Monday, August 30, 2010

Nursery Closet Take Down

Jim and I decided to tackle the nursery closet this past weekend.  However, It didn't want to go down without a fight.  Whoever put it up, meant for it to stay there.  We made a royal mess on top of the mess (that we never cleaned up) from the wood paneling removal.

Normally, we would have removed the closet shelving first, but it wouldn't budge.  We essentially had to cut the closet in half and beat it into submission with a hammer.  I was able to have some fun with a reciprocating saw.  :)  Jim has salvaged some of the wood from the closet and old dresser in hopes of making a workbench in the basement.

Here is Jim being a closet creeper.

Here are pics of the mess we made.
Jim looks like he has a guilty look on his face.

Since we will be totally gutting this room, we also removed the closet baseboards.  These were the only original baseboards left in the room.  They were basically just a simple plank of ornamentation or design.  We plan on putting fancier baseboards in after we put drywall up anyways.  The wood floor in the closet is painted green while the rest of the floorboards in the room are painted a dark brown.  We may look into refinishing them after the demolition and reconstruction of the room.

While removing the baseboards, we discovered that the one on the short wall actually goes behind the wall stud at the corner.  We actually had to cut the baseboard at the corner since it was impossible to take it out at the moment.  After some more investigation, we believe that the nursery and guest room used to be one large room with the chimney in the middle.  At some point, someone separated it into the 2 separate rooms that exist today.  If this is the case, it makes moving this wall easier for us.  I was a little suspicious of this wall anyways when I saw that the studs looked too evenly spaced.  All the old house books I've read told me to expect irregularly spaced studs.

Also, while tearing out the closet and baseboards, we discovered these items.
First Pic: Old flour bag behind the wallpaper.
(My only guess is that they used the flour to make wallpaper paste?)
Second Pic:  Old hand-made nails from the closet baseboards.
Third Pic:  An old Lincoln log and a tube of Sunbeam Shavemaster Self-Sharpening Compound.

Last week, Jim and I paid a visit to our local building and zoning dept to find out about what permits we'll need.  It's been determined that we will need to get an electrical permit, but that is basically it for now.  Since Jim is an electrical engineer, he is allowed to do our electric rewiring.  We will still need to have it inspected before we close up the walls, but that shouldn't be a problem.  We aren't at that point yet anyways.  We need to make an even bigger mess knocking down plaster and lath before we can start on the electric.  If anyone reading this would like to help with plaster demolition, let us know!  You'll have to bring your own PPE (personal protective equipment) though.  :)

I haven't been outside in my yard much recently, but I did manage to take these pictures of more flowers.

Pink Gladiolus

Well, I believe that is all I wrote.

*EDIT*  I forgot to mention a funny little fact.  While dismantling the closet, we discovered that the coat hooks in the closet were still wrapped in plastic!  Someone had installed them without taking the wrappers off. lol.

Tree Removal (Finally!) Part II

*Sigh*  I'm finally done with the tree removal pictures.  Please, no standing ovations.  :)

Since we had 2 trees removed on the second day, I will start with the smaller tree...a sickly looking red maple.

This tree had a tree swing attached to a dead limb when we first moved in, but we removed the swing before our first housewarming.

They didn't need the crane or bucket truck for this tree.  One guy climbed up and chopped off all the limbs.

Then they cleaned up all the brush.

Then they cut it down.  The middle pic is 2 guys pushing the tree in the direction they want it to fall.

It was interesting to watch the stump grinder in action.
They did a nice job of cleaning up all the debris.

This is the aftermath...very nice and clean.

Now for the big guy...

Since they were working on both trees at the same time, I decided to watch from our 2nd story balcony.
Here, they are working on removing one of the main trunks.

There goes the second main trunk.

Here, they are removing the base.  The last pic is all that was left.

The large sections were moved by crane to this truck.  Too bad the base was rotten in the middle; it would have made for a cool outdoor table.

