Archive for May, 2011

Replacing Mailbox and Post

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I’m not sure where my friend read it, but she said that it helps to give your mailbox a facelift when you sell your house.  I guess it’s all a part of that nebulous concept called “curb appeal”. 

Our mailbox was in sad shape.  The first day we moved into the house, the hubby ran over the mailbox with the moving truck.  He then splinted the broken post between two pieces of wood and the poor thing had been tilting forward ever sine.  The ugly green mailbox itself was rusted and dented from some hooligan’s cherry bomb.  No facelift could rejuvenate this baby.  Time for a new setup.

I had been priming our new fence post over the past few days.  We decided to install it today as the mailman is off for the holiday.  The old mailbox post is underneath the new one.  See the sad little splint at the bottom?  You can also see the new post is much shorter than the old one.

The original post was just stuck in the ground.  We borrowed a post hole digger from a neighbor and made the hole a bit bigger so we could cement the post in place.  We backfilled the hole and tamped the dirt down so our little shorty post would be the proper height.

Now that the hole was bigger, the post wouldn’t stay upright for us to dump in cement.  The hubby improvised with 2 sawhorses, 2 pieces of wood, and 4 bar clamps.  He clamped one piece of wood to both sawhorses and then clamped another piece of wood behind the post to the first piece of wood.  He used a level to position the post.

We were so glad that we bought a half dozen bar clamps from Harbor Freight.  Every now and then, we get Harbor Freight’s circular and see them on sale for $1.99 each.  Normally, there is a limit that you can buy.  These little guys are well worth it.

To cement the post in place, he poured 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag of dry Quickcrete mix into the hole.  He then added water from a hose (following the directions on the box) and mixed it up with a broom handle.  Two hours later the concrete had set and it was rock hard!

He then cut a piece of wood that would go underneath the mailbox and attach to the mailbox post.  We had bought a precut mailbox plank from Lowes, but found that it was too wide for the mailbox that we bought.  The first time he attached the mailbox, we had it flush against the back of the post.  While pretty, the door wouldn’t open all the way because it was getting jammed on the wood underneath the mailbox.  We pulled the box forward an inch and voila – we now have the best mailbox on the block!

I have to go back and put a topcoat of paint over the primer and plant some flowers around the base still.  I’ll tackle that tomorrow!  Right now, it’s back to packing up our bedroom while the hubby is tamping rocks in the dark for our brick walkway.  We have realtors coming tomorrow and our target date to list the house is 6/19.  The clock is ticking!

Paint the Front Door

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Another tip for selling your house – give your door a fresh coat of paint (typically a red paint color).

 Our entire door, side panel, and trim have been a dark green since the day I bought the house in Feb 2000.  How green was it?  See the side panel?  You can still see the green showing through after 5 coats of color blocking primer. 

You can search online for the “proper” way to paint a door – trust me, there is a method.  Everything depends on if your door is wood or metal, if the original paint job is in good shape or if it is peeling, if there are cracks or repairs that need to be made, etc… 

For me, the metal door is in fairly good condition and the thick green paint is in great condition.  The hubby removed the door knob, locks, and pins from the hinges.  He put the door on a pair of sawhorses for me in the shade of a tree.  I knew I wanted a type of red for the door, but fire engine or lipstick red weren’t for me.  The house is clay, the porch is a medium brown and the trim is white.  I decided on a reddish brown for the door and the shutters.  To be exact, it is called Thomas Jefferson Brown and it is a historical color.  I figured if it’s lasted this long, then it’s got to be good!

As far as technique goes, I lightly sanded the surface to remove the gloss and then I painted all the trim and panels first with a 2 – 3 inch brush.  I worked horizontally on all pieces and then vertically.  Same goes for the rails and stiles.  The rails are the horizontal parts of the door and the stiles run vertically.  Where they meet, I feathered the edges with a light touch and then I hit the edges of the door.  I did not bother to tape off the windows as I will use a razor to scrape the paint off after the door has cured.  Helpful tip: Load up your brush with paint and use long, smooth strokes for an even finish.

