Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Money Pit has a DEEP, DARK, SECRET!

I may have failed to mention it before, but the Money Pit has an area that neither Scott nor I have dared to go!  It is deep.  It is dark.  And up until now, it has remained wholly SECRET!

But last night we decided to get truly brave and face that scary area---yea, even go into that area!  Would there be dead bodies there?!  Were there ghosts?  All we knew about it was that there was this dripping, dripping, dripping sound!!!  And weird hollow echoes!  It was enough to make strong men shake in their boots!

(Cue the scary booming music...)

That's right!!  You guessed it!  The deep, dark secret of the Money Pit is in fact, an ACTUAL money pit!  An in-ground swimming pool!

Freddie Mac had paid some contractor to completely cover the pool with a wooden cover before we bought the house.  2X8s and OSB boards.  I'm sure it was to avoid any lawsuit.  It was solid as a rock!....well....before winter came!

This side of the pool cover had no less that FIVE FEET of snow on it most of the winter!  And as that snow melted down--it soaked the OSB board...and we could see that the cover was beginning to sink down in one place.  We didn't want Fritz to just disappear into the endless abyss one day---so we decided it was time to take it off!  The snow that was still left AND the sagging OSB board.  I carefully shoveled off the remaining snow as Scott started removing the board.  And what did we find below it?  Well, first we discovered that the 5 feet of snow had snapped a sturdy 2X8 beam right in two!

Each OSB board was screwed down with little tiny screws from a pneumatic screw gun!  Being extra careful to walk only on top of where sturdy (unbroken) beams were, Scott carefully unscrewed the boards and we were able to lift them off!  We started a stack of them against the fence.  When we had enough off, we decided to go down in......(cue scary  music again!)  What did we find?  In that scary dark abyss?

Some not-so-scary stairs!  As we crept down them, our breath echoing against the dark walls.....

We found THIS!


No dead bodies!  No scary animals!  No ghosts!  Just a pool, partially filled with water and leaves.  And a one-time cool hot tub attached to the side.  Some weird bypass pipes were now inside the hot tub.

As well as a solid chunk of ice.  I thought it was rather humorous that the "hot" tub had solid ice in it---and the pool itself was totally melted water.  But such is the level of ground frost here in Minnesota.

There are some rather large cracks in the pool.  And who knows about the pump, etc.  We have no idea if it is redeemable at all!  But we will call a pool contractor and have them take a look at it.  Worst case, we pay someone to take it out or poke holes in the bottom and fill it with dirt to make a garden plot.  It will cost money whichever way we go---but we knew that when we bought the house.  So we've been saving some money back.

It would be nice if we could redeem it.  You could tell it was once a very nice pool.

And the thought of sitting in the hot tub getting all warm and toasty before diving back into a refreshing cool pool is very appealing!

 But we shall see.  Not all neglected and abused things can be reborn.  Some must be put to rest.

As the sun set, we were proud of our bravery in facing this last dark secret of our house!  It turned out to not be as bad as we feared.  And now that it has been "brought out in the open," we can deal with it!

Anyone else ever had a pool?  Ever redeem a neglected pool?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kudos Come in Strange Places!

Last week it finally warmed up enough to get outside and look around our property.

There was still some snow where the drifts have been quite high.  But grass could be seen all around!

I noticed that our gas meter was looking a little funny.

Where it was attached to the house, it appeared to be falling off.  Like the screws were only screwed into the vinyl siding, not something secure.

It had a definite LEAN to it, and that probably wasn't safe.

I was also smelling a slight smell of gas inside the house.  Where Scott had installed the gas cook top.

Under the cupboards when you would open them up to get a pan, I thought I could smell something.  Scott could never smell anything---but he tried to tighten things up for the sake of his worrywart wife!

There were a couple of different connections down there and though we had checked them thoroughly with the soapy substance they have for such a purpose, I was still afraid of this!

So with possible 2 gas issues, I called our gas company and they sent someone right out!

A nice man in an official truck came and checked the whole house thoroughly!  He told me the outside gas meter was fine and he pulled on it to show me just how sturdily attached it was.  He used his special gas sniffer tool to check for any leaks out there.  Then he came inside and used a gas sniffer to check under the cupboards.  At first he could find nothing---but dialing the meter down to it's most sensitive setting, he found an infinitesimally small leak!  I wasn't crazy---having olfactory hallucinations---after all!  He turned off the valve and gave us some advice for getting it fixed.  Then I  thanked him and started to show him out.

"Wait!" he said.  "I REMEMBER this house!  I was in charge of coming here to turn the gas off!"  He looked around and said, "Wow!  You guys have really improved the place!"  I asked him for a few more details about what it had looked like when the bank was foreclosing on it.  He said that he barely dared enter the house because it was so filled with trash and junk and gross carpets.  As I showed him out the front door, he stopped again.  "Did you guys replace the front door!?"  "No,"  I said proudly,  "I painted it!"  He looked at it carefully in disbelief and then said again, "You've really done a great job with this place!"

Kudos from the Gas Man!  I wouldn't have expected it!  But I'll take them however they come!

It made me feel so good to know that someone had seen the "before"--even the "the way before"--and was now admiring the "after!"  We still have a long ways to go, but these unexpected kudos will help us get there!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Redemption: The Living Room and Dining Room!

Do you remember our dining room wall that had a fist hole in it?  I always felt icky walking past it---knowing that someone had been so very angry that they smashed their fist through the wall.  There were actually 2 fist holes in this house when we moved in, and evidence of some other large wall patches that also may have had the same history.  It's nice to redeem a house from it's sordid past.  Redeeming people from their sordid past is great too---but that is God's work.

 This is how the dining room looked when we moved in.  Mustard and Maroon walls.  No carpeting.  A fist hole in the wall.  And a cheap wobbly black railing.

The living room wasn't much better.

Then we got carpeting and brought some of our furniture out of the garage!  It was starting to feel like a home....

But we still had paper taped up to the windows.  The wall color was not my style.  And no artwork.  Nothing said this was OUR home.

My Son-in-law came at Christmas and patched the fist hole in the wall!  That was a wonderful present!

It got me excited about painting the whole area!

A few more thousand patches to various holes, some sanding because it was semi-gloss paint---and I was ready to go!

But what color would I choose?!!?

If you know me, then you know....

Beautiful midnight/cobalt navy blue!  I LOVE blue!  (Ever seen my blog background?!)

Blue over maroon was actually a pretty easy thing!

Reaching up to the tall vaulted ceiling was not!  And touching up the maroon paint already splattered on the ceiling was additionally hard.

But I got it done!  I loved seeing some blue things peaking through from the kitchen to match!  But the mustard yellow walls would have to go, too.  A soft "parchment paper" white like we had used in the rest of the house was just the answer.

 This once Angry Wall is now a Happy Wall!  No more fist holes.  No more maroon color.  Bright crisp blue and white with a pretty china cabinet and a gallery wall of artwork!

Turn around and you have a welcoming living room.  Airy and open with blue velvet curtains!

Plants grow happily in the morning sunshine!

My Dad's painting of The Cows adorns the fireplace and makes me all happy inside!  It feels like MY house now.

What do you think?

Have we redeemed the space?

It sure feels nicer to me!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Wonders!

This last weekend was HEAVENLY!!!  The temperature soared up into the 60s!!  And that meant that life seemed livable again!

We finally got the desk set up in the office---the computer had been sitting on a wobbly folding table in the kitchen all these months.  But we found the hardware and put the big desk all back together again.  It was a bit like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again---and weirdly, we had 4 screws leftover....hopefully it won't all fall down!

With a little more work, we can make this room look nice!  We've never had an official "office" room before.  So that is kind of fun!  We probably should have painted and fixed the whole room before moving the desk in---but we needed to get things settled--and I quickly painted behind where the heavy furniture would sit and will paint around it soon!  Is it weird that I want to keep the 90's era wall paper border?

The weather was SO nice, we had to get some steaks and BBQ!  It felt positively brilliant to be doing something OUTSIDE!

Scott bought me lovely bright and happy flowers---that made it feel even more like Spring!

With our new energy boost from the warm weather, we got motivated and moved ALL the rest of the boxes and furniture out of the garage!  A lot to go through and put away!  But we are finally officially MOVED IN!

The sunset Sunday night was BEAUTIFUL!  There are still great heaps of snow in places where it drifted into deep piles, but grass is showing through all over the place!

Friday, March 28, 2014

One More Fix and DONE!

When last we left the Snack Bar Pancake Bar (as per my children's new input!) we had the appliances and flooring installed and nothing had fallen down.  But there was one more thing that needed fixing!

Part of the laminate counter top was missing.  Probably came loose at some point and was just ripped off.  But since we were bothering to make this kitchenette look all nice and tidy and since we didn't want to replace the counter top with expensive granite---at least not any time soon---it only made sense that we should try to fix it up and make it look better.

I thought about using some laminate from where we cut the hole bigger for the cook top.  But it wasn't wide enough.  I thought about using the laminate from the sides where the refrigerator goes, but it was too skinny on one side and too short on the other.  I thought about stealing laminate from the backsplash--but then I would need to tile the whole back wall.  I thought about getting out my oil paints and trying to paint it to match....

Then as happens when something is too difficult to figure out, I stopped thinking about it!!  And I began to think what I could do with this open space to the right of the refrigerator.  It is a very deep counter space and above it, it goes all the way up to the ceiling.  It seemed like wasted space and I wanted to figure out a way to make it useful.  A bookshelf?  Could I build one in there?

It is on the carpeted side of this kitchen area.  And lends itself well to being part of the family room more than part of the bar.  But I was worried that if I added even more weight to that one support that was holding up the top cabinets, it would be disastrous!

Enter...THE CUBE!

I looked all over the internet for bookshelves or cube storage that would have the right measurements to fill the space.  Lucky for me?  The winner was Ikea!  And we have an Ikea right here in Minneapolis!

It was finger and hand intensive to get them all assembled!  (Only 3 blisters!)

But when I was done, they filled the space PERFECTLY!  And I like playing the black color against the wood tones in the room!  The cook top and refrigerator had already added a touch of black.

Now, do you notice something missing?!?

That's right!!  In order for the cube storage to fit snug against the back wall---something needed to be removed!

And that something was JUST what I needed!!

With a little persuasion, the backsplash came right off!

I patched the holes....

Caulked the gap....and painted!

Then it was time to use my new found booty to make my other repair!  In order to pull laminate up, all you have to do is iron it!  (That's also all you have to do to stick it down!  If the contact cement is still there---a good ironing will stick it right back down again!)

After a bit of warming it up with the iron---the edge could be pried up.

Pretty soon I had a whole big piece pried off!

When it was long enough to cover my missing piece, I stopped and cut it off.

It would need trimming down to be exactly the right width...

and length!

I would need to cut the remaining laminate on the counter to be a straight edge...

Then heat it with the iron to remove the little broken bit.

Once I had a nice straight edge and a piece of the new laminate cut to just the right size, it was time to apply new contact adhesive to both sides.  What was left on the old pieces wasn't enough to stick it down with just ironing.

I used a spray-on kind.  It also comes in a tub where you paint it on.

The spray came out like spider webbing all over the back of the laminate piece!

I taped off and masked the area on the counter that would be getting the adhesive.

When the adhesive has dried to tacky---about 2 minutes---you put the two surfaces together and it is an instant hold!  With very little room for moving it.  After a bit of wrangling, I was able to get the replacement piece into place!

It isn't perfect---and there is still a line---but if you didn't know, you would never notice that anything was ever amiss!

Time to start filling the shelves with books and decorating a little!!!