The clean up.  They used the crane to transport trashcans full of chips to the truck.
They also used a leaf blower to remove the sawdust off our roof and deck.

The view of our house without the silver maple.
The sky really opened up.  We can see even more stars at night now too.

The first pic is all that is left of the silver maple.
The second pic is the view of our house without the 2 trees.

I think we displeased the Lorax.
He looks like he is about to kick that one guy's butt.

When all is said and done, we would definitely recommend Davey Tree Service.  They were very professional, and did a wonderful job cleaning up.  Their rates were also quite reasonable.  We will contact them again when we need to have more tree work done.
You can check them out at their website:
I have some of their business cards too if anyone would like one.
If you do use them, please mention our names; we get $50 off our next service for referrals.  :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Electricity in the attic

Over the weekend I ventured up into our attic to take a few measurements. We intend to install the folding attic staircase which is currently sitting in our living room in a cardboard box. While rooting around in the shredded newspaper insulation I uncovered two buried electrical junction boxes. The first box was fine after cleaning it out and adding a lid. Although, the second was far from adequate.

The old lighting fixture box was uncovered and contained four lines of different vintage, only two of which were secured with strain reliefs, and upwards of seven wire nuts. After some experimentation there were still too many unknowns, and I decided to replace the junction box entirely. I am pleased with the outcome, and I won't mind removing it when rewiring the second floor. At least now I know it won't start a fire.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tree removal time-lapse

Here is a cool time-lapse of the removal of our large silver maple. This is a good illustration of the day long progress at fifteen minutes per frame.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Did We Just Do? lol

Today, we finished taking down the wood paneling in the nursery and the guest room.  We now have a good idea what kind of condition the plaster walls are in...not very good.  Jim thinks it would be best to tear down all the plaster and put up drywall.  This means that we have quite a bit of work ahead of us.  Also after removing the paneling, we have a better view of the wallpaper underneath.  Apparently, before the paneling, the wallpaper was a pale blue.  Before that, it was a salmon pink color with gold glitter swirls and blobs.
To continue with our demolition, we also took apart a huge dresser that the previous owners left behind.  It was a nice looking dresser (or rather it used to be before someone painted it green and then someone else tried to remove the green paint).  Essentially, the exterior was ruined.  It is still a mystery to us how that dresser even got upstairs because it was way to big and too heavy to get it there.  We ended up having to rip it apart with a crowbar and hammers.  We managed to save the front legs/corners of the dresser.  I think they look spiffy, and I want to try to use them for something else in the house.  I'm not sure what that might be yet though.  I hope I can salvage them because I think they would make a neat detail somewhere.
Here are some pics of what we did today...

Pics of the nursery before the dresser's demise

Pics of the nursery after the dresser demolition
You can see the dresser legs/corners leaning on the wall behind Jim.
Jim is picking up dresser fragments in the last pic.

As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us.  It will get even messier once we start tearing out plaster. Yikes!

One of the interesting things we discovered is that it looks like the closet had molding on the top once upon a time.  This is quite evident by the wallpaper border near the closet.  It seems they removed the molding when they put in the wood paneling...that is a shame.
Oh well, Jim and I are going to be destroying this closet anyways to make a much more functional one.

Since we were on a roll, we also removed the one wall of paneling in the guest room.  I was expecting to find the same orange flower wallpaper behind the paneling that is in the rest of the room, but nope.

Instead, we found this!
This wallpaper matches the curtains that were in this room almost exactly.  Which makes me wonder just how old those curtains actually are.  lol.  As you can see from these pics, a pretty tall baseboard used to border this wall.  It must have been removed when putting up the paneling.

