Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Unwelcomed House Guests

I've got 99 problems...and I'll let you finish the rest of that song...

Our sweet, sweet AC repair man (who has given us a temporary respite from the heat until he can make a more permanent fix, yay 76 degrees!)  informed us of yet another issue going on in our house. Well technically outside of our house. Poor thing got stung by a wasp and told us there was a little nest we should spray.

Well off to the store we go to get some of this stuff:

Now usually I'm all for being green and staying away from chemicals but when it comes to little flying things that sting I don't mess around. Maybe once I've read some reviews about what really works but I have no intentions of spraying them with the risk of just making them angry. No sir that is not my idea of a good time.

Little did he know but there was not just one nest under our deck. I'm so glad that no one was stung before that because we have been stomping around like crazy on that thing lately. Ok, so technically since our discovery I have kind of thought it would be slightly fair for the construction workers next door to be stung when they are working at hammering away at 7AM on the weekends. Then I realize that is very cruel of me to wish such a thing on someone and I regret it (sort of).

Tim, sweet Tim, went out to spray the "one" nest and came back in reporting that he thinks he got it all but couldn't be sure because he didn't see anything. Considering how I've always seen tons of them when they've been sprayed before I went to check myself. Here is what he got:

No worries, no baby birds were hurt in this process, I checked. Although I'm pretty grossed out by all that is around the nest (aka their port-a-potty) I do feel slightly honored that they chose our deck to build their home under. In that same sense I will be removing this very soon so it does not help to rot our deck.

After I determined that was most likely where Tim chose to spray I looked a little more and found not 1, not 2 but 3 nests of these evil little creatures. I was also convinced that they were ready to attack each time I started spraying but Raid is some good stuff and makes them drop before they have time to come after me. Note: these are the after pictures. I did not wish to take the time of the wasps perched and ready for attack as I wanted first strike. And yes, I actually planned an attack strategy.

Once I sprayed I surveyed my aftermath and here is the result. Yes it is hard to see but the ground (at least under one nest) was covered by the wasps. (I didn't want to get too close for fear that they may rise up and get revenge - paranoid much?)

So that was my "brave" war against the wasps. The exterminators are coming next week and I will be asking for an extra strong application of their magical concoction.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Day, Another Excuse....

It's HOT today and I don't just mean outside. Our air went out Friday night and its been bearable all weekend...until today. Today I've been working from home and I'm sweltering. So its time to go out for dinner and into the arms of some air conditioning. Hopefully ours will be fixed soon...something about a freon leak and nitrogen testing...all over my head!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall into place

So far this year I have learned that gardening (aka simply keeping plants alive) is not an easy task. I have managed to keep a few plants thriving and some have actually grown this year. Whodathunk!

I'd like to keep these little guys alive for next year (when I can hopefully learn a little more about gardening). I have to admit that as much as I hate the cold weather I am SO ready to have a few months off of "oh my gosh is that thing dying too!"

This week I felt the first cool breeze of the fall season which has me starting to think of what needs to be done to get "winterized." We do have a few items to put in order to get ready for the wonderful winter season (blah) so here it goes!

1. Clean up the plants - As I said we've actually had some growth this year in spite of my black thumb. I need to go ahead and trim up the bushes so come springtime when they start growing again they can have a good starting point.

2. Clean up the beds - While we are in cleaning mode we might as well go ahead and clean up all of the overgrown grass, weeds and yes even the tree attempting to grow through the porch (that is one determined little booger as I've chopped it 3 times now). This activity gets us ready for #3...

3. Mulch the beds - I've heard that this works in 2 sources of magic: a. it protects the roots from both frost and heat (maybe I should've done this earlier...); b. mulch is a natural weed suppressor (again, I should've done this earlier this year...grrr). I think this will become a regular activity for our house. Yay!

4. Plant some trees - only to replace the trees I've already killed. I may even move them back a little further (and more into the sun) now that I think about it. According to multiple sites fall is the best time to plant them, wait you mean that June just in time for summer heat is a bad time? Oh my innocence/lack of research.

5. Fertilize & seed the grass - again another place to get weeds under control but I read that we should fertilize, kill weeds and seed now as well as aerate (what the heck?) so we can get some good root growth going before winter.

6. Mow the grass properly - according to the same site instruction me to fertilize and seed the grass now they say you shouldn't give your lawn a buzz cut each time you mow. Good to know. Looks like we will be raising the mower's deck to get the 2-2.5" of grass growth.

7. Prepare the mower and weed wacker for winter - we actually won't be able to do this for a little while but once the grass quits growing it will be time for a good scrubdown, draining of the gas and replacing of the oil.

8. Figure out the safest way to store the gas - Typically we store everything under the house but I'm wondering if it will freeze under there so we may just put the gas into one of our cars and let the buckets just dry out for the winter. Its not like we will be using them anyways.

