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April 29, 2006

A good Saturday

It looks worse.. but it's actually getting better.

Today we ripped out the *yawn* beige carpet in the office. In addition to being carpet in an office/sewing room (a bad thing in my opinion) it was also used as a *ahem* dumping ground by Tiggy. I love her.. but she is a puppy (she's much better now). When faced with the choice between steam cleaning the carpet (the one I don't want) or removing the carpet.. the choice was easy. (lucky you, removing carpet makes for a much better before/after blog entry).

We started with this:
Our office "before"
And we ended up with this:
Office "after". Where "After" is defined as "After today's project" not "After, as in it's all finished"

Our house has an odd collection of flooring choices. Mr. O seems to have done everthing possible to "cover up" and "hide" the horror that someone enacted on lovely oak hardwood floors (may they burn in the circle of hell reserved for people who neglect their house). I don't -think- Mr. O actually did this horror. He was only in the house for 2-3 years.. I really hope it takes 10-12 years of neglect for damage to get this bad.

I'm fairly certain that a great flood swallowed this house at some point in the past (honestly I have no idea where the water came from..). When the waters receeded someone did nothing. They ignored the horror that is water sitting on lovely oak hardwood floors. In fact.. they may even have ignored soaking wet wall-to-wall carpets that were installed on top of lovely oak hardwood. In any case every hardwood floor we've revealed so far is horribly water stained.. and seems to be growing a lovely white/black mold.

The horror that is ...
We got a minor taste of this when we re-did the hard-wood in the bedroom. It had a couple of blemishes that we sanded and then stained the rest of the floor to match. Today's horror is.. beyond sanding and staining.

In addition to the staining/molding.. there have been some... questionable repairs made to the floor. In one place the floor was brought back to level by glueing a ruler into the hardwood. If we do end up refinishing the floor I'm half tempted to leave it.. sort of like a decorative (and yet retarded) inlay.

In another place they nailed the shit out of the floor. I assume that board was "bad" and they felt that they needed to punish it. One puny little board has, I kid you not, 12 nails in just 4 inches of the board.

The room is by no stretch of the imaginiation "done" but it's actually better than it was. Even though it looks worse... I'm happier.

The current plan is to ask Mom and Dad what they would do when they stay with us next month. Marc really wants to just tear it out and replace it with Pergo. I really want to keep the oak floor but I'm not sure if we're up to the task of this much restoration.

On a happy note.. we found fibers from the carpet embedded in the tile adhesive at the door. This means that the carpet was put in the office before the tile was laid in the rest of the house. We think (hope) that this means that the hardwood hidden by the tile in the rest of the house is in better shape than the hardwood in the bedroom. Our reasoning: Mr. O said that the carpeting had been in the bedroom for about 8 months when we bought the house. The carpet was installed before the tile. It seems logical that if you were selling a house you would cover up the worst stained floor first.. and then work your way on to the rest of the floors. So maybe (if we're lucky) the rest of the floors will be like the bedroom floor.. restored with sanding and staining. Ok.. we're freakishly optimistic.

April 24, 2006

Hanky Panky

Anne over at Minor Adjustments asked for "tried-and-true party recipes that DON'T involve dip". Unfortunately Blogger is being a pill and won't let me comment (it's not anti-me.. it seems to be anti-everyone. Anne? Might need to poke at it).

Anyway, we had a barbecue this weekend and I made Hanky Pankies.. and they don't involve dip.. and they get raves. So here's the recipe.

For interesting variation.. if you "accidentally" add 1 Tbsp hot pepper flakes instead of 1tsp hot pepper flakes these are very very hot instead of just very hot.

Hanky Panky

1 lb hamburger
1 lb Jimmy Dean Hot sausage
1 tsp hot pepper flakes (can substitute chili powder)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 lb Velveeta cheese (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1 loaf party bread. (rye or pumpernickel or wheat)

In a large skillet, brown hamburger and sausage. Add pepper flakes, oregano and garlic salt. When meat is cooked completely, add Velveeta squares. Melt Velveeta completely. Remove skillet from heat and let it cool (a little).

Place heaping spoonfuls of meat mixture onto party bread. Serve hot.

These freeze well. We put them in a box in the freezer with layers of wax paper between each layer. I've had good luck with serving these straight out of the microwave or microwaving them and then placing them in an electric skillet set on low. I suppose you could bake them... never considered that before.


Spring is sprung. That means that here in the Bay Area it's kind of summer like (when it's not raining). The weather has been very accommodating and only rained in the evening (or so I was told... I haven't noticed, what with the sleeping and all). The daytime temperatures are in the 70s.

Just before spring was officially sprung I would come home from work and find the house to be an absolute furnace. It was hot, muggy and thoroughly unpleasant. Every time I declared the house to be "too hot" Marc demanded to know what I'd done with Monica. Pfft.

After this happened for a few days in a row Marc commented that maybe I should turn the furnace down. I did.. until finally Humphrey*, the furnace is turned off.

He's been off for a few days.. in fact he's been off and we're sleeping with the windows open and spend the evening with the ceiling fan in the living room running.

Here's the quandary. Humphrey takes up half of the north wall. I'm pretty sure if we cover him up with furniture and he runs, it's a fire hazard. But if he's off.. how long do I have to wait before I put a couch over him? This would allow me to rearrange the living room. I like the idea but don't want to start rearranging only to find out there's another "cold snap" coming and have to 'un-re-arrange' it so I can turn on the furnace again.

Oh yes, it's rough to live in California.. where anything below 50° F is described as "cold". Horrible.

*I read on another blog that if you name your furnace you have a better relationship with it. Humphrey lives in our living room and takes up half of the north wall. He tick, booms and hisses at us. He's fussy, noisy and in general reminds me of a grumpy old man. Humphrey seems to be the most appropriate name.

Our first Barbecue

This weekend we had our first barbecue. This is an accomplishment on many levels:
1. We don't own a grill.. and had to borrow one from Mike.
2. Marc doesn't possess the "barbecue gene" and had to dub Mike the grill king
3. aside from being mowed, our backyard was in no way barbecue ready.. and yet we seem to have had fun.. and nothing caught on fire.

Cactus on the right-hand side of this picture. This shows about 1/2 of what he removed.
On Saturday Mike drove down with his grill and helped Marc to remove the big ugly cactus from the back yard. Technically the removal of the cactus wasn't critical to the barbecue party.. but it made me happy. I just don't groove on the fact that my yard includes cactus. Cactus doesn't fit with my mental image of a verdant luscious yard. I think we have one more left in the front yard.

I have no green thumb.. I don't think Marc has one either.. but I know what I don't like. About 60% of everything in my yard falls into the "don't like" category. The things that I do like are oddly placed. I suppose we've got the next 5-7 years to rearrange everything to our liking. Just in time to sell the place and move on to a new challenge. Maybe we'll be lucky and do all of our learning on this house and be able to move on as experts to the next house. We can only hope.

April 9, 2006

Toning down the "ick" factor in the kitchen

The kitchen exhaust fan is old. Possibly even original to the house. It also looked like it hadn't been cleaned since it was installed.

Marc took the cover down and cleaned it. It's silver... not black and white. The white was just the top-most layer of paint. The black was icky encrustion of schmutz. Since we haven't yet investigated the world of paint stripping, Marc used a scary cocktail of every noxious chemical we have in the house. It turns out that "Oven-Off" makes a relatively decent paint stripper. Marc says it took him two hours (not including the polishing).


At some point the kitchen ceiling was painted a very scary shade of fire engine red. I shudder to think what this would do to that tiny little room. ICK.

Drip, drip, drip ... Still not plumbers

It always starts so innocently.

Me: Sweetie, the home inspector said we'd only need to replace the wax seal on the toilet... can we do that this weekend?

Marc: Sure.. but I'm still not a plumber.

Me: Not to worry, we have Home Depot's "1-2-3s of home repair". It should be a snap. {queue ominous music}

{insert nearly painless toilet removal followed by application of a fresh wax seal (icky sticky things) and nearly painless toilet reinstallation}

Me: Hah! We win!

DRIP... DRIP... DRIP (heard last night while I was in bed)

So this morning I got up and checked out the toilet. One of the bolts that hold the tank to the toilet was dripping. A slow occational drip. Figuring it must have been knocked when we did the reinstall I tried to finger tighten it. This cause 1/2 of the water in the tank to pour out the bolt and onto the floor.

Quickly I shut off the water to the toilet and flushed it. Then I told Marc about it.

The bolt were so rusty he had to use the dremel to get them off. So now we have new bolts on our toilet tank and (hopefully) no more drips.

April 3, 2006

Upsizing through preception

If you have a small house.. I recommend that you fill 2-3 of the rooms with boxes. Full boxes. Something with bills from 1998 and stuffed animals from your childhood work best. Just stack them quietly in a corner or next-to-but-not-completly-out-of the walkway. Leave them there for a minimum of 3-4 months. Or at least until you stop seeing them. Then, in a mad dash of spring cleaning, abruptly empty all of the boxes and move them out of all of the rooms.

Suddenly your small house will feel absolutely caverous. You'll marvel at all the space and wonder how it is you ever thought of your house as small.