Did you notice the air duct vent in this wall?  The nursery and the guest room share this vent, and it is a direct passage between the rooms.  This afternoon, while Jim was busy removing paneling trim in the guest room, I went into the nursery to get our work gloves.  I decided to toss the gloves through the vent to the guest room.  Next thing I know, I hear a startled cry and some choice swear words, then laughter.   Apparently, Jim had been removing the trim by the chimney when I tossed the gloves through and it scared him.  He said it looked like some kind of frantic bunny creature coming out of the wall because of all the pounding he was doing.  lol. I guess I got him good, and I wasn't even trying.  :)  Serves him right anyways!  Earlier in the day as I was standing by the same vent, he had reached his hand through and grabbed my ankle while making a growling noise.  lol.

Here is a pic of us looking through the vent.
Jim is in the nursery, and I'm in the guest room.

Fortunately, we did not discover any fossilized rat nests or anything else equally gross when removing the paneling.  All we found were some walnuts, 2 marbles, and a penny.

Now to change the topic.  Jim and I discovered some monarch caterpillars chewing up my milkweed plants.  I am totally ok with this, since that is why I didn't let my MIL pull them up.  I wanted caterpillars since that means even more butterflies someday.  Yea!  :)

Fatty Fat Caterpillars
Munch!  Munch!

Well, we had a long day, and I'm tired.  I think I'll veg out and read my newest edition of "This Old House".
Goodnight, Everyone!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tree Removal (Finally!)

Hooray!  I have finally photo-shopped some of the tree removal photos!  I managed to get through Day 1.  I will keep working to get through Day 2.  There are a lot of pictures.  They are mostly pics taken by my MIL since I only had my camera phone to use.  You'll probably have to click on the pics so you can see them better.  This tree was a silver maple estimated to be between 100-150 yr old.  It had a circumference of 14 feet.  It was easily twice as tall as our house.  4 out of 5 arborists recommended removing it because it showed signs of rot in the base and was right next to our house and garage.  Silver maples are also known for their weak wood and the carpenter ants' fondness for them.  It had to go.  It was deemed a hazardous tree, and I wasn't about to risk it falling on our house, our garage, or our neighbor's house.

James and myself in front of the tree

Davey Tree Service arrives.
The guy I'm talking to in the last pic is the arborist who was the tree consultant for the White House.


Close ups.
I had just had my 4 wisdom teeth removed the day before, so I was trying to take it easy.

Loading the logs onto the truck
Ride 'em cowboy!

Watch out below!

The Chipper
I wouldn't want to mess around with this thing!  It'd eat you for breakfast.

Using the crane

Cutting a large branch

Removal of a main branch
View from the front of the house

The last bit of foliage
Bye Bye, Shade!

I bet the tree is feeling a bit naked.

Coming to the end...

Now for the big guys

What was left after Day 1
Have you noticed the clouds getting darker as the afternoon progressed?

The tree looks a little befuddled that we cut it down.
Can you see the face?
When the rains came!

The rest of the pics were from my phone's camera.

Cool action shots of the branches falling.

Taking the final piece off for the day
View from master bedroom

Whew!   Now I have to chug my way through Day 2.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ha! Ha! Finally Gotcha!

Whew!  I finally managed to snap some pictures of the goldfinches I kept seeing in our yard.  The pics aren't the best because my camera sucks, but  here are the least blurry.  *Hint, hint* to anybody who needs a gift idea for me!  lol.
That second pic makes the bird look really weird.

More goldfinches
They are pretty to look at in person.

Here are some pics of my gladiolus.
I think they have a patriotic theme going here.  Too bad they weren't blooming for Independence Day.

Here are some more yellow flowers.  Not sure what kind, probably just weeds.
Some of the flowers in the first pic have grown taller than I am.

This is a random new plant I found growing that I thought looked pretty.

Well, that's it for now.  I just wanted to throw these up here before I start to work on the tree removal pics.

We Drop-Kicked the Drop Ceiling to the Curve!

Sorry, it has been awhile since I last wrote.  I just got the tree removal pics from my in-laws, so I should be posting those in the next week or so.  In the meantime though, I can tell you what else we've been up to.

