Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's the little stuff that makes a difference

The plants I transplanted from my old house all have new green or flowers - looks like we didn't lose anything!

The new stereo (ok, "home theater system") is connected and working and sounds wonderful! We had a dance party to celebrate -- cranked up some Willie Colon, "The Big Break", and danced salsa with Chas; hey it beats just randomly carrying her around in an attept to comfort her in her combined cold and teething misery. And as soon as Von and Chanel get home from the store, we're going to watch Shrek with full home theater sound. What I really need to do now is get some better speaker wire, get the optional wireless module for the rear speakers (hey, just another $150, tain't nuthin'), and get the speakers mounted on the walls. I'm guessing that will be a summer project and they'll just stay stuck in their less than optimal locations for now. Bottom line is that I have the sound I wanted, it fit my budget, I have a 3" high unit in my cabinet instead of a combined 18" or so for tuner/cd/dvd, and I'm happy with it.

Speaking of teething, cranky babies with colds, another little good thing is that this one fell asleep seriously slumped over in her high chair as I was preparing her crib so that I could take her out and try to get her to lie down, since she was clearly WAAAAY overtired. And there was just no way I was going to move her which would have mean instant wake-up-and-wail (which sounds something similar to "jump, jive and wail" being played by an elementary school band, but with less of a beat to it), so I just ever so carefully propped her up. Even her nose is staying unwiped until she's gotten a bit of sleep, which she seriously needs (so do I but she's going home tonight so we'll get ours then).

What you can't tell from the pic is that for some reason she keeps wiggling her fingers like she's playing the piano. Cute.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's finally starting

I talked to HVAC Guy who answered the rest of my questions. I talked to Electrician Guy who is going to make room in the panel for the HVAC (not hard considering the 10 breakers currently dedicated to baseboard electric heaters and the 6 breakers dedicated to plugs for window AC units) and run the wire to the new systems. We're all going to meet here next Tuesday to walk through what needs to be done and so that they can talk about coordinating what they each need to do. I'll have a deposit check for HVAC guy, and he'll have a starting date for me, "Very soon" he said, since he wants to have this done before the vacation season starts since he is apparently very popular among the weekenders with big fancy houses who all have him scheduled up to a year in advance to come in and do annual maintenance on their systems, put in a new one if it needs it, etc. He said he no longer can do any new installations during the spring and summer, his business has gotten so busy just with basic high-end-summer-house maintenance. He said it will likely take two weeks for them to do the work on my house, which puts the cost in perspective.

Oh! Speaking of cost!! I need to see who won the "guess the cost" contest and post the winner and decide on possible prizes!

He also warned me that "with old houses, you have to understand that sometimes you don't know exactly what you're going to find or what's going to happen until you get into it." I had to chuckle. Except for 6 years with a "retro" (60's) house, which had its own quirks, that's for sure, I've only owned old houses, so this I know.

Of course, with our luck we'll have a totally unseasonable cold snap sometime between when they disconnect all the baseboard heat and get the new system in place. Hell, watch it snow. HA!
I had thought that we could wait and take out the baseboard panels at our leisure but most of the vents are going where panels are installed -- floor or base of the wall, under a window. I told Electrician Guy that we'll take out the actual units, if he can just disconnect them completely from the panels and mark the wire (I'm not going to bother pulling it out), then we can take out the units, mark and hide the wires on that end, and save us a few bucks. I thought for a while about doing some of the other electric - I'm perfectly capable of freeing up space in the box, disconnecting the heater wires, moving the AC plugs to the same circuit for the rest of the plugs in that room, etc. But he can do it easier and faster and hey as long as we're spending this much money, whats a few hundred more, right?!? ::gasppantwheeze:: I did talk him into giving me a small discount for paying by check, equivalent to the fee he'd pay if I used credit card. Hey, it will pay for the electrician.

And a quick note on something totally unrelated, I just got a very special email and I'm dancing on the ceiling with excitement that a very dear friend who I hadn't heard from (or contacted, to be fair) in a couple of years will be in the mid-Atlantic area soon, and will hopefully be coming to visit me for a few days. This is good incentive to finally get all the windows cleaned, since she usually assigns herself that task if she visits and I want to just relax and play and catch up! Oh, this makes me a very happy girl.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Accidental Bird Bath for all the Cool Birds In Town

We started yesterday to set up a system to pipe the water from our sump pump even further away from the house (contractor only took it to the foundation wall at our request). We plan on burying and sloping the first pipe which goes out about 10', then connecting that to a slitted pipe which will be buried on top of a 12" trench of gravel, to distribute the water over a larger area.

I had a brainfart and only bought one pipe yesterday so we just have it going out from the foundation on top of the ground and ending in a stand of trees and brush and dumping the water off at the surface. I was going to get the second one and complete the project tomorrow.

