DIY Home Improvement

So it has been a while since our last post, but that is not to say we have not been busy doing things to talk about. It’s just we have also been busy doing real work and usually spend our down time doing more productive things…like DIY home improvement projects!

So, ever since we purchased out first home last July, we have been working to improve the odd fixes from the previous owners, and update a few things to make it more our own. You can see the blog post about that here. My most recent accomplishment is much of the same, only an order of magnitude larger and more technical than my previous jobs.

Shortly after moving in, we found some type of leak causing staining on the lower portion of the dividing wall between our shower and commode, where the shower plumbing is located. I first called a plumber, but was told it was not a plumbing issue, based on the location of the staining in relation to the pipes in the walls. Unfortunately, this meant it was NOT covered by our home warranty. It came down to two potential issues: 1) the steamy air from the shower was condensing and soaking into wall, or 2) there was a crack in the tile/grout.

I found some cracks in the grout, so I bought a kitchen and bathroom waterproof caulking and fixed that real quick. However, I still had a stained and ruined wall (unfortunately, I no longer have a picture pre-work). Again, I have two options: 1) hire a contractor/handyman to fix the wall, or 2) try to do the work myself.

I first contacted a local contractor and was given an estimate to fix the wall. They would tear out the current drywall, see if the wood frame would need replacing, put up new drywall, spackle, texture and paint. It was estimated to take 1 day and about $450 dollars. !!Ouch!! Not exactly the result I was hoping for. 😦 So here was my thought: I could try to fix it first, spend under $100, and if it turns out completely wrong, I can then hire someone. That sounds much better to me.

So this is where the fun begins…

Though the contractor quoted a full day of work, this project ended up taking many weekends over the past 6 months. I don’t exactly have the time or resources for the quick fixer-upper jobs, so I don’t recommend my work if you are on a quick timeline. 🙂

To start off, I took a hammer and chisel to the wall to remove the drywall from the section that needed repaired, so I could see what I was really working with. I left the original metal corner piece in place, as, even though it was rusting, I figured it was salvageable.

I found the bottom portion of the frame black with rot and mold. However, after getting a few second opinions, I was thrilled to find that the wood was also salvageable. I made a mixture of bleach and water and misted the wood, letting it air out for a good day to kill the mold and dry out completely.

After watching a few YouTube videos and finally getting up the courage to try my hand at fixing the wall, I took a trip to Home Depot and asked a worker what all I would need to get the job done by showing him a picture of the project. I picked up a scrap piece of 3/4 in. drywall, a small bucket of joint compound, a cheap set of plastic putty knives, and a box of drywall screws. When I got home, I measured the length and width of the wall edge that needed repaired and marked out two strips on the drywall sheet. I used a box cutter to score and cut through the drywall, leaving a somewhat clean cut. I placed the drywall into the hole in the wall, sliding it underneath the metal corner, starting at the bottom of the wall, and hung it using the drywall screws. I did the same thing for the piece directly above it, making sure the gaps between the two pieces and the existing drywall were not very wide (it was actually a really snug fit, which made me happy).

The project remained in this state for quite some time before I was able to get back to it. On my next project work day, I used one of the medium sized putty knives (wider than the wall edge) to apply a liberal amount of joint compound onto the surface of the drywall and smoothing it out into the cracks and making sure it covered the drywall, metal corner piece, and smoothed into the existing wall. A few days later, after it had completely dried, I applied a second coat of the compound to fill in the remaining cracks and to make the wall as flush as possible with the corner and the existing wall, being sure to not leave any ridges or ripples and trying my best to make a 90 degree angle at the edge.

Again, it was quite awhile before I moved on to the final stage of the project: sanding, texturing and painting. The sanding took no time at all, but it did leave a little bit of a mess, with spackle dust all over. After cleaning it up and checking my work, I was satisfied with the result. I now needed to research how to apply texture to the wall and be sure it blended smoothly with the existing texture. After a few more YouTube videos and some internet reading, I first found I needed to seal the wall. I purchased a spray can of primer/sealer, some pre-taped painter’s plastic in a roll, and a can of spray-on orange-peel texture. I used the plastic with the pre-taped edge to make the work area look like a laboratory clean-room, and then primed and sealed the surface of the wall and some of the surrounding, existing wall. After drying, I tried my hand at the can of texture. I first tested it on a piece of cardboard, noting that I needed a pretty coarse spray pattern. I then took a leap of faith and sprayed the wall, going in a circular motion to apply the texture, and blending it into the existing texture. It turned out so much better than I imagined! In hindsight, I probably should have purchased the oil-based texture, instead of the water-based. I feel it would have stuck better and given a little more of a thicker texture without it running as much.

After I let the texture dry, I pulled off all the plastic and tape, re-taped around the molding and floor, and painted the wall. I then re-nailed the small piece of molding at the bottom and painted that too. After all the paint was finally dry, I used the waterproof sealant to fill in the remaining gaps and corners.

IT IS FINISHED!

Obligatory 2017 goals post

Yes, I said obligatory. You’ve probably heard more about resolutions than you really care about in the last few weeks. Whether it’s in your everyday life, fitness challenges at work, or your favorite blogger, everyone talks about big change at the new year. And that’s great! Take every opportunity to grow and change. Don’t stagnate. However, big resolutions don’t work for me. I get overwhelmed and frustrated with myself when I can’t see the result right away.

I’ve seen many different approaches to this. A friend of mine is making a resolution that touches each aspect of his life: spiritual, mental, physical. I’ve seen others set one large goal such as “I am going to lose 100 lbs” Other’s do more of a bucket-list approach rather than changes to make.

This year, I am going to set small goals and reachable achievements. I’m going to tell myself that it is ok if I don’t keep those goals and I’ll keep you all updated along the way (aren’t you lucky). I will have some larger goals to reach, but I’ll focus on the small steps to get to that point

So, without further ado, here are my goals for the first couple of weeks of 2017.

  1. Drink at least 64 fl oz of water a day. Drinks with caffeine or added sugar don’t count
  2. Work-out at least 30 minutes a day at least 3x per week
  3. Do a pull-up – I set up our pull-up bar and I’m trying one every time I pass it. I am also doing free weights and push-ups to build my strength
  4. Potentially run another half-marathon – see work-out goals above. I say potentially because my work time restraints may dictate this goal
  5. Pass the last part of my USMLE boards – I’ll be taking that test sometime this spring/summer. Time to start studying!
  6. Daily Bible study – I am currently using ifGathering. It’s an app for women with daily devotionals. It is very grounded in the Word
  7. Decrease screen time – I waste too much time on Facebook, pinterest, and TV. This has got to stop if I want to achieve my other goals

That’s all for now. I’ll be adding, editing, and updating on a semi-regular basis. Share your goals or resolutions with me. We can keep each other accountable to these goals and resolutions. Call them what you will. Let’s make 2017 a year for growth.

That’s it for now,

Beth

Tales of Thanksgiving Past

Here we are, on the verge of my very favorite holiday. No, not Christmas, silly. I love Thanksgiving. Like a lot. Part of it could be because I was born on thanksgiving, but mostly  I love it because it is a holiday all about family (and food, I guess).

Thanksgiving has changed a lot over the years. When I was younger, we would gather with the whole extended family (second and third cousins included ) in my Nanny and Pawpaws basement. We would get up on Thanksgiving and watch most of the parade then head to Nanny’s in time to see Santa at the end. My Nanny would make the turkey, ham, and most of the side dishes. My Aunt Gigi would make fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, and duplicate a lot of the side dishes. My family, we were always responsible for the ice. It’s not that my mom can’t cook. It’s that she doesn’t use as much salt as the rest of the family does 🙂 We would all move food from the upstairs kitchen to the downstairs kitchen. More recently, it had become my job to get serving utensils and arrange the food. Mom would make the punch. Finally, everyone (over 30 family members total) would gather in a circle and hold hands to pray. That was Pawpaw’s job. We would eat and laugh. After that, my mom and older cousins would lay out a black friday game plan. My Pawpaw and uncle’s would “watch the game” I would usually read or hang out. If it was warm enough, we might go outside for a gator ride.

Recently, we have been gathering in smaller groups as each individual family grows. One year, my brother and sister-in-law were living in the top floor of the house in Huntington. Sammi thought it would be a good idea for us to host Thanksgiving with her parent’s and my family in attendance. That year I made the turkey and most of the sides. My mom brought the ice 🙂 We served dinner off of the pool table because I didn’t have any other surface big enough to hold the food. After dinner, we played Just Dance. Sammi’s grandma stole the show with her dance!

Our Thanksgiving will once again look different this year. That used to bother me. I thought it wouldn’t feel the same if we changed from our normal routine. Now I realize what made all of those times so special: family. With no pressure to pick the perfect gift or show off new possessions, Thanksgiving is really a time to relax and enjoy the people God gave you to call family.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Now, go be glutinous and only feel guilty about it 2 hours later.

Beth

 

Tales of Rookie Homeowners

So it has been a while since I (Cory) have posted on this blog. So Beth encouraged me to write the next post. 🙂

A new home = new experiences (aka work)

Since moving into our new house, I have become a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to repairs and upgrades. I honestly like learning new things and being a DIYer, but some of the “fixes” I have needed to do are just plain annoying. This is a chronological story of the new home experiences:

We closed on the house at the end of July, but we still had our temporary apartment through at least the end of August. Therefore, we took our time to move things over to the house and get things from the storage unit. I had already been in the search for a washer and dryer and purchased a used/scratch n’ dent set two days after our closing. It was delivered the following week, only to find that the dryer cord was not long enough to reach the installed outlet in the garage. Usually one installs the outlets for said dryers near the floor, since the cords come from under the unit. This one, however, was installed even with the outlet for the washer, which was about a foot above the top of the unit.

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Unusually positioned dryer outlet

I understand wanting both outlets next to eachother, but since the washer uses 110V and the dryer used 220V outlets, it didn’t really make sense to need them right next to eachother, since they can’t be wired together anyway. So the delivery guy came back later with a longer cord, only to realize the outlet that was installed was the wrong outlet type: apparently the outlet that was installed in our garage was actually for an oven and is not supposed to be used with dryers. This is where my first work began. I went to Lowes, which has become my greatest asset (besides Amazon Prime), when getting things for the house, and purchased a dryer outlet. Unfortunately, I purchased a 4-prong outlet when I needed a 3-prong outlet (how was I supposed to know?), so I had to make two trips. When I got back to the house, I opened the breaker box to see which breaker switch I needed to turn off before I started disassembling the outlet. Unfortunately, most of the labels were old and did not indicate everything that was connected to each switch. Plus, NONE of them were 220V breaker switches…so somewhere there was another breaker. So I went outside and over to the air conditioner condenser: nope, only a switch for that unit. So I then go on the OTHER side of the house and finally find the third and final breaker box. This one has absolutely no labels, so I go back to Lowes, get a multimeter, return to the house, and use the trial and error method to figure out which switch turns off the dryer outlet. Finally I get the outlet turned off, disconnected, and the new outlet installed. I get the delivery guy out there one last time to install the right cord onto the dryer and plug it in. It works!!

My second job I knew was going to take some more work: Before we moved anything of value into the house, I wanted to replace all the locks. I was very excited to find that Lowes carried Kwikset door locks that allow you to re-key any lock in seconds, letting us use the same key for every door in the house. I purchased new handles and locks for all the necessary doors and then got to work on installing them when I got home. It wasn’t completely just a remove and replace: For the front door, instead of getting a normal round door knob, I went with a drop-style handle and fancy deadbolt, which required me to drill an extra hole in the door for the bottom of the handle to attach.

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Front door…welcome!

The current hole drilled for the locking mechanism wasn’t drilled straight, so I also had to fix that so the handle would lock. The garage and back door were a piece of cake, but then came the biggest job: The garage also had a door going into the side-yard. Since this was the most vulnerable entry, I wanted to add a deadbolt. I had purchased a special drill and template for cutting new door-knob holes, so I went to work lining things up and cutting the large, circular hole in the door for the deadbolt, then I had to cut the horizontal hole for the lock mechanism. Finally, hours later, I had all the doors completed. I was so proud.

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New deadbolt on side door in garage

The next few days we spent time moving some things into the house, but nothing we didn’t need to still live out of the apartment. Beth and I went refrigerator shopping and picked out the one we wanted. I had measured the height and width of the fridge space, but knew it was going to be a tight fit since the countertop had about a 1-inch overhang instead of being flush with the cabinets. When the fridge was delivered, it still didn’t fit. Though I had measured the exact width of the opening, I missed the crown molding around the base of the opening. So, I got out my screwdriver, knife and chisel and took off the crown molding and then cut the edge so that the fridge could slide past. It was still a super tight fit, but it did fit!!

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That’s a tight fit!

Later that week we noticed water dripping from UNDER the roof of the house at the overhang in front of the garage. This isn’t normal in any instance, especially if you haven’t had rain going on 3 weeks! I climbed up into the attic and found the drain pan for the air conditioner full of water (its an attic unit). Thankfully, that was covered by our home warranty, so we had someone come out and clear out the clogged drain line. Despite not being able to fix it myself, we both learned that the drain has a special port for cleaning with a water/vinegar solution about every month or so.

My next small project was to install a self-closing hinge on our garage door, per inspector recommendations for fire safety regulations. I bought one hinge and installed it, but the crown molding around the door was too thick, so I had to shave a chunk off so the hinge could open.

Finally we arrived to move-in day and was able to gather all our things and move into the house from the apartment and the storage unit in just one afternoon! Thanks to those of you that helped!

All of the appliances in the kitchen were brand-spanking new (thank you house-flipper!), so I figured we needed to run the dishwasher to clean it for the first time. We bought all the dish detergent supplies (I had never really used a dishwasher), and started running the dishwasher. About 10 minutes later we hear a weird noise and Beth goes into the kitchen, she started screaming that the kitchen was flooding! I run in and there is water spraying out from under the kitchen sink! We get the dishwasher stopped and gather all the towels we had to soak up the water. After finally getting it dry, I inspect the plumbing under the sink: we had a garbage disposal that the dishwasher hose connected to, except that the dishwasher hose was only connected with tension: no clamp, seal, or any other connector. So I run to Lowes, buy 2 hose clamps for under a buck, and return to connect the hose. That was an easy fix! We run the dishwasher again…only to find that not all the water drained out of the bottom. Now what!? I did some Googling and found that the number 1 cause is that the intake plug on the garbage disposal has not been knocked out. From my reading, I also find that, though this is common, it shouldn’t be, since all garbage disposals come with a huge sticker over the intake that says “If you are hooking up a dishwasher, make sure you knock out the plug first!” So I take off my new clamp, pull off the house and…the plug is still there. I get a hammer and screwdriver, knock out the plug, reattach the hose, and all is good and well again.

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Unusually positioned dryer outlet

One day when Beth and I are both working on the house and she takes a break, I get her to help me determine what all the breakers turn off. We start by turning all the lights and fans on in all of the rooms. I then opened the breaker boxes and as I turned off each switch, she would call out what turned off. I had purchased breaker switch labels to replace the deteriorating/missing ones. Some of the wiring did not seem the most intuitive to me, for example, the switch for the washer in the garage was also the switch for the outlets on one wall in the kitchen, but we did manage to figure out what all the switches did. 

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Old (left) and new (right) breaker labels

While I was doing some of the work in the garage, I had noticed that the main garage light was not turning on with any of the switches. I had wondered why for a while, but now had the time to further inspect. I searched around the inside of the garage and did find another switch, but it was a reverse switch for the spotlight outside on the corner. No good. I then checked all the bulbs, but they were all pretty new, as was the entire fixture, I found out. I then climbed up the ladder into the attic again to follow the wiring from the light. It led me directly to the light switches I had tried previously. I was confused. So, I went and turned off the breakers that corresponded with the light switches. After removing the coverplate and inspecting the wires, I did not see the wire that came from the garage light. That was weird. I then remembered that one of the outlets on the wall near the light switches didn’t seem to work for me when I had plugged something in a few days prior. It then occurred to me that, with all of the other quirky things in the house, perhaps whoever installed the garbage disposal also installed some of the electrical? Anything is possible, right? So I also turned off the breaker for that outlet and took off the cover plate. Sure enough! The light in the garage was not connected to a light switch, but to an OUTLET!! So I get on Amazon and order a light switch and a few GFCI outlets (required for kitchen and any wet room applications; one even had a built-in night light)! I bought the outlets too because I also wanted to replace some non-GFCI outlets outside and under the sink. After receiving the light switch and installing it, I reset the breaker, flip the switch and Voila! The garage light works! I also bought a motion sensor for the bare bulb so it turns on when I walk in.

Click pictures for captions:

A few days later, as we are still moving things around and unpacking in the house, I notice the commode doesn’t seem to be flushing correctly. We have the fancy low-water commodes that have the two push buttons (one water droplet vs two) for liquid or solid waste, but something wasn’t right. Upon further  inspection, I noticed the water droplets on the push buttons were pointed the opposite direction from the water droplets on the commode in the other bathroom. This means the buttons are backwards. I pull off the top of the tank and turn the selector 180 degrees, put the top back on, and now the flushes match the droplets. 🙂

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Correct button position

Besides all the above quirks, there have been minor additions or upgrades I have done for the house including a new mailbox, since the last one was held to the post with one ziptie, air filters in the A/C returns, moved a hand towel holder and replaced a single towel rod with a double-towel rod that was actually centered with the window and not crooked, filled in the holes with spackle and repainted over the spackle, installed a fan-control knob for the living room fan, place carbon monoxide detectors in the bedrooms, cut down/up a few trees, and installed 2″ window blinds, but otherwise, I think (hope) all the major quirks and repairs are finished with the house for a while.

Click pictures for captions:

That’s it for now,

Cory Goff

Quick update (09-06-2016): Found out this weekend that the hot and cold water hookups for the washer are backwards. The blue knob is hot water and the red knob is cold water. The washer is hooked up correctly though, so when we thought we have been washing with hot water, we have actually been washing with cold, and vice versa. 

Our new house

Many of you have asked for pictures of the inside of our new house and we will comply with that request in time. I can guarantee you will be seeing lots of pictures, before and afters, DIY, and handyman stuff on our blog over the coming months. This month, however, I want to talk about what this house means to Cory and I.

It’s been since May 15 that I have truly felt at home. I have “settled in” and gotten used to the idea of living so far from my family. I’ve learned to drive to work without my GPS. I even managed to make it to church once with our getting lost! BUT through all that I’ve still felt like I was in a time of transition. I’ve been living out of half-packed boxes and a drawer underneath my bed for almost 3 months now. There hasn’t been time where all of my earthly possessions have resided under the same roof as me.

So, this house means home. It means a place that Cory and I can mold and shape to be perfect for us as a young couple. It means that all of my wardrobe will be accessible. It means that Rory will have his own territory to explore. It means that I’ll be able to cook what I want. It means that Cory can practice his fiddle (I am so excited to hear him play again). It means that we will have room for people to come visit.

It also means work and growth. Cory and I are going to have to learn quickly how to make grass grow in Texas. We have to learn what is necessary for survival (i.e. shower curtains) and what is more of a wish or want. We will have to learn what to do when the sink leaks and the electric malfunctions. Cory has already figured out how to re-key the locks.

It also means joy and hope. Cory and I will laugh and cry a lot in our first house. We will share the best and worst of my residency and his PhD. We will see the Rio olympics and the 2016 election in this house. We will miss things back home while making many memories here in Texas.

This house isn’t quite home yet, but it soon will be. We have prayed so hard for this house and we couldn’t be more excited and nervous to see how God works through it and us in the coming years.

That’s it for now,

Beth

Finally, some wedding pictures

Hey readers! I haven’t posted in a very long time and this post was actually planned for June 27th (AKA our first anniversary). I needed to commandeer Cory’s computer and that took me a while. You see, I’m about to post our beautiful wedding pictures!!!

First, you will have to endure some well deserved (and slightly late) shout-outs from me to all those people who made our wedding special.

To our photographer, Krista Campione: thank you so much for your wonderful pictures. (if you view this blog you can comment your business info). Also to my sister-in-law, Sammi, for second shooting our wedding.

To my wonderful friends, David and Lindsey Burner: You guys made the very best stationary a girl could ask for! Check out the salamander above, folks. They designed it!

To our wedding coordinator, Diane Pearson: I definitely could not have done this without you. Seriously.

To my family: thanks for catering my wedding, and cleaning up the ceremony site we didn’t get to use, and just being you guys, and keeping me sane. You all rock!

To the Petersons, Gillmeisters, Chapmans, and Debbie Tucker: for serving food and keeping my mom sane.

To my very dear friends: Thank you all for being with Cory and I through this process. You all shaped who we are. We love you all for that. Also, thanks for cleaning up our mess for us!

Ok, who’s ready for the big reveal? I won’t make you wait any longer. I hope none of you have held your breath for a year and 3 weeks 🙂

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That’s it for now,

Beth

Our current life

I sit here typing to you all at 5:41 am CDT in the dark and relative quite of our apartment. I’ve been up for about an hour trying to get ready while not disturbing Cory. You see, we are currently in a (very) small studio apartment where any light and activity can be seen at any other point in the apartment. I’ve been doing ok being quiet so far, but something happens every morning that I know will disturb his sleep i.e. Rory coming in and out of the bathroom, my computer crashing to the ground, hair dryer, tripping in the dark, etc.

Why am I up so early? Good question. I’ll leave my house in San Marcos promptly at 6 so I can be at the hospital by 8. Actually, I usually get there around 7. The problem is the horrendous traffic here. (I know, I know, it’s way worse in Houston. Or so I’ve been told). If I leave any later, my 1 hour commute will turn into a 1.5 hour commute and I will be late. Thankfully, they feed me breakfast then I will start a day of orientation.

I have met the faculty, my fellow interns, and most of the upper-levels. We did a high rope course. We’ve sown pigs feet. The rumor is today that we will sow cow tongue. We’ve learned computer programs and the rules of residency. We’ve taken a PALS course. Basically, it’s been a great first week of orientation.

While I’m doing all that, Cory gets to work plating samples in his lab. He works very hard and it is very time-consuming. He will be headed to a conference at the beginning of July to present his work. He still needs to analyze the data and make a poster.

We get home at about the same time (after another long commute) I make dinner and he cleans the apartment and packs for our move to a different apartment on June 30. Usually, Rory gets a long walk at this point. On Sunday, he got to go to campus and run around. We walked home in the semi-dark and there were cockroaches everywhere (easily my least favorite part of Texas so far). Then it’s off to bed early so we can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

While I’m sure Cory dislikes my early morning wake-up call, we couldn’t be more thankful for where we are right now. After many long months over 18 hrs apart, just being together makes everything worth it!

That’s it for now,

Beth