Archive | January, 2012

Funny!

January 31, 2012

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I just looked at the clock. Aghast! I have wasted 1 entire hour!!!

Where? HERE. lovelylisting.icanhascheezburger.com It’s the latest “Cheezeburger” site. Like we needed another one. Egads, i waste enough time on the LOL Cats and LOL Dogs and “There I Fixed It” sites! LOL.

This one made me crack up.

funny real estate - Just Take the Stairs

Uh. FAIL.

funny real estate - Wait, No, That Doesn't Go There

Do you think anyone will notice the real estate photo has been touched up a little?

funny real estate - Ooh, So Avant Garde!

Are your eyes twitching, too?

funny real estate - Static Disorder

THIS. IS. SO. COOL. But I live near the Adirondacks, so maybe it’s just a local “thing.”

funny real estate - The Missing Ingredient

I actually think this is pretty neat.

funny real estate - Is the Tripping Hazard Worth It?

The caption read “Time to Purge.” Bwahahahha!!

funny real estate - Time to Purge

OK I’ve wasted enough of your time, too. Some of these are pretty funny. MUST. GET. To. WORK.

Have a great week!

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We Got the Windows!

January 24, 2012

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It’s been about 15 years, but we finally got the new windows! Hurray for us! We’d ordered them a long time ago, and they came in yesterday. We didn’t get replacements for every window in the house (sheesh, this house has a ton of windows!) but there are enough for now. I’ve never installed new windows so it will be quite the adventure.

Oh wait. I did install a window before– a brand new window. In the kitchen! How could I forget! It was only two years ago.

This was the original window in the kitchen. It was installed in 1972, when the previous owners remuddled the kitchen into an orange and brown 1970s funk extraordinaire. The window was wood with an aluminum frame. I had warped so badly that I could not open it. Imagine– the only tiny window in the entire kitchen and it’s stuck shut! Painful, indeed!

Ugliest Kitchen2

We removed the piece of junk in summer of 2010. What a glorious day. 🙂

Removing Old Window2

I ripped open the wall (which was severely rotten from water damage) and discovered some water damage and poor remodeling from previous owners. They had cut into floor joists to fit plumbing pipes and the beam that held up this part of the wall. I decided to rebuild the entire section of the wall.

Window Open

It was my masterpiece. I built it to perfection. The window frame not only had to house the window, but it had to hold up this portion of the wall, which was sagging. I made the frame very sturdy.

Window Rough Framing

This is one of the greatest sights for a DIY homeowner.

Its Level

The running gag around the house was that a tornado could rip through the town and level every single house, but my window frame would still be standing. 🙂

I never got photos of us installing the actual window because it took the entire family to haul the thing into the opening, level it, shim it, and nail it down. As soon as it was up, though, Livvy hopped up for her inspection.

Window Int

I installed trim in a Greek Revival design that reflects the rest of the house.

Window1

The new window gives off a lot of light. It’s glorious having such a bright, airy kitchen!

Window2

Of course, the new windows I just got for the living room are a totally different animal than this kitchen window. The new ones are vinyl REPLACEMENT window– the kitchen was a “new construction” window with nail flanges. For a vinyl replacement window, you have to fit the boxy frame directly into the existing window frame. I’ve never done it before. I’ve already done some studying and have watched some good videos about the process. *cracks knuckles* We’ll probably get the windows installed next week. I’ll be sure to let you know! We have to install a few on the second story of the house, so I would sure appreciate your prayers! 🙂

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How to Move With Less Stress

January 24, 2012

Comments Off on How to Move With Less Stress

One of my pals on Facebook recently moved across the country. He mentioned that his “car was on the ferry and the boxes on the plane.” Oh my word, I have never moved out of state but it must be so stressful!

There are ways to alleviate a bit of the stress of moving. Here’s how:

1. Mercilessly throw away your unused and unwanted items.
Those old business suits from the 1980s that don’t fit you anymore? Get rid of them. Chance are you’re not likely to squeeze into them again, and even if you were you’d probably want something much more modern. Consider donating those old Tupperware containers, collection of floor lamps, and stuffed animals from your youth.