But in just one day, the water coming out there has apparently become the place to see and be seen for the neighborhood birds, as a little bathing and drinking pool!! There were at least seven types of birds there in just the five minutes I was watching. If they weren't so easily startled, I'd take a pic; I'll wait until I have the time to be really really still for a long while.

Part of me is really tempted to not bother burying this drain pipe or putting in the slitted pipe, and instead just put up some feeders in the area and keep it as a surface pool. I don't think the water could get stagnant enough to be a mosquito breeding ground, because it would drain into the ground too quickly... could it?

Edited to add: Right now there is a HUGE robin with very vivid coloring (extra-long bright yellow beak and very vivid red breast, both of which I'm sure makes him very popular with the ladies) who has claimed the mini-pond as HIS, and is very aggressively chasing the other birds away if they try to come close. I guess spring has his testosterone pumped up a little high and turned him into a bird version of a macho jerk!!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Would an on-the-cheap kitchen upgrade be worth it?

Many of you have heard me complain about my kitchen before -- too tiny, sawdust-backed cabinets (Lowes' unfinished el-cheapest), no room to put in a dishwasher. I feel better now that we at least have nicer lighting and decent hardware on there, but the functional issues still bug me and I still dream of something dramatically different to make it much more comfortable to use -- different floorplans, etc. However, major kitchen renos just don't happen in the same decade or so as major HVAC installs, so I'm looking at my options.

I'm looking for honest opinions as to whether this idea - adding even more cheapo-junko cabinets - is a wise investment of time & money. Here's the deal.

First, backstory: One of the things that drives me crazy is that the pantry closet is around the corner in the dining room, because they had to leave a blank wall in the kichen for an electric baseboard heater.

The side wall from the kitchen currently looks like this:

It's the wall where the phone is hanging, and basically we can't put anything there that's functional. Plus the way the pantry is laid out, it's less functional than I'd like - I'm putting in more shelves to help improve that, but it's still not the greatest. That wall is also the left side wall of the pantry - not shown in this pic but shown in the diagram below, the doors to the pantry are just to the right of where you see the fire extinguisher in this pic.

(and fyi - this was a pic from when we were looking at the house, so it shows the original lighting and hardware. And no, Von's shoes aren't nuclear powered, they were just highly reflective with the camera flash!!)

So here's my idea and I want to know if it's quite foolish or quite sensible, or if you have an even better idea.

To the right of the small cabinet that's already to the right of the stove, I would install a matching (i.e. cheapo unfinished oak front, sawdust back) 18" wide tall pantry cupboard. It would go where
the red block is in this diagram, opening into the kitchen:

I already know from having a tall pantry cupboard that size in my previous house that it's the perfect size for keeping the number of canned/pantry goods I like to keep on hand. Cabinet runs $180 (I got this idea from seeing last night that they had them at Lowes), I estimate getting some pull-out shelves/drawers in there will run me another $100 and let's add another $100 for misc. stuff to get it installed and finished.

I'd actually just keep the closet as-is, which would make it a strange but still very usable cabinet for lesser used cookware and serving ware. The interior of the closet would actually be L-shaped; the left 2' would be around 14-15" deep -- I'd just slap some plywood on the side of the pantry cabinet and use it as the backing to hang some shelves for pots & pans, etc.. Then 16" on the right side would be 34" deep, and I'd probably just put shelves going all the way back for things like my wok and cupcake pans that I use every couple of years or so.

So... would upgrading a cheap-cabineted kitchen with more cheap sawdust-backed cabinets be foolish? Or is this a potentially sensible under-$500 upgrade that could definitely improve the usability of the little bit of kitchen space that I have? Or am I missing something else that would make more sense for no more or not much more?

And FYI,what I'd REALLY like to do is take a cabinet making class, then basically one at a time replace the cabinets in there with something made of better quality materials and in a simple design I'd like much better. Problem is finding the cabinet making class or someone to teach me... But, that's another $$ dream.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Can you hear me now?

I've decided (rather compulsively, I'll note) to switch from LiveJournal to Blogger for my house blog. My original plan was to migrate over to my own domain and do all kinds of fancy cool things from there, but that requires time and skills, or time plus extra time to learn those skills, and time is just something I don't have in excess at this point. Yet there were some things that I wanted to be able to do that LiveJournal just wasn't allowing, so Blogger was the easy solution.

This is basically just a test post to see if I show up in If I do, please stop in and say hi!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Welcome to my house blog!

Hi! This is Leslie from Georgetown House .

I originally kept my house blog at, but since the LiveJournal platform gave me far less flexibility than Blogger, I'm migrating my house journal to here.

If you're reading back in this blog to learn more about us, our house, and our "retrovation" journey, you can click here to go to the first post in my old LiveJournal blog, and start at the very beginning - from finding the house listed for sale, through everything we did until now.

Thanks for stopping by!!