Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why I Love DC: Zeus…

DC is a very “walk friendly” city. During the summer months I try and take the boys for long walks past the Capitol building near the Library of Congress because it’s a really beautiful walk. One of my favorite things on this walk would be this statue:

Yup, that is Zeus in all his glory. The first time I saw the statue I did a double take assuming I missed the fig leaf. Zeus is well endowed and he wants everyone to know it. Zeus is not modest at all. I have been fortunate enough to be present when Boy Scout troops and little old ladies first encounter Zeus and it is hilarious. Never gets old.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I May Have the Britney Spears Disease…

OMG I need to get it together. I think I might be suffering from the Britney’s. What is the Britney’s you ask well let me tell you:

I don’t know the actual scientific term for it but there is a mental disorder out there that I have named the Britney Spears disease. I think it happens mostly to women and typically it can be diagnosed by things like




I’m not sure how it happened to Britney but I can tell you how it happened to me. First we purchased a house and after work started spending all our time there “exposing brick” (that’s in quotes because it should really say destroying the house/creating a mess). Then I started spending EVERY lunch hour either running to Lowes and Home Depot or meeting/calling contractors. When I wasn’t doing that I was obsessively researching welders and driving through the city taking pictures of my perfect stairs/fence or using that paint program to try and figure out the best internal paint colors.

It’s a slippery slope the Britney’s, they creep up on you, one day you’re a sane functioning member of society and the next your braless at Safeway trying to determine what’s the best brown and serve sausages for breakfast are (or in Britney’s case shaving your head).

Soooo tomorrow I’m going to start working out again, eating right, and wearing a bra when I grocery shop. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My arch nemesis…

OMG, you see this toilet?

 I hate this toilet, with a passion. When we got the house we realize every toilet in the main house was inoperable. When I looked at them it appeared that the previous homeowner needed to fix the valves and flappers in all of them. Ever single flapper instead of replacing the chain she had jerry rigged them using whatever she had on hand, twist ties from garbage bags or fishing line, until they worked. I’d fixed these before so I put my name down as the “person doing the job” on our nifty excel spreadsheet of tasks and put my “budget” as $15 per toilet. I put down on my home depot list three valves and thought this will be so easy, while Jedd is exposing the brick I’ll knock these out in 20 minutes. So fast forward to Home Depot and I’m standing in the toilet repair section and I ask myself why do I have three toilet valve things on this list, the basement toilet works just fine. So I grab two valves only to get to the house later and realize there are four toilets in the entire house, three upstairs and the basement, so I did need three valves. Add 1 toilet repair kit to the Home Depot list.

I get into it and it appears that whoever installed all the toilets did not pay attention to the part in the directions where they say hand tighten the valves, specifically the directions warn against tightening with a tool. As a result I had to get Jedd to use all his manly muscles to undo every single toilet with a wrench. It was a pain. Once that was done I fixed the toilet in the spare bathroom in less than five minutes. Flush, flush, very satisfying, I can just envision crossing that task off of The List.

I go to the master bathroom (all the toilets are the same) and get to work. I get it all done and realize the stupid flapper sits slightly off, so I really need a longer flapper or something weighted down. Add a flapper to the Home Depot list.

Several days later I go to fix the half bath toilet, get it all done and flush flush. I leave patting myself on the back and come back to collect the trash with a garbage bag and there is water all on the floor. Frantic I’m like what can it be, flush flush and realize that the drip was coming from the brackets that actually mount the bowl and tank together. So I add that to my Home Depot list.

Fast forward three days I return to the house and change the bolts, flush flush, and the water is still getting out of those bolts. Now I realize it’s the plastic piece I saw and thought about getting but passed because I thought it was the bolts. Ugh I have to go back to Home Depot. Go upstairs and change the flapper only to realize the one I have now is too wide and I break the clips in frustration so now I can’t take the thing back. The following night I go to home depot at 9 pm only to realize they don’t have the plastic piece I’m looking for but they do have a good flapper solution.

Tuesday I change the flapper upstairs and if the water valve thing I changed a week ago isn’t working. I ended up just taking the one from downstairs and putting it in the master. All the while thinking to myself thankfully I can take my frustration out on the plaster I have to remove from the stair way wall. So now I have to add another repair kit to the Home Depot list.

But now after numerous trips to Lowes/Home Depot I'm happy to say all 3 toliets work without leaking or running. Anyone need a toliet repaired at their house? I'm a pro and my hourly rate is low, ha!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bring It!

Today was a crazy day. I’ve been really complaining about how much we need to get done and how little time we have to do it. So today I decided to do something about it while Jedd was at his annual golf tournament. First I got up at 5:45 am and drank ½ pot of coffee before taking the boys out and cooking Jedd what must have been the best frittata ever because he must have said 20 times that I should have taken a picture of it for the blog. By 8 am I was at the house getting the old carpet pad loaded into my car (Toyota Matrix’s are the bomb) and hauling it to this glorious place:

Just a FYI for those who don’t know (cause I didn’t until two days ago) the Fort Totten dump is free to DC residents. Just show up with your driver’s license and a bill with your address and you’re in. The funny thing is we had someone come to the house to give us a quote on hauling off what ended up being two truckloads of carpet; plaster and dry wall and he quoted us $400.00. As you can imagine that was not going to happen so Jedd borrowed a friend’s truck yesterday and took everything but the carpet pads all for FREE! As a result I was so impressed I bought him a six pack of really expensive (read $11) Chinese beer.

On my way from the dump I got an email from the welder/iron fence guy our contractor referred us to saying he was in town and would meet me at the house between 11 and 12 pm. Now at this time it’s 8:30 am and I had planned on going to four carpet places so I hauled butt to the first one that opened at 9:30 am. I ended up getting there super early and had a half hour to burn. I swear it was my lucky day because right when I was thinking “what am I going to do” I saw that the local farmers market was open. For all my hard work, and due to the fact I had not eaten breakfast with Jedd, I treated myself to these for breakfast.

A random fact about me you may or may not know but I am a sucker for homemade jam/jelly. I haven’t tried the rhubarb one I picked up today but I am sure it’s going to be fabulous. I know I came off a little crazy (probably lack of sleep combined with too much homemade iced coffee) but when I saw the jam I literally squealed. The lady selling the jam was like “wow, you really like jam”. Yes Jam Lady I DO really like jam, ha.

So here is where it’s starts to get crazy:

9:30 am go to the first carpet place, select three different types of carpet and schedule Wednesday carpet measuring.

10:00 am go to the 2nd carpet place, select two different types of carpet and tell the guy rather than pay him $35.00 to measure the carpet we will send him the measurements from the first guy and he can calculate a quote based on that and my carpet selections. When I leave the 2nd place I almost lose it because I realize its right next door to Lumber Liquidators which is this place Jedd has been talking about FOREVER, so I bookmark the location in my phone so I can surprise him with a trip at a later date because I AM THAT DAMN ROMANTIC.

10:30 am head to the house while calling Jedd’s mom to wish her a Happy Birthday! I ended up waiting at the house from 11 until 12 pm until I finally call the welder to see what’s up only to be told he was running behind and it would be closer to 12:30 or 1 pm.

12 pm rush to Hill’s Kitchen to get something I absolutely need:

I ended up getting an awesome pot too because well because I like to buy myself stuff. Also I went to the dump today (don’t judge).

12:15 pm go to DC-3 and get a Tucson dog because there are fires raging in Sierra Vista where I grew up and I thought it was appropriate. Plus I wanted a hot dog and felt like if I was a real contractor/job foreman that would be something I’d eat.

1 pm meet Chris (the welder) at the house; discuss dream fence, external stairs and security door. Leave at 1:15 pm and go to two houses and take pictures of their stairs and text them to Chris. While I’m doing this some guy passes, stops and watches me. I guess it’s uncommon to see people taking pictures of other people’s stair risers on both their camera phone and point and shoot. He also thought it was weird I was texting them to someone. He was a bit nosey and asked what I was doing to which I replied “texting pictures of my perfect stairs to someone”.

He either thought I was crazy or it made sense because he said “oh, ok” and walked off.

