Posts filed under ‘home improvement’

News x 3

Happy Friday everyone! Families have been informed, co-workers are up to speed, neighborhood kids are in the know. Now is time to update my blog with all the latest news from our household.

1. Ryan’s Job Change
Ryan’s changing jobs. The timing actually worked out super great for me and my colleagues. We’re in the middle of a big migration project and Ryan’s been able to assist us out with some contracting work. Right now he’s integrating our application with Mettler Toledo balances. Ryan’s been a tremendous help! I’m still hoping I can convince him to stay with us permanently!

Lab Visit - ZJ and Ryan in Hair Nets
The Obligatory Hairnet Shot

Elizabeth City - Ryan Working on Balances
Ryan Working on Balance Integration

2. We’re Moving
Related to #1, we’re moving circa February 26th to my hometown of Occoquan, Virginia. I have very much enjoyed Hunter Street and I am sad to leave. Surprisingly, I have yet to find a neighborhood kid who seems as sad as I am! They’re resilient! Nonetheless, I do look forward to being closer to my family… and closer to the mountains. In November, Ryan and I spent a week gutting my maternal grandmother’s house. We’ll be working on reinnovating it once we are back in Occoquan (don’t worry some of that work will be overseeing contractors doing to actual work. 🙂 ).

Grandma's House - Overgrown Exterior on 9_19_2010
Home Sweet Home….Eventually*
*It doesn’t look like this right now, Ryan already cleared away all the brush

Grandma's House - Living Room on 9_19_2010
Living Room on 9/19/2010

Grandma's House - Living Room on 11_1_2010
Living Room on 11/1/2010

Grandma's House - Living Room on 11_2_2010
Living Room on 11/2/2010

Until reinnovations are done, we’ll be staying on the top floor of my parents’ house. It should be a great exercise in patience and stress management. With our combined pets, we’ll have a total of four dogs and three cats on one property. We’ll see how that goes. 🙂

Last But Not Least….
Shortly after we were married, I received a Facebook inquiry from Tyrek.

Inquiry From Tyrek
Vicky When Is You Going to Have a Baby!

It took a while, but I finally have an answer for him.


Ryan and I are expecting our first child in mid-August!!! We’ll be at 14 weeks tomorrow, which means I somehow survived the terrifying first trimester without the terrifying part. I skated by with minimal trouble from morning sickness. I really, really, really lucked out. A big shout out to whatever force it was that decided to spare me. I owe you one!

8 Week 4 Day Ultrasound - Marked Up
Ultra Sound at 8 Weeks, 4 Days

And so we have a lot of big changes coming. They’ll be a lot of stress, I’m sure. But there is going to be a lot of great things as well! : )

February 11, 2011 at 11:08 am 6 comments

DIY Driveway in a Day

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but our new driveway was! We had been talking about a driveway for a while and this past month the mud has been worse than ever. One morning Ryan woke up and decided it was time. He went out and prepped the area and then had a dump truck deliver a load of sand (most of the sand is for a different project).

We shoveled sand to drive out the swamp that’s encroached in our yard.

New Driveway - Ryan Shovels Sand (Far)
Ryan Shovels Sand

New Driveway - Sanded Driveway
Sanded Driveway

And then the dump truck returned and gave us a load of gravel.

New Driveway - Big Ole Pile of Gravel
Gravel Arrives

Our neighbor Alvin lent us extra rakes and shovels and from then on out we were moving gravel. For hours…and hours… and hours. The project drew a lot of attention. Cars would slow down to look at us and pedestrains and cyclists would make comments.

“That’s what I call ‘Git er done!'” one guy told us.

Another man passed by twice and reported that our gravel pile was definitely getting smaller. It was good to hear, but my body was still tiring.

At one point I paused to wipe the steady stream of snot off my face and I saw a familiar silhouette walking down the street. It was Jacal. I could not have been happier to see him.

“Can I help???” he asked as I knew he would.

Then there were three of us shoveling and raking.

New Driveway - Help Arrives!  Jacal With Ryan
Jacal and Ryan Raking

Still as the afternoon light started to dwindle, bodies ached, and blisters bled, it looked like the project would have to be completed a different day. Suddenly more reinforcements arrived! Three more neighborhood kids came over to help AND a neighborhood adult!

New Driveway - Teamwork Completes Task (Adjusted)
Bobby, Ryan, Khalif and Tyrek Finish Up at Dusk

That night I parked in the brand new driveway. For the first time in months, I did not have to leap from my car to the grass. The mud has been eradicated.

It was thanks to a lot of hard work… and wonderful neighbors.

December 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm 6 comments


After a long day hike, particularly the ones in the heart of July, that moment when the trees part just enough that you spy a sliver of your car is a celebrated one. You’ve finished! You’re done.

I had a moment earlier this week which was like that… but times 1000:

My house is for sale!

My Realtor hammered in the For Sale sign in my front yard!

And this marks the end of a very long journey for me. I’ve been working on getting this house ready for the market from at least July 2007. That’s fifteen months. The typical gestation period for a human baby is nine months. The average Appalachain Trail thru-hike is six months. So I could have thru-hiked AND had a baby in that time frame!

(i.e. That’s a looooong time.)

Sometimes I looked (and smelled) about as hygienic as a thru-hiker

And now it is done! And like the typical thru-hiker, I have a great support system of friends and family to thank. There are so many people who went to extremes to help me. I had people come over to paint and take down wallpaper. I had people who would drive six hours and then get up at 5:30 AM the very next morning to help me with… a yardsale. I had people who lent me equipment and advice. I had people who helped with glorious tasks like…taking things to the dump, pulling up the most disgusting outdoor carpet ever and pulling gunk out of a sink. I had people who would come over on worknights on short notice to help me move furniture. And even those these people are helping ME… some would still show up with food for ME. I should be feeding THEM, not the other way around!

Originally this post was going to be a huge list of all the items performed on this house and who helped with what. But I think it suffices to say that this house was a BIG team effort.

And so this “For Sale” sign, the Mount Katahdin of my 2007/2008, not only represents the end of a journey, but it also is a reminder of my loved ones. When I look at it- I’m happy, I’m proud, I’m relieved, I’m thankful and I’m choked up (a very good choked up) all at the same time.



October 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm 6 comments

Reaching Wallpaper

Today was another busy day of working on the house. Most of the day involved packing, painting prep and actual painting, but I did tackle another type of task. In my upstairs hallway, I had some wallpaper that was falling down.

That wallpaper that needs fixing is like…high up!

But it was over my stairwell. Since I don’t have a stairwell friendly ladder and my arms have a limit to their scope, I wasn’t sure how to reach that wallpaper to apply more adhesive. So I pondered….

How do I reach that wallpaper behind me?

And I devised a plan. I took the extended handles for my paint roller, some packing tape and an old sponge brush to fashion myself a custom wallpaper glue distribution device.

My concoction and Jimmie (Tried and true still)

It worked out great. I put the glue on my little sponge and used that to spread adhesive on the wall and the back of the wallpaper. I ended up putting the roller back on the other end and that worked wonderfully to smooth the paper back on the wall. And with that, I was able to cross another item off my list.


Now as far as innovation goes, I think “taping a brush to a paint roller” is far beneath thru-hiker territory. But you know what IS innovative?

Me still finding stuff to post about when all I’m doing is painting, cleaning and packing. 🙂

July 26, 2008 at 11:57 pm 5 comments

Aww for the Day – July 13, 2008

Actually this is more like the “Fuck Yeah!” moment of the day:

That is my new toilet in the guest bathroom…flushing. Better yet– it is flushing without any leaks!!!! I installed it today. The most difficult part was getting the water intake valve on the new toilet. I kept trying to turn it clockwise.  Turns out– you want to turn it counter clockwise. It is SO much easier when you are turning it the right way. 😉

With the toilet in, all I have left is putting in some cord trim by the cabinet and putting the door back on.


July 13, 2008 at 9:18 pm 13 comments

Thanks a Lot, Google.

It’s 8:52 PM EST and just now I’m finding out it is the National Observance of Arbor Day?!?

I blame you, Google.  I have become so accustomed to you keeping me abreast of significant days.  Just this year, you’ve changed your logo for New Year’s, Martin Lurther King Day, Lego’s 50 Year Birthday, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, February 29th, St. Patrick’s Day, First Day of Spring and Earth Day.  I count on you, now!

But, guess what!  Not even knowing it was Arbor Day, I did invest in some trees!!! I’m redoing the landscaping of the front yard.  I’m going with an Appalachian Trail inspired theme.  So today I got:

Even though I recently joined the American Rhododendron Society, I’m not exactly a fan of most rhododendrons you see in yards.  But Rhododendron catawbiense is a species native to the Appalachian Mountains and therefore vastly superior to all its relatives.  🙂

I did look for Mountain Fetterbush, but the closest I could find was a Japanese version (Pieris japonica).  The nursery told me it is pretty hard to find Pieris floribunda. 

But that is okay– I am extremely satisfied with the current shrub combination.  It’s like a mini-Biltmore Estates!

April 25, 2008 at 8:44 pm 8 comments

Tiling & Geocaching

Whoops.  It occurs to me it’s been over a week since I’ve posted.  That’s not good.  Here’s some quick notes of what I’ve been up to:

Remember that bathroom Jimmie destroyed two years ago?  It’s finally getting tiled!  This weekend, supplies were purchased, ceramic tiles were laid out and cut (courtesy of Bill C’s wet saw), AND they were placed with thin-set mortar.  I was so into tiling this past weekend, that A) I set an alarm for early Sunday morning so I could get to work and B) I woke up before that alarm went off (like a kid on Christmas!).  After an suspenseful 24 hour wait, the mortar set.  I walked on the tiles and they did not crack under my weight!  So the tiles were ready for the next test.  I had Sean walk on the tiles and they did not crack under his weight.  I am pleased.  Next stop– grouting!


