Monday, December 31, 2012

Where are the Chickens?

Andy wants to own chickens someday, but I promise that our recent purchase of chicken wire had nothing to do with actual chickens.  This post is late since Christmas is over and it's almost January, but these are too fun not to share.  

In an effort to find a way to decorate our red maple tree by the driveway we thought it would be fun to try to hang lighted Christmas balls in the tree.  I searched for weeks for large grapevine balls to wrap lights around but found none at local stores and the ones online were extremely expensive.  After some additional web searching I found this tutorial to make lighted Christmas balls out of chicken wire.  

The process is relatively simple but it took a little bit of practice to figure out how to get a somewhat round ball (hence no pictures of the actual construction).  We managed to make eight balls, each with 200 lights.  Some of the pictures are a little blurry, but you get the idea.  We are pleased with them and hope to make more to add to the collection next year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Oh, Holey Night

In the hallway between our front door and the kitchen we have these lovely wall warts.  

This one says "Transistor Intercom AM/FM Radio" and although it is connected to a whole-house intercom/speaker system it barely works.  We kept all of the speakers when we moved in (we have at least one in each room) but the wiring isn't usable for a new system and it would be very expensive to replace.  In prepping the hall to be painted we decided it was time for the speaker and intercom system to go.

And this lovely thing above the intercom system is our doorbell. We plan to replace the doorbell with a new one when we replace our front door (thanks mom and dad!) in the next few weeks, but we won't need such a large hole in the wall.

Andy started removing the panels and wiring

He had to add some 2x4s to frame out the holes so he could attach the new drywall.

With the drywall in place it was was already looking better.

The seams taped and spackled.

He has put several thin layers on since this picture and did a little bit of final sanding.  We won't know what to do with our new blank wall!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Since February when we installed the ceiling lighting in the family room we have been living with a mix of light bulbs.  We had some incandescent bulbs, some florescent and a few LEDs.  We knew we wanted to invest in LED bulbs for this room but they aren't cheap and we wanted to make sure we picked a bulb we liked.  Not all LEDs are created equal.  Even though we bought all of them in soft white some LEDs still create bluish light and some make a very faint buzzing noise that drove us crazy. 

We finally decided on a Phillips bulb and waited for them to go on sale.  Andy found them at a Home Depot so I stopped on my way to work and picked them up.  For those of you considering the purchase online and pick-up at the store options from Lowe's and Home Depot let me be the first to tell you Don't Bother!  We tried this twice on items that had limited stock.  Both times it would been faster and much less hassle if I had just gone and gotten them off the shelf myself.  The items either weren't pulled and ready for pickup or the order had been pulled but they couldn't find it.

Despite the time it took us to make a final decision and the hassle with picking up the bulbs, we are very happy with the new lights!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Put a Crown on It

One of the major trim projects was adding crown moulding to the family room between the original paneled walls and the new drywall ceiling.  

Along the short walls that run parallel to the ceiling joists Andy had to create these nailer blocks to attach the drywall.

Crown moulding is the trickiest trim we have worked on because of all of the angles.  You cut the boards upside down and backwards.  There was a lot of "measure twice, think three times, cut once".

We love how it looks and can't wait to paint the paneling!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fall Yard Work

 Over the summer and into the fall we continued to work on planting the new flower beds out front.  We planted some variegated hydrangeas near the blue spruce.

And the painted ferns that we planted earlier in the summer started to rally and convince us that we didn't really kill them.

We transplanted what we think is a native rhododendron from out back that was overgrown and buried in the shade.  It survived the trim and move very well.

And it changes to a deep purpley color in the fall.

This a perennial geranium that we planted closer to the street and along what will become a walkway from the mailbox to the house.

While Andy finished up the leaf clean-up I mulched the new beds.  Slowly all of the little pieces are starting to come together and eventually all of these beds will be combined into one.  Yeah for less grass to mow!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

All the Trimmings

With all of the trim sitting in the family room waiting to be installed we decided to cut and paint the pieces that we needed for the master bathroom since the walls were already painted.  We knew it would need some touch-up after it was installed to cover all of the nail holes (oh, so many nail holes) but this would save some time and energy taping the walls since neither of us are very good at cutting in by hand. I setup some areas in the basement and painted all of the wood trim and new baseboard heaters.

While I was painting Andy started hanging the rest of the trim that will get painted as we paint each individual room.

We were so happy to have closets with doors that we didn't realize how nice it would be to actually have them finished with trim!

The inside of Andy's closest got standard casing that matches the rest of our house.

But we had to go with a flat profile trim in my closest so that Andy could attach the bracket for the shoe shelves.

 He also added trim around the hallway closest since we decided we prefer the look of trim to finished drywall edges around a door.  And when we decided to add the trim we figured we should also replace the old, metal bi-fold doors. 

We put new trim in every room that is scheduled to get paint/new carpet in the near future including the upstairs hall, master bedroom, and family room. If you can look past the builder beige walls, the seen-better-days tan carpet, and the walking-on-the-ocean aqua carpet then the baseboard is an improvement.  I try. Everyday I try not to look at the bedroom carpet.  It's impossible. 

The profile is simple, but taller than the old trim.

The family room wasn't on the original list for new trim but since we already replaced the ceiling and plan to paint the paneling we thought it would be best to replace the trim since we found some problems with the existing trim (like the missing piece where the cable was installed).  Kodak will leave every time I try to take his picture -- instead he's into photo bombing my house photos!

Monday, December 10, 2012

End of Year Garden Update

We had a much larger harvest with most of our veggies this year.  Through August and September we got lots of tomatoes, basil, green beans, hot peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and a few squash.  Our squash plants got mildew both years and the production was fairly low.

Even into late September and early October a lot of the veggies continued to do well like the parsley, eggplant, wax beans and a few fall snow peas.

In the beginning of October our tomatoes got hit with blight.  The fruit started to get spots and the plants died off from the inside out.  It seemed to happen overnight although I may be able to catch it earlier next year since I know what it looks like now.

We let the garden go the entire month of November because we couldn't think past or do much beside clean up from Hurricane Sandy.

Last weekend we removed all of the dead plants (and trashed the diseased one instead of the compost pile) and put leaf mulch on all of the beds for winter.  On the left side from front to back we still have oregano, flat leaf parsley, and leeks.  There is also some garlic on the right side but I planted it very late this year.

I would like to say that the parsley is still doing well but it is outside of the 8' garden fence and was discovered by the deer after the first hard frost.  After we installed the wood fence last summer I thought it was safe to try some veggies outside of the main garden plot.  I would have considered rabbits as the culprit except they also devoured 2.5' tall blueberry bushes and left some other evidence that Kodak discovered the next day.