House Blog, Part 3

Before I got to work tearing down walls at the new house, I had to mow the lawn. It had been neglected for weeks. Our previous house was built on a .1 acre lot and the backyard was pretty small. I designed the landscaping to make the lawn even smaller.

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My old backyard.

Because I had such a small yard, I bought a sweet lawnmower by Brill. It was really fun to use, quiet and made quick work of our small yard.

Our new yard, however, required a more serious machine.

Serious machine.

This house sits on a 1/3 of an acre and most of it is in the backyard. Our backyard is on a fairly decent sized hill and there is currently no sprinkler system. All of those things, combined with a grass hungry pig, have made our new backyard something of a wilderness. I’m afraid we probably won’t be able to tackle the back landscaping for several years, but it’s still a safe, fun place for the girls to explore and play.


House Blog, Part 3

House Blog, Part 2

Ok. So we bought the house. Here’s what we bought:

What you are seeing is a 2800sqft rancher with a daylight basement. It was built in 1965 (50 years old when we bought it). I believe it was originally a single family home, but it was remodeled some time in the Carter administration and turned into an illegal duplex. The upper floor was a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath unit and the basement was 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath unit.

As you can see from the video, the 2 front doors were separated by that ugly partition so that the right door kept you up and the left door sent you down. Both tenants shared the back yard. (Watch me take out that partition below if you’d like) When we bought it, the original owner (who lived in California) had had enough. He had just paid to have the basement disinfected: a tenant put baby wipes down the toilet and flooded the downstairs with sewage. Gross. That was all cleaned up but the drywall was removed from about 3 feet from the floor throughout most of the downstairs and both of the downstairs bathrooms were pretty much unusable in the state they were in.

According to my new neighbors, this house was definitely the biggest negative about this neighborhood. It was a revolving door of strange tenants. There were noise violations, drug busts and other unmentionables on this property. Everyone was thrilled to hear that we were going to convert it back into a single family property.

I went in to this with the idea that we were going to do a few cosmetic things, change out the ugly carpeting, and possibly remove a couple partition walls. What we’ve ended up doing is gutting the whole house and replacing everything but the electrical wiring and framing. It’s been a huge learning experience for me and I’ve really enjoyed it. Stay tuned for part 3 of this series where I start demo work on the basement.


House Blog, Part 2

House Blog, part 1

On June 12th, 2015, we signed the papers on our house. It’s been over a year since then, and I have decided that it’s time to write about our adventure in remodeling. Things are finally starting to slow down with the remodel…at least for the time being…and it’s probably a good idea to record what’s happened thus far.

I had my doubts when we saw this house for the first time. It was in rough shape. Joanna was excited about remodeling a midcentury home, and this home was definitely built in the middle of the 20th century. At this point I owned a homeowner’s starter pack battery powered drill and circular saw that I had received from my father-in-law as an attempt to make me a man and I had practically no construction experience. We also did not have the money to hire all the work out.

Fortunately, unfortunately, we quickly found out that an offer had already been made on the house by someone else. About 3 weeks went by as we looked at other properties and didn’t really find anything we liked. Then, the offer on this house fell through. Joanna really liked it and I had come around to the idea that I could handle a huge challenge: so we bought it.

I knew it was a great idea because at our signing they brought out the clydesdales.


We didn’t move in until the middle of July, but I started work on the house almost immediately. I will write more about that later.

House Blog, part 1

The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Dipping Foods

I really love chips and salsa. I love chips and guac, crackers and hummus, carrots and ranch…but I really love chips and salsa.

There’s so much joy in having an edible utensil. There’s the art of scooping the exact right amount of salsa to compliment the chip. It’s different for every various chip brand and variety, as well as the myriad of salsas. But once you find it, you aim for that perfect blend of salty corn texture and vibrant citrus punch.

Chips and salsa bring a lot of control to the eating experience as well. Your hand is closer to the food than with a fork. More precision is required. More concentration. I love the chips and salsa eating experience almost as much as I love eating chips and salsa.

There’s also the community aspect. A common bowl of chips, a common bowl of salsa. You know there’s a real connection with a person when you can freely double dip. (My wife and daughters in my experience) It just feels good to share such a simple, rich snack with other people.

But then there’s the downside. I think I’ve traced it back to the reality that you’re never really done eating chips and salsa. The experience ends, but you’re always robbed before you are finished. Either you run out of chips, or you run out of salsa. You never use your last chip to scoop up the last bit of delicious salsa. It just doesn’t work that way. You always look down at half a bowl of chips and an empty bowl of salsa, or vice versa. That’s what makes me sad. I can eat a steak and some potatoes and a salad, and when my plate is clean, all the food is gone. But not with chips and salsa. There is always a component left over. Taunting me. Mocking me.

I always go back though. I really love chips and salsa.

The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Dipping Foods

Design? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Design!

So, this blog has been hosted for the last several years on a server leased by a friend of mine. I was recently informed that he had moved all of his content off that server and was only paying the lease because it was hosting my blog. That was very nice of him, but also silly. I decided to move my blog over to’s free hosting platform so that he could close down that server.

Unfortunately, is much more restrictive in its design flexibility. I haven’t dug through all the options yet, but this particular look is not awesome. Hopefully I will get around to making it look better soon. Or maybe not.

*Edit: As of 2.23.15, I have settled on a design. At least temporarily. We’ll see how it goes.

Design? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Design!