Thursday, December 31, 2009

Filtrete Furnace Filter Rebate

We normally use the basic fiberglass furnace filter but lately I have noticed an increase in the amount of fine dust that I am finding. So R went to our local hardware store and purchased a pleated furnace filter called Filtrete that is manufactured by 3M.He purchased the Micro Allergen filter since we are first time pleated filter users and were unsure if this filter was going to restrict air flow. The Micro Allergen filter has a rating of 1000 MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) which represents the effectiveness of the filter at capturing the smallest airborne particles.

3M makes filters in the following types.
  • Filtrete Elite Allergen Reduction Filter
  • Filtrete Maximum Allergen Reduction Filter
  • Filtrete Ultimate Allergen Reduction Filter
  • Filtrete Ultra Allergen Reduction Filter
  • Filtrete Ultra Pure Filter
  • Filtrete Allergen Reduction Filter
We will probably try the Ultra Pure the next time if this filter reduces the dust without restricting air flow.3M also offers a Clean Air Club which is free to join. One of the perks of joining is a wallet size card to keep track of your filter sizes. The Clean Air Club also offers seasonal newsletters, Indoor Air Quality Journal, and a Homeowners Guide to Better Indoor Air Quality.

If you are starting to think you might want to try one of these filters, the time couldn't be better. Currently 3M is offering a $3.00 rebate on one filter. The rebate can be found on their site or you can print a rebate form by using the this link.

If anyone has used these filters before, please comment and let us know about your experience with 3M Filtrete filters.

If you live in the Flint area and are located by a Gilroy hardware store you can use the $5.00 off a $20.00 purchase when you buy 2 filters ($13.88 each). Then use the $3.00 rebate off one filter. This would bring your total cost for two filters to $19.76, which is less than 10 bucks each.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Shopped Till We Dropped

Today my sister, my niece, my nephew, and his friend drove to a suburb west of Detroit and hit the Ikea store and boy are my feet are killing me.First off, let me say that Ikea generally does not have my style of home furnishing but that did not stop me from finding items to buy.

I love their kitchen gadgets and dishes. I also purchased two very large cotton bath towels and a new kitchen rug that were very reasonably priced. Oh and of course I cannot forget the cute pink broom.

But where I did the most damage to my wallet was in the food department. I could not leave without ligonberry preserves, gooseberry and cloudberry jam, mustard with dill for salmon, horseradish sauce, and a large can of sparkling pear juice. See a pattern? Food.

My nephew is furnishing a new apartment so he bought a little of everything. Black dishes, 2 black rugs, black TV entertainment center, pilsner glasses, and a very large framed black and white photo of the streets of Paris. Do you see a pattern there? Black, white, and Paris.

My niece purchased a tea cup with scenes of Paris on it. Paris? Do you see a pattern? Brother has Paris item, sister has Paris item.

My sister hit the food section like I did. Same items but add a bag of frozen pancakes that look like crepes to me. See a pattern? One sister buys food so the other sister buys food.

The nephew pooped out after a mere 4 hours of shopping (he can't hang with professional shoppers) so that left my sister, my niece, and I to hit Home Goods.

My niece did some serious wallet damage there. She purchased a new comforter set in a bold black and white pattern with a little yellow green piping, very Parisian. She also purchased numerous accent pillows for her bed. I think she even bought yet another tea cup and a night stand with drawers that looks a stack of huge books. See a pattern? Black, white, Paris, tea cup.

Her mother purchased a baking dish and I purchased food items like stuffed olives and soda bread mix. See a pattern? Food. Oh wait...I also bought a Christmas plate that was 50% off that matches my Christmas dishes.

By this time the Pontiac Vibe was filled to the gills.Don't leave without me!!!!!! The day is young.....we've only been shopping for 6 hours. So I hopped in and we were off to Twelve Oaks mall.

I purchased two attachments for my new Black 6 Qt Kitchen Aid stand mixer at Williams-Sonoma and some blush at Sephora. See a pattern? Food related. The blush was so I could try and make my cheeks look thinner after I eat all this food I bought today.

My niece bought loose leaf tea. See a pattern? More tea and tea related items than in China.

By this time it is 730PM and we are sick of people, sick of screaming kids in strollers, and sick of people talking on their cell phones while getting in your way. So what do we do? We go to a crowded restaurant in Fenton, Mi called the French Laundry. See a pattern? Food....Paris what can I say...we are predictable.

Once at the French Laundry we change our minds several times before we order. We all ordered the Freudian Slip, a chicken salad sandwich with cream cheese, red onions, and raspberry jam wrapped in whole wheat flat bread. For dessert my sister and niece had cinnamon ice cream covered with olive oil and sea salt. No really....that's what they had for dessert and they said it was delicious.

I snapped a quick photo, as we were leaving the restaurant, of the metal railing that encloses the outdoor dining area. Isn't it clever? Sorry that the photo is blurry but I shot it without flash in the dark.Please pardon any misspelled words etc. I am very tired and still need to watch the last three hours of season two of The Tudors so R can take it back tomorrow and rent me season three. I have a hunch that Anne Boleyn is going to lose her pretty little head.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Vintage Wood Storm Door

I completely forgot to mention the vintage wood storm door I purchased this summer at the Restore in Battle Creek, Michigan.

My sister and I attended a canning class in Battle Creek and passed the Restore on our way to the class. Afterward we stopped to check things out.

Sorry about the completely out of focus photo.
I couldn't believe it. They not only had 1 wood storm door but they had 5 of them. On top of that they were all 10 bucks a piece. I was shocked. I wanted them all but we were in my sister's Vibe and there just wasn't room.

Three days later my husband and I drove back to Battle Creek with a truck. As my luck would have it, there was only one left. This will fit my kitchen door but I really could use 3 more of the 32" wide size.

As my husband and I drove away with the lone door he said, "why didn't you just pay for them on Saturday and tell them to hold the doors until we could pick them up?"


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Maxwell's Silver Hammer and Aluminum Tape

Most of Saturday was spent on the heat ducts. This project is going soooooo slow.

R is now working in such a confined area that he needed to remove his Carhartt coat to make enough room for him to move around. He bundles himself up since this crawl space is unheated and basically just a tad warmer than being out of doors. Plus, the added padding helps protect him as he crawls around under the house. On a normal day he wears his jeans and sweatshirt covered with his Carhartt overalls, Carhartt vest, plus his Carhartt coat. On Saturday that final layer was just too had to come off to make room.

His Carhartt outer wear is black but when he crawls out from under the house they are transformed into an orange clay color. The clothes are so heavy that I can only wash one item at a time or it causes my washing machine to bang and thump.

I used my small flat headed hammer to try and straighten out the crumpled floor duct while R crawled around under the house. R refers to this hammer as 'Maxwell's silver hammer'......Mom you won't get that reference. Can you believe the sub par job someone did when they initially cut the opening for the floor register? This floor is random widths, wide, knot less pine with wood plugs covering the nails/screws. Such a shame. We will fill the over cuts in the corners and keep our fingers crossed that the new register will cover up the rest of the ugliness.

Before Maxwell's silver hammer did it job.
And after, but before I nailed the duct in place. This duct had 1 nail already but I still need to take my small die grinder and cut out the bottom right corner so the register will fit. I know the duct still looks like a 'before' photo but believe me it is better than how it was before I spent 30 minutes tapping it into some sort of was abstract rectangle.I used needle nose pliers to hold the nails so I could hammer them in. The photo is blurry because I was holding the pliers with one hand and the camera with the other.I used silver aluminum furnace tape on any seams after I nailed the duct in place. I really like how this tape sticks to the duct and conforms to any irregularities. We are trying our best to seal every seam as we install the new duct. I sealed any seams that I could reach on the inside and R is taping all seams on the outside. Eventually we will tape all seams in the trunk line and any other runs that we have access to.The floor duct does not have any lip/overhang onto the floor to keep the cold air from leaking around the register. After I order the new wood registers and before we install them, we will have to make some sort of gasket for the space between the register and the floor to seal cold air from leaking pass the duct and into the family room.

I can no longer hand items to R through the duct. So we pieced together this long piece of wood and I just tape whatever he wants to the stick and send it in. R cannot carry anything that adds any thickness to his person and he needs his hands to pull himself along. Here is the stick with an extension cord taped to the end.
This is R using that extension cord to power his drill. He drills a pilot hole so that the self tapping screw goes in easier. I know what you are thinking....if it's self tapping why does he need to drill a pilot hole? Well, I'll tell you why.....because of the cramped space he can't hold the duct with one hand and start the screw with the other. The pilot holes allows him to just use his nut driver to gently tighten the screw.
We took a break from duct work today. I needed to do some baking and R said his back needed a break.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thank Heaven for the Right Angle Drill

We are still installing round HVAC duct under the family room/library. We had hoped to staple all the vapor barrier backing on the insulation we installed under the kitchen, finish attaching the adjustable elbows to the floor register duct, and attach the long runs to the elbows but we only accomplished the first two.

Stapling the vapor barrier went without a hitch. We didn't even run out of staples. Attaching the final elbow turned out to be a pain. First of all because of the way the floor joists run we needed a straight extension/coupler of about 6 inches to drop down the duct before we could attach the we were off to Home Depot.

