Posts tagged house

Tribute to a neighbor

Yesterday, you saw a wave of snow on my neighbor-to-the-north’s home: snOMG.

She is no longer living there. The home is vacant.

Pam was a great neighbor, not only in that she was quiet, clean and kept to herself. She took great care of her yard.

Her backyard was a haven for honey bees and bumblebees. Her flowers brought all the bees to the yard.

She had inherited her home from her mother, who set up the beautiful landscaping. Pam was quick to point out that she was just taking care of what her mother had started.

She had tiered layers of gorgeous perennials. She had a wonderful flowering tree, in which I saw my first — and only, so far — blue bird. She had so many knick-knacks and gnomes and doo-dads, I think she moved them around her yard every day.

One day a couple months ago, as she and her daughter were selling Girl Scout cookies, my neighbor-across-the-street asked if I had seen Pam lately. I hadn’t. I had been on a week-long trip, and since home, had been sick. She pointed out that Pam’s car had been sitting in the driveway for a few days.

The next night, we found out Pam had died, when Pam’s friends stopped by to check on her and called the police.

Her family started visiting the house a couple days later, and for many weekends after that, to clean things out and get the house ready for sale.

Just this last week, the listing went up. And though I was only home for a few hours, I saw at least five groups of people come to check it out. One of them, I know, which is pretty cool. As long as everything goes through, they will be my new neighbors.

My only wish was that the new owner would take care of Pam’s flowers, and I believe my new neighbors will. Pam and her mother left a legacy that will live with this house for years to come.


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Today is definitely a snow day. The TV weather people had been forecasting it for a couple days, to start Saturday night and dump 6-13 inches through Sunday night.

Last night at midnight, there were only a couple flakes. When I got out of bed at 9 a.m., there was at least a half foot, blown into drifts. Now mid-afternoon, I would guess there is a foot of snow.

I will tell this story via Tweets, since that’s easier. And Lord knows, I haven’t been blogging unless it’s easy.

The other big Twitter news today was Justin Bieber’s thoughts on Anne Frank.

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As in the time of Franklin

Tomorrow something monumental will happen in my home.

I will have, before noon, a reasonable electrical outlet in my bathroom. To me, it’s almost like the discovery of electricity itself.

Since 1964, the occupants of this residence have resorted to extreme measures to use a blow dryer, curling iron or radio.


The only outlet, in the light fixture above the mirror.


The cord, strewn across the mirror.


The sad outlet, hanging near the grotesque bathroom floor.

This is something that should’ve happened before I even moved in. It was listed in the conditions under which I would buy my home. But somehow, it was too difficult to get this done.

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Keeping plans fluid in the kitchen

My grand plan for my kitchen has always involved new flooring and probably new appliances. But an avalanche of renewal took over my kitchen, and I ended up also painting the cabinets. In all that, the vision for my kitchen evolved dramatically.

At first, I thought I would keep my cabinets as they were, put in some nice dark hardwood flooring, and get stainless steel appliances.

That didn’t happen because…
First, the color of paint on my cabinets would not match to any flooring in the world that was in my price range. Second, stainless steel appliances are much more expensive than plain white or black.

So, after many hours on Pinterest (see my For The Home board), I realized I must paint my cabinets white in order to find flooring to match. Hear me now, I will never do that again unless under duress.

Even once the cabinets were white, I had a heckuva time finding flooring. I settled on some laminate that I thought was way too boring. Now that I have it, though, I’m in love. You will see it in a future post.

I also love my white appliances. Thanks to a very savvy saleslady in Sears, I got a great deal, and found a fridge that is quite modern and smaller and more narrow (exactly what I wanted!!).


The night my partner in crime brought my appliances to me. They had to hang out in my garage until the new floor was in.

I put my old fridge on It’s a local eBay that is very popular. I kid you not, in the first day or two of the ad being online, I had 20 people wanting to buy it.

So the fridge was moved from place to place until its buyers picked it up the night after a murder in town. I remember that very well, because at the time nobody knew who committed the murder. I did not want the refrigerator buyers into my house without my boyfriend there. So, there was a long awkward conversation held outside until I had back-up.


Chaos in the kitchen.


I got 100 dollars for that behemoth of a fridge. Had I known the interest it would bring, I would’ve asked 150.

And so, once the old fridge was in the living room, and the old stove was in the garage (it would soon go to my brother’s family, keeping it in the family), the flooring project could begin. First, let’s take a quick look at the old range hood before that’s gone too.


Old range hood, just hanging out.

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Victories in landscaping

I understand. You may click on a link with a title like that and expect to see something amazing.

But landscaping is hard work, yo. Seriously. I spent lots of muscle and sweat and hours to make this happen. And I had help. I cannot imagine doing projects like this on my own.

The rocks in the front of my house were a horrible large white craggy type. I did not like them, and unfortunately did not take a picture of them. I spent the first weekend I could on my hands and knees, picking them up, throwing them in a new wheelbarrow, and hauling them to my backyard to deposit in my shed. It felt like slave labor, like those cartoons where the minions of hell are forced to pick up rocks and put them in another place for no apparent reason.

