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Posts tagged ‘house’

I thought I would take a break from the routine series and give my friends a little update on our home.

Almost exactly one year ago, a wind storm (possibly a tornado) blew through

Estacada and knocked a tree over on our house. You can see it in the photo to the left. See window right under the tree? We were looking out of it when the tree fell!

We had insurance, and they were quite willing to pay, but then we discovered that there were serious issues with the foundation and other code violations that were not caused by the tree, and therefore would not be covered by insurance. Some of the foundation cracks were made worse by the tree, so we hired a lawyer to help us get as much as was fair from the insurance so that we could afford to fix or replace the home.

Eventually, it came down to replacing the home. It would cost more to fix than we could get from the insurance. That meant replacing the not-up-to-code septic system as well. So we’ve spent pretty much every penny the insurance has given us, and then some. But things are finally moving along.

Last Friday we went out to see our new home brought in. You can see it in the

Photo by Glenda Sandidge

picture here. It’s actually a little more yellow than it appears in the picture, because, as usual, it was cloudy and actually misting a little. It started raining harder in the afternoon. All the brown dirt was mud that stuck to our shoes and made them very heavy! This view is almost the same angle as the picture above (the tree in the foreground on the left is the same). Obviously, we are getting a much smaller home–about 1,000 square feet less. But that’s okay. I will miss the basement, but it can’t be helped. This home has four bedrooms, and we are going to install some kind of laminate flooring. I just emailed Pergo floors to find out which of their laminate floors put out the least emissions, so hopefully I will hear back from them on that soon.

Anyhow, they had a real time trying to get the home situated. It’s hard to see in the picture, but the property slopes down a hill. This angle is facing southeast, and the hill faces due south. The slab of concrete for the home is partly on a built-up surface that sticks out from the hill, and the yellow “crawler” that you can see in the picture wasn’t able to pull the halves into precise position. Hopefully they were able to figure something out today and get it properly situated so that it can be put together and tied down.

So once that’s done and it passes inspection, and once the sand filter for the septic is installed and the floors in, we will be able to move. Weather permitting, that should be in about 4 weeks. And I really hope it doesn’t take longer than that! Because insurance was very generous to give us an extra month in this home–since the original cut-off date was based on the time it would have taken to actually fix the house, but there were unavoidable delays, from the county taking time to inspect things to the record rainfall we’ve had this winter. Hopefully this extension will be enough to get all the last-minute things finished. I sure hope so!

I just hope we can get a garden in this year. We have not been able to do one every year since we moved to Oregon, because of moving or not knowing when we would move. Even if I have to grow lettuce in the flower bed or something, though, we really want to be able to grow some of our own food. Sprouts are nice, but more variety would be nicer. So yes, I’m really looking forward to moving!

Several months ago, I was invited to talk with decorator Kelly Edwards for a few minutes and ask her several questions. They video recorded her answering my questions live, and sent me the video.

She was especially focused on the bathroom, though some of my questions were more general to other areas of the home as well.  In addition to this video, there are online schools that will teach you interior decorating practices. The video is short–only about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Almost–but still so much to do!

I planned to take the kids on Thursday, drop them off with a church member who lives about 15 minutes from our new house (and only a couple of miles out of the way from our current place to there), and clean. I knew we would be tracking dirt (and mud, unless it stops raining between now and then, which is highly unlikely). But the bathrooms were filthy. I wanted to clean toilets and showers/tubs and counters at the very least. When I got there, I realized that I also wanted to run a damp mop over all the floors, because there was a very fine powdery sawdust over everything (including the walls, as I soon discovered). It was as if the house had been empty for months, instead of having just been floored this week. I know the dust came from cutting the laminate flooring.

My husband had to be at Home Depot half way to the house by 8:30, so he left a little before 8:00. I was almost ready to go, but had the kids, and one of the car tires had gone flat again (it had been doing that–gradually losing air so that it was basically flat every few weeks). We don’t have an air compressor, so I spent several minutes with the hand pump. I think it was designed to fill bicycle tires. I took breaks to get the kids buckled in their car seats, but I did get 30 or so pounds of air into it.

Then we were off. I had to be in Sandy to pick up my Azure Standard order around 9:00. Sandy, you understand, is over an hour from Beaverton. We left a little after 8:00. It was either meet the delivery truck at the Safeway parking lot, or drive probably another 20 minutes beyond to the other side of Sandy and out into the country to pick up my order later. Not something I was in the mood to do. So I was really hoping to get there on time.

But before I had even gone a mile, I noticed that my windshield was fogging up. No problem. I glanced down to turn on the defrost. But I never got it turned on.  When I looked up again, I realized that I was about to crash into the car in front of me! I slammed on the breaks, but there just wasn’t time. Fortunately I was only going 2 or 3 miles an hour when I hit, so there were no injuries at all. It was barely a bump. But my hood crumpled into an upside-down V. I wish I’d had a camera to take a picture. The bumper was made of cheap plastic and styrofoam, and it crumpled up over the hood, effectively making it impossible to open the hood. I sat there thinking, “How can this be happening?” for a moment, then pulled off to the nearby side road to exchange information with the other driver.

Fortunately, she had a better vehicle than I did–some kind of small SUV, I think. Anyhow, even though her bumper was plastic too, it was heavier-duty than mine, and it only had two tiny scratches on it. She took my insurance and gave me her phone number, but she said she wouldn’t report me unless something started to fall apart on the car (which is highly unlikely). She said she had just gotten a ticket off her record, so she could understand why I wouldn’t want this to go on my record either! Which was very sweet of her.

So here I was, a mile from home, an hour from where I needed to be, with a bent hood. I had calmed down a bit (though still shaking from the adrenalin rush), and looked over the situation. The highest point on my hood was only 5 or 6 inches above where it was supposed to be (that would be the peak of the bend). I could see underneath. Behind the bumper is a very sturdy metal frame, to which we had attached a tow-bar to tow the car from Texas a year and a half before. This appeared undamaged. The radiator behind the metal frame also appeared undamaged. In the few minutes I had been there, not one drip of anything had landed under the car. As the lady drove off, I said a prayer. “Lord, You know my plans for today. I’ll give them up if I need to, but maybe it’s okay to continue. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to drive around the block. If everything seems okay, I’ll continue on. If not, I’ll turn around and drive home.”

So I did. I had turned off the main road into a neighborhood, so I drove down to the first intersection, took a right (heading towards home), and then took another right (heading back towards the road where I had had the accident to begin with). On the way I watched my gauges closely, and also took my hands off the wheel briefly to check the alignment. Everything seemed fine. So I got back on the main road, heading away from home now, and continued on my way.

I had not one problem the whole way. I got to Sandy before the delivery truck was done unloading and picked up my order. They were still unloading when I left. I dropped the kids off with our friend, gave her instructions on what and how to feed Manny (since he’s on a special diet), and headed to the house.

The first thing I did there was tell my husband what had happened. He said he had sensed something was going to happen, and he took it as well as could be expected. Then he went to the Mexican guys that were finishing up installing the laminate flooring and asked them, “Would you like to buy our car?” In the end, we gave it to them, partly as a bonus for all the hard work they had done (and hadn’t been paid as much as they would have liked to, but they were nice enough to do it for less). The car wasn’t worth much–we had toyed with selling it on Craigslist for $500 a month or two ago, but had decided to wait.

So now we’re going to be in the country down to one car. Sigh. At least my husband is only going to be working 4 days a week, so I’ll have Fridays to do orthodontic appointments, doctors appointments, shopping if I don’t do it on Sundays… And since we want more kids, we’ll just get a minivan sometime later. We’ll watch for one and see what we can do about saving for one.

But this was supposed to be about the house! Well, the painting is all done. There are a few spots that could use a touch up (where the paint was a tad thin), but I’m not worried about those. We have all the paint cans and tools, so if those spots don’t end up getting covered by furniture or pictures, I’ll touch them up when I get a chance. The flooring is in upstairs and in the living room. Our bedroom is so gorgeous! I can’t wait to get the bed in there, with the bedspread matching the trim around the windows, and make some curtains out of this gauzy fabric I have somewhere in my sewing stuff.

I got our shower really nice and clean. Most of the dirty soap scum is gone–the rest I’ll get a little at a time over the next few weeks. I soaked the toilet with vinegar, and now everything below water level looks new. After we move in and have paper towels (I didn’t have those with me, for some reason), I’ll soak paper towels in vinegar and drape them around the inside of the bowl and leave to soak for a while, then take them out and wipe it down. That should cut most of the water stain. If that doesn’t work, I’ll get a pumice stone and scrub it.

The children’s bathroom upstairs (which opens to the hall, unlike the master bathroom, which is accessed through the master bedroom) is fairly clean, except there were a bunch of paint buckets in the corner by the toilet, and I didn’t move them. But the tub would not get clean. I tried two powerful chemical cleaners on it, but neither one did much. The textured floor of the tub just would NOT come clean. Remember the picture from my previous update? Well, it doesn’t look much better yet. I didn’t even get to the sliding glass doors!

But I did damp mop the whole upstairs floor. My husband needed my help before I could get to the living room floor. I didn’t even plan on doing the kitchen yet, because it’s got a bunch of painting equipment and laminate floor scraps laying around in it.

My husband had rented a U-haul truck to take away the trash (old carpet and other junk) to the dump. It was over a ton of stuff, thanks to most of the old carpet having gotten soaked in the rain! He unloaded the whole thing by himself! Then he took the truck over to Sears to pick up our washer, dryer, freezer, and wall oven. When he got there, I helped him back down the driveway so that we could unload it.

I should clarify something here. We have a very steep driveway. I’m not sure of the angle, but it’s VERY STEEP in spots. There is maybe 40 or 50 feet (total guess-I haven’t measured it) of pavement coming down from the road. Then to the left (as you enter) is the house, with parking in front of the house and between the house and the road. There is some gravel in this area, but not enough. It’s been raining almost every day for the past couple of weeks, so the ground is absolutely saturated. Think MUD.

By burge5000 on Flickr

Okay, not quite that bad–yet! There is some gravel, rocks, leaves, twigs, etc, to give it a bit more structure. But I did slip a time or two.

Below the pavement, continuing on down the hill past the house is the rest of the driveway, leading down to a slab of concrete that used to be a shed near the bottom of the property. The road turns to the left, leveling out some as it crosses the width of the property, then goes down to the concrete slab. Here’s a picture from Google Maps that might help you grasp the concept.

After the truck had been filled with junk, my husband tried to turn it around to drive straight out. But he went down the driveway and got the back tires (back wheel drive) off the pavement, and then he couldn’t get it going again, because it was too muddy and steep. He drove down the hill and around the first bend, where it was less muddy and fairly flat, and tried to get going from there, but he either couldn’t turn tight enough (thereby risking crashing into a tree on side of the road) or turned too tight and got into the really muddy spot on the other side of the road. He finally got it straight enough, but he just couldn’t get it going fast enough to get up to the pavement again (backwards, remember), so finally one of the Mexican guys helped him. He wasn’t afraid to spin the tires if he was moving (spinning in place is another story!), but even then it took him several tries to get up to the pavement! Then he backed it into the parking area, and Rafael drove it straight out of the driveway. We were determined not to repeat this again, especially since later there would be no one to help us! Not to mention that it wasn’t raining the first time, but it was later.

The other thing I must clarify is that my husband, although very talented in many areas, cannot back up without looking over his shoulder. This handicaps him when driving big trucks like U-hauls. I learned to back up using mirrors only when I was 19, a few months after getting my license, but my husband was not about to let me drive the rental truck (after the morning’s accident I don’t blame him), so I stood out in the rain and directed his every move. I used my hands to represent which way to turn the wheels, since both he and I get right and left mixed up very badly (I’ve heard there’s a gene for that!). I had him back up onto the road (since he had driven in nose first again), turn around, and drive into the driveway across the road, then back across the road (which was really not straight across but slightly to the side) and down the driveway. Whenever cars came up, I stopped them or directed them around us. I was wearing bright yellow cleaning gloves and a white shirt, so I made a fairly visible object in spite of the rain. It was a kind of powerful feeling, realizing that everyone was doing exactly as I directed. That included my husband! So I got him backed down and turned in such a way that the back of the truck more or less faced the house, and the back tires, though not on pavement, were on a good bit of gravel, not in mud! He was low enough that we were able to leave the truck and drive the car out when we were finished.