I started this process very early in the morning and let the paint dry for about 2 hours between coats.  I would have liked a longer drying time, especially since I needed 4 coats of paint for thorough coverage, but we managed. 

By the time the door was reinstalled, it was 830pm and I still hadn’t gotten to the trim.  I grabbed my quart of Kilz premium color and stain blocking primer and finally zapped the green for good!  I will have to do another coat tomorrow morning, but wow – does it look sharp tonight!

I must admit to having bittersweet feelings about our remodeling job.  Now that the green is gone, it looks and feels like a totally different house.  For as much as we didn’t like the old exterior, it suited us.  Now things are starting to look very fancy around here.  I guess momma has got to buy a new pair of shoes!

Brick Path: Phase II

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

One of the top 10 tips for selling your house is to FINISH undone work.  The big monkey on our back has been finishing our brick walkway up the side of our driveway.  I cannot believe that is has been 1 YEAR since we started the project.  At the time, I had no idea that I was pregnant with baby number 2.  A couple of weeks later, my big project days were over as I wrestled with the first trimester blahs.  The bricks laid in the exact same arrangement for a year, virtually untouched.  With Nana here visiting this week we were able to steal a few hours, while she watched the kiddos, to work together and “dig” into the project.

The hubby stacked all the bricks on the driveway so he could excavate the dirt.  He trucked wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow up to our house so we could use the dirt to get rid of another monkey – a drainage problem caused by soil erosion.

I hopped into the trench and followed behind him doing the fine detail work.  We had cut out the exact width of our brick pattern and the depth of the gravel, sand, and bricks from a piece of wood.  The depth includes 2 inches of gravel, 2 inches of sand, and the bricks.  My job was to use hand tools and the wood guide to make sure the trench was squared off and cleaned out.  I also sat in the trench on a foam pad and compressed the dirt as I went.

It wasn’t too hard to create a firm base.  Most of the trench is made of clay and after a light rain, the soil is almost as hard as cement itself!  Tomorrow, the hubby will be pounding in the metal guide rails and filling in the gravel.  We have another wood template that is 2 inches shorter and we’ll use it as a screed board to level off the rocks.

It was so nice to work with my hubby again.  We are both fixer-uppers.  It’s one of those common bonds that drew us together in the first place.  It’s also very satisfying to do something ourselves and to do it well.  Let’s hope we can keep the momentum going and knock this out before next weekend!

Vinyl Siding Update

Friday, May 27th, 2011

On the second day, they finished siding the front of the house and installed soffits.  We even have a nice little decorative vent to give the house that little bit of sumthing-sumthing.

They got a good start on the rear right corner and the wall where the kid’s rooms are.  Poor kiddos got zero naps that day.  We are lucky to have my hubby’s parents in town this week to help out with the contractors and the kids. 

On the third day, they started working on the porch and the back side of the house.

I painted a 6 – 12 inch border around the deck where the walls touched.  This will give us a nice clean joint and I won’t need to edge the paint in when I finish the deck next week.

By the end of day 3, they had finished the front porch and had installed a brand new porch light that we got from Costco for only $21.  They also installed the metal trim around the roof edge to cap everything off.  I can’t believe how much of a difference the white trim makes on the house.

By day 4, they had already started on the back deck.  See how crisp the deck looks where I painted the border in advance?

The installers spend a good amount of time tearing off decorative trim pieces.  If they do not, the vinyl siding will not lay flat.  Without the trim I can finally see what all those mud daubers were doing every year. 

They totally finished the children’s wall down to the soffits and metal casing.  They just about finished the rear right corner and got a good head start up the rear of the house.  They cut their work short due to a fierce thunderstorm that swept through the area.  They expect to be finished by Wednesday of next week after taking Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off. 

We will be crossing our fingers that they can finish by then.  I want to paint both the porch and deck before next weekend.  We are having a big party and it would be nice to show off the house.  Also, our realtor is coming next week to have the big “talk” about what we can sell the house for.  I’m hoping (PRAYING) that we can get a decent price after doing all this work.  Our house is looking pretty sharp compared to the competition in the neighborhood.