9. Organize the storage below the house - I just need to hang some hooks for the weed whacker and accessories and maybe construct some bins for gloves and the like. We shall see!

10. Figure out the flaps - are they supposed to be opened or closed for winter? You know what I'm talking about, the little holes in your foundation covered in screen and able to be open or closed. I need to get that straightened out and get it done properly. Supposedly that helps with heating/cooling costs if you do it right!

11. Save the living - Yes I do actually still have some live plants in my planter boxes and I need to get some bigger pots and figure out where I will keep them for the winter. Our garage stays incredible warm so I'm thinking that would be a good spot for the little boogers. Lets see if I can keep this up through the winter.

12. Trim the branches/clean the wooded area - We have some trees that lost branches last year and although we've cleaned out a lot of the wooded area we need to finish it up to make room for what we will lose this year. Plus it will be a big help next spring.

13. Pine straw the edge of the wooded area? - I know this sounds obsessive (I am) but I feel as though it would make everything look so much more structured. I'm not saying I'm planning on putting it throughout the wooded area, just on the edge to define it a little more.

14. Seal the cracks in the holes around the foundation - We have an unfinished portion by the crawlspace door and some caulking for the air conditioner pipes is popping out a little giving a crack there. I've seen enough of Billy the exterminator to know that I don't want those because I don't want furry little critters who want a warm place to snuggle into at night. No siree Bob!

15. Make sure our gutters are clear - with as much construction as I've seen going on next door and as many nails and other objects that I have seen in our yard I think this is pretty important for us to check on. Making sure we don't have any nails, fasteners, etc is probably a pretty important task before winter weather hits (not that we get that much).

16. Make sure the excavated part of our property is fixed - Ok technically this isn't "winterizing" but it needs to be done before winter/before the house next door is finished. The way they've added the house next door is a tight fit. I understand this but they took out 2-3 of our trees and we have a festive little mud pile going on where it was once undisturbed forestry. I've been in talks with the builder but need to get everything finalized and confirmed for the replacements I'm insisting upon.

17. Insulate our outdoor faucets? - This is something I kind of remember my dad doing but I need to see if its something we should do this year to prevent frozen/busting pipes.

Whew, that's a lot but some of it is technically stuff we should've be doing already. Oops! I'm sure we will get it all done eventually!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hold Please...

This will most likely be one of the dullest posts you'll find on the web BUT here's the news: I'm working on a large improvement project and need tonight to devote some hours to that. Hopefully I can give you a great update in a few weeks so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Death Penalty

Thats is what I've regulated anything in our yard to. Death. Our poor flower boxes, deadish, I forgot to water them for about a week during the hottest part of the year. Whoops! The Creeping Jenny (yes its really called that) is doing great besides the fact that it is creeping into everyone else's space as well and killing it all off. Those Jennys, always trouble.

I don't know what happened to these guys but one is dead and the other is almost there

This guy, he died, then he came back to life, looks like he might be back to his death cycle.

The bright spot in all of this is that we have on spot in our yard that is nice and green...

Why yes those are weeds everywhere under the porch and you would be correct in the fact that we have a tree growing up through our stairs. The joys of homeownership continue...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bats in the Attic

Not really, well unless you are referring to me that is. I told you we'd get to the attic and here we are, not too much to see!

All we really have up here (for now) are a few sparse Christmas decorations. I've got big plans for lots more though, yay shopping!

Things we have left to do here:

1. Shelving, lots and lots of shelving - As you can kind of see by the 2nd picture, we have 2 little nooks which would have easy shelf installation but I'd LOVE to add some shelves along the wall to the right in the top picture. This way I can put everything into clear labeled boxes and line the shelves with them so I can find objects easily, oh joy! I love labeled and processed things, they make me so happy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

1 Flush, 2 Flush, Red Flush, Blue Flush

Ok so this post will be a to be continued....here is the deal. I wanted to "go green" and install a dual-flush system on our master bathroom toilet. Supposedly it saves you some money and with how high our water bills have been recently I'll take what I can get!

I went to our trusty Home Depot and got the Hydro-Right Dual Flush Converter for the bargain price of $20 awhile ago and finally got up the guts and ambition to install it on Saturday morning. I got up and was eager to go to work. Took my "before" picture...

...removed the lid and got ready to got to work.

Ok, everything looks pretty normal until I'm reading the directions and realize that the flapper thingy that covers the hole is supposed to be a separate piece from the tube thing according to their directions so that their big piece can attach (right under the silver button)...and we don't have one. Dang.

A good bit of googling later (let me tell you how easy that is when you don't know the name of the parts...) and I discover that we have a "Mansfield Valve." Sounds like something from the 20s right? In order to install the dual-flush I need a Douglas Valve. So far from everything I've read it looks as though you have to remove the tank...ummm no thanks.

