In the process of widening the wall between our kitchen and family room and re-drywalling half the kitchen, entryway and dining room, we ended up removing a lot of trim. Oak has a rather large assortment of pry bars that he uses to do this. I admittedly do not know much about how he went about removing the trim, but basically we ended up with a bunch of trim pieces with nails still stuck in them. Since the smooth end of the nail was what we needed to pull on, the basic process we started off with was using vice grips to grip the nail, and then wedging the pry bar under the vice grips to pull out the nail. Not too bad, but a little time-consuming.
When Oak wanted to purchase these extractor pliers, I kind of thought it was a stupid man-purchase. $28 for a fricking pair of PLIERS??? I almost rated it right there along with the biscuit joiner. Then, I discovered just how useful this little device was. You grip the nail, push down and the whole thing is out in one fell swoop! I could de-nail a long length of molding in just a few minutes.
Since even Oak complained about my lack of blog posts, I decided to motivate myself to some more frequent posting by sharing my favorite home improvement products. So, over the next few posts (until I run out of steam or ideas) you get to read about the things we have found that we have actually been super pleased with in this home improvement adventure. Like anything else, there are so many silly gadgets you don’t actually need. But then, there are silly gadgets that make life so much easier they are totally worth the investment.
Right now, we are working on getting our drywall and trim finished on the main floor. So, I’ve been working on fixing up all of the doors and woodwork. We have a lot of stained woodwork that just can’t stay that way unfortunately, since it’s so scratched/banged up from 30 years of abuse. So, I’m in the process of smoothin’ it all out and getting it ready for painting. My personal favorite for this is a nice fresh tub of Elmer’s Wood filler. Don’t make the same mistake we did and figure oh, we have like 9000 pieces of molding and 37 doors to putty, let’s buy the industrial size! Unless you plan on doing that task in 2 days (good luck with that), it will dry out. Even our clever idea of putting the putty in a sealed plastic bag – not so great. So buy the smaller container.
(SIDENOTE: This stuff is only for wood you’re planning to paint. It doesn’t accept stain all that well. In fact, what I have learned, for stained woodwork, and my stair-staining experience, is that you’re actually supposed to putty AFTER you stain. They sell tinted putty for this purpose. I’ve used the Minwax putty in a few different colors, and I’m generally not impressed… so stay tuned on that..)
Application technique is simple, but for the best results follows a similar train of thought to applying drywall mud – thinner is better to save your arm from falling off from sanding later on. (Oak will have to post his expertise on drywall at some point… in the meantime check out DIY Diva’s Drywall central.) Depending on how deep the gouge is, I alternate between using my fingers and a putty knife to apply the stuff. For the doggy-induced crosshatch patterns we seem to have on every door (seriously.. did these dogs ever want to stay in the room the were in?), the putty knife allows you to get a nice thin layer to fill in the thin lines. For deeper gouges, it’s easier to get in there with your fingers.
After that, let it dry and attack your putty with sandpaper. If you’re puttying flat surfaces like doors, definitely pull out your random orbital sander for this, as it saves a ton of time. Of course, you’ll make a dust cloud in the process but at this point I’m pretty sure our house is a perma dust bowl. I have completely given up on trying to clean it up until we’re ready to put the final coats of paint on everything (sorry, visitors). For door and window trim, you’ll have to pull out a sheet of sand paper and go at it by hand. Just think about the muscles you’re toning in the process!
Usually, this takes a few iterations of sanding, puttying, sanding again to find every little knick and get it all smooth. However, it’s definitely worth the effort because when you prime and paint, your door/trim/whatever will look brand new.
*Disclaimer: This post was NOT sponsored by Elmer’s. I did briefly consider buying stock in the company but discovered they are not a publicly traded company. Bugger.
The title of this post is inspired by Oak’s favorite demolition music. I’m sure Marilyn Manson would appreciate my re-work of his lyrics very much. After a year of house renovation, I’ve come to accept that dust is permeating almost every aspect of our lives. Even when I go to work, I notice a layer of dust on my laptop that I have to brush off every morning. Awesome!
So, Oak has been taking out the kitchen floor one section at a time (at my request.. cause I don’t think it’s very good to get the subflooring dirty/wet), but with it and his crazy demolition circular saw comes teeny white pieces of linoleum everywhere along with a new layer of PermaDust(TM). Every possible house project comes with a new layer of dust and/or crazy tools everywhere. I try to keep the kitchen area semi-respectable and non-disgusting, but I’ve pretty much given up everywhere else on the first floor.When I finally clean the front room where we’re currently keeping all the trim pieces, new flooring, etc, I’m betting on a 3 inch layer of dust.
Another dust tidbit: I finally figured out where the term “dust bunny” comes from. Radar’s hair falls out in little clumps that gather up in corners of the room. Luckily he LOVES to be brushed/groomed (most of the time..sometimes he hops away.. haha) so that reduces the shedding a little bit. He’s lucky he’s so adorable. Makes a little better when your shirt is covered in hair after a cuddle session. haha.
As if this weren’t enough dust to talk about, Oak has become preoccupied with dust collection for his woodworking tools. I was a good wife and listened to about an hour’s discussion (over several sessions) of the special types of dust collectors, the cyclone thingy that prevents most of the big chunks from getting to the vacuum, etc. Then finally, I had to throw in the towel and say, I can’t listen to this any more and even feign interest (sorry darling). Then I tried to bore him to death with some talk about scrapbooking tools. That said, I totally support the need for dust collection (yay, not inhaling sawdust particles). In fact, I support it so much that I am sharing these pictures of Oak’s super sweet dust collection setup.
Here’s the dust collection system hooked up to the thickness planer, which funny enough, reduces the thickness of a piece of wood (OMG are you impressed with my tool knowledge OR WHAT!). The shavings go to the garbage can with the home made something-baffle lid that makes a cyclone a la your fancy dyson at home to catch all the big pieces. Then it goes to the final dust collector, which is that white bag looking thing in the background. There’s ALSO an overhead filter to collect any fallout. Apparently we got a super deal from our neighbor for the overhead filter, a $200 machine for $25. ha!
If only there were something that did this for everywhere in the house… Push a button and BOOM! All the dust (and dust bunnies) is sucked off every surface. Sort of like a Roomba, but that works a lot better. Wouldn’t that be suhweet???
This post has a soundtrack, if you’d like something to listen to:
We were at Ikea over the weekend, browsing, sitting on the Ektorp couch, playing with kitchen cabinets, eating 50 cent hot dogs… etc. etc. Does this place EVER get old? Not really. Sure, I’ve realized that some of their stuff is of questionable quality over the years (don’t expect your Lack table to survive more than a couple moves without some of the veneer chipping off.. lol), but it is still one of my favorite stores. Now that it’s fairly close by (well, convenient to family!) it’s lost some of its excitement factor for me, but that just means we can get MORE stuff there. Ding!
The Poang is one of those iconic pieces of Ikea furniture. Whoever doesn’t own one, at least knows someone that does. We have one with a green microfiber cover that has lasted us about 6 years so far. It’s awesome. Ready to brush right past that section following the ever-so-convenient arrows to the Billy Bookcases, having already owned said Poang, I managed to spot this beauty out of the corner of my eye:
A Poang cushion with OAK LEAVES AND ACORNS! Are they freaking kidding me??! Have the Ikea marketing people bored a hole into my brain and extracted my idea for an Oak-themed motifa? Seriously. However, at the current juncture, we cannot justify $100 for new cushions when we a) already have Poang cushions and b) could spend $100 on many other home improvement projects.. like window coverings for example, so Oak can walk around without pants on (which, it seems, is every man’s house goal..). Actually, it’s a miracle if we get out of a home improvement store visit spending UNDER that amount, and I’m like dude all we bought was random hardware items.. What the heck, seriously??
We decided instead that we would look in the fabric section – in hopes that they would have this fabric in stock so I could make something else out out of it. No such luck, but we did find an organic patterned fabric in some more muted colors that I bought a yard of for our half bathroom on the first floor. Now I have an inspiration piece! But, this cushion will haunt my dreams until I find some way to buy it for ten dollars. Any ideas?
We’ve been meaning to make the drive out to Angier, NC and all of the nurseries out there. It’s well known as having great bargains on trees, bushes, and other perennial plants – many of these farms are the suppliers of plants for the local big box stores. With Oaks family visiting (with big truck!) we figured it was a perfect opportunity to get some flowering trees for the yard.
