Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wir haben uns shelfen!

Many of you guys are Facebook friends of mine, so this project might not be new to you, but it was a big project, so it needs its own post!  We built a shelf using the reclaimed wood from the shed that we tore down, and the crazy shelving that we tore out of the basement.  The two large supporting beams we got from Second Chance (an amazing home-building second hand store much like Habitat for Humanity Restores).  Peter and I both put up the two large beams and then I cut, sanded/planed all of the shelves, screwed it all together, and then varnished the whole sucker.  It was quite a learning experience for me, as I really haven't regularly used a lot of power-tools in my day (only a few times in high-school under strict supervision by a responsible adult), so has been really exciting to say "look what I made!" and look up proudly at the towering rustic beauty.

And the bookshelf has many functions!  Yes, it does!  It is also is a room divider, and a home to stray shoes and coats.  Check it out!

Here it is as a bookshelf.

Oh wow!  Coats!  And this photo demonstrates the room division.  Living room/"foyer."

I was really pleased with the rustic hooks I found...

And the happy little shoes!

The rest of the room.

From the other side.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hmmm...why does our sink smell like poo?


Hello, all.  Yes, another stinky project.  Thank goodness, this was actually a project that Peter pretty much took over.  Plumbing is not my forte.  But a little history...

Above, is a photo of our sink a few weeks ago.  Notice the poop-colored water.  Yeah, that didn't ever really go away, and if it did, it took hours.  And, not only did it look like poop, but it smelled like it, too.    My friends, this is what happens when you have a garbage disposal that doesn't work (or drain).  The water would just rise and rise, and smell and smell.  Whatever had been stuck in the disposal for all of this time (it's never worked as long as we've owned the house) would float out of the disposal and into the sink.  I would try to stick a long stick down there to try to manually make something move in the machine so that it would drain just a little bit--but it never really worked well.  It was obvious.  We needed to get rid of the garbage disposal.  

So Peter got ambitious and bought a whole bunch of pvc, took the garbage disposal off all while I was sleeping in one Saturday morning.  By the time I woke up, "we" were deep in a plumbing project that needed fixing.  There was all of this problem solving that we had to do about how to re-route the piping so that it could join back up with the rest of the pipe, but also have a little "nipple" (hey guys, serious plumbing lingo here--*giggle*) for the dish washer to hook up to.  As two non-plumbers, we needed some help.   

This is kind of unrelated, but does anyone know what this thing is for?

On to our local hardware store we went we went to get all of the fixings.  And while we were there, we received some excellent help from an employee, Ben (who is now our friend because of that trip).  It was a close friendship borne on the fact that we snickered when he said we needed to get a j-pipe with a "bung-hole" (also a very serious plumbing term), and also for the fact that he thought it was hilarious that we brought our stinky j-pipe from our sink (it seriously smelled like something died in it) to the store and made him hold it for a while as he found one to replace it. 

Blue and purple--so pretty!!!

We didn't instantly trust our newly installed plumbing (hence the bowl underneath), but it works just fine!  No drip-drip!

Here's the end result!  Look how pretty it is!  And--ta-dah!  It drains, and doesn't leak.  AND, it most importantly, the sink doesn't smell like death anymore.  It's pretty much the perfect plumbing job. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Oh gosh, your backyard is a mess, is your kitchen any better?"

As a matter of fact, yes it is!  We've only been living here about a month, but I'm proud to say that at least our kitchen is somewhat organized.  The kitchen has its quirks for sure, however.  There are cabinets, but they're placed in very inconvenient places.  "Or maybe you have put things in inconvenient cabinets?" a friend smartly suggested, and that's a possibility.  However, in the case of the corner cabinets, I don't think it would fix the placement of the cabinet door (it opens so that the door opens towards you instead of away, making it very difficult to see the contents of the cabinet because the door is in the way).  That's something I will have to fix.  Anyway, I finally got to hang my vertical veggie basket (thrift store find for 2 bucks!), and really that's all that matters, right?  And, somehow the weird table thingy that I made out of cabinet doors I found on the side of the road manages to fit and work really well in the space.  

