Posts tagged ‘columbus ohio’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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December 31, 2015

~*happy new year’s eve 2015*~

Joel in headlock with Cam on his shoulders.jpgJoel and Arden looking cozy on couch.jpgI don’t know about you, but for me, this was the fastest moving December in all of time. Like blink of an eye, it was gone! Thanksgiving ended, there was caroling with Arden’s Girl Scout troop (the cold rolled in just in time for that!), making holiday cookies & dough ornaments with Arden, festive Christmas cards, and the whirlwind of shopping. Suddenly, it was already Christmas Eve. Normally, I am super awful at getting the tree up. Most years, it has debuted ON Christmas Eve at like 3:00 a.m. (after we get back from Cleveland and wrapping presents) Seriously. This year, adamant that it show up a bit earlier (and to make amends for getting in trouble at school that day) with much muttering under her breath, Arden herself pulled out the boxes and drug up from the basement. All 3 pieces of our Christmas tree. It was heartwarming, sweet and I was super thankful since my tailbone still killed from falling on it (HARD) roller skating. Erin in front of old door in dining room.jpg

At the start of each new year, I swear I’m going to enjoy every.single.moment. Take it in as I experience it, instead of rushing from one thing to the next.  I’ve gotten better at making time for the important things, like fun and not just working. I suppose having a demanding toddler makes you do that. Sort of. (it also makes you feel crazy!) Winter rolls on for seemingly ever. Spring takes it sweet time arriving, but once it does, it’s glorious!  The school break in Summer goes way too fast, then boom, Fall is here and petal to the metal, one holiday after another and POOF! it’s over. That’s how my life feels.

This year, I tried to be more accepting, less critical. Embracing flaws and easing up on expectations of perfection, for myself and my family. I dare say, they like me a bit better because of it. I’m not quite as stressed and it teaches Arden that some things don’t need to be just so because migraines aren’t worth it. For now, I will strive to do better. To work hard, accomplish dreams and bring more happiness into our home. Wishing everyone the same for your 2016! Our house with Christmas lights.jpg

 

 

 

August 27, 2015

Arden’s Mom

Owl bag puppet copyYesterday began the 1st day of the new school year.

I was nervous.

And excited.

And it wasn’t even me starting school.

Last year, shortly after Arden started first grade. Picking her up after school one day, she told me that her Art teacher was going to a different school and that she was sad. Upon clarification from her teacher, the students weren’t required to have art all the semesters. The Art teacher would be back at their school mid-January. So in the meantime, the kids would have nothing. Arden looked at me so sad.  Honestly, the thought of school without it devastated me. I realize that sounds dramatic, but as a kid, that was my life. I LIVED for Art class. Each of my teachers were amazing and I loved them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance and encouragement. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to do something.

I approached Arden’s teacher with the idea, which she was all for. Lo and behold, I would also be able to bring Cam. I’d like to mention that her teacher had the patience of a saint. With 3 kids of her own and being in her thirteenth year of teaching, she was so laidback, but firm, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. I walked into the classroom the first day and Arden’s eyes just shown. She could barely contain her excitement. I, on the other hand, was hugely apprehensive. I’m used to just making things with one kid, not 20. I nervously waited for the students to finish their assignment before I launched into what we were going to do. The room was just buzzing!  So many wound up little people, wondering what was happening next. At some point, introductions were made, but the kids paid no mind and simply referred to me as “Arden’s Mom.” A title I’d never thought I’d be so proud of, but has come to completely thrill me to the being of my soul. Mama with feather art head dress copyNative american head dress with feathers and paint tree art copy art turkeys copy

And so, for the next 3 months I came in once a week to do projects with the kids in Arden’s class. I had tons of scrap cardstock that I was finally going to put to good use. Most of the other materials I had on hand and the kids already had glue, scissors and markers. While Arden was a whiz at cutting since she was 3, a lot of them still needed practice. I’d make up templates and have some things made ahead of time, while still leaving them to work on the skills they needed.

Some kids were more than happy to follow my basic instruction, but most often than not, their minds and creativity took over. Everytime, they’d swarm around me like baby ducks, asking for assistance or proudly showing off their work. One boy’s paper bag owl puppet, became a Minecraft-type owl complete with a sword for an arm. One kid, instead of making the porcupine out of toothpicks, asked to make Sonic the Hedgehog out of toothpicks. One girl, no matter what the project, always managed to turn it into something with a dragon. I wasn’t an Art teacher and we weren’t technically in Art class, so why not? We had that freedom.

