Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Take a picture, it will last longer

Most of the photos on our blog have been taken with a sony camcorder. The camcorder is only three years old now, but we have recently had some trouble with the device. The touchscreen viewfinder opens on one side and can pivot 270 degrees. This mechanical movment has appearantly loosened some electrical connections inside, and the display is often discolored or distorted. Since this is the only viewfinder display, and menu interface, it has become rather difficult to use.

I was really excited to receive a new camera for my birthday earlier this month. My parents are so great! We now have a shiny new sony cyber-shot camera. There are a ton of neat functions and features that will take some time to explore. With this camera it is difficult to take a bad picture. I expect the quality of the photos on the blog will greatly improve.
I will make another attempt at fixing our camcorder when I have a spare moment or two. It is still a useful tool.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Light in the Attic

The past  2 weeks have been quite busy for our house.

 We finally had a roofer come and inspect our leaking roof above the mudroom.  He gave me 2 options.  He could tear off the shingles by the flashing and redo it (quite expensive), or he could caulk the flashing and the few damaged shingles (quite inexpensive).  We went with the cheaper option and will see how it goes.  We recently had a downpour, and the roof no longer leaked!  Yea!

We've been meaning to have a plumber come and take a look at our bathtubs.  The upstairs bathtub has drained slowly since we moved in, and the downstairs one only recently started to drain slowly as well.  We wanted to make sure we had 2 fully functional bathtubs when the demolition starts upstairs, so we finally stopped procrastinating and called someone.  He came out and cleared the pipes, and they both drain beautifully now!  Excellent!

Kitchen Sink Mishap:
Last week, while Jim was doing the dishes, I headed into the basement to take some clothes out of the dryer. I heard a strange noise coming from the other side of the basement and went to investigate.  What did I find?  Only that the water from the kitchen sink was leaking through the floor boards into the basement below!  Oh no!  I told Jim to stop what he was doing and come take a look.  Apparently, the pipes below our sink near the trap had somehow become detached from one another, and most (if not all the water) from the sink was actually draining through the floor boards and not down the drain.  Yikes!  Fortunately, Jim was able to fix this himself.  We used my hairdryer to dry out the floorboards so they wouldn't rot.  We don't really know when the pipes became disconnected or why, but it couldn't have been for too long.

Up in the Attic:
Jim has finally gotten me up into the attic.  We are currently in the process of bagging up the blown-in insulation up there so that we don't have it shower down on us when we break down the ceilings in the nursery and guest room.  Our plan is to tear out all the plaster walls and ceilings in those 2 rooms and install drywall and modern insulation in the walls and attic.  We have spent all of our free time this weekend up there,  and we are not even 1/2 done yet.  The insulation up there is at least a foot thick.  The attic is very dark even in the middle of the day, so we take work lights up there on extension cords.  We have also cut a hole in the nursery ceiling so that we can drop down the bagged insulation as we go.  The insulation is constantly floating in the air up there when disturbed, so Jim and I both wear PPE, including respirators.  We also each wear knee pads since we must move around via the rafters.  The floor of the attic is just the plaster and lath of the ceiling of the rooms below, so it wouldn't hold our weight.  There also isn't really room to fully stand up straight, so we are constantly hunched over when we are up there.  This sounds like fun doesn't it?  I know you'd love to join us!  Both Jim and I will benefit from doing some Wii Yoga tonight. :)
The attic hasn't been a total drag though.  Every once in a while, we come across some forgotten object buried in the insulation. It is kind of like a treasure hunt.  Unfortunately, no gold bars yet!  lol.
I've taken some pics of the objects we discovered so that you can see them too...

Choir Book
I can't find a copyright date in this book, but it can't be very old.  The home's previous owner's name is stamped inside with his old college address.

Pocket Knife
I don't think this knife is very old either.  One side is engraved with "Japan", and the other side with "Stainless Handmade".