2 pm go to the 3rd carpet/flooring place. This place was the best, the person was super knowledgeable and not the least bit in a rush. Not only did she schedule a Tuesday am appointment for a free carpet measure for the estimate she also scheduled to have the basement measured since we know have to do flooring down there. Even better she let me leave with four carpet samples and two lament flooring samples to show Jedd.

3 pm go to the 4th and final carpet/flooring place where I picked out three types of carpet and scheduled a Tuesday afternoon measuring appointment for measuring both the house for carpet and the basement for lament.

4 pm as I’m going to DSW to return Jedd’s shoes that I got him that he didn’t like I see HHGreg and decide to stop in and checkout washer/dryers. I end up writing down several models that I’m going to research tonight.

4:30 pm return shoes to DSW and go to Mom’s to pick up groceries she got me from the Commissary. Yes I am 33 and yes I do still have my mother pick up items from the grocery store for me. Coffee is super expensive so I like for her to get that for me along with boneless skinless chicken breast/thighs from the Commissary. And since I’m out of soap, sure get some soap. Plus she made us (read Jedd) banana nut bread so it was a super win.

5:30 pm I get home and cook us this:

This was my excuse for why we had to get a rolling pin. The rolling pin I got was super cool, you put cold water in it and it keeps it chilled while you roll out your puff pastry. I NEEDED this. I’m going to chill it in the fridge with water in it next time.

Now we are sitting on the couch blogging and getting ready to research these washer and dryers because we are cool like that.

What’d you do today?

Friday, June 17, 2011

100 year old Brick...

I’ve been pretty quiet recently because all my time is going either to working to get money for the house or going to Lowes/Home Depot for the house on my lunch hour and then lastly exposing brick in the house. I’ll post a lovely post about that sometime in the future, but thought I’d share a picture Jedd sent me today while I was at work and he was taking down dry wall in another area of the house that we need to expose brick on.

I know you’re looking at this going “Oh shit!” but let me assure you it’s not really a big deal nor is it surprising that there would be a section of brick that would need to be repaired. The brick is 100+ years old and has been covered with plaster and dry wall. I know I sound calm which is probably alarming to those who know me, but trust me I’m fine. This isn’t my calm voice it’s my tired voice, after a week of exposing brick you get this tired/calm feeling about house related surprise that comes up. It’s called “I don’t have the energy to give a crap”.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meeting Men in DC…

The title of the post is actually a bit misleading. It should read “Meeting Men in New Carrollton, MD”. Apparently there is a lack of men in DC, I just saw a friend post something to her twitter and had recently had a conversation about how hard it is to meet men in DC. The issue apparently is that in between the ages of like 24 to 40 (not sure if that’s the actual age range I’m quoting a friend who was quoting someone else) there is like 8 single women for every single guy. Now I don’t know how true that is, I tried looking it up and I saw according to the last census it was more like 5 women for every man. But then my friend explained to me that DC has a high number of gay men, who would be unfairly counted because based on the census they were “unmarried” though not really a true dating option for single ladies. After following that logic I decided she was right and it probably was 8 to 1. This topic constantly comes up so much so that I’m always on the lookout about possible answers to the ever looming questions of single ladies in the District “where do you meet men”. Well ladies I have the answer…

Today I spent my lunch at Lowe’s, specifically the Lowe’s in New Carrollton and I managed to meet not one but two men and here is how. First you’ll need to go to Lowe’s at exactly 1:40 pm on a Thursday. It appears that this is when contractors go to Lowe’s to pickup supplies after getting lunch. Also it appears that these contractors are probably the ones in charge, while they did appear to be in phenomenal shape, they did not appear to be dirty or sweaty from doing any of the major work. I’m thinking they are merely there to pickup supplies for their “men”. So next you’re going to need to have on your work clothes, unless it makes you uncomfortable go in a skirt and some three to four inch heels, and carry an impractical purse that weights no less than 5 pounds. Make sure you compile a list of things that are not near each other so that you have to prance back and forth from row to row frantically looking at your list, oh and don’t get a cart of basket. Just pile the stuff up balancing it with the purse until you reach the last item which should be a bronze brush. At this point several men are going to want to come to your aid because it is going to be obvious that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing here. The first person who asks if you they can help you is not going to be a Lowe’s employee but some nice man -that ladies is man number one. Look at him in a panic and say “um no I think I got it” but look desperate. This nice man will go all the way to the front of the store and bring you a cart five aisles over from where he originally saw you. When he gets there take the cart and thank him but then ask “wait do you work here”. When he says no scowl and take off.

Next go ALL the way to the lumber department, walk slowly, look at your phone and list. Lumber is where the buff men are, go through the two aisles in the lumber section exactly three times. By the 3rd time I’m not sure if it’s going to be the annoying sound of your heels hitting the floor or what but some nice man will now spend the next 15 minutes combing the aisles for the exact wire brush you’re looking for while you wait patiently in Lumber with his friend/coworker. It was in aisle 4 where you first looked. When he brings it back go “this is kind of small, where were these I want to see if they have larger one’s” he will now escort you all the way to the aisle because obviously you cannot be trusted to find what you need by yourself. While walking that incredibly long walk this man will inquire about what the hell it is YOUR doing in Lowe’s and how your husband should have just come and picked this stuff up for you. He will inquire about your project and be surprised you’re taking on these tasks yourself. Once you get to the brushes he will wish you luck. Stay there five minutes and look at the brushes only to get the one he got you. Check out…and now as you leave the store that nice man is going to come up out of nowhere and give you his card/number and say “just in case you ever need help finding anything else at Lowe’s”. And that ladies is how you meet men in DC.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to save $450.00 on carpet installation…

The carpet in the house is horrid. It’s dirty, stained and really wasn’t laid well in the first place. There are lumps and distinct spots where you can tell they didn’t properly level the floor. I swear the previous owner never ran a steam cleaner through the place and as a result I can see where her bed was positioned. Needless to say my number priority prior to moving in is to get new carpet installed in the bedroom. Our contractor suggested Home Depot so we paid the $35.00 to have them do the measurements.

Jedd and I go to Home Depot to get our quote and as usually I am totally taken aback by how much it’s going to cost us to re-carpet 102 square yards of the house. I’m looking at this quote and you know what I want to do is stomp and cuss but I can’t because Jedd doesn’t allow me to do that in public. I’m a little too old to fall out in Home Depot so we ask them to fax the quote and we will be in touch. So first thing I notice is its $450.00 for them to remove the old carpet and discard of it. So what do you think I did today after work…this:

Yup we pulled the carpet up ourselves tonight. As a result we didn’t have Happy Hour. Tomorrow we are very excited to be taking all that carpet to the dump ourselves. What did you do tonight? What plans do you have for the weekend?

First injury

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How to Waste your 1 hour lunch break at Home Depot….

Finally after much delay we finally closed on the house and you should start to see some progress. As a result I published a new page of our list of to do’s on the blog. Feel free to view it and gasp about how much we have to do in the next 30 days. Are you worried? I’m worried. I’m not the handiest of people.

Speaking of which today for lunch I went to Home Depot because Jedd needed two different tools a chisel and some blade thingy I have since forgotten the name of. As I’m on my way to Home Depot, which is the exact same Home Depot I was in when I found out they accepted our offer on the house, Jedd calls and says “It needs to be a Masonry chisel, 4 inches with a handle thing on it so when you’re hammering you won’t slip and hit your hand”. Sounds easy enough.

I get to Home Depot and I go to the tools section (yeah that’s right Mom I knew it would be in the tool section) and stand there looking at all these chisels. I look and look and I’m thinking “well what about the chisel needs to be 4 inches?” Are we talking about the chisel part that goes on what you’re chiseling or are we talking about the handle? Ten minutes later I decide he has to be talking about the chisel part. Who care what size the handle is right? Then I start focusing in on if it has that slip hand protection part and there are several brands of them that have the guards but none of them are 4 inches. So after another ten minutes I decide that I think the hand thing is more important and that I am willing to sacrifice a half inch on the chisel part to protect my honey’s hands. Just when I’m going to put the thing in my basket and move on I see where one brand specifically says “Masonry Chisels” well then I back up and am like “oh wait though this is the “chisel” section what type of chisel do I have?”…well it’s just a chisel. But around it is brick chisels, floor chisels, chisel chisels and then finally these Masonry chisels. So then I spend another ten minutes comparing all the chisels to try and figure out is there or isn’t there a difference between all these chisels. I finally decide no there is not. But now I see the Masonry chisels comes in the four inches but again no damn hand guard. Now I’m 55 minutes into my lunch break and I decide I should do the Masonry chisel because I can envision going home and handing him the chisel with the hand guard and him saying “this isn’t a masonry chisel” or “why isn’t this 4 inches”. So now I have a masonry chisel I don’t feel good about and I have to rush around home depot like a mad woman because I’m 20 minutes away from work and if I put the 40 minutes drive time round trip with the time I’ve spent picking out the chisel I am clearly going over my lunch hour.

I run and get the bathroom toilet repair kit, I stop at the carpeting department to see if they can print my carpet quote, I go to the eye protection place and manage to get some with mask too and then I go to the carpet cutter section, which damn it if it’s not by those chisels. I spend 6 minutes trying to determine what is the difference between the cutters that folds down into this nifty knife thing for $8 versus the one for $2 that is the home depot brand. Just as I’m getting ready to leave that aisle I take one last look at the chisels and put the masonry one back to get the one with the hand guard.

And that folks is how you waste your whole lunch hour in Home Depot getting a chisel, carpet cutter, two eye protection things and a toilet repair kit.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to save $8,000 to $16,000…

Our house is a foreclosure which can be a good or a bad thing based on what I read. One issue with a foreclosure is that they are “as is” or at least that is what your told going in. So when we made our offer on the house we looked at what was wrong with the house and automatically came up with a list of things that were going to have to be fixed before we moved in. There were two items that stood out the termite damage in the basement and the roof. As I’ve mentioned contractors all come in with their estimates and in my opinion there is no rhyme or reason. The estimates we got for the roof were varied and high but understandable. We knew we had at least 1 broken rafter

This ended up being two. We also knew we had to address the tree that was touching the roof which had also damaged the gutters.

We also had to repair the dry wall from some water damage in the spare bedroom due to the roof/gutter issue.

The estimate for treating the termites we decided to go with was $899.00

The estimate for the termite damage we decided to go with was $595.00

The estimate for the tree was $895.00 (down from $1,200)

And then came the roof estimates the first was $9,600.00 which I completely expected, another was $7,300.00 but included completely replacing the gutters, drywall and a little balcony roof, another was $16,000.00 and was described to us as the Mercedes of roofs. Needless to say we did not go with the Mercedes, since neither of us drive a luxury vehicle we did not want to "invest" in one for the roof. So as I really began throwing my temper tantrums and cussing the previous home owners for their lack of upkeep on the house something great happened.

Through a mysterious turn of events the bank that owns the property covered it, yes you read that right, they shelled out almost $10,000.00 to cover all those repairs. So that’s how we got a new roof and repaired stairs, along with termite treatment all while saving us $10,000.00.

I know what your thinking that I'm a lucky girl... yes, yes I am.
What makes it even better was that it all took place while we vacationed in Aruba last week!

Happy Hour: Salted Caramel…

The only thing that got me through the day today was knowing it was Happy Hour Friday at our house and that I was making something delicious from the June issue of Food Network Magazine.
I felt like a real winner for two reasons when I made tonight’s drinks. Reason 1. Was I’ve made this new little challenge for myself where every magazine that comes in I make or do something in it as a way to justify the magazine subscription. If I can’t make this happen each and every month I’m going to really have to cut back, I mean it is killing a lot of trees along with making a bunch of clutter. Reason 2. Is that it’s been hot and I’m supposed to be starting a diet but I wanted some ice cream. Making a salted caramel was a perfect choice; it seemed like dessert but was actually a cocktail. Because as you may or may not realize my diet’s always have exceptions. This diet says no desserts or booze, unless it’s Friday Happy Hour.

Both Jedd and I loved this drink because not only was it sweet but the pinch of sea salt it’s garnished with added that something extra that made it seem like something I’d be willing to pay $8 bucks for at the bar. Also you couldn’t taste the tequila at all. Happy Friday!!!!