Then there was Cam. In his carseat, he’d either nap or rock himself. He never cried. Maybe because, at all times, at least 1/3 of the class would be out of their seats to play with the baby. Doing silly stuff to get him to smile or try to feed him a bottle. As time went on and he grew, they delighted in seeing the new things he was able to do. The teacher would remind them to get back in their seats and finish. They would, only to be replaced by new kids eager to make the baby laugh.

My time there went swiftly. Once the actual Art teacher was back, I cried. When I would drop off Arden to her classroom in the morning, I’d still have kids asking when I would be back to teach them Art. I was able to come in a few more times after that, for holiday parties or for science experiments, just so we could have an excuse to make things together and play with a baby.

I think of all this as I drop off Arden yesterday and feel a bit sad. I hope I will have some opportunity to come in and work with this new class. To get to know the kids and see some of the returning ones from last year. Just then, I see Arden’s teacher from last year and ask for a hug, which of course, makes everything better. porcupine from art class mrs uncaphers copy

June 3, 2014

Dresden : For Sale

It took us 3 straight months to complete. During which time we had to put our duplex rehab project aka ‘Hallie’ on hold. On April 4th, we bid ado to the house we had lived and breathed our nights and weekends in. Ironically, I actually felt a little sad about the whole thing. We’d put so much work into it, pushed, pushed, pushed and was sort of left with an empty feeling once it was done. All our hard work passed inspection and the renters moved in.

THEN…
DUN DUN DUN.
After several weeks, the couple’s relationship fell apart and the woman moved out. Supposedly, taking some of the next months rent and his car with her. By the 2nd month, the guy couldn’t pay the rent in it’s entirety. After the previous renter, we weren’t interested in sob stories. That may sound mean but ultimately it comes down to us being responsible to the bank for the mortgage payment. We’ve already lost several thousand in unpaid rent, though thankfully insurance miraculously covered the repairs since they were considered vandalism. To say we are a bit tired of people trying to get a free ride off us is an understatement. So the agreement was, the next renter that was even slightly late on rent, we were going to put the house up for sale.

The renter was pissed, none-the-less. He said we were inconveniencing him (and a new girlfriend he moved in without signing a new lease, so he could get the utilities turned back on in her name.) He declared we were leaving him homeless and lots of drama ensued. We hadn’t evicted him, we let him know we’d honor the lease if he’d like to stay, as long as he paid. Obviously, that wasn’t an option, because after excessive scratching of walls/paint and floors he abruptly moved out. Receiving only a small portion of his deposit.

Now we had the arduous task of getting it sell-worthy. If you recall, the basement that was once crammed with garbage and filth was cleaned, but really needed painted.

BEFORE: Basement hallway
dresden basement trashed copy

AFTER: Walls painted, carpet ripped up, steps painted.

mms_20140603_4 basement hallway after joel painted copy
BEFORE: Basement after trash removed, cleaned up, new lights put in.

mms_20140603_5 bestment before paint copy

AFTER: Walls & floor painted. (This oil-based paint is some hard-core stuff. Poor Joel probably lost some brain cells those 2 days. I gallantly was spared.)
mms_20140603_2 basement after joel painted copy

The yard and flower beds were completely neglected. And of course, the interior needed cleaned and paint touched up in every room. So here we were again for several more weeks. The result is quite charming.

BEFORE:
This is a very unfair before photo. Taken in winter when the lighting is poor and there is zero greenery. It’s like those stupid weight loss ads when the before/after actors don’t even remotely resemble each other. Back then, I had all proudly trimmed up the bushes and did what I could without running water to clean up the front. It was a tremendous improvement at the time.

Front of Dresden after bushes were trimmed copy

AFTER: We rehabbed all the flower beds (creating a new one around the tree). The front was extensively power washed, as was the sidewalk and fence. The four black scroll metal pillars on the porch got a dose of white paint, which lightened up the entire front tremendously. We also painted the mail box, added a few cute details, like the wreath to make it more homey and there you have it.

Dresden, front view after landscaping , powerwash & paint

Finally, here’s an after of the backyard flower bed.

mms_20140603_3 back flower bed copy

Please send some good selling vibes our way!

