Thursday, November 29, 2012


I have been terribly remiss on updating you about the goings on, but I have been busy on writing a 50,000 word novel (more on that later)...  I do have some fabulous pictures of the incredibly ugly roof the husband made for the duck pen, and also the outdoor hawk proof enclosure...

I have some pictures of the work that has begun on the office - started plastering the walls.  The husband seems to avoid this project and keeps coming up with other distractions like stringing Christmas lights and worrying about the main electrical panel and obsessing over the crooked kitchen floors and how he needs to raise them up and oh about a million other things.  He has created a bracket pattern to recreate the wooden brackets that used to be on the roof line.  I try my best to keep him on track.  I gave him a deadline, but he is so distractible.  Our friend Mick came over with trowel in hand and said, "Come on we are going mudding..." practically dragging him along by the hand and not listening to any excuses.  That's how the second coat got done.

He tried to talk to me about insulation and finishing the front, and moving the electrical service, and starting on the dining room and I stick my fingers in my ears and send him back into the office to f-o-c-u-s.  Well, okay that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

I actually am just as bad.  My friend Michele does this write a novel in a month thing called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo and I had the brilliant idea of joining her this November.  Basically, you commit to writing at least 1667 words per day during the month of November and finish a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Mind you, it's all about getting words on paper and the amazing thing is that I actually just finished it on November 29th, one day early with 50,015 words.  Now of course it needs some serious editing, plot fixes, details fleshing out in some areas and major condensing in others, before I will let anyone go near it, but the thing is done (well about as done as our house) or should I say the thing exists, in rough form, but still...

So now that I have written a novel in one month I can possibly get back to blogging.  Blogging is much easier, much shorter and much more visual!  Long live the blog!  More about the house coming soon, I promise.

[caption id="attachment_972" align="alignleft" width="120"] NoNoWriMo Winner 2012[/caption]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Duck update...

[caption id="attachment_963" align="alignnone" width="300"] Snowball and Sweetie grazing in the yard[/caption]

My friend Cora tells me that I left her hanging with the duck situation. Back in April I was complaining about our over-loved hens and over-amorous drakes... See here to catch up .

We got a new female duck, Daisy to help with the ratio, but it just made things worse...  The two males turned their attention to the new duck.  She couldn't move without one of them pinning her to the ground.  They were so mean.  It wasn't long until her neck was going bald and bleeding from duck "love" bites.

So we spent most of the summer scolding boy ducks and rotating the males from the females. It was a lot of work, we had to section off the pen and be vigilant about who we let out when. We knew this was a temporary solution because winter was coming and at some point they would all need to go in their house...together.

We decided instead of adding more hens we should subtract one drake.

We had a few offers from people to take one of our male ducks. One wanted to eat him. Another needed a companion for his other duck who had lost his partner and someone else had a big flock of drakes (no females) and we weren't sure if he would be happy there...

As it turns out, the neighbor behind us got ducks. She had four females and one male, but her male had recently died. The ducks weren't the same breed as ours (Pekin), but they were also heavy breed (big) ducks. So we dumped Nibbles over the fence and he happily became an alpha male duck to his new harem, I mean flock.  We can see him happily swimming in his pool with his new ladies.  Sweetie has been much better behaved around Daisy now. Apparently the two boys were fighting over her and neither wanted the other to win so they worked this out in true boy fashion, by beating on her.

Peace had been restored to the duck pen. Sweetie has his three girls and Daisy's neck feathers have started to grow back in. Since things were going so well we decided to go to a poultry swap and came home with two new ducks. A male/female pair. They are light weight, black east indies ducks that are iridescent green and blue in the sunlight.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="183"] Black East Indies Duck[/caption]

J named them Ana and Jones (get it - East Indy Ana - Jones). Thankfully Sweetie is not threatened by this small drake. The Pekins seem to have accepted them into the flock and while they keep a bit of a distance from the bigger ducks, they all fit comfortably in the duck house.

[caption id="attachment_957" align="alignnone" width="300"] Ana - who almost didn't make it onto the blog...and looking a bit rattled after her morning encounter with a hawk.[/caption]

Lately our biggest problem is hawks. We have a juvenile hawk that keeps attacking our ducks. This morning was the closest call we have had yet. My daughter actually saved Ana's life. She looked outside and saw a hawk next to the ducks pool (while all the ducks were in it). J ran outside yelling at the hawk. It had picked up Ana and was trying to fly away with her.

Thankfully J caught up to it in time and the hawk dropped the duck. She was unharmed, but a bit rattled. Her mate, the drake had hidden behind the pool.  Coward!  Sweetie and the other ducks just sat in the pool and watched the whole thing.  These ducks run in their house when a plane flies overhead, but they sit and watch a hawk attack.  Odd.  I believe there comments were, "well at least it's not me..."

We may have a Red Tailed hawk looking for a duck dinner.

