Friday, June 29, 2007

Laundry Score

The battle of wits: old, moldy laundry machine vs. Rachel and Chad. The winner: Rachel and Chad, decided by KO.

Background: The house came with an old, moldy washer and dryer. They worked, but the washer hoses were breaking down and needed to be replaced. Sue helped us replace the hoses, but had a very hard time tightening everything down enough that it wouldn't leak. For about a week the washer worked fine but the water switch leaked. Then finally, with lots of effort and plumber's putty, we fixed the leak. Literally a day later, the washer started walking across the floor and throwing water everywhere (but not out of the original leak, or any leaks we could find - the water was literally being thrown out of the bin). At this point we had had enough.

Result: we spent some money and got some sweet new laundry machines . They were delivered today (and the nasty old ones were hauled away, leaving us as the winners of the laundry battle). I am very excited because our new space-age washer only uses 14 gallons of water/wash (as opposed to 40 for a normal washer). We have to go buy special detergent because regular needs too much water. I am also very excited that both machines have cute little displays telling me what is going on and how much time is left. We have the smartest laundry machines in the world. Ok, except for the super super fancy ones that cost a grand each and wash your clothes with steam, then fold, iron and put them away for you. But I swear these are the next best thing.

At first Max was curious about the space ships in our laundry room, but then one started to spin and she decided she was terrified of them. I expect that to last about two days until she realizes they are fun to climb on.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's hot out

Says Max. She's right. It's been in the 90s for the past few days so we're kind of sweaty around here. Sweaty and covered in paint - I am working to get the stairs done so we can hang up pictures on them. This has required some creative floor protection. Luckily we still have the wrapping paper the movers used to carefully protect each CD, candle, and bottle of shampoo we own. Now a bunch of it is taped to the stairs. Max HATES the paper on the stairs, and is angry at me for putting it there. I have no sympathy. I figure a cat that will dive into and explore our heating ducts should be able to handle some paper on the stairs.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Beautiful Floors

House 039, originally uploaded by rzpytel.

So after moving everything we own into the back two rooms of our house, we left they key with the flooring guy and headed to Boston. We returned last night to a lonely cat and some absolutely beautiful floors.

The attic especially looks totally different. It's just beautiful up there now (below).

The difference throughout the whole house is just striking. Below is what the attic looked like before (just as a reminder).

So needless to say, we're totally psyched about it. Floors like this were what we had imagined for our house and having them so soon makes the staple pulling worth it. :) Now we're left to unload all of our belongings from our kitchen and laundry room, in the most careful manner possible so we don't scratch the hell out of it.

See more pictures of the floors before we scratch them here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


You would not believe the man we had in our house today. We signed up to get a quote to replace three little windows on our third floor. Two other people had already come by, measured the windows, talked to us for a while, produced a quote, and left. But not this guy. He had a full presentation complete with several demonstration windows (with carrying handles) and a heat lamp. He was so sleazy it was almost unreal. "I know, Chad and Rachel, that you are people concerned about quality things." Totally scripted. He actually repeated some of his lines word for word, more than once. He showed us one example of the "competitor's" window, which was jury-rigged such that the seams pulled apart when he shook it around. He showed us his window (obviously this one didn't pull apart), and then put his window on the floor and jumped and stomped on the glass to show how strong it was. He talked at us for over an hour and never asked what kind of windows we actually wanted (much cheaper than what he sells). He gave us a quote, then discounted it 10%, then LITERALLY CALLED (or pretended to call) SOMEONE TO GET A SPECIAL DEAL THAT WE COULD ONLY GET TODAY. Are you kidding me? People actually fall for this garbage? This all after we told him several times we wouldn't make a decision today. The special deal was about half of his original quote, showing us the price was really totally arbitrary. So we showed him the door. It was amazing. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't believe he actually existed.


To address some questions you might have:

Question 1: Isn't it inconvineint to have all of your furnitute shoved to the side of only a few rooms in anticipation of having the floors redone?

Answer 1: Yes. Highly inconvinient. However, one very nice side effect is that Chad and I have been eating most of our meals outside under our big tree. It's been really hot here (in the 90s) but it's nice and cool under the tree.

Question 2: How's the painting going?

Answer 2: Sweaty. Tiring. But moving right along. So far I've managed to paint the living room and the master bedroom... stay tuned for the grand unveiling.

Living room taped............... and painted

Bedroom painted
Question 3: What's next?

Answer 3: We head to Boston on Thursday and Friday, and when we're gone the floors are getting refinished (yay!). So this means all day tomorrow will be spent moving everything we own into our kitchen and laundry room (luckily we don't own that much stuff). Pictures to follow once they're done!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Max is just fine

House 019, originally uploaded by rzpytel.

Just a quick update on the cat: she seems to be minimally traumatized from the move, the jump to a much larger space, and our continuously moving things around as we work and unpack. If anything I'd say she's less skittish than before. Last night she came over and sat on my lap. I know, I was also shocked.

And she's still doing well today, even though we've emptied out two rooms and proceeded to do crazy things like stand on ladders and wave around sticks, and sternly instruct her to not eat the paint. So far we've painted two ceilings and are exhausted. Ceilings are hard. Especially when they're 10 feet high. Hopefully the walls will be a bit easier.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

settling in to work

After 3 days of working all day on a card table and folding chair, my back and neck started to hurt, so it was defintely time to get my new desk and chair. Prepared with lots of directions, we set out Thursday night to go to Staples, Ikea, and the Apple store which is in the King of Prussia Mall (I also needed a new keyboard).

The trip to Staples was easy and I ended up getting the same chair we use at the office for conference room chairs (on sale, no less!). We then headed to Ikea, and despite having directions, we managed to miss a turn and went about 5 miles off track, eventually stumbling upon the mall. The King of Prussia Mall is in the town of King of Prussia. Honestly, who names a town "King of Prussia?"

Anyway, the KoP Mall is hands down, the largest mall I have ever been in. We're talking absurdley big here. It took a few minutes to locate and walk to the Apple store. By this point, we had driven around tyring to find the mall for a while, so we were getting down to the wire. Once we left the mall, we only had an hour before Ikea closed. That'd probably be fine, except that we didn't know how to get to Ikea from where we were.

With our fingers crossed, and a few wrong turns later we ended up at Ikea at 8:30, a half-hour before it was to close. We rushed to the work area section, picked out the desk (I already knew which one I wanted) and made it to the checkout just as Ikea was officially closing. Of course, the desk wouldn't fit in the car. Luckily we were able to tie it to the roof of the car, and we were on our way.

The next morning, I set up the desk and chair and was on my way to a productive work day in the new office, with no sore back or neck at the end of it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Toilet score

Final score: Downstairs Toilet: 1, Rachel: 2. Rachel wins!

Background: After Chad and I closed on the house, we came home, unloaded our stuff, and got ready to go out and celebrate. As we're walking out the door we hear water running. We go check it out, and the toilet has overflowed and flooded the bathroom. Keep in mind we've been homeowners for all of two hours at this point.

So the downstairs toilet gets one point for that sneak attack (we did use it before buying the house and it worked fine) and for discouraging any work by being totally disgusting.

Rachel gets 2 points for braving the grossness, removing the offending broken equipment (below left), and cleaning it all up and installing a shiny new fill valve and flapper (right).

It actually wasn't even very hard - I just bought a fill valve and flapper kit (Fluidmaster brand) at home depot and swapped them out following the instructions. If only the washing machine leak could be thwarted so easily...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My new friend.