Installing Vinyl Siding – Day One

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

A sight for sore eyes!  This morning, Lowe’s dropped off the vinyl siding in advance of the contractors.  Could this really be happening???

Yep!  A two man crew took off the shutters and any wood molding that would interfere with the siding laying flat.  They made a huge racket! 

Nailing in the foam sheathing was much louder than I expected.  Poor Evelyn hardly slept at all today for all the noise.  Ripping off the trim was also very loud.

After 6 hours or so, they made decent progress.

Almost looks like a different house,doesn’t it?  They are going to try to finish it by the weekend, but more than likely it will carry on longer than that.

Sell This House: Get Rid of the Clutter

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Pack it up, ship it out!  One of the biggest steps towards selling your house, while you are living in it, is to clean out the clutter.  When you have pared everything down to what you consider to be the bare minimum – get rid of 1/3 more.  You want the house to feel so big that you don’t have enough stuff to put into the house.  You have to be cold about this.  Detach youself emotionally from this process.  You are selling a HOUSE – it’s not yours anymore.  Your house should be as anonymous as a hotel room – anybody should be able to visit the house and see themselves staying there. 

Get rid of any excess furniture or items that don’t serve an immediate purpose.  Remove anything that states a personal preference.  For example: your taste in books, family photos, religious artifacts, etc…  You want people to imagine themselves in the house.  You don’t want them to feel like they are intruding into your personal space. 

For someone like me, this has been both a cleansing and draining process.  I still have the blue and red windup robot that I played with in Thailand when I was 6, the music box that my Grandmother Dorothy gave me when I was 9 and my faded and worn twin size comforter my dad bought me in Korea when I was 13.  Every time I move, I whittle away at my trinkets and have packed my life into 2 rubber maid totes full of memories.  As for the rest of the house, well, let’s just say we’ve been busy these past few weeks.

We rented a 10X15 storage unit and have been making nightly trips to fill it up.  I’ve done my best to pre-sort and organize our belongings.  Each night is a different theme.   

Rather than mark “KITCHEN”, “MSTR BEDROOM”, “LIVING ROOM”, etc… on the boxes, I label each box on two sides with the contents and assign the box a number.I record each box number into a journal and list the contents.  I will input this list into Excel so we’ll have a nice little cargo manifest when it comes time to move.  Labeling and numbering the boxes is VERY helpful for storing and moving items.  Since we don’t know how long our stuff will be in storage, I can quickly reference our list and retrieve a box by number if I need something from storage.  It will also be easier when we move to our final destination (For example, boxes 1-10 in the kitchen). 

Here’s an example of how we’ve been spending our time (and why the blog has been quiet of late).  One night the theme was books.  We gathered every single book we own into one spot and sorted them into keep, sell, and yard sale/donate piles.  The keep piles we sorted and packed according to genres.  The sell pile I boxed up to take to our local book reseller and the yard sale/donate pile has been placed in the designated yard sale area.  I call it the yard sale/donate pile, because we promise to donate everything that doesn’t sell at our yard sale in June rather than drag it back into the house.  At the end of every night, the hubby loads up the van and makes a trip to the storage unit – usually around 10 or 11pm.

My little sweetie pie LOVES, LOVES, LOVES paper.  She’s been having a blast helping me pack.  She’ll wiggle, scoot, and roll her way across the room to chomp on my packing material.

Oliver has been taking it in stride.  We try to do everything after they go to bed so they can avoid the mess.  When the packing overflows into his life, he gets a bit stressed.  Selling this house is going to be a big transition for him.  As long as we have paper around, Evelyn will be fine!

As of tonight, we have hauled 58 boxes over to storage.  I’m guessing that we have another 58 to go!  On the plus side, our attic is almost empty!

