Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Crafty Single Female Homeowner

To keep this mainly a house blog, I've created a blog just for my crafty side.  Mainly embroidery. Might also include a little more personal things, like work, love, etc.  Why the heck not....I'm a grown woman, I can do what I want!

Find my crafty goodness at the Crafty Single Female Homeowner!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Well Has Run Dry

Of money that is. Not ideas....I've got loads of ideas floating around in my head. Unfortunately ideas and results can't pay the bills.

What I WANT to do:

Install baseboards - I found a cool idea on pinterest that would be cheaper for the larger size boards that I want. I LOVE the look of taller baseboards.

Do something to the basement. Not finish it by any means....but make it a little more waterproof, a lot less scary and improve the functionality of it as a laundry and storage area. Just not sure how to do it.... I'd love to get a utility sink installed and then some kind of counter and cabinet for all the laundry stuff.

Speaking of the basement, do something down there and in the garage for tool storage. I'm not sure where to store my tools so now they are all over the place....which means I can never find what I want when I need it.

Replace doors on 2nd floor from awful banged, beat up wood hollow doors to a nice bright, white paneled door.

What I CAN do:

Hang art work - I've been in the house for over two years and I really haven't hung anything up yet...I have nails and a hammer. I'm just really bad at making things level and even.

Clean out closets of clothes and STUFF and figure out what to donate and what to consign/sell.

Remake computer/craft room closet into sewing desk to make room for an air mattress in the room for when I have more than 2 guests - or parents and kids. The hardest part is electricity - I'd need to somehow get a light in there and an outlet. I've seen so many good ideas though...

Obviously I don't have doors and don't need all the elements...but I like the idea of still having room to hang things.


What I AM doing:

I am embroidering! Some of you will already know this...I just picked it up right before Thanksgiving. I'm having a great time with it and I really love it. Finally, a handcraft I can do (not like knitting or crochet!). I'm working through a Christmas present list....I'm more than halfway done with my list. I'm onto the hardest part of trying to sew some of the projects into tote bags. Sewing isn't necessarily the biggest problem....its the cutting and getting the stupid machine threaded.

I will share pictures of what I'm doing after they are gifted....

I just watched Downton Abbey. I highly recommend it. Now if they had a show like that set in the early 19th century.... and more dating.  Note to single men out there.  I will not respond if A) you have a shirtless picture; B) you have a picture holding a dead mammal as a trophy (fish are ok); C) you send me a generic message with some sort of sexual inuendo.  I'm sure there's more but those are the top three.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Knock Three Times....I'm a Believer

I'm pretty much to the point that whatever YHL takes on, I think I can do too. Except the crazy stuff with saws. And tile. Yet.

So, I inadvertently managed to get off work until Tuesday. Perfect since I have a house guest arriving tomorrow (YEA!), my 30th birthday BBQ on Saturday (!!!) and then my sister and her family arriving Tuesday after my first house guest leaves.  So, I figured today would be the perfect day to forget about all the cleaning I should be doing and instead decide to paint the side door hardware.

The brassy hardware has been aggravating me since day 1, especially after I painted the door. It was desperately asking to be changed. I had planned on just buying new hardware, because that is what I thought you had to do. But then John and Sherry came to the rescue.  I figured if they could do it, so could I. And my previous spray painting experience with the Adirondack chairs was so awesome I was super excited.

Here we go!


Brassy, right? Meh.  Door hardware is easy to take off. Just a philips screwdriver and a butterknife (it's important to use the right tools for the job :P )

I got all the hardware off and laid it out on a grocery bag. Gave it a wipe down with some 409 and just went at it.

There was a piece that was attached to the door, so I had to tape around it and I added some cardboard to protect around it too.

I also figured out a way to keep the knob from lying on its side - paper towel roll to the rescue!

Spray, internetting, spray, play words with friends, eat lunch, check hardware...reattach!

I managed to drop the knocker about 3 times while trying to reattach, so it got a bit...weathered looking. I'll wait before going at it again with more paint, just to see what happens.

Nice, huh?

The only problem is I can't get the deadbolt screwed back together....nothing a job superdad can't handle. Speaking of handles, I replaced the handle on my broken toilet with the guidance of superdad this morning.  And changed the vacuum bag. So, I wasn't a total loser....

Thanks for making me a DIY spray painting believer YHL.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Patio Fin!

Last weekend I worked like crazy and busted out all the remaining projects on the patio. Go me!

Saturday morning I got up and tackled the assembly of my privacy arbors. They were surprisingly simple.  I love simple in assembly.  I probably liked it because the directions were text based, rather than the photo directions that I usually encounter.  My mom, sister-in-law, and niece showed up as I was finishing assembly so I finagled them into helping me install - which just consisted of lining up and pounding anchors in. Again, way easier than expected.

That did it for Saturday, since I headed out to Wisco for a family reunion.

I got up bright and early on Sunday morning to tackle more projects.  I started with washing the plastic furniture pictured above.  I was ready for my first foray into spray painting. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of the project. The biggest problem I encountered was the ant pile I stepped in while spray painting *shudder*.  Plus the resulting yellow boogeys from spray painting.

But look! Success!

In between drying  coats of spray paint, I went out to the Home Depot and got some new plants to replace the ones that died in the planters during our heat wave this summer. I love fall blooms. The colors...*swoon*

After the planting and spray painting, my dad came by and helped me get the patio cleaned up for sealing.  But before we could do that, my aunt, uncle and cousin stopped by.  Uncle Keith just happens to be an electrician....and he happened to hear about how I needed help changing my light fixture. How fortuitous!

Bye bye brassy light fixture with wonky sensor....hello pretty black fixture that matches the light post on the side of the house.

In addition to that lighting change, I also picked up some more solar garden lights and put three on each side of the patio. Love the resulting ambiance, even though I have no picture to show you.

Finally, my dad and I got down to the main event, sealing the patio.  The sealer was a high gloss, to give the patio a wet look at all times.  Imagine nail polish remover. Times 10,000.  I had a headache the rest of the night that tylenol couldn't even kick.

But the result? Magnifico. Bellisima.

The end, patio!  It's been great building with you. *MWAH*

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm 30. Now What?

I turn 30 today.  It feels like a huge milestone, something that should indicate a ginormous turning point in my life. How is my life going to be different now that I'm 30, rather than 29? Does it even matter? 
Sometimes I feel like at 30, I'm missing out on so much that my friends and family who have turned 30 have accomplished. Namely getting married and having a family.  But I've done so many things that other people couldn't have or didn't. I can't let what I don't have drag me down and diminish all the great things I've accomplished since graduating college: saving the world one illiterate child at a time, getting a masters degree, starting a career I love, buying a house and fixing it up....

There's a reason why my family and friends are proud of me/impressed by me/think I'm the best librarian ever. And it doesn't have anything to do about my marital state or lack of fruit of my loins.

Turning 30 can matter, especially if I make some changes, make some goals. I think I should have monthly goals, changing my life in small, meaningful ways. So this is kind of like a new years resolution, but not.

Month 1:
August 16 - September 15
Keep house picked up and kitchen cleaned. My house reaches a general state of chaos by the end of each week. A pit. The PIT OF DESPAIR. I hate it, but so far I've done nothing to improve it.  Henceforth, kitchen, living room, and foyer shall be picked up at least every other day.

Month 2:
September 16 -  October 15
My money managing skills are non-existant. At 30, I feel like I should really have a better handle on this. Month 2 will forever be known as the month I kept track of every single penny being spent.

Month 3:
October 16 - November 15
Now that I've kept track of my money, I need to establish a budget - a workable budget - and actually make it work. I've done a lot of things that are harder. I shouldn't wimp out on a budget.

Month 4:
November 16 - December 15
Time to learn something new - or re-learn something that I've forgotten *cough* crochet/knitting *cough*

Month 5:
December 16 - January 15
Make my bed every morning.  I remember reading about John and Sherry over at Young House Love doing this.  When I do make my bed, I love the way it looks and climbing into it at night. This will be especially good in the winter since I'll turn my electric blanket on and it'll be extra nice and toasty when I get in.

Month 6:
January 16 - February 15
Make a lunch/bring a lunch everyday to bring to work.  I waste so much money and eat really bad things for me when I'm not prepared for lunch at work. Time to stop wasting money and find some things I can really enjoy for lunch at work.

Month 7:
February 16 - March 15
The month for fitness. Usually by this time in the year its gross outside - been too cold for too long, the snow never seems to go away. But working out always makes me feel better in this weather. Month 7 goal will be to work out 4 days a week.

Month 8:
March 16 - April 15
Spring cleaning time! It's time to tackle all those nasty chores I haven't been doing all along (clean those windows girl!). This will take breaking it down week by week....
Week 1: Windows
Week 2: Cleaning out closets
Week 3: Organize pantry
Week 4: Floors!

Month 9:
April 16 - May 15
Spring planting! Time to get the grass ready to look good and flower beds cleaned up and planted. Out comes the patio furniture. Time to enjoy the outdoors again.

Month 10:
May 16 - June 15
Plan a trip. The trip doesn't have to happen this month, but I want to figure out a vacation to take. A real vacation, to a real vacation spot, for a real relaxing time.

Month 11:
June 16 - July 15
Be social. I tend to become pretty hermit like and sometimes it takes more of an effort for me to go out. Month 11 will be known as the Social Butterfly Month.  At least once a week I will do an activity with a friend (that doesn't include softball night).

Month 12:
July 16 - August 15
Explore the City.  There's so much in the cities that I haven't done, haven't seen. This time of year there's a lot of festivals, markets, etc. I should be able to find something to do at least once a week.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Landscaping is REALLY hard (Part 2)

I got the plants in and finally finished moving the last dirt pile and put down grass seed.  So much improvement!

When I started digging my first hole for the arborvitae, I hit a buried concrete footer. Awesome. I adjusted where I was digging and managed to get all three in.  That did me in for that day since it was about a billion degrees.

End Day 1

Day 2 is another hot day, but I got up bright and early, thinking I'd counteract the oppresive heat. I was out there by 7 am, digging and planting.  I finished getting all the plants in on the left side of the patio.  And I managed to get a billion mosquito bites. So I have to ask myself what is worse - sun stroke or a billion mosquito bites. The jury is still out.


I decided to test the theory and after showering off the first round of dirt, resting, and shopping, I headed back out for round 3 in the afternoon.

Round 3 success - got everything planted on the right side of the patio and got all the mulch down.

So pretty

Then my pops came over and attached some steps, so I can get in and out the patio door!

That about does it - no pictures of the grass seed, but its just a boring picture of dirt. Fingers cross grass sprouts up from it soon.

What's left now....sealing and attaching the new light fixture! At least thats what I remember off the last list....

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Patio List

One of my coworkers just asked if I was done with my patio now that I had the plants in. I said no...I just have....

So, I thought a list of what was done and what was needed to be done was in order.

  1. Plan patio
  2. Demo exisiting porch
  3. Excavate
  4. Level, lay class 5, compact, level
  5. Lay and screed sand
  6. Place pavers
  7. Compact pavers, add polymeric sand, compact again
  8. Purchase and build patio furniture
  9. Purchase plants and plan landscaping
  10. Purchase privacy arbor
  11. Plant plants, lay edging, cover with mulch
To Do
  1. Install privacy arbor
  2. Install new stairs
  3. Install new light fixture
  4. Seal pavers

I still am thinking about some kind of outdoor lighting, maybe some more small solar lights, just to make it pretty around the new bushes and flowers.   Also maybe a deck box that can do some storage (and also a place to attach a bottle opener that would sit above a pail).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Landscaping is Hard (part 1)

Patio done sans sealing, patio furniture ready to party on.  Now I just need to make my yard beautiful!

I have more dirt to spread around and got some grass seed and a grass seed blanket thing, but I also needed to add some bushes and flowers.  It's always been bare in my backyard, especially since I took down the lilac bushes this spring.  I had three before that were where my patio now sits, but this spring was the first time they'd ever bloomed. Oh well, the had their chance to impress me and lost the battle.

I had a couple goals for landscaping.  First, I wanted to find something that could cast a bit of shade onto the patio.  I get about 8 hours of direct sunlight onto the patio in the summer, so it gets awfully warm back there.  Second, I wanted some year round color.

I'm accomplishing these goals in two ways - first by picking out an arborvitae that will grow between 7-10 ft tall.  Not only will it throw some shade, it will also give me green year round.  Next, I picked some other shrubs that flower and bloom at different parts of the spring and summer - a Miss Kim lilac and a couple Rapid Fire hydrangeas.  Then I picked some cat mint, creeping babies breath, salvia, black eyed susans, and coneflower for the pretty.

Here's the plan:

And here are the goods. 

Now its time to get down and dirty....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Patio Furniture is Easy

All I had to do was go to the store, find a set I liked, and swipe my card. 