March 17, 2014

Dresden : Week 8 Bring on the green!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thought it would be great timing to post about our next room we completed, The Green Room.
Joel has been told before by people that he is very lucky. Lucky to know what he does, to be able to do what he does, to get the jobs he does. It’s a little bit irritating, because it’s not luck at all. It’s hard work. He may have a knack for learning the mechanicals inside a furnace or a car or heck, even my printer. He’s good at figuring out how things work. It takes practice and making mistakes and lots of labor. It doesn’t involve luck.

As a matter of fact, the opposite could be said. After Joel replaced the toilet in the upstairs bathroom (because the renters actually cracked the tank and broke the wax seal (that prevents sewer water from leaking when you flush) it was discovered that we need to do more to the green room than just replace 2 windows and paint. When the tenant got her water turned off from not paying her bill, the pipes froze and they busted inside the ceiling. We found this out after some tests flushes upstairs. With water leaking everywhere, we had to tear out part of the ceiling to find the problem. Word of Advice: it’s good to pay your utilities. Another fun tip, if the temps are going to hit freezing, leave your faucets on, just dripping a wee bit and it prevents the pipes from freezing up and bursting.

Celiing torn out in green room copy

If you look the pipes closely, the 2 greys ends are what is supposed to be connected together.

Pipes burst in ceiling copy

So not only what there this issue, but quite a bit of the wall had to be scraped and patched to remove all the peeling.

Green room patched up copy

Then comes the REALLY unenjoyable part. The sanding. The dust gets everywhere.

Me from sanding the green room copy

AFTER priming and painting, here’s the ceiling where the hole was. Not too shabby.

ceiling pic copy

Here’s the completed room with the floor refinished. So sharp! We super love the new, brighter green! Most definitely a color we will use again!

Green room color copy

February 19, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 19 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 5.

So I was supposed to post this last week, but the all the editing was daunting and I just didn’t get to it.
We worked on the master bedroom for several weeks. At roughly 600 sq. ft., it’s A LOT. The master bath is adjoining with another 125 sq. ft. (but we didn’t get to that yet.)

A RUNDOWN OF TASKS: (after removing the trash!)

1.) Completely replaced 4 windows.
(Ripped out old, built new framework, put in new, added drywall where needed, mudded, sanded, put trim back up.
2.) Texturized the ceiling
3.) New light fixtures
4.) Patched and painted. 3 gallons of just the blue paint.
5.) Completely redid corner beading that was shredded.
6.) Painted the ceiling
7.) Painted and reattached the banister that had been ripped down.

Now a mini story in pictures of what we accomplished.

BEFORE:
Original shot of 2 far windows copy

GETTING STARTED:
Joel ripping out old windows upstairs copy

PATCHED UP:
Windows in with drywall, patched copy

TA-DA!
Finished side windows copy

front wall first window put in copy

BEFORE:
Trash filled cubby over by bathroom wall copy

THIS ENCOMPASSES THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROOM:
Arden painted wall copy

Wall by bathroom copy

built in Dresser copy

Far window by stairs and dresser copy

Stairway copy

JUST A REFRESHER OF THE CORNER BEAD BEFORE:

Corner bead demolished before copy

AFTER:

corner I put up corner bead copy

As you can see, we need to get our mess cleaned up and sand the floors, BUT it’s made HUGE progress!

February 7, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 17 & 18 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 3 & 4.

Hello again, friends!
All 3 of us have been butt-dragging sick this week. I’m excited to start being able to breath again and Joel is excited I’ve stopped snoring. It hasn’t been so terrible that Arden has been having snow days from school, because she definitely needs the rest.
Last week alone, Joel put in 37 hours of overtime. Needless to say, we are hoping to see an end to this extreme weather we’ve been having. We certainly could use some help getting our mountain of work completed and fingers crossed we get some relief soon.

There’s what we’ve worked on the past couple weeks.

THE GRAY ROOM
We started with a bedroom downstairs. The photos aren’t the greatest because I end up forgetting my good camera and just use my phone. Still the transformation is noticeable. Here’s before photos. Filth, excessive scribbles and chunks missing, all over the walls.

DSC_0045 (1) copy

Grey room dirty 2 before copy

After cleaning up a bit, patching, painted and new blinds:

Grey room repainted copy

Between that and the floor getting ripped out, it’s was nice to finally have a room that doesn’t stink anymore.

NEXT: The UPSTAIRS BEDROOM
It’s quite spacious, which is nice to live in, but means a lot of work too. We worked on texturing the entire upstairs ceiling, not because I don’t like a smooth ceiling, but it hides imperfections. Then lots of patch work. Next Joel’s been working on replacing windows. Shown here painting outside trim. Do not try this maneuver at home, it causes incredible back pain.

