Category Archives: I need help!

So This is What the House Looks Like

boxes everywhere

This is the tween's room. To be fair, the dresser for the empty drawers up front is still at my parent's and the large boxes in the background are part of a fort system, but much of what I classify as crap really does belong to him.

The house is amazing. Setting up and settling into the house? Not so much fun, but a joy nonetheless. Our move-in is a process rather than an event because we are doing most of it ourselves, bringing box after box after box from my parents’ house into ours.

I’ve been referring to much of the stuff we are moving as crap, but I’m trying to put the kabosh on that. If it’s crap, why bother bringing it over?

So I’m trying to appreciate our many possessions. At the same time, because we’ve been living with my parents for so long (over 3 years!), we’ve accumulated quite a bit since we pared down our stuff for that transition in 2008.

We must have 30 board games, 5-6 of which actually get played more than twice a year. So it’s either time to eliminate or start holding more family and friend game nights.

And our wedding crystal and fine china? As much of a virgin as I was on our wedding night. Wait, no, that’s not the right analogy. Let’s just say we’re both gently used, okay?

We have several small kitchen appliances: rice cooker, ice cream maker, bread maker, crock pot, coffee maker, but in the week or so we’ve been in the house, all have been used multiple times, so it’s just a matter of figuring out how to store these away for easy use.

That’s the issue right now, simply finding right place to keep things at least on a temporary basis. I can assure you the right place is not in boxes scattered throughout the house.

Which is why I’ve yet to share the big reveal- boxes are scattered throughout the house.

I’m not putting too many photos of our messy house online, but if you’re up for it, I am entertaining visitors and offering tours. I promise I’m working on getting the place clean and organized. I can’t wait to show it off.


Here's a similar view from back in June. We squared off the roof and bumped out the wall with the window. Larger room= larger mess. *sigh*


The Thing That Does Not Belong on the Living Room Ceiling

peeling crack in ceiling

This literally appeared overnight. Each of the peeling sides is about 3 inches long.

The thing that does not belong on the lovely, white,  freshly painted for the first time in 10 15 20 years, living room ceiling is a crack. I had just finished admiring the sheen of my clean new kitchen cabinets in the morning light when this caught my eye as I was floating dreamily out of the house.

{sound of a needle scratching a record}

Perhaps it’s a stress crack. Hello! I’m the one who’s at the cracking point, why does my ceiling get to break down first?

Or it could be one of a handful of things.

I called our painter and told him he’d need to stop over and see this. But before I went ballistic on him, I stopped over to visit my buds at the local Benjamin Moore store learn about the potential causes. You may recall that Benjamin Moore is the paint sponsor for Casa de Renovation, and I’ve been spending a lot of time at my local Epco/JC Licht Ben Moore store.

I wasn’t concerned about the Benjamin Moore paint or primer, indeed, our painter told us that we were using “the best.”  I was concerned that this crack looked like something more.

Something bad.

And expensive.

Not that I’m one for drama.

At any rate, I had a friendly informative chat with Benjamin Moore store manager. This in turn, will help me have an informed discussion with our painter and our general contractor. One of the things I really appreciate about our GC is that whenever I approach him with sort of a panicky tone, he always responds with a matter-of-fact, “Okay, let’s check this out” or “”Here’s how I will fix it the way you want.” So let’s hope that’s how this will go.

And the painter has told me he will patch it up at for free.

But I’m concerned that there is a bigger issue with the ceiling. I *might* have heard the walls whisper angrily, “Get out! Get out now!” It’s not like blood spontaneously began dripping down the walls, but as I took a closer look at the areas near the cracked portion, I got a feeling that there is a large issue at play.

Then again, what do I know about any of this? Do you have any ideas?

At least the kitchen looks nice.

I Got the Renovator Blues- Now with Video!

I am exhausted. I had no idea that given the number of workmen in and out of our house, I would be so tired and achy. This might be due in part to the fact that I stopped taking one of my arthritis meds prior to my surgery and it’s finally catching up with me. Or maybe it was the midnight shopping spree after Thanksgiving dinner (a supposedly fun thing I will never do again).  Or perhaps it was the days of nonstop fun with my kids, nieces and nephew over the holiday break. At any rate, I made a video last week but never managed to post it here. See below for even more updates!

We expected a few slow days around the house after Thanksgiving, but it’s been anything but. The tile guy that was supposed to show up this week decided to start the job early. (OMG, tile guys; I could write an entire blog about the many guys we had out to quote us–another thing that was keeping me busy in recent weeks.) And the floor guy showed up to lay down new hardwood in the bare spots.

Today the trim guy replaced our old kitchen door and trimmed several windows. The tile guy (his helper, really) laid out the kitchen floor, the drywall guy came to patch a few spots and…

(drumroll, please)

Our kitchen cabinets arrived!