Once we got to Home Depot we realized they did not have such an item so we bought another adjustable elbow and just adjusted it so it was straight or almost straight was the final configuration. We had a heck of a time trying to get it to slide onto the floor duct. The floor duct was bent and because of the lack of space, R was working to his side and I was upstairs trying to line up the duct. Eventually we were able to barely get it attached. R came upstairs to add a couple of self piercing sheet metal screws. There was no way he could apply any pressure to the screws to get them to even start piercing the sheet metal, so it was out to the barn to dig out his pneumatic right angle drill so he could drill a pilot hole for the screw.
As you can see from the photo, the head of the drill is small and works great for tight areas. He drilled several pilot holes and hand started the screws. Normally we use a 5/16th nut driver to drive the sheet metal screws home but again we realized that there was no room for the nut driver.A 1/4" drive ratchet with a 5/16th socket and universal joint would have worked perfect but R's tool are generally of the large size and my tools and toolboxes are still at the Torrey Road house. We haven't moved my tools yet because both toolboxes are heavy and awkward to move. So we had to come up with another idea. So R whipped out his key ring. He has attached to his key chain a small Crescent wrench. He was able to use it to grip the head of the screws and slowly tighten. By this time, we were tired and I think R was in no hurry to crawl back under the house. The plan is to attach both long runs to the elbows tomorrow. While R is under the house, I will try and use my small jewelry hammer (has a very flat head and is small) to hammer out the dents and try to straighten the floor duct so that the register will fit in the hole.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hydraulic Cement Cured and View of the Crawl Space

I thought I'd let you see how the patch looked after the hydraulic cement cured. The cement is a darker gray than regular concrete.

Here's is a before photo. And here is the after photo.We are back to working on the duct work in the crawl space. What a mess. R barely has enough room to crawl. I was able to hand him small items through the register in the floor but that will stop once we attach the long runs of duct work.

Check out this photo of the crawl space. Not much crawling space plus it's decorated with nice cob webs and left over old disconnected knob and tube wire.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Running Errands & Vehicle Maintenance Tip

Today was spent running errands, taking care of paperwork, and waiting on the phone for 30 minutes to speak to a benefit representative about our dental and vision coverage.

One of the small chores I took care of today was getting an oil change on my daily driver. I always use the same oil change facility so that if I ever needed paper work to verify my vehicle maintenance I know they have it all from day one. I have 270k+ miles on my engine and have always used synthetic oil. I always go 10k between oil changes because I use synthetic. So even though the oil change cost more up front ($57) I can go twice as long before I need an oil change and for me...time saved is money saved.

But why I bring this up is that currently Valvoline Express Care is offering up to $51 dollars in rebates for synthetic oil changes, Valvoline Professional Services, and Valvoline Additives such as injector cleaner or oil additive. But of course you don't need the injector cleaner because if you bought the fuel line antifreeze like I mentioned earlier, you bought the one with injector cleaner and killed two birds with one stone.I just filled out my rebate for $15 bucks. Today I used a $10 off coupon that they mailed to me because I am a regular customer. But I kind of screwed up. I did not know that my particular Valvoline Express Care also offered $10 off on Wednesday for ladies day. They said that had I come in on Wednesday I could have used my coupon and received 10 bucks off for ladies day essentially giving me a fully synthetic oil change for the price of fossil oil. Win some, lose some.

If I have mentioned this before, please bear with me because when it comes to oil changes, this is very important. Do not use any oil that uses a paraffin addictive. This causes a build up of paraffin on the valve train. The best way to remember which oils contain paraffin is with this little saying. "Mind your P's and Q's." If the oil brand name starts with a P or Q do not use it. I know a lot of people like using these two oil change establishments because they tend to offer the cheapest price when it comes to oil changes. I wonder why? Why chance doing damage to the second most expensive asset you own.

This is also the time of year to have an extra gallon jug of windshield washer fluid in your trunk. Search the Internet for rebates. Currently Prestone Bug Wash is offering a $2.00 rebate with a limit of 2 rebates. Offer is good until the end of the year. If I had not just purchased 2 jugs of Peak Windshield Washer Fluid I might have jumped on this offer. I still might because it doesn't degrade (go bad) and here in Michigan we use quite a lot of washer fluid in the winter.

Do not wait until you need washer fluid to buy it. Gas Stations and convenience stores are the last place to buy it. They know you need it so they price it accordingly.