Stove, teal handmade cabinet table, awesome vertical hanging basket, microwave that we're keeping temporarily only because it has an exhaust fan on the bottom of it.  The actual microwave has never been used.  Great use of space, if you ask me. 

Drawers (thrift store finds), hanging things, plants (hat Kitty doesn't like to eat for some reason--she's not a fan of orchids).  Just like with my visual art, I try very hard not to buy anything new that I know I can find used at the thrift store. 

I found this little drawer set at a garage sale, and tea bags fit perfectly in them. 

Tea bags in jars. 

Finally found the measuring spoons--they were missing the whole time we lived in our Balto apartment.  It wasn't until we were unpacking everything in our house that we realized we'd put them in the storage facility...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

TOOK A [trip to the] DUMP! And lost my faith in humanity...

Remember that huge (yet organized) trash pile in the back?  Well--it's gone!!!


Yes, we finally took all of that rat-smelling-wood to the dump, and we've rid ourselves of the majority of the rat nest in the back.  All that remains are the large pieces of cement and brick that we will hopefully use for our future patio and raised beds.  Don't worry, we've properly patted ourselves on the back.  Believe me, it was a very huge ordeal.  Because of the smell (that produced sneezing and coughing) we both wore masks and gloves.  What a nasty job.  It took 3 loads in our Rav 4.  And, to answer your question (I know you're thinking it), our car is probably has some residual critters still living in it--most likely come cockroaches, and maybe some spiders.

We'd seen so many rats hanging out on the pile every night that, that I was convinced they were living in there.  For real, not just "a rats nest" because it was funny to say it.  As we were reaching the bottom of the pile, I remember saying, "Man, I'm surprised that we have not run into any rats yet," and turning around to continue sorting the debris.

Of soon as I say this I hear a slow scuffle behind me.

I twirl around and see this scene:

Peter is cradling a gigantic piece of concrete in his arms, and he's rocking back and forth saying, "Oh geez, oh geez, oh geez..." because at his feet is a humongous rat that has been hiding below the very piece of concrete that Peter just removed!  The rat, seeming to be just as confused and startled as Peter is (most likely also saying "Oh geez, oh geez...") tries to figure out which direction to run and the scene resembles perfectly the cliche "sidewalk scene" (you know the one where the two people run into each other and tries to pass each other on the same side, and run into each other again when they try to pass on the other side, and then it repeats over and over?), and finally chooses a direction that Peter cannot go--under the fence and into the alley.  As that rat lumbers away (it's fat!!!) I am confused because Peter hasn't stopped his two step dance.  Because--I realize--there are more!!!  Two baby rats (still the size of large mice) make their way for a hole in the fence, escaping Peter's feet as well as the very good chance that they would be smashed by the large piece of concrete that is somehow still harbored in Peter's arms.  When they scamper off, Peter finally sets down the concrete and we have ourselves a little giggle of relief...No rat bites here!  (Or dead smushed rat remains! Woo!)

Anyway, that incident, along with the cockroaches (there were hundreds) made us feel like our backyard was a nature preserve.  

But I swear, our lives are more than a battle with rats!  Look!  We stacked our bricks!

And here is a picture taken from the dump (we were waiting in line to drop our rat-boards off).  Look how pretty!  There's more to that story, maybe I'll write a separate post.  I'm still scarred from the dump trip, I think we both are.  We saw a woman dropping a marble sink into the dump pit, and a man dumping perfectly fine wooden chairs, a beautiful table, antique mail shelves (I've seen ones like them at antique stores for hundreds)...ever hear of a THRIFT STORE?  Or we have this amazing warehouse similar to Habitat for Humanity that takes all kinds of building materials, cabinets, furniture called Second Chance.  I couldn't believe that these people did not even try giving these things a chance at a second life.  Ugh!  Obviously I'm upset about it, and shouldn't get started right now.  

Oh look!  A distraction!  I smell a rat...Yup.  This is just but one of the holes that the rats have dug in our yard.  We think they're living right next to our warm foundation, and that they have done so for years...Each day we go out and stick bricks into their entrance ways.  It probably doesn't do much except inconvenience them (and it makes us feel better).  Maybe our lives really are just a battle with rats...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

*CUE ANGELS SINGING* ("Ahhhhhhh!!!!")

Yes, folks.  The day has finally come.  We have officially become adults.  I know, I know, it took a long time.  I've always been a late bloomer (probably can say the same for Peter), but my adolescence is over.

We now own a vacuum cleaner (*Cue singing again* "Ahhhhh!!!!).

The path was long and hard getting here.  It may have given us permanent lung damage, but definitely provided increased mucosal activity, sneeze attacks, and at one point (this was the last straw) a respiratory attack.

You see, we had (and still have--though it's much better), a dust problem.  It covered anything.  A blackish grey colour.  Slightly greasy, it stuck to the things it settled upon.  I was afraid to drink out of a glass that had been sitting out in the open for more than an hour.  That was a long enough period of time for the bottom of it to be covered in the filthy film.

We opened the widows, the front door thinking, "Gah, we need fresh air, we can't live this way!  We can't breathe!"  And it would be better, until we closed the windows for the night, and it would seem to be worse than before.  "What?!  How can this be?!  Where is this DUST coming from?!" 

Well--we finally figured out (or at least we think we have--one can never be truly sure about such things) that it was most likely COMING from outside (road dust--from the tires, exhaust, and actual breakdown of the road), and opening the windows was actually making it worse for obvious reasons.  That night I thought I was going to die from coughing.  The next day we purchased the


And it has been amazing.  I'll have to post a picture of all of the dust we've already collected.  The first day that we used it, it was sickening at how much dust had been covering our floors.  Ugh.

Oh, and we have cockroaches in the basement.

...And I suspect some drug dealers were trying to hide a stash under my potted plant in the front (remember the cute one that was climbing the rail?).  I heard them out there and opened the curtain real fast to glare at them and they went away.  But I can see it might have other functions other than being pretty, green, and cute as a button...who knew?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cantilever schmantilever, kitty-proofing, and moving (aka "muscle-building")

Some sad news, my lovely Macbook Pro died a couple weeks ago, and so I've been sans "artsy-fartsy" computer and left with Peter's medically-inclined school computer to work with.  Couple with the fact that our new house doesn't have internet (trying to find the best deal, any ideas?), I haven't been doing much blogging.  But today that changes!  Peter's computer will just have to do for now!

I'm going to take a little break from packing and moving (yes, it's finally that time where the new house is no longer just our pet project, but our actual home where we eat and sleep since last week!), to share the latest in Remington!  We've been busy bees, and with our lease ending on Sept. 1, it's been quite the race to the finish line.   

First off, we wanted to have the second floor extension situation taken care of before we started moving anything into that room.  I'm not sure if you remember from earlier posts and photos, but the second floor extension was cantilevered, but poorly (and in 1920--it's amazing how much wood can rot in 90 years.), and we feared that it had been falling and thus resting on the weird mud-shed thing that is now absent from the back of the house.  Well, we can fear no longer!  We had our lovely neighbor Jun (a carpenter), take care of that issue.  After some more excavating into the building, it became clear that while the rotten beams were still present, new supports had been put up into the cantilever.  So, not so scary already, but Jun thought it would be a good idea to take the rotten beams out, add more supports, and then put up two large posts to brace up the cantilevered part.  All of the other houses in the neighborhood has had this done, as they obviously all tend to sag.  So, it's all brand new! He did an amazing job, and was supper efficient.  It still has to be painted (on the to-do list for this week), but we feel so much safer now.  I no longer have to tip toe into the cantilevered part and hope I don't plunge to my death.

It's amazing how much better it looks now.  And secure!

Jun even replaced the insulation (the original stuff had been turned into a rat's nest, and was covered in know what.  It was everywhere.), so we'll be toasty this winter. 

An amazing thing that Jun did before he started working on the house, was organize our trash pile.  I just had to add this, because we were thoroughly impressed.  It is still a playground for our little neighborhood rat friends (we hear them squeaking and scratching around in it at night), so we'll be taking care of that soon as well--before we get a citation for breeding rats!