Diet (from wikipedia

The Red-tailed Hawk is carnivorous, and an opportunistic feeder. Its diet is mainly small mammals, but it also includes birds and reptiles. Most commonly reported prey types include micegophers,voleschipmunksground squirrels and tree squirrels.[22][23] Additional prey (listed by descending likelihood of predation) include lagomorphsshrewsbatspigeonsquailcorvids, waterfowl, other raptorsreptilesfishcrustaceansinsects and earthworms.[4] They can also prey on marmotsWhite-tailed Jackrabbits, small domestic dogsdomestic cats, or female Wild Turkey, all of which are easily double the weight of most Red-tails.[4]

File:Red-tailed hawk02.jpg

It looks like we may be building an outdoor bird pen and covering it with netting to keep the ducks safe while outside in their pool - so much for free-range ducks  (sigh).

[caption id="attachment_958" align="alignnone" width="300"] the current flock - Sweetie, Snowball, Ducky, Daisy, Ana and Jones.[/caption]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The blasted door lock

I am still on my hunt for an appropriate privacy doorknob (aka way to keep out the lockers see Knockers and Lockers for full details) for the new bathroom.

We purchased one of these and thought we had a workable $7 solution...

Gatehouse 4" Oil-Rubbed Bronze Surface Bolt Set

Alas, the door is flush on the outside not inside.  I am sure there is some appropriate door lingo for this involving door jams and pre-hung doors, but I prefer to broadcast my ignorance of such things.  All I know is we would have to install this type of latch on the outside of the door which would be great for locking folks in the bathroom, but not so good at locking people out of the bathroom while it is in use...

[caption id="attachment_944" align="alignnone" width="225"] Inside of bathroom door- no way to have a flush latch.[/caption]

So we are back to the hook and eye solution  which we both decided was not ideal.

I have been scouring the Internet for some affordable, appropriate looking door knobs with privacy locks.  The issue I am running into currently is that I have a 1 1/4" width door.  New doors apparently are 1 3/8" and most of the knobs I am finding fit a 1 3/8" - 1 1/4" door.  My husband tells me that doors are like 2x4s which are no longer 2 inches by 4 inches.  He says a 1 3/8" door knob will fit fine.  I am skeptical about that other 1/8", but cannot get Google to confirm this.  So, I am ordering the door knob and hoping for the best...

I did find some nice door knobs made by Weslock at  Of course they were all back-ordered.  So now let's just hope it arrives before party time (2 weeks, three days) and that it FITS!!!

Weslock 2710I

Roof replaced check and check!

October has been a bit rainy and it has been tricky to finish up stripping and replacing the roof over the front door and the bay window on the front of the house.  I am happy to say that that project has been completed.   The old mossy shingles and metal under-layer have been scraped off.  New ice and water and shingles have been nailed down and we are ready for the winter (well as ready as we ever are...)

[caption id="attachment_934" align="alignnone" width="300"] Scraped doorway and metal roof[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_936" align="alignnone" width="225"] Man wrestles roof[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_935" align="alignnone" width="225"] one man, one sawzall [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_937" align="alignnone" width="300"] Another action shot - one that resulted in a bloody finger. Tetanus up to date?
Don't recommend trying this one at home...[/caption]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

About this summer...

I know I have been remiss about posting this summer.  To be honest, not a lot on our to-do list got done.  The Husband will tell you that he has been working all summer.  By working he means...

#1 Tending to his garden.  Have you seen this monstrosity?  Just keeps growing every year...

[caption id="attachment_907" align="alignnone" width="450"] R in the jungle with the 8' tall corn[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_910" align="alignnone" width="450"] View from the backside[/caption]

#2 Mowing the Lawn.  Every time I turn around the lawn needs to be mowed again.  Honestly, I think someone likes mowing (especially on his new lawn tractor) much better than sheet rocking.

#3 Bombing me with Tomatoes.  Seriously, this has got to stop already.  I open the fridge and gag.  There is nothing grosser than rotting tomatoes, except maybe the fruit flies they attract.  I am begging, please cut back on the tomato plants next year.  100 should be plenty.  This is so out of control someone may need an intervention... It's October - here are pictures from this morning.  Apparently we have a second fridge just for the purpose of storing tomatoes.  Oh and what is in the other fridge?  three 64 oz juice containers full of sauce.

[caption id="attachment_924" align="alignnone" width="270"] Some people keep food in their freezer. We have bags of frozen tomatoes.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_925" align="alignnone" width="225"] Drawers full of tomatoes and yup! guess what is in the pot...[/caption]

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ducky takes First Prize

House progress is moving slowly...but we did have some exciting news on the agriculture/animal front...

Ducky our female mallard, won first prize in her division for size and Nibbles won a second prize ribbon for color.  Ducky went on to the next round to win a second first prize ribbon for her class.  My son was thrilled with his prize winning ducks!  My husband won Fair Champion for largest cornstalk.  Yes he did.  My youngest son took a second place ribbon for his lego creation and my daughter scored some cool prizes playing games.  Overall it was a very fun and rewarding weekend at the Sterling Fair.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Night Scraping....

I realize that I have been on blogging hiatus for most of the summer...more on that later.  For now, here are some pictures of one of our summer priorities relating to the house...
We call it night scraping and yes it does deserve a quiet night.

[caption id="attachment_900" align="alignnone" width="225"] Scraping off about 30 years of peeling paint down to bare wood. Hours of work with the heat gun around the intricate trim.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_901" align="alignnone" width="225"] A job best done when it cools off (ha!) at night - if the moths don't get you first from the light.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_902" align="alignnone" width="225"] Finally priming scraped areas around door...[/caption]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Knockers and Lockers

My husband has a theory that when it comes to bathrooms, people are either knockers or lockers.

The knockers do not take anything for granted.  They assume that if a door is closed, someone might be in there.  These are the more considerate people of the world.  They knock, just in case.  Although most of them probably lock, they do not assume that everyone does.  The last thing they want is to walk in on someone.

The lockers assume that everyone else is a locker.  They think that everyone should be a locker.  They are armed with the mission to walk in on people to force them into becoming lockers as well.  If there is someone in there they do not want to talk to them.  They hate when knockers knock and they have to answer them.  Try the door - if it is locked - go away and don't bother me.

Then I think there is a third group - the never-lockers.  They assume that everyone is a knocker.  They never lock a door (you are lucky if they shut it) and become quite indignant if they are walked in on.

I wasn't aware of the locker/knocker/never-locker camps until we put in a new bathroom.  T wants a door that locks.  After pricing the locking, historically accurate locking door hardware (they are called privacy knobs by the way)  I was questioning the need to lock yourself into a bathroom in your own home.  With kids it just leads to the possibility of them locking themselves in.  I was under the crazy impression that if the door was shut most people would knock.

Well, we had our first test of the new bathroom during a family party a few weeks ago.  T's Mother was happy to not have to go upstairs.  Her question after "does the plumbing work" was "does the door lock?".  I said no, but it does shut (and we do have a door)...and then I thought "so that's where he gets it from".

While she was using the bathroom, two of her grandchildren walked in on her!!!  Apparently my nieces and nephews are all lockers.  Now that we have determined that most of my husband's side of the family are lockers,  I guess we do need a lock, otherwise they will be walking in on everyone.

Still, I am thinking of a simple hook and eye or sliding bolt like Amy suggested.  Simple, cheap and should keep the lockers out.

Here is the test:

The next time you are using a bathroom facility that is not inside your own home (rules tend change at home) and the door is shut - what do you do?  If you knock, well yup you are a knocker.  If you try the knob to see if it is locked (if locked you walk away and if not you open and see if anyone yells) you are a locker.  I you never lock a bathroom door no matter where you are, you are a never-locker...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The bathroom is 98.88888% done!

I admit I have been remiss in my posting and you have missed a lot!!!

Most of the bathroom trim has been installed:

[caption id="attachment_875" align="alignnone" width="225"] Trimming out the built-in shelf[/caption]

The fixtures have been hooked up!!!!

[caption id="attachment_876" align="alignnone" width="225"] My favorite plumber in action...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_877" align="alignnone" width="225"] The long-awaited second toilet![/caption]

The wallpaper is done! My good friend Pam came over to lend her expertise. Everyone needs friend like Pam. She can do anything. She is famous for changing her own oil while pregnant and for refinishing her attic mostly by herself. She can wield a tape measure and razor knife like nobody's business. She actually volunteered to help me (phew!) and was so into it came back the next day to get me around the final corner. Don't kid yourself, the bathroom is small, but just about every piece we had to custom cut around the door, window, built-in, slanted ceiling, etc.

[caption id="attachment_878" align="alignnone" width="225"] Pammy in action. She makes it look so easy![/caption]

It looks beautiful though, doesn't it?! I love the wallpaper and think it really makes the room.

[caption id="attachment_880" align="alignnone" width="225"] Isn't it gorgeous![/caption]

We just have to finish painting the rest of the trim and then sand and paint the door. Oh and then get the electrician back to turn on the power. Sooo close to having one of the most important rooms done!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bathroom is primed...

T has been working hard on finishing up the wood trim in the bathroom. He is concentrating on the lower walls so that we can install the fixtures, toilet and sink (dare I put this in writing) on Friday. Yes, we are possibly two short (okay maybe long) days away from a functioning second bathroom!

I went to the hardware store and had the fun task of picking out trim paint. There are way too many shades of white. I thought I was buying Benjamin Moore Antique White, but ended up with Linen White instead. I had to take the chips outside into natural light to get a better sense of the colors.

I was quite shocked to find that price of paint had almost doubled since the last time I had purchased some. I paid $48 for one gallon of interior semi-gloss. I remember when not so long ago, you could paint an entire room for that.

