Monday, October 25, 2010

One Year of Wedded Bliss!

One year ago we were standing at the altar in front of family and friends.

What a difference a year makes! Today, to celebrate our actual anniversary, we did yard work, napped, and Chris went to work. Actually we did have a very nice dinner at home together and we had already celebrated our anniversary over Columbus Day.

This week on the house we did get some things accomplished – the most important item was the electrical work.

If you remember a couple weeks ago we had failed our electrical inspection and were being threatened with big fines and power loss. We had 10 days to correct the issue and in that time we got bids from electricians, got the work completed, and passed our electrical inspection. Fortunately, the head electrical inspector took over this inspection and he is a million times nicer than the previous inspector we had. Now our electrical permits can be closed (along with the non-compliance threats!).

The weather this weekend was perfect for outside work – mid 70s and sunny. Both days we worked on clearing out debris in the yard – it’s everywhere!

There has been a giant pile of logs near the garage. They have been there forever and the ones on the bottom are just crumbling. This is also the area that has a ton of bricks lined up in a few spots. We moved all the bricks and large logs to the back part of the yard. We also removed all the weeds in this area – quite a task!

Clearing the debris in this area was similar to working on an archeological dig. We found so many little figures and garden statues. It apparently was a very nice garden area at one point but had since been severely neglected (just like the rest of the house!).

We had to put this debris somewhere so we chose an area near the back corner. We used some beams that were below the wood pile to start a new compost pile. The cross in the picture is one of three on that side of the yard that were originally used for a clothesline.

We also cut down a few small trees that were stunted and crooked from growing under large pine trees. We chipped some of the larger limbs in the giant debris pile in the back but this will also take many trips to the dump to get rid of all of it (they collect yard debris for turning into and selling compost).

We think it’s going to take us many, many weekends to clear all the debris from the yard but at least we were able to get started.

Also, please remember to vote every day through November 5 for our ugly bathroom! Thanks!

Friday, October 22, 2010

We Are Finalists - Please Vote!

Awhile back I found out about the True Value Design SOS Contest. The contest is designed to help makeover a room for the people with the worst decor. I decided to enter our hideous upstairs bathroom.

It turns out that out of hundreds of entries, ours is one of the 10 ugliest rooms! We are now finalists in the contest and we need your help. The winner is decided by the number of votes they receive. Please click on the link below to vote for us!

You can vote one time per day up through November 5. Please help us spread the word - our bathroom needs a lot of help!

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Lawn?

Since fall is upon us and the days are getting shorter, we haven’t had much time to do outdoor work when we get home from our real jobs. Fortunately, the weather this weekend was perfect for working outside.

During the week, most of the work was unpacking boxes and getting the heating system up and running (I was freezing and Chris was kind enough to remedy that!).

I wrote last week about our electrical permit issue. I had called several companies to get quotes and one company came out to give us an estimate for the work. We decided to go with the company that came to the house because they have a good reputation and were less expensive. So this coming Wednesday they will fix the electrical mistakes that our contractor made and we’ll have the inspection on Friday.

In order to prepare for this electrical work, we had to open up more of the ceiling in the basement and move some items so that the electrician has access. While Chris was outside fixing his car, I was downstairs with a keyhole saw and hammer. It all started out pretty well – I was removing small (1 sq. ft.) pieces of drywall each time. The last piece I was trying to remove wasn’t fully cut when I tried to pull it down. A full 8 foot sheet of drywall fell right on my head. Thankfully, Chris was just coming into the house and came to my rescue.

When we bought the house, there was a ton of pine trees on the one side of the house. We had over 2 dozen of them cut down back in January. The tree guys had chipped up a lot of it and left it in huge mulch piles. Many, many truckloads of mulch have been moved recently to uncover the ground in this area. With the mulch finally gone, we were able to start preparing the soil for grass seed.

The ground was very uneven and full of roots. The first step was to till the entire area (Chris is a pro with a tiller!). Then I raked the soil so that it was even. We then spread lime and compost and raked these into the soil. The grass seed was spread and raked in. Then, finally, we watered the seed and spread straw over top. The area on the side of the house was about 1600 sq. ft. and there were 3 6 ft. diameter spots in the front yard (where other trees were removed). Hopefully soon we’ll have some nice grass in that area.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Long Weekend Anniversary Trip

There wasn’t a whole lot accomplished on the house this week. On Thursday, I worked from home so that we could get our framing inspection and electrical inspections completed. One was successful (the framing inspection) and one was not. We failed our electrical inspection because our awful contractor did some electrical work incorrectly and without a permit.