1935 Buffalo Nickel

Not sure if this is a good find or not.  It is nowhere near mint condition, but it is still pretty cool.  Any of you readers know anything about buffalo nickels?  :)

Old Photograph
I found this to be the most interesting discovery so far.  I'm trying to figure out if it was taken in this house.  The only places I can think of would either be in the library or Jim's office.  Both rooms are covered in wood paneling now, but maybe I'll find that patterned wallpaper beneath it...

Here is a close-up. 
I also want to try to figure out who these people are!  I'm not sure if this is Columbus and his family or not.  I guess I'll have to wait until spring when the historical society is up and running again.  :(  In the meantime, I'd like to frame it and display it somewhere in the house.  It isn't a very large picture.  It is 6x7in and that includes  the black matting.  There are no marks or writing on the back, and I don't want to pry the picture off.  I love the dad's mustache and the little boy's tie!

Speaking of discoveries.  I had discovered something the other day.  Our silver maple in the front of the house has a hole going right through one of its main trunks!  It looks like there used to be 2 branches on either side of the tree that had been removed sometime ago and have now rotted through to each other.
Our Holey Tree
 From this view, the rotten part looks like a heart.  I'm not sure whether to call this picture, "Shot Through the Heart and You're to Blame" or "You Put a Hole in My Heart".  ^_^*

Here is a picture of the whole tree.
As you can see, it is kind of a sad looking tree.  It's growth seems to have been stunted as well.  My dad likes to call it the buzzard tree.

This is also the tree that we hang our bird feeder from so we can watch them from our kitchen window.  Jim managed to take these pics with the new digital camera he got from his parents for his birthday.
Chickadees Feeding

Well, that is all for now.  I'll keep you updated on our progress and our attic treasures.  Jim says he is going to  write a post soon, but we'll see if that actually happens or not.  ;)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Guest Room Demo Prep

Instead of taking it easy this Labor Day weekend, Jim and I were laboriously working on the guest room.  We pulled up all the carpeting tack and started to pull off baseboards yesterday.  Today, we finished with the baseboards, tore out the window and door trim, and dismantled the closet.  
We discovered a few interesting things while working on the guest room.  
The first discovery was that the orange flower wallpaper used to be an even more vivid orange.  I tried to take a picture of the contrast.
The picture here doesn't really do it justice.
The orange flowers used to be almost red in color.

The second discovery was that the original wallpaper was a red rose pattern.
At least I think it was the original.  We didn't find anymore layers underneath.

The third discovery was that the closet itself was made from an old piano crate.  To disguise this fact, they had wallpapered the exterior and nailed painted cardboard to the interior.
Here is the proof.

The fourth discovery was that the styrofoam in the closet was glued to the walls, ceiling, and floor.  We had to pry some of it off so that we could get to the baseboards.
This is before we removed any of the styrofoam.

This is after we removed it from the floor.
That will be fun to deal with when we refinish the floors. Seriously, did you have to glue it to the floor?

The fifth and final discovery was that the wiring for the light fixture was done wrong (Big surprise!...NOT!).  We decided to take it completely out for now since someone could get electrocuted just changing a bulb.  This of course means we don't have a light source in that room for now.

This is what it looks like now...a hole in the ceiling with some capped off wires.
And yes, that is the load center (aka: secondary breaker box) in the background that we will be moving out of this room and into the hallway.  We aren't too comfortable with it being in a bedroom...especially the bedroom of any future child.

After all our hard work today, this is what the guest room now looks like.


Here is a sneak peak of what our floorboards look like under the sad green carpet.
The padding is so brittle, it just crumbles in your hands.
I've measured some of the floorboards, and their width varies between 7-9 inches.  I'm looking forward to removing all the carpet.  This room would look totally different.  

Even though we were hard at work in the guest room, I did manage to sneak away for a little bit to take some  pictures of the outdoors.

First up is my Chinese Lantern Plant
I'm still waiting for it to turn orange.  You can see one yellow blossom in the second pic.

Next up are my least I think they are mums...
I apologize for the pic quality.  My digital camera screen is damaged, and I can't see what I'm taking pics of anymore.  I just have to point, shoot, and hope I got a good pic.  I overcompensate by taking many pics in hopes one will be good enough.

