Sunday, February 24, 2008


Here I am doing a line of caulk.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cool sign

Window dressings

There's this thing they do in South Philly: decorate their windows and doors for the holidays. When we moved in, it was Christmas lights and Santa cutouts.  On approximately January 2nd, every window on the block had candy hearts and roses.  Now that Valentine's Day is over, however, things have gotten a little hairy.  Here are three pictures of three houses right next to each other and directly across the street from us, demonstrating the competing holidays.  (Apologies that the pictures are fuzzy; I took them from inside our own house so people wouldn't think I was nuts.)

Saint Patrick's Day

Chinese New Year


I'm trying to decide whether I should just put some nice seasonal flowers in our window box and leave it at that, or if I should fully embrace the tackiness and make it my goal to outdo everyone on the street.

Pulling staples

It's hard for me to type this right now because my hands are so swollen from pulling staples out of the stairs.  I've pulled staples a lot before in different areas, but something about the pliers I was using today, or perhaps the fact that I did it for several hours, resulted in severely swollen hands.  Whoever installed the carpet saw fit to shoot hundreds of little tiny staples into each step.  We pulled the carpet up but left the pad on top of each step, so we were only pulling from the back of the steps, if that makes sense.  Greg, Barb and I worked for a couple hours each and only got the staples out of 4 or 5 steps.

Three cheers for storage

The various storage spaces around the house have officially gone from being empty gaping areas to real closets, with shelves and rods and everything.  Above is the bedroom closet, which is actually huge.  Barb and I both declared, separately, that one could store several small children in here.

This is a glimpse of the storage area at the top of the basement stairs.  We'll probably use it as a pantry area.

And this is the coat closet in the living room.  This picture is also notable because it shows the trim work and that the closet has a door.  Yes, the doors are up and the trim is done, which means that we're a few days of clean-up and sanding away from paint!

Monday, February 18, 2008


These pictures do not in any way convey how very dusty our house was after the walls were sanded.  The picture above shows a pair of gloves sitting on the banister, which is actually black, but looks white.  

Here are the stairs.  The dust in the center has been worn away by people going up and down, but hopefully it gives an idea of how dusty they are.

And here is a very frightening picture of some crazy-looking person who has been wiping the dust off the walls all day long.  This house is turning me prematurely gray, it seems.


With the drywall installed, taped, spackled and sanded, it's time for the trim to go up.  Roger, our contractor (and Greg's cousin) emailed us a list of what he wanted us to get for the trim. 

This is how the list read:

base 3 1/2" colonial feather edge 164'
1/4" shoe molding 31"
outside corner trim 1 1/8" wide 40'
mullion 2 - 8'  1 5/16" wide
door stop 1 1/4" wide 12'
pack of cedar shims
PL glue -- 1 big tube

To some, that list of items might make perfect sense.  For Greg and me, however, it required serious research and translation.  Mullion?  Eventually, we decided to just head over to Home Depot and hope we could figure it out.   We wandered up and down the trim aisle, checking available widths with what were required.  3 of the 5 sizes didn't seem to exist, so we tried to find the next closest.  A helpful employee showed me the difference between colonial edge and clamshell, which was a moment of major revelation.  We stupidly forgot to bring a writing utensil, so I was checking things off the list with a tube of lipstick I found in my purse.

When we finally (thought) we had what we needed, we checked out and faced the daunting obstacle of loading up the truck and transferring 16 foot lengths of trim back to the house.

Greg hung a Target grocery bag off the edge of the trim as a substitute for a caution flag.

It ended up going through the window in the back of the cab all the way to the windshield.

We secured it with bungees, but just to be sure, I hung on for dear life.  We made it back without incident, but unfortunately had misread the list and grabbed 4 feet of one item instead of 40.  Back to Home Depot!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cutting corners

I think I've referred in earlier posts to the fact that the previous owners of our home cut corners here and there.  Here are some examples.

This is the floor in the basement.  It looks like an area rug on top of stick-on tiles.

