Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keeping track of paint colors

This is a short post on keeping track of paint colors that I have used throughout the house. As you might have noticed, we have painted quite a bit this year. To recap...
Master bedroom
Guest bedroom
Master bathroom
Trim (master bedroom, guest bedroom, kitchen, foyer)

So, I gathered together my paint samples together to make a nice way of carrying them when looking for coordinating decorations for the rooms.

I cut them to appropriate size (but made sure to keep the paint color number and brand).

Then, I hole-punched them and strung them together.

And keep them in a handy spot for whenever I am heading out shopping!

Unfortunately, I don't have samples for the existing parts of the house... but it's all beige anyway, so not too much to worry about. I think our next paint jobs are the half bath and to finish the master bath!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Remember the lighting problem I have been trying to solve? Since my hard wiring solution didn't end up working out... I decided to go another route and stick to my wireless roots. I bought this guy from Home Depot (online only) after doing some research on wireless light switches.

After reading through the instructions, I went ahead and switched off the power to the basement. You should always do this when you are doing any electrical wiring.

This is the basement switch that I was replacing with my wireless switch (on left) with the wall plate unscrewed.

I unscrewed the switch from the switch box. I used my voltmeter to check that their was no voltage going to my box after I had the switch out. I was 99% sure that it was (no lights in the basement), but I don't like taking chances.

This is my new switch. I detached the switch from the wall plate, which I used later.

I then used the wire nut to screw the green ground wire to the copper (bare) wire, which is the circuit ground.

Following instructions. I connected the other two wires to my new switch. I made sure the screws were nice and tight and the wires were held secure.

And screwed it into switch box.

I then tested my circuit by turning on the power to the basement and the breaker box. This switch required a little bit of setup/programming to get it working, but it didn't take much time. The switch has a little wireless control that you have to synch up to the switch. Once that was done, I followed instructions to attach the remote to the wall. Below is the guide from the instructions for the screws. I used a level to make sure everything was nice and lined up.

The screw anchors where the screws will go.

And the installed remote with wall plate to make it look fancy.

And here is a quick video of my remote turning on the downstairs lights for me.

The remote uses wireless and does not need line of sight to communicate with the switch. So, now I can easily turn on the lights upstairs and no longer need to walk into the darkness. Yay! All of the smart home technology is pretty cool, I must say.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Blog Page!

Notice anything new? Yes, I added another new tab on the blog. I figured that now would be a good time to start showing before and progress photos on the blog, so that you can see how the house is coming along. This all started last weekend when I used my President's Day holiday to clean the house and decided to take pictures of the rooms as I cleaned. I think the result turned out pretty well. You can really see how some of the rooms have changed pretty dramatically since we closed. I am happy to say that we are actually managing to add color and make things more our style.

Monday, February 20, 2012

feeling a little less holey

Remember this?

This post is going to be about fixing it.

I had thought of another idea to get a light box there, but it would still require me getting a wire to my spot, which I discovered was actually quite difficult. Don't worry, there is another lighting solution in the works... more on that later.

First I decided to make more of a mess by squaring off my hole.

I then bought a 2' x 2' piece of drywall from Home Depot. I then traced out my hole by taping a piece of paper on the ceiling and tracing it out.

Then, I cut the same size piece out of my drywall piece.

I epoxied a shim piece of wood to the back of the drywall piece, like I my dad did in this post (scroll about 3/4 down). I then epoxied the drywall piece+shim to the top side of the drywall and pulled down with a string to secure the piece.

Once I let that set, I used drywall compound to fill in the gaps. The key is to use thin coats, let it dry, and then use a damp sponge to even it out. The compound is water soluble so any uneven-ness smooths out.

After coat 4.

Ready for paint.

After the last coat dried, I used some ceiling paint I had on hand to paint over it. You can actually kind of see the compound in this photo, but I think that is mostly the flash. You can't see it in real life. While I was at it, I fixed up a couple other ceiling discolorations around the house.

So, even though I didn't really make any forward progress this weekend, at least the hole is patched up! And you never really know until you make a cut at it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

insert expletive here

It started last night. We decided to go to our HOA meeting for the first time. The discussion was a new parking permit system. Don't worry, if you visit our house, there is nothing to be concerned about. It is super simple to get passes for people visiting. It just means you will have to stick something on your dashboard. But, the regulations should really help our community from getting turned into the local parking lot (ahh the joys of the DC metro area). However, people were irate. The meeting was turning into a Jerry Springer show. I didn't realize the HOA meetings were so entertaining. I should have started going sooner. Afterwards, I think some of the mob mentality had rubbed off because J and I were both argumentative for no particular reason. And of course, that carried into today when I got up late for work and was then irritated (at myself) for hitting all that traffic. (Okay, I was a little annoyed at the jerk who cut me off too). But, I knew what would solve all that. House productivity! So, after getting home from work, I decided to start working on getting a light fixture installed at the bottom of the basement stairs. There is a perfect place for one. The center of the space is co-located with a stud. That place was made for an electrical box.

And I wanted to run wire from the already installed light at the top of the stairs to my spot so that my light switch would control both lights. (And the bogey-man that lives in the basement when the lights are out could be avoided. Victory would be mine!)

I measured the center spot. I figured that the hole for the electrical box should be about 4 inches in diameter. So I penciled a circle in on the ceiling. And I used my new drywall saw to cut it out make a mess. Speaking of the drywall saw, that was a fun phone conversation with my dad.

Me (in Home Depot): Hey Dad, what do I need to cut drywall? Would you use a drywall saw?
Dad: Pause... laughter... yes, that should do it.

Back to my project disaster. Take a look at my hole.

I have a few things to say for myself. First, I have never cut into drywall before. Second, I did manage to cut a hole in the ceiling, so in that sense, I was successful.

But guess what?

I cut into a closed in box. My little space doesn't connect to the ceiling space up to the first floor. In fact, I cut into the landing of our first floor stairs and the first step. I couldn't run my line. Bummer.

And then another fun phone conversation with my dad.

Me: (explain the situation)
Dad: Well, that happens. You saved the piece of drywall you cut down right?
Me: Well... it's more or less in pieces.
Dad: Well, the hole is a nice even cut right.
Me: Ummm... well... not... exactly.
Dad: You could make it a nice even cut though.
Me: I think I could manage that.

So, instead of a lighting project this weekend... there will be a tutorial on how to patch a ceiling hole. Get excited!

But don't worry, I will defeat the darkness yet. I have already thought of other ideas...

I did get a nice note from my dad afterwards.
"I think I figured out your story. The last riser to the stairs is on the landing above and cuts off your access to the area you need to get to. I really can’t think of a way to overcome that short of taking down a lot of drywall. It would be a big effort.

It is too bad it turned out that way, but does happen sometimes. Don’t let it discourage you. These things happen and is how you get experience."

Thanks dad! 

Oh, and J did tease me a little about putting a hole in the wall... :) 

Monday, February 13, 2012

I like big books and I cannot lie

I don't have any new house updates this week. We were up in PA this weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday so there is no new house progress to report. We had a nice time with my parents. I had baked her red velvet cupcakes from the new Georgetown Cupcake recipe book that turned out quite well. Even the icing turned out well (which is a first for me). Of course, I forgot my camera, so no photos this time. My dad also helped me with our taxes, which were extra complicated this year since we bought a house. However, I did make an addition to my blog! Did you notice? There is a new tab up at the top of the page called books. Since I am reading all the time, I thought it might be nice to share my reading with everyone. The books are organized by fiction and non-fiction and are sorted by the author's last name. Unfortunately, this does not include all the books I have ever read. I read a lot during childhood but only kept a few of the books. For instance, I read most of the American Girl books, Babysitter's club, Sweet Valley, Goosebumps and Nancy Drew. I didn't include these, nor most of the other books I read during that time frame. I also forget many of the books I read in high school as required reading. I noted a few of the books that had an impact on me in high school. I am also not including textbooks from college. These mostly fall into the non-fiction category. So, the books included are mostly ones I have read after graduating from college. I still feel like I have neglected many books. If I think of others, I will be sure to add. I also tried to differentiate whether I liked the book or not. If the "Liked" column is blank, it means I could not decide or was somewhere in the middle. So, basically, it is a three star system where N = 1 star, Y = 3 stars, and blank = 2 stars. An added bonus of adding the "books" page was that I had to make the table in html, which was a nice refresher. 8-) <-- my nerd face

This weekend, I finished re-reading 1984, by George Orwell. The Hunger Games trilogy reminded me of 1984, so I decided it might be fun to revisit the text since I have not read it since high school.

The parallels between The Capital in the Hunger Games and The Party/Big Brother in 1984 were very much apparent. What was funny about re-reading 1984 so long after I originally read it was that the mental images when reading it in 2012 were quite different than the ones I remember in 2001. For instance, when Winston sits down to lunch with Julia, I remember thinking of booth tables when I read it in 2001. But this time, I  envisioned stand alone tables and chairs. That may seem small, but it occurred throughout the book: how I thought of his apartment, meeting places, etc. all slightly shifted, making the second reading quite different from the first. It feels like I had a better handle on it this time around. Certainly, I paid much more attention to the message in The Book when Winston was reading it. Here is an excerpt:

"The heirs of the French, English and American revolutions had partly believed their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the like, and had even allowed their conduct to be influenced by them to some extent. But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at the exact moment when it became realizable."

Orwell, like many of his writing counterparts during the period after World War 2, is deeply disheartened. The idea of an earthly Utopia that was to be created out of humanity's scientific advancement never happened. Instead, the scientific community created a bomb capable of wiping out hundreds of thousands of people at once. The great optimism that existed prior to World War 1 was completely gone after the terrible devastation of WW2. We need to remember that technological progress can lead to great advances, but it can also be used to harm and destroy.

I had forgotten the Room 101 part of the book. But as soon as I re-read it, I remembered that our high school English class assignment was to describe our own "Room 101" (aka personal hell). I am curious what I wrote as a high school-er and unsure how that would differ from now, but it is probably best not to think about it too much. I think the more interesting question is, if you were caught by the Party, what/whom would they want you to betray? Coincidentally, my Bible study just finished reading through 1 Corinthians, and I was struck by 1 Cor 10:13 in relation to that thought:

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

And now you have reached the end of my little musings. I will try to have more house updates shortly.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How's it hanging?

This weekend, we accomplished relatively little... much less than I had originally hoped to do, but I guess that is okay. It is nice to have a relaxing weekend every once in a while. :) We did get a chance to hang new curtains (purchased from Country Curtains). I had considered sewing my own, but I think the price would have been comparable once everything was said and done, so I decided to buy the curtains. These curtains were rod pocket curtains, but I purchased clips instead, to make them look more manly. As a result, the curtains were way too long and I did have to hem them. I started by ironing a crease to make the hemming easier. And then sewed large stitches. I let them trail on the floor a little, since that is apparently in vogue right now. I can always adjust more later.

Here they are!

And in daylight.

And now, for some before and progress basement shots....









We still have some major things to do in the basement. In no particular order:
1. Add a light at the bottom of the stairs (Not going to lie, I get scared going down into the darkness)
2. Decorations/Wall Hanging/Etc
3. Re-do bar area
     a. New cabinets
     b. New countertop
     c. New fridge
     d. New light
4. Light over the pool table
5. Fix non-working fireplace
6. I would love to change the flooring, but J and I actually disagree on this one. But, I would like to replace the dingy carpets at some point.

But before all that, we have some appliances to buy! We went out shopping this weekend for new kitchen appliances. I would love to change out the bisque for stainless, and our oven has been acting wonky recently. Anyone have good appliance suggestions?