Jun is excellent at trash-tetris.

I've also been a little stressed about finding places in the house for my adored houseplants to go.  As some of you know, Kitty, our kitty, LOVES to eat houseplants, so it's always a battle with her.  But after some thought and planning, I think I came up with an attractive and functional way to have houseplants and also a houseplant-loving kitty:  a window shelf!  All sawed, stained, installed by moi.  The hideous curtains left by the previous owners--gone!  Replaced by the lighter, prettier curtain from our previous apartment (hand-hemmed by myself as well).

Kitty-proof plant shelf! 

Wide enough for two rows of pots. 

The side view.  This angle provides less glare, and you can see that the shelves are blue! 

 Those are the major projects (aside from the actual moving of boxes--a giant project in of itself) thus far.  I'll be posting more as things come up.  In the meantime, I've included a few more photos from around the house, just to prove that we're actually living in it.

Kitchen table.  Though it's been used mostly as a place for tools to sit and paint cans to hang out. 

Kitchen window. 

The little plant outside!  It's climbing our railing!  SO CUTE!!
The bed, confidently positioned in the cantilevered part of the room. 

I like the way my piano looks against the exposed brick.  It's fun to practice in there, too. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ohhhhh, so you wanted to see the scary basement after all, eh?

Well, sorry to say it, but it's really not too scary anymore.  Especially now that we have a brand new DOOR to the basement!  Yup, we bought and installed a door all by ourselves!  Woo!   I have to admit, it was a little intimidating to start out--I stood there holding the hammer up against the nicely manicured drywall for a long while before I finally talked myself into taking action. "It won't fit until you tear this drywall out, just hit it," I said. "Ohhh but the dry wall is so nice--how can I mess that up?!" "Do it!!!!"

Needless to say, I finally got over my fear of messing up the drywall, and now we have a door.

The photos of the basement are for Davie, who challenged me to show the basement photos a while ago. Unfortunately, the photos of the basement are post-work. Before, there were scary moldy shelves and piles of wood, and a wet rotting spot in the corner. But now, it's not too shabby, though I wouldn't take a nap down there anytime soon...

The view of our brand new door from the side. 

Golly gee!  What an attractive door.  Peter installed the knob, and did an excellent job (meaning--it opens and closes!).

Whoa, sure you want to go down there? 

Oh.  That's all there is? 

Where are the puddles, mold patches, and the RATS?

Sorry, no mold here.  This basement has been scrubbed down, and dried out! 

Stairs are a little dirty at the moment.  Full of drywall from the door project! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The inside scoop...

Here's what is on the inside: We've got two bedrooms, one bathroom (that has two toilets--I know, hilarious, right? Intimate. Real intimate.), a living room, kitchen, and unfinished basement. We used to have a rat mansion, but that's gone now (refer to previous post). As you can see by these photos, there is no door to the basement (which is going through dehumidifier rehab after a long, hard life of mold infestation and leaks from the sewer line break [again, refer to the previous post]), and so this is quite the problem. Whatever shall we do? Stay tuned for the next post. I have a feeling it might address the problem. In the meantime, check out our house.  I have to apologize, though.  These photos are the same as what I posted on facebook, so if you're expecting new photos, I'm sorry to disappoint you...But hey, they're new captions!

Here's the living room.  The drapes came with the house.  Stylish, huh?

Notice the plastic that leads to the makes it look like we're up to something mischievous down there...

Our lovely exposed brick wall that leads into the kitchen.

Kitchen.  Yes, the sink is not below the window like one might assume it would be.

Instead, the sink is over here.  The plumbing in all of these row homes is in the center of the home instead of the side.

Stairs leading up to the two bedrooms.

Bedroom #1, though I think this will end up being our office room/guest bedroom.

Bedroom #2, notice how there aren't any closets?  Whatever will we do?  I think that will be another post as well.  =)

The photos you have been looking forward to.  Toilet #1... 

Two sinks,

The other toilet!

From the other side--you can walk all the way through to the other bedroom. 
That's it for now!  Stay tuned, we have projects lined up all they way until the end of August.  I'll try to post often.  Thanks for reading!