Saturday, December 31, 2011

Any Hope We Had...

...that the Sycamore was going to revive itself in the spring has been dashed.

Here's what's left of the trunk, with a big old boot print next to it.


Friday, December 30, 2011

How Much Is Lowe's Paying Us To Advertize?

I took this week off work, so I asked the guys not to come so I didn't have to listen to hammering all day long. Which, of course, means the gigantic Lowe's ad is going to be up longer than we would have liked...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What A Difference A Year Makes

Okay, the oak is still dwarfed by the tomato plant, but compared to last year it's huge!

Rob used the oak for our Christmas card this year. You can see a pic of it here, on Tom Spurgeon's blog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


The hot water heater was moved so these two windows cold be put in downstairs.

I'm really excited for this particular corner of the house. I think it's going to be great having these two windows just a little above ground level. I want to plant something sweet smelling so that when they're open the whole basement will smell delicious.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The corbels have been painted and reinstalled for a while now, but I kept forgetting to post a picture. Rob thinks they're a little too yellow, but I'm happy. I LOVE the curves and niches of the original wood. They're going to look amazing once the new siding is up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This House Is Brought to You by...

It really pisses me off that the vapor barrier our contractor chose is covered with the Lowe's Logo. Thanks for making our house a walking billboard, stupid corporation! Counting the days until it's covered with our beautiful, cedar siding...

Monday, December 19, 2011

This May Not Look Like Much To You...

...but for the first time in MONTHS, our driveway is clear.

No bags of old siding covered in lead pain.

No piles of misc. crap.

We can actually park two, maybe three cars here -- just in time for the holidays.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Muddy Waters

Every time it rains, our whole backyard turns into muddy quicksand that sucks on your shoes.

They guys fixed the grading so the water doesn't drain into the basement and now we have boards down so we can walk around without losing a shoe, but I am counting the days until I can landscape and put a permanent end to the problem.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Did I Mention It's December?

This is our mango tomato plant -- it's taller than our oak tree, which is the plant inside the bricks.

It has blooms on it, but no fruit. We do have green tomatoes on some of our other, smaller tomato plants, so who knows?

For some reason, the size and shape of this particular plant reminds me of Snuffleupagus. Weird, I know.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When in Doubt, Work Inside

The engineer put the chimney on the plans, but the plan checker said now the window count is messed up and wants us to rip out the chimney. We want to bring that fireplace back some day, so the contractor is trying to figure something else out. Sigh.

In the mean time, the guys continue stripping the windows inside. I love how the new wood looks against the old and we want to keep that two tone effect. We went shopping for stain yesterday and got a slew of samples to try out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Still Standing

We had a crazy wind storm -- kept us up all night.

Our new fence, which has just been stained the day before the Santa Ana's came, nearly blew over. Rob had to prop it up until the guys can get here tomorrow to attach it more sturdily to the base.

All and all, we were really lucky -- no damage, just some trash in the yard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


It's been raining, so the guys can't paint outside. And the basement is stalled until the engineer gets things squared away with the city.

Rather than do nothing, the guys started stripping the interior woodwork around the windows. The half-bared wood reminds me of old buildings in Europe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Window Report

We have two different kind of windows in the basement: casement and double hung. Rob isn't convinced yet that the double hung were worth the extra expense, but I love them.

We're missing one window for the basement because -- what a shock! -- the engineer had the wrong window measurements on the plans, so one of the windows was ordered incorrectly.

Seriously, can that guy use a tape measure?!?

Monday, November 28, 2011


Most of the new windows are in.

Progress on the outside, though, has come screeching to a halt. The engineer -- yes, him AGAIN! -- didn't put the chimney on the plans so that throws off the square footage of the shear wall. The inspector won't sign off until the plans are refiled with the city with the correct shear wall information.

Sigh. Just when things were really moving along.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Something Is Finished!

The eaves under the porch roof have been painted. Hurray!!! Something is finally done.

I can't believe it was May when we picked out our colors and ordered our siding. I wonder if it will be done this year?!?!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The posts on our porch seemed too big for the beams topping them, so our contractor popped the side off one to see if a bigger post had been built around a smaller one.

They're hollow inside, and judging by the condition of the wood, they're probably original. I guess the original builder just had a weird sense of proportion...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Raising the Roof

The porch ceiling has been pulled down. What you're seeing in this photo is the underside of the roof. It adds, at the peak, almost two feet of headroom. We plan to keep it that way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Soft Focus

All of our windows have been sealed off with plastic to keep the lead paint dust out of the house. It's like living in a 70's movie.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We've been arguing with our contractor about how poorly he's been containing the lead paint chips from the house because we didn't want them getting into the soil. Finally, he did this.

I joke sometimes that we are camping in our house, but I never thought we'd actually live in our house in a tent.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We Have A Lawn! (Kind of.)

