Monday, November 29, 2010

Re-upholstering and Gutting Deer

Well, this week didn’t go as planned.

We started with purchasing our crown molding for the living room and dining room. We hope to install it this week.

On Monday night, I re-upholstered the seats for our sunroom chairs. This was my very first re-upholstery project so I didn’t have anything I needed. I bought an electric staple gun on eBay for $0.99 (plus shipping) and staples while we were at Home Depot. Last weekend, we picked out the fabric for the chairs.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad. The worst part of course was removing all the staples from the seats. A nice small screwdriver and a pair of pliers worked quite well!

After cutting the new fabric to size, I used my new stapler to attach the fabric to the seat.

After a couple hours, the seats were transformed.

I’m glad I started with a simple project first – now I think I can tackle the armchairs we have waiting downstairs!

On Sunday, we bought a treadmill I found on Craigslist. It is a $3000 treadmill that we got for $600. It is in great shape and very heavy duty. I’ll post pictures of it after we set it up inside. I hope this helps me get more motivated to run again – it’s always so hard to run when it’s cold and dark.

If you are squeamish, now is the time to stop reading – the next section is graphic!

On Tuesday morning, Chris let Tucker out in the backyard just like every morning. This time, there was a group of deer in the yard. Tucker ran straight for them and they scattered. Most made it over the fence on the first try but a few of them needed a couple tries to get over. One deer wasn’t so lucky.

Tucker ran over to the area between the brush pile and wood pile. He turned back with his head hung down like he had done something bad. Chris was curious and went to investigate. What he found was a deer lying next to the brush pile with her legs caught in some vines.

Chris came inside and told me what had happened. The deer was still alive so we called everyone we could think of to put it out of its misery – animal control, police, etc. Nobody could/would help us. The only option given to us was to pay a company to take it away. We are both from rural areas and know a lot of hunters so it seemed wasteful to throw away perfectly good venison.

We decided to field dress the deer and take it to a butcher instead. Unfortunately for me, Chris had a presentation to get ready for at work. So with a kiss and a “Good Luck” wish, he left for work.

I took gloves, a kitchen knife and hacksaw out back to start the gutting process. My brother, Rob, is a hunter so I called him about a dozen times during the procedure to make sure I was doing everything correctly. He was at work in a cubicle trying to explain things like “now cut around the butt hole” and “you might have to dig out the female parts to show the warden.” He had a lot of explaining to do to his co-workers!

During the gutting process, I had to run back and forth to the house a few times. Our next door neighbors were having their garage removed that day and about a dozen workers were watching me run around the yard covered in blood with bloody knives and a hacksaw. I can only imagine what they were thinking!

It took me awhile to finish the gutting because I didn’t want to make a mistake and spoil the meat. Once I removed the guts, I turned her on her stomach to let some of the blood drain out. When I turned her, it was easy to see that her neck was broken (good to know the cause of death). We think that she got her legs caught in the vines and when she tried to jump she hit the tree next to the wood pile.

In order to get a deer butchered, you need to get a permit. I called the Natural Resources Police (the equivalent of the Game Commission) and had an officer come out to the house. He was extremely nice and helpful. Once he left, I covered the deer in a sheet to keep the flies away and put ice in its stomach cavity to keep it cool.

Chris came home at lunch so that we could take it to the butcher. He drove our old beat up pickup truck to the back yard and we threw the deer (covered in a blood soaked sheet) and the guts (in a garbage bag) into the bed of the truck. Another interesting activity for the workers next door to witness!

While Chris was at work, he asked around for a good deer processing place. One of the guys suggested a place up in Finksburg so we drove the deer up there. It will be about 10 – 14 days before we get the meat back – now we need to buy a freezer to store all of it!

After all that excitement, we packed up and drove to my parents’ house on Wednesday. Upon our arrival, my dad showed me the sign he made so that we can advertise our new business…

We spent Thanksgiving Day with my family and drove to Chris’ parents on Friday. When we arrived there, I was greeted as “Sarah Palin” and the “Deer Slayer.” I have a feeling that I won’t live this down anytime soon!

It was great spending time with family and not working on the house for a change!

This week we plan on getting a few projects finished…as long as there are no more deer incidents!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Animal Hospital and Neighborhood Party

This week was quite crazy. It started with us finishing what we thought would be the last coat of polyurethane in the hall. Unfortunately, there were a couple large missed areas so we’ll have to put on one more coat. To do this “whole hall” coat, we had to camp out in the living room for the night. We took our showers, packed our clothes for work, pulled out our sleeping bags, and went to the bathroom for the last time before we could start polyurethaning. It wasn’t the most ideal situation but it worked.

Last weekend I had changed out the foyer light. The original one was very rusty and hung down so low that it made the space feel much smaller. Now it’s bright and open.