This bathroom is humble– It has less than 25 square feet.  And yet, it has proven to be the most educational room in my entire house.  With this one room I’ve had to:

  • Paint ceiling 
  • Remove wallpaper 
  • Repair drywall
  • Remove baseboard trim
  • Paint walls
  • Remove carpet tacks (The Wonder Bar makes this a LOT easier)
  • Remove carpet staples (needle nose plyers make this a LOT easier)
  • Learn the advantage of not sticking carpet tacks through one’s fingernail
  • Measure and cut ceramic tiles
  • Apply the tiles to the floor
  • Learn the tile spacer need is greater than I expected.  (I had delicately counted all my tile intersections and subtracted the tile spacers I had on-hand and went to Lowes thinking I needed 28 more tile spacers.  I was dismayed that I had to buy them in packs of 200.  Welp, turns out I used a LOT more than that once the thin-set was in the equation).
  • Embarass myself with how I thought one “snaps” a chalk line.

Drywall – Before and after

The lessons from this bathroom are not over yet.  The syllabus still includes:

  • Grouting
  • Sealing grout
  • Caulking
  • Installing trim
  • Installing a toilet

Believe it or not, I look forward to all those tasks…. even the toilet.

Geocache Maintenance
With the exception of business travel, I haven’t really been keeping up with my geocaching hobby.  This came abundantly clear to me last weekend, when I picked up the new issue of the New River Valley Magazine and saw an article on geocaching that did not quote me.  What the…?  All area geocaching articles quote me!   Well…. all two of them.  😉 

My second sign that I’ve fallen out of the local arena of the sport– two my caches got reported to the administrators for being wet and cracked and mild-dewy.  So on Monday, with beautiful spring weather, I played hooky from work and replaced one of those cache containers.  THERE!  See that geocaching administrators and local magazine writers????  I *STILL* geocache.

And I’m still available for comment.  🙂

March 5, 2008 at 11:10 am 13 comments

Obsolete Freedoms

Two Saturdays ago I painted my guest bathroom. That bathroom sports some old, torn carpet that I have no intentions of keeping. So, unlike some of my other painting endeavors, I didn’t have to worry about spreading out drop clothes on the floor. I felt so liberated and uninhibited! At one point I dropped a brush doused in “Delicate Yellow” right smack onto the middle of the carpet. I got to shrug, pick the brush and continue my work. It was so pleasant.

Later in the week, I worked on-site with a customer. There, I work on an old application that another team is currently rewriting in newer technologies. My job is to do just enough maintenance to the old application to keep it meeting the company’s needs until the next version is in place. A new issue surfaced and I worked on updating the code accordingly. I keyed in my logic and started to manipulate an existing variable (changing an ID number to 0 so it would not get picked up later in the process). Then I started to wonder if the code would be more readable if I declared a new Boolean instead.

“Wait a second,” I thought, “This code is going to be dead in 4 months!”

So I got to shrug, keep my variable set to 0, and continue my work. It was so pleasant.

Twice within a couple of days, I stumbled upon the same sensation. In a world where we pursue the latest and greatest– a world where 1 million iPhones sell in 74 days, 153.9 million video game consoles were sold in 2007, and the average new-car buyer trades their vehicle in every 4 years— I found freedom in working with items going obsolete.

February 8, 2008 at 1:24 am 1 comment

Acupuncture and Manicures Do Not Mix

Last night I had an accident involving an old nail and my left index finger.  This is going to sound a lot scarier than it is– at the moment I have a puncture wound (small!) going through the middle of my fingernail and into the flesh below.  Again, it’s not that bad.  The way everything clotted, you can barely tell my fingernail has a hole in it.  In fact, today I had the finger in plain sight at lunch and everyone’s appetites stayed in tact.

I knew the finger itself was fine, but it’s been well over a decade since my last tetanus shot.  Looking at that old nail that inflicted the damage, it seemed like I would be tempting fate to not take care of my lapsed vaccination.  The doctor’s office was able to accomodate me.  They gave me the shot and they ran a series of tests to make sure I didn’t shatter bone and that I still had feeling in the finger.  Everything was fine.

“Wow,” the doctor said, “You are the worst patient for the best puncture wound ever.”

Umm… I’m not sure what that combination of superlatives means, but from the context of his other statements I think he was trying to compliment me. 

I think.

September 21, 2007 at 3:22 pm 5 comments

Waterbed Room Progress

Here are three shots of the waterbed room (formerly known as “Tristan’s Room”) to demonstrate its progress so far.

Original look – wallpaper with waterbed.

After wallpaper removal and holes patched.

After off-white paint added

Check out who is in every picture in the doorway.  Jimmie!!!  Still tried and true!  Every step of the way, he is curious about what I’m doing.  He loves me.  🙂

August 21, 2007 at 11:22 pm 7 comments

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