When it comes to children, avoid throwing away their things. The move is stressful enough for them, and kids become very emotionally attached to their possessions. So don’t throw away their stuff unless they really, really want to rid of it. Making the kids feel secure and relaxed is well worth the extra four or five boxes of old toys.

2. Purchase packing boxes.
I can’t believe that I, the Frugal Queen, am telling you to BUY boxes for you move! But I have moved quite a number of times in my day, and locating recycled boxes is very stressful, especially when you can’t find any. Many stores crush their boxes almost as soon as they get them, so if you get recycled boxes, you often have to rebuild them with glue or duct tape. In my opinion, your time is much better spent packing and preparing for the big move, not duct taping junky old crushed boxes.

3. Rent a truck.
If you have a lot of stuff, it is much, much better to rent a truck to haul your stuff. Everything is packed into ONE or two vehicles, which makes locating stuff so much easier later. Believe me, the last thing you want to experience is rummaging through minivan after sedan looking for the lost “binky” in some box or another. If you have to transport a vehicle, learn about the car shipping process and get a handful of reasonable quotes from several businesses. A website like CarTransportQuotes.com can help.

4. Research your moving company.
If you hire a moving company, look them up online. Get references, call former customers. Get a complete picture of the company. There have been too many stories of people whose possessions were stolen or delivered in terrible condition from a lousy company.

5. Take time to relax.
Moving is tiresome, stressful, and exhausting. Make a schedule break and get away from the site for a while. For example, if you are going to spend one entire week packing and moving, schedule a lunch break at the park every day at 1pm, or go out to dinner every two days. These moments help to break up the monotony and stress of moving, and get you out of the mess for a while. I know, going out to eat is expensive– but moving IS expensive. Your mental and emotional health is just as important as Aunt Ethel’s dishes in bubble wrap, you know. You can opt to eat out at simple places, too– a burger joint or a pizza place. It doesn’t need to be expensive but it does need to be relaxing.

6. Invite friends.
If you have a large family or a ton of stuff, make your packing and move a community event. 🙂 Invite a friend over, one each day. Friends and family can really help lighten the mood as well as lend an extra pair of hands. Make it fun, too– treat your friend or family member to a little lunch or dinner.

7. Give yourself plenty of time.
There is no stress like hurry. Give yourself lots of time to pack and move stuff. Prepare for unexpected things, too, like a rainy day or a sick kid or a delay with the moving truck. The extra buffer of time can really make a difference.

I hope these tips help you. Moving can be such a stressful time, but with a little TLC and preparation, you can make it into an enjoyable experience for you and your family.

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Livvy Meets Goofy

January 19, 2012

4 Comments

Goofy is my mascot. He’s a small resin character and he sits in my desk. He tends to flop over easily. But I still love him.

This morning, Livvy hopped onto my desk and sat in front of my computer monitor as she usually does 200 times a day.

Livvy1

Goofy seemed a little miffed. He trotted from his place at the back of the desk to oppose Livvy.

Livvy2

Humph says Livvy. I belong here, she says. Move.

Livvy3

Livvy 1, Goofy 0.

Livvy4

A glutton for punishment, Goofy made another stance to defend his territory.

WAP.

Livvy5

So guess who’s king of the desk now? I miss Goofy. He was a lot smaller and I could see the monitor when he was here…..

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Old Windows vs. Vinyl Replacement Windows

January 16, 2012

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In a previous post, Plaster vs. Drywall, I battled the snob appeal regarding plaster and lath walls. In this post, I’m once again picking up the sword and combating the “old windows versus replacement windows” argument. As an old house owner and a person who has lived in old homes all my life, I’ve had my share of old windows experiences. Most of them have been bad. Yes, people, I HATE old windows. New windows rock.

I love old stuff as much as anyone. My favorite old house style is Federal style, so you know I’m an old house lover. My own house, a Greek Revival, was built in 1855. I have researched the history of the building and its original owner (and owners after that). I know that of the original windows to my house, only two remain. Both are in terrible condition.

Garage Window

One of the original 9/6 windows, behind a storm window.

The other windows to the house were replaced in 1910 or so. Most of those windows are still in place. They are BARELY in place, but they are all still here. The house has a total of 15 windows, and only two windows had ever been replaced since 1910, the kitchen got an aluminum replacement window in 1972 and the upstairs bathroom window got a crank-style Anderson window in the late 1980s.