The bathroom woodwork was primed last night and the first coat of paint will be going on tonight. My four-year old has taken over the heckling for me, he recently told my husband that "every morning I look in there [new bathroom] and nothing is different". It's funny to think that he is inspecting the work going on in there, but he was excited to come down this morning and find it all painted white.

Keep your fingers crossed!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Old Door

[caption id="attachment_861" align="alignleft" width="225"] Starting to look like a real room...[/caption]

For the past two nights T has been leveling and fussing with installing the bathroom door and door frame.

This is the same door that we removed from the office room when it was a closet.  We basically moved it around the corner into the hallway for the bathroom.

There is something to be said for pre-hung new doors.  They are straight for one...  T has been using the level and shims to try to get it to align and close properly.

He has it seated in there pretty well, but realized that the top corner is warped and also  critter chewed.  He asked me if I was SURE I DIDN'T WANT A NEW DOOR.  No way Jose, the thing about an old house is that it is old.  You take it with all the quirks, dings, warps, etc.  When we are done I want it to look like it belongs in an old house.  So the top corner will stick out a bit, but we will call that character.

Now I have been tasked with trying to find a door knob.  He wants to be able to lock it from the inside.  This sounds easy in theory, but of course all the ones I like are too expensive and then I have to worry about it matching the other door that is near it...   At least we now have a door on the bathroom and you can close it!

Link to Pinterest Board on Door Knobs

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Selecting Door and Window Casings

One of the big decisions we have to make before moving forward on the bathroom is what are we going to use for trim.  We need to put casings around the door and windows and create a sill and put up baseboard moulding before wainscoting.  Whatever we decide to use in the new bathroom we plan to replicate throughout the house.

We spent about two hours at Lowe's exploring options and pricing out materials.  We came home with plinths and bulls eyes and then changed our mind and brought it all back...

You can click on the image below to read about all the great trim terminology and see some nice photographs of antique home woodwork:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="576"] What we are NOT using... photo compliments of Le Beau Paon Victorien Blog[/caption]

The doors and windows in our entire farmhouse have very simple casings, just straight boards really.

[caption id="attachment_849" align="alignnone" width="242"] Plain straight door trim painted an unfortunate navy blue[/caption]

We decided to replicate something similar and plan to add a decorative top cap which will dress them up a little bit.  Everything will be painted antique white when we are done.  Here are some photos from a friend's house that was built during a similar era that we plan to replicate:

[caption id="attachment_850" align="alignleft" width="157"] This is what the trim in our house looks like around each door. Some have been stripped and stained, some are painted green and others navy blue.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_851" align="alignnone" width="136"] See what a difference that top moulding makes![/caption]

Buried Treasure

[caption id="attachment_838" align="alignleft" width="112"] The one cool thing we have found in the yard...[/caption]

I realize it has been awhile since I have posted any progress information.  Truth be told, we took a vacation and escaped to Florida for a nice little break.  It is a slow adjustment from vacation mode to real life and we are slowly getting back into the project zone.

April was burn month and we managed to squeeze in four burn days.  Every year we plan to reclaim a bit more of the yard and battle the poison ivy and brambles.  We have uncovered some trash dumps where a previous owner apparently disposed of many plastic bags full of cat litter.  We have also found broken milk bottles, metal fencing, black trash bags, a rusty fan, metal pipes, and various other treasures.

When the garage came down they also buried it in the yard, windows and all.  Every time it rains, pieces of glass come to the surface.  I am not sure what we are going to do about that, but for now we have enough other projects on our hands to worry about...

It's May and burning season is now over. We are turning back to the bathroom.  Here are some photographs on the progress we are making with the yard.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bathroom Update...

Here are some more bathroom progress photos to keep you up-to-date.  We have been distracted by burn season (we only have until May 1st and there have been a lot of days that they didn't let us burn things)...  Next we go on vacation... but, sometime after that there might be some more news.

The walls are now primed and ready for wainscoting and trim.  We spent two hours at Lowe's discussing trim options and pricing (great fun)...  Whatever we choose we need to repeat throughout the house.  I am still not sure we made the right choice and may go back again for more fun...

Someone promised me the bathroom would be ready by June.  Nope, didn't get that in writing...


Thursday, April 5, 2012

SWD ISO SWD to share SMD affections

We started the week off on a duck hunt.  We let out four ducks and when we went to put them back in their pen there were only three...  They have been wandering lately, but they always travel as a flock.  The kids and I searched all over the yard, the neighbor's yard, the pen, the stream with no luck.  I had to put two worried children on the bus while I called in late to work to make a final sweep of the perimeter.

I let the rest of the ducks back out of the pen to see if they offered any clues.  They did not seem particularly agitated.  All two males were accounted for which means that either they were not doing their job of protecting the females or that duck was around here someplace...  I finally found her in the old shed crammed in behind the hay bales.  I had to move the bales so she could squeeze out.  Apparently this is normal adult female duck spring behavior.  They go "broody" and look for someplace to make a nest to hatch their eggs.

