Spiders and Lizards and Toads, OH MY

So one of the goals that SSH and I have set for our house is to not use herbicides or pesticides unless absolutely necessary. (Fire ant piles are one of the few things so far that’s been necessary) We use neem oil, baking soda, and other preventative measures with our plants, plus a mulching lawnmower to keep the grass nice. And a trowel and some elbow grease to remove weeds that get big enough to look particularly icky.

One of the benefits of this treatment is the healthy, thriving ecosystem in our yard. We have lots of beneficial insects, including wasps, dragonflies, and assassin bugs, plus honeybees in the bee garden. And we also have a ton of native critters.

Brown earth snakes and garter snakes hang around, especially in the gardens. We’ve had a snapping turtle take up residence under the tomato plants. And the lizards. Holy crap, so many lizards. When you open any of the doors, herds of baby lizards go streaking across the sidewalk. I’m always afraid I’m going to step on one. The anoles get bigger than any I’ve seen before too – some are close to 6 inches.

In the last week I have seen six separate toads. I am reasonably sure they are actually six DIFFERENT toads, and not the same toad six times. Some in the gardens, some around the potted plants, one hanging out on the front porch. Cute, fat toads.

And now that it’s getting to be fall, the jewel-back spiders are out again.

I was thinking about this today, and I realized it sounds a little like a wicked witch lives here. We’re actively cultivating a yard with a snake, toad, lizard, and spider population.

But then I also have a garden specifically for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, so I guess that balances out.

Movin’ Right Along

  1. The kitchen is de-wallpapered, plastered, primed, and painted.  All 83 cabinets/drawers have new hardware (It only took my buying out THREE Home Stores to get enough.) The refrigerator is plugged in and working.  The dishwasher has a new “stainless” front plate.  All the shelves in the kitchen have shelf paper.  What’s left?  Adjusting some of the drawer rollers, and cleaning it from top to bottom.
  2. The bar area is painted the same color as the kitchen, now making the kitchen look even MORE HUGE.
  3. The bedroom is primed and painted, including the ceiling, and is waiting only for the installation of pretty, on-sale bamboo roman shades.
  4. The bathroom is painted, has new faucets, new toilet hardware, new towel racks, new shower heads, and a repainted vanity with new cabinet pulls.  What’s left?  Cleaning it from top to bottom.
  5. The office is de-wallpapered, de-bordered, plastered, primed, and painted (with a contrasting, self-mixed color for the window seat).  What’s left?  Paint the window accent, hang roman shades and re-purposed apartment curtains.
  6. The guest bathroom has a new, sexy, curved shower curtain (because some idiot installed a soffet over the shower so you don’t get any light in there without one), new toilet seat/hardware, new towel racks, and two new faucets.  It’s still teal, and the cabinets/vanity need painting.  Patience grasshopper.

The apartment is something of a disaster, tomorrow will be moreso – packing must really take off in earnest, plus the removal of all items we don’t want to put in boxes for the movers, who are coming on Tuesday morning.  Cats are freaked out, I’m rather freaked out (I’m pretty sure we’re going to run out of time, even with four of us working), but things are chugging along.

I’ll have more pictures soon, but for now I need to pass out for 8 hours so I can do another 16 hour day of moving/renovations tomorrow!

Mud Flinging

First – @Steve – You’ll be happy to know that we moved our little mini fridge over to the new house today (having access to a pickup truck meant we moved a LOT of other stuff too), and that it does, in fact, have beer in it.  \o/  Of course, it’s mostly bottled water and fruit, for snacks and keeping from dehydrating while doing tons of work, but there *is* beer in there too.  And a bottle of champagne, for the eventuality of us actually moving in.

Today was a whirlwind of productivity, since it was the last day that my best friend was here.  We moved a VERY FULL truckload of stuff over to the house, mowed/edged the lawn, painted a closet, painted the bathroom, painted the bedroom, and did our first experimentation with wall plastering.

You see – all that wallpaper was put directly onto the sheetrock.  It was not primed first.  This means that the wallpaper, when removed, mostly takes huge chunks of the underlying plaster with it, and in some places removes even down to the papering over the gypsum.  Our walls do not, in fact, look very lovely.  My parents had their kitchen plaster textured before they moved, and my dad had mentioned that as a possible solution to the lack of wall texture in the previously wallpapered rooms/areas.

We, however, do not have the free cash right now to pay someone to come in and plaster the walls for us (let alone do the remaining prep work, or prime and paint it afterwards).  However, we can afford a $12, 62lb, 3.5 gallon bucket of mud (aka – Drywall Mud/Joint Compound), and two trowels.

I can now say, without hesitation, that plaster texturing is fun, extremely forgiving, and rather stress relieving.  Also, the mud is cool and soft, and fun to splop onto the wall in fun patterns before smoothing it into plaster fresco that will eventually dry and be primed/painted.  We liked it so much that we will definitely be doing plaster in the kitchen/dining/entry rooms (that all have the nasty wallpaper/drywall holes).  Just need to actually finish scraping off the remaining paper bits first!