I'd like to introduce my new best friend/worst enemy, Rally. By that I mean the Rally 16" Rachel-powered mower. I just spent over two hours (no I am not making this up, Chad can confirm) using every bit of strength I could muster to push him across our lawn. Our lawn was out of control (lots of sun + thunderstorms = happy grass = Rachel is afraid). It took me a while to get the height adjusted so it was even possible to move the mower over the forest of grass, but eventually I got it going. Then our neighbors offered to let me borrow their power mower any time, and I turned them down and spent over two hours mowing our tiny lawn. They must be sure I am insane now. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment, but maybe I don't need to worry about finding a gym. At the end of the trial, the lawn is shorter than it was before, and I think future mowing adventures will go much better. That is, if the feeling ever returns to my arms.

I found our kitchen!

House 012, originally uploaded by rzpytel.

It was packed away in a TON of boxes. Like seriously packed away. Things that I would never dream of wrapping up and packing were safely wrapped in paper...

If we had moved ourselves, I would have tossed stuff like that in a grocery bag in the car. So bizzarre. For example, the following spices (below left) produced an absurd amount of paper (below right). Seems like a bit of a waste, but who am I to complain as someone who didn't have to carry it. The company is apparently going to come back and pick up the material, so here's hoping they recycle it.

Tomorrow I'm looking for our bedroom.

We have arrived!

House 009, originally uploaded by rzpytel.

Our stuff finally arrived ~6pm last night, but Chad and Max settled in just fine before that...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Graduation Craziness

Hooding, originally uploaded by rzpytel.
Photo from Brian Hemond (thanks!)

It’s been a crazy week since last posting, with the whole crew up for hooding and graduation.

We even had a bit of time for fun stuff, with a tasting at Harpoon Brewery, one last dinner at Vinny's, some quality sister time (with Jello!) and an afternoon history lesson with Sue and Rachel scaling the Bunker Hill monument (294 stairs).

And a chance to check out Mortal Kombat for Wii at our goodbye party

Then, before you know it, the movers are here and it’s time to go to Philadelphia. Just to recap and be clear about exactly how crazy our last bit of time has been:

Thursday (May 31): buy house

Friday – Sunday: Tear up carpets, fix stuff, visit w/Mom and Sue, drive back to Boston

Monday – Wednesday: Work. Make arrangements for leaving. Last volleyball practice. Sarah and Al arrive.

Thursday: Mom, Sue, Dad, Melanie arrive. Hooding, Brewery tour, Dinner at Vinny’s

Friday: Graduation, Reception, Visit Bunker Hill + USS constitution, Leftover Smorgasbord, kids go meet Thoughtbot guys for drinks

Saturday: Sarah and Rachel shop all day, Big party at night

Sunday: people leave ~2am, Rachel takes Sarah and Al airport ~6am, spends the bulk of the day cleaning out her lab space.

Monday (June 11): Early am trip to Chad’s office to pick up last stuff. Chad stays at work, Rachel gets thoroughly lost, almost drives into a bus, then goes to MIT to drop off thesis copies and make sure she’s totally cleaned out. Then movers arrive and we’re outta here. Unfortunately they pack up the network router first so this post will have to wait until I find other access.

update (Tuesday, June 12): We are obviously insane and drove to Ambler last night after the movers left (~8pm). We got in ~2am. But we're here!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

First guests!

Work done!, originally uploaded by rzpytel.

Mom and Sue came down this weekend to check out the house and help us learn how to do a lot of handy stuff. They were so so so so helpful and we had a ton of fun. They arrived on Saturday when we had about 20 staples left in the carpet removal project, so they helped us finish that and then we spent the rest of the day planning and shopping. Then on Sunday we did more than I realized possible:
  1. Replaced dryer vent with metal tube, added small animal cover
  2. Replaced washer tubes and water switch
  3. Replaced trap in bathroom sinks, checked traps in other sinks
  4. Cleaned and killed lots of mold in bathroom
  5. Re-caulked bathtub
  6. Re-covered hole in back of house (old dryer vent)
  7. Re-hung bathroom door to fix stickiness
  8. Cleaned and mopped all newly bare floors
  9. Checked outlets for grounding
  10. Fixed loose floorboards in dining room and living room
  11. Peeled area of loose paint in stairwell and patched with joint compound
All this by 1:30 in the afternoon, time enough to have lunch and head back home. What an amazing team to accomplish all this! Thank you so much to mom and Sue!!