Joel hanging out window to paint copy

One of the projects I’ve been working on is repairing the excessively damaged corner beading. Seen here, it’s ripped to shreds hanging out of the wall.

Corner bead demolished before copy

If you aren’t familiar with the process, after drywall goes up to give nice, crisp corners, special strips of paper with metal are put in place with drywall mud. Cover that with several more layers of mud, so it looks something like this when dried. Even though it’s super sloppy, it requires a certain level of precision. Put on too much and it takes forever to dry and causes cracks. Put on too little and you risk the drywall/metal corners being exposed after it all gets sanded down.

Corner bead with layers of mud copy

Here’s the wall after sanding. It’s important to get every blemish as smooth as possible, because what gets missed shows up when painted.

Corner bead after mud is sanded copy

We’ve also been working on painting, but I will save that for next week. Hopefully we’ll have the upstairs completed by then.

January 28, 2014

What’s in a Name?

Joel and I are struggling to come up with names. I suppose when we go in for the gender determining ultrasound in a month, it may make things easier. Until then, we are all like “How about this?” and “What do you think?”

Back when I was pregnant with Arden, I had made a list. I wanted something unique, but not too weird that people couldn’t spell it. There is an ‘Arden Road’ in Clintonville that I used to pass by and fell in love with the name. It still confused my Grandma until my Aunt pointed out that it was like ‘Garden’ without the ‘G’, which sort-of seemed to help her remember, but mostly she would just end up calling her Great-Grandchild ‘Erin’. (LOL)

When I researched the meaning behind Arden’s name, I discovered it was from a Shakespearean comedy ‘As you like it.’ The main setting was a magical forest named ‘Arden’. The forest was named after Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden. Kinda cool, right? It ended up beating out another favorite of mine ‘Veruca’. As in the mouthy little girl from the Willy Wonka movie, (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) who fell down the egg sorting chute. While I had some supporters, I felt like if I went that route, I end up with my hands full. (If you know my daughter, you know the joke is on me.)

In a cool twist of fate, about 6 months after Arden was born, I received a request from a Historical Society out in California to put a bid on an invitation project that were working on for a celebration they would be hosting. It was to honor the late Helena Modjeska, a Shakespearean actress and her estate named (what else, but) ‘Arden’. They accepted my bid and I was euphoric. I ended up designing and making 300 sets of invitations and reply postcards for their event.

Helena Modjeska Foundation invitation

Helena Modjeska Foundation reply

If you notice, in super super small at the bottom of the logo on the reply card, it reads ‘Arden – Modjeska’s Home in Santiago Canyon’.
How awesome was that?! Definitely a highlight of my invitation-making career. I was only sad I couldn’t attend. One day, I’d love to see it for myself.

But back to names. For boys, my go-to was always ‘Xander’. As in one of Buffy’s loyal vampire-slaying-sidekicks on the show, Buffy. It derives from ‘Alexander’, with a meaning of ‘Defender of all mankind’. I really felt I couldn’t go wrong with it. EXCEPT, it’s dramatically increased in popularity over the past 5 years, losing appeal for me. As a kicker, I just don’t feel like it goes with the ‘Stead’ last name. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to top a name with such an awesome meaning, everything seems to pale in comparison.

Then there is the girl name that Arden, who is longing for a sister, came up with like 6 months ago. Begging for a sister for at least a year, one day she sat me down and solemnly proclaimed that WHEN she had one, we should name her ‘Astley’. I have no idea where she came up with it, but oddly enough, Joel and I were both into it. If this name sounds remotely familiar, it’s because of 80’s crooner, Rick Astley. So far, from several of the people we have told, we’ve received the collective response of “Ass-what?”

Pronounced ‘a-st- ley’ it is an actual place in Warwickshire, from Old English east ‘east’ + leah ‘woodland clearing’. Or as some baby name sites list it, ‘A starry field’, or ‘A field of stars’ which honestly isn’t so shabby next to a magical forest. Whatever we end up choosing, I hope it fits the baby well.

Please post and tell us how you ended up choosing your name(s).

January 24, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 16 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 2.

Remember that day a week or so ago, when the weather was 40 degrees and that seemed balmy?
Well I took advantage of it, doing some much-needed outside maintenance over at Dresden.
The house is covered in yellow siding, which is unfortunate. I am not a fan of vinyl siding.
I feel like it lacks character, has a conformist attitude and this particular color fades really badly.
I also understand that it hides major flaws easily and cheaply, which is why it’s so popular.
(Joel had big plans for it before I came along, so it’s not like he liked it either.)

