water-related fix-ups at Firefly Cottage

We’re moving right along completing more projects!

Here’s where we started in the laundry room when we bought the house:
new house

This original concrete washtub was awesome! Except that it leaked and the washing machine drained into it so every time we did a load of laundry we had water on the floor. Also the metal legs were super rusty (thanks, constant water!) and looked like they could crumble at any time.

Basement project end of day one

When we had the basement waterproofed, they had to break up the sink to get it out of the house (I don’t even know how many hundreds of pounds it weighed). I was sad to let it go, but happy to think of not having water on the floor all the time.

So then we had a blank spot for ages:

Basement project - finished, or is it? Many things left incomplete

The washing machine was draining into a temporary pipe during this time (the one coming off to the left of the vertical PVC pipe – the washing machine hose was clamped on to the top of this pipe).

And now: TA-DA!

Washtub installed

It’s a brand new washtub! That doesn’t have a washing machine hose clamped to the side of it!

That hose now has it’s very own dedicated pipe that is secure and not temporary in nature:

Washtub installed

It might be ridiculous to be excited about this, but until you DON’T have a sink in the laundry room (or even on the same floor), you immediately realize how much you wish you had one.

Washtub installed

In other exciting basement-related, water-related news, we have a new water heater!

Water heater

It’s tankless, as you can see, and we are really geeked to have it. It is a huge amount more efficient than our previous tank style, and it takes up a lot less space. It also doesn’t have the janky vent going through the wall into the other room and out the fireplace chimney, which was a big concern for me. We’d like to finish that room eventually and having a big hot-to-the-touch vent is not a thing that should be in such a room (or anywhere, really). Next we’ll be having a new furnace installed with central air. I am super geeked for that! I think that will be our last mega huge project for now and I’m excited to be done with major things. Weekendy DIY projects are way more my speed.

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cellar stair

When we were working on the undernook project last weekend, we had to remove one slat of wood on the kitty-corner area to get the paneling off. That whole area is a future project, but for now we just removed the one slat we needed to. We found a treasure underneath!

Aladdin kit home cellar stair note

Our home, being a kit home, was built from pieces shipped to the homeowner via train, and you can see here that this piece was labeled #3794 Cellar Stair. How cool! I also love the flourish of this cursive writing. Such a neat little thing to find!

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undernook update

Last weekend we tackled a project we’ve been talking about for ages. It didn’t take very long and it’s so nice to have it done with!

In the basement, adjacent to the laundry area, is the undernook – the little square-ish room underneath the kitchen nook. Someone had paneled this little area off and installed a door at some point in history, but we don’t really need it to be separate and would in fact prefer it to be open to the laundry area.

new house

The pallets on the floor of the laundry room went away ages ago, but we haven’t done much with the area otherwise. Until last weekend!

Undernook

Ta-da! Now it’s all open and one source of allergens is gone (the wood was damaged at the floor level where it had flooded at some point – nothing like dry rot and other assorted molds/whathaveyou to make me feel gross). As you can see we also have an air system in here which is probably better in a more open area. We now need to clean the walls in here – I’d like to paint them so we have a clean, tidy surface before we put up shelving – as they are pretty gross. Some areas have efflorescence that has been there since before we bought the house, and other areas are water stained or dusty or grimy. Time to do some cleaning! If anyone has done this type of project before, all advice and opinions are welcome!

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basement woes

So when we bought Firefly Cottage, we knew there were issues in the basement. They weren’t horrible enough to warrant immediate action, though of course the sooner we could address them, the better. There was some water in the low areas of the basement on occasion, but not often enough or in large enough amounts to be a huge deal. We made do until just recently, when we decided we were ready to see about getting the necessary work done. I researched a bunch of companies and processes for basement waterproofing and foundation repair, and decided on a couple of top choices available in our area. My first choice (based on Angieslist and other online reviews as well as based on the work they do – they have the most complete process for addressing the root causes of the issues, while some others just treat one part of the problem or treat the symptoms rather than the cause) was able to meet with us almost immediately (same day I called to inquire), so that was nice. They were also available almost immediately, and we scheduled the work to be done the following week. However, they called us the day after we met with them to let us know they had an opening for the following day. It actually worked better with my work schedule and we were happy to get it resolved sooner, so we took the opening.

Basement project end of day one

I’m going to do a more detailed post about the whole deal later, but for now there are so many things unresolved that I don’t feel like I can really cover the whole thing yet. The company’s work on the actual waterproofing seems to be fine, but there are over a dozen issues on my list (they finished working on Friday night and I’m writing this on Sunday) of things they forgot/failed to do, broke and need to repair, or left unfinished. I’ll be speaking with them again tomorrow morning to get all of these items addressed. In the meantime, please feel free to peruse my photos on flickr to see the house carnage and some examples of how things look now. I’m not naming the company yet as I want to give them the opportunity to make things right, but as of right now, I am so angry every time I think about this. There is no legitimate reason for there to be this many things wrong (especially given how effing expensive a project it is!) and it also seems wise to wait until I cool off to go into more detail.

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the Brodie and the pea

This weekend we were putting together my seed starting setup and Brodie was hanging out. We needed space so I put all the dog beds and blankets that were strewn around the basement into one pile, which he then of course climbed up on and snuggled into.

the Brodie and the pea

I don’t think there was any pea underneath, and luckily, no pee, either.

