Mystery Leak

Remember the mysterious window leak that took months of investigation to find out it was coming in from the gutter? We have another leak. :( This one is coming from underneath the patio door. Usually after a heavy rain, a puddle of water will appear on the floor near the threshold of the patio door. We noticed the leak a while back, but haven't given it much thought until now, because the rainy season is upon us again. But fortunately it didn't take long for me to figure the problem. There was a tiny gap between the bottom of the door and the top the threshold where the two meet. The fix was quick and easy. Justin loosen up couple of the screws that hold down the threshold to let it come up a bit and closed the gap. The test came the next day when it rained and no water was seen on the floor. Woohoo, problem solved, I wish all our house problems were that simple and cheap to fix. I love when it rains because it gives my garden life but I hope there's no more water leaking into the house.

                photo credit


Thanksgiving 2011

We hosted our first ever Thanksgiving dinner at our house on Thursday and even though the turn out was smaller than expected I am happy to say that all the food tasted great and everyone was stuffed. Our guests were supposed to be my parents and an aunt and her husband, but the aunt decided to stay home at the last minute so it was just us and the folks. I literally spent all day cooking, even the store bought pre-cooked turkey required 1 1/2 hour to heat up in the oven. I made pumpkin pies, roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar (I couldn't stop eating these, they were so good!), green bean casserole with fresh beans and brown mushrooms, mashed potatoes and turnips and of course gravy, with my secret ingredient, nutritional yeast.

I was a vegetarian for a long time and never learned to cook meat. I was not going to try my luck at cooking a turkey for the first time on Thanksgiving.

I put the extra pie filling in cupcake paper and baked it along with the pies. To make life easier, I used canned pumpkin and store bought pie crusts, but made the whip cream by hand (Justin did the whipping). 

Brussel sprouts has got to be one of my favorite vegetables. This time of the year I can get them still attached to the stalks they grow on for around $2.50 each and it yields about 2-3 lbs, so cheap and healthy! I usually like them steamed, but it's nice to change it up once in a while. It's so easy, just coat the the 'brouts in olive oil, ground black pepper, and coarse sea salt then roasting them for 30-40 minutes in the oven on 400 degree F, viola!

We bought the smallest bird available and still have a tone of left over turkey meat. I took all the meat off the carcass and used the bones to make congee today. Congee is basically a soup of stew made with white rice usually with a little bits of meat or seafood throw in at the last minute to add flavor. My folks lend me their pressure cooker to make the soup. It turned out really good, a ton of flavor, a perfect winter food, totally warms the soul.

We are taking advantage of this long weekend to get started on the fence project. More on the soon!


Going Cableless

In an attempt to cut spending, we canceled cable TV. It happened unexpectedly after a heated discussion over our financial status. I have on occasion suggested canceling cable TV, but never thought Justin would follow through with it. He's really into his sports watching, there's cycling, hockey, baseball and football. Sports are my least favorite things to watch on TV. I too have my indulgences, all the real estate shows on HGTV and Bravo and Project Runway on Life Time. I was addicted to all the home improvement shows on HGTV until I bought my own house and realized it's not all fun and games. In fact, home improvement in real life is the opposite of what's on TV. I found out that house projects always take FOREVER to get done, the budget is always more than what you want to spend, because a big chunk of it is in labor cost and the work is always harder than they make it look on those Youtube how-to videos. Oh well, end of my rant, back to the cable business.

Our cable bill including internet was around $150 a month. We also have unlimited streaming from Netflix for $8 a month and the weekly movies we purchase from Apple TV at $5-$6 a pop. We had the basic package, but there's an additional fees for the high definition channels and HBO. That is over $2200 a year on TV watching. I think it's a total waste of money just like my Iphone is, which I am not sure how much longer I want to keep after my 2 year lease is up.

Since going cableless, the house has been a lot more quiet because Justin can no longer turn the TV on to some sports channel and leave it on for hours. The constant noise of the sports fans and sports casters on TV drive me crazy for some inexplicable reason. I have long been an advocate for not having cable, because 99% of shows on TV are just time wasters in my opinion. I spent most of my 20s without cable and still got to watch lots of interesting movies and shows. When we moved in together four years ago, it was a nice luxury to have cable after years of going without, since we were spending most nights at home.

It's been couple of weeks since we canceled cable but we haven't missed any of our favorite shows thanks to modern technology. With a combination of Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, and the internet, we have been able save money and watch the shows we want to watch.