We did quite a bit of painting this week. Part of the kitchen has been neglected because there was nothing forcing us to fix it – there were no cabinets going on that wall. There used to be a big bulkhead in this area and it was removed a long time ago (last December). We finally decided to prime it. We still haven’t picked a color for the kitchen walls but this at least makes it look much cleaner.

Chris spent a lot of Wednesday and Thursday nights installing trim and baseboards in the hallway and foyer. This was his first time using our new compound miter saw. The doors in the hallway were all installed crooked or so it was difficult to get the trim to line up properly. I installed the newly painted doors and doorknobs. Between all these things (and the new rug we bought at Ollie’s), we think the foyer and hallway look much better than when we bought the house!

One of the last tasks in each room is installing the radiator covers. To get ready to install the covers, the radiators themselves need some prep work. The fins of the radiator work best when they are straight and clean. The fins we’re dealing with are neither of these things. We have perfected the cleaning step – one of us uses the small shop-vac to blow out the dirt and the other one uses the larger shop-vac to suck up everything.

When we do this, we’re always disgusted by how much dirt, dust, and hair in between the fins. The large dust bunnies fly out of the radiator fins and look like some type of jumping slug. Against my better judgment I took some pictures of these – they are really gross!

Friday night and Saturday morning were incredibly busy. We had sent out invitations to our neighbors for an open house on Saturday afternoon so that they could see the progress we’ve made on the house interior. To get ready for this we had a ton of cleaning to do and a lot of food to make. Thursday night I spent de-cluttering the house and Friday night was spent cleaning and baking cookies. Here are some before and after pictures of some rooms (you can see we were living like complete slobs this week).

On Saturday morning, we still had a long list of things we needed to do – make food, mop floors, clean the bathroom, etc., etc. Unfortunately, Tucker had other plans. We noticed a bump and some swelling on the left side of his face Friday night. Saturday morning he woke up with the whole half of his face swelled up. We called the vet and got an emergency appointment.

During the appointment, the vet said that they weren’t sure what the cause was but they needed to open it up to see what was going on. They told us to leave him and call back in a couple hours. When we called back, the vet said that they had to drain the abscess and “a bunch of yucky stuff” came out. We now have to give him an antibiotic, clean and flush the wound, put medicine on it and monitor the discharge every day. Now poor Tucker has to walk around with a swollen face and a red sock on his head.

After that excitement, we didn’t get to finish everything we had hoped but we still managed to have a very successful party. We had a nice spread of food, got to meet great neighbors, and ended up with a very clean house (at least parts of it!).

Sunday was spent relaxing, doing some reconnaissance for Black Friday sales (there are some stools for sale at JC Penney’s that we need for our kitchen), spending some time with the neighbors we met down the street, and collecting some of the leaves on the lawn.

After the week we’ve had, we can’t wait for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blood, sweat, and tears

Ok, maybe there were no tears but there was blood and sweat this week.

We have been working hard to get the house in “appraisal” shape. The one big outstanding job was to finish the hall/foyer floor. On Monday and Tuesday, Chris polyurethaned the floor – we have one more coat to do on the whole hall that hopefully will happen tonight.

Being the resident electrician, I installed a lot of lights this week – the foyer, hall, medium bedroom, and dining room (Chris did most of the dining room installation due to the heavy fixture). It’s amazing how different the rooms look by changing the lighting – some of the lights were very ugly (and incredibly dirty - the dining room light had a quarter inch of dust in it!). Below are the pictures of the dining room and medium bedroom. My camera batteries died this morning while I was trying to take a picture of the foyer light so I’ll post those next week.

Because we had so many lights, we needed a lot of light bulbs. Fortunately, we got a great deal on CFLs – a box of 12 for $3.97 (normally $15+)!

The rest of the week was spent working on the hall/foyer walls and ceiling. The hall needed a lot of patching (particularly where we removed the linen closet!). While Chris was using a putty knife to scrape off some excess drywall compound, the knife stopped but his hand didn’t. He got a really big gash in his thumb and it bled quite a bit. Fortunately it wasn’t very deep so he shouldn’t need stitches.

After that excitement, the priming and painting went pretty smoothly. We still need to do a touch up coat and some edging near the ceiling.

We also primed and painted the interior of the front and back doors. These were very gross and had seen better days. Now they look nice and clean (I’ll have to post those pictures next week too)!

On Sunday afternoon we picked up the trim we need to finish the hallway. This included baseboard and door trim. The original trim around the doors was put on backwards so it was necessary to buy new.

I had removed the original baseboard trim a long time ago and I put all the small pieces in a bucket to keep them all together. This bucket disappeared when we were having our chimney work done and the small pieces went with it. Now at least the foyer/hall will have a nice new look.

The weather around here has been perfect the last couple weeks - day temps in the 60s with not a drop of rain. One thing we have enjoyed on these nice days is looking at the beautiful colors of the leaves.