You could see in this post a bit of the work in progress. One side was finished, with new pretty rocks, the other yet unfinished, but at least devoid of the old ugly craggy rocks.

Now, before I introduce the photos of the finished product, I must explain one more thing. My city was hit with a horrible flood in the spring of 2011. My house, thankfully, was not in the flooded area. However, everyone spent the first weekends and weekdays of summer filling and hauling sandbags and moving people’s furniture from their homes. Nobody planted flowers.

Once I was able to get to the flowers, they were well into clearance. I don’t remember when I planted them, but I think it must’ve been close to July. So, not only are these the first flowers I’ve ever planted in my own home, but they were purchased at a steep discount. I love this, but I really was expecting more voluminousness.

Small plot of flowers 2011

The first, easier and simpler, of the front yard landscaping. Picture taken July 8, 2011.

Large plot of flowers 2011

The bigger, more intricate, plot. Look at those lovely curves. That doesn't happen overnight, folks. That happens on a Friday evening.

As I look at these photos, I realize I don’t think I took a picture once the flowers had hit their height of gorgeousness. That’s a shame.

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Curb appeal in progress

As I was looking through the folders of pictures on my desktop, the pictures of the front of my house struck me.

First off, my house looks a lot different from what it used to. Here, in the spring after I moved in.

Front of house - May 2011

Here is my house in May 2011. I took this picture to plug into a website that would help me find a new color scheme.

One of the first things I needed to do in the spring was get the peeling paint scraped and repainted. That’s required with a first time homebuyer’s loan. Well, technically, the previous owners needed to get it done before an inspection at the end of May, but I worked out a deal with them so they paid me for supplies, and I did the work. Since the inspector wouldn’t care whether the work was done well, I knew the previous owners didn’t need to care, either.

The siding on my house is vinyl. This is not ideal because vinyl doesn’t hold up well to anything. Its only saving grace is that you don’t have to paint it. But, I did need to paint the trim around all my windows, and the back deck. Since I was going to be going to the work anyway, I thought a new color scheme would be fun. I plugged the above picture into a Sherwin-Williams web app, and went to town, playing around with different ideas.

I decided the bricks (which are really fake vinyl bricks installed over real bricks) and concrete would be a dark gray, and the trim a rich blue.

Front of house - October 2011

This is my house in October 2011. Still not finished.

You’ll note there is slight improvement, but it’s not quite there yet. After hours and hours of labor, it wasn’t quite right. A neighbor told me, “I see what you’re trying to do.” But everyone agreed it wasn’t quite there yet.

That’s when I decided to gather some estimates for new windows. Three potential candidates dropped by to give me their estimates. But one also gave me advice on what to do to make the front of my house look “done.”

At this late hour, I do not have a photo to show you what he suggested. I’m sorry. But I will post a picture soon.

For now, note the photo below.

Front of house - October 2011

Not quite there in terms of looking quite right. But see how the world's ugliest carpet has been removed from the front steps? Oh yes, there are better things to come.

Can you believe these photos were taken in October in North Dakota? Note the living flowers, the garden hose still hooked up to the house, and the Halloween decorations. Very odd and very welcome.

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Treating your windows with respect

Here is one of those instances in which I’m very angry I did not take more pictures when I first moved in. Everything was changing so quickly, there was little time to stop and snap a photo. Also, my camera was packed away in a box somewhere in my crazy cluttered office.

Trust me when I tell you the window treatments here were horrid. They were all white (or, more accurately, yellowed) hanging vertical blinds. In every room.

So, in pure excitement, I ripped down the ones in my living room almost immediately, as I was prepping to paint. They went straight to the garbage.

Then, I had to rely on my boyfriend’s parent’s old drapery, pinned to the wall, to get me by. When I think about it, it seems like I lived like this for a very long time, but it couldn’t have been more than a month.

When I started on my search for new living room window treatments, I first thought I would have long dramatic drapes, that pooled on the floor like in the home decor mags. But a trip to TJ Maxx (including a purchase and return) showed me this would not be practical. Besides that one of my furnace vents was right in the path of where the luxurious drapery would fall.

Eventually, I headed to JCPenney with coupons in hand. When I learned that buying new window treatments would cost nearly $1,000, even at 65 percent off, I was dumbfounded. Never in my imagination did I think this could be so expensive.

For whatever reason, I decided to try my luck at Lowes. I had already decided there’s no way anything would be cheap enough for me, especially considering my poor luck at the discount kingdom of Penney’s.

Low and behold, with only a 15 percent off sale, I was able to get gorgeous custom shades for less than half the price I was looking at from Penneys!

These blinds went up on Superbowl Sunday 2011. Aren’t they dreamy?

Living room blinds

I just love having the sunlight shine through these. I gaze at them lovingly quite often.

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