9.22.2010

Jackhammer + Driveway = Success?

As you've seen from many of our outdoor project posts, our yard is consumed with our absurdly long driveway. It's an asphalt nightmare with room for five cars and has weird yellow paint lines, which we assume were to show a previous owner where to park, but you can't see when you're IN a car and parking it. Useless? Yes. Ugly? Totally. I've nagged asked S if we could rip up the top half of the driveway since day one. And now that the new shed is half on and half off the driveway the whole area looks even more ridiculous.

Last week I must have expressed a particularly convincing exasperated, "it haaaas to go" when S asked me what was topping the to-do list because when S got home from work on Friday he stopped by his parents' house to borrow a saw to cut the asphalt and a pickax. He chopped up a corner of the top of the driveway and found that the asphalt was only about an inch deep. Easy peasey.

Saturday morning S started at the driveway with the pickax while I was still asleep. He woke me up by calling me on the phone from outside to tell me that we had a brick driveway under the asphalt. How cool! "Maybe we'll build a patio at the top of the driveway instead of growing a lawn," we thought.
I used tailor's chalk to draw a straight line using a 4x4x8 as my edge where I wanted the driveway to end and our lawn or patio to begin.
At 7 on the dot S took out the saw with a masonry blade (it took 5 blades total) and cut the asphalt along my mark. Then while he continued with the pickax I measured and drew a line to keep a path along the side of the house so we could still easily wheel our trash and recycling cans behind the house and to keep any water runoff away from the foundation. After an hour S had made this much progress with the pickax:
And declared that he was going out to rent a jackhammer. You know how projects have a way of getting out of hand really quickly? We didn't know it yet, but this is where it happened for us. What was a borrow-some-tools and give it some good old manual labor project was about to cost us $60. $60 well spent dollars, because in another hour this is how much progress we made:
I carried armful after armful of asphalt and concrete chunk to a pile at the top of the driveway as S manned the beast.

We discovered that the entire driveway is brick and concrete and was covered with asphalt. Such a shame because I'm sure the brick looked amazing when it was in good repair. More importantly, we discovered that the asphalt was only an inch thick in one tiny area, which happens to be the area S checked before the project began. We found six inch thick pavement covered a large portion of the area, which is just about the same time we realized our project was totally out of hand and way off budget. We were going to have a mountain of asphalt to dispose of. Plus, the fill we had was definitely not going to fill the gaping hole we dug ourselves into.

Knowing that we might be able to reuse or sell them to recoup some costs, we rescued as many bricks as possible (about 300) and threw the rest in the growing discard pile.
I had a moment of sweet victory (ok another moment since this whole project really is my victory) when I convinced S to rip up the asphalt walkway running across our front yard (ugly and useless, my favorite combo). I cinched the deal when I pointed out that we had jackhammer already, had nearly an hour left before our four hour rental period was up, and that we'd have to spend another $60 if we decided to rip it up later.
 Score one for F.

Saturday night we pulled out our laptops and S searched for topsoil delivery while I searched for someone to take away our three to four cubic yards of asphalt: tons of asphalt. On one had we had a super successful day and were well on our way to making the yard look a lot better, but on the other had we were facing the reality that we were going to be shelling out more cash than we had planned. So was it a success or a failure?

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9.17.2010

Welcoming Fall with a New Screen Door

A few months ago during a routine trip to the Depot, S and I bought a screen door. It's a $20 basic wooden door and is so popular at our local store that you literally have to be there the day the shipment arrives if you want to snag one. I was super excited to install it on our front door, until I realized that the summer here is like the depths of winter at home: you need storm doors and windows closed since the a/c is on all the time. I opened the windows once this summer and I think I did that because I wanted to shake out the bath mat. It was THAT hot. THAT miserable. Second only to the most absurd winter on record. So much for a moderate climate.

Fortunately after our escape to Maine, which I intend to make a full-summer escape next year, if it's anything like this, we returned to cooler temps. I will preface that by saying it is in no way cool here, and yesterday I was tempted to turn the a/c back on for a little relief from the humidity. But, it is cool enough that we're leaving windows open and the storm windows are up. In short: it's finally open window season.

We're considering entirely new doors sometime this fall to round out our tax credit purchases, but our basement door is in dire need of replacement, so replacing the front door is on the back burner for now. And since we know (hope) another storm door season is just around the corner we needed to devise an installation method that allows us to easily swap out the screen door with our 1940's storm door.