The not-so-enjoyable part is when the leaves fall all over your yard. Fortunately for us, our old neighbors gave us their yard sweeper. The yard sweeper gets attached to the back of the tractor. The turning of the wheels of the sweeper cause the brushes inside to turn as well (resulting in the leaves being swept into the bag. Chris used it on Saturday to pick up all the dead leaves. It took him 15 minutes to complete the task while it took our next door neighbor 3 days to do the same job with a leaf blower!

The next couple days we’ll work on finishing the hall (installing radiator covers, doors, trim, etc.). We also hope to get the crown molding installed in the living room and dining room.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Preparing for an Appraisal

We will be having our house appraised soon for our refinance so we had a long list of items that we would like to have completed before then.

Some of the small things were pretty fast to take care of but others took quite a bit of time. The one task that kept Chris busy most of the week was patching and sanding part of the hall. We had been putting off this work for awhile because it makes everything inconvenient – the hall is our link to the bedrooms, bathroom, upstairs, and basement.

One of the difficult parts is keeping Tucker from walking on the sanded floor (he has a very runny nose and it drips all over the floor). We had to move his crate to the dining room and keep him in it most of the time.

For the last four months, the hall has looked like this:

We had finished half of the hall back in July and covered the rest of the floor with cardboard to protect it. Even though it was covered, a lot of sanding was required to get it ready for staining. Below are pictures of Chris patching the floor and his post-sanding hair.

We were finally able to stain the floor on Sunday afternoon and we’ll apply the polyurethane this week. Fortunately this area is very small compared to the other 1,960 sq. ft. that we’ve already refinished. It’s so nice to have the floor finish line in sight!

All Chris’ work kneeling in the hall has wreaked havoc on his knees. He has big burst blisters on both knees – Ouch!

We took off the doors in the hallway to make it easier to stain and polyurethane. The doors for the coat closet, half bathroom, and basement are the nice panel doors but had definitely seen better days (lots of stains, scratches, and dirt). A good cleaning and a few coats of white spray paint and they are looking much less abused. I also painted the hinges and doorknobs a flat black (we’ll eventually replace these but it was faster to paint them for the short term). I’ll be sure to post pictures of the hallway when we’re finished.

One room that we had completely neglected has been the main level bathroom. We have plans to gut the bathroom and didn’t want to waste any energy on making it nice now. However, in order to make it look a little nicer for the appraisal, we decided to cover up all the gross stains with some primer. It took me about an hour to prime it and put up a new light fixture – cheap and easy! It’s not a huge difference but looks cleaner.

Another thing that was pretty fast was painting the vent covers on the fireplace. They were an off-white color and stood out a lot. I painted them a dark gray that makes it blend in a little better (the picture doesn’t do it justice).

This coming week, (besides the floor work) we will be installing some new lights in the hall, foyer, dining room, and medium bedroom. The house will also be getting a really good cleaning prior to the appraisal. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this appraiser is better than the last one!

We want to thank everyone that voted for our ugly bathroom – we really appreciate it! Now all we have to do is wait for the results to be announced!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Week

The house work was rather neglected this week because of Halloween and working on our cars.

We bought several pumpkins when we were in New York and a few of them started rotting before we had a chance to carve them. On Saturday morning, we drove up to Westminster to get apple cider (Chris is planning on making hard cider) and a couple more pumpkins to carve.

We stopped by the Goodwill store to find some items for our costumes. Unfortunately, we didn’t find what we were looking for but we did find a dresser. Since we were in the car, we had to pick it up after church on Sunday. We just added it to the “furniture refinishing” area in the basement. Maybe one of these days we’ll actually start working on these things!

In the afternoon, we carved our pumpkins. We chose to carve six pumpkins so that the neighborhood kids wouldn’t be afraid of our house.

Saturday night, we went to a friend’s Halloween party. We tried to shop for costumes on Friday but of course everything was picked over. Instead, we used costumes that we had already. Chris went as a cow and I went as a farmer.

We are still trying to refinance with another bank (our first attempt resulted in a really bad appraisal). We don’t have a date for the new appraisal yet but we thought that we should probably clean up the house a little bit to get ready for it. We had a ton of boxes in the dining and living rooms so we moved them all back into the den.

Halloween night we set out our pumpkins and waited around for the trick-or-treaters. The neighbors told us to expect about 50 kids. We only got about 10 kids – that just means that there is more candy for us!

One great thing about the house is that the grass seed that we planted has started to grow. It looks like we actually care about our yard now!

Our goal for this week is to finish some things in the foyer, hall, and kitchen before the appraisal. Hopefully now we’ll have some time to do that this week.

Please don’t forget to keep voting for our bathroom every day. Voting ends on November 5. Thanks!