Still, we are a little worried about this duck.  The two boy ducks have been very amorous (T has had to give them several time-outs) and she is not particularly fond of all their affections.  She is refusing to go into the pool with them and has become quite scraggly and dirty.  She is also missing a few neck feathers.  I actually took out a personal ad for her today on craigslist.  It goes something like this:
SWD (single white duck) ISO SWD to share SMD (single male duck) affections.  Wanted, a large female duck (color, breed not important) willing to endure the constant attentions of two young males and give me some peace.

We have found the ratio of two boy ducks to two girl ducks to be inadequate.  We went to Tractor Supply Company and ogled the baby chicks and ducklings.  The trouble with the ducklings is that the adult ducks will bother them (they need a mother to protect them) and we need a full-grown female NOW.  The store also had this weird MA policy that you had to buy a minimum of 24 ducklings at $4.29 each.    Last year at Klem's we only had to buy a minimum of four ducklings...

After some Internet scouring I found this: MA General Laws: Chapter 272, PartIV, TitleI, Chapter272, Section80D - Ducklings
Section 80D. No person shall sell, offer for sale, barter or give away as premiums living baby chickens, ducklings or other fowl under two months of age.

No person shall sell, offer for sale, barter, display or give away living rabbits, chickens, ducklings or other fowl which have been dyed, colored or otherwise treated so as to impart to them an artificial color.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the sale or display of baby chickens, ducklings or other fowl under two months of age by breeders or stores engaged in the business of selling for purposes of commercial breeding and raising; provided, however, that prior to May first in any year, such ducklings may be sold or purchased only in quantities of twenty-four or more.

This section shall not prohibit, however, the sale or donation of such chickens, ducklings or fowl to schools for use in classroom instruction.

Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.

Maybe since we bought our ducklings after May 1st we only had to purchase four.  I guess it makes sense, prevent people from succumbing to Easter cuteness.  But still, who is going in and dropping $117 on 24 ducklings?  You only have to buy SIX chicks by the way and honestly they are less messy and will sit contentedly in your hand.  My son's poultry obsession however only extends to ducks.

I will keep you posted on our female duck search...  I never thought I would be arranging a duck escort service.

Monday, March 26, 2012

This is getting exciting...

[caption id="attachment_811" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Grouted floor and start of green board."][/caption]

According to TOH August 2011 article called READ THIS BEFORE YOU MODEL A technically need an 11 square foot spot to fit a sink and toilet and meet national building codes.  However, that is one SMALL bathroom - they recommend an area that is 3-4 feet wide and 6-8 feet long.

Our under-the-stairs half bath is 35.5" wide (just a half-inch too small) and 71" (almost 6 feet) long.  We *almost* just make the minimum recommended dimensions.  Our ceiling (the part not sloped under the stairs is 8' high which helps it to feel a bit bigger and the door swings outward which is key (it is a big door).

Our plumber won't install our fixtures until we finish the walls, and with good reason, the sink is up against the corner and the toilet doesn't leave much clearance either.  Better to get the walls done first.

The good new is that the floor is finished and the green board is up.  The seams are taped and we are on night #2 of sanding and joint compound.  One more to go.  Then we can prime everything.

[caption id="attachment_812" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Where we hide the bodies (future site of cat bathroom, well litter box)"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_813" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Sanding and joint compound - night 2"][/caption]

The carpenter comes tomorrow to build a built-in over the toilet into the stair cavity to allow for some sort of storage space.  He is also going to build a door to access the narrow space under the stairs (behind the toilet) where we plan to put the litter box.  The door will open into the hallway and be disguised behind molding.  Yup, a secret door.  Don't worry, the door will be big enough for a child to enter and yes Harry Potter would feel right at home there...

[caption id="attachment_810" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Wall niche from TOH August 2011 page 88"][/caption]

We also decided (tonight) to add bead-board wainscoting to the lower walls.  Yup, one more step, but we both like the way it looks.

I am busy researching wall paper patterns.  I know what I want in my head and am trying to find it in reality and not pay a fortune.  Thankfully, it is a small room!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Let me Explain...

Lest any of you think I am complaining, let me elaborate on my post about the bathroom floor.

Whenever you attempt a DIY project you need to be realistic about the time estimates for completion.  Especially with an old house.  When the magazine you are reading says you can "tile a bathroom floor in a weekend"  or "about two days", do not believe it.  They give you a best-case scenario estimate and it is usually not realistic for the average DIY home owner.

For example, the two-day estimate for tiling did not take in account the following:

  • adjusting for the height difference between the hallway floor and the bathroom floor - the original purchase of 1/4" backer board - the discussions about tacking on another layer of 1/4" backer board or going back and doing one 1/2" layer

  • drive time to and from the home improvement store to pick up extra backer board, missing trowels, and something to cut tile with

  • spreading the adhesive on too thickly so that it squished up between the tiles where the grout needs to go

  • hand chiseling out the extra adhesive (about a 2 night job)

  • the tiles that popped out during the hand-chiseling that needed to be re-stuck down

  • consultation with the wife about where the floor meets the thresh hold and deciding that she might be right when she said she didn't like the idea of a gap being filled with caulking and that the tile should meet the thresh hold.