The tax year is coming to a close so now is the time to drop off donations to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Make sure you get a receipt for tax purposes. I also take a few photos just in case there is ever any question as to the quality of the item I donated. R will take several boxes to Goodwill tomorrow plus a small computer desk that is no longer in use.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vintage French Doors w/Vintage Storm Doors

I ran across a set of vintage French doors while in Holly the other day. So I took out my camera and snapped a few photos for future reference.

Here are the exterior French doors. Love that hand painted large plate that is hanging on the wall next to the doors. And here are the vintage French storm doors.Both sets of doors have their hinges and door knobs PLUS I just noticed the sign in the booth for the storm doors that says 25% off everything in that booth!!! So Sunday we will drive to Holly and see if we can seal the deal on some vintage french doors for the game room.

It's Sunday now and we drove to Holly, Michigan to possibly buy the doors. I had completely forgotten that Holly was in the middle of their Dickens Days (as in Charles Dickens) because of this the downtown area was completely blocked off. We drove around for awhile until we found a parking spot large enough for a large dually truck. Those trucks are great for hauling but are a total pain when it comes to parking spots and fast food drive thru.

Here are a couple of the photos I shot while walking to the antique store.Could you imagine having to dress like that every day? Not me. No way.Poor horsey. I think I heard him say, "What can I say, times are bad and I have to make a buck. Have you seen the price of oats, lately?
OK, back to the antique store. Of course it was packed because of the Dickens Days but we were able to locate an owner and asked about the doors. I hadn't noticed that the booth number on both tags was #33 and booth #33 was having a sale of 25% off everything!!! Yippee. So I was able to purchase both set of doors for 25% off making the final price $397.50including tax. Not too bad considering the exterior French doors were originally $350.

The French doors are thick and very heavy. I can't wait to strip them. I have found that once you strip old painted doors you will find that most of the nicks and dents are usually in the paint. The edges also will look crisper. The doors will eventually be painted white like the trim on the house.

I did notice that one of the storm doors has a panel that is split. A little glue and some clamps should take care of that problem. I will need to have screen inserts made for the storm doors but that might even be something we can take care of ourselves.

The storm doors still have their original hardware but the French door has a rather modern door handle but appears to still have the cylinder lock. I am hoping it is a Corbin lock but if not, I think I have a few extra Corbin locks stashed somewhere as well as some door knobs. We can then get this door keyed to match all our other doors. I could not imagine having different keys for every door in this house. I would need a larger purse. Do they even make a purse that large?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hydraulic Cement

Today R bought a small tub of hydraulic cement to fix that small hole in the basement floor.Remember this hole?When R went to Home Depot he looked all over and could not find the hydraulic cement so he asked the first Home Depot associate that he encountered. Just like every other time you ask a Home Depot associate a question the answer was "I don't know." So he looked further and finally found it in the paint section.

To patch the hole we first dug out as much of the dirt as possible. The hole appeared to be about 6 inches deep. R then splashed a little water into the hole to moisten the concrete floor so that it would not draw all the moisture out of the wet cement. This also aides in the bonding of the cement to the old concrete.R added small amounts of water until he achieved the desired consistency. He wanted it rather runny so that he could pour it into the hole. Hydraulic cement sets up fairly quickly so make sure you prep before mixing the cement.
This is the hole after we finished pouring the cement into the hole. Tomorrow I will update with a photo of the dried cement. This should keep water from coming into the basement during rainy periods.

FYI the cost of the small tub was $6.97. We only used several small scoops of the dry mixture so this tub should patch several large holes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

$10.00 off Coupon for Yankee Candle

While we shopped in Holly, Michigan yesterday, my sister and I saw Yankee Candles everywhere. We sniffed so many candles that I felt like I had a pine branch stuck in my nostril. Our olfactory lobes were over stimulated with cinnamon sticks, pine, cranberry, apple spice, and snowflake. Snowflake? Yes, snowflake. How would you like that job?

"What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a snowflake sniffer. I sniff snowflakes to decide which scent of snowflakes will be used in snowflake candles."

Actually I never met a snowflake that I liked so I that would probably disqualify me for that profession. I guess I'll just have to scratch snowflake sniffer from the list of possible professions.

I don't believe Yankee Candle has the snow flake scent but they have plenty of other scents to choose from to delight the olfactory lobes of your holiday guests. Like North Pole, doesn't that conjure up a pleasant feeling feeling? Brrrrr, just the thought of the North Pole makes me want to shiver and climb under an electric blanket. My personal favorites are Lilac and Clean Cotton.Whatever your scent of choice is, you can get it cheaper for the next 3 days. Yankee Candle is offering $10 off a $20 dollar purchase. Coupon expires December 13th, 2009.

