Saturday, May 29, 2021

Replaced cast iron sewer vent

 A big uh-oh was uttered from underneath the house. I'd discovered the cast iron sewer vent had completely severed in half. Concerned that it might damage the roof, I immediately called on my friend Tommy to inquire if he knew someone who could fix this without completely wiping me out financially. The leveling guys could call any day and that was already a $4,000 job on my plate of home expense woes. 

Sure enough, he knew just the guys. $600 later it was all repaired. One less thing to worry about







See what it looked like before...


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Birds and the Bees

This endangered species of red-shouldered hawks was gettin' busy with it again for the third year in-a-row:

 


Their endeavor was quite successful:


Unfortunately, my neighbor cut the tree down.

#SorryToRuinYourDay

#ThinkBeforeYouAct

Monday, May 3, 2021

Goodbye Hanai, My little guy

My kitty, Hanai, passed today. He was the light of my life. He left quietly in his sleep, laying with his fur against my bare chest, in bed, at home with our arms wrapped around him. It was the best way any kitty could ask to go.

He fought so hard to stay alive. He has been there every single day—no matter how hard of a day it was—for over 14 years. 

We'll miss you forever, strange little guy—

Baby bear
Sugar bear
Hubba-Wubba bear, and, most of all—
Pooh Bear

* With special appreciation to Dr. Clara Scott, My Family Vet, for blessing this little guy with so many years of life. Without you, I would never have had him by my side (or on my shoulder) for so many years ❤



Thursday, October 29, 2020

New LED cabinet lighting

 The original electrical was an absolute mess in these. When I moved in, they worked great but slowly each halogen light went out. So I ran to Home Depot and bought 5 new halogen lights, put them all in, and then...

POP     -$10
POP     -$10
POP     -$10
POP     -$10
POP     -$10

                             Ouch.

So after a very dark period of time, I finally decided to tackle this project and install new LED fixtures, each with a transformer to reduce the voltage running to the fixtures. They've worked great ever since!




Sunday, October 11, 2020

110 year old piano made by Hardman, Peck & Co., distributed by Thomas Goggan & Brothers

Found this beauty for free on NextDoor. We had it moved for $250 and the tuning cost $135, but it's been a joy!!  

Only started playing a few weeks ago so forgive the hiccup at the beginning


Built by Hardman Peck and Co. (aka Hardman & Peck), circa 1910-1915 Distributed by Thomas Goggan and Bros., Houston, TX Full upright grand Was very lucky to come across this gem, which is in spectacular condition. Many thanks to the family who was so generous as to help this phenomenal instrument find a new home. This clip was taken after having it tuned by Bil Cusack of Piano from Party Animals.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

DIY lean-to storage shed

Built this lean-to addition on the side of the workshop for storing garden tools, etc. I still need to trim it out, but the overall structure is in place which will free up lots of room in my workshop. It was a fairly quick build, although mixing the cement for the concrete foundation was dreadful since we did it in the middle of Houston summer when the heat index and humidity were at annual highs. 

The foundation required us to mix 22, 40-pound bags of cement, so we broke it up into 3 sections and tackled one section each evening. We used broken pieces of concrete that came up from the sidewalk demo as the base of the foundation to lower our supply expenses. 

The backyard was cleaned up shortly after the video. We had a washing machine out back that we picked up from a neighbor's heavy trash pile. It was a comparable model to our washing machine, so we scavenged some parts from it to replace the knobs on our machine, and grabbed out some parts to store in case we need to replace a part (We obtained our washer/dryer set for $70 used, which works great but had a few parts that were starting to show signs of wear. Now it looks brand new and didn't cost a dime to upgrade using the parts machine we found). Then we stuck the parts machine out on the curb with a sign that said "Free-- for parts or scrap only" and it vanished in under 5 minutes.

Still need to finish painting the back of the house, which we'll do now that the temperatures have dropped to a bearable 80 degrees.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Surprise donation

 A surprise donation from Fernando to the Little Free Library--new solar lights!



Thursday, August 6, 2020

Researching the history of an old house

My partner and best friend of nearly 2 decades wrote this reply to a post on NextDoor. It really sums up the woes and rewards of owning an old house: 

My partner’s house (and my home) is 105 years old. I love it. To me, it’s more than a fixer-upper; it is representative of his scholastic/career achievements and sometimes I think I may have more of an emotional attachment to it than he does. I’ve seen what it was when he bought it, and the time and effort that he has put into it. I’ve also seen the signatures of the care (or lack thereof) of previous owners, and appreciate the narrative of how it’s changed through time. 

Trust me, I am no stranger to old homes— and I can tell you that they’re *huge* pains in the derrière...but worth it. 

I’ve sanded, puttied, and painted more than I ever thought I could do in a lifetime in only the past year. 

The lives that were here (like the 2nd owner that accidentally shot himself in the front room and now rests in the cemetery down the road) play into a larger picture. 

My Best has mapped out every inch of this place; researched the gas, water, and sewer lines; requested obscure documents from the city in order to determine boundary and property lines, and knows more about the layout of our neighbors’ plumbing than even they know.

 I’ve learned more about railroad right-of-ways, encroachments, and federal protection of raptor nests than your average chick. 

Old homes are not simple things.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

New air compressor

 My old air compressor had a serious malfunction. Was thrilled to get this new one, which is super quiet...
and...
on wheels!



She's having a ball

 Actually, this spider carrying her egg sac is thinking:

Ugggggghhhhhhh......



Wednesday, June 3, 2020

You know you're an old house owner when...

  1. ....the guys at the scrap metal yard are constantly astounded by the amount of aluminum siding you bring in.
  2. ....you take scrap metal to the junkyard so often that the attendants start asking how your week has been.
  3. ....you wear your respirator like a backwards baseball cap so often that you often forget to take it off for trips to the grocery store.
  4. ...earplugs are always dangling around your neck, even when you're doing the dishes.
  5. ...white t-shirts are no longer white
  6. ...you buy gloves as frequently as you buy toilet paper.
  7. ...you know the employees at the city Environmental Service Center on a first-name basis.
  8. ....the local grocery store is nicknamed "Combat Kroger."
  9. ...while removing rotten wood from the backyard, you are disappointed to find a post that no roaches came running out for you to stomp on.
  10. ...you realize that picking an exterior paint color is one of the toughest decisions you've ever made.
  11. "You have 17 extra doors, and none of them fit any of the door-frames that are missing doors in your house!" (from my blogger friend Daniel Meyer, ourvictorianbingalow.com)
  12. ...you despise people who only build new and won't even consider reusing materials.
  13. ...you wonder why people pay so much for simple things like drywall repairs
  14. ...you neglect your friends and your job just for a few extra hours to work on the house
  15. ...you're no longer petrified of crawl spaces
  16. you trade out your car for a pickup
  17. ...you start selling junk on Craigslist, just to get the few extra bucks for building materials
  18. the ladies at the salvage warehouse keep a running list of things you need
  19. priorities are set based on a) what's sparking* b) what's leaking c) what's causing you to trip all the time
    [*just kidding about the sparking part—thankfully haven't had, nor ever expect that issue to arise]
  20. you constantly find yourself saying, "yea, I was working on that but... [then X happened]"

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Go big or Go home: Tips for DIY LED landscape lighting

Lessons learned:

Big trees deserve big lights. Sounds simple, right? 

Yep, it really is that simple. I initially installed a smaller *ahmmm, cheaper* transformer and 20 watt floodlights on each tree in the backyard. I thought it looked amazing, stellar, fantastical, etc etc:

1st attempt, using a 45 watt transformer and 20 watt food lights on the trees


But you know what looks even better? BIGGER LIGHTS.






It didn't just end up like this overnight. The backyard, or backyard junkyard as I liked to call it, looked like this when I first started on it:




Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Mask shortage

 Someone donated a set of masks in the little free library during the COVID-19 mask shortage. How cool is that!??!



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Now the postal service knows how to find me


Workshop upgrades

New floor! Picked it up on sale for $65 at Northern Tool:

[x]

Installed that cute cast iron Kohler sink I bought for $60:

Added an outdoor storage cabinet that I picked up for $4 and built a little roof for it out of free materials we scavenged from heavy trash piles:





Monday, April 13, 2020

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Mouldings...mouldings EVERYWHERE!

Work in progress

I've been replacing the door casings, baseboards and window casings to better match the architectural era of the house. Luckily, I was able to find a local lumberyard that has great prices, so the materials for 42 doors and windows (which includes both the interior and exterior trim) was only $250

Took a little time to figure out how to address the 1/2" difference between the frames and the drywall, but after some trial and error, I finally found an easy solution. They've come out beautifully!





Thursday, March 26, 2020

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

How annoying.

Bought these at a local salvage warehouse.
Later realized they didn't match....


Sunday, March 1, 2020

DIY Window Restoration by the Chimney

 I finally got around to this project and it made a HUGE difference in how refreshed the exterior looks. 

BEFORE / DURING DEMOLITION:


AFTER: 










Saturday, December 14, 2019

DIY Built-in bathroom storage shelves

Now that Renee is all moved in, we needed a place to store stuff in the bathroom, so came up with a quick fix using the space where the door used to be: