Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and New Light Switches

Hello! I hope all of my East Coast friends and family have survived the storm. We are doing fine. We had a lot of rain and wind, and we briefly lost power last night (my guess is around 3-4 hours. The lights woke me up, but I didn't pay much attention other than turning everything off again). However, my thoughts and prayers definitely go out to those on the coast line who are dealing with down trees and flooded homes. Our house has stayed dry for both Irene and Sandy, so I am guessing we are up pretty high (though it's hard to tell). I ventured out both Monday (before things got bad) and today. I mostly saw lots of leaves and branches down. There were a few trees down in the more wooded areas. Overall, I think our area had it worse during that freak storm over the summer. Here's a picture I took this morning of one of the cars across from us. The pine straw absolutely covered that area.

I'm hoping some of my facebook friends don't mind me sharing a few of their photos (please let me know if you do). My parents house was very close to the storm center (5-10 miles, but inland). Their house is doing okay, but their power is going to be out for a while. This picture was taken by one of my facebook friends/my parent's neighbor. That tree took down the power line into their neighborhood. They don't expect to get power back until Friday at the earliest.

And another photo from a facebook friend in West Virginia. I don't think WV is getting much news coverage, but they really got a lot of snow.

Last photo I'll share is from a friend in NJ. I think the photos coming out of New York and New Jersey are probably the worst, especially when you consider the amount of cleanup work it will take to get everything going again.

I mostly worked from home the past 2 days. Today, I worked a half day and got something done that has literally been sitting in my foyer for about 6 months now. And that is changing out some of our light switches. When we bought our house, all of the outlets and switches were an almond color. This was fine because the previous owners never deviated from beige, from the walls, to the trim, to the ceilings, to the carpet. All varying shades of beige. In fact, they could probably write a book called 50 shades of beige (which would probably be better than 50 shades of grey). Anyway, since we have been using more cool tones and whites, the almond switches and outlets have got to go. So, I have been working on it slowly. I tackled the half bath when we had that remodeled. And I had bought three more switches thinking I could do a few more. And then I procrastinated. Until today! So without further ado...

Here is the set of kitchen switches before. You can see how awkward the almond one is.

These are the staircase lights.

Switching the switches out is super easy. You'll want to turn off the breaker going to whatever switch you are working on first. The easiest way to check if it's off is to try and turn the light on. If it doesn't go on, you are good to go. You then will just mimic the connections from the old switch to the new. Make sure you put the switch in in the right direction (the on/off letters should read correctly. If it says "no" instead of "on", it's upside down).

The staircase one had an extra hot wire exposed in the back. So, I used a wire nut to cover it. I expect it was okay hanging out (it probably has to do with the fact that it's a 3-way switch), but it made me nervous.


See how much better that makes the switches?

I had one more white switch left, so I decided to grant it to our bedroom. We see this switch everyday and it annoys me everyday. Not only does it not match, the switch was actually painted beige by the last owners.

Much better!

I'm hoping to make the same improvement around the house. The switches and outlets are cheap in ones and twos, but they do add up, so I expect we will change out the others gradually.

Stay dry, friends!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What is this... a house for birds?

+1 if you got the Zoolander reference! Anyway, get ready for a blog post about my longest running project (so far). It started when we were home over labor day weekend. I made this birdhouse (below) when I was a kid (I'm guessing between 7 and 9 but I'm not sure). Well, after I wasn't a kid, my parents put it down in the basement (the nerve!). Anyway, my dad and I were down there and I asked if I could have it and restore/redo it. Both my parents thought it was a good idea, so I brought it home. Of course, I had used red paint, one of the harder colors to paint over.

First, I hand sanded it down to a certain point.

I had first thought I would paint it yellow with a gray roof.

But I ended up hating the yellow (and the red was still bleeding through). I probably should have used spray primer first.

I then decided to switch to blue with a gray roof. I was using acrylic paints I already had. I used this color on the canvases in our dining room. Anyway, I thought this made the little birdhouse look like my parents house.

I then used acrylics to paint flowers and such on the birdhouse.

Then, I decided to mess with it. The door was looking funny to me, so I tried to create ivy. Fail.

So, I wiped the front back to blue and just did some simple flowers. Much better.

I finished it up with a matte clear coat (spray paint). It sealed all the paint in and actually seemed to bring out the colors.

So, why did this project take so long? Well, mostly laziness and fitting in random coats of paint here and there. It was, in general, a pretty slow moving process. I also did many coats of that blue to get a good covering. Now, I just need to see if my parents want to use it now that it's all fancy. I suppose if they don't want it, I can find a place for it on our deck. :)

That's my birdhouse story. I think the only thing I would do different if I did it again would be to prime the whole thing to white before painting. But, it seemed to cover pretty decently and I don't see any of the red. I just hope it doesn't bleed through over time. If so, you may see another post about redo-ing a birdhouse.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Asheville Trip

This post is about a week late. But, better late than never, right? I left off with our Asheville adventure at the Biltmore. Definitely worth seeing. Asheville, the city, was... well... a little weird. J and I had an okay time in the actual city. Quite honestly, it wasn't exactly our cup of tea. And, I think if we had to do it again, we would have chosen a B&B more in the countryside/mountains. But, that's okay. We made the best of it. Asheville is known for it's food and beer. We actually didn't sample the beer, so no comment there. The food was good, but the waits were long. Like 2+ hours per meal. And that got old real fast. The city was very hippie/hipster/artsy. We actually thought we were in a bad area when we started driving through the town. It was just so different from the north-eastern cities and towns that we are used to. After doing some research online, I found out that Asheville is quite a depressed area, with a median income of 32-33k and 19% of its population below the poverty line. This was surprising since I have heard so many positive things about Asheville.

That Saturday, there was an outdoor arts festival and we walked around.

After walking around town and getting lunch, we decided we would rather go on a hike and headed for the Blue Ridge Mountains. We took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to climb Mt. Pisgah. We got in a good hike (3 mi roundtrip) and some beautiful views.

We were rewarded with some awesome views from the top.

As well as a nice antenna tower.

It's pretty easy to see why they are called the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This dog passed us on our way up and was very pretty so I took some pictures.

That concludes our adventures in North Carolina. I'll have some DIY stuff to report next post. Promise! :)