Tip for Monday

16 01 2012

This post could also easily be titled, Dear Crawl Space: I hate you.

In case you didn’t know.

This afternoon, I headed out to the happiest place on earth, in my book…Michaels.  My parents had given me a gift card there for my birthday (wahoo!), and I had plans to spend it! So after getting some crafty things and stopping at Staples for a new little shredder (the perfect companion for my NeatDesk!), I headed home.

And smelled a weird smell.

At first, I thought it was one of the dogs.  We’ve had a lot of gross things going on with the dogs lately (which I won’t go into for you sanity), so I thought the smell involved them.  But then when I went to turn the heat up because I was a little chilly, I realized that although the thermostat said the furnace was on, the temperature was only 67 degrees. And I keep it at 70.


The furnace has, admittedly, been a wee bit noisy lately, and I was kicking myself for not getting it serviced as I’d originally planned to do in August (tip #1 for you – service your furnace. Apparently, it’s a good idea to do this yearly. I have done this never – learn from me).  I took a little look-see in the hated crawl space, you know, the most logical place for a furnace when you live on land that floods even if the clouds are *thinking* about rain.

It didn’t smell and the furnace looked the same to me – I’m no expert – so I headed back inside and shut the system off to give it a minute.  I tried turning it back on and nothing. Nada. Fabulous.

My mom suggested I get in touch with the heating people tonight so that I could at least get on their list for tomorrow. I knew that my neighbors had really liked the guy who relocated their furnace to the shed (possible in my house only if they jackhammer the concrete floor…and I have a spare $5000).  So I called over there to get his name and number (I know I have it somewhere, but can’t remember where – tip #2 – I’m now putting his number in my phone under “Furnace”). They told me to head on over where we talked about a couple of possibilities and I got the information, and my neighbor (the neighbor who spirited me to the ER about a month ago) came over to see if perhaps it was an issue with the thermostat.

It wasn’t.

I called the furnace guy and his wife said he’d be over within the hour – SWEET. So I quick opened up the crawl space, turned the light on, and threw the dogs upstairs with a bone and the ID channel.

The furnace guy is so nice, and I knew he’d be fair.  That didn’t mean I didn’t pray and stand outside the crawl space with my fingers crossed as he was working under there. It turns out that the fan assembly that pushes the flue gases out was “red-hot” as the furnace guy said, and kaput.  It was all rusted (thank you water in the crawl space), and rather than turning, it was shaking back and forth.  When that isn’t working, the rest of the furnace won’t even come on – a safety feature, I’m assuming, to keep the gases from backing up into the house (which I appreciate, and also explains the smell). So he shut the whole thing down (to keep the fan from possibly catching fire – that was the other reason I looked under the house pretty much right away) and he’ll be able to come tomorrow to replace the part.


It’s not exactly inexpensive (the part is the most expensive one to replace on the entire furnace, of course), but it’s FAR less expensive than replacing the whole thing. So that’s the good news.

And I remembered when I was out there that I have a space heater that my dad got me the last time my furnace went awry. Wahoo.

Since it’s not too terribly cold inside yet (note I said “yet” – it’s going to be bitter outside tonight), I stuck the heater in my bedroom with the door closed to get it all snuggly warm for me and the boys tonight. We’ll get all bundled up and hope for the best, and tomorrow, keep our fingers crossed that the furnace guy can get here first thing!

Never a dull moment, right?

Also, on an unrelated note, I took a blogging hiatus yesterday as a moment of silence, so to speak, because a dear friend lost her mom early yesterday morning. It’s a very tough time for her, particularly since she spent SO much time with her mom in the hospital over the last year, so please send good thoughts to her.


From the Garden…

15 09 2011

It’s been a rather fruitful summer in my garden – I’ve gotten more tomatoes than I can count, lots of jalapenos, and finally two cantaloupes!

Finally, I have roses too!

Someone's been nibbling on my cantaloupes!

Could it be bunnicula?

No, it's this woodchuck!

Don't worry, I totally salvaged them by cutting off any nibbled bits!

I still can't believe these came from my garden...from seeds!


A Deck Project – Staining the Deck

13 09 2011

As I mentioned, I used a couple of my vacation days to stain my back deck.  I’d gotten the deck power washed by my dad, and planned to stain and seal the deck over four days.  Of course, the hurricane put a damper on my plans, so I only got the staining done.  I’ve still got to photograph the full finished deck, but I’ll show you the progress I have photographed!

I decided to start by staining the railings.  In reading the can of stain, I saw that they suggested if you are using more than one can of stain, you should mix them together in a bucket to keep the color consistent.  I figured it would be one can for the railings and one can for the deck itself, so I didn’t bother to do that.  I did pour the first can in a bucket, and used a large paint brush to brush it on – a note here – since the stain is oil based, it is recommended that you get a brush that is used with oil-based products.  I believe mine was, though I can’t be sure.