I'm going to confer with the dad and will get back to you on the validity of this experiment. So far the DIY gods are just laughing down upon me. Oh well, another day, another project...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Skeletons in the Closets

One of the incredibly awesome things about our house is that we have TONS of closet space.

You've already seen the closets in the bedrooms but in case you forgot, here are some references:

Master Bedroom - King of the Throne
Bedroom #2 - Be Our Guest: Part 1
Bedroom #3 - Be Our Guest: Part 2

You've also seen the "closet" aka my mini-office under the stairs: Micro-Management 

We also have a closet (aka pantry) in the kitchen:

A coat closet in one hallway of doors (Behind Door Number....):

Two closets in the other hallway of doors (How about another hallway? Some more doors?):

And on top of all of that we have a walk-in attic (that is for another day), what lucky ducks are we?

I don't have too many edits to the closets but I do have a few!

 Things we have left to do here:

 1. Get the pantry more organized - I just want it to become more accessible. Right now you have to remove so much to get to anything  and I'd love to have the pantry not be something I grimace everytime its opened. I'll be honest, it will never look like this but something in-between would be great!

 2. Add some shelving to the bottom of the coat closet - Although right now this holds our vacuum and the pup's food container I can find a new place for those if I could just get some good storage for hats, gloves, scarves and the like. All of their floating around drives me batty!

3. Put in wood shelving in the smaller of the upstairs closet - Typically I love the wire shelving but its killing me with how it shreds our towels so out with the old and in with the new. I may even add a few baskets for washcloths and the like.

4. Put in something in the larger upstairs closet - We've got piles of suitcases and blankets and we really do actually use all of them. Honest! This closet would be perfect for them if everything wasn't spilling all over everything else all the time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things....

or stores... These are my go-to for shopping, whether it is brick and mortar, outlet or internet, these are my friends and at times (aka when funds are low and there are so many tempting items) my worst enemies.

Ballard Designs - 

Company C -

Crate & Barrel -

Garnet Hill - 

Home Decorators - 

Horchow -

Ikea - 

Meijer - 

Pier 1 - 

Pottery Barn - 

Restoration Hardware - 

Two's Company - 

West Elm -

Z Gallerie -

Are there any stores out there that you guys like that I should be aware of?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's a Man Thing.

When we planned out the house we knew that we eventually would have kids and we'd want a playroom for them and that Tim would need a playroom of his own at some point as well. We went ahead and got the room ready for electricity and plumbing and it was even sheet-rocked so all we have to do is tape, mud, prime and paint and the walls will be finished. We need to add some flooring, I haven't decided if I want to do carpet or something else that might hold up a little better with a husband and future kiddos. Don't really know what the something would be though....and finally we will need to decorate it which shouldn't be too hard with all of the baseball, golf and other sports paraphernalia that Tim's got.

Here's a look at what it looks like right now. Please excuse the disaster of junk everywhere.

In this corner we plan to have a roll-down movie screen and an projector aiming onto it (long-term goals here people).

Over in this corner we are planning to put our current dining table, refresher here at Eat, Drink and Be Merry and convert it into a poker table. I originally thought we'd leave it as is but I'm thinking we could change out the tabletop for a customized poker top. Here come the paintbrushes, felt and staple gun, well after we get a replacement dining table of course.

I would love, repeat LOVE, to fill this back wall with bookshelves, you see I'm quite the little bookworm and love the look of rows and rows of books. Tim even did a little math and figured out that I read about 1.78 pages per minute. We laughed for quite a while after he told me that one around midnight one night. My parents are talking of redoing their den and getting rid of the beautiful solid wood bookshelves in there. I may just have to see if I could talk Tim into letting me take those over and putting them up in here.

Although right now its full of boxes, this corner is slated to hold Tim's pride & joy, a wet bar. We have some plans to get that built up once we get the bookshelves, see Self-Control of the Remote Control. I have to admit that it will be pretty neat and convenient to hold a mini-fridge and microwave for some drinks and popcorn and of course my Junior Mints without having to run back downstairs.

Ok so technically I've already done this throughout this entire post but just to keep it all going succinctly...

Things we have left to do here:

1. Paint the room - I'm thinking of a perhaps putting in a pewter/gunmetal color. It would help all of Tim's college baseball stuff really pop of the walls.

2. Blackout the windows - I want to put some long velvet drapes, maybe in a garnet color, to either side of the double window and to one side of the single window with some blackout fabric on the reverse to make this room as dark as possible in order to watch movies easily even in the middle of the day. I'd love to find one of those tracks that you can hide in the ceiling but if not we can just put some pretty molding in front so the track can't be seen. Regardless they have to pool up at the bottom like an old movie theatre's would.

3. Get some furniture - Ok technically we need to get furniture downstairs in order to get furniture up here as we are going to move the couches up here once we get our sweet new sectional (again see Self-Control of the Remote Control for a refresher)