We have finally started our next major project(s)...the upstairs hallway, nursery, and guest room.  We were going to start working on Jim's office downstairs next, but we changed our minds.  We want to start a family sometime in the next year (I'm shooting for a summer baby), so we need to get started on the nursery now.  This being an old house, there is a potential for lead paint upstairs, and I can't be pregnant while remodeling it (too dangerous for the fetus).  This being the case, Jim will have to continue living with a pink office for the next couple of months.  Sorry, Jim!

We have removed the dirty, gross drop ceiling in the upstairs hallway and nursery.  This was an all day affair, and of course, Jim discovered more MacGyver electrics.  For example, the hallway lights were attached to the drop ceiling itself and not the actual ceiling.  They also obviously didn't have a stud finder while looking for studs to anchor the drop ceiling, because we found a couple series of holes in the ceilings.  You'll see what I mean in the pics.  When we removed the first few panels, we discovered wallpaper on not only the walls, but the ceilings as well.
What Lies Beneath!
The first pic is in the nursery.  It seems to have a lovely teal wallpaper beneath the paneling.
The second pic is out in the hallway.  It is more of a brown rope braid and blotchy pattern.

These are pics of the hallway shortly after removing a few panels.
The hallway is "L" shaped, so these pics were taken from the same corner.

Hallway after pics
The 1st and last pic are taken looking at the "L" corner.  You can see our tiny attic access in the last pic.  Only a  thin guy can currently get up there.  We are looking into expanding the access and possibly putting in an attic staircase.  The middle pic is me taking a water break after all the hard work.  I remember it being quite hot that day.

After the hallway, we started in on the nursery drop ceiling.  Fortunately for us, the guest room doesn't have a drop ceiling.  The only drop ceiling left in our house now is the one in the master bedroom, and that one is in much better condition so it is being spared for now.

Nursery Before
The ceiling in here was more difficult to remove since it was practically up against the actual ceiling.

Nursery After
More ceiling wallpaper with old water damage.

Here are the pics I referred to earlier with all the holes.
Where's that Darn Stud?!
As you can see, there are a lot of holes in the ceiling.  Whoever made them probably didn't care because they would be covered up by that awful drop ceiling and left for the next owners (us) to deal with.  Thanks, Jerk!  The first 2 pics are out in the hallway, and the last is from the nursery.

These are just pics of us during the work.
I'm in the nursery, and Jim is in the hallway working on temporary hallway lighting.

The next step is to take down the fake wood paneling in the nursery.  So far, we have one panel removed.  It is taking a bit longer than we thought since we can't remove the panels until we do other steps first...
Remove corner trim...check
Pry up edge of carpeting all along room...check
Remove baseboards...check
Remove window and door trim....not yet
Remove wooden framework around chimney...not yet
Pry up carpeting tac around room to avoid stepping on it...probably good idea
Dismantle/Remove large, heavy dresser from nursery...need to at some point

When I was prying up the carpeting, I discovered a nickel from 1965 under the padding.  So, I guess this means that the carpeting was put in sometime after 1964. We also discovered what looks like a secret "loose floor board" compartment in the nursery closet floor.  It was nailed shut at some point though, so we haven't explored it yet.  We will pry it open though before we finish remodeling the nursery.  The previous owners seemed to have taken anything cool from the attic, so I don't really have high hopes for this either.
And of course, what is remodeling without some injuries, right?  I whacked myself pretty good in the throat with a crowbar trying to pry up some stubborn trim.  The spot is a bit tender, but no bruising (that would have been fun to explain to Jim's relative's at the reunion this month.  lol).  Jim managed to slice up 4 of his fingers on the exposed carpet tack when impatiently trying to remove a baseboard without gloves.  Don't worry, it wasn't too bad.  I finished removing the baseboards the next day while Jim was at work though.  It would probably be a good idea to look into getting ourselves tetanus booster shots.  :)

And now, what blog of mine would be complete without pics of animals or flowers!

A cool silver bodied dragonfly

My overgrown phlox and hydrangeas

Until next time!