Operation Backyard Oasis

Anyone who has witnessed my backyard knows it is far from an oasis but that is the goal of my work this summer.

I know, technically, that summer begins on Memorial Day for many but the last 10 days of 100+ temps means that June was a wash for me.

I’d like to share updates every Sunday to stay on track and before I get into my plans I want to share the before pics. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Here’s a shot of the back of the house including 2 of the dogs and my lawnmower:

The northwest corner of the yard is pretty boring with just a couple of surviving rose bushes (I’ve already taken out 2 this year):

The northeast corner has the patio that I had installed in 2013 that hasn’t held up very well. Right now it’s the holding spot for everything else while I work.

Standing at the sliding glass door and looking east there’s some trash cans full of green waste, the dog kennel, and a walkway of bricks which has seen better days.

Over to the side yard I had a bunch of crap leaning against the siding. The only good thing here is the raised garden beds with bougainvillea and lantana which are thriving.

While the front yard needs work, I’m going to focus on the side and back yard for the season and focus on creating a comfortable, beautiful space.

Right now the strategy is to work outdoors on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, aka the days I’m not at the gym and to work consistently throughout the summer months.

I have big plans for the yard and I’ll share more of them with you next Sunday. Until then I’ll be slathering on the sunblock and pulling on my gardening gloves.

 

 

I put the Pro in Procrastination

It feels like ages has passed since I shared in March about replacing windows and while it may feel like I’ve been lazy, I know a lot has actually been accomplished.

Primarily more windows. Over a weekend with some help I replaced 2 out of the 3 kitchen windows and the garage window and a lot of the surrounding T1-11 and 2x4s on the old kitchen bay window.

I’d known for awhile it probably had water damage since the 2×4 frame was literally crumbling but uncovering it all was a surprise. Thanks to the leftover T1-11 from the office window repair it was a pretty inexpensive repair (just time and paint).

But now I’m left with one more kitchen window to do, inside trim and then: paint.

I purchased 10 gallons of outdoor paint over the Memorial Day weekend (and still need to send in receipts for that rebate…) and will have it tinted in 2-3 gallon batches for the exterior.

While I’d really like to replace the sliding glass door before paint goes up, I think it’s a tad unrealistic with the summer budget I have in place.

I’ve also stained and assembled 2 new adirondack chairs that I purchased from Hayneedle and love them. They also fold up pretty flat to make storage easier in the winter. Soon I’ll need to pull out the outdoor rug and set up the front of the house for summer.

Indoors I’ve mostly been working to keep things clean and organized, decluttering slowly as I go through the house. I’ve already taken in several things to consignment and donation but it’s an on-going process.

I haven’t yet shown you the big upgrade I made to the dining room bench so that’s coming once I get the pictures done.

It’s probably time to go update my 2017 goals post since we’re almost to the midpoint of the year!

New Windows and Trim

In addition to doing the baseboard trim throughout the house since the beginning of the year, I’ve started working on the windows.

After years of considering the options I purchased 3 new windows from Home Depot to fit the opening. Each window is 48″ tall, 60″ wide and were $168/each (listing here).

There was a bit of drama getting them home but thanks to Jan and a borrowed truck I got them in the garage:

I hired a guy to help demo the old windows and screw in the new ones. I took us about 4 hours total.

Here’s the original window and frame in the living room (adjacent to the front door). The lovely green trim was in good shape but I wanted a different style.

After demoing the window frame, pulling out the panes and pulling out the metal frame:

You can see in the picture above that there’s a bunch of gunk at the top (under the trim) where the bugs and debris burrowed down the panel gaps. Here’s another look at the panels surrounding the guest room window:

Speaking of paneling, the old gutters on the side yard had long ago rusted through and damaged the siding here:

This is under the office window and you can see the AT&T line goes into the room here. So we also took off the siding and replaced it.

The drywall and framing was in good shape so it was pretty simple to nail in the replacement T1-11 in two pieces and then caulk all the edging.

All done:

The frames were simple, each includes four 2×4 lengths with mitered corners. Here’s how the living room window looks after adding the trim, caulk and outdoor paint:

After priming the new piece of paneling on the side yard I found a few other places where the wood was unpainted so I’ve been touching it up here and there as I go. There were some older cords still nailed up around the house that were disconnected so I’ve been pulling them down and dealing with random nails, hooks, screws and such on the siding.

Next up are the 3 windows in the kitchen! Only about $400 to purchase plus the cost of caulk, wood trim and nails.

Trim it out

The trim project is well underway and I thought I’d give an update on how it’s going since it’s taking up the whole month. So far the quarter round has been installed in the living room, dining area, hallway, hall closet, office and master bedroom.

I started painting in the master bedroom and then worked my way back down the hallway to the living room before moving on to the office.

Since I’m working around the edges painting takes a bit of planning and time since I have to move a lot of stuff out of the way.

The order is typically to go along the baseboards with a nail setter and hammer to push in any of the nails that were still sticking out, then gather paper towels, a caulking gun and water to fill in the gaps. This is the most messy step but a bit of water cleans up any misplaced caulk.

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While the caulk is drying (a couple hours), I try to get the blue painter’s tape down on the floor to protect it. This allows me to go much faster when I’m painting.

Then I brush on the first coat of paint and yes, I usually need two. Since I don’t want the paint to pool along the floor or stick the tape to the baseboards I’ll load up the brush and put most of the paint at the junction of the quarter round and baseboard – then brush it down to the blue painter’s tape at floor level.

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I’ve found that the baseboards are pretty beat up after being pulled and reinstalled when I did the floors so I’m usually filling nail holes in the baseboards and painting them. The hallway baseboards were especially dingy, not just dirty but with a lot of marks and dings.

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Working in the office I found damage to the drywall in one corner due to a leak we repaired a few years ago. The final room that needs quarter round is the guest room but first comes finishing the office and getting that furniture back in. Once I’m 100% done with all this trim I am really looking forward to rolling out those new rugs!

Tools I’m using (click on photo to see sources):

Nail set kit

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Ryobi Airstrike Nail gun and 18 gauge nails

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White latex paintable caulk

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quarter round trim such as this type (though I buy it by the foot).

 

A Productive Fortnight – 12 good things

It’s always really amusing to me how much we think we’re “so busy” and then, when it comes to writing it all down, it just sounds pathetic. I’m pretty sure this is because we ignore all the sub-tasks for a project. For example, if I told you I added quarter round trim in my master bedroom closet it sounds a little woopie-de-doo. But if I talked about moving out the dog kennels, 16 boxes in the corner, going through all my hanging clothes and pulling out things for donation/consignment, vacuuming the floor, nailing in the baseboards again (they were too high), measuring 7 lengths of quarter round (16 cuts total), nailing it all in, crawling around on my hands and knees with the caulking gun, taping off the floor and painting it all white THEN it sounds a little bit more productive.

Often we ignore all the little tasks and then don’t do the big ones because it feels too massive to start. Here are 12 things I’ve accomplished since Jan 1st.

1. The gutters I took down in summer 2015 have been in the side yard leaning against the fence right outside my office window. Not hurting anything but I see them every day I’m working and wow they are ugly! So on Friday I moved them to the front yard. I just dumped them, unceremoniously on the grass and went about my afternoon.

Today, Saturday, I used the metal shears to cut the longest piece into 2 smaller pieces, wrapped the end in a blanket so I wouldn’t get shanked in the eye, loaded them in my car and took them to the dump. Free to drop off at the scrap metal area. Something that’s been hanging around for 18 months is gone and it only took 30 minutes but I had to do that first step of moving them out.

While we’re not quite halfway into January, I am really happy about how much I’ve been able to accomplish personally and around the house. I updated my 2017 personal goals here and I’m already making progress.

2. I set a goal to read a book a week, 2 are already done.

3. I set the goal to workout 3x a week (minimum) with my trainer, 6 sessions are complete.

4. After a fender bender in December the Yaris is going into the shop for bodywork. I’ve cleaned most everything out and will be restocking the trunk with my emergency supplies when it returns. As soon as I get it back it goes to the dealer for a recall on the airbags. I’ve also got a new air filter to replace and 4 new hubcaps since mine are cracked and falling apart.

5. I started the quarter round trim the first week of January, adding 5 pieces of baseboard to the living room, replacing 1 piece in the hall closet + 1 more so far in the guest room. As of today the hallway, hall closet, living room, dining room and master bedroom are complete and I’ve started caulk and tape in the master bedroom closet. By my count that’s 41 lengths of quarter round so far done and another 13 in the guest room and 13 in the office.

6. The final in-house light was added this week with a can light above the guest bathtub. It’s pretty small but makes a big difference in lighting in this darker corner of the bathroom. There are drawbacks to having no windows in these rooms!

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7. Outside – With a break in the rain I’ve caught up on a few of the outdoor chores, namely dumping buckets of water so I don’t end up living in mosquito heaven this spring. I mowed the front lawn which is coming back with a vengeance with all this rain and already mentioned taking in the gutters to the dump. Since it’s January I’m now cutting back the rose bushes and want to pull out most of the bougainvillea which has grown too wild in the side yard and is a constant mess. The dirt from the front yard where we took out a tree still needs to be evened out, when it’s dry enough I’ll keep shoveling that into the backyard and flower beds.

8. Christmas decor is all packed up again and I found a number of items I could donate. Additionally, I put all the ornaments in smaller bankers boxes so they fit easily at the top of my master bedroom closet. This freed up a lot of room in the garage.

9. I’d picked up a bottle of wine for a friend from college who got married last year and got that sent off in the mail last week.

10. Another little win is replacing the light bulbs in the fixture in the living room. They don’t screw in and are tricky to yank out so I got that done since 2 of the 4 had burnt out. It makes a big difference in the light situation, especially during storms, and it’s hard to believe there was no overhead light here when I bought the place.

11. I found amazing deals on 2 new rugs and they were delivered last week. Until the trim is done I’m keeping them in plastic but once I finish painting trim I’ll be rolling them out in the living room and office.

12. Finally, I’ve started working with a charity that I support here in town to sew burp rags (shared some of them here) throughout the year. That required pulling out the stash of fabric I already had, matching it up, purchasing new fabric to match and then 18 new yards of fabric to get the number that I agreed to create. All the fabric is in a big bin in the living room and once I get started on trim in the guest room I’ll pull the sewing machine out. While I would love to get started, this really is a perfect rainy day project so I’m focusing on the outdoor stuff while the weather is nice and then will switch back to sewing when the rain comes back.

 

2017 House Goals

Looking forward to 2017 there are a lot of things I need to get done, some things I would like to get done and a bunch I would love to get done if I win the lottery. I’m breaking them up into tasks by room like I did in 2016 to help keep me focused on what needs to happen around here.

My travel schedule is filling up for the new year so I know that the weeks I am home I’ll need to make the most of my time and getting these projects done.

The kitchen:

  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • fix or replace garbage disposal
  • remove the pull out trash can

If budget allows:

  • Replace the stove/oven
  • Replace (3) windows
    • Trim windows inside and out

The dining room:

  • Install bookshelf
  • Add lighting to bookshelf
  • Fix chain on hanging light
  • touch up wall paint

The living room:

  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Get fireplace working
  • Replace window
  • Trim window inside and out
  • Hang new shade in window

The guest bath:

  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Fix transition piece
  • Touch up wall paint

If budget allows:

  • Re-tile around bathtub
  • Replace bathtub fixtures

The office:

  • Touch up wall paint
  • Replace damaged drywall on ceiling
  • Finish off closet shelves
  • Replace window
  • Trim window inside and out

The guest room:

  • Hang rod in closet for curtains
  • Remove hooks from ceiling
  • Replace window
  • Trim window inside and out
  • Hang new shade in window

My master bedroom received a whole new bed set up and mattress but I’m still eyeing that sliding glass door.

  • Trim transition piece by back door
  • Touch up ceiling paint
  • Remove canopy and patch ceiling
  • Fix chain for hanging light

If budget allows:

  • Replace the sliding glass door
    • Trim back door

The master bathroom:

  • Remove glass door
  • Hang new shower curtain

If budget allows:

  • Replace shower floor pan
  • Re-tile shower stall
  • Replace shower fixtures

The backyard :

  • Remove 2 dead rose bushes
  • Remove corner patio
  • Replace fence boards on east side
  • Add lights to fence for night
  • Create a walkway to the side yard
  • Disassemble flower boxes on corner patio
  • Fix gutter downspout
  • Build cart for table saw

The side yard:

  • Empty compost bin
  • Hang lights
  • Replace damaged siding
  • Take the old gutters in for recycling

The front yard :

  • Replace gutters and downspouts
  • Set up bricks along the fence
  • Replace mailbox and post

If budget allows:

  • Pull sprinklers
  • Pave square by front door
  • Demo sidewalk
  • Re-pour sidewalk
  • Extend fence to front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • Landscape the front yard

The garage:

  • Add overhead lights
  • Trim the window, caulk and paint it
  • Build a new box for the water heater
  • Build workbench

If budget allows:

  • Add a water softener

There are a few bigger projects that impact the whole house: 

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards
    • Hallway and hall closet
    • Office
    • Guest room
    • Master bedroom
    • Living room
    • Dining room
  • Re-caulk and paint all trim
    • Hallway and hall closet
    • Office
    • Guest room
    • Master bedroom
    • Living room
    • Dining room
  • Replace rotting facia boards on roof
  • Paint house exterior
    • back wall
    • Sideyard
    • Entryway
    • side from kitchen to garage
    • around garage door
    • up on the roof

 

First home project of 2017

While I’m still finalizing a master 2017 plan, I knew what my first project of the new year would be and began to work on it right after new years. Since it’s been raining non-stop I had to improvise my workspace and moved the miter saw into the guest bathroom in an effort to control the dust.

I started in the hallway:

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As you can see it’s lined with the Lynas runners from Ikea which are ideal because they are low to the ground and don’t cause you to trip, are cheap and clean up easily.

After picking up a ton of quarter round at Home Depot it was time to start fitting, even around that odd corner where the entryway curves in.

Note: when you’re on your hands and knees with trim and a pencil you will notice how dirty the walls are (thanks dogs!) and you will be tempted to stop everything and clean every vertical surface of your house. Resist. Install trim first, then commence with the scrub down.

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I wanted to wait to finish the baseboards and then trim until I finished the built-in so the baseboards could wrap around the whole unit.

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After installing the laminate floors throughout the house in 2015, I knew I would need to work on the trim more. After leaving gaps for the floors to expand/contract due to weather I kept having dirt and dog hair fall in the gaps and it was driving me nuts.

The process is pretty simple, just line up the trim, mark the end where it should be cut, VACUUM THE SHIT OUT OF THE FLOOR, cut the trim, install with a nail trimmer. The most time consuming part is cleaning at the baseboard, I swear.

Once it’s all installed you can return with caulk for the nail holes and joint and then paint to match the baseboard. I’ve already finished in the hallway, living room, dining room and started on the master bedroom.