Monday, October 12, 2015

I finally have a linen closet!

When I bought my house, there were a couple of storage issues that I knew I would have to contend with in order to feel like I could stay at least mostly organized. 

First of all, there was no coat closet.  Who builds a house without a coat closet in a climate where people legitimately wear outerwear at least 6 months of the year?  The corollary to this statement is that there was also no good place to put a vacuum.  Thankfully, this was something my contractors were able to rectify by taking a few square feet out of the downstairs bedroom and adding a door in the hall. 

The second storage issue was the linen closet.  Again, who builds a house without a linen closet, particularly when the only full bath is too small to accommodate any additional free-standing furniture?  Clearly the 1950s were a simpler time.  People mustn't have had extra towels!  It was much trickier to rob space from a bedroom for this issue without making it challenging to fit a bed in the bedroom against a solid wall instead of against windows.  My solution was to find a piece of furniture to place in the upstairs hallway.  It couldn't be deeper than 14-15 inches to allow easy passage in the hall, so my options were limited. 

Last weekend, I spied this beauty at Goodwill for the reasonable price of $50.  It didn't smell foul and the hardware was in good working order.  The finish is worn here and there and the hardware is tarnished, but the piece still caught my eye.  My friend's husband was getting off work at a nearby store and was able to bring it home in his truck and help me carry it up the stairs.

Today, I finished organizing the contents using some precise towel folding strategies and $4 bins from Dollar General.  Frankly, I was aiming for higher quality material bins, but these were the exact color and size I needed, so I made the impulse buy and it worked out perfectly.  My old towels that don't match my new bathroom are rolled up in the bins in sets, perfect for when I need a few more towels. 

The bottom has plenty of room for extra toiletries and I got to use a few of my old plastic tubs from my classroom. 
With the matching bins and tax, this project came out to $65, a far cry for how much I would have spent to get a linen closet built into my space permanently.  Yay!  I'm so happy to finally not have to store my towels in my bedroom after nearly a year in this house! 

By the way, I got a new phone between taking photo 1 and photo 2.  What a difference that new flash makes!  Both pictures were taken at night with just the hallway light on.  This makes me happy, too!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How does your garden grow?

One of my must-haves in my home search was a good spot for a vegetable garden.  The south side of my lot has a good bit of sun exposure, so I marked out the 5' by 18' spot last weekend with the help of my friend, Andrea.  She's going to help me with the garden and reap the benefits of what we hope will be a bountiful harvest! 

We started with a dose of Roundup to kill off the grass and weeds.  A few days later, I spread chicken manure.  It wasn't as smelly as I expected, though I was glad to be using it in cool weather.  Today, I added a few egg shells and started to turn the land over.  I got about 1/4 of the space done in an hour and called it quits for then. 

Andrea and I have our first crop of veggie plants picked out.  I can't wait to get planting!

Saturday, February 14, 2015


It all started on a Tuesday afternoon.  I was set to be recognized at the Board of Education meeting and I invited my parents to attend if they wanted to.  Being the awesome parents that they are, they immediately rearranged other plans and put me on their calendar.  They arrived at my house while I was finishing up the work day and started to do a few projects- Dad was installing a pegboard over the workbench in the basement while Mom was shortening the mini-blinds to the correct length for each window.  When I got home, I noticed an unusual odor but I attributed it to the work Dad was doing in the basement.  I checked in with Dad downstairs and he was doing fine.

When I went upstairs to check on Mom, she was in the bathroom shortening the blind there.  She asked me, "Why is the toilet seat black?"  I had no good answer, but I knew that 1) I clean regularly and 2) I hadn't noticed anything odd that morning before work.  We investigated some more and realized that just about everything that was plastic was covered in a visible film of soot.  I called the HVAC specialist (and father of a co-worker, gotta love a small town) who attributed it to a backdraft in the chimney due to the recent gusty high winds.  I was OK with that explanation and just called my insurance agent to check in with what I would need to do if I needed to put in a claim for clean up.  At that point, it seemed unlikely that I would need any help since the HVAC specialist said it was probably a one-time occurrence, especially since he had just done a thorough cleaning of the system in November. If it got any worse or recurred, I was to call him again.

We went off to dinner out and to the board meeting so I could receive my certificate.  When we got home about 2.5 hours later, there was a visible haze in the house.  The basement was thick with soot.  I called and scheduled the HVAC specialist to come back the next day to look at it.  We spent the night at the local hotel. 