  • hand laying the edge tiles and snipping in half to make a straight edge at the thresh hold

  • having to watch three kids while tiling so the wife could go away for a weekend cruise

  • fitting the job in amongst all the other curve balls life throws you (like kid activities, social events, working late, buying a new truck, etc. )

In reality, projects are going to take a lot more time than they say they should.  Especially if you do them right.  Since you have to live with the results the extra time is worth it.

Our bathroom is coming along and no one is happier about that than me.  My wonderful husband has logged many hours in there and I am very grateful that his is willing to do the work.  He threw out his back last week and there were some very scary moments of "uh what do we do?"  Thankfully he is feeling better and ready to take on the next stage of our never-ending to-do list.  Stay tuned...

Elusive Tooth Fairy

We have  a big problem in our house with the tooth fairy.  She has been very delinquent in her duties lately.  My 10 year old's tooth fell out in gym.  It was so loose it basically jumped out of his mouth when he caught a ball.  The school nurse put it in a little plastic chest, taped it shut and sent him back to class.  When he arrived home he showed us his tooth and dutifully put it in the tooth fairy pillow.

Then he waited, and waited.  He waited so long he forgot to check each morning to see if she had come yet.  After about a week he said, "Mom, the tooth fairy still hasn't come".  I asked him if he had done anything to make her angry.  He said "I don't think so..."

So where is she and where has she been?  Maybe now that he is 10 he is at the bottom of her list and she is busy the younger kid's teeth...   I asked the kids where they thought she might be, but they had no idea.  We were wondering if she booked a flight on Direct Air and was stuck in Florida (badda-bing).

Finally after nine days, she showed up and left a $5 bill.  I think it was guilt money or perhaps your tooth accrues interest every day it sits and waits for her...

What is up with the tooth fairy anyway?  I can't find a picture of her online and even Wikipedia has little information.  The section on her origins starts with a note that "this section needs expansion".

Just what does she do with all those teeth anyway?  According to the Internet, these are possible scenarios for what the tooth fairy does with teeth:

  • collected, neatly labeled and filed away in a museum-like castle

  • put in special boxes and used for building things

  • ground up to make fairy dust

  • boiled until soft and make sugar puffs (???)

  • put in spray cans (that thing that rattles, that's a tooth)

  • donated to people who are missing teeth

  • made into new teeth for babies

  • put into the sky and become stars

  • planted and grow flowers

I don't know about you, but I will never feel the same about a can of spray paint...

I found a plastic day of the week pill dispenser in the top drawer of my husband's dresser filled not with pills, but baby teeth.  So I think I know what she does with them in my house.  The bigger mystery perhaps is what does HE do with them...

There also is a big discrepancy from one house to the next.  Fairies seem to make up their own rules - the amount of money differs, some only leave coins and silver dollars, some spill glitter everywhere.  My daughter learned on the bus that if you leave a cup of water by your bed she will dunk her wand and the water will change color...

Our theory is that there are many tooth fairies assigned to different families.  We just so happen to have a cheap, forgetful one :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This would almost be funny...

if we weren't booked to fly during April vacation.  Ever get the feeling that the Worcester airport is a lost cause - good in theory, but the reality falls short every time...

Worcester Telegram - Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Uncertainty continues over Direct Air flights

Direct Air, the only passenger airline serving Worcester Regional Airport, abruptly canceled all its flights yesterday at the peak of college's spring break, leaving stranded passengers wondering how and when they'll get home. In a brief statement this afternoon, the South Carolina-based airline said "operational matters" forced it to suspend service until May 15.

"We are currently evaluating strategic alternatives for Direct Air," the company wrote. The airline did not specifically say it would resume flying after May 15.

For people who have purchased tickets from Direct Air, the company said: "Passengers holding reservations for Direct Air flights departing between Tuesday, March 13, 2012 and Tuesday, May 15, 2012 are directed to contact their credit card company to arrange for a refund."

The airline apparently ran short on money to pay for fuel. Direct Air's marketing manager Ed Warneck told The Sun News in South Carolina that the airline missed a fuel payment and the fuel supplier cut it off. That left it no choice but to ground its fleet.

...need I say more?  You can click on the link to read the full saga and don't forget to check out the comments.  Lots of happy customers out there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bad news for you...

I was somehow possessed with the mad idea to join the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) for March, which means I committed to posting once a day for the entire month.  I have no idea what I was thinking and  if I can come up with enough content every day to not bore you.  If I run out of things to write about I guess I can always take some pictures.

I am already failing my goal, since I took off to the Bahamas for the weekend and the satellite Internet connection on the cruise ship cost money and did not allow uploading or downloading photos.  Oh well.  Set the bar high.