Did you say "It's too damn cold outside to go shopping!" Well, don't fret my shivering friend. This coupon is good for online purchases at the Yankee Candle site just use code XF912A2. And was 12 degrees out when my sister and I shopped yesterday. So quit your whimpering it will make your nose and mascara run and that is just not a good look on anyone.

The Yankee Candle site is also running a buy 1 get one half off sale on their holiday candles. Hurry, time is running out.

Update......I just found out you can use this promo code more than once so if your order is over 20 dollars split your order into two. Example.....Your order comes to 43 dollars before promo code. Try and split that order into 2 orders of 20 and 23 dollars and use the promo code twice. This would give you final orders of 10 and 13 dollars plus shipping (which appears to be $5.00 right now) twice for a total of 33 dollars instead of 38 dollars. Unfortunately I ordered before I found this out. If you buy the tarts for your burner they cost $1.99 each. Buy 10 or 11 tarts (not sure if promo code works off items only or items and shipping. 11 X 1.99=21.89 minus $10 dollars final cost $11.89 plus $5.00 shipping=$16.89 total which is still cheaper than going to the store and paying $1.99 each for 11 tarts=$21.89 plus you had to drive there, your feet got wet because of the snow and slush, plus it was cold, and you really didn't want to get out of your PJs in the first place.Also they have flower seed mats on sale. These seed mats are 17 inches wide and 5 feet long. They have three types on sale, wildflower, butterfly garden, and giant pumpkin seed mats. I purchased 10 of the butterfly garden mats @ $1.75 each. Can't get any easier than that. Roll it out, throw a little dirt on it, and water. Multiple seed types and evenly spaced. One pack of seeds would cost $1.75.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free $$$ for People Named Virginia

Macy's is offering a $10 gift card to anyone who is named Virginia and comes into Macy's between 10am and 6pm on December 11th, 2009. Bring valid ID. Supplies limited.

Anyone named Virginia??? Anyone? money!!!

For the rest of you I have links for free lasagna and a free cookbook from Hillshire Farms.

Coupon for free Michael Angelo lasagna

Free Hillshire Farms cookbook.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another Magazine Bites the Dust

Seems that yet another magazine that I subscribe to has know died, perished, kicked the periodical bucket. But I need not fret because they are adding any unused issues of Gourmet to my Bon Appetit subscription. Great.....just what I need more issues of Bon Appetit. That should take me to 2014. What makes them think Bon Appetit will survive if Gourmet couldn't?

Last month it was Metropolitan which is a magazine I subscribed to for years but lately was uninspiring and some issues were just horrific. But like all the other mags that have gone bust the last issue came with a renewal attached to it. Several years ago I decided to quit Metropolitan but thanks to another mag folding, they added issues to a mag I no longer wanted.

So starting with the new year, I will not subscribe to anymore new magazines. Most of my subscription have oodles of issues left on them thanks to numerous offers of $5.00 a year and sending me numerous bills that made me think my subscription was running out.

These are the only magazines I will continue to subscribe to because of their constant high quality. These are the magazines that always offer me at least one inspiration or idea.

The keep subscribing to list.

Traditional Home one of the best, true to it's title, and great articles.

Martha Stewart Living what can I say but Martha rocks. Great all around mag.

Old Home Journal and Old House Interiors true to title except they need more 30's and 40's homes that aren't deco or kitschy.

Better Homes and Gardens A staple. A good all around mag.

This Old House. Great magazine but I have noticed several issues that were tossed after one reading. They need to do smaller renos with affordable products. Instead of 2 big renos maybe 8 with the home owner doing the vast majority of work and being guided by Norm, Tom, and the experts. Hey, R and I will even volunteer. Oh and they need to venture to other parts of the country. Maybe have four different homeowner renos from 4 different areas each year all going on at the same time and because the homeowners will be doing the majority of the work the renos should last all season. Four different areas, four different styles, and four different homeowners. This will insure that there is something that will strike a nerve with every viewer.

Country Living This mag should have oodles of great articles because of the demise of all the Cottage mags.

Midwest Living Well I do live in the Midwest so that's a no brainer.

Southern Living Some great issues and some not so great.

Taste of Home Great recipes that are doable and family oriented. Recipes are made with readily available items.

Here's the mags that I don't think will make it. Some of the magazines that have folded were lacking inspiration for months on end. Some of the decorating in these magazines were down right ugly.

Food Network Too many foodie mags already with recipes that are iffy for the average family.

Renovation Style Used to be filled with inspiration now it's just a shell of it's former self. Seems intent on offering renos of either gigantic proportion or just weird renos.

Bon Appetite I really don't think we need this foodie mag. The recipes are too out there, too expensive to try, and ingredients are sometimes unattainable in my area.

Most gardening mags. They rehash the same old thing. Most good all around mags have one garden article each month.

I refuse to buy magazines off the news stand. Far too expensive. Basically magazines are throw aways and I really do not like just throwing away $$$$. Some magazines are $5.95 or $6.99. Give me a break.

New Year's resolution number new subscriptions unless it is a mag in my

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Insulation and J Hooks

The chimney guy came over at 10AM to inspect the chimneys. I was surprised when he said he had been to our house maybe 30 years ago. That was good for two reasons. First being that he has loads of experience and second he could vaguely remember the house so I can ask him questions when he comes back.

We did agree that the family room chimney needs cleaning before we can burn any wood. He said he will then take a closer looks at the firebox. We also agreed that rather than putting a chimney cap on two of the three chimneys he would install chimney cap dampers. That will kill two birds with one stone since the current dampers are rusty and not functioning properly.

R and I made a quick trip to Home Depot after the chimney guy left. We needed insulation for the crawl space under the kitchen. That was the first area we fixed the ducting. We replaced the collapsible cheap dryer vent that they were using for the furnace inlets with rigid collapsible duct. We also replaced the vent with a new vent that is now straight and doesn't have paint drips all over it. Since we have two furnaces we replaced everything twice.

We also removed trash, wiring, old plumbing pipes no longer in use, and numerous nails, screws, and boards. The crawl space walls were not insulated so today we took care of that but will need to go back to staple the paper backing to the studs. We were out of staples and didn't want to make another trip to the hardware. We will be done with this area once we staple the paper backing on to the studs. One crawl space area down and two more crawl space areas to go.

R realized that the gas line was not supported while he was removing knob and tube yesterday. Today we nailed 4 plastic J hooks in place to support the gas line.

Tomorrow after I get home at 1230PM we will start the duct work under the family room/library. We bought the remaining supplies today. The 7 inch round duct comes flat and needs to be snapped together. We quickly tried to snap it together but it wasn't going together like it should so we called it a day before we got too frustrated. Hopefully tomorrow it will go together easier.

When I was wrenching on a daily basis, I found that the best way to remove a stubborn bolt, part, etc was to walk away before you lose your cool. I found it best to lay down my tool before I felt like throwing it across the room, go get a Coke and come back in 15 minutes. Nine out of ten times when I picked up the tool and tried again.....the bolt or part that was giving me a hard time usually came off easily. Sometimes in your frustration you don't have your tool or your body properly placed and all the force in the world will not remove what you are trying to remove.

A while back I worked with a rather muscular big guy. He was having trouble getting a bolt out that was located in a awkward location. He was working up quite the sweat. I offered to try but he kind of chuckle and said he'd get it. Long story short......4 hours later he still didn't have it out. I asked again and this time he said "have at it". Whenever I need to remove or start a bolt I cannot see, I have a habit of closing my eyes. I think it makes you focus on your sense of touch better. So I stuck my hand down into the access hole on the top of the engine and with my long fingernails grabbed the bolt and pulled it out. I told him "you should have let me do that 4 hours ago and you would be done by now." Over the years my small hand and long fingernails have come in handy.

Tip of the day....always hand start every bolt. This will eliminate cross threading.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Knob and Tube Wiring

The last couple of days has been spent removing disconnected old knob and tube wiring. The house was rewired sometime before we purchased it. Unfortunately they left all the old knob and tube wiring.

So far we have not run into any that is active, which is great. I know when we had the home inspection, the inspector made a point to remark on every bit of knob and tube he could see. So we decided it had to be removed for future sale and our piece of mind.

The tube is easy to remove as it slides right off the wire. The knob on the other hand appears to either be nailed or screwed to the joists. I told R to keep all the knob and tube pieces because I have an idea for a craft project.

We are also removing any old nails, screws, boards, straps, etc that we come across that are no longer needed. Just in the room that was the coal room we spent 5 hours . We also removed the door since is has it's original glass but was hanging by one hinge. The door will go in the barn with all the other doors that are currently not in use.After dewiring the coal bin we moved to the furnace room. This room is much harder to remove the knob and tube since the vast majority of it is hidden above the heating ducts. We did remove the old security system wall box, old copper tubing that went to a long gone fridge, and some knob and tube. We came across about three junction boxes without covers and numerous places where the wiring is criss crossed and just a mess. That mess will have to wait until we can turn off the power and disconnect the wires to untangle and use Romex staples to hold in place.

R also did some crawling around in the crawl space under the family room/library. He says it will be a tight fit. We are hoping that most of the ducting can be assembled and fed though the opening.

The good news is that R said he didn't see any daylight leaking through anywhere. Yeah!!!

Also we have determined that if the family room/library was not original it was added soon after the house was built since we found knob and tube under the family room/library.

We also found out where the water was coming into the coal room. There was always a damp spot on the floor. Upon closer inspection we found that there was a deep hole, the size of a quarter, drilled into the floor. It was allowing ground water to seep into the coal room during rainy periods. That will have to be plugged with hydraulic cement. I have no idea why someone would drill a hole through the concrete basement floor but they did and now we will fix it.Tomorrow we will try and tackle some of the heat ducts under the family room/library. Yippee!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fence Post Levels

Today, after the furnace guy left and after I wrote a check for $736.00 for a DC motor for the energy efficient 5 year old furnace, we fixed the fence posts at the Torrey Rd house.I noticed post levels in the bargain bin one day while I was at our Ace Hardware store in Grand Blanc. I had a $5.00 off coupon from my Ace Rewards so I purchased a couple. Unfortunately I can't remember the price but today I found out they were priceless when it comes to making sure fence post are plumb and level.The elastic band comes in handy and holds the level in place even as you are moving the post around in the hole. The level is molded out of plastic so it shouldn't rust or have any sharp edges. The level also has three bubble levels. Two of the bubble levels tells you if two sides of the post are plumb and the third bubble level is used if you are working on a horizontal piece. The post can be either square/rectangular or round and comes with 4 magnets so that it can be used if your post is steel.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time to Move the Work Inside

It's time to move inside now that snow is in the forecast. So today was spent removing needless wires (more phone wire and some disconnected knob and tube) and making a list of the needed materials to fix some shoddy duct work.

They (whoever installed the furnaces) installed new duct work whenever they installed the current two furnaces and much like whoever installed the roof (same time period) they did a shoddy job. Both the living room and the family room have crawl spaces rather than basement. The basement is in the center of the home and does not expand under the wings.

The duct work they installed in the crawl spaces was the flexible plastic duct work wrapped in plastic and insulation rather than 7 inch round sheet metal duct which was used up until they entered into the crawl space. This flexible duct has just deteriorated and fallen apart. We removed all the bad ducting, measured for new, and decided what parts would be needed to get to where we needed to go. Then it was off to Home Depot where they (associates) were absolutely no help. But we finally found what we needed and left.

Tomorrow we will redo the furnace air inlets because they were done with those cheap flexible dryer exhaust tubing, not the sturdy flexible duct and then they nearly clamped it shut when they used a hose clamp to hang it to the floor joist under the kitchen.

If we have time left we will start the installation of the new round sheet metal ducting under the family room. That job should take several days since there is very limited space to work. Plus while he is in the crawl space he might as well cut away as much of the old 'not in use anymore stuff'.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free 8X10 Canvas Photo

Do you have a special photo that would look great printed on canvas? Here is your chance to do it for free + shipping.

My shipping cost was $14.99 for the free 8 X 10 size. I know of one person who only paid $11.99 for shipping so it must be calculated based on location. $14.99 for Michigan and $11.99 for Idaho, so I am assuming this is west coast based.

This would make a great gift especially if framed in a nice frame. Don't buy the frame from them. Use a 50% off 1 item coupon and get your frame from Michael's Craft Store. Coupons are usually in Sunday's newspaper. Since 8 X 10 is a common size you will be able to buy a pre made frame instead of a expensive custom frame.

Children, grandchildren, and pets are always excellent choices for canvas photos. But what about using software to combine a 'before and after' photo of your house? What better reminder of how far you've come (other than your credit card bills) on your restoration than a canvas printed 'before and after' photo framed and hung for all to see.

If you are really handy you could make your frame out of reclaimed wood from your home. Use old baseboard or trim to build your own frame.

What photo did I put on canvas? R in his race car of course!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just as I Thought

Guess what is in this canvas bag?Yup, those are the elusive hinges that I have been eluding me for the last week or so.And you know what? They were right where I put them. I remembered that I needed to use the shipping box for something else but I could not remember what I put the hinges in to keep them safe. Duh....National Trust for Historic Preservation canvas bag, of course they are vintage style hinges.

I chose the hinges because I needed surface mount hinges and did not have a lot of space. I also needed a hinge that was available in black. I originally thought about the L hinge but wasn't really wowed by the idea. One night while watching one of my favorite movies, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), I noticed these hinges on casement windows and I liked how they looked.

My favorite part of this movie is when Mrs. Blandings is trying to explain what colors she wants the contractor to have his painter paint her rooms.

Mrs. Blandings: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin's egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don't let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I'd like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you'll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can't go wrong! Now, this is the paper we're going to use in the hall. It's flowered, but I don't want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There's some little dots in the background, and it's these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room - in here - I want you to match this thread, and don't lose it. It's the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it's practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me... Mr. PeDelford: You got that Charlie? Charlie, Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white. Mr. PeDelford: Check.

