The First Fire of the Season

Yesterday was Thanksgiving – it also happened to be the first day cold enough to have our first fire of the season – nice!

First Fire

We had it going for most of the day and evening.

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Creative Parking

Here’s a photo of some creative parking we saw when we dropped our daughter off for her afternoon class the other day.

Creative parking

While this person obviously knew better than to park in one of the handicapped spaces, they apparently thought it was OK to squeeze in BETWEEN the two spaces. Too funny!

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One morning a few months ago, someone knocked on our door at 9:00 a.m. First of all, a note to any potential door knockers out there…when’s it’s summertime, do NOT knock on our door at 9:00 a.m. Our kid is on school break and we’re retired, so you will be rousting some grumpy person out of bed. (On this particular day, that grumpy person was me.) Try 12:00 p.m. or later as a safe time to knock.

I managed to remember to turn off the alarm before I yanked open the front door.
A guy wanted to know if we wanted a really tall palm tree in our front yard trimmed. It is so tall, that we have to hire someone to shinny up to the top every now and then to trim off all the dead fronds.

When I asked how much, he said, “$55.” I told him that the last guy had trimmed it for $35. He said, “I’ll do it for $35. I need the work.” I had a brief William Shatner moment.

PricelineNegotiator Source

Then I opened my mouth and squandered away my savings. “Well, let me check with my husband…we’ve actually been thinking we may take the tree down since it’s so close to the house.” Well, the guy didn’t waste a nanosecond…”I’ll take it down for you for $125 – that includes sawing it up and stacking it by the curb for yard waste.”

After a quick consultation with a sleepy Jim, we decided to have the guy take the tree down. It was extremely close to the corner of the garage, and we didn’t want a storm to blow it down onto the house. Plus it was just so darned tall, it belonged next to a mall, not a 1980’s ranch. So the guys went to work.

They tied a rope high up on the trunk.

Tree 1

One guy cut the trunk down low, while the other guy pulled the rope to direct the fall.

Tree 2

Tree 3

Once it was down across our neighbors’ driveway (which the tree guys had fortunately cleared with the neighbors beforehand), they got it all sawed up with lightning speed.

Tree 4

Tree 5

Tree 6

I was a little worried at all the debris scattered across my neighbors’ driveway, but the tree guys got out a blower without me asking and tidied up the entire mess.

Now all that’s left is a little stump, which we (by “we” I mean Jim) can chop up in a nice afternoon project.

Tree 1

And our roof is safe from any tree damage from any future hurricanes.

Tree 2

And most important of all, everyone now knows not to knock on our door before 12:00 p.m. ZZZzzzzz

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Drywall in the Walk-in Pantry

By moving our pantry a la rednecque, we had cleared out the area where our future walk-in pantry will be located. Jim had already studded in the walls, but the inside of the pantry was totally unfinished.

East wall

South wall

West wall

North wall


Jim had many hours of work to do, just to get the pantry ready so that he could start work on the shelves. Also, in the middle of the drywall work, we were so very rudely interrupted by the great flood in our master bathroom. So all of the work you’re about to see took a while.


Drywall 1

Drywall 2

Drywall 3

Drywall 5

Drywall 6

Pantry floor

Now the room was ready for some shelves, which is what Jim’s working on at the moment. I’ll share his progress in a future post!

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Moving the Pantry a la Rednecque

Jim decided that after he had lengthened the wall in the family room/kitchen, it was time to work on our new walk-in pantry. Yes, in an amazing feat of engineering, Jim is creating a walk-in pantry where there once was none. I am deliriously happy because there’s no room I like more than a walk-in pantry. A small reach-in closet pantry is a sad thing, while a cabinet-style pantry is just Prozac-sad.

Now, since our little sad closet pantry got demo’d, we have been living with what I like to refer to as our Pantry a la Rednecque…two folding tables stacked one on top of another.  We also screwed a couple of upper cabinets to some exposed studs, so that we could have storage for glassware, vitamins and meds.  Quite classy, I must say.

Now that Jim was going to work on the walk-in pantry, we had to find a spot to relocate the rednecque pantry.  We settled on the area in the little den, where Jim had recently knocked down a concrete wall.

We first moved the Prozac-sad little cabinet pantry.  Then we set up our dining table and covered it with a moving pad.

Rednecque Pantry 1

Next we unscrewed the two upper cabinets from the exposed studs and placed them on top of the padded table.

Recnecque Pantry 2

Then it was time to take EVERYTHING off the double-stacked tables, move and restack the tables, and then reload them.

Recnecque Pantry 3

We stuffed a dog bed underneath the bottom table, just to be extra efficient in using our space. On the back side of the tables, we put up a screen so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate everytime I walked into the family room.

Recnecque Pantry 4

After our rednecque pantry was installed in its new location, Jim was ready to tackle the walk-in pantry…more on that in a future post!

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The Balloon Animal

In my last post, I mentioned that you should ignore the pile of balloons in the background of my pictures, and that I would explain them in a future post.  Well, here is the promised explanation.

For K’s 18th birthday party, we made a huge arrangement of balloons to put in front of the fireplace – in case you can’t tell, it’s supposed to be an “18”.

Balloon 18

We tend to leave our decorations up for weeks – hey, when you work that hard on making an “18” out of balloons, you want to get your money’s worth of enjoyment out of them!

Over 2 month’s time, the 18 has collapsed into a heap of balloons on the hearth. Now, the hearth rug has always been a favorite hangout spot for our Pekingese Angel. She was at first a little miffed at the balloons hogging her space. She would approach cautiously and try to nose her way onto the rug, and back off in fear as the whole pile jiggled at her.

Eventually, though, she came to embrace the jiggly pile of balloons. She worked her way underneath and sat happily, cocooned in her balloon cave.

Angel's Balloon Cave 1

Angel's Balloon Cave 2

Angel is now fully attached to the pile of balloons, and we think we’ll have to replace them when they finally wither away. She roots her way under the pile for a nap. Occasionally she digs at the rug (you know, a futile attempt to fluff something that can’t be fluffed) and the whole pile shakes and makes an interesting whooshing noise.

A little footnote to the story…as I tried to get a good shot of Angel, I was down on the floor on my belly like no 58-year-old out-of-shape woman should be. The cat, of course, had to immediately come up and try to head butt the camera. I took a shot of her, which she didn’t care for…she looks like she’s auditioning for the lead role in “Grumpy Cat – The Movie”.


Gotta love your critters!

Making your own balloon numbers is easy! Just get some balloon decorating strips and a pile of latex balloons!

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But Which Way Are Their Heads Pointing?

We have a system in our renovations around here – I make the design decisions and Jim does all the work.  It works out pretty well that way.  For me anyway.

A big problem with this is that I have a total lack of ability to visualize ANYTHING.  Jim will have a great idea and describe it to me in vivid detail, and he’s rewarded with a vacant look on my face.  This most recently happened when it came time to make a decision about the shelves which are going into our new walk-in pantry.

Jim’s going to build several individual open cabinet-style sets of shelves and put them side by side around the perimeter of the pantry.  Like this.


He’s going to trim out the seams between the units with a vertical piece of MDF with a nice routed edge on it.  He’s also going to put a piece of trim across the front edge of each shelf for extra stability.  That piece of trim is going to have the top edge rounded over.

Now, here is the decision Jim needed…he needed to know exactly how I wanted the front edge of the shelves and the back edge of the vertical trim to meet. As he did his best to explain the various ways that this could be done, I could feel his words skidding through my brain without stopping, while a little niggling part of my brain was telling me to go find some chocolate. He would pause after explaining an option and wait for my response, which was always some variation of “But what exactly will it look like where the shelf touches the trim?”

Our 18-year-old was listening to this exchange and finally said, “Mom, this is like the conversation you had with Mamaw one time about the space shuttle and she kept asking you, “But which way are their heads pointing?” ”


Apparently a few years back, I had been talking on the phone with my mom and we were discussing the space shuttle on the launch pad. (Don’t ask me why – I have no idea.) She wanted to know if the astronauts’ heads were pointing up or down at lift off. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Well, they’re not pointing up or down. They’re strapped into their seats, so they’re lying flat on their backs.”

Mom: “But which way are their heads pointing?”

Me: “Well, they’re just laying on their backs, so they’re kind of pointing out to the side.”

Mom: “But are their heads pointing up or down?”


Mom: “But which way are their heads pointing?”

I could NOT get her to visualize what I was trying to tell her, and I think she forever wondered whether the astronauts’ heads were pointing up or down. And I think we have a new catch phrase at our house – whenever I just can’t visualize something and I keep asking the same question over and over, I’m going to hear, “But which way are their heads pointing?”

So apparently my mother passed on the lack-of-visualization gene to me. Jim finally decided it was time for a visual aid and he built a cool little prototype of my choices.

Choice #1 – the back edge of the trim lies flat on the front edge of the shelf

Shelf Choice 1

(Pay no attention to the pile of balloons in the background – I will explain that in another post.)

Choice #2 – the trim is recessed just slightly into the front edge of the shelf

Shelf Choice 2

And the winner was…Choice #2!

It was just a personal preference, but I really liked the look of the trim recessed slightly. So I was able to give Jim a decision and he was able to go on his merry way and begin building the base for the cabinets.

What do you think? Did I make the right decision? Take a vote in my poll!

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More Kitchen Renovation

I’ve been very lazy in my blogging duties – actually I will blame it partly on my daughter’s drama play, prom, graduation, 18th birthday and all the associated activities with getting ready to start college. But I thought I would try to catch up a little.

The last thing I showed you was how Jim added insulation and drywall to the area around the pantry and behind the fridge.

Dry wall 3Dry wall 4

He has continued to be a busy boy. The next project he tackled involved the wall to the left of the opening to the kitchen. The wall needed to be lengthened by about a foot so that there would be room for our china hutch on the kitchen side of the wall. It was also going to be the perfect opportunity for us to get rid of a nasty water stain on the ceiling from a leaky skylight.

Wall extension 2

Jim started off by studding in the extra length on the wall.

Wall extension 1

Then he removed all the old drywall along that wall.

Wall extension 3

wall extension 4

The concrete wall shows that this used to be an exterior wall of the house – apparently the little den was added later. I would love to see some old pictures of this house as it looked when it was originally built!

The next step was to put up the new drywall. Jim built himself a handy jig to hold the upper pieces of drywall until he could screw them into place.

Wall extension 5

And here’s this side with the drywall up.

Wall extension 6

And in my usual DIYADD style (that’s Do-It-Yourself-Attention-Deficit-Disorder), I only took a before picture of the kitchen side of the wall…there’s too much stuff in the way now to get a good after picture. Just imagine – everything that Jim just did on the other side of the wall, he did to this side 🙂

Wall extension 7

More renovation updates to come!

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A Rude Awakening

A couple of weeks ago, Jim woke up in the wee hours of the morning to a strange, whining sound (no, it wasn’t me).  He thought it sounded like the vacuum running and he wondered, “Why is Donna vacuuming at 4 a.m.?”  Then he said he heard me snoring beside him, and realized that it wasn’t me vacuuming.

OK, let me interject here.  I do not snore.  I breathe heavily.  In the most feminine way possible.

Now, back to Jim.  He got up to check out the source of the noise…he knew something was terribly wrong when he got to the master bedroom hallway and was wading through water.  Slogging on into the bathroom, he discovered that the water supply line to the toilet had broken loose, and was fire hosing our bathroom with gallons of water.  He immediately turned off the valve for the supply line, which stopped the spray of water.

The spray from the hose blew a hole in the wall, as well as peeled back wallpaper and mangled drywall!

The spray from the hose blew a hole in the wall, as well as peeled back wallpaper and mangled drywall!

At this point, I am still blissfully sleeping, unaware that my night is about to turn nightmarish.  Jim woke me up with a “We’ve got a problem in here.”  Which is never a good way to wake up out of a dead sleep.  And for those who know me well, you know that when I’m jolted out of a dead sleep, I’m totally disoriented.  For a good couple of hours.

I got up and went to the hallway and hit the water – it was like being on the Titanic, only I didn’t make it to a lifeboat.

Titanic sinking, painting by Willy Stöwer

I’m pretty sure that I started to hyperventilate.  Just a little.  Well, maybe moderately.  The next few minutes were spent frantically assessing what we needed to do.  Jim dragged the wet vac out of the garage, while I grabbed every towel in the house and began to sop up water.  Jim began to vacuum while I looked around for critical items that needed to get moved.

The water was seeping EVERYWHERE.  All over our nice, new bamboo wood floor that Jim had painstakingly installed plank by plank.  It had seeped from the bathroom, across the hallway, through our two walk-in closets, and was working its way into the living room.  There was a pile of new baseboard stacked against the living room wall that I hurriedly moved to the top of the ping pong table.

Somewhere in all this, I realized that I needed to check our daughter’s room, since it shared a wall with the master bathroom.  My heart sank as I waded through water to get to her bed.  She relocated to the family room couch while I sopped up more water in her room.

After I had wiped up everything I could, Jim spent HOURS vacuuming along every inch of every joint of the flooring to get up as much water as possible.  He collapsed into bed and slept for a few hours.

The rest of the day was spent recuperating from the lack of sleep, while being serenaded with the constant buzz of multiple fans – two ceiling fans on full blast, a box fan, and an oscillating fan.  We ran the fans for days.

We’ve read that it can take weeks or months for a floor to dry out totally after being flooded, so we’re waiting to see what the final state of our floor is.  Right now our formerly smooth floor is full of cupped wood planks and there is a speed bump in our hallway.

Do you think anyone would believe it if we told them it looked like this because it's actually handscraped flooring?

Do you think anyone would believe it if we told them it looked like this because it’s actually handscraped flooring?

Once we know what kind of shape it’s in for the long run, we’ll be able to make a decision on filing a claim on our high-deductible insurance policy vs. just footing the bill ourselves.

What about you? Does anyone else have a flooding saga they’d like to share? Just so we don’t feel all by our lonesomes?

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A Little Insulation and a Little Drywall (Kitchen Renovation – Part V)

After Jim moved the fridge, it was time to tidy up the walls in that area.


He also removed the drywall along the back wall. Then he studded in the last pantry wall, which was the front wall with the door opening – here’s a nice view of that:

Pantry wall and door

Before he could put up the new drywall, he needed to insulate a little section which was exposed to the outside. We decided to go fancy schmancy with some denim insulation we found online at Home Depot. (picture source: Home Depot Online)

denim insulation

We just wanted to get some and rub it against our faces like the kid in the picture. Not really, but the non-itch factor was appealing, and we needed such a little bit for our project that we decided to order 2 rolls and give it a try.

It’s actually made of 100% recycled denim. It looks like they just throw the jeans into some kind of shredder – the finished product is full of colorful bits of thread.

denim insulation 2

denim insulation 3

It was easy to cut and install.

denim insulation 4

denim insulation 5

denim insulation 6

After the insulation was installed, Jim covered the area with a vapor barrier. Yes, the vapor barrier belongs on the inside surface of the insulation, not between the insulation and the outer wall. Jimbo knows these things.

denim insulation 7

Then Jim started on the drywall. First, he finished off the family room side of the pantry wall.

Drywall 1

Then he did the kitchen side of the pantry wall – that’s not really a tiny doorway that we have to crawl through…I just caught that piece of drywall before he cut out the upper half of the door opening.

Drywall 2

Last he took care of the fridge wall. After he put up the dry wall, he reinstalled some cabinets which used to be in a different spot on that wall.  Stay tuned for more kitchen renovation progress!

Dry wall 3Dry wall 4


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