Anyway, I just wanted to warn you that my activity level may increase this month, so be prepared.   I leave you with one of my favorite photos from my trip:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bathroom floor


Good news...I came home to a tiled floor! It still needs to be grouted, but progress is being made.

BTW this it the formula for calculating how much time it takes to complete a project:

what they tell you * 4 + 5 (days)

So realistically, the two-day bathroom floor job should take:

2 days * 4 = 8 days + 5 days = 13 days

See, right on schedule...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Small Bathroom News

It's good new this time, really!  The basement posts are finished and the bathroom can commence.


The sub floor has been screwed down, the thin set troweled on and the backer board screwed down over the wet thinset so the board adheres to the subfloor as it dries. The screws serve to tighten the board into the thinset.

[caption id="attachment_760" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="First Layer of Thin Set"][/caption]

Now we are ready to lay out the tile and then thin set that in place over the backer board, then grout. I caught my daughter in there stroking the tile (it is glazed and very smooth) and exclaiming that it was the same tile as our bathroom in our previous house. It is actually.

The husband said the tile will be done upon my return (I am going away for the weekend). We shall see... I heard him complaining (to himself) that he would rather deal with insulation or dig holes in the basement than tile. Perhaps, THAT partially explains the delay...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

That's How We Roll

[caption id="attachment_740" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Snow Chair with Cup Holders and Snow Eggs"][/caption]

Wouldn't you know it, the day I am supposed to leave the airport we get hit with a winter storm.  Not including the freak October nor'easter, I think this is the first significant snowfall this winter.  After the dry, green winter we have had the timing is just perfect.  Perhaps the universe is conspiring against more than just my house...  Hmmm...

Anyway, school was canceled and the husband left early for work.  I called in late and after confirming with a baby sitter so I could get to work, I realized that I had to deal with the driveway.

Our driveway is much longer now and is not paved so you get the added fun of scooping up snow and dirt.  It doesn't melt as quickly either as on black top and forget about bouncing a basketball.

The snow is wet and dense, great for snow forts, bad for shoveling.  Unfortunately small temperamental engines are not my forte either so the snow blower is out, but I know how to wield a shovel.  After about 20 minutes though I started getting tired and sweaty in my work clothes so I called the kids over to help.  This is their idea for "shoveling" the driveway.  What do you know, it worked!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

police log - bugs

I just could not resist sharing this with you all...

From The Item, February 24, 2012 Sterling Police Log


Thursday, Feb. 16

6:33 a.m., person is petrified of a long wiggly bug in her closet, transferred call to animal control.  It was recommended using a vacuum cleaner to remove it, but she didn't want to go near it.  An officer will assist when available.  The bug was not found and she will call if it returns.

Wow.  It never would have occurred to me to call the police on a bug.   It's a bug, not a criminal.  I have yet to meet one that can best the shoe - just step on the wiggly thing already.  If you have to be all girly about it, get your cat or call your husband/boyfriend/ son/ male neighbor/brave girl friend to rescue you from the scary bug, but leave the police alone.

We have been seeing stink bugs in J's room lately.  At least I think they are stink bugs.  I had to look up the scoop on the name and apparently if you surprise them they make a stinky smell.  Hmm..I know some people who do that.  I am going to put the 10-year-old scientist on the task of scaring a bug to make it stink and report back to you.  To think some people call the police instead.  Shameless.

Did you know that you can go to What's That Bug and submit a picture of your bug and they will tell you what it is?  I love the Internet!  Check out your scary closet bugs at What's That Bug?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dinner and Hammer Drills...

[caption id="attachment_780" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="Bring it on!"][/caption]

Good news, the basement supporting post project has begun!

On Sunday we had some friends over for dinner and after dessert we decided to go down in the basement and take turns with the hammer drill.  What??!!  Well what do you do on a Sunday night?

On the menu:

  • Chicken Cacciatore

  • Roasted orange veggies (butternut squash and sweet potatoes)

  • Salad with roasted beets, goat cheese and walnuts

  • Shortbread cookies with whipped cream

AND a trip to the basement to hammer through concrete.  Woo-hoo! Forget Wii dancing, you need a basement dinner party

Click here to view the exciting anatomy of a hammer drill

[caption id="attachment_725" align="alignleft" width="134" caption="Putting my $5 clearance disco ball to good use!"]Target Disco Ball[/caption]

Oh and did I mention that while the boys left to go and pick up some donated sheet rock, we girls decided to crank up the tunes and hang a disco ball in the kitchen.  Don't worry, it's still there. The sunlight hits it and it flashes all these dots all over the kitchen that really confuse my cat.  I do think everyone should have one.  My kitchen may be ugly, but hey, now it really rocks!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bathroom schmathroom...

Do you remember way back in the summer of 2010 when I said "there is no way we can live with one bathroom?!" and the consensus was that the first thing we would do would be to add another one..

Well, it has been 17 months now and wait! before you get too excited, no we still don't have another bathroom.  I would like to think we are making progress towards that goal, but we have hit yet another hurdle...

T realized that his plan to re-support the beam holding up the big metal trestle that is holding up up the house involved jacking up the hallway.  It is probably not a very smart idea to tile the bathroom floor and then jack up the wall next to it.  He has a point.

So he was in the basement today squirting fire-retardant foam insulation around the new electrical wires and I thought digging through the concrete for the cement footing to anchor the new beam to.  However, when I went down there I found this:

[caption id="attachment_658" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="What? This doesn't look bathroom related to you?"][/caption]

Apparently while foaming wires he decided that it was a good idea to rip out all the existing insulation in the basement and clean it up.  I took a very deep calming breath and said, "I am not sure I agree with your timing here.  Do you think February is a good time to take out insulation?".

He said it wasn't doing much anyway, was all mice nests and filthy.  To be fair, the way they attached the insulation was to nail strips of lath to it.  The last thing you want to do is compress bats of insulation.  Very inefficient, but still it might have been doing a little something.

[caption id="attachment_659" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The piles of lath used to hold up insulation"][/caption]

So I guess once he picks up this mess and finishes with the foam he can call the building inspector to inspect the windows, siding, and insulation.  Once that is signed off on we could start back on the bathroom, but wait! first we must fix the beam.

Oh and the very excellent news is that once he removed the insulation he found some very badly rotted sills.  OF COURSE HE DID.  Don't worry, to fix that all we have to do is replace the sill boards and rebuild the porch.  Piece of cake.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Our new kitchen...I mean truck

The truck chapter.

We got the diagnosis on the Dakota and it was not good.  Blown engine I believe is what they called it.  After weighing what it would cost to put in another one vs. what the truck was worth and the fact that we have outgrown it (my knees are on the dashboard when the kids are in the back) we decided to do some truck shopping.

We spent hours on the internet, visited three dealerships, test drove three trucks and stuffed our kids in five different vehicles.  Our criteria were simple:  four doors, 4wd, v6 engine, at least a 5.5 foot bed, sliding back window and as new with as low miles as we could afford.

I would say that I am pretty much a mid-sized truck expert by about now.  I can tell you that the best deal price-wise is a Chevy Colorado.  However, they are small (width and bed length) and have a 5 cylinder inline engine.  Just too squishy for a family of five.  The Tacoma worked, but tended to be pricy.  It also comes standard with at 5.5 foot bed and is hard to find the 6 foot bed.  The Dodge Dakotas are no longer being made and they have rust issues.  The Ford F-150 started making an eco-boost V6 engine in 2011, but they start at $38K new and it is fairly impossible to find a used one.  We didn't quite get to the Nissan Frontier.

As luck would have it, we found a 2011 Tacoma with under 8K miles on it, complete with tow package, 6 foot bed and sliding rear window.  It didn't have the cool back-up camera or temperature/compass reading on the rear view mirror, but we think we can live without that.   Honestly, the automatic windows will be treat enough.

I was hoping for a more muted shade, forest green or navy blue being my first choices.  T said he actually liked that his truck was metallic blue and easy to spot because everyone knew it was him... !!!  Well, no worries there folks because our new truck is Barcelona Red.  I had it confused with Fire Engine Red, but I was wrong.  I think we will still be able to see him coming!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Farewell to the Dodge Dakota?

The bright metallic blue, shiny, can't miss it in a crowd, should be driven by a teenage boy, truck is exhibiting a death rattle.  T is in a state of denial, but admits that when the oil light comes on (and you have oil) and the bomb-like ticking sound is a very bad sign.

[caption id="attachment_641" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Shiny metallic blue bomber"][/caption]

I have been researching the price of a new (or slightly used truck) and basically the upshot is... T will be driving around in our new kitchen.  Yup.  They cost an awfully similar amount of money...    Sigh.  Maybe we can put a table in the back and eat it in.

A shocking new find...

I mean that title literally.

[caption id="attachment_627" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Seemingly innocuous wire sticking out of wall..."][/caption]

Apparently there is this wire that sticks out of the wall, up by the ceiling, over the cabinets in the kitchen.  We've never really paid any attention to it before.  It's white, the walls are white.  We have no idea where it goes or why it is there.

Just for fun the other day T got out his wire tester and what do you's live.  Not really too surprising (except to anyone who touched it), but it is sitting next to a metal canning pot.

Yes, I realize that you do not mess with electricity and even the AC current in a wall outlet can be fatal.  I guess I am glad it is up at the ceiling and that no one has apparently touched it.  One more item for the to-do list...  Maybe also time to brush up on:  Avoiding Electrical Shocks for Dummies

Also a reminder of why we don't play with electricity...

[caption id="attachment_92" align="alignnone" width="300" caption=""I guess it was live""][/caption]

I love this photo.  Credit due to Mike Kemp/Rubberball Productions/Getty Images