When we moved here, we could only afford to get 5 windows replaced, the ones that were broken or cracked. We got very inexpensive vinyl replacement windows. They’ve been in place since 1997. Even though they were the cheapest window we could get and even though they are over 14 years old, I LOVE THEM.

Yet among the “old house experts,” old windows are somehow superior to new ones. Old house folks are always saying that old windows are better than new ones because… well, just because. Old windows look better, they say. They say there is no difference with heat loss between the two, that old windows are more historic, and they are just “better.” I say: BAH.

So I’m here to debate the “old window” snobs. I think new windows are great, and old windows — especially MY 100+ year old windows — need replacing. And there’s nothing wrong with replacing old windows with new ones.

Snob appeal says: When it comes to insulation factors and heat loss, old windows play a small part and do not lose THAT much heat.

Reality Check: What planet are you from?!

My old windows rattle, shake, and leak. Cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer blow through the holes all around the frame. True, the glazing on parts of the window is flaking off (another problem with old windows) so air leaks through some of the windows (but glazing is not the problem with some of the others). Old windows are made of glass– thin, 1/8-inch thick glass. This house has 15 windows that are 32 inches by 62 inches– that’s 13.78 square feet of windows for the entire house. Which means that approximately 207 square feet of the walls here was covered by 1/8-inch glass. Brrr. Just yesterday with temperatures falling into the single digits, the old windows were caked with a thick layer of ice. The ice melted during the day and water was everywhere. I have to lay a towel on each windowsill to prevent the water from running all over the floor. Even with storm windows on some of the old windows, we still get thick ice on the glass. So for me, ALL my old windows, the ones that have storm windows and the ones that do not, develop thick ice on the glass when it gets cold. None of my vinyl replacement windows have EVER developed ice, not ever.

oldwindowicile

My old window. Don't let the snobs tell you there's no measurable heat loss difference between old and new windows!

Vinyl replacement, on the other hand, has two panes of glass in each sash. When we installed vinyl replacement windows in our dining room, the change was remarkable. Before, my hair would blow around at the dinner table on a particularly blustery day; new windows stopped that. Before, we could almost hear our neighbors in their homes discussing with each other how to kill my flower gardens and hack at my trees; after the new windows were installed, I live in blissful ignorance of their schemes. Windows will never really be very good at keeping out the extreme temperatures, no matter what kind of material they are made from. But vinyl replacement performs better than the old glass. That’s a fact.

Now let me temper this argument with a few points. YES, storm windows installed over old windows help reduce heat loss. YES, vinyl replacement windows will most likely not last 100+ years. Old wooden windows were *usually* made from “old-growth” wood, the hardiest and strongest part of the wood. I don’t know if the original builder of my home made his windows from old-growth. This home was always a “middle income” home in a “middle income” community. The biggest expense the owner made was to install black walnut trim in the living room (which, incidentally, had to be removed because it was soaked with lead-based paint from other owners who had painted over the wood!). Everyone’s mileage may vary because everyone’s house and windows and weather is different.

But in my experience, I have noticed a considerable difference between the old windows and the new. The old windows would stick in the summer and freeze up in the winter. The glass is thin. In all the windows, the glass is so old that is has melted and has drooped from gravity and weather changes. Some people like this kind of “character,” but I don’t. I like to SEE out of my windows, thanks.

Snob appeal says: Old windows look better than vinyl replacement windows. It’s better to keep your rotten old wooden windows than replace them with vinyl windows.

Reality Check: I don’t care how ugly vinyl windows look, rotten wood windows look worse.

It’s true that most “old house” building materials were build with better quality than the trash manufactured today. But there does come a time when you just have to say goodbye to certain things. Moldy plaster and rotten windows are some of them, in my opinion.

I KNOW! I KNOW! I am going against the entire old home snob community when I say these things! But please realize that I am addressing the 99% of us who are middle-income and who own non-state-historic-site houses. We just don’t have the cash to pay for elaborate repairs to old windows or spend millions on new custom wood windows. Those days are gone. For most of us old-house homeowners, vinyl replacement windows are terrific. They are more weather-resistant, easier to clean, have screening, and open and close easier.