When the HVAC man came, the boiler was clogged with soot.  He vacuumed it all out and adjusted the air intake settings again.  The following day the chimney sweep came and cleaned the chimney.  That meant that everything that could have been the source of the soot was now clean.

The ServPro estimator came to look at the house on Monday afternoon and agreed to start on Wednesday.  He said it would take about 2.5 days to clean the house.  I never asked how many people were on the crew, but I figured that it would have to be several people in order for it to be done in just under 3 days.  The following day, the insurance adjuster came and spent an hour photographing the house.

ServePro worked Wednesday with 3 workers, Thursday with 6, and Friday with 9.  Mom was an excellent house-sitter for me so I could continue to go to work and she could answer questions that they had throughout the day.  The house is finally clean so now I can get to the work of finishing organizing and decorating before my housewarming party next month. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bad things come in threes

We've all heard the old adage, "bad things come in threes."  Here were the three that came in rapid-fire succession just three weeks after I'd moved into my house. 

1. I went to the emergency room.  As a generally healthy person whose idea of a medical issue is needing a band-aid, this was a definite bad thing, though everything's been resolved and I feel fine.  I had a wonderful co-worker take me to the ER and then wait with me until my mom could drive the two hours to get there.  When I was released at 10:30, we headed home but didn't end up going to sleep until about 1am, so I took the next day off work to recoup. 

2. I woke up and saw a puddle of water on the bedroom floor.  The baseboard heat was leaking water, 1/2 cup every 15 minutes.  After calling 4 companies, I finally found someone who could come fix it that afternoon.  The others were going to put me off 4 or 5 days! He was able to tighten up a clamp to temporarily fix the leak but recommended replacing 10 feet of the baseboard heat unit to create a permanent fix. 

3. While waiting for the heat repairman, I decided to take a shower.  As I was finishing the shower, I heard Mom running up the stairs yelling, "Turn off the water!  Turn off the water!"  I did, and quickly dried off and got dressed.  I went to find out what was happening.  Water was backing up out of the drain for the washing machine.  I called Roto Rooter who came and cleaned the main drain to the house.  While doing that, he found that the clean-out pipe wasn't actually attached to the sewer line and had to come back the next day to fix that! 

Let's just hope the threes don't repeat too often! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How it all began

After about 5 years of living in the same apartment, I knew I was ready for a change.  The apartment was fine but it was lacking the personalization I really wanted and I was tired of sharing walls with neighbors.

In October 2013, I started working with my realtor Bob to find my home. My list of musts limited my choices.  I wanted a house in about a 5 block square area of my town.  The house had to have a nice sunny space in the yard for a garden.  It needed at least 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms but not so big that it would feel empty with just me living there.  The street should be relatively quiet and the neighbors' houses well-kept.  The distance to downtown shops, restaurants, church, post office, and library should be short enough that I'd willingly walk, at least in good weather.  Bonus points for: covered parking, fireplace, any recent upgrades, and storage space like a dry basement (rare in my area).

Bob and I visited lots of homes. I just quickly counted up 11 from memory and I might have missed one or two more.  Every house had some kind of deal breaker, from termites, to bedrooms with no access to a bathroom except in the master suite, to no kitchen at all, to being way too much of a fairytale, to just being too "blah."  In August, I came to see my house, just as school was getting started.  The timing couldn't have been worse for a teacher!  I saw the house on a Thursday and had an accepted offer by Sunday.

The house is a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath Cape Cod on about 1/4 acre in town.  The bathrooms and kitchen had cosmetic updates done by the sellers, so I pretty much left those rooms alone.  There's a sunroom on the south side of the house that gets lovely light.  I'm just four blocks from downtown businesses and less than a mile from work.  

I closed at the end of September and went to work hiring contractors.  I wanted to have the doors and windows replaced to help seal up the house.  I also knew the hardwood floors needed to be refinished and I certainly didn't want to live through all that dust.  I also had drawers built into the walls in the upstairs bedrooms, a hall closet built, new lighting installed in the kitchen, a fan/vent combo put up in the bathroom, and a few other small things done.  It took some doing to find a contractor who could do the work by the end of November because I wanted to hold off on moving in until the work was done.  Through serendipity, one of the recommendations I got was for the business partner, Jack, of a man I know from church, Paul.  Jack and Paul did an excellent job on everything they touched and I was very fortunate that they were able to keep on schedule as well.  The weather was pretty cooperative as they had 22 windows to install! 

I moved in on November 22 and the adventure really began...