Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Attic Project Creep – 2 the expanding floor and shelves

We emptied the entire attic into our small first and only floor. There are stacks of boxes everywhere leaving pathways with the promise it will only be there a short time. The attic project was to insulate the entire floor and cover a third of the attic with a secure floor to stack boxes, camping gear, etc. The plan was to latter go back and build more flooring. Um, excuse me but the attic is empty now. The help is here now. Can’t we do the whole floor now? With that we had the next project creep. The entire 800 square feet was going to be covered so there would be no risk of things falling through the ceiling. The next project creep came with a suggestion of shelves around the chimney. Um, no that would be a possible fire hazard so instead of one set of shelves there we went for 2 in the roof peaks.

Okay, the construction should be done now. But, excuse me…. We have this beautifully done storage area with these rickety old wooden folding stairs that look (and feel) like they have seen better days. Can’t we install new heavier duty aluminum stairs? Consider it curb appeal to really show off the rest of the work upstairs. Understand I just talked the guys (husband and handyman) into the entire floor and 2 sets of shelves (be it for the husbands stuff). I was meeting some resistance so I went out and bought one and had it ready for them. I have to say when I got the email telling me it was installed and SO MUCH BETTER than the old one that they both wished we did it first I felt vindicated. Then there was just one more thing and I would be done with expanding this project. Yes, there was one more thing to complete the ‘attic project”. It was actually what sort of started the whole mess. I saw an advertisement in the Sky Mall magazine for an attic tent. It is a great way of reducing draft for folding attic stairs. Just when the whole attic was under insulated it really didn’t make sense. So after the new stronger more stable stairs were installed the attic tent was installed over it.

Needless to say the project went over budget. We doubled the wood needed and added the cost of news stairs too. BUT I think it went well and all involved are REALLY happy with how it turned out and that is finished…. Well all but carrying all that stuff back up. Hmm, might be time for a trip to the thrift store or have a yard sale.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Unveiling the Porch

Tim took a nap yesterday morning. I took the kids outside to play. And that darn ugly old carpet was taunting me. It was ripped and worn. It had to go. I ripped up the green carpet off of the front porch. I stopped just short of over doing it. There is still a spot between two roof supports and under the cement bench.

The kids helped weight down sections so I could rip off strips. They also held the contractor bags open for me. They had a blast playing with the ants at the edge of the flower bed we disturbed. They were just those little black ‘sugar’ ants (aka moving black specs). The kids decided to feed them and started to pick the leaves off of the daffodils which are just starting to come up. I think I caught them in time so we’ll have some flowers this year. When Tim woke up he said he could move cement bench. I tried to warn him before he tried. Luckily he stopped trying to lift the top section before I would have to take him to the hospital. It is definitely a 2 person job and I wasn’t up to it. When I recover some we’ll team up and move the bench so I can get rid of the last bit.

Unfortunately I discovered the gross carpet was covering a problem. I should have known after seeing the patch job on daughter's wall when I took down that fake paneling in her room. One of the former owners should have never been allowed to work on the house. The front porch was poured in 2 pieces. The original entry step which is about 4’x6’. Then they added the rest of the porch onto that. There is a crack near corner of the original piece to the front edge. Then there is a break in the cement on the other side. A 3-4’ section of the porch has broken off and shifted. The far edge is a 1” lower than the rest of the slab. I’m guessing they didn’t put in a proper foundation (rock) or any rebar. We don’t have the funds to jackhammer it out and doing the whole thing right, which would include unbolting the porch roof from the slab. I’m thinking I need to patch and resurface the whole porch so it doesn’t get worse from ice and looks good. Sigh, one more thing on the “to do” list.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Attic: Project Creep - 1

“Project Creep” is that awful thing that seems to happen with almost every home project. We wanted to improve the insulation in our attic. The house is over 50 years old and the insulation in the attic is close to nonexistent. We called in a handyman to help out. While he was here to give us an estimate he found all of the electrical covers were off. He gave us an estimate but would not do any work until we had an electrician in to fix the problems.

Before the electrician arrived I was asked if there was anything I would like to add to his to do list. My husband wanted to add a second attic light. I decided outlets outside in the front and back would make using the weed whacker and other tools and lights much easier. I also the kitchen ceiling fixture had to be replaced. It was going though 2-3 sets of bulbs a year. And then there was the porch light. I had it replaced with one that goes much better with the house and has a motion detector so it wouldn’t be left on all night when we didn’t need it. So after a trip to the local Home Depot store we had all of the additional fixtures for th e electrician to install.

We had an electrician in and with the problems he found in the attic we were lucky the house hadn’t burned down. He had to put caps on all the wires and secure the box covers. When they went to install the second light they had to take down the first light and reinstall it since they didn’t use a box. All of it was fixed. Installing the two new light fixtures went smoothly. The new electrical boxes didn’t go as well. Nothing that will burn down the house but we now know that any simple home repairs will be involving rewiring just about every room in the house.

With the wiring done we were now ready to call in the handyman to have insulation and flooring put into the attic.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Light Up My Life

One of the reasons why I want to plant fruits and vegetables in the garden is so the kids know where their food comes from and appreciate the effort it takes to get it from seed to their table. When I heard there was going to be an olive oil demonstration I thought it would take those efforts one more step in that life lesson. The gentleman asked different kids to come up and help with each step of the process. A whole basket of fresh black olives, about 2 pints, were poured into the hopper. The top of the press was put into place then all of the turning and cranking started. After lots of twist and turns, liquid stared to pour out of the bottom. The juices were then poured into test tubes and put into a machine to spin out the oil. After a few minutes there was olive juice and a table spoon of olive oil. Yup all of those olives for only drops of oil. The oil was poured into a lamp and lit to show it was really oil and would burn

It is something to think about. The amount of effort to make olive oil is one of the reason why whaling for blubber became such a commercial success. The whaling industry killed thousands of whales to fuel the lamps of Europe and elsewhere. Whaling waned only when fossil fuels replaced it. If we want to replace fossil fuels we’ll need to find something to replace it. We changed the balance of the sea and now we are changing more ecosystems for cheap fuel.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Here Fishy Fishy

Continuing with the love of science the same holiday festival had Under the Sea (http://www.touchthesea.org ) come for an hour long educational program. The marine scientist brought out critter after critter with explanations of who they were and other information. Some of the critters were held up high so all the kids (and parents too) could see them. Others were put into a small tank in front of a projector. Things such as shrimps were projected larger than life onto the screen so we all could it in all of its glory. The show was wonderful and the kids were told they could touch the shells, models and skeletons and ask all the questions about the coolers full of critters, but please no touching, after the show.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kid Hover Craft

I love science and want encourage my kids to have the same love. I was thrilled to find one of the holiday festivals included a demonstration by Mad Science. The kids got to see flash paper, tricks with water absorbing powder, and Styrofoam melting chemicals. They thought that was great and then… Well then they got to ride a hover craft made with a board and a leaf blower. They had a blast.