And then get my dads truck and use my uncles trailer one last time before returning it.  Then assembling a table, four chairs, and an umbrella.  But after the first chair, assemblage was a breeze!  I used some new handy tools I got last year (a thing that turns nuts super easy....I'm bad at this!). 

A little sweat later, my patio set was ready to go!

And now ready for the first (but certainly not the last) libation...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blood, Sweat, and Beer

I did it! I finished the patio (sort of).  Let's recap.

In our last installment, you saw the bobcat go to work digging out the area for the patio and my awesome spray paint job outlining the area.  Now the real work had to start.

1. Laying the Class 5.  I had all the materials delivered gratis from Patio Town (since I spent so much money).  I had my Class 5 gravel in a big pile on my driveway, just waiting to be spread. I called in my dad and then reinforcements of my nephews Dustin and Dalton.  It was ALOT of gravel.  The photo below shows about 1/4 of what was left from the original pile.

Hauling and spreading gravel is serious labor. Plus it was pretty hot.  But, with help from my nephews and dad, we got it done in....4 hours? Something like that.  We also had to level out the ground a bit before we started too, so that took a while.

Pops hard at work

Note to self: pink bandana makes face even pinker

That was day 1 of labor.  It was pretty wet for torrential rains the days before, so rather than getting the plate compactor that day or even the next, we let it sit and dry out for a bit.

2. Compacting the Class 5.  I rented a plate compactor from Oakdale Rental (highly recommended).  The boys took turns using it, so they could flex their muscles at each other.  I had to make 2 (!) more runs to get more gravel to finish out the area. Not sure how I ran so short - maybe some areas were deeper than others? Who knows.  I picked up a couple bags of all purpose gravel at menards on compacting day, then later, as we got further into the laying of the brick, I got 1/3 a yard from Patio Town.  Once the compacting was completed, we made sure to check level and then the real fun started, laying the brick!

3. Laying brick.  Brick laying day, I had a lot of help. This was same as compacting day.  We started off wheelbarrowing some sand over and then screeding it out.  Thanks to Young House Love, I got a pvc pipe cut in half to use as screed guides and a spare 2x4 from my dad to use as the screed.
Pops and Sister Kristene screeding and laying, screeding and laying

Dustin posing while shoveling sand. Somebody get that boy a haircut!

Dylan and Dalton spent over an hour reassembling a wheelbarrow with a broken handle - many arguments later, with their mothers guidance, it was finished. Neither will be engineers.

Hours and hours later, we finished the rectangular portion of the patio. I worked my crew to death, including Grandpa. Sorry Gramps!

Rectangular portion done

Day whatever, we were back at work doing the circle part of the patio.  This day it was me, sister Kris, and the nephews (who at this point lost most interest).  The circle was really pretty easy to lay out.  Patio Town gave me a handy guide, so at each row I would know how many of what bricks needed to be laid.  It was just more labor - laying sand, leveling, screeding, plopping down a brick. Rinse and repeat. Until finished.  And finish we did.  Pops came over after work at 5 pm to help us lay the final pieces - that needed to be cut with the diamond blade wet saw.  He manned the saw since Kris and I were too fond of our fingers.  Although I did make one cut, I didn't need to make anymore.  The cuts only took about an hour....and look what we finished with!
Almost finished patio

4. Spreading polymeric sand.  After a rest (night? day? days?) Grandpa came back over and we spread the polymeric sand.  This is sand that you sweep into the cracks of the bricks and mist over it 4+ times, which hardens the sand and keeps the bricks locked into place and helps keep weeds from poking through and ants from building hills.  (So far I've only got one ant hill on the patio).  Sweep sweep sweep, compact compact compact and mist mist mist mist.  It was easy work. 

5. Back filling with dirt.  This was not easy work.  I needed to backfill around the patio with dirt and get the yard looking like a yard again.  This is still a work in progress at this point.  I shoveled out a lot of dirt from a trailer with Gramps.  Thanks for the use of the trailer Art!

