Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Birthday

Mom Kowalski's birthday was the other day. 

I never had the opportunity to meet her and it made me kinda sad.  Walt Kowalski has told me such great stories.

But then I realized something.  I have the best example of her...Walt Kowalski. 

Ok, so I might be a little biased.   

Happy Birthday Mom Kowalski. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Leaves Leaves and more Leaves

I realize I post the same things at the same time every year.  The good part is that I (and my audience) don't always remember the post from the previous year.  Click here to see the post from last year. The leaves haven't changed.  I swear there were even more of them this year! 

Here is the scene:

Armed with my trusty leaf blower, I spent 4 hours yesterday afternoon corralling leaves into to the steps.  They were deep.  Filled the steps to the top.  Ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep, chest deep. Deep, DEEP leaves. 

When Walt Kowalski returned home from work, he said "Holy pile of leaves!" He hadn't seen the other pile of leaves in the field yet.

I used the leaf blower to direct the leaves in his direction.  He raked.  I directed.  He mowed over and mulched the leaves.  I directed them to him. He raked some more. 

Only about half of the leaves have fallen. The tall oak trees are the last to drop.  We still have many days of leafing ahead. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Backwards Day

Normally I blog in the morning during the world news and then get ready to go work or run errands for the day. Today was different.  I did my work at the little house first thing this morning so I could come home and rake (corral) leaves all afternoon. 

I got one coat of paint on the kitchen walls and sanded the new drywall and painted the doors.

The mud wasn't completely dry so I couldn't paint this wall yet. 

This is a wonderful blurry before photo (gosh!).

After looks just as bad. 

Question: Why are you painting the walls if you are just putting cabinets back up?
Answer: Just in case the cabinets don't cover completely and to "clean it up."

The walls were dirty.  The second coat will really make it shine.

Now out to corral. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Whole lotta

...nothing to see.

We got a lot accomplished this weekend.  Small stuff, but important stuff.  Nothing picture worthy.

Walt Kowalski traced and rewired an outlet in the kitchen, added an outlet in the basement, I painted the registers and a bathroom fixture, finished the ceiling in the bedroom, cleaned up the dripped plaster on the bedroom floor, ran the shop vac in preparation for laying the laminate, we picked out and purchased the tile for the kitchen, cleaned up the garage, and did laundry.

Today I need to finish the bits and pieces of small things. Painting and floors is next on the list this week.

Oh and the big thing we did this weekend was raking leaves.  I shouldn't say rake. More like corralling leaves. More, LOTS more, of that to come, too.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Everything needed recharged this morning.

Laptop battery: Low
Phone battery: Low
My battery: Low
Kittycat batteries: Extra low

Everybody was sleepy on a Friday morning.

There are two beds, two pillows, and an entire cat tree full of blankets.  But the girls love to sleep together in this round bed.  This is Mama and Cocoa Fluffy.  Some days it's Oreo and Mama. If there was room, I might even crawl in with them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kitchen Floors

The Little House will be our third house remodel. Remodel four and five coming soon.  On each of these remodels, the base floors have been in terrible condition.  I knew the Cat Ranch didn't have fancy floors under the carpet, so when we lifted the carpet and padding, it wasn't a surprise to find plywood.

House #1 and the Little House both had wooden floors that once upon a time were nice.  The current condition was this:

This is the condition of hard wood floor after years of wear, then an installation of linoleum, and then the installation of carpet on top.

Who are these people that say "We took up the carpet and padding and the floors were perfect." These people are on the made-for-TV home improvement shows. 

After working for days (weeks) sanding and detailing the steps in House #1, I was not about to tackle the floors in the Little House.

Walt Kowalski and I installed a cement backer board over these awful floors.  This secured and stabilized the existing floor. Now I can tile.  Tile is new.  Tile is clean.  Tile is easy to clean up.

Same with laminate in the other rooms. 

Maybe if someday one of these houses is a hundred-year-old-historical, then I will consider working those original floors.  Maybe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chimney step 4

Ok, so the chimney has way more steps than I originally expected.  I'm still new at plaster, so it takes me much longer than when I did seams and screws.  It also takes longer because the plaster is not premixed like the joint compound.

Mixing and stirring add time. 

Working inside the closet doesn't help either.  First I have to position the ladder, then I have to maneuver the bucket.  Don't forget trowels and towels.  Then inevitably I drop something from the ladder.