We still have to pay for internet which is about $70 a month, but we will be getting reimbursed through Justin's work due to the nature of his job. So our cable/entertainment bill went from close to $200 down to $40 a month, that's a tremendous saving and we'll put the extra money into better use.


Sunday, Someday

I look forward to the day when we can just sit back and relax and have money left over to travel instead of working on the house every weekend and be broke all the time. The truth is our house owns us, not the other way around.

The forecasted rain never came this Sunday so we got a lot done outside. The one thing that we didn't finish on the "to do list" was clearing out some of the stuff in little D's room, aka the "junk" room.

One project I am happy to finally be done with is the patching job above our living room window. So it only took about 8 months of procrastination to get it done and my excuse is I have a baby. haha.

It took about 3 months for me to get motivated to put in sheetrock, mud and tape.

Then it took another 3 months before I figured out how to sand it without getting the fine white dust everywhere. I cut a hole in the plastic and stuck my hand through with a sanding block. It worked pretty well to keep the dust in.  

After sanding, mudding and sanding again, it looked pretty smooth to me. 

Fast forward another month, we finally bought a quart of paint and put on two coats of the stuff. Looks pretty good eh? There are some imperfections you can see from up close, but that's because I am a perfectionist. Overall I am pretty happy with how it turned out. 

Yay! Security system installed and activated. Now we can sleep more sound at night. 

We installed a motion sensor light on the side of the house couple of weeks ago. The conduit is a silvery color and sticks out like a sore thumb.

The lights are very bright and hopefully will deter any thieves from trying to break in through those windows. 

A coat of primer and two coats of paint later, the conduit blends in with the rest of house. 

Looks much better, doesn't it?

There is a weird opening in the concrete walkway that's been bothering me since day one. I thought about just filling it in with cement, but came up with something better. Someday in the near future I hope we'll have enough money to replace the ugly cracked cement walkway. 

I bought couple of elfin thyme from my favorite nursery and some rocks from Home depot. This little hole turned out to be the perfect place to add a little greenery. On a side note, my three hostas are doing great, even after couple months of neglect in their plastic pots before being planted in the soil. 

We bought a replacement fern last week for the one that's dying in the ground. The thing was looking sickly since the day we put it there and hasn't gotten any bigger since. The new fern is a California native and tolerates less frequent watering than other ferns.

I have high hopes for this guy since this fern is supposed to be a lot more hardy. The chartreuse color ground cover has been doing well and spreading out, I think I need to get more of them. 

 Our neighbor down the street offered us his broken pavers for free and I (I meant Justin) brought a bunch home. I wanted to have some pavers down on the dirt to keep the area from getting gross and muddy in the coming rain season. It's a temporary but free fix. 

I kept a bunch of bricks from our old foundation and chimney hoping to reuse them someday in our yard. They were moved away from the side of the garage when the house was being painted. We finally moved them back in place after ignoring the mess for 5 months. This area gets super muddy when it rains, so our construction crew put down couple pieces of plywood to walk on. Yeah, our yard is a disaster. 

The fence in the back there is being held up with the green waste bin. We put down the rest of the pavers here to make it look a tiny bit better than before. I think we've succeeded, what do you think?


List of To Dos

I don't feel too good about the lack of progress on the house and this blog, but it's kind of out of my control. With our full time work schedule and taking care a little one who's about to walk, there is hardly a moment of down time. We made a list of little things that needed to get done this weekend, can't say we didn't try to cross them out today, but the day went by so fast. I will hopefully have some photos of progress to share by the end of this weekend.

We finally signed a lease with our new tenant last night. We are glad the previous tenant moved out and left the place in pretty good condition. I never imagined that we would be landlords, all we wanted was to be homeowners. We are accidental landlords, and to have help paying the mortgage each month is really nice even though we have to sacrifice a little privacy.

Just remembered it's daylight savings time tonight so we gain an extra hour. I wish it meant that we get an extra hour of sleep, but little D probably won't know the difference. He will stick to his usual 6am wake up time. sigh...

1. Get paint for touch ups.  Do touch up paint around the house and paint conduit on the exterior of the house.

2. Take stuff to Goodwill.

3. Sell clothes at Crossroads. (didn't get much sold today, will try again next weekend at a different used clothing store in the area.)

4. Install alarm systems. 

5. Clear out front bedroom to make room for nursery. Our baby is almost one year old and he's room is still a "junk" room. We are such bad parents.

6. Plant the replacement fern we bought last week rake some leaves.

7. This one is a "maybe we'll get to it if we have time" Install pavers in the area outside the utility room.