We decided the easiest way to make the seasonal swap would be to simply remove the pin on the hinges. Unfortunately the hinges to the storm door are painted in so many layers of paint that replacement would be a total pain, if not impossible. So S zipped on over to the Depot to pick up a few sets of hinges for the screen door that matched the hinge pattern of the current hinges. Some finagling with a hammer chisel and screwdriver got the paint encrusted pin out of the old hinges and the storm door off. We then lined up the storm and screen doors next to each other, took a few measurements, and put new hinges on the screen door in the exact spot as they are on the storm.
Then we tested it out...only to find that the screen door was a little less than half an inch too wide for the door opening thanks to the added width of the new hinges.

So we took off the new hinges, marked a straight line down the edge of the screen door with one of my sewing rulers, and shaved a bit off the door with the circular saw. The cut came out just fine, a table saw would have been perfection, but we work with what we have. S notched out a space for each of the hinges again and screwed them in place.
We put the door back on the hinges...and it worked perfectly.
We put a little handle on the inside and an eye for the hook and eye lock to keep it closed.
Now we're all enjoying the nice "cool" breeze coming into our living room from our new screen door.

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9.15.2010

Giant Fail for the Dishwasher

In addition to an empty fridge, weedy lawn, and dirty laundry, we came home to a broken dishwasher. How on earth does a one year old dishwasher break from not being used for a month? And of course when a dishwasher breaks you don't find out when it's empty. No, it's full of dirty dishes, most of which have gunk dried on them 'cause we're a family of two and we run the dishwasher once or twice a week.

S investigated and took things apart while I washed the dishes by hand.
Then to make matters worse, S dropped the tiny little hex wrench back into the filter after having cleaned it out and put it all back together.... The hex wrench that we needed to be able to take off the four bolts to get at the dropped hex wrench. After a search through my I-used-to-be-single-and-live-alone tool box, which turned up no suitable wrench, S got creative. And retrieved the dropped wrench.
Thank you to the friends who gave us those little OXO fridge magnet clips for our wedding. We're really sorry we had to pry the magnet off of one of them, but it worked wonders.

With everything put back together and all unnecessary tools removed from the inner-workings of the dishwasher, we started it up.... Um. Technically it was working, but the sound, oh the sound! It was not ok.

We know it's a new dishwasher since our previous owners just renovated the kitchen a year ago, so we washed the dishes by hand and called the manufacturer in the morning. Today a totally cool woman showed up and after listening to the sound for two seconds confirmed that it needed a new motor. And we got one. For free. 'Cause it's under warranty. We're pretty psyched and will be even more so tonight when we don't have to do all our dishes by hand.

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9.12.2010

Cleaning & Organizing the Fridge

We're home after nearly a month away for a vacation, some work, and general get-me-the-heck-out-of-this-heat. I'll spare you every last detail of the trip except to say that it involved a lot of lobster, tons of fresh tomatoes, and more blueberries than I can count. In a word, it was perfect.

Because we really hate to have a mess around the Hive, we unpacked the night we got home...after a 12 hour drive. It was kind of nutty, but made transitioning back into real life a little easier. The only thing we really needed to do to get back into the swing of things was to hit up the grocery store for a bank-breaking shopping trip since we came home to a nearly empty fridge.

The silver lining in our empty fridge situation is that it gave me the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning. I removed all the food, threw away anything that was past its expiration date, was growing something funky, or that we hadn't used in a while. I took out all of the shelves, cleaned their tops and bottoms with Seventh Generation anti-bacterial cleaner, and then wiped down the walls of the fridge with the same. (Isn't it amazing how onion peels get everywhere?) Then I delineated each area of the fridge into sections and put all the food in its proper section.
We have baskets for the bottom shelf to keep produce tidy so it doesn't go forgotten and uneaten. On the left are onions and potatoes, apples in the middle so they don't spoil the other fruit in the drawer, and lettuce on the right. What do you do to keep your fridge organized?

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9.05.2010

Happy First Anniversary

It's our first anniversary today. We're celebrating where we said "I do" one year ago. Except this year we're enjoying the total lack of a to-do list and twenty-four page mani-f|s-to.

I can't believe it's already been a year, and I can't believe it's only been a year.
I love you, darlin' S!

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