Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Three Down, 20+ More To Go

In case you were wondering, no blood was shed and no divorce attorneys called this weekend as a result of installing windows. Actually, it went surprisingly well - and, dare I say, it was EASY. Total time was two hours to install three windows. The only mishap was when I managed to get spray foam in my hair and on my neck and spent 10 minutes with lacquer thinner getting it out before it dried.

I wouldn't say all retrofit window installations are necessarily easy - but given that our current windows are standard aluminum frame and the frames are pretty square and level, it was one of the least complicated projects we've done. Replacing an interior door requires more finesse than installing retrofit windows.

Which leads me to a Chacha Tip for you: Avoid Craigslist/used doors - buy them new.

Really. I know that I have a CL addiction and am cheap but even I have my limits. We bought three 6-panel doors off CL. I was all excited about saving $20 per door - it was short-lived. They have proven to be a royal pain in the arse. The hinge locations were off. The door knob hole was bored a couple inches lower than standard height (so I had to patch the old strike plate area on the frame and move it down). The latch/stike plate was chiseled by someone who might be legally blind - and it's not something you would notice until you go to install the knob latch part and find that the screw has nothing to bite down on (I ended up getting a *long* screw and angling up to get some wood to screw into). It isn't worth the $20 per door. We bought a new door from Lowes and it was like night and day - everything fit correctly.

Anyway, back to the windows. The install process:
  1. First we removed the glass panels which apparently took about 2 milliseconds (I was at the gym and came home to find all the panels out and they - the husband and his buddy - had only been working for maybe 10 minutes).
  2. Next, we did a dry-fit of the windows and they all fit (proves that I can use a tape measure).
  3. Then applied a generous amount of silicone door/window clear caulking to the outside of the frame where the stucco meets the aluminum, leaving out the bottom for "breathing and drainage."
  4. Placed the new window into the frame, checked for level.
  5. Screwed on 3" long decking (weatherproof) screw into the lower left-hand side (since they open right to left this was the easier side to start), not too tightly so that it didn't pull the window too far over - there is about 1/4" of room on each side.
  6. Checked for square and level again (thankfully, there was never an issue with this part).
  7. Shimmed (and shimmed and shimmed - there was about 1.5"-2" of space to shim - this was to again keep the window centered and not have one side get pulled over) and screwed in the sides (3 on each side).
  8. Caulked the outside of the new window where it met the stucco - again, leaving out the bottom for "breathing and drainage."
  9. Carefully, and sparingly, spray-foamed the gap between the new window, the old window, and the wall. I say "sparingly" because if you do too much (even like 50% of the gap) it will end up expanding beyond and you will be taping the window and walls like crazy to avoid the foam bleeding over (this happened with the patio door - we got a little happy with the spray foam - it's not fun getting this stuff off).
  10. Applied peel-and-stick flat white vinyl trim around the inside to cover the gap. Last part was caulking where the trim meets the wall.

New Retrofit Windows

(husband's buddy pressing the window towards the house as I screwed the side with a decking screw)

New Retrofit Windows

(Last one!)

New Retrofit Windows

(shim, shimmery, shim shimmery, shim shim, sheroo)

New Retrofit Windows

(before the flat trim install)

New Retrofit Windows - Finished Product

(finished product)

New Retrofit Windows - Finished Product

New Retrofit Windows - Finished Product

(unruly banana tree)

INew Retrofit Windows - Finished Product

Savings by doing it ourselves? My estimates are $200 per window = $600. From what I've heard, installation costs are as much (and usually more) than the cost of the actual window and materials. A coworker of mine said he paid nearly $20K for like 29 middle-quality windows + installation. We have something like 27 windows in our house and we are going with the cheapest Jeldwen from Home Depot. In our climate where we hardly use heat or the air conditioner, there isn't a compelling reason to get the good stuff. The cost of the 3 windows was $600. We'll be getting back 30% through the energy-efficient tax credit. I'm guessing the whole house, should we do it all ourselves, will cost between $6K and $7K.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Know What We're Doing This Weekend!

Getting into a good, old-fashioned DIY fight! Ahh, marital bliss. ;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Let There Be Light!

Last week I took a day and a half off to work on clearing out the garage to have a garage sale on Saturday morning. I amhappy to report we made $100 and I was probably way too cheap but we were done by 10:30am! So, I might have been able to have more moola but I would have been sitting there longer, too.

