Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 254- My house, my Menagarie

Plastic update- We finally went through all the left over water from the hurricane and are starting to move to more grill cooking. This past weekend we went to home depot and managed a plastic free purchase. This can be done by buying cement board and 2x6s. Now that I think of it; building is a bit like cooking. If you cook or build from scratch, it's pretty easy to be plastic free. If you buy all prefab stuff, then you get lots 'o plastic. Words of wisdom right there.

In other exciting news; I found a snake in the basement. Yes, boys and girls, a snake. A black rat snake to be exact, which works well with killing the mice; not so well with me not freaking out.

Image from wiki, thank goodness

When the previous owners got read to sell the house, they had it painted with kilz in creamy white. We've found some old colors, and this was probably a good idea. On the downside, whoever they hired had apartment painter syndrome; which means it was just sprayed everywhere. Walls, windows, light switches, electrical sockets, that hardwood floors and the bathtub. Hubbs and I spent a week scrubbing hardwood floors to remove paint, and I'm just now getting to replacing the painted over electrical sockets. 

Normally, I'll replace one or two a day, just to make sure I'm not screwing up electrical. This requires that I go to the basement, turn off all power to the house and then commence working on sockets. Today when I went down there, I heard this sliding, rustling sound. At first, I thought it was the floor joists creaking because Hubbs was upstairs hanging curtains. But then I realized it was ALIVE and if I poked a ceiling tile, the sound would move. Of course, I ran upstairs and convinced Hubbs urgently calmly to come down and see what we had going on. You see he's tall and can reach the ceiling, whereas I would have to use a step ladder. Yes. That's my story. 

We pull down some ceiling tiles and find this:

See our snake?

Well, that's a four foot snake in our drop ceiling. Between the pipe leak, the mice and THIS we are unfinishing this basement and starting over. I'm convinced there is are voles, mice, rabbits, snakes, small children and perhaps some more cave crickets in the basement and IT FREAKS ME OUT. It's like Home Alone levels of basement anxiety. After some quick googling to make sure that we wouldn't die if the snake bit us (not that we wanted to be bitten), we convinced the snake to leave with a rake and a gentle nudge to the door. 

Snake V Rake

Yep, you should leave

He didn't get far enough away, so he was placed further away from the house

So, there is our first and hopefully last snake. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go investigate all sounds in the whole house. And there are lots of sounds.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 252: C'mon on baby, light my fire (hazard)

Our kitchen, which you have now had the pleasure of seeing, flows into the laundry room. So if we are going to take out a whole kitchen floor, why leave the linoeum in the laundry room alone? Why not do it all? So that was is the plan. However, after the debacle of removing kitchen flooring we thought we might wait a little bit and actually get a new floor in one room before ripping out the floor in another. Don't worry, we bought 540 square feet of tile, something or someone will be tiled!

So instead of removing the floor immediately, we chose to remove the old washer and dryer. I wanted to keep them, well, because I'm cheap and if it ain't broke, don't fix it! But the Hubs convinced me that washers and dryers that have sitting around gathering dust shouldn't attempt to clean our clothes. So we took them out to the dumpster and found a lovely, non-vomit inducing scene under the washer.

Again, it case you didn't see it last time

If you have never moved a washer or dryer to clean under the appliance, may I recommend you do so? I'm still shuddering at the smell and feel of cleaning that mess. You'll also notice in that picture we have a wonderful plastic hose protruding from a rather large hole in the wall. We saw that and said, hey well get one of those new fangled metal pipes and close up that hole. It'll be like new! But we didn't have a washer or dryer, so it went to the back burner.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, we helped my coworker move and she gave us her 3 year old washer and dryer as a thank you. SCORE! Free washer and dryer, now we don't have to wash our clothes in the creek (ok, a friends house, but you get the point)! And last weekend we were finally close enough to being out of underpants done enough with the kitchen, to work on this hole/pipe situation.

First I scouted around the outside looking for the vent. No dice.  So I looked further up the house, closer to the roof for a vent. Still nothing. Then I remembered this weird screened in area under the stairs one could access from the basement.

That's a strange place for dryer lint

When we pulled the screen off the joists, this is what we found:

Yes, that is a cubic yard of dryer lint in the house. Thank goodness it didn't catch fire and burn the whole house down. I guess the previous home owners were of the opinion that dryers don't need to vent outside, they just have to vent to where you can clean the lint. Please note that is a terrible idea. So while replacing the pretty plastic hose with a better metal one, we will also be blowing a hole in the outside wall to vent the dryer.

