting to strip the baseboards, trim, doors, etc and spiders like you would not believe. Apparently when a house has been vacant for 6+ months, spiders and ants like to make themselves at home. Luckily, I do not falter in the face of danger...or small bugs.

Welcome to the new house!


Currently Listening to "Melt Your Heart" by Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins