Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Construction Site

I seriously wanted to rant on and on about our plumbing dilemma, but it seemed like every time I mentioned where we were at with the plumbers another problem would arise and the cost increased. After I week, I am finally able to vent!

Day 1 - $80 - $200 to snake the main drain.

Day 2 - $900 to dig up the outside sewer connection outside the house and snake it to the city connection. You can see how the hole they dug would fill up with soapy shower water while one of us would take a shower.

Day 2 - $4100 to replace 40 feet of sewer pipe using the trenchless method. The old pipes were made of clay and probably cracked in an earthquake years ago, which attracted all the roots in the neighborhood and they filled the whole pipe.

Day 3 - $10,000 to replace the 4" sewer pipe that connect our new pipe to the 6" sewer pipe because the 4" pipe is surrounded by roots. The roots were huge! They probably cracked the pipe just by growing in them.

Day 4 - $15,000 to get city permits, dig up the 6" sewer pipes, tear out the side walk, replace the pipe, and permaline the pipe all the way to the city sewer connection.

We are waiting for the city to do the final inspection and then the construction site in our front yard will be gone and all that will be of our adventure with Express Plumbing will be a huge dirt patch. Honestly, my husband and I are just happy everything is fixed and it is pretty much over with. We were so restricted with what we could do and it is nice to be able to do laundry again and not worry about how long you have been in the shower.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Laugh Out Loud

After the whole plumbing thing capped at $15,000, I needed something to make me laugh. It's kind of cheesy, but these cats did it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Plumbers Are Scary

I went home at lunch yesterday and my husband says, "We have a problem." That alone made my heart start beating faster, but then I look in the bathtub and see nasty, icky water in it. Apparently when anyone flushed the toilet in the back bathroom, sewage water would come up the drains in the bathtubs and showers.

First thing I do is call my dad because this is a bigger plumbing problem than I am used to dealing with and I was only on my lunch hour, so there was not a whole lot of time. He said it could be a clogged vent or a partially clogged sewage pipe. After doing a ton of research online, I was praying it was the vent that creates the pressure in the drains because it would be easier to fix. I borrowed a ladder from work, put my fear of heights to the back of my mind and climbed up on the roof. The people in the apartment building next to us probably thought I was crazy, lying on my stomach in the middle of the roof.

Unfortunately that was not the problem and after agreeing that it needed to be looked at as so as possible, we called a plumber. From that moment on I was an anxious mess. I was scared that the problem would be more than just a clog and that the cost would be so crazy we would not be able to afford it. I ended up hiding with the dogs in our bedroom, trying not to throw up, and hoping that Rommel would come through the door and tell me it was no big deal.

The plumbers arrived and tried to snake out the mainline, but there seemed to be a bigger problem. They needed to bring in a camera to figure out exactly where the problem was and how deep it was. That alone made our bill jump from $80 to $200.

They came back today and found the actual problem, which I suppose could be a lot worse. They are extremely nice guys though and are doing a good job. It just hurts to hand over $900. But it must be done.

Hopefully from now on my mother-in-law will understand the importance of maintaining our home, etc. And a bonus would be that she appreciates my handwork even more because it does not cost anywhere near $900. I could start charging though, that's an idea!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


A few weeks ago, when my mom was visiting, we decided to go out for lunch and stop by our favorite quilt store. I was stopped at a red light when the car started to shake. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say it felt as if someone was standing on the bumper and jumping up and down. I looked at my mom, who was on the phone, wondering if it was just me or had she felt the shaking too. Grasping for an explanation, I ask her what she just did that caused the car to shake like that. And then she asks me what I was doing to the car, thinking I was playing with the brakes or something. We keep driving to our destination, but the whole time I'm thinking there is either something seriously wrong with my car or we just had an earthquake.

Once we stop, I try my cell phone, but there is no service. Luckily my mom's phone worked because it was from out of state and I was able to call my husband. He told me there was a 5.5 quake centered about thirty miles from us.

At first I am not worried about it at all. Then we go get coffee and everywhere you turn people are talking about it. I start to worry about my animals at home. What if the gate opened, the gas is leaking, or something like that. We hurry through our errand so that I can get home to make sure everyone is okay.

After combing the whole house, we only found one casualty. It was an angel that I gave my mother-in-law for Mother's day. The poor thing's head snapped off.

In the end I am surprised that I was so calm. I have been fearing earthquakes from the moment I moved to California and besides a tiny one a year ago, that was the first real experience I had. People here always wonder why I was not afraid of tornadoes in Illinois, but it is just something I grew up with and know how to deal with the best I can. I guess it is the same way for people who have always lived here. At least people are not always talking about the "big one" when it comes to tornadoes, which is what scares me the most about earthquakes. They say it is about time for a "big one" or this was just getting us ready for the "big one." I think I would rather live with the threat of tornadoes, but that's just me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and More Tomatoes

I have only had a couple ripe tomatoes here and there, so I was surprised when I walked outside yesterday and had to pick a dozen of them. The funny thing is that I don't even like tomatoes. When I was debating what to grow, my mother-in-law suggested tomatoes, so I really planted them for her. But there is no way she can eat that many tomatoes!

About half of them also have spots on them which I expected since I don't use any pesticides, etc. They are still good, but I don't want to give anyone a damaged tomato. The solution to my problem was salsa. It is the perfect way to use all the tomatoes and I can take it to work for everyone to enjoy.

I will make a regular tomato salsa tonight, but I also downloaded a few exotic recipes for the next batch I pick.

There were also some crazy monster-sized tomatoes. The one in the picture below was not even the largest in the garden. Maybe going organic is the best way to do it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Whale Of A Bank

I planned a party at Color Me Mine last week and was finally able to pick up our fired pieces yesterday. Mine is the leopard print whale on the right. I must say that I am pretty happy with the way it turned out, especially since I am not good at painting detailed pieces. And we really did have a fabulous time. I can't wait to go again. Maybe I will try painting the bust of Elvis they had, although it would have to be an abstract version.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pepto-bismol Anyone???

As I said before, I skillfully put a fist-sized hole in the bathroom wall and it wasn't with my hand either. I was trying to put up a robe hook, which should be a really simple task. But when the former owners expanded the bathroom they apparently used thin slats of wood instead of something substantial like a 2 x 4. So the robe hook would not hold any weight at all and when I tried to unscrew it from the wall, part of the wood and drywall came with it. I kept meddling with it, which only made it worse of course.

I was able to easily fix the hole, but we just dropped off all our excess paint at the hazardous waste drop off a few weeks before and no longer had the paint for the bathroom. It just so happens that I was not a fan off the burnt rust color that was on the walls when I moved in, which you can see in the before shot, so this whole debacle was really a blessing in disguise.

I decided to go with pink because it is currently my favorite
color. I would never paint a large room pink, that would be too much even for me, but this is a small room and I am the only one who uses it. I went through several different versions, some were too rosy, some were too baby nurseryish (I have decided that's a word). I settled on two shades of pink and my husband picked the tamer of the two.

Let's just say it's definitely bright pink! It kind of looks like someone coated the walls with pepto-bismol. It may be a bit much for some people, but I like it quite a bit. It's fun and girly and makes me happy! I even added some artwork and changed all the fixtures to chrome.

Ultimately I would like to rip out the sink, mirrors, and those awful vanity lights, but this is a huge improvement for now.

Friday, August 1, 2008


I spent most of last week preparing for my mom's visit, which included a lot of repair work around the house. I know it sounds like my house is a disaster, but it really only needs small things all over, not major stuff. My mother-in-law has lived there for almost twenty years and never really took care of things like the faucets, etc, unless something broke. I have a very long list of things I have been wanting to finish and my mom's visit was the catalyst to getting a lot of it done. Usually we go to Illinois or we all meet somewhere, so she's never stayed at our place and I wanted everything to be perfect. Of course my mom said that I was doing way too much and to relax so I had a little energy left for her visit, but I still went at it all full force. After it was all said and done, I'll even admit that I took on too much.

But her visit was great and we had so much fun! I tried not to plan too many things because I wanted her to relax also, but we did something everyday she was here. I think we both enjoyed this quilting store we discovered the most. I have walked past it several times, but it was always closed so I never actually went in before. They had the best fabrics, all these amazing vintage prints. I could have spent so much money in there and my sewing machine has been packed in the garage for years. We ended up making some throw pillows for my bedroom and a few coffee cozies (replaces the cardboard ones you get at Starbucks, etc.). We even went back the day before she left and bought more fabric. I am going to attempt a pillow pattern the shop owner gave me and maybe a purse.

Once my mom left and I had to go back to work, I intended on relaxing for at least a couple of nights. I tend to get anxious after emotional events, such as a wonderful visit ending, and I didn't want to push myself too much. Well, it didn't happened. I got home and thought of something else to do, which ended up taking me hours and two trips to the hardware store. The next night I had plans with girls from work for dinner and a trip to Color Me Mine. I had to drag myself there, but I had a really good time. I painted a whale bank in leopard print. I'm excited to see how it turns out! If it's not too bad, I might post a picture.

Anyways, there is still more I want to do before my mother-in-law gets back. Hopefully I can get everything on my list checked off over the weekend.

What I have done so far:
  • filled nail holes in the walls and painted my bedroom
  • replaced curtain rods and curtains
  • replaced the diverter and the shower head in my bathroom (extremely happy about that!)
  • repainted a few items in my room, including Ziggy's birdcage stand
  • painted and hung five hanging planters in the backyard
  • put up a fence dividing the backyard (keeps the dogs from the tortoises)
  • fixed the washing machine
  • flushed the water heater (which I just learned needs to be done every year)
  • replace the drain valve on the water heater that broke when I flushed it out
  • replaced outdoor water faucets
  • replaced all the front yard sprinklers
  • cleaned out the garage and tried to organize it
  • put shelves in the laundry room
  • put a hole in the bathroom wall (long story)
  • replaced the toilet handle my husband broke off
Still needs to be done:
  • replace the tank systems in the toilets and clean out the scale
  • fix the hole in the bathroom wall
  • paint the bathroom a lovely fun shade of pink
  • plant some grass seed