Then the two of us unloaded the appliances. We started with the washer. It is a 4 cu. ft. Samsung Washer. We got it on sale. The salesman said we could wash a king-sized bedspread in it. That means I’ll be able to do fewer loads of laundry. Very nice. And it’s high efficiency, meaning I’ll save water and electricity (and detergent, too!). We got the matching dryer. That washer was so big and heavy! We had to take it out of the box (or rather, the box off it) to get it through the doors into the house and the downstairs room, and we’ll have to take the door leading from the downstairs bedroom off the frame to get it into the laundry room! At least we won’t have to take the frame off! I don’t know how we got that washer in by ourselves, but we did. My husband did most of it, but I think he couldn’t have done it by himself. I’m glad I’ve been doing my exercises!

After getting the washer and dryer into the downstairs bedroom, we had to get the freezer in. Now, freezer is an upright, not very tall (box is about my height), but not short either. We decided to take it up the parking area between the road and the house (since it was graveled and kind of like a ramp), up the two steps onto the back “porch” (just a landing, really), in the door, up the two steps to the living room, across the living room, and down the 4 stairs to the kitchen (there are a lot of levels in this house!). So we did. It wasn’t as heavy as the washer, so we were able to pull it up the stairs. To get it down the stairs, we laid it on its back and slid it down carefully. Then we moved it over to near where it’s going to go (but the slot is full of stuff, so we just left it in the middle of the dining room floor).

Then we brought in the wall oven. This one we just hauled up the front steps and into the house. It wasn’t very heavy, compared to all the other stuff, and we had it on a dolly, so it was really pretty easy. We double checked measurements and determined that we will have to cut the cabinet opening to get it in, but there is more than enough room, so we’re okay.

So… My husband is out there today installing the oven (and maybe the freezer) and cleaning things up. We’re going to move in on Sunday.

So I’m worn out and sore today. Not motivated to do anything. Anyone wanna come help me? 😉

Well, it looks like we are not moving over Memorial day weekend. This might be a good thing, in some respects. There will probably be more people available to help us load and unload that way.

Our original (actually, second) closing date was May 10. If we had closed a few days later, as planned, we would have had all of last week and this week to fix up the place and move in by the end of the month. But thanks to problems with the money transfers from the USDA (we got a USDA loan) to the escrow company, we didn’t close until the 20th. That means we had 1 week to get everything done.

At first we thought, No big deal. The only things we need to worry about are painting and installing the laminate floor. Should be able to do all that in a week.

Or not. My husband hasn’t even started painting yet. He’s been plastering up the laundry room to make it look nicer and fix a leak or two in the foundation, running between Home Depot and the house, sorting out issues with the paint (they couldn’t find the tags indicating which paint was which color, and then they brought him the wrong order and couldn’t figure out what to do with the buckets of silver paint!).

We decided last night to get someone else to do the painting. The living room has a vaulted ceiling, and the darkest brown trim you ever saw. And by trim, I don’t just mean around windows and door frames. I mean there, plus wherever walls and ceilings meet, plus this (I think it is) 8″x12″ beam that runs the width of the living room… not to mention that the stairs and wood stove are NOT to be painted… nor the fan hanging down in the middle of the ceiling… We want the walls to be a very pale pink (that will look white unless next to real white), and the trim and ceilings to be white. So we are just going to fork out the money for someone else to do the painting, and my husband is going to go back to work for the rest of the week, starting this afternoon. And then he’ll go back to work on it Sunday.

But that’s not the half. The kitchen cook top is broken. It might work if I turned the nobs with a wrench and lighted it with matches (it’s gas). But we need to replace it. We went back and forth between just replacing the cooktop and putting in a whole stove/oven unit. The wall oven that it has is too small to fit my large cookie sheet (which I use every week to make oven fries), so I need a larger oven. We finally figured out that the oven that is there is smaller than the space will allow for; we have room for a 27″ oven (instead of the 24″ one that’s there now), so we’re going to get an electric oven to put in its place–but probably not until after we move. The two pieces separately will cost almost as much as a new all-in-one unit, but the installation will be much cheaper (since we won’t have to remodel the island to accommodate it!). And I think it will be nice having the oven up higher, out of reach of little hands.

So… here are a few pictures for you to see, to get an idea of how it looks now. I’ll post “after” pictures later.

Here’s part of the yard from the deck:

Some trees by the driveway:

The deck has some issues; also notice the horizontal slats:

But it has one nice feature–we don’t know yet if it works or not:

This is about half of the kitchen. The fridge and freezer and more cabinets are (or will be) to the right. Dining room is beyond that on the right. You can’t see it, but the floor is all wood:

Here is the cooktop. It doesn’t work. From here you can see the stairs to the living room (detailed below), the stairs down to the basement, and the hallway leading to the sewing room and front door:

Here are the steps from the kitchen into the living room. They appear to be made of fir; quite worn, aren’t they:

Here is the old wood stove. It’s not up to code, so we have to get a new one. That’s okay. The new one will have a glass door, which is so nice:

Above, there was a leak:

You can’t see it (my husband didn’t get a picture of it), but to the right of the wood stove is a cute little bay window. I’m going to make cushions for it similar to this one, and then finish it off with a couple of pillows. It will make a nice reading nook.

The living room has vaulted ceilings. Not sure why my husband didn’t get a picture of that very dark brown 8″x12″ beam beam that runs the width directly under the peak:

With the stove behind, here’s a view of the stairs and back door, which leads to the woodshed and parking area. The steps are bright because there is a skylight at the top of the stairs:

Upstairs the first room is the kids’ room. It’s made in two parts, with a skylight in the first section, then double doors, and another section with the closet and a window. They will probably sleep in the second section, and the first section will be for their toys and other things. Someone was painting in here, and they just set the paint cans down on the carpet. I don’t know if you can see the rings of dark olive green paint they left behind or not:

Here’s the wall they were painting. It’s just too dark. You can see the hallway and the living room ceiling out the door:

Here’s the tub in the kids’ bathroom. I think whoever left this house (it was foreclosed) hadn’t cleaned it for a few months. You can’t see the rest of the bathroom, but it’s a lovely rose pink, and the tub door has swans on it, I think. The counter is pink and white tile. This is one room that isn’t going to change, except for getting cleaned:

Here’s part of the master bedroom. It has 2 windows. The trim around them is pretty, I think, but my husband thinks it’s hideous. It’s a dark magenta. We’re going to change it to a nice olive green to match our bedspread:

Here is a wall that juts out into the master bedroom about 8 or 10 inches. I think it’s pretty; my husband doesn’t. We’re going to just paint it white. The little door is a laundry chute, and below to the left is a heater with the cover off:

Here’s the master bedroom walk-in closet:

There is a master bathroom, but I’m not including a picture. It’s not so bad, just white and black tile, similar to the kitchen counter. We’ll change it at some point, but not right now.

My husband didn’t take any pictures of the office. We’re not going to do anything with it before we move in, so I’ll take pictures later.

Downstairs, we have another bedroom. Whoever did the texturing on the walls was… well… I don’t know. There is no rhyme nor reason to it. It’s deep, painted over with glossy paint, and it’s absolutely hideous! We’re probably going to just get thin (1/4″) sheet rock and cover it, then paint over that. Sanding it down just didn’t work:

Here’s the laundry room, from in front of where the washer and dryer will be. It’s large. I’m going to put a table with fold-up legs along the right wall, beside the washer, and definitely make use of the rack and shelves to the left! I may someday install a fold-down ironing board in here:

Here’s the wall to the right of the picture above. My husband has plastered some of it with cement. The washer and dryer will go on the right:

Here is the water heater and holding tank. We are going to replace this water heater with a new one. Can you see where the laundry chute comes out?

That’s all for now, folks! Hope you enjoyed the tour. Check back frequently to see updates as things get fixed. Or just subscribe so you won’t miss anything!


Just a note on the subscription contest. Subscriptions have been rising, and we are nearing our first goal of 25, which means I just may be able to pick a winner. But we still have fewer entries than we have subscriptions, and there is no excuse for that, since multiple entries are allowed. Even though we aren’t moving until the 6th, the contest still ends the 31st, and I will be mailing out the prizes to the winner(s) before we move! There will be 1 winner for ever 25 subscribers, with no upper limit! So copy that link, share it all over the internet. See how many entries you can make!

Not Me Monday

I have never participated in “Not Me Monday” before, but this morning has just been one of those mornings that makes you have to tell someone, so why not do it here, this way, and get a laugh out of it in hindsight?

I did not cut my thumb on our french fry maker this morning while dicing potatoes. I’m always far too careful to let my thumb slip off the potato while trying to get it into the sharp grid. No, that’s unthinkable!

I did not find out that we are going to have to, without question, replace the cooktop in our new house. We are not going to have to take out the cabinet under them and do a minor remodel to put a new cookstove in. The stove is in the island in the middle of the kitchen, meaning we do not have to buy a more expensive stove that doesn’t go up in the back. I did not spend probably 20 minutes on hold with GE waiting for the customer service rep to find out the interior dimensions of the stove to make sure it would fit my larger cookie (or two smaller ones side by side). I do not need to call the contractor that I had told last week we were going to hire to do the repairs on the deck to tell him that we decided to use the other contractor because he’s cheaper (and other reasons). I will not probably end up just sending him an email. That would be ridiculous. Not me!

During the time that I was not doing the above, I did not ignore the kids, letting them run wild, still in pajamas, waiting for me to run their bathwater. They did not make a complete mess of the house, scattering a blanket, an apron, pillows, books, shoes, hair accessories, and clean silverware from the dishwasher all over the place. I did not hear a big crash from one of the back rooms, and did not discover that my kids (probably my son) had knocked over my little plastic chest of drawers that holds all my sewing thread (nearly to capacity), scattering it all over the floor. It had not been arranged by color, so of course I did not mind picking it up and putting it all back in the right drawers. Not at all. I also did not discover that the Mutual Mania game, which has more pieces than Monopoly does, had been opened and dumped in a very disorganized pile. I did not sit down in the middle of this mess and throw a 5-second tantrum out of frustration. Not me. I never lose my cool, especially where children are concerned! I did actually find the work of sorting rather therapeutic, and have been much calmer ever since. Really.

I did not get that all cleaned up, the kids bathed and dressed, and my son down for his nap, only to discover that I was still in my pajamas, and that the breakfast dishes still have not been done! And I did not sit down to write this before fixing said issues.

And I most certainly did not inhale a pea skin while eating split pea soup for lunch. No sir! I never breathe through my mouth while eating because my nose is plugged from allergies or whatever. Not me!

Later in the afternoon, I did not get so caught up in posting my blog contest on other sites that I didn’t notice that the kids had wandered off. When I got off the computer to look for them, I did not discover that Manny had gotten ahold of my unused spool of brown paper tape, and had pulled out several yards of it from the middle! I did not then proceed to wind it all back in again. And then I did not let the kids go play together outside, even though it could rain at any moment. And I have not failed to get any packing done today! Of course not!

Sigh. I can’t wait until we have moved! I am sure life will be so much easier once we are in our new house. Or not!

Don’t forget to check out my regular Monday post. This week it’s Mom’s Cornbread.

That’s right. We got the keys today! Went to Home Depot to look at things. Tomorrow we’re going to buy a bunch of stuff–paint, flooring, some appliances. Will post pictures later. Stay tuned!