But once I get rolling, it goes well. 

Don't forget this is the first rough coat.

I also worked on the other side of the chimney that's visible. 

Plaster and concrete might be my new favorite mediums. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chimney step 3

The step from bakery to construction site really is an easy jump.  I also end up covered in white powder at the end no matter where I work.

With the ceiling repaired, I was ready to repair the chimney.

First of all, plaster is stinky.  Gag. 

After mixing, and trying not to breathe the dust, the plaster really went on the chimney like icing on cake.  The similarities are uncanny.  Just remember, don't lick your fingers.

The colors in the photos look "off" because the high intensity work light cast different shadows.  It helped me see the details and warm the room, but it cast strange shadows.

Slather, slather, slather.

Icing, icing, icing, icing. This was the tallest cake ever. 

Just like a cake, after one coat, I let the plaster set up for a few minutes to harden.  Then I started from the bottom with a thick second coat.

Walt Kowalski offered to enclose the chimney in drywall and be done with it.  I wanted to do something creative.  Artsy-fartsy.  {Insert eye roll from Walt Kowalski here.} He really is so patient with me when I get artsy-fartsy. I looked around the house and in the garage for something to stamp into the plaster to make a pattern.  I found lots of things to imprint, but not the right thing. 

The home improvement store had textured rollers and brushes, but still not what I wanted. Then I realized I was looking in the wrong section in the store. Instead of in the paint aisle, I needed the cement aisle.

I found a plastic mold that is designed for making a sidewalk that looks like stones.  Instead of pouring the cement into the mold, I used the mold as a stamp.


 Then I went back and defined the marks.

It looks like a stone chimney now.  I still need to clean up the lines between the "stones" and add another thin coat of plaster, but I like it.  I could even stain the spaces between the stones with a dark gray to give it more accent.

The plaster isn't dry in this photo, that's the reason for the darker color at the bottom.

Walt Kowalski called to say he was on the way home from work and wanted to know what pattern I used on the chimney.  I wouldn't tell him.  I just told him to expect artsy-fartsy.

WK: "Nonononononononono. I can't stand the suspense!"
Me:  "artsy-fartsyartsy-fartsyartsy-fartsyartsy-fartsy."

He was home in 10 minutes and thought it was great. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chimney - step 1 and 2

This weekend Walt Kowalski helped me with the chimney project. There was some metal corner mesh from the old plaster still attached.  I was working at it with tin snips and side cutters, but it was a struggle.  Add one Walt Kowalski and a high speed grinding wheel, and the mesh was gone in 5 minutes.

And it was cool to watch.

If you forgot, this is where I started with the chimney and closet. This was the damage from the chimney leaking. We installed a chimney cap and after the rains this week, no leaks! Woohoo!

Add some dry wall, and suddenly a leaking problem doesn't look like a problem anymore.

Today's project: plaster over the old chimney.  I thought about keeping the chimney visible, but it's the bedroom, not the kitchen or living room.  And it really isn't that pretty.  I'll make it much nicer.

New Phone

I splurged this weekend and bought a new phone.  I *technically* didn't need a new phone.  My current phone was just fine.  Walt Kowalski bought it for me not long after we first got together. 

He said 'I splurged and spent a whole $12 on that phone for you.' He bought it for me because the previous phone I was using had been chewed by my aunt's dog.  It still worked, even with teeth marks, and it was my favorite.

I didn't really need the phone. My dinosaur phone, as I call it, dialed calls, answered calls, took pictures, received text messages, had a calculator, and a calendar.  That's all I needed.  If I needed more I would use a computer, which at the time, I was never more than an arm's length away from at all times.

However, things have changed.  I'm no longer near a computer for 8 hours a day.  More than once or twice or three times in the last week alone, I have said 'I wish I could look this up on the internet.' And how many times has Walt Kowalski said 'I wonder if another store has something we could use.'

So it was time to get a new phone.  I still didn't need a big phone plan and a fancy phone. Pay-as-you-go works for me and being in an even tighter budget lately, that was the route to go. I drop the thing enough, I don't want to break my new investment.  So typical me, I research, read reviews, read the advertisements and sales, and then spend 15 minutes reading the box before I actually purchase the phone. 

I'm content. I like it. 

My only concern was that I would become addicted to this new phone like I was to the tablet last winter. It was a cool new gadget. Walt Kowalski says he won't let that happen.

We get home last night and I'm ready to set up and transfer my number to my new phone.  The last time I did this online it didn't work and they had to end me a new sim card. This time I'm just going to call and let them walk me through the process. 

I just opened the box. I didn't even have time to lose any parts or pieces. Use the home phone to call Technical Support. 

TS: Thank you for calling technical support. How may I help you?
Me: I have a new phone and I would like to transfer my number from my old plan.

There is a small accent barrier, but I could still understand the technician. After a few start-up questions about my current plan and telephone number, we are ready to proceed.

TS:  I need you to find your activation code and your new telephone.
Me: Ok I have my activation card and my phone
TS: Please find the pin number on your activation card.
Me: There's a number, but it isn't labeled pin, it's labeled activation.
TS: No, no, no, no, you need the pin number on the activation card. 
Me: I have the activation card, there is no 15 digit pin. There's a 26 digit number to activate or another 30 digit for activation.
TS: No, no, no, no, no, find your original receipt. The activation code pin may be on the receipt.
Me: Ok here is the receipt, no activation code pin on here.
TS: No, no, no, no, you need the activation card. 
Me: I have the activation card. It says "START HERE to activate"
TS: No, no, no, no, you need the activation card.  What else is in the box.
Me: Here is everything in the box.  I have the activation card.
TS: No, no, no, no, you need the activation card.
Me: The box says '$40 30-day plan.'
TS: No, no, no, no, you need the activation card.
Me: I have the activation card.
TS: No, no, no, no, you need the activation card.
Me: I have the activation card.

(Suddenly I understand that definition of insanity.)

Then she says:

TS: Where *exactly* did you get this phone?

Suddenly, I think I'm being accused of stealing this phone. 

5 more minutes of this back and forth conversation of needing the activation card and she says "I can help you if you have the activation card." 


Fine, I don't know what you need that I'm missing, but I will go back to the store tomorrow.  (Walt Kowalski offered to go right then, but I wouldn't let him because he was already clean, showered, and in his jammies.)

After I hung up and was frustrated beyond belief, I read the teeny, tiny small print at the bottom of the box.

An airtime card is not included in this box. 

Ahhhhhh, technical support wanted me to find the pin number on the airtime card, not the serial number on the activation card.  The last phone I purchased was a bundled deal, this one is not.  There is no airtime card included in this package. 

Technical support never once used the word airtime.  *sigh* It wasn't an accent problem, it was a vocabulary problem.

So this morning I'm headed back to the store for an airtime card, then I get to call technical support back. 

Friday, October 17, 2014


I'm tired this morning.  It's cloudy and misty and dark. That doesn't help.  I also think I have a soup hangover.  We ate too much soup yesterday.  And yet, I could have more soup right now. 

Uh, oh, I might be a soup addict. 

Two bowls of soup = good.  Three bowls of soup = extra full. Four bowls of soup = slosh.

(Oh but it was good soup. And we'll do it again.)

I had terrible dreams last night.  I have very vivid dreams on a regular basis.  Dreams in color, with details and plots that I remember very clearly in the morning. 

Last night's dreams were the typical unprepared for life dreams. 

I was still in school.  (don't remember what grade)
I couldn't find my schedule.
I was late for class.
I didn't study.
We had a HUGE test and several papers due.
Everybody was looking at me (Almost worse than not being prepared.)
Then the worst teacher in the world walked in!

How many years later and I'm still having dreams about school.  All of the bills are paid.  The mortgage is paid.  The truck is paid. Who knows. 

Freud said that the dream of being unprepared was usually about something you dreaded but then aced.  That's good to know. 

Then again, it's Freud.  Everything was sexual related for him. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today's Joke

How many people does it take to change a tire?

Answer: Technically, only one person.  But it takes 5 others to supervise.  The Mayor, Mrs. Mayor, the Farmer, one guy telling the other how to use the jack, and another random passerbyer.  It was a slow evening in the neighborhood.  Which is a good thing.  It was a lovely evening, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The LittleThings

The ceiling fans in the little house are in good condition.  Except, they were gold.  I'm not a fan of gold.  Gold with cream colored blades.  Very 80s. 
The other side of the blades was a wood grain. there is hope!
Nothing a can of spray paint won't cure.  I picked a "hammered" brown to cover the gold.  Walt Kowalski was the painter and the hardware came out very nice.  The paint didn't cover 100%, a second coat would have, but the effect was very nice. 
Much nicer than the gold.  Add a good cleaning, and presto, new fans.  I haven't rehung them yet, I'm waiting to paint the ceilings first.

