Odds & Ends with Friends

Hello, friends!  Happy Wednesday!  I am still playing catch-up with my photos, so these are from two weekends ago.  This last weekend was Mr. Fixer’s birthday, plus it poured outside, so we didn’t do a lot at the house.  Birthday breakfastBut we sure did have a nice day celebrating Mr. Fixer and eating lots of yummy food!

Have I mentioned how wonderful our friends are?  Truly, I cannot keep saying it enough — we have the best of friends!  Whether they are helping us at the house or doing something entirely different, we simply have incredible friendships that I am so grateful for.  Okay, I’ll stop gushing… 🙂

Enjoy this quick update!  I hope everyone is having a great week and getting an opportunity to enjoy the sun that’s been peaking out the last couple of days.  I hear that it is supposed to be 60 degrees on Monday! (Can anyone say beach trip?!)

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

Attic view of new beams

This is an attic view of the two big beams we put in.

 

Nick & Limin removing electrical

This fantastic duo is helping to remove old knob and tube wiring.

 

Samantha removing window

This lovely lady can do anything, whether it is helping to remove electrical or knocking out old windows!

Guillaume removing window

Guillaume should be a pro window guy by now! 🙂

 

Nick & Limin removing nails

Our deck has to be removed so we can replace a bad sewer line. Great…

Deck screws

Helpful hint: leave your screws in until you are finished so you know where you’ve been!

 

Mr. Fixer holding rotten pipe

And this would explain why EVERY fixture in the house has a leak.

Guillaume & Nick holding header

Loading up!

 

Don’t Worry About It

First off, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who read my last blog post.  Mr. Fixer and I have received an overwhelming amount of support, encouragement, and prayer in response to our loss.  We feel incredibly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends in our lives!  Starting this conversation has been especially cathartic for me, giving me hope and courage to continue to move forward on this adventure of future parenthood.

Not only was writing about my miscarriage cathartic, though, it was also an eye-opening experience for myself as a “blogger.”  As any blogger knows, the statistics graph on your website can be incredibly interesting to monitor.  In the grand scheme of things, Mr. Fixer and I have a relatively small number of people who consistently read the blog (hi Grandma!).  With the last post, however, readership jumped to about four times our normal traffic!  I’m not really sure why this is, however I have my theories.  The overarching theory is that we are simply very curious (voyeuristic?) creatures.  The title of the post — Burly Beams and Shattered Dreams — was compelling enough for people to click, and I mentioned a “heart-to-heart” in my Facebook link (who wouldn’t be drawn in by that?).  On a deeper level, though, I think we are all just yearning for a little bit of personal connection.  We love to hear personal stories, and we love to tell them!

The huge proliferation of the blogging world is testament enough to that, and I am certainly not excluded.  Which is why (yes, I am getting to a point) I don’t feel terribly awkward including more personal posts on the site.  Yeah, yeah, I know this is supposed to be a DIY, home improvement type of blog, but the subtitle is “and everything in between,” so you certainly can’t say you weren’t warned! 🙂

Well, friends, now that we got that out of the way, onward and upward!  Yesterday, two weeks into this bittersweet new year, I finally decided on my new year’s resolution. [Drumroll, please] I don’t want to worry anymore!  I know for some of you Whole30/quit-smoking/run-a-marathon/win-the-Pulitzer-Prize type of folks, you are probably rolling your eyes right now; but believe me, there were choir bells and angels singing in Mr. Fixer’s head when I told him my idea.

Because, well, I worry about everything.  Yesterday, today, tomorrow, everything.  And then I get grumpy.  And then I sulk and cry and whine to Mr. Fixer (now you can imagine why he was singing hallelujah).  Example: last night I decided to make chicken pot pie for dinner.  I have never made this recipe before, though, so one, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to actually assemble everything and get it into the oven; and two, when I finally did get it in the oven, the butter in the crust started dripping onto the bottom of the oven, creating massive billows of smoke to come rushing out!  And this is what is happening in my head the entire time — everyone is going to be so hangry (hungry + angry) that dinner is taking forever, and everyone is going to hate me, and our wonderful hosts are going to kick us out of their house for ruining the bottom of their oven and smoking up their kitchen, and the crust is going to turn out terrible, and I’m going to have to throw everything away and order pizza, which is going to make everyone even more hangry… and so on.  Meanwhile, what everyone is really doing is keeping busy with chores around the house, laughing about the mess I am making, and not even realizing that it is creeping past 8pm and we haven’t even eaten yet.

After it slowly dawned on me what was happening around me, I gave Mr. Fixer a hug and told him that I wanted to worry less in the new year.  [Hall-e-lu-jah, hall-e-lu-jah!]  Wouldn’t I be so much happier and less stressed if I didn’t feel like the weight of the world (or maybe just dinner) was resting on my shoulders all the time?  Why yes, yes I would.

Again, some of you are probably laughing, shaking your heads, and thinking, DUH, right? Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result, but I think I’ve been on the crazy train for so long the obviousness of the solution was, well, not-so-obvious.  The clouds have parted, though, and I have seen the light, so here is to a worry-free 2015!  I hope that many of you will continue to follow along as I share my adventures in making this a reality.  Of course, there will be plenty of house updates, as well!

Hugs and Happy Thursday!

Mrs. Fab

Anyone else hoping to worry and stress less in the new year?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

Burly Beams & Shattered Dreams

Well hello friends!  I bet you were beginning to think Mr. Fixer and Mrs. Fab ran off to live in a new house, didn’t you?!  (Believe me, the thought crosses my mind from time to time…) Alas, that is not the case!  We are still plugging away on our little project, it is just that life has a funny way of sneaking in and messing up your blog-writing plans.

I know many of you can relate to this season of life right now.  You got fired (okay, maybe that’s just me); you are going through a breakup/divorce; you are dealing with the death of a loved one; your child is diagnosed with a condition you have no control over; your best friend is heading down a destructive path; and so on [insert life’s curveball here].  For Mr. Fixer and me, our curveball came screaming in at high speed last Monday when my doctor told me that I had miscarried our very first baby.

For most anyone going through a difficult situation like this, one of the hardest things is beginning to spread the awkward news.  Mom and Dad, I need a place to stay for awhile until I find my own place…  Daughter or Son, Grandpa was just admitted to the hospital and they say he’s not going to make it…  Friends and Family, that adorable baby announcement we just made… just kidding.

And then of course come the equally awkward responses.  What do you say in situations like these?  What do you say to someone in the throes of a grief that you oftentimes cannot relate to?  In our most recent experience of miscarriage, one of the most common things I heard was, “It is actually really common, people just don’t talk about it.”  But as I think about these words and reflect on their truth, I realize this is true about most any hard situation, not just miscarriage.

Why this is true, I am not quite sure.  I can surmise, certainly.  We are embarrassed.  We don’t want to relive the experience every time we tell someone.  We don’t think anyone will understand.  The reasons could go on and on.  Well, friends, I am here to offer this humble suggestion: just do it!  Whatever your “it” might be, grab it by the reigns with a firm grip and own it!  Start the conversation.  Because you know what will happen?  A line will start forming behind you.  And then all that embarrassment, awkwardness, loneliness, and grief will start to diminish.  People will look each other in the eye and say, “I’ve gone through this, too.  And I’m okay.” Or they might say, “You know what, I have no idea what this is like, but I am going to be here for you every step of the way.”  Let’s stop the cycle of not sharing our common human experiences!

So, I guess this is me starting the conversation.  Miscarriage is an incredibly heartbreaking thing to experience.  It has left me sad, discouraged, angry, and with lots of questions.  But this is not the end of the story, my friends.  I also have an incredible amount of thankfulness and hope stored up inside me, as well.  I have an amazing group of supportive and loving family and friends.  I have the gift of overall health and vitality.  I have food to eat and warm clothes to wear.  I have blue skies and sunshine in the middle of dreary winter days.  And I have hope. Mounds and mounds of hope!  For I know that I have a faithful Father wanting to bestow upon me wonderful gifts.  Gifts that I cannot even fathom!  And I know that this same Father is always going to be at the front of my line, knowing my heart and enlisting His Son to carry my burdens.

Friends, if you are experiencing a tough time, please know that I too am in line to offer you support and love.  Whatever it is you are going through, you are not alone.  Start the conversation.

With many hugs,

Mrs. Fab

I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.  Psalm 13:6

And what’s a blog post without some pictures!  The week of New Year’s day, Mr. Fixer took some time off and my mom and her husband came down to assist with putting in our giant new beams.  Thanks, guys!  We couldn’t have done it without you! 🙂

Big beam

This guy is a beast! Almost 18 feet long, 13.5″ deep, and 5.5″ wide. 

Tiny beam to be replaced

This is the tiny little beam that we are replacing. The original house built in the 50’s had a wall under this beam, which was removed at some point (eliminating the 3rd bedroom!).

Tiny beam removed

The small beam has been removed and the ceiling braced with temporary supports.  My wonderful step-dad, Mike (to the right), was a huge help the entire time!

Cutting the beam

This end of the beam will be tucked up and bearing on the exterior wall. Mr. Fixer is cutting it to follow the slope of the roof.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Door stop

Door stop, anyone?

 

Mr. Fixer holding beam up with a finger

Geesh Mr. Fixer — you’re so strong!

Beam on ladder

This almost-400 lb. bad boy was slowly hoisted into place with the help of some ladders (Mr. Fixer is always coming up with such clever ideas!).

Beam in place at one end

One side is up!

Beam in place

Ta-da! Mr. Fixer is admiring his handiwork.

Smaller beam to replace arched header

A smaller beam is going in here. This will replace the large header over the archway.

View of both beams

Both beams are in! A huge amount of work was accomplished in just a couple days!

 

New Windows!

Wow — I cannot believe it is the Friday before Christmas already!  Where did the week go?! Well, if you are anything like me, you spent the week running all over the city getting gifts, crafting, wrapping, standing in line at the post office…  Goodness, I am ready for a N.A.P.

BUT, before all that Christmas madness, Mr. Fixer and I had the wonderful weather opportunity to install our new windows!  Even with the building wrap exposed and the trim/siding torn off, the house has gone through an amazing curb appeal transformation.  This especially feels good because we are no longer just tearing down the old, we are actually putting in some new!  With such a huge undertaking like this fixer, let me tell ya, this feels goooooood.

Our wonderful friends Samantha and Guillaume were incredibly helpful for this project — thank you, thank you!  Even during the downtime where Mr. Fixer was the only one capable of doing anything, they helped with yard work and clean up.  AND, that’s not even the best part — Samantha made homemade pizza for us later that night!  Boy, how did we ever get so spoiled?! 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful pre-Christmas week!  Enjoy your time with family and friends, count your blessings, and try to take at least a few minutes to remember the true spirit of this great holiday.  Now about that nap…

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

before windows

Before

 

 

windows out

Getting started

 

 

Mr. Fixer and Samantha

I think Samantha might be saying something like, “I’m so cold!” 🙂

 

Reframing

Reframing

 

 

Guillaume

Guillaume is getting out some much needed post-finals aggression.

 

 

Samantha helping Guillaume

Bracing the window

 

 

Samantha and Guillaume doing yardwork

They do yardwork too!

 

 

Trimming the rhododendron bush

Goodness, that’s quite the rhododendron!

 

Post yardwork

What a difference all that yardwork makes!

 

 

Reframing large window

We decided to raise up this window in lieu of ordering a custom, tempered glass replacement.

after windows

Mr. Fixer came back throughout the week to finish up the other windows. Looking good!

Homemade pizza

Yummy homemade pizza. Thanks, Samantha!

 

 

 

Approved!

Hi friends!  This post is going to be short and sweet because I really don’t have much to update you all on.  BUT, I do have one good thing to share — our building permit was approved last week!  This is such a relief, because we can now begin moving forward with our design.  In light of this, we’ve simply spent the last week/weekend cleaning up and getting organized (the vacuuming and dump runs never end!).  Thank you to all for the “happy permit thoughts,” and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead of them!

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

Photo Booth

What’s a post without a pic?! This is from Saturday at Mr. Fixer’s company Christmas Party.

The Building Permit Process

Happy December, friends!  Thanksgiving is now behind us (though I am still eating leftovers!), and the Advent season is upon us!  This is a time for anticipation and preparation, something Mr. Fixer and I have certainly been learning a lot about in the last several months!  I think we all have moments in our lives where we can relate to this, whether you are getting engaged or married, buying a first home (shoot me now!), waiting for a precious baby to arrive, praying for resolution in difficult situations, or simply standing in line for your favorite Black Friday sale (shoot me twice!).

For Mr. Fixer and I, we are currently experiencing the anticipation and preparation of our building permit being approved.  As I mentioned on the page Our Design Plan, permits are crucial for remodel projects because they ensure that a third, objective party (the building inspector) has reviewed your plans for safety and feasibility.  Sure, they cost time and money, and you may think you don’t need one, but friends — just bite the bullet, do your due diligence, and get the permit.  Your peace of mind will thank you!

Our peace of mind (and house progress!), however, is currently on hold as we wait to hear back from our plans examiner.  This is round two of submitting documents, so I am hoping that what we’ve provided will now be sufficient to get things finalized.  We are replacing and slightly altering a couple beam/header locations, so we need to show what the current structure of our house consists of (load paths, structural member sizing, etc.) and what it will consist of after the changes.  The changes are very slight, so the process is slightly annoying, but it is good practice nevertheless.

Here are some examples of the construction documents that I have been creating for the permit submission:

Site Plan

Our site plan. This is usually a more crucial document when you are doing an addition, as there are codes in place to protect you from entering into lot setbacks (a fire concern) or overbuilding your lot (creating too much impervious surface, which affects drainage).

As Built Roof

A snapshot of our roof plan. This details the location of hips, valleys, and ridges, in addition to identifying structural members likes joists and beams.

As Built Ceiling

A snapshot of our ceiling plan. Like the roof plan, this details the structural members that carry the roof load down to the ceiling.

As Built Foundation

A snapshot of our foundation plan. Since our house is only one story, this is the last piece of structural information. It shows the final load destinations that are carried through the roof, ceiling, and floor.

In the meantime, Mr. Fixer has been working at ungodly hours (ask him what time he woke up to work on the house this morning!) to finish odds and ends around the house — clearing out the insulation in the attic, de-nailing flooring, and tearing down what we’ve affectionately termed the “kill shed” (a sad and decrepit little playhouse in the backyard).

Playhouse

Creepy, right?!

And that’s it, friends!  Think happy permit thoughts for us this week!  Once that gets underway, the fun stuff begins!  🙂

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

 

 

Thanksgiving Eve Update

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, friends!  I don’t know about you, but I have tons of food to begin prepping, so this is going to be short and sweet!  We have a 22 pound gobbler and 12 people eating, which means lots o’ slicin’ and dicin’ in my future!  I’m really looking forward to it though, so no complaining here!

Since the flooring demo finally finished up last week, Mr. Fixer and I have moved on to general clean up in preparation for replacing all the old electrical wiring in the house.  For Mrs. Fab, this means lots of vacuuming; and for Mr. Fixer, balancing between ceiling joists while he removes the old blown-in insulation in the attic (this will make it easier to run new wiring).  In between, there has only been a teensy bit of whining from yours truly — “Honey, are we DONE yet??”  Yes, I admit, it does happen from time to time!  But I digress…

Enjoy this wonderful holiday before us!  I hope everyone takes a few moments to reflect on and give thanks for all the gifts, blessings, and privileges that we are able to enjoy!

With Thanksgiving hugs,

Mrs. Fab

Leaky toilet

We bid adieu to the last remaining toilet (yes, it was leaking too!). Now my body likes to play tricks on me every time I go to the house — I walk in the door and immediately have to pee!!!

Nick de-nailing

Our friend Nick has been our most faithful helper through this huge project of ours. Many, many thanks Nick!

Gaurav

Our most generous house-mate, Gaurav, came to check the place out and give us a hand. We think he finally wants us to get out of his place ASAP! 😉

Another leak

Oh look — another leak! This is where the 1980’s addition is meeting the original portion of the house.

Mr. Fixer removing insulation

Mr. Fixer begins the process of bagging up insulation. Good thing our house is pretty small!

Bags of insulation in attic

These three bags of insulation are only the beginning! [The hole in the floor to the right is from the chimney we removed.]

Wrapping up Demo… Again

A couple weeks ago when I wrote Wrapping Up Demo, I thought Mr. Fixer and I were finally on the cusp of the rebuilding phase for our bare-bones house.  Goodness, was I wrong.  But now I can say that we truly are!  The flooring has been completely removed, and we are ready to begin replacing electrical and plumbing.  Yippee — one step closer in the process of fixer to fab! 🙂

Addition subfloor

Starbucks gift card to the first person who can tell me IN A COMMENT what is missing from this picture (other than the floor – duh!).

So what was the holdup, you might wonder?  Well, the [probably well-meaning] geniuses who put the beautiful yellow linoleum in the living room not only glued it on top of the hardwood, but they first glued down a layer of tar paper.  In addition, the way the hardwood was originally nailed down made it extremely difficult to pry up.  Mr. Fixer used his circular saw to cut the flooring into smaller pieces, which then made it easier to pull up, but also a bit more time-consuming.  We then had to painstakingly pull off both the layer of linoleum and the layer of tar paper from each individual piece of wood!  [Well, we didn’t have to, but we wanted to salvage what we could and reduce our waste at the dump.]  Talk about tedious work!  Combine this with an absent Mrs. Fab (yay for beach vacations!) and the cold-to-the-bones weather, and you’ve got a bit of a delay.  That is the way the construction game goes, though–it always takes longer than you think!

Hope everyone has been staying warm these last several days!  If you have it in your heart to donate some food or clothing to the Oregon Food Bank, there are lots of folks who could use the love!  Visit http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/ for more info!

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

Mr. Fixer pulling up linoleum

As difficult as it was to remove, I sure am glad to see that linoleum go!

Removing tar paper

Mrs. Fab’s job was to remove the tar paper from each piece of wood and separate the pieces into a good pile and a bad pile. Super fun!

Hardwood flooring origin

One of my favorite things about this project so far — finding remnants of history beneath the rubble.

Mr. Fixer with large demo bar

Mr. Fixer bought a fancy pry bar to help with the rest of the flooring demo. It sure made quick work of it!

Mr. Fixer preparing to pull up floor

Ready to tackle the parquet flooring in the addition.

Parquet removal

Goodness, if only the rest of the flooring had been this easy to pull out! Mr. Fixer was awfully proud of himself! 😉

 

 

 

Bags of trash

Loads of garbage — tar paper and linoleum mostly. This doesn’t even include all the junk already in the truck!

 

 

 

 

Lessons in Hospitality

One of the things I am most excited about in terms of finally being a homeowner is the opportunity to serve others in my own home.  Ever since I was a kid I have been drawn towards the idea of “hospitality.”  For example, one of my favorite movies growing up was Dunston Checks In.   Aside from the endearing relationship between the little boy and orangutan, I was most fascinated with the luxurious hotel and accommodations in the film.  I was only eleven at the time that the movie came out, but the concept of providing such opulent comfort for travelers really drew me in.  (Okay, so living in such opulent comfort might have had something to do with it too!)

As I got older, I became more and more convinced that I would somehow end up in the hospitality industry.  I shadowed the general manager of a high-end hotel while I was in high school and spent countless hours researching the best programs to apply for in college.  I envisioned myself wearing power suits and living in the penthouse suite of some fancy resort, catering to big shots a la Barney Thompson in Pretty Woman.