There was a bit of drama when it appeared the corner unit would not fit through our front (and largest) door, but the issue turned out to be the large box, not the cabinet itself. That said, I’m not thrilled to have that piece unprotected while there’s a lot going on and a lot of workers coming and going around it.

I’ll be back soon with tales of paint colors! And tile (installed) that might not actually match our cabinets (uninstalled, but not returnable)! Stay tuned for this and more!

HGTV Magazine

image from

I received a review copy of HGTV’s new magazine a few weeks ago. It was a fun read, with coverage by and of many familiar names from TV. That said, I’d like to see a little more in-depth coverage as the magazine grows. I realize it’s supposed to provide a lot of eye candy, and it did, but I’d like a few more practical tips and detailed tutorials.

Of course, I’m so overwhelmed with plumbing and wiring and HVAC (oh, my!) that I don’t have time to ponder throw pillows right now. As much as I like our general contractor, I’d love for the Property Brothers* to burst through my door and sit me down for a screening of a 3-D rendering of my fully decorated open concept kitchen/dining room/living room. So far, the only decor decision we’ve made for the area is the color and style of pendants that will hang over the breakfast bar. And possibly the paint.

And then there’s the whole upstairs of the house….

*I’d open my doors to the Kitchen Cousins, too.


I Am SO Not Grounded

old water service


This is a blast from the past, relatively speaking, but I’m bringing it up because it’s an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Thankfully, this didn’t turn out to be as expensive as I feared.

You know the age old question about whether to vacuum before you dust or dust before your vacuum? Well, we should have questioned which to update first, our water service or our electric service.

The water service upgrade was mandated by our village code. It was a costly ($10K!) and not very sexy upgrade- the kind of thing that makes a homeowner cringe because the investment will never be recouped.

The electric service upgrade was an important piece of modernizing our home.

We did the electric upgrade first, thinking that was the most useful to the contractors who’d be coming in and out of our house with equipment that demanded a high level of power. Part of the electric upgrade included a new grounding wire leading to where the water service pipes enter the house.

So when the water service location moved as part of that upgrade (because it needed to be a certain distance from our sewage pipes, per newer codes), we were no longer grounded. The house, I mean. But I was pretty rattled, too.

The water service  location switch made the grounding location a bit closer to our new electric panel and the electrician was able to re-use the pricey grounding wire and conduit he put in place the first time he did the job. He made the switch for less than $200; I had feared the cost would be more than $1,000.

He might have given us a price break because he took pity on us. I don’t know, but I’ve been recommending him to friends and one of them has already hired him, so it’s all good.

updated new water service with copper piping

Freshly grounded with shiny new copper pipes.

First They Gutted the Kitchen, Now They’re Gutting Me

wood floor under the linoleum

The odd patch is the oak floor peeking through the bottom layer of the half-scraped linoleum

Yeah, its true. I’m going under the knife today. I’m having my gallbladder removed because, really, getting rid of unnecessary body parts is a great weight loss strategy. Maybe I can get a little nip and tuck while I’m out cold on the operating table. Ideally, the gallbladder surgery will be an outpatient procedure and I’ll be back in service by the end of the week.

Enough about me. What about the house?

The house is just a buzzing beehive of activity. It’s all coming along well, though not without it’s eyebrow raising, anxiety provoking WTF?! moments. I recently saw HGTV’s series “My first renovation,” and wow, we could have blown that episode away with a few of our surprises, but the fact is, we feel good about our contractor and (most of) his subcontractors. There haven’t been any truly awful moments, and if I had such tales, I don’t think I’d be sharing them in this public forum.

All told, things are going smoothly and we see measurable progress each day. Hooray!

Okay, there was the one day that the plumbers didn’t show up and they were the only ones scheduled to work, but I can deal with one dead day over the course of four weeks.

A few surprises.

The hallway that we first thought had a wood floor under the linoleum, then we thought it didn’t and then we realized it did? (see the photo on the right)

Well, the wood floor had been treated like a veritable pincushion- it was shot through with nails and staples throughout and was deemed unsalvageable.


You can see the floor scraped down to its supporting planks or subfloor in the top part of the image in the photo below. Easy come, easy go.


demolished hallway floor


Don’t get me started on this:

ductwork that twists and turns

Ducts that twist and turn.


My living room/dining room used to look something like this:


dining room with green carpetting

Now it looks something like this, only with dining room ceiling gone so we can add some recessed lighting and the header facing torn off because it had to be widened to accommodate a duct leading to the upstairs.


living room floor covered with construction materials

Come to think of it, the stuff in the header may have been the only major piece of ductwork I had been asked about placing. I wish we had been consulted more often. And that’s all I will say for now.

It’s all coming along!