Nightmare on Elm St.

The journey of turning the nightmare we bought on Elm St. into our dream home...

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Grunt work has arrived...

You may remember my recent dismay at our lack of progress on the basement. Greg very kindly pointed out that we simply needed to order a case of his amazing grunt work, and all of our problems would be solved. Greg does need to add a disclaimer, though- grunt work can be a very dangerous consumer of time and energy. Those seem to be crucial ingredients to its success.

Friday night we continued to clean up the shop, and fixed a few previous issues with some of the systems that I won't get into here. It's sufficient to say that we were up until 2 am working on the basement. Finally we ran out of supplies and energy, and decided to call it a night.

Saturday we hauled 600 lbs of trash to the dump! Apparently everyone else had the same though, though, b/c we waited in line 30 minutes to exit the dump. I think that there should be a separate entrance and exit for the big contractors and junk removal companies who clog up the exit scale. Just a suggestion. Then we made another trip to Home Depot and started acquiring stuff to do all of the telephone, sattelite and speaker wire stuff. We're not sure that we will keep the TV in it's old location- we may end up flipping the seating arrangement in the room and putting the TV where the couch used to be. But, we're not sure, so we're just going to run cable, phone, and speaker wire to both sides so that we have the flexibilty to change it later. This will occupy us most of this week. Fortunately, installing the low voltage wires is quiet because we just need the staple gun, so we won't disturb our neighbors working on it after work. I'll put up a separate post about this when it's completed. Just an aside, why do the orange low voltage boxes cost, like $2, and the blue regular boxes cost like $0.20? We couldn't figure it out, so we just bought the cheaper ones. It seems like if it's good enough for electricity, it's good enough for phone line! We will write low voltage on them somewhere just so that no one is ever confused. We continued working on the issues that we were addressing on Friday until about 10 pm on Saturday. I was beat! That grunt work will really take it out of you.

In other news, Saturday night a bunch of teenagers went around the neighborhood smashing side mirrors off of cars. Apparently all of our good karma from the Devil Queen folks is working, b/c they didn't touch my car, and they just bent in Aaron's mirror. One of our neighbors with a Honda Accord got their mirror knocked completely off. And in Maryland, a car is inoperable without a side mirror, so they have to get it towed in to be fixed. They really need to establish some sort of entertainment for the bored youth in our town. Last summer, my friend's convertible got egged twice. You haven't lived until you've tried to help someone clean out dried egg from their speaker covers in 95 degree heat with a toothpick. I hope that all of this vandalism is revisited on these kids tenfold when they grow up and get their own property.

Sunday we slept in a little, and I had book club, so you might think that less was accomplished. Oh no, not with grunt work around! Aaron started to tackle some of the plumbing in the basement bathroom while I was gone. I finished tuck pointing the wall down there when I got back (I had one small section that I just hadn't gotten to- it feels great to have that done now!). When I finished the tuckpointing, I helped by cleaning and cutting pipes, and he sweated joints, and before we knew it, it was 1 am again. (NO LEAKS though! Woo hoo!) We made the unfortunate decision to go to Taco Bell, and then went to bed. One thing we both didn't fully grasp was that I had to be up at 5 am this morning to catch a plane to Atlanta for a business trip. Of course, we both slept through our alarms. Aaron was a sweetheart and took me to the airport (all the way to Baltimore, and then he had to drive back north of DC for work- he rocks!), which saved me time for parking, and I just barely made it to my plane. Whew! We've learned our lesson though- no starting plumbing jobs in the afternoon. This is the second time we've been up half the night trying to get the water back on so that we can shower in the morning. That grunt work is scary stuff!

Aaron plans to finish up the rest of the water lines tonight. He just has to run the last little pieces to the tub, toilet, and sink.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Spring Cleaning

The batteries were dead in the "old" camera, so no pictures from this weekend. So sorry for that! (I didn't want to risk the nice new camera in the construction zone. It does take lovely pictures though!)

Friday night we came home and started trying to collect a lot of the trash and organize what we could. A lot of this organization involved finding things that we had lost when the lighting in the basement was diminished, and stacking up another big pile of crap for the dump and some big piles of scrap for the metal recycler. (We'll take all of that next weekend.) We finally insulated some of the hot water pipes (all the ones that we know won't be affected by the plumbing changes for the bathroom), which seemed to make a different in the temperature of my shower! We'd had the pipe insulation for at least a month and hadn't done anything with it besides get it dirty and smushed.

Saturday we had big plans, but unfortunately, I had a rather bad experience with my blood donation at the Red Cross, and felt so bad afterwards that I really was no good to anyone all day, and spent most of it passed out of the couch with the dogs. Saturday night Aaron and I babysat a 3 month old for our friends, so we didn't get much done after I had recovered either.

Today we bought a lot of organization materials for the shop and spent a long time down there trying to get things organized. Unfortunately, a lot of the wood that we've got is 12' long, and the shop is only 10' deep, so we can't fit those in that room. We'll have to cut those down to their eventual size in order to stack them on our new wood storage shelves.

I've got a few small projects planned for this week, but we've all heard that before. I don't understand how some of you get stuff done during the week (Greg)! You must not have my commute!

Monday, March 13, 2006


It was absolutely beautiful here this weekend. Unfortunately, I had a take home midterm due for my class (I spent about 16 hours on it!) and a birthday party to attend so I got nothing done on the house and barely even got to enjoy the nice weather. It’s so hard (I know, here goes the old broken record) to stay focused when these projects move soooooo slowly. At this rate, our basement will be finished in 2085 (apologies to Kristin)! We’re adamant not to hire the work out, but man! It would be nice to get through some visible progress. Aaron and admitted to each other that we’re falling behind on the laundry b/c we don’t even like to go down in the basement anymore. Ugh! Last night in bed, I couldn’t get my mind to calm down for all the worry of projects unfinished. Any words of encouragement?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

am I slacking?

Yes, I'm slacking on posting, but not in the house! Aaron and our friend Jason (see post below) taught me how to wire up recessed lighting fixtures, and I connected a ton of them this weekend. I also helped Aaron install fluorescents in his shop. I am still slacking on pointing the last little section of that wall but I'll get to it. At this rate, we'll be in drywall soon!

We may be back in a state of debate over the ceiling tile pattern. Since I can be a very anal person, I think that it's going to bug me if the lights don't line up perfectly with the circles on the tile that we picked. So, we may go with a pattern with no circles so that I don't freak out every time I look at the ceiling. One step forward, two steps back!

PS- Houseblogs didn't pick up my last post feed, so check it out below!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


If you have no idea what the title of this post refers to, one of my favorite old Sesame Street skits involves what I've finally learned are the "Yip Yip Martians" and their discovery of the telephone. For those of you who have forgotten, here you go(the feed is pretty bad- sorry).

Anyway, I've been drooling over this in the Pottery Barn Catalog for at least 1.5 years:

But I could never justify the $80 just for the phone (no tax or shipping included). Especially for a corded phone that is just for looks. I was talking to our friend Jason about this over the weekend- he has a love for all things vintage and antique, and was actually cannibalizing our house for old phone relays and line for his collection (he's also trying to figure out how to get the intact knobs from the old knob and tube down- any suggestions would be appreciated). Anyway, he clued me in to the fact that tons of people make old reproduction Crosley phones. He clicked a few keys and the next thing I knew, I had ordered this one for half the price that Pottery Barn wanted:

From this site! I'm very excited. I'll let you know how I like it when it gets here!