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seed starting started

Today was the start of seed starting at our house. We woke up at our usual time and after a delicious breks whipped up by K, we got right to business. We had cleared most of this area the other day, but we finished the last few things, including un-hooking that shelf thingie from the ceiling (it used to hold our router, but now that we have Uverse the router is included in an all-in-one unit that lives behind the TV) and re-homing the inflatable Ultraman who was living up there.

cleared basement space for seed starting

You can see here that we have a lot of stuff in the basement, including the patio furniture (draped in plastic), a ton of DVDs, CDs, and paperbacks, and some store shelving K brought home when his former place of work went out of business.

cleared basement space for seed starting

I was happy to have K’s help putting this shelf together – it was definitely much easier with two people than if I’d tried it by myself, and it was easy for him to lift the shelves up to the 72″ height of the poles as we assembled it (the shelves slide down the poles).

shelving unit and shop lights for seed starting

We ran into one snafu as we got started – the chains included with the shop lights were of course really short, which wouldn’t work for the very beginning stages when the lights need to be close to the pots. Not sure why it didn’t occur to me to check that before. So we ran to the Home Despot and got $10 worth of chain, and we were back in business. We used a level to make sure we had both lights on each shelf even with each other.

making sure the lights are level

seed starting setup - lights on!

Voila! The trays are still empty here, but you can see what the setup will look like when it’s in business. It was really pretty easy!

seed starting setup - lights on!

This is the power strip with timer that I bought. It wasn’t clear from the packaging that the timer only controls four of the eight outlets, though. Boo, hiss. So it will probably go back and I’ll replace it with something else, or perhaps get something in addition to this for the other two lights. As it is, I’m only using two of the shelves right now so it’s actually okay for the moment.

timer power strip

Now that it’s all set up, we turned it all off and went upstairs to watch DVR’d Fringe and make a bunch of newspaper pots. I looked at a bunch of YouTube videos and then did my own combination of the possible ways to do it.  First, I divided the newspaper into half-sheets.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Then, fold the half-sheet in half length-wise.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Then roll the newspaper up around a soup can. I found that it worked best when the top of the can was facing inside the newspaper.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Then turn the can up so that it’s right-side up inside the newspaper, and pinch the paper together where it flaps over.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Then fold down the paper, starting with the flappy bit.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Fold down all the paper at this end. For me, three folds worked well.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Then turn the can over, and squish down the end with the folds onto the table so it compresses.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Slide the pot off the can. Note: if you wrap it really, really tightly around the can, it will not want to come off. Don’t do that.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Hey, look! It’s a pot! Ignore the fact that it’s listing a bit – that will stop being an issue when you put the seed-starting mix in. The bonus here is that when you go to plant outside, you can just plant the entire newspaper pot – open up the bottom flaps and it’ll compost nicely in the ground as the roots grow.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

Important note: your hands may be ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING when you’re done folding over 100 newspaper pots.

how to make newspaper pots for seed-starting

After some lunch, I made a plan for what I want to plant where in the veg beds this year (more on that later), looked up what needed to be started by now, and headed downstairs to actually start some seeds. You’ll notice that I had to compromise – I could not find the necessary ingredients for making my own seed starting mix in my local stores, so I had to cave and buy pre-made commercial mix. Bah. Also, this gross pillow is an old dog pillow that happened to be nearby. Concrete floors are hard, yo!

getting started filling newspaper pots with soil and planting actual seeds

One episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour later, I had two and three-quarters seed trays filled! Hooray!

a few trays started!

I wrote on each pot the date and the name of the seed that is planted in it. Hopefully this, along with Folia, will help me keep track of what’s what and whether it’s germinating when it’s supposed to.

a few trays started!

seed starting setup aglow in the otherwise dark basement

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Going down to CraftyTown

We have an unfinished basement, but there’s one room that was partially finished when we bought the house: CraftyTown. It has drywall up on the walls and the floor is carpeted, but that’s all that’s been done. The ceiling is unfinished and we put up a light fixture in the one central receptacle, but the room badly needs more light and a real ceiling. For all these photos, please ignore the boxes and junk on the floor that I couldn’t be bothered to clean up.

CraftyTown

The walls were decorated with a HockeyTown motif and splatter paint effect (oh, the 1980s) when we moved in, and though it took five coats of primer, the hockey rink and Wings logos are almost entirely hidden. I haven’t wanted to paint the walls another color, figuring that white will reflect the most light and anything else would make it darker in there. We also tacked up some cheapo white tablecloths over the ceiling beams in hopes that the white fabric would reflect more light. The ceiling in here is also quite low, as the room above it is sunken.

The next step will be to get the electrician to come install more lighting. In this regard, the fact that the ceiling is unfinished is in our favor, as he’ll hopefully be able to give me light in all the areas I want it, and we won’t need to tear anything out. I’d like it to be bright as all get-out in there so I can really see what I’m doing when I’m sewing and know that I’m seeing the actual colors of fabric, thread, and so on. After the lighting is in we could think about finishing the ceiling.

I don’t love the carpet in this room, but I can definitely live with it. It’s fairly clean and it’s pretty comfortable to stand on so the padding must be adequate. I wouldn’t want to shell out the dough to replace it until we really need to. I’d like to paint at least some of the walls another color – something light but not white. Once I have enough lighting I’ll see what I think.

So, for the quick tour, we have the sewing table:

CraftyTown

sewing table

And the cutting table:

cutting table

And the computer area (this PC is reserved for iTunes only – it is several years old and can’t handle much more reliably):

computer corner

And my fabric rack:

fabric rack Fabric rack

This rack was originally intended as shelves for a bathroom, but I re-purposed it to hold all my Blythe dress fabrics. This way I can see what I have in any given color and easily see patterns and colors that might compliment one another.

I feel good about having organized most of my raw materials. The drawer bins I mounted on the wall are really great for keeping track of all the little buttons and sequins and stuff, and the thread racks make it so much easier to see what I’ve got. I think I like the arrangement of the room pretty well. As I keep saying lately, “it’s getting there!”

More pics (and notes to identify things) on Flickr.

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