Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cleaning the burners

The kitchen stove has been bugging me. The burners are caked with burnt char that has a layer of grease underneath it. So I turned to some online sleuthing to figure out how to solve this problem. Simply put each burner in a gallon freezer bag and add a 1/4 cup of ammonia. Let sit for 1-2 hours, then use a steel brush to remove the char, which will slide off like butta'.

Check out the difference between the clean burner on the right verses the others!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I picked up a Bosch dishwasher at Houston's Historic Salvage Warehouse yesterday! Surprisingly it fit in the back seat of my car with the trunk closed. Can't wait to get it installed. But for now, it will stay out in the backyard workshop until I come up with a design for the new kitchen.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bathroom Electrocution

This light is just lovely isn't it?
I especially like the exposed, ungrounded wires above the shower.

and that's not all.

What else do we have you ask? 

The light fixture is "secured" to the ceiling with 2 drywall screws at each end to form a sort of artful, janky hook dangling over the shower:

So let's add this up shall we?

Loose, untrustworthy hooks
+ ungrounded, exposed wires
+ water
something rather exciting, quite shocking, and not altogether very pleasant

Maybe I'll get around to fixing this someday.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Weeds that keep on giving

What is this awful stuff? It is taking over my lawn. It spreads out from the root like a spider web.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Clean clothes!

Picked up this washer/dryer set on Craigslist for $450. No more doing laundry in the sink!

Kitchen Hardwoods: Success!


Then mopped it all down to get any remaining goo off:

Monday, March 16, 2015


Pretty sure these are asbestos cement boards that are under the aluminum siding on the house. Underneath them is the original cladding.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kitchen Hardwoods: Finally getting somewhere

It's actually starting to look like a real kitchen again.

Those pink splotches are rock hard pigment that is a pain to scrape up. My hand is in a world of hurt right now. The index finger is stuck when I wake up in the morning and it has to be popped lose to uncurl. WTF?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Kitchen Hardwoods: Scrubbing the Goo Off the Kitchen Floors

I have been working away on the floors in the kitchen. Most of the green felt is off, so now I am cleaning the gooey brown adhesive off. To do this, I fill one bucket with hot tap water, then scrub the floor down with a sponge. A second bucket is used for squeezing out the sludge. Little by little the yellow pine is being uncovered. I find it helps to soak up the last bits of goo with a paper towel, then lay pages of the Houston Press down on the floor so that any remaining moisture that rises through the cracks when you walk across the floor is soaked up.

Here's a look at the initial process that I used for cleaning the linoleum adhesive and green felt backing off the hardwood floors.

I later modified that technique after I developed trigger finger in my right index finger. I discovered that the majority of the adhesive could come off simply by using a sponge over a larger area. This helped prevent gouges on the floor and was less painful, since using the scraper caused my hands to ache the next day.

Tiffany will be coming over later to help me work on the house, with wine of course. I’m looking forward to making more headway and we can get sucked into mindless tasks like cleaning the hardwoods, paint stripping, or painting. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kitchen Hardwoods Flooded

Midnight on a work night....
and was laying on the bed when I had an epiphany...
the washing machine must be to blame for the foul odor that had been mysteriously wafting throughout the house for the past few days. 

The w/d set was $450 on Craigslist and came with a warranty, so I figured if it was a bad pair that I'd just have them repair it or simply resell it for a small profit.

Now this thing stunk to high heaven when I first bought it. It was filled with mildew. I hadn't bothered to stick my head in it to see if it was pleasant on the nose. 

But it worked, kind of.
Not really. Apparently I bought the worst front-loaders in the history of front loaders.
<2,000 1-star reviews on the consumer reviews website.
Beware, the LG Tromm.

But I cleaned it until it didn't reek, and had been using it regularly, past the warranty expiration date, and then one day it just stopped working.

You see, I accidentally left wet laundry in it...
because it broke...

It stopped spinning, and
apparently it never drained.

So tonight I go to investigate only to find the foulest smell I've ever caught wind of.
{Well, aside from a thousand year old egg. That thing was rotten and sent me hurling into the garden with my best friend.}

Something had to be done.
So I washed the clothes in the sink (total failure, they were ruined)
and then researched online about how to drain the thing, since the house wasn't going to smell like roses with that nasty, putrid water in it.

The Sears appliance channel said to just tip it over a bucket and unscrew the cap to the drain clean-out on the front bottom left corner of the machine.

Easier said than done.
The thing weighs about 300 pounds.

But I was able to somehow manage to get it tilted up on the front corner, bucket underneath, and remove the drain cap so the water started flowing out.

Here were the floors before things got messy:

Notice the stripes of adhesive?

What the Sears repair video didn't state was that there were two small holes underneath the drain clean-out tube. It wasn't until the kitchen was partially flooded that I noticed most of the water wasn't making it into the bucket. Now the house really reeked.

But that wasn't even the worst of it.
The kitchen floor still had that water-soluble, felt-covered adhesive on it.
Suddenly, my kitchen was a slimy, sludgy, gooey, stinky mess.
and, did I mention it was midnight on a work night?

So there I was again, with a sponge and a bucket.
and a respirator
because it stunk to high heaven.

even the cats wouldn't come near.

and here's the kicker:
the gooey adhesive won't just come off with one wipe of the sponge.
it's like the wiping just never ends.

but it had to get cleaned up, immediately.
My cat has chronic renal failure
and old adhesives are known to be damaging to the kidneys.
We can't have him stepping in it then licking his paws.

The bedroom is the only room with a door to it in the house right now.
But locking him up in the bedroom with the litter box was not an option.
He'd pee on the bed out of spite.

So two and a half hours later....

there was a silver lining.
All I'll need to do to get the remaining adhesive off the kitchen hardwoods that weren't flooded
is to flood the rest of the kitchen.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sleeping Porch: Paint Stripping

Clearly this room used to be occupied by the Easter Bunny.
Just look at the holiday of colors that this room had previously been painted! I shall now forever refer to it as 'The Easter Bunny Room'

The windows had so many layers of paint built up on them that the details of the wood were not visible. 2 strippers later (hehe!):

Go back to Part I: Sleeping Porch: Paint Stripping Yuck

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Where to store the lead paint?

After filling a 5 gallon bucket with lead paint, I needed a temporary place to stow away more stripped paint, since all my buckets were in use. A little creativity led to this DIY lead paint storage bin...

DIY Drill bit organizer

So with all the renovation I've had trouble with drill bits. I've got 2 sets, each in their own box, but the sizes are different in each box. I wanted something that made it easier to go one size up or down, and that had a guide where I could determine which drill bit to use for various screw sizes.

So I came up with this little jig that holds all my drill bits in order of size. On the bottom, I used the bits to drill example holes for each size:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One helluva work truck

Some big redneck dudes were chuckling at me as I came out of Home Depot with these 12' pine boards. For the record, it's amazing what you can fit in a Mitsubishi Eclipse. The guys then came up to me laughing and remarked "Goddamn! That's one helluva work truck you got there!" after my car swallowed the boards whole. They said their truck (a Ford supercab) couldn't even fit those boards in the back without tying them over the roof.

Dani from Houston's Historic Salvage Warehouse has also commented on my cars' amazing capability to fit things in it. Together we were able to fit a full-size Bosch dishwasher in the back seat with the rear hatch completely closed!


$5 find of the day! This cute little chair came from the auto shop down the street!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vintage treasures under the house

Found this nifty vintage milk canister under the house. Westmoreland Dairy Farms was one of the milk products that used to be delivered to residents in the Houston area. The dairy farm, which was located in Bellaire, shut down in 1958, so this little find is over 50 years old! It's been perfectly preserved under the house the whole time!

My dad says he remembered the milkman delivering this exact product to his home in Bellaire back when he was a kid.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Opening the hidden Archway between the Guest Bedroom and Dining Room:

Back in December I was poking around the house trying to find out what had been changed in the layout. I discovered that it was easiest to do this by turning off all the lights and then shining a flashlight along the wall, since repairs to the drywall often left ridges where you could see something had been modified. That led to the discovery of an archway that once existed between the dining room and the guest bedroom:

So after considering whether to open this up or not, I decided to go ahead and open it. I can always close it up at a later time if I change my mind.

So first the drywall came off:

Then the frame came out:

Then the the remaining drywall came out:

Finally, the wainscotting in the dining room and the baseboards came off:

The way the hardwoods connected between the two rooms verified that the opening was original to the house:

Bathroom Wall Demo

To open up the space in the bathroom I decided to remove this partition wall. Here it is with the drywall and beadboard removed. Amazing how much more light filters through the space now.

Inside were lots of roach droppings:

Here's the gravity of the situation:

Apparently they leave these nasty fecal marks on the walls of their nesting areas: