Friday, September 28, 2012

Curb Appeal

In preparation for our move, we finally did something we have wanted to do since the beginning.  Why is it you always do the awesome stuff for someone else to enjoy?
Here is our house as of the second week we lived here.

Complete with trees to plant in the backyard. 

Sidenote - I have always wanted a front porch, but none of the three homes we have owned has had one.  Maybe the fourth time's a charm?

The green shutters were faded and beginning to warp, and the door was the same murky color.

Things that have changed in this picture: Handsome Hero no longer has facial hair, Ella is HUGE, Jack is HUGER, we are now a family of FIVE, and I have a lot less hair and somewhat less body mass. All for the better. Except the kids. They need to stop growing. Like now.
We thought the house looked tired, mainly because of the shutters.  Since curb appeal is the most important tool you have in selling your house, we wanted ours to stand out.  Originally we thought we would paint the shutters, but closer inspection revealed that they weren't worth it.

We chose to replace the green with black.  It's the traditional choice, but also the one I thought would look best against the white siding in our saltbox style house.  See how much better it looks?

The last step was to paint the door a beautiful deep red {hard to see through the storm door}.  If we were staying, I would have gone Granny Smith apple green, but since we want to appeal to the masses, it was between red and black, and red makes a more memorable statement. 

I love it!  And no, I didn't touch up the sky to make it that brilliant.  God did it.  I am a photo ignoramous.  He is not a Creator ignoramous.

Anyone want to buy our house? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Lewis family moves again!

You know what a challenge is?  Adding a newborn into a family with two other little bitties. 

You know what makes that situation crazier?  Breaking your right ankle when the baby is a 1 1/2 months old, rendering you unable to drive, much less carry the baby. 

You know what would make you certifiable?  Sitting on your bed with your leg a big blue cast up to your knee, feeding an infant while listening to the older two play in the other room, and agreeing with your husband that yes, maybe this is a good time to move again.

We have accepted a job transfer that finally, twelve years, four states {one twice}, four houses, four apartments, three jobs, three kids, and one husband later gets me back to the South.  We will call Knoxville, TN our home by Christmas!  I would have trouble believing it if it weren't for all of the home improvement noises I hear going on downstairs right now. 

When I got my first teaching job in Delaware, I was very excited, but terrified.  I had lived in the same house almost my entire life, and had never been away from family for more than a summer, and here I was going North of the Mason Dixon where {gasp} yankees lived!

Enter: Handsome Hero.  I met him in Delaware, but he was still in school.  After he graduated, we got married and moved to Wisconsin.  We thought we would be here for around five years so we bought a house, but less than a year after that we were transferred to Everett, Washington.  It wasn't exactly a move that brought us closer to family, but it turned out to be the perfect move for us. 

Fast forward another five years.  We decided to move back to Wisconsin, a difficult move, but absolutely the right one.  We thought, again, that we'd be here for at least five years, but now, again, we are moving.  Two years seems to be our limit at one time in the Great White North.

Our goal has always been to move back to the South and family at some point.  After we started having kids, it became more of a priority, and now it is finally becoming reality.  We {read: Handsome Hero and my mom} are working like mad to get the house ready by completing all those little things that have to be done before a house goes on the market. 

Over the next week, I'll show you some of the things we have done to improve the curb appeal, etc.  I think the house is looking pretty wonderful as I observe from my perch on the bed!

The kids understand some of what is going on, but it shows up in the funniest ways.  Yesterday, Ella was telling me the story of the Three Little Pigs {apparently named Pam, Sam, and Jam with parents Lydia and Ghostless}, and instead of them building their houses out of straw, wood, and brick, they went to the market and bought one for forty bucks.  When I started laughing, she said, "No, I'm serious!  It was a pig house!"

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to replace a light fixture

I would love to sit down with the builder of this house and ask him some questions like, "Why did you think people would be attracted to bright brass door knobs, when any another finish is infinitely better?" or "Why did you make our deck the size of a postage stamp when it wouldn't have cost much more to make it usable?" or "Why didn't you caulk around any of the moulding?  Are you afraid of using the caulk gun?  Because it isn't a real gun, you know."  But mostly, I would like to know what gene exists in builders that they go the the lighting department and say, "You know what I think a buyer would like?  A buyer would like a light shaped like a woman's breast.  Yep.  Nothing says welcome home like a boob light." 

We have had them in all three homes we've owned, and so have nearly all of our friends. Nothing that resembles private anatomy should be a fixture in a home.

There are two of these in offenders at the entry of the house.  We don't have a grand foyer, so replacing them with a chandelier wasn't an option.  I have been trying to figure out a way to use what we have and make them more attractive, and came up with the idea of taking off the glass globes and attaching drum shades upside down to get a look kind of like this, but the size I would need isn't readily available and is very expensive.  This was not an area where we wanted to spend a lot of money, so that was out.

And so they have remained untouched.

The more I looked at the lights, the more I realized I kind of liked the shape of the globes {they are't as offensive as most boob lights} and that they're clear and not cut and/or frosted glass.  It was the brassiness combined with the boobiness that I had a problem with.

We decided to take a chance and paint them with Old Rubbed Bronze spray paint and see if we liked them better.  Then I got to thinking it might be helpful to do a tutorial on how to remove and replace a light fixture, and this is the conversation with Handsome Hero that followed.

I said, "I think it would be really helpful to explain how to do something like this.  What do you think?"

Handsome Hero looked at me in complete innocence and said, "It wouldn't be interesting.  Anyone who can't figure out something this simple is an idiot."

To which I replied, "Dear, I don't know how to do it.  That's why you're doing it."

To which he thought about how to answer and said, "...."

To which I snarkily replied, "Just explain it, Bucko."

How to remove and replace a light fixture

Before you do anything, turn off the breaker.  Best to do this during the day so you can see {um, you knew that, right?}.

1.  Remove the globe.  The tip {called the nipple. No, I'm not kidding} unscrews, but be careful because it is usually in more than one piece.

2.  Now unscrew the base. 

This is what you should see.  One of the lights had no insulation {fire hazard!}, so I ran to ReStore and bought a light for $4 so that we could pilfer its insulation. 

When you pull the light down, you'll see all these wires.  This is where I get nervous, and have visions of blowing up the house if the wrong wires are put together, but it's simple logic when you know what to do.  The wires all go with like wires.  White with white, copper with copper, etc.  Common sense, right?

Take off the wire bolts {the plastic thingies on the ends}.  You'll see the wires are all twisted together.

Unravel the wires and pull down your light,

and, if you are going to turn your breaker back on before you replace the light, twist the wire bolts back on.  It also keeps them from getting lost.

When you're ready to paint, make sure you tape off all of your threaded areas and sockets.  If you have burned-out lights, just leave them in the sockets and you can be sure no paint will get in.

I needed to get all the way around these rods that attach the nipple {sorry} to the base, but didn't want paint to get into the threads or they might not screw back in well, so I taped them and leaned them up against some recycling stuff.

I realized as I was about to start that I forgot the screw in the middle below.  Be careful about that stuff because once the paint is in there, you can't screw anything into them.

Now paint in even, thin coats so you don't get drips.  It only took me two coats to get full coverage.

Let them dry all day or overnight  to cure so that your globe doesn't stick and take off paint when you have to replace your next lightbulb.  When you're ready to re-attach, separate all of your like wires from the ceiling {all the white, all the copper, etc.} and twist them together again with the wires from the light.  Put on your wire bolts, making sure no wire ends are exposed.  Then simply reverse the steps you used to get the light off.


Much better!  I don't mind the boobiness anymore with this updated color. 

A definite improvement that cost $9: five for the spray paint {it took less than one can for two lights} and four for the sacrificial light used for insulation. 

Handsome Hero thinks they look colonial, and I must say, there is something rather old world about them.

Think you'll attempt this at home? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The coolest playground

Recently, we met some friends at perhaps the coolest playground set I have ever seen.  This, my friends, is a space shuttle.

Can you see the lake beyond?  It is in a gorgeous setting, and all around are some of the most beautiful homes I've ever seen.  I should have taken pictures of them.  Dream houses, all.

Do you see the guy in the white Tshirt below?  He was well over six feet tall, to give you a reference for how tall these slides were.

 We met for a picnic after church.

The kids had lots of fun together.  May I say that I was thrilled that Ella was actually smiling naturally at the camera until I saw she had her hair in her mouth.  It's a pet peeve of mine. 

My kiddos share an infatuation with their friend, Amelia.  Jack prays for her family every night.

As per the usual, the rest of my pictures of Ella are some version of her running.

Jack's a little easier to catch.

This one is zoomed in.  It's the very top of the shuttle.  He's about fifteen feet up here.  I was so surprised that he wanted to go up there {and that he didn't freak out about coming down}!

Nate slept through the entire picnic and play time.  Bless that child for his thoughtfulness.

Have you ever seen such an awesome park?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When life gives you lemons,

You make lemon meringue pie, of course.  But since this is a story about lemonade, we'll use that analogy instead.

I was in a hurry to get the kids out the door for church.  The Lewis's are always running late.  It's become a trademark.  People will say, "Will you be here at 7:00 regular time, or Lewis time?"  It's embarrassing, because it's totally true.  I don't know how some people are always early or at least on time.  It is a talent of which I stand in awe.

But that's another blog post.  Back to the story.

I put the kids in the car and ran back in for some sippie cups.  Many a fussy attitude is nipped bya sippie cup of juice or chocolate milk, or in this case, lemonade.  I had just filled Ella's cup when my hand slipped and it went flying.  All over me.  And the floor.  And the stools.  And the island.  And, well, you get the idea.  I was sopping it up with some towels and trying to figure out if I had time to run change, when Ella came in the house to see what was going on. 

Ella:  Mom, what's taking so long?
Me:  Well, I just spilled lemonade all over the place. 
Ella:  Oh!  Is there anything I can do to help?
Me:  Yes.  Why don't you take the jackets outside in case we need them later.  I'm coming as soon as I clean this up.
Ella:  Okay.  Be careful this time, mom.  {sympathetic pause}  Well, as careful as you can be.

the little stinker at two years old