The blue grama grass we planted last March has gone to seed. If you look closely, you can see little flags on the top of the mounds of grass in the front. Rob likes to roll the flags between his fingers to spread the seeds around.

Blue grama is a pretty slow growing, drought-tolerant, native grass. With a little luck, the parkway will fill in with it next year and we won't have to keep digging out that awful Bermuda grass.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remember the Phoenix Rose?

Phoenix is thriving. I think we might actually get blooms next year.

The poppies are also going gang-busters. Kind of weird since it's November and they normally grow in the spring...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Know We Killed This

This used to be one of the lavender bushes on the parkway. I think the dogs peed on it one too many times.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Think We Killed It

This is what our sycamore looks like these days.

It developed a fungus on some of the leaves that I tried to treat with neem oil. When that didn't help, and most of the leaves had fallen off, I did some research. We may have overwatered it, we may have planted the rootball too low.

Or maybe, this is just part of the normal cycle -- it is a deciduous tree after all. To be continued in the spring.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seeing Things From A Different Perspective

With the old siding off the house, we can see the built-in in our dining room from the outside of the house.

The second shot is a view from the attic, with all the debris that have fallen on it as various things have been demolished.

I think it's pretty funny that I have pictures of this built-in from every angle except the one we look at every day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Light At The End of the Tunnel

We went up into the attic with our designer to start thinking about putting bedrooms up there.

This shot is from the attic, through where the fireplace used to be down to the new basement.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our New Shower

Our kitchen sink sprays out the front of the faucet. Redoing the kitchen is not on the immediate -- or even far -- horizon, so we've been trying to make do.

We had plumber's tape on it, which worked for a while. When that stopped working, I traded up to some saran wrap and a rubber band. Classy!

The saran wrap is starting to fail, so it's time to think of what to try next. Condom, anyone?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bare Bones

It seems like every day I come home to a little less house. It's getting to be unnerving. Hope there's no rain in the forecast!

A couple of neighbors have commented the house is looking good. I think what they really mean is that they can now see we actually have a plan and they aren't going to live next to an eyesore for the rest of their lives.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Our house gets more deconstructed every day!

Now that most of the siding is off, you can see under the roof of the front porch and of what used to be the back porch (now our ghetto laundry room).

Rob took both of these from the scaffolding.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Unseasonably Large

We've had a heat spell which has resulted in our watermelon and volunteer cantaloupe fruiting again. I'm taking bets on whether the baby watermelon at the left can grow to be as big as the 45 pounder Rob is holding.

We get A LOT of comments from the neighbors on the watermelon and we've been sharing as much as possible. Still, trying to unload over 120 pounds of watermelon is a bit of a chore, and I've eaten more than I care to think about...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


They've put a scaffolding around the entire house so they don't have to lean ladders up against the new siding as they hang it.

The scaff
olding is pretty shaky, but Rob braved it to take a few pictures.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Most of the siding has been taken off the house. You can see where the plaster seeped through the lathe 100 years ago when the house was built.

Sadly, we are discovering that some of our plaster and lathe walls have been replaced with drywall. The framer suspects the previous owner did it when he replaced the old windows -- that he replaced the old windows because of leaks.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shear Walls (aka -- Lots of Plywood!)

The old siding is being ripped off, insulation being put up and then the whole house is being covered with plywood to make it stronger. As if our house didn't look ghetto enough.

Once the shear wall is done, the new siding will finally, FINALLY, go up.

Meanwhile, Rob has an urge to spray paint, "Crack sold here," on the plywood on the porch. Hm...Maybe that's a new business venture we could take up to pay for all these renovations...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Double or Nothing!

We had our first rain and the oak tree grew about 6 inches in two weeks. It is now waist high -- more than double the size we bought it at.

There's hope yet that we won't be on social security before this is giving us some shade.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Drinks Served Here!

We bought these as an anniversary present for ourselves. They are made from old wine barrels and even have little notches in the arms to hold the stem of a wine glass.

Ultimately, they will go on the back deck we are planning to build, but for now they are on the front porch.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

All Clear

I bought paint thinner to clear the window in our front door, but Rob is actually the one who used it and got rid of that awful "stained" glass. We have a lot less privacy now that people can see through the window, but the beveled glass is so much prettier than that ugly, ghetto, spray paint that used to be on the window!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chipping Away

Rob has been pulling bricks out of the trash heap in the driveway and chipping off the mortar. This is what he has done so far. I plan to use these to make raised beds for vegetables in the spring.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Door to Nowhere

They yanked out what was left of the rickety back steps so they could start shear walling the outside of the house. It's a lot like living in the Winchester mansion. Thankfully, the door will be going bye-bye just as soon as they start residing the house.