At this point, some of you who know me personally might wonder why these dreams never materialized.  The only thing I can point to as the principle reason — fear.  Fear of leaving my hometown and close proximity to family; fear of putting myself into too much student debt; fear of what others would think; fear of making the wrong career choice… just plain fear.

I would like to think that I have no regrets, though.  My path definitely took me elsewhere, but my desire for hospitality is still a huge part of who I am.  Of course, my idea of hospitality has certainly evolved since then, too.  My dreams have changed from luxury hotels to homey B&B’s, from 5 star accommodations to generosity, humility, and grace.  Steaming cups of coffee. Warm-from-the-oven muffins.  Cozy kitchens and crackling fireplaces.

A major contributor to this shift in thinking — Jesus (and the people He put in my life to show me His love).  One person that taught me a great deal about Jesus’ idea of hospitality has been a dear role model of mine since high school.  Thelma has Jesus written all over her mind, body, and soul.  She exudes grace and gentleness and peace.   Every Thursday morning throughout my high school years (and for years before and after!), Thelma would open her home and feed a multitude of girls from church and school the most amazing breakfasts.  Yummy blueberry muffins.  Sweet and sticky cinnamon buns. Fresh fruit.  Creamy egg casseroles.  All on the most beautiful dishes.

Those breakfasts went beyond the delicious food and lovely dishware, though. It was during that time that I learned hospitality is not about 1000 thread-count sheets, but fellowship with one another.  It was a time to enter into each others’ lives, grow in friendship, and pray for one another.  Those mornings in my angst-filled teen years are certainly some of my fondest memories.

So here I sit on a Monday morning, following a wonderful beach getaway weekend with dear friends, reflecting on hospitality and wondering how I can fit more of it into my life.  How I still have so much more to learn about the subject.  How I can be more like Mary than Martha and not get caught up in the preparations, but focus more on relationships and God’s love. How I can use my new home to serve others.  But most of all, how thankful I am that Jesus moved me beyond the luxury of a resort to the humbleness of His table.

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

P.S.  Has a movie or book or someone in your life inspired your concept of hospitality?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Design Revisions

Happy Wednesday, friends!  I don’t know about you, but I am especially looking forward to this coming weekend.  I have a wonderful beach getaway planned with 10 awesome gals, and I can’t wait!  I feel a teensy bit guilty that I am leaving Mr. Fixer to work on the house all by himself, but quality time with girlfriends is so important for Mrs. Fab’s soul!  And maybe some of my gal pals’ hubbies will join Mr. Fixer and have their own manly-man time (hint, hint). 😉

For the last couple weeks, I have been meaning to update you all on a couple small changes to our design plan.  As Mr. Fixer and I were discussing the mechanical/electrical plan for the house, we decided that it would be less cumbersome to figure out a venting strategy for the range if it was on the exterior wall where the sink was originally planned.  Here’s an explanation for why this decision was made:

  • Every range needs to have a ventilation system to get grease, smoke, and moisture out of the air while one is cooking.  For ranges that are not against a wall, the ductwork has nowhere to hide except in the cabinetry and/or flooring below.  This creates a space issue, and when you are short on space like us, it just doesn’t make sense!
  • The ubiquitous microwave.  I am not a big microwave user, so it gets forgotten in my design programming much of the time.  Mr. Fixer, though, thoroughly enjoys zapping his food, so he was the one who pointed out the issue of where we were going to put it!  In a large kitchen with plenty of cabinetry, the days of the microwave being over the range are pretty long gone.  However, in a small kitchen like ours, that really is the best location for it. [Because, ugh! — who wants a microwave taking up their entire kitchen counter-space?!]

The second small change we made was simply flipping our built-in at the new back entrance to the opposite wall.  We chose to do this because of the future desire to have that back portion of the home a lovely master suite (instead of its current designation as a rental unit).  By locating the built-in on the other wall, therefore, that leaves room for future french doors to lead into the master.

Take a look, and please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions!

Hugs,

Mrs. Fab

Changes are noted in red.

Changes are noted in red.

The new design, with the aforementioned changes.

The new design, with the aforementioned changes.