I managed to solve a mystery today.  The Mystery of the Missing Volleyball.  Way back at our first housewarming, we had a volleyball net set up.  After the party, we noticed that the volleyball was missing.  We figured that it must have blown away.  Well, low-and-behold, I found it today in our grapevine!  It is currently surrounded by blackberry thorns and vegetation, so we decided to leave it there until the plants go dormant.
That is the volleyball in the second pic.
The first pic is some of our grapes guarded by the evil blackberry bushes.

We've noticed that some berry bushes have started to grow alongside our house where we tore out the hedges.  The berries were strange looking to me; they reminded me of very miniature tomatoes.  The berries have now ripened, and I was curious if they were edible.  We have quite a flourishing crop growing.  I finally took the time to research them, and have now identified them.

Can you guess what they are?
They are pokeberries!

Yes folks, Jim and I have a lovely harvest of the very dangerous and deadly pokeberries!  Oh, Joy!  Something else to get rid of.  :(
What's that?  You want to know the side-effects of eating pokeberries?  Well, let me tell you what I've found.
To name a few: severe stomach cramping, nausea with persistent diarrhea and vomiting, slow and difficult breathing, weakness, spasms, hypertension, severe convulsions, and death.
Not only are the berries poisonous, but so are the leaves and roots.
Boo!  More work for Manda.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Power Tools

Recently, while slouching around a Sears Hardware I noticed a clearance table with a variety of items. A set of cordless DeWALT tools and softcase stood out amongst the rest. This toolset was being discontinued and therefore the very last one at Sears was on sale. We had collected a few Sears gift cards, so I used them up to purchase the $400 set for about $120.
 We have already put most of the tools to work, and I am pleased with their performance so far. We intend to use them quite a bit in the years to come.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dining Set = Happy Mandie!

I've been keeping my eye on the classifieds in the local paper for stuff we want/need.  One of the things we (and by "we" I mean "I") wanted was a for real dining room table.  I came across an ad for one that sounded like something we'd want, but I passed it up because a dining room set wasn't one of our priority items.  Well, I kept seeing it in the classified week after week, so I figured, "what the heck" and told Jim about it.  We decided to call to see if they could send us a pic of the set or if we could arrange to come see it.  We ended up playing phone tag with the sellers, and I was the last to call, so I figured that meant they sold it.  Another week went by, and I saw the same ad in the classifieds still.  I gave them another call, and finally managed to talk to them.  Fortunately, they just lived in the town over, and we arranged to see the dining set that night.  We liked what we saw, but Jim and I wanted to sleep on the decision.  We called them the next day to tell them we'd buy it.  I'm glad we did because 9 other people called them that day inquiring to come see the set.  9!  After being advertised in the paper for a month with little interest, 9 people wanted to see it the day we decided to buy it!  Whew!  We lucked out, and I think we got a good deal.  We paid $550 for a dining table, 6 chairs, 3 leaves, table pads, and a buffet.  We borrowed the van from Jim's parents, and we picked up the set this morning.  We had to wait until this afternoon when my dad arrived to help unload the table.  It is a heavy son-of-a-gun!  When talking with the sellers, we discovered that they knew the previous owners of our house.  Their children went to school together.  I guess it is a small world after all.  Here are some pics for you see.

This is the buffet.  I love the details on the front doors.

This is the table with no leaves and 6 chairs.

The seller's said it was hardwood, but they are not sure of the type...
maybe oak.
They had bought it from a little old lady that said she bought the set years ago from a dept store called O'Neils.

And now for my favorite part:
The table can expand to seat 12!

This will come in handy when I start to host parties and holiday dinners.
As you can see, even with it fully expanded, we still have room.
We need to find 6 more chairs though first.  :)

I feel more like an adult now!  lol.

We also stopped by a garage sale today and bought a 6 1/2 foot artificial Christmas tree for $4.  Score!  We needed to get one this year anyways for our first Christmas in our house.  When we got home, we put on some Christmas music and assembled the tree to make sure all the parts were there...they were.  Yea!

I'm just so excited and wanted to show everybody my new/old dining room set.  :)

Here are pics of the table without the chairs so you can see the table details better.