Here's to next time, where we might have more furniture so Chad doesn't have to run his business from a lawn chair. Though I suspect the chandelier safety device may still be necessary, in order to prevent further collisions with the light.

Carpets are up!

Carpet Mountain
Originally uploaded by rzpytel
Finally, the carpets are up!!!

We have become convinced that the previous owners re-carpeted their house about 18 times, and own stock in carpet staple making companies. So many staples. Holding blue fuzz. Pink fuzz. White fuzz. Green Fuzz. Red Fuzz. Etc. The stairs were the most painful. At any rate, the carpets are up now.

The floors definitely need some work- there's tons of paint splatters and a bit of general discoloration. They've been covered for a long time. But with a bit of refinishing I think they'll look AWSEOME. Examples:

Before, carpet is slightly smelly

After, floors less smelly, ready for refinishing

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A tale of two floor coverings

So a few things happened during our first two days that deserve individual stories, so when I get a sec I'll post them for you. Here's one.
Bedroom 3 with carpet

We have three bedrooms on the second floor, all covered in carpet. Yesterday morning I pulled up carpet from two of them while chad dealt with the Verizon guy, then he went to do the third while I did something else. All of a sudden I hear him swear. Not an urgent "I just pulled a staple through my hand" sort of swear, but something different...

We had stuck linoleum.

Bedroom 3 with Linoleum

Yes linoleum. Chad had pulled up the white carpet to find yellow linoleum. We didn't know what the floors would be like under the carpet, but I will admit this we did not expect (I will also
admit a small moment of panic). But Chad then ripped up the linoleum and there was hardwood underneath. I mean REALLY. Who puts linoleum over hardwood? In a bedroom?

Bedroom 3 with Hardwood

Chad's theory is that it was some kind of excersize room, based on the fact that there is a towel bar on the back of the door. My theory is these people were floor covering nutjobs.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Our First Few Days

We had an ambitious schedule starting on Thursday, where we left bright an early for Ambler, PA. We arrived a early, so we grabbed some lunch at the local deli, and then headed to the house to wait for the realtor to arrive.

We did the walkthrough - I think we were both smiling the whole time. Admittedly, having been almost 3 months since we had last seen the house, I think we were worried that we didn't remember some bad things about it, or something. But, everything was as we hoped, and from there we headed to the realtor's office for the closing!

We arrived for the closing, where we finally met our mortgage broker face-to-face and went over all the paper work. Everything being in order, the other parties arrived and we got things underway. About 20 signatures each later, we were the proud owners of our very first house.

We hightailed it back with the keys and unloaded our stuff from the car, and made our first of what will likely be many trips to home depot to buy wonderbards, gloves, exacto knives, and various other carpet removal equipment.

Arriving back at the house, we hit the town to experience all that Ambler had to offer. I have to say that its great to be moving to a place with happy hours and drink specials.

The next morning we woke up bring and early, went for a run around town, grabbed some breakfast and then set to work on pulling up the carpet. If you've never pulled up carpet before, there are two essential tools you'll need - a wonderbar and gloves.

We we were well into the carpet removal process when the Verizon technician arrived to begin installing our FiOS internet and TV service. 5 and a half hours later, he'd be finished and we'd be fully operational. So now we can write this blog. :)

We managed to get all the carpet out of the second floor, and the staples and boards out of two of the rooms and the upstairs hallway. The floors need some work, but I think it looks better already. Needless to say, we're exhausted. Can't wait to see where I'm sore tomorrow...

Also, we'll try to keep updating this as things progress. We'll take tons of pictures, which you can see on Flickr, by clicking the images to the right of the blog.

Before, with carpet (boo)
After carpet removal (watch for staples!)