We just received a letter from the county threatening us with a fine of $100 per day and contacting the electrical company to shut off our power if we don’t get the problem corrected in 10 days. This doesn’t give us much time to amend the permit, find an electrician, get the work performed, and pass the inspection. Cross your fingers for us that it all works out in the end!

Since we were both off for Columbus Day and our first anniversary is coming up soon, we decided to take a trip to the Finger Lakes area. We drove up on Friday and stayed at the Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen.

Saturday morning, we hiked the Gorge and Rim trails at Watkins Glen State Park. We were very glad to miss a lot of the crowd – the parking lot was almost full when we were leaving.

We went to some wineries for tasting and had lunch at a Finger Lakes “Wienery.”

On Sunday, we drove up to the north side of the lake and went to a few wineries (starting at Belhurst Castle – pictured).

We drove down the East side of the lake and stopped by a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. We were asking our neighbors recently about Halloween trick-or-treating and what to expect. We were told that all the kids in the neighborhood have been scared to even step foot in our driveway because of the previous owners and their dogs. We feel like we need to compensate by making the house very “Halloween-y” and inviting. We ended up getting 7 pumpkins so that we can line our sidewalk with jack-o-lanterns. Hopefully that will make the fear disperse a little bit!

Our ultimate destination for the day was Ithaca and en route, we stopped for a couple hikes. One was a 4 mile hike on the Interloken Trail to Foster Pond.

We stopped briefly at the Taughannock Falls State Park.

And hiked the Gorge and Rim trails at Buttermilk Falls State Park. The foliage was beautiful everywhere and it was so nice to feel like fall is finally here!

On Monday, we started the drive home. First, we stopped and spent a few hours at the Corning Museum of Glass. It was a huge museum and we could have spent a lot longer but we wanted to get home at a decent hour. Tucker was very happy that we were home and has been following us around since we stepped in the door.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Picking Grapes, Splitting Logs, and Moving In (Again)

A lot of this week was spent working on moving boxes around and installing bleeder valves on the radiators.

My parents and brother were coming in this weekend so we needed to have two bedrooms available for guests. If you remember, the medium bedroom was set up and then we turned into a storage room while we finished the floors. We’re happy to say that it’s back to a normal bedroom!

The hot water radiator system that heats our home has been missing some parts. Each radiator should have a bleeder valve on the high end so that you can remove air from the system. Chris spent a couple nights adding the valves to the remaining radiators in the main level.

After finishing the valves, we clean between the radiator fins. The ones we cleaned in the dining room had about a half inch of hair and dust in each one I don’t think they were ever cleaned and it was quite gross. Following the cleaning, we install the back portion of the cover. This involves pulling out the radiator enough to squeeze the cover behind – this is not as easy as it sounds! This back cover is screwed into the wall and then the bent fins are straightened. Finally, we put the front cover on. There are a lot of steps involved but it makes the heating system more efficient and much more attractive!

My parents arrived early on Friday evening. They brought with them all of my possessions from their house. It filled an entire 12 foot trailer. We unloaded all of it before going to dinner – I sure have a lot of boxes to go through! They also brought our dining room set. The entire set of furniture cost $200. We got the table, china cabinet, and corner cabinet for free and the 8 chairs were a total of $200. What a deal! I think the before and after pictures of this room are the most dramatic (probably because we have furniture in there now).

On Saturday morning, we all went to a winery north of Baltimore and helped with the grape harvest. The grape harvest was a lot of fun. After picking the grapes, the owners of the winery have a big Italian lunch with some great wine. It may have been slave labor but it was enjoyable.

My brother came down with his log splitter and Dad brought his chipper/shredder so that we could take care of the giant log and debris piles that we’ve had since we bought the house and cut down trees. Chris finally got to use his new chainsaw to cut down some stumps, Dad started chipping some of the huge debris pile, and Rob, Mom and I did the splitting and stacking. It took about 6 hours to split and stack all the wood (the chipper needs a new belt before we can remove all the debris). Afterwards we were all extremely exhausted but we’re very happy to have it finished. We now have a log pile along the back fence that is about 30 feet long and 6 feet high.

After dinner, Diane and Steve came over to see the house and watch Penn State lose to Iowa. We decided that we shouldn’t watch games together anymore because Penn State always loses when we do.

On Sunday, Mom and I did some electrical work and tool organizing while the guys worked in the basement.

When our contractor put in the plumbing for the half bathroom, they cut holes and notches in the joist in the basement. This definitely does not meet code. Chris and my dad had to install a double header and two joists on 16 inch centers. It is so much better this way and should have no problem passing our building inspection. Hopefully we can finish a couple small electrical items and we can get that inspection set for the same day this week.

Our next task is to unpack all the boxes that arrived…this could take awhile!