On Thursday afternoon, I took on replacing the dining room chandelier so I could sell it at the garage sale. Here is the old one:

I know, you are thinking "Chacha, why would you take out a perfectly good, nice chandelier?" I hear that. But look at that picture. You might not be able to see from that angle but it's (a) too high in the air to be a proper dining room chandelier, (b) not centered with the table and could never be if I want someone to be able to sit at the end of the table. Unless that person is Nicole Ritchie. It has been driving me nuts for 3 years. The original fixture, which I have seen in real estate listings for other houses in our tract, was swagged with a hook so that it was centered over the table. Whoever replaced it decided it was not important that future owners be able to use the dining room as a dining room. Either that or they did not have OCD and the very pressing need to have it CENTERED.

I bought the Eden Pendant from CB2 which is actually a plug in fixture. So we had to cut off the plug and hard wire it. I bought a basic pendant light without the shade from Lowes for the light canopy (the canopies they had for sale were UGLY. So I figured it was worth paying $15 more for a light canopy that looked like it matched the fixture). It also uses a lot less energy since it's just one CFL bulb. The other one had 6 lights.

Here are the afters:






Total cost was $65 for the light (shipping and tax), $20 for the pendant fixture, and $3 for the swag hook. The swag part is not as "clean" as I'd like but I'd rather have that then an off-center, way-too-high chandelier.

A little tip on hardwiring a plug-in fixture - should you ever find yourself doing this. If the plug wire does not have a white line on it it usually has a ridge along the edge - you can feel one is smooth and one has a ridge. The smooth is the black and the ridged is the white!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picture-Less Update

So, it seems that either my face likes to break out once a month with cystic acne OR if that isn't happening (as MUCH) I'll get a fat-lip mucocole. I was thinking earlier this week: "My, this is a decent month for my acne - cool!" and then I woke up this morning with a swollen lip (it's not really noticeable - only be me if I look for it, but I can feel it). Right next to that slightly fat lip is a painful cyst-zit-thing (not like huge and visible, luckily). The left side of my chin has been expressing a low-grade ache all morning, to the point where I'm taking my cold diet coke can and sticking it on my chin for relief.

Fun, right? When did I enter puberty again? And if that is the case, then shouldn't I be 95 pounds without knee pain and a mortgage? Feh.

Last week I decided, for whatever reason, that I was going to start observing what I was eating. Actually, I think it was probably the result of seeing some pics of me that someone posted on FB and feeling like my weight has been creeping up and up. I hate that about Facebook. You get tagged on some nasti-ass photo of yourself and it's momentarily bums you out - not that I'm that superficial about my looks (because I'm not - I spend about 15 minutes getting ready in the morning and that includes showering). But it's annoying. Anyway, it's not like the creep up has been huge, just little a bit every year. If it continues, combined with age-related metabolism slow-down, I'll be overweight before I'm 40 - a pound a year is probably the gain I've seen since I got hitched. Really, for my height, I should not be any more than where I am now which is hovering at 120. I think my knees would be happier running at 110 (which is still more than 10 pounds more than when I graduated from college).

So I started entering every dang thing I eat along with all my exercise and activity. On an average working day where I don't workout, I have maybe 1700 calories I can eat. And you know what? I realized I was easily eating that and usually more. Two pints of beer is like 500 calories! I was doing that several times a week. I had to consciously eat less to stay at that number of under it. I was surprised, honestly. But clearly I have been eating 300 calories or more every day for years and probably have only gained the bit that I have because I train for races every few months. But it's not all that fun to bust your ass 20+ miles a week training for a half marathon and not lose anything (when there is some to lose, even if it's just a few pounds). Now I realize it's because I was just eating more than I should be.

Speaking of running, I've been roped by some pals into running the Long Beach Half marathon in October. I've always wanted to do that race - it's nice and flat with great scenery. And then I volunteered myself into doing a 15K on July 4th. Back on the runnin' wagon!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stopping at Four. For Now.

I am a reader of Mabel's House and love Liz's eclectic vintage decor. Sometime last year I noticed a vintage fan in her living room (or kitchen, I can't remember) and then realized that she had several scattered around the house (yes, I combed her house photos). For whatever reason, I developed an obsession with getting a vintage electric fan. I crawled eBay and settled on this little Westinghouse from the 1930s for something like $17 with shipping. He still runs! Though not with a huge amount of vigor. It's ok, he's old - I just got him because he's cute:

A few months passed. I saw more vintage fans on decor blogs like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge. So, I got another from eBay. A 1950 GE Vortalex ($36 with s&h):

This one turned out to be one of those things where the seller doesn't REALLY disclose the true condition of the thing. "Cage needs work. Nice little rehab project with out much fuss" doesn't necessarily describe that actually the cage was broken in 5 different places, bent and held together with wire and twisty ties (!). Yeah. The electrical cord running from the motor to the base was duct-taped. And this thing was Filthy Dirty. It took a whole week to take it apart and clean it. I have no idea if it actually ran upon arrival - I should have tried but the duct-taped cord freaked me out.