Then we trecked out to return the compactor.  We stopped for sustenance. And broke my dads truck. Woops.  We went into McD's and when we came out, I started the truck, went to shift into gear, and the shifter wouldn't move. Went to turn the truck off to try again and I couldn't turn the key off.  Ruh-roh.  Called you ever had trouble shifting your truck out of park? No? Hmm...have you ever had trouble turning it off? No? Ok...because I can't do either.  Cue angry and upset Father.  He came to the rescue and forced the gear shift into drive, but still had no luck turning it off.  Since I was already out with it and it was running, I returned the compactor and went to get my second load of dirt.  Needless to say, after about 3 hours of the truck running, I returned it to my dad and skedaddled out of there as fast as I could. 

But it was done (almost) and ready to enjoy.  With a nice cold beer. And we did.

All thats left for the patio itself is some sealing.  I got the sealer that makes it looking glossy and wet - its going to look super sharp.

Blood - none of mine, only Pops.
Sweat - every single one of us.
Beer - for everyone! (except the younguns)

Up next - Patio Furniture and Landscaping!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grandpa and Me

When Grandpa comes and reads to me
I feel the sun and smell the sea.
I hear of men who caught the whales,
And then some wild safari tales.

He reads how cowboys rode the trails
And men worked hard to build the rails
That carried trains out to the west
Then baseball stories I like best.

Grandpa can't do skateboards, though.
He's not good with Nintendo.
These things I overlook, you see,
'Cause I love him, and he loves me.
My grandpa is in town again for the summer, or at least part of it.  This is his second summer coming back from Arizona.  Last year he helped out at my house by helping my dad hang my new screen door.  This summer he's been Ah-May-Zing.  He's been to stay with me the last two weekends and I'm fairly certain he's coming again this weekend.
Now, don't get me wrong. Having my 80 year old grandpa stay with me on the weekends really ruins my game. Or, at least it would ruin my game, if I had any. But I don't. So let the house projects begin!
First up - hanging a new(ish) oven hood.  I've been without since I bought the house. My uncle Art (famously of Art's Expert Appliance) hooked me up with one that was just sitting in my garage waiting for a helping hand.  And in walks Gramps.  How fortuitous.  We made easy work of it.  I cleaned it off and held it up while he drilled some holes and screwed it in, then, voila!
Next, hanging the railing to my stairs.  I took the railing down when I first moved in so I could paint the walls.  But....then I just left it down.  Lost the pieces needed to hang it back up. And it was too hard to do alone and I have to strategically use help from willing participants, and rehanging that railing was way down on the list.  But, I think Gramps liked the idea of having a railing rather than falling down the stairs. So, we rigged it back up after a trip to my dads garage and a trip to the local hardware store. Badda Bing, Badda Boom!
What was many things have happened in the last couple weekends.  I started work on laying my patio - with the very generous help from my dad, grandpa, sister and three nephews.  We managed to move the 5+ yards of Class 5 to the mud pit, level it, compact it, screed sand, and lay bricks.  Mostly. But more on that later.
Oh yes, another Gramps project. My outside light nearest my driveway has never worked. I didn't even know if the electricity still ran out there.  My intrepid Gramps figured it (zap!) and new the part we needed to get at the store.  Less than a dollar later after yet another trip to my local hardware store and a little elbow grease, I now have a working light!
I'm sure there's more, but I just can't seem to remember it tonight.
Hopefully by Monday I can write a post and share pictures of a completed patio!

BTW - we did play Nintendo.  And he wasn't very good at it.  But we had some good laughs :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Today was excavation day!  After a late late start - my bobcat guy had his trailer stolen overnight so we got started more than two hours late - we were off.  For a mere $320, I had my entire area excavated, with lilac roots and footings dug up.  I supervised and took photos. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

Time to get started!

The first dig!

Grandpa overseeing the progress

Look, he found a footing! I think it was from the old clothes pole.

Just about done!

Tux and Katsa, making sure everything is done correctly

Added some paint to "visualize"

Looking from the sidewalk

What the patio will eventually look like....

Up next - material delivery tomorrow and building on Wednesday and Thursday!  With any luck, by Thursday afternoon I'll be enjoying a glass of wine on my finished patio!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Feeling Decked

I almost missed my softball game this afternoon.  I did miss the first half of the first inning - that we got 16 runned in.  My excuse was that I was super tired from my busy day.

Hey, look what I did! (and by I, I mean, mostly my dad)

Where'd the deck go!?!?!?!

Oh wait. There it is....

And there too!

Can you believe that the small stack of wood and boards leaning up on the garage were this, just hours agao?

Not bad for a days work.  Next weekend - excavation!