(and Melissa?  If you want to get rid of your kids some afternoon, send them over to the house.  I’ll give them a bucket of mud, dropcloth the area securely, and let them go to town.  It really is that forgiving and fun, and we can smooth it out after!)

The bedroom and master bathroom are now “done” – we need to paint the trim and get a new ceiling fan for the bedroom (this one is not only ugly, but poorly wired and making bzztbzzt noises when on), and hopefully new lighting/faucets/showerheads in the bathroom – but all of those things are “as we get there” and not “must be done prior to move-in” with the exception of the showerheads, which are NASTY, but will probably require a plumber.

The bedroom and bathroom are now a lovely shade of soft grey blue (that looks bluer and greyer in different lights).  We have enough leftover paint that the guest bath will probably end up the same color – it’s lovely and bright without being eyestabbing, and it matches our current guest bathroom towels/shower curtain.

I am completely floored at how HUGE a difference getting rid of that peach paint makes.

Making hay while the sun shines

Thursday we closed on the house.

Friday, my dad and grandparents came with a truck of stuff from their storage unit that had been saved for us in the new house.  Since their arrival, Spaceship Husband and I have been working basically nonstop, with the help of our various guests.  My family left Saturday evening, and my best friend (since 7th grade) came down on Sunday around noon with her hubby’s truck and a lot of elbow grease (and a lawn mower).

The schedule, thus far, has been as follows (you can see photographic progress here ):

Friday

  • Unload truck into Garage
  • Strip wallpaper from Dining room – discover gold foil wallpaper underneath green speckled mess.  *fabulous*
  • Strip wallpaper from Kitchen – discover cute-ish floral wallpaper underneath.  Why did they paper over it!?
  • Strip magenta layer of wallpaper from front bedroom – discover magenta woodgrain wallpaper is papered over a painted wall, that has two more layers of vinyl wallpaper underneath

Saturday

  • Clean oven
  • Strip wallpaper from entry way
  • Continue stripping wallpaper from front bedroom
  • Partially pack apartment
  • Fix the back sliding door, clean all sunroom windows.
  • Tour of entire yard with Dad the tree-ologist for info on shrubs and yard care.  Discover previous owner left behind a two garden hoses, both in good condition.  Yay!
  • Buy mold-killing/mildew reducing/covers up awful neon peach paint primer, some really cheap but pretty flowers for the front bed ($3 for 25 marigold plants = good!) and a lot of other stuff, at Hardware store

Sunday

  • Scrub walls in master bedroom and bath to prep for priming
  • Clean bar area, remove all hardware and shelf paper
  • Prime bedroom, bathroom.  Nearly die of paint fumes – apparently mold-killing primer is good for making sure there is no mold in your lungs either.  /hack /cough
  • Pack up all the wallpaper junk, place at the curb for trash guys

Monday

  • Pack all books, craft closet, master closet, living room
  • Load truck
  • Truck goes to house and is unpacked
  • Hardware store trip #1 – paint samples, ceiling paint, trim paint, more rollers, a shovel, lightbulbs, cabinet hardware testers, and some light faceplates
  • Unpack books, break down boxes.  Watch as ceiling fan falls on husband who is trying to remove it so we can paint the ceiling.
  • Paint ceiling in bedroom and bathroom, swatch grey-blue bedroom paint.  Double coat.  Hem and haw.  Decide grey blue is nice, esp next to bedroom fabrics
  • Finish stripping all wallpaper from front bedroom, totally destroy that sheetrock too.  Decide that under no circumstances will I ever utter “you know, I think we should put up wallpaper”.  Also decide that no matter what someone tells you, ALWAYS put primer under stuff, and ALWAYS take the wallpaper off before you put up new.  Yeeesh.
  • Hardware store trip #2 – bedroom/bathroom paint!, more rollers, light plates, outlets that aren’t almond or dingy grey for the kitchen, MORE cabinet hardware testers, a 62lb bucket of drywall mud for plastering, and more lightbulbs.
  • Pack up more of the apartment – computer room is looking kind of bare, as is living room.

Of course – I did not NEARLY do all of this by myself – I’ve had SO much help – I don’t know how we’d have gotten this done without the people that have volunteered time and various tools to help us out. Since we’re trying to get at least the bedroom and the kitchen done before we move in, this has been a HUGE time sink for us – and all the help means we’re literally getting double the work done. (I totally owe my best friend… but I know I can repay the favor when she and her hubby move in the next year or so – they’re starting to plan for buying a house!)

Not only have the extra hands been great, having a pickup truck at our disposal means that we’re cutting down on moving costs later when we have to pay the guys with the truck to schlep our furniture over to the new place.

So far the only snag is with the electricity – way to go house inspector of FAIL not noticing that there’s a problem with the electric lines that go to the meter, and we have to get an electrician out to fix it.

Tomorrow, the bedroom will get painted, the yardwork finished, and we’re doing our first wall plaster/texture learning bit in the front bedroom (that way if it sucks, it’s not in the entryway).  If it doesn’t suck, we’ll start on the kitchen!