I rewired that part with vintage cloth-covered wire but it seems something is not right because it barely turns on the fastest speed. I think it's mechanical since I took a picture and wired it exactly the same way it was before. Again, I didn't get it to actually use day-to-day, though I am peeved it isn't fully working. The engineer in me wants to continue attempting to fix it but I simply don't want to waste anymore of my life on it. Oh, and we even soldered some of the weld points of the cage with a plumber's torch (that was one of those trying marriage moments where we're both trying to figure out how to use something a little scary for the first time). Without much fuss, my ass. My hemorrhoids give me less fuss. I haven't given the seller any feedback at this point because I can't say he/she out-and-out lied, they just chose not to disclose all the the crap wrong with it (and didn't offer "zoom" on the posted photos).

About 4 days after I "won" [sarcasm] the GE Vortalex I searched Craigslist for fans on a whim. I rarely see vintage fans on there. Lo and behold, I hit the motherload. This guy had worked for the Salvation Army and had amassed a collection of 10+ fans that he was unloading for $10 a piece. 10 bucks.

This one is my new little kitchen fan - Bersted Zero fan from the 1940s. This little lady runs! I cleaned her up but she was in great condition even before I buffed and polished. He had the larger version but he wasn't selling it - can't blame him. They are such cute fans. This one is maybe 10" tall. The bigger version is probably closer to 13" and oscillates.

I also grabbed this heavy as hell fan. I mean, it weighs like 20 pounds. I am not exaggerating. 16" blades. 1955 Emerson fan.

The oscillator is broken but, holy smokes, can this thing pump out air. It's almost scary how well it works. I may at some point try to fix the oscillator because this fan seems like it could handle frequent use. For now I just cleaned it up (took 3 days to scrub the fans, base, and cage). I think it might be my favorite.

Anyone else have a vintage fan obssession?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Framed, Cobbled Together Art

Like most wacky home decor/renovation addicts, I have many projects in process, and also projects not yet started waiting in the queue. The majority of them are little projects, a couple are larger (like new windows, remodel master bathroom, etc).

I try to make progress on the little projects during the week with the bits of incontiguous time I have during the day. Last week and weekend I worked on the wall/framed art project. I had purchased a bunch of frames from Goodwill (one is massive - haven't completed what will go with that one yet - a big oil painting of poppies). None of them the same color. So I spray painted them Rustoleum Heirloom White.

The first two are blown up black and white pictures that The Husband took (Venice, and a tree at the Grand Canyon):

The frames were $3.99 at Goodwill, the mattes were $4.99 at Michaels (but I used a 40% coupon on one of them), blowing up the picture to 8" x 10" was only $3 at Wal-mart: total of $12 each.

Speaking of the 40% coupon - Michaels really ropes you in, huh? I used another 40% coupon I had yesterday to pick up an oil paint set (I guess my 20+ year old paints got thrown out and some point - likely because they were bad - not even sure how I managed to coax usefulness out of my 12 year old water color paints), and they gave me a 50% (!) coupon for next week. Basically, I'm buying one thing at a time there (which requires restraint) because I know that they will give me yet another coupon. More trips but, I'm usually in that area anyway.

Alright, moving on.

I got this weirdly shaped frame that was $7.99. It had a print of fall leaves in it. I again spray painted it. It was originally intended for the Husband's blown up photo but after I realized the matte dimensions were stupidly narrow. Rather than re-donate it back to Goodwill I figured it was a good shape to paint a watercolor my favorite bird (one of my favorites - I also love the roadrunner), the blue heron:

Hardly some "great masterpiece" but I'm content with the outcome. I generally only paint/draw still life or flowers/plants. For a first attempt at a living, breathing animal, it came out OK.

The last funny thing I did was a shadow box. I had an impulse buy at an antique store we went to in order to kill time. An old pair of scissors/sheers from the 30s. I didn't want to actually use them for cutting, but wanted to display them. The Husband's buddy had the idea of shadow boxing it, so I grabbed a shadow box at Goodwill. Took it apart and spray painted it the same Heirloom White (the room this stuff is going into has dark wood so I wanted to use light frames).

For the background, I hot glued a scrap of burlap I had leftover from the curtains, and then used clear picture wire (fishing line would have been better as it is thinner but I had the picture wire and didn't want to buy anything else) to hold the scissors in place at 3 mounting points (I drilled small holes into the wood backing).

$4.99 for the box, $8 for the scissors - $13 total.

Alright, folks, hope you enjoyed my cobbled-together art! Have a good weekend!