My other favorite line is when the Blandings' friend, Bill Cole says, You've been taken to the cleaners, and you don't even know your pants are off.

Every time I have to deal with a contractor, I think about those lines.

I just read that they built replicas of this house all over the United States. Two years ago there was a story in the newspaper about one built in the Toledo area. You can read the article here.

If you are building or restoring a home buy this DVD. It is so timeless when it comes to contractors and the highs and lows of home improvement. Plus, Cary Grant is just so debonair. A polished up George Clooney. You ladies know what I mean.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shingling is Done Until Spring

R and I shingled until after 5PM today. The last few shingles were installed in near darkness.

I was sure we would run of of shingles but to my surprise we still had a 1/3 of a bundle remaining when we installed the last shingle.Last weekend I found the best tool to use when installing cedar shingles. This tiny plane is the perfect size to keep tucked in your pocket. There were so many times I needed to adjust the side of a shingle and ended up having to walk over to the WorkMate, score a line on the shingle, and then either use the saw or a utility knife to cut away the excess shingle. This slowed down progress and as in the case today....we had absolutely no time to spare. So today whenever I needed to make an adjustment, I just pulled out the little plane and made as many passes as needed to get a good fit. This saved a lot of time because I did not have to walk away, make my cuts, and walk back to where I was shingling.

Best part is that this little gadget was less than four bucks at Harbor Freight.

We are both sooo happy that the shingling is done for now. We both have slivers in our fingers and those little slivers hurt big time. My nail tech spent the first 15 minutes on Monday picking slivers out of my fingers. Thank you, Virginia. Virginia and her band, Still Waters, have a CD coming out in February 2010. She filmed her music video last month and I was able to view it a couple of weeks ago. I'll let everyone know when it will be available for viewing on the country music and Christian channels. I was impressed and I am not a fan of that particular genre either. Strictly R n R, jazz, or blues.

Which reminds me that if you have a chance to take in the Trans Siberian Orchestra around this time of year, don't hesitate...go and see them, they put on an excellent show.

Today we had Sweers Eavetrough and Roofing stop by for an estimate to install 6 inch gutters and 5 inch downspouts. We will also have them install the leaf caps on the gutters. We have too many leaves to not have the gutters covered. The new eave troughs will be installed in two weeks.

I am still waiting on the chimney guy to show up. We need chimney caps on 2 of the three chimneys. Each chimney has at least 2 flues. The fireplace in the family room/library needs an expert to look at the firebox. We think that some of the mortar needs replacing. Plus, I want someone to say "yes, it is alright to fire that fireplace up." We have an abundance of wood to burn and it would be nice to use it to help with heating that room. The other two fireplaces can wait for now. I haven't decided if I want gas or not in the living room and master bedroom.

FYI...I still have not located the hinges.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Under the Gun

I think our string of good weather is running out. The forecast for Tuesday is slightly colder than today and after that the forecast is for rain or snow showers.

Tomorrow we have to hit it hard if we are to finish the south wall. The south wall only needs two rows but of course the bottom row is done twice so essentially we have three rows.

I think we have just enough shingles left to finish. I better measure twice and cut once because I do not want to stop and go buy another whole bundle just for a couple of shingles.

We were making good progress today but then we came to the very last small odd shaped shingle. It took forever to get it right. Since it was an interior corner it was important that the fit was tight to keep the rain out.Sometime in the next year we will be replacing those two ugly banks of windows. Who would put a bay window and bow window in the same room? I'm hoping for double hung windows in the same configuration as the windows in the living room which are 8 over 8 flanked on each side by 6 over 6 windows. That would leave the original dining room bay window as the only bay window in the house. The windows in the family room/library are 1960's era windows so they are not original for that room nor the house.

FYI....I still have not located the hinges.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Shingling

We finished the sun room area two days ago. Remember this mess?It looks like this now.Unfortunately I still have not found the hinges I ordered. So we moved on.

The only two areas left that need shingling are the two areas where we replaced the rotted sill plate. Someone or at sometime dirt was piled up against the house. After we removed all the over grown shrubbery we realized that we also needed to remove quite a lot of dirt so that there was adequate drainage and so that the dirt was no longer in contact with the wood shingles.

Yesterday and today was spent shingling the west side of the family room or the library as it was referred to in the listing when we purchased the home. Tomorrow we will finish this area and start on south side. This should complete the major shingling jobs until we remove the 1960 era window in the game room.

Please excuse the photo's poor quality. It was nearly dark when I remembered that I needed to take a few photos.