Sell This House: Fix the Deck

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The clock is ticking!  These past two weekends we have been working on our deck.  Look at all that rot!  This kind of damage did not happen overnight.  It’s been years in the making, about 10 years to be exact.  The hubby took out the rotted deck boards and replaced them with brand new ones.  The wood siding will be ripped out and replaced by el cheapo wood of some sort and covered over with vinyl siding.

Six years ago, I scrubbed down the deck, rails, and post and painted them.  Even though green is my hubby’s favorite color, he didn’t find it charming growing on his deck! 

We borrowed a power washer from a friend and blasted the heck out of our deck.  We removed all the mold/mildew and loose paint.  After everything dried, the hubby busted out his orbital sander with 60 grit paper to smooth out the wood and remove even more paint.  We then wood puttied any holes or small cracks and sanded that down after it dried.  Today, I finally got some white exterior primer on the posts and rails.  I did 2 coats before it was too hot to paint.  When the paint gums up on the surface almost immediately, it’s too hot!

Here’s the same deck after power washing, sanding, and 2 coats of paint!  What a difference.  I have at least one more coat to go.  We have contractors coming on Tuesday to install vinyl siding and I want to wait to do a final coat until after all the work is done.

Yep, I said we have contractors coming on Tuesday!  It’s taken us 2 months to get 4 quotes, decide on one, order materials, and schedule a contractor.  Lowe’s ended up being the most reasonable by $1,000.  Company #3 and #4 were between 6 and 7 thousand more.  It pays to look around that is for sure. 

I’m going to Lowe’s tomorrow to pick out a porch paint and will paint a 12 inch border on our deck and porch wherever it butts up to the siding.  I want that nice and dry so the edge will look nice when they install the vinyl.  After they leave, I’ll paint the rest of the porch and deck.

Playing Together and Learning to Share

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Some of my best times are spent with my kids just watching them play.  Evelyn is mobile enough to get around and is in full baby discovery mode.  She has no concept of good or bad, yours or mine, and sharing or taking turns.  On the other hand, Oliver has reached the age where he IS aware of those differences. 

This is a classic photo!  Oliver spent so much time carefully building up his towers on the pegs.  Evelyn scooted over and much to Oliver’s chagrin, began pulling off his blocks.

My little man took it like a champ though.  After a few tears, he was back into the game.  He never hit his sister or yanked the piece away.

Oliver went back to playing and Evelyn found a new toy to chew on.  She was just happy to be near her big brother and Oliver even share some pieces with her in the end.  This was an hour well spent.  Fun and Free!

Do your kids get along with each other?  Any tips on teaching them to share with other children?

Milk Jug Plant Markers

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

My seedlings are taking off and I’m ready to label the individual pots now that I have some plants growing.  I’ve tried all sorts of ways to mark plants in the past from popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, wood flags, store-bought plastic markers, etc…  Anything made from wood pretty much got destroyed by the end of the growing season and buying markers just didn’t make sense.

The solution came in the form of a solid white milk jug.  I cut the jug into strips big enough to sink into each pot and wide enough to write on with a permanent marker.

The permanent marker worked wonderfully and didn’t bleed.  The plastic markers will be nigh indestructible even after moving the plants outdoors.  This project was so easy that even Evelyn wanted to give it a try.

Evelyn wasn’t able to write anything, but she did give the plant markers her drool proof seal of approval! 

Do you have creative and frugal tips for crafts you do for your garden?

Helping Daddy Cut the Grass

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

I heard the roar of the lawn mower today and couldn’t believe my hubby was cutting grass with Oliver still outside.  I grabbed the baby, ran to the door, and to my big surprise I saw Oliver standing right next to his daddy with his little lawnmower.  The hubby gave Oliver his ear phones and he was good to go!

Oliver even pushed his mower right behind his daddy to make sure he didn’t miss anything.  It was too cute! 

The hubby commented about cutting the grass afterwards, “There’s nothing like personally cutting the grass of your home to make you feel like a family.”  I thought it was cute and I totally agree.  There’s nothing much else that we could buy that would give us that same feeling of contentment.

What sort of things do you do that make you feel content and loved?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

 Subscribe in a reader