Things I learned this week:
1. It always takes twice as long in the home improvement store as planned.
2. No project ever goes well with high winds and dark clouds approaching on the horizon. 
3. Sometimes the hardest thing to say is nothing.
4. Knowing when to say nothing is just as important.
5. Getting a larger hammer usually solves the problem.  Good or bad.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Drip, Drip, Drip

The plaster around the chimney in the little house was bubbled.  It appeared that the chimney had leaked at one point.  No big deal, just scrape off the loose paint, add a little plaster and repaint. 

Not so fast.

As it turns out, the chimney leaked a little more than a little over a long time.  I couldn't tell if the drywall in the ceiling was wet or cold. 

The questionable drywall had to go.  I didn't want to risk mold growth.  The ceiling was not just cold, but damp and it came out easily.  Even the plaster on the chimney. 

A previous owner put in new studs and drywall to cover a cracked plaster ceiling, so repairing the drywall on the ceiling isn't a big deal. 

But the water dripped farther down the wall around the chimney. This part of the closet wall needs to go, too.

Better now than later. Tonight Walt Kowalski and I will get on the roof to repair the chimney so there are no more leaks. 

Monday, October 13, 2014


Mondays are rough.  The weekends are full and it's tough to get going on Monday mornings.  Today is no exception.  

Walt Kowalski cracks me up. There is a side of him that most people don't see.  (He'll be mad at me for telling you this, but I'll take my chances.) He's got a tender heart especially for most small furry creatures.  Ok, maybe not stink bugs, but they aren't furry.  But all other small creatures.  He's also got this great sense of humor and can make anything into a song.

Sunday morning when he opened the bedroom door there were 4 black cats waiting outside (not so patiently) for snacks.  So he sang to them: (to the tune of 10 Little Indians)

One little, two little, three fat kitty cats
Four little, five little, six black kitty cats

Then yesterday as I was doing laundry, I see him running back and forth at the garage door.  I couldn't imagine what he was doing.  Here's the scene:

Garage door, small log splitter, circle of wood, rustic chair I need to repair and repaint, and Walt Kowalski running back and forth.

What I couldn't see from inside the garage was this:

This tiny little mole that was also running back and forth with Walt Kowalski.  The mole was collecting acorn pieces.  Walt Kowalski was trying to keep the mole from going in the garage. 

We closed the garage door and watched the mole some more. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Up the wall, down the wall, up the wall, down the wall.  He must live behind wall.  Too cute.

We did a lot this weekend, but nothing picture worthy.  Cut a few trees, raked a lot of leaves, burned a LOT of sticks and braches AND finished cleaning out storage. 

Except for the day we rented it, I have never seen it this empty.  I got rid of many things.  combined many boxes, repurposed lots of items.  All good progress.  Towards less stuff.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday's schedule:

Sneeze (it's autumn!)

Today's agenda:

Ow (stupid treadmill)

Tomorrow's agenda:

Ow Ow
Ow Ow
Ow Ow
Ow Ow
Ow Ow
Ow Ow

Overdoingit should be the name of the blog instead.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I haven't posted much in the last few days.  Not because I haven't done anything, but because there isn't much to see and nothing is finished.  One day I cleaned out the garage. But ran out of time and it's not finished.  I worked on laundry. But it's not finished.  I cleaned up outside the house. But it's not finished either.  *sigh* Some days are like that. 

I did start painting the little house.  Here is the before photo:


And here is the after:

(crickets chirping)

Really?  I painted white on white.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  I think I feel asleep for a moment there.  (Seriously, the photos are a before and after and except for the roller, you can't tell!)

The walls weren't bad in this room, but they needed refreshed.  I also want to paint the trim a cream color to add a little accent.  That won't be nearly so boring.  (har, har) 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Did you see the eclipse this morning?  Finally, there was an event in the sky that wasn't covered by clouds! I can not tell you how many times I have waited for meteor showers only to be disappointed by cloud cover or haze.



Almost gone.

I like how you could see the dark side of the moon, too.  The moon set behind the trees just as the eclipse reached totality.  Neat. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Witch requirements:

Black Cat
Black Hat
Bats and Spiders
Stirring Brew

Ok let's see if I have everything on the list.

Black Cat (fang included)

Black Hat, broom and bats.  Ok, they are actually crows, but that's a good substitution. (The spiders are in every corner of this house.)
Stirring brew. It's really potatoes for potato soup.  Tomorrow is soup night. 

Mmmmmmmmm, soup.  Dumplings. Bread. Crackers.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Divide and Conquer

I don't check my email at all this weekend. This morning I have 219 new messages. 
210 of those messages were junk.
This weekend Walt Kowalski and I worked together, but separate. Divide and conquer is what we call it.  Normally we use the divide and conquer when there are errands to run in different directions. "After the gym, you get a hair cut, make a stop at the beer store, and fuel up the truck.  I'll get groceries and drop off the items for donate.  We'll meet back home for dinner."
Walt Kowalski was busy finishing window trim at House #1 while I worked on removing the old plywood on the kitchen floor in the little house in the back. Removing the floor is helping to remove the old smell. Not foul, just old.  We want to install tile in the kitchen, so we'll need cement board and some most of the old floor boards need screws instead of nails.  After so many years, the nails are working their way up.
Meanwhile, Walt Kowalski set up a work area in the house in the front.
He came to find me because he needed assistance.  He was out of 1x6, white, painted boards for inside the windows.  As it turns out, the former remodeler of the house in the front used 1x6 white painted boards as trim instead of fancy trim.  I was able to gently pry the boards off of the walls so Walt Kowalski could reuse them.  I love recycling. 
Luckily I'm also going to replace the drywall in the house in the front, because the trim took off some of the plaster, too.  Oops.  There is that lath again.  No insulation.  {shakes head in disbelief}

I found three layers of wall paper under the trim.  It's a like a surprise from the past.  I can't wait to find more surprises. 

There are other things we're going to recycle from the house in the front.  Several doors will be used in the house in the rear and maybe even House #2 (if it fits). Walt Kowalski wants to use the old kitchen cabinets for storage in Shedzilla. Bathroom fixtures, dining room fixtures, window blinds.  All of these items will be used in another house.  
Tomorrow I start painting the little house in the back.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Zero Motivation

I have zero motivation today.  Less than zero.  (What is less than zero?)

The dishwasher is full of clean dishes. The sink is full of dirty dishes. There are clean clothes in the washer that need put in the dryer and clothes in the dryer that need put away. Halloween decorations need hung up. Walls need painted. Carpets need removed. Litter boxes. Sweeper. Dinner. Gym.

The list goes on and on.

I could just lay on the couch and watch movies and TV all day. 

I just need to get started. I did make the bed. I can check something off the list.  And I did bring up clothes from the laundry room.  I guess I already got started. 

I think another cup of tea is on the menu. 

It will work out to be a good day.  Painting is on the agenda.  Walt Kowalski and I are headed to the gym this evening, followed by dinner and movie night at home.   

Yesterday was very productive, which is probably why I'm slow moving today. Along with all of the regular work, I spent the evening cleaning up the garden while Walt Kowalski and Chain Saw Johnny split wood. 


It was a lovely autumn evening. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Breakfast nook

Remember the kitchen photo from yesterday?  Here it is again:

Here is today:

It took me two hours to take out this small section of wall. 

You are probably thinking "Why did you take out the wall?"  I was thinking the same thing as I was pounding my way though it.  There were two outlets that were connected and the wire connecting them was not properly wired.  Instead of being enclosed in the wall, the wire came out of the wall, went around the wooden stud (on the outside) then went back into the wall and outlet. 

Between the outlet and the random holes, patching just the holes would have been difficult.  Let's hope I don't need to take out any additional of this wall.

I splurged yesterday.  I got a new wallet.  It wasn't really a splurge because I bought it previously on sale with a coupon.  I had it in the closet room of doom (bonus points for me for knowing and remembering where it was located!).

I needed a new wallet because my old one was stretched from all the receipts and change.  Also because I embarrassed myself in the dollar store. I thought I zipped the small change zipper on the back side of the wallet, but here the zipper broke, jumped the zipper track, and I spilled about $5 in change, the majority pennies, everywhere in the checkout line. 

I'm always hopeful with a new wallet. I'll keep this one neat and tidy.  That is usually true for about a week.