But when you lift up the rug, you can see that they only put the tiles down in the area that wouldn't be covered by the rug.  Which I guess saved a couple bucks an an afternoon's work, so, to each his own.  The surface under the rug are the original tiles (made of asbestos, sweet!).

Here's a kitchen countertop with a special trick.


Luckily, as of yesterday, it has been more properly secured.  Another fun trick, unable to be captured in photographs, is the way the microwave, which is located above the stove, isn't really attached to the wall either.  That's another item on the fix-it list.

Taped/Status update

This last week was spent taping over the joints and screws in the drywall.  Even more than last week, it feels like we really have walls.  At this point, there are a few more coats of spackle to put on, and then we'll be ready to sand the walls, prime them, and paint.  We also need to get carpet installed in the bedroom and office.  Other than that, the jobs left are fairly scattershot--fix the icemaker in the refrigerator (source of a big leak back on day 1), possibly replace some of the plumbing with wider pipes to increase the water pressure (it's really low in the shower), buy and install lighting fixtures and doors, fix a joist in the basement ceiling, etc.  Some of the jobs are more urgent than others, and some we can do on our own.  We keep getting the question when we'll be able to move in, and at this point it's still hard to tell.  However, we are closer than ever!

Up on the roof

One of the items listed as urgent on our inspection report was putting a vermin screen on our chimney.  I have a severe vermin aversion, so this was pretty important to me.  The exciting part of the story is that in order to affix it to the chimney, we got to go up on the roof.  I'm not sure why, but I didn't expect it to have such a nice view of the Philly skyline.  The picture makes it look really distant, but in real life it felt surprisingly close-up.

In order to get to the roof, we had to climb out the office window (pretty tricky) onto this little area, then climb up the ladder you can see in the bottom left of the picture.

Here's the new vermin screen!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Our backyard.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

South Philly Freestanding Chick-Fil-A

At the end of a long day's work, it's nice to know that Chick-Fil-A is right down the street.  The  South Philly Chick-Fil-A is not just any Chick-Fil-A, however.  It has something I haven't seen at any other Chick-Fil-A I've been to.

That's right, Texas Pete hot sauce.  It is the perfect complement to the original Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich.  Why is South Philly so special?  Why don't all Chick-Fil-A's offer this delicious condiment?  I don't know, but I'm glad I live by this one.

And even more exciting, the view across the parking lot.

For old time's sake

After rejoicing in the installation of the drywall, I decided to rip out another wall.  We had a few sheets of drywall left over, so it made sense.  Also, the wall (in the office) was covered with a textured wallpaper,  I had convinced myself that it would look cool when it was painted, but was kind of glad when we decided to take it out.  This one consisted of a layer of wallpaper, which had been painted, on top of paneling.  Below the paneling another layer of wallpaper sat directly on the plaster.  The paneling was gross-looking fake puke green wood, which we had seen in several other places.

This paneling had been glued to the wall (as opposed to being nailed into ferring strips) so I spent some time chipping the glue off.  

Other items on the agenda for the day: cleaning up the drywall mess, which was basically lots and lots of dust; rearranging the piles of spare junk in the basement (I used the power saw for the first time!); carrying spare pieces of drywall to the basement.  All told, we filled another 12 or so contractor bags.  Greg tried to take them to the dump but was turned away, so our back-"yard" (about 12 sq. feet of concrete) is now entirely covered with the bags.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Shut up! We have walls!








Most people who know me know of my minor obsession with checking the mail.  Ever since moving to Indianapolis in high school, I have considered checking the mailbox the highlight of my day; it's an event that symbolizes the chance for keeping in touch with old friends, receiving unexpected news, getting a magazine or, now, the latest Netflix movie.  

Considering this love of the mailbox, my joy at receiving our first real piece of mail at Mercy Street was immense.  We had gotten lots of mortgage life insurance offers and various flyers advertising local pizza joints, but when I saw the hand-addressed envelope with an Indiana return address, I was stoked.  Inside was a Christmas photo of good friends, which immediately took its place on our fridge.  Although the fridge is still pulled out into the middle of the kitchen, it now feels like part of a real home.