 I will keep you posted. And someday I dream of having all clean clothes. Thank goodness we have 9 sets of sheets and an obscene amount of towels.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 248- Kitchen Demo

Since we moved, the Hubs and I have been working furiously on the kitchen. Being plastic free while renovating a kitchen is basically impossible. For two reason:

1. We have nowhere to prep food, so most of our eating comes in the form of take out or prepackaged foods. I never get heartburn, but 4 weeks of eating out all the time will make your heart feel like a ghost pepper. 

2. We are doing the renovation ourselves. Hubs and I, and our four hands. Buying plywood and backer board is very plastic free, but buying tools and blade replacements is very full of plastic. We do our best to buy as little prepackaged equipment as possible, but sometimes you have to buy a 7" circular saw replacement, and it comes in one of those hermetically sealed plastic containers. Because heaven forbid that saw blade get germs on it before I cut my rotting plywood! Anyway, my daily trips to Home Depot haven't been plastic free, but we are still trying. 

So, let us talk about where we are in the renovation.

Here are some terrible pictures of what we started with in the kitchen:

Cooking area and (brown) sink

Breakfast nook

I know, how on earth could we possibly want to change this at all? The linoleum! The brown ceramic sink! The stove original to the 1960s?! Well, the stove didn't work, the floor was rotting and I don't have a good excuse for the sink, other than it wasn't attractive. So into the dumpster it went. 

 We knew that we wanted to have tile in the kitchen for durability, so I started scouting Home Depot. Many times they will have tile on clearance, and it was simply a matter of snagging a color we liked. Once we found tile, we knew it was time for the linoleum to come up..... And so began the problems. 

First we took up the kitchen linoleum. It was really easy, we scored the surface with a utility knife and then poured hot water all over the floor, followed up buy some scraper usage to remove the old linoleum (don't worry, we also checked to make sure there would be no asbestos particles due to removal). Well, under the that first layer we found soaking wet MDF as a sub floor. Okaaaaaayyyyy.... 

Well, this doesn't look good at all!

See that hole? It's been there for a month

Why is this floor wet? That's so strange. So the Hubs pulled out the dishwasher to find out if it was leaking. Turns out, it was leaking mouse nests. So now we have to remove the MDF and all the base cabinets because they are soaked in urine. Great. Out come the counter top and cabinets. And while we are at it, let's figure out why this part of the floor is soft, so Hubs opened up part of the floor where the cabinets used to be to find out that the plywood underlayment is also rotted. That was a month ago. 

Here are some progress pictures:

See the rotting plywood on the right?

Working on the last little bit under the pantry

Classy solo-cup drip catcher

Now the fridge won't fall through into the basement
As of yesterday, we finally closed up the hole in the floor and no longer have to worry about someone falling through the floor into the basement. So we are FINALLY making some progress. Who cares if we have a fridge in the dining room?! That's how we roll!

Next step is to get hardiback or cement board on top of the plywood and think about new cabinets. Has anyone used hardiback or cement board? Which one is better? What do you think for cabinets? Thoughts on paint colors?

**Solo cups are have been moved halfway across country and are 3-4 years old. No new plastic!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 235- Post Move Blues

I left you last time, two weeks ago, with news that we bought a house and were moving. When The Hubbs and I left Texas to move to Maryland, while planning a wedding and dealing with several deaths; I figured that would have to be the hardest move ever, right? Wrong. So so wrong.

The real reason I've been away is because we started working on the house, and it turns out that we have A LOT more work to do.

 All these kitchen pictures? That's all gone. It turns out when a house sits empty for a year, it get mice. So instead of killing the mice in the walls, which would smell terrific, I'm sure, we gutted the kitchen. That table, the chairs and the bench are in the side room, supporting all the kitchen stuff. The floor, cabinets and counter top are gone, as is the sink.  This will be replaced at some point.

We are also working on the non-kitchen parts of the house:

All the carpet is off the hardwood and I just today finished hand scrubbing the floor. So now we can hang up sheets and get the kitchen sub floor up to work on the tile. 

Here's a look at what might lurk beneath your dryer..... If you have mice and three standard poodles. It smelled wonderful. I know you wish you had smell-o-internets

Remember when I mentioned that I though moving from Texas to Maryland would be hard? I was wrong. When The Hubbs and I moved in, it was raining, and then we got hit by a hurricane. So the first 5 days in our new home we had no power, no kitchen and mostly no furniture. It was so much harder; I still don't know where a lot of stuff went. But our new neighbor lost their kitchen and garage to several trees falling, so I guess I will be thankful.

I will be blogging about the move and how we are working on a plastic free renovation. I warn you now, this is about to become a reno blog with plastic thrown in. You were warned.

How did everyone else fair with the earthquake and storm? Any brilliant plastic free renovation tips?