Well, it definitely did NOT disappoint. This time, we only made it to McLamb nursery – they had a ton of stuff but next time we’ll do some more venturing. We got quite a haul of stuff at probably 1/3 of what it would have cost at a local nursery (that doesn’t say our ending bill wasn’t large. Plants sure add up quickly!). However, we were able to get some nice big specimens that have spruced up the front yard considerably. Here are some photos from the day:
Redbud trees galore! Here, they are a native plant and bloom in late March/early April. We bought one and also moved one that was growing too close to the house to a better location.. hopefully it survives.
Considering the perfect specimen…
Crape myrtles galore! I call these the “lilacs of the south” as the flowering is similar, but they come in purple, white, and raspberry and bloom for the entire summer! Love them!
Skye enjoyed cooling off in the automatic sprinkler system:
We had the first major snow in the house this past month. We got about 6 inches of snow, shut down worthy in NC. Luckily for us we had plenty to keep us busy at home. However we did enjoy watching all the kids outside. For awhile, our side yard was the sledding spot. (Yes, the kids were polite enough to ask first). Then, when the road froze over (behind the trees in this picture) they all moved to that area and went nuts. There were seriously at least 20 kids out there sledding – and they went pretty far – about a quarter mile each run! This was almost better than TV for awhile… especially when they decided to start piling 3 kids on a single sled. Oh boy.
Shortly after we moved into the neighborhood, we had one neighbor stop by with some banana bread that she made. It was so nice. Then, the next week, the homeowner’s association “welcome wagon” came to say hello as well! They promised us a welcome basket, which apparently they had run out of. Well, that was in November, so we kind of forgot/figured the basket wasn’t coming. Lo and behold… last Sunday the welcome wagon lady shows up with a basket! And not just any basket… a basket from A Southern Season! How snazzy is that!
We were a little disappointed to be moving to a neighborhood that had a homeowner’s association.. but, to some extent they are hard to avoid in this area. However, after going to the annual meeting last week, we pretty much learned it only exists for Purposes of Fun (holiday parties, community yard sales, etc.). Ding!
We didn’t encounter all that much wildlife at our townhouse, really. But, oh boy, since we’ve moved to this spread-out subdivision with tons of trees, we’re seeing all sorts of stuff. First of all, there are like a billion squirrels. They run around the yard, sometimes they chase each other, sometimes they are hunting for or eating acorns (which is so cute). Here’s one of them in action up on the grill on the deck:
But oh, that is not all… we also have these cute little husky birds that sit on the firewood pile that is out on our deck. They tweet excessively as well. After some research, we believe they are some kind of wren, probably a winter wren. Which, has me worried that they will be flying back up north as soon as the weather warms up. I guess we’ll see.
Apparently even NC is cold for the wrens.. because at some point, they found a way into our garage (OK, that’s not that hard for a teeny little bird considering there’s a hole in one of the doors) and decided to make a nest in our rag box. Then, every time we’d go to the slop sink they’d freak out and fly away. Oak managed to catch them in action one night:
Look all the way to the background and you will see our friend “Sir Fluffikins.” We have to figure out what kind of house he enjoys so we can buy or build him one soon!
Our yard has all sorts of interesting debris. Things like old bottle caps, random pieces of trash, and the like. Well, to some extent we can understand that type of thing, because stuff can get blown into the yard from recycling piles and whatnot. However, this most recent discovery is just downright odd. Evan found the following two GLASS PYREX BOWLS while he and Oak were out leaf-blowing:
How exactly these ended up in the yard, I don’t know. Maybe they had plants in them at some point? Maybe they were used as outside dog bowls? Maybe they were to collect rainwater? Instead of questioning their existence, I washed them (as they were covered in dirt… you can see in the picture, I had started to rinse them off and then decided to take a picture). They’re as good as new and are now in our cabinet with the rest of the bowls. Oh, bonus!
We got this cool door knocker as a housewarming gift from Daniela and Donny that now graces our front door:
Get it… Oak… acorn? hahhaa Daniela and I think that a red door on a brick house.. not so optimal. Add that project to the list…