This particular color shows dirt something terrible. Not to mention it is positioned under a very tall tree,
which is awesome for shade purposes, but also has a nasty mossy/mold habit of growing on the house. Until Joel is able to replace all the pipes,
we have no water, so power washing is a bit out of the question. I’d also LOVE to get this place painted, so it looks a little more modern, but with sub degree temps, that also isn’t happening any time soon. I needed to work with what I could to make the place a bit more presentable, because honestly, it depressed the hell out of me every time we drove up.

On that particular day, I filled up several 5 gallon buckets of hot water from our house and drove a few blocks over to clean up the outside of Dresden.
The porch was really filthy and I had to scrub it good to remove the grime from out of the grooves.

Front of Dreseden filthy copy

And here’s after:
It’s not a jaw dropping transformation, but it helps.

Front of Dresden scrubbed copy

You may have also noticed the new front door Joel put in. The last one had it’s share of abuse and the decorative windows had (of course!) been broken out.
This one came primed and we aren’t sure of a paint color as of yet, but it looks tremendously better.

My next task was to drag out the ladder and scrub the awning. This thing is a disaster.

Awning dirty copy

It REALLY needs a good power washing, but in the meantime, I scrubbed what I could reach (and fortunately, what is visible.)

Here’s the dramatic difference! The left is scrubbed and the right is not.

Awning difference half cleaned copy

Joel also replaced several of the windows so far. The renter left cracks in most of them, so we are updating them with new. This process is a bit of a pain, as the windows aren’t the same size as the standard windows say carried by Lowe’s currently. To get them custom, they would be on order for a month and cost more. So unfortunately this really adds time to each install as Joel has to get it as close as possible, but build a frame for each window to sit into. It’s sucky, but he does a great job making it look good.

Removed old window copy

Installing new kitchen window copy

Here’s the new kitchen window after being painted.

replaced front window copy

After the awning, I trimmed bushes, raked leaves and cut back the branches that line the property to the right.
All in all, a big improvement!

Front of Dresden 005 copy

January 17, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 15 : Girl, Interrupted – Enter, Dresden.

Several years ago, when a boy and girl met, they each had a house. The boy’s house was bigger, but had been a foreclosure, so essentially a major-fixer-upper. The girl’s house was smaller, but felt like home, so that is where they resided. They did a bit of work to the boy’s house, including tearing down all the cardboard-type panelling that lined the upstairs and replacing it with 65 sheets of drywall (After a work friend who had been staying there split with his wife and punched holes in it). Plus, they installed a new master bath. The couple were crunched for time and cash and wanted to get this place rented out quick. They were new to being landlords and didn’t quite realize just how dishonest and nasty tenants could be. They are learning.

Here’s the video to give you a clue.
It sometimes gets dark, trying to adjust to the light, so please bear with me.
The video is charmingly set to the sounds of Joel installing a new kitchen door.

Here’s a blurry pic of what the kitchen looked like before the renters moved in.

Dresden kitchen before copy

Here’s the downstairs bathroom before they moved in. (Look, no sink ripped out of the wall.)

dresden bathroom before copy

Once we were finally rid of them (it took awhile!) and were out 3 months of rent (back to paying 2 mortgages!) We were handed violations from the City of Columbus for the excessive debris left on the front porch, the fenced in side yard, the garage and the boarded up front door. So needless to say, all rehabbing work ceased at Hallie and and we got started here. Seeing all the vandalism is a bit of a slap in the face to all the hard work we put in previously. Not to mention, we are on a deadline to get Hallie completed by March per the purchase agreement. It’s overwhelming and exhausting and a bit much for us to handle, especially when Joel’s work is forcing him to put in a ton of overtime with all the continual crisis there and I’m well, not as spry as I used to be.

The house is about 85% trashed out (the basement still has some.) We completely cleaned up the backyard, side yard and garage of it’s extensive ‘furniture’ (because they were the most disgusting mattresses and couches I’ve ever seen) and trash. Joel removed all the furniture himself one night (without telling me, until after because he didn’t want me to hurt myself) not to mention it was completely mice infested. A friend of his was supposed to help, but that fell through at the last minute. On the upside, bulk pick-up took the enormous mountain of furniture. So we were grateful for that at least.

IMAG1469 trash out copy

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