I also recommend getting a lot of latex gloves – staining is SO unbelivably messy, so it’s helpful to have some gloves to protect your hands. Then you can pull them off if your phone rings and you want to answer it!

Here’s what I started with:

As you can see, the deck is in good shape – it just needs some TLC to make sure that it stays that way.  Plus, I wanted to give it a little color, so I went with a semi-solid stain in redwood.

First side of the railings done!

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? And it really shows off the green lattice work too. I had to unscrew that from the deck to stain the railings behind them, which was a bit of a pain and resulted in some of the stain ending up on the lattice work (because I couldn’t fully remove the pieces because of the ivy), but overall, it looks good.

The other side of the deck


Here you can really see the contrast between the stain and the old deck


Barney wasn't too sure about all the work on the deck - particularly when he wasn't allowed out there when I did the deck itself!


Another view of the railings

So the staining is done, but the sealing isn’t yet – I’ve got to wait for it to stop raining all the time and for the deck to dry out! That being said, the stain does appear to be a bit water resistant, so it’s good from that perspective. I just want to seal it to make sure it’s fully protected.  I’m very happy with it though!

Shut the Front Door!

19 08 2011

I just love that saying, so I had to use it as the title to this post which is about…you guessed it, my front door!

You may not know this about me, but I hate the paint color on my front door and shutters. I know I live in a beachy area, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be pale and well, ugly!

Here’s the front of my house (I apologize for the hazy view, it was really humid when I took this and my camera was unhappy):


It’s hard to tell here, but the shutters and doors are a very light blue.  I mean, are we baby boys?  My next door neighbor had painted them before the previous owner moved out – he was painting his and since our houses have to look uniform, and she didn’t want to have to do the painting herself (he offered to do it), she just let him go ahead with the light blue.


So the next time he mentions that it will need painting, I’m putting my plan into action for convincing the neighbors that it needs to be a different color.  I did a few mockups in PhotoShop to see what might be some good colors.  What do you think?

Dark Gray – it looks black, but I like a dark grey.


The colors appear lighter on the two front doors than they do on the shutters, but the shutters are closer to the colors I actually like. Which one is your favorite?

The Bush that Took Over

16 08 2011

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my parents recently helped me to cut back the three bushes next to my deck that were seriously starting to take over the house.  They’re looking a little naked lately, but I’m expecting the foliage to come back thickly as they get more sun, and I’m loving the cleaner look I have now that they’re trimmed.  I promised I’d show you how they look, so here they are!

Hard to get a view because the neighbors' trees in the background blend in a bit

From the driveway - it's still got some leaves!

And underneath - so much nicer! this is where I'll put more brick, stone and mulch to finish it off!






The Cantaloupes are Coming, the Cantaloupes are Coming!

12 08 2011

So, the other day I was out in the garden, checking on my plants, pulling a few errant weeds, when I noticed a little something…

Hmm, what could it be?

I got FAR more excited than the situation warranted, but let’s be honest – I grew this HUGE cantaloupe vine from seeds.

I almost killed it by leaving it alone outside without water as a seedling, and planted it as a fluke, when I thought it was going to die.  And now, I’m growing real cantaloupes!!

I thought all the flowers would turn into fruit, but I read that there are male and female flowers, and you have to have bees around to pollinate them.  So it was sort of up to fate as to whether I’d get any actual cantaloupes at all.  And yet, here they are!

First, I found this little one….

Then, I was REALLY excited when I poked around and found an even bigger one!

You can see that it’s almost the size of my hand!

And then I went out to check on them again (which I’m doing as if I were stalking them), and I knelt down to take a photo of something else, and lo and behold…

This one is HUGE!

Definitely as big as my hand!

Of course, a certain nosy Basset hound got wind of this one yesterday, and I saw some serious tail wagging – I don’t think that’s because he was excited that his mom had grown cantaloupes, but because his favorite game on earth (really his favorite thing on earth) is playing fetch.  And to him, I think this looks like a really big tennis ball.  So I’ve got to keep an eye on it to make sure he doesn’t grab it off the vine to play with it!

Now I’ll just be holding my breath and checking them daily until they ripen – I’m so worried they’ll either get infested or infected! I think I may need to prop them up off the ground too to avoid rot.  I’ll keep you posted!

How does your Garden Grow?

11 08 2011

Remember that children’s rhyme – “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  My grandmother used to say this to us all the time!

So here are some shots of how my garden is growing…or overgrowing, in the case of my cantaloupes. Holy cow, the vines are EVERYWHERE.

See those vines in front and to the left? Yup, all cantaloupe!

These peppers are STILL maturing. They take forever!

Lots of jalapenos coming along!

And more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I think I harvest ten a day. Seriously.

See? Taking over.

Will it become a fruit?

It's even creeping up the neighbor's fence!

I picked up a couple of little ceramic birds to sit in the garden as well

I think they're a nice addition

My lavender. It's my favorite.

And finally, the butterfly bush is blooming!

No butterflies yet, but I know they're coming!