Snob Factor: Vinyl replacement windows might look ugly and out of place in an old home. Old windows have more character and appeal.

Reality Check: Character and appeal are code words for “expensive” and “high maintenance.”

I am all for curb appeal and beauty in an old home. But just because SOME replacement windows look ugly, it doesn’t mean that ALL replacement windows are ugly. I have seen some wooden windows installed improperly and look horrible. Just because a window is wood or old doesn’t make it beautiful by default.

I think that my vinyl replacement windows look great. If a millionaire dumped brand new, gorgeous wooden windows into my lap, I’d take it. Heck, yeah. But that hasn’t happened, and I have some kids that need to eat. So we buy vinyl replacement windows and they look pretty good!

DiningRoomNewFlooring

My 14-year old vinyl replacement windows still look fabulous! This photo taken after we had gutted and were restoring the room, in 2010.

 

Snob Factor: Removing painted old windows contaminates the house with lead dust.

Reality Check:
Painting new coats of paint does not cover the lead, it chips off and exacerbates the lead problem.

Lead paint removal is a touchy topic. Every state regulated lead-based paint in old homes differently. Here in New York State, a homeowner can remove lead-based paint articles VERY CAREFULLY from the home. If you hire a contractor, expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the high-tech removal and disposal system.

I have tried both methods: leaving the old windows with their lead paint AND removing them for vinyl replacement. Removing them — WHEN DONE CORRECTLY and SAFELY — is much, much better than keeping the toxic articles. I sleep better knowing that those old time bombs are out of my house and far away from my kids.

Most windows in old homes were painted with oil-based paints that contained lead. You try to slap new paint onto those old windows, that paint is going to come off in no time. And every time you open and close the window, the paint is scraped and lead dust goes into the air. I don’t care what the “experts” say– all that opening and closing the window removes the new paint and just makes dust spew everywhere.

I personally believe it’s best to get rid of the stupid things altogether. No more dust, no more peeling, no more painting every couple of months…. Old windows that are coated with lead-based paint are best removed, in my opinion. The windows MUST be removed safely, however. Make sure you know your local regulations. Some towns even offer financial aid for the removal of these toxic items.

So if you decide to replace your crummy old windows with vinyl replacement, I say good for you. Don’t let the Window Snobs influence you! Shop wisely– get high-quality windows from a reputable company and install them properly. They will last a long time. Mine have.

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Building My Home Office

January 9, 2012

6 Comments

I’ve taken the teeniest, tiniest leap into building an official home office here. I’ve been working at home for over 3 years now, with a little desk and bookshelves showhorned into a corner of the living room. It’s so messy and my living room has become engulfed with stuff that I’m desperate to organize.

Well, I finally found some inexpensive kitchen cabinets suited for a home office. They are Aristokraft, in saddle oak. They are very plain, and are made of particleboard. But I don’t care– I don’t need a solid wood desk and the simple style suits me. The cost of the three cabinets with countertop was a fraction of the price of a new desk (one of those cheapo Chinese-made junk desks).

newdesk1

All I’ve got done so far is the bottom half. Eventually, I will build the top hutch portion when I can wrastle up the funds. For now, the base will have to do. Livvy likes it. 🙂

The area looks quite empty and sterile. Oh, I have plans, though! I am going to build my own hutch. It will have two narrow bookshelves and a pair of cabinets. Eventually, I will create a huge built-in bookshelf along the wall. I intend to convert the room (living room) into a library, with big wall bookshelves and a gas fireplace.

newdesk2

I also plan on installing crown molding along the top of the ceiling and placing LED white lights in the tray. It will give the room lovely ambient lighting.

The garage, once I have renovated it, will become the new family room where we will have sofas and chairs and the family’s huge assortment of musical instruments.

But before I rebuild the garage into living space, I have to build a barn in the backyard, to hold our power tools and auto equipment. Oh yeah, I’ll be busy for a long time. And then , of course, I still have to renovate the upstairs of the house and the downstairs bathroom….

Sheesh, who knows, maybe by the time I’m finally done renovating, I’ll be too old to maintain such a big house. I can then turn around and sell the place for a nice profit. It sure would be nice to enjoy the fruits of my labors here, though. I’ve spent most of my years living in a dumpy house!

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