Checking off the List

Progress on the house came to a halt for a while when family needs took priority and I diverted the funds from the house to helping family.  Now things are getting back on track and that long list is becoming smaller.

The upstairs floors have been a headache. We removed the carpeting to find worn floors, plaster and glue spilled and walked through. Let’s just say the only thing worse would have been finding out the original wood floors were not salvageable.

This is what we found in the pink room, instantly renamed the girls’ room by the little ones.

hardwood mess

And this is what the girls’ room floor looks like today.

hardwood girls

It took me months to find someone who could and would sand the floors for me.  In theory it’s an easy job I would have done myself  a few years ago but not today from a seated position.  It’s also a very messy job so many handyman/contractors don’t want to do the work.  I received so many “No, I don’t do that kind of work” responses that I leaped for joy when one contractor agreed but then quoted me a price of $2400 for less than 600 sq feet, and that was before he saw the mess so it might have ended up being more.

I know that this job is one of the easiest jobs there is, you simply walk behind a machine and let it do its thing.  You don’t need special training to operate a sander so the price I was quoted was one I would never pay. I came close to purchasing a hand-held belt sander and doing the job myself. It would have taken longer but cost me less than $200 for the sander and bundles of sandpaper.

Out of the blue, while I was pricing and comparing belt sanders, I was told a friend of a friend was a sub-contractor who finishes floors. Since all I wanted was the sanding (the stain and sealer my daughter-in-law and I can do), he agreed to do the work for $250 plus the cost of renting the equipment. This brought the total to $386.

Here’s the boy’s room before.

hardwood mess1

and the Boys room today.

hardwood boys

The thing I found hilarious is that the floors upstairs are from two different types of wood. The floor in the girls’ room is oak while the boys’ room floor is cherry.  I’ll be staining both rooms cherry to blend in with the floors downstairs.

Now comes the hard part. Cleaning up.  Unfortunately the contractor didn’t want to close the doors and get hot up there so the dust is everywhere. It’s on the walls, ceiling, windows, screens, it’s even on the walls and steps leading downstairs. It was downstairs too but I’ve finally gotten all that dust cleaned up.

We need to vacuum, dust and wipe down every surface from the bottom of the stairs all the way up to the ceilings of each room. Only then can we begin the staining and sealing of those floors and finally(!) move the furniture up there and out of my bedroom.

In other news around the house

Do you remember I bought a clothes washer? I was tired of washing my clothes in the tub. I did my laundry in the tub for one year and seven months, I’d say that was long enough of a green living experiment.   After waiting six weeks for a handyman, who had promised week after week to be here to run the plumbing in the kitchen, I threw my hands up and bought a portable washer.

new washer

I ran into problems right from the start with this model. Now I’ve owned two other portable washers in my life one was fantastic the other just so-so but both were cheaper than paying to use a laundromat.

I’ll save you clicking to read what happened and give you the short version. I removed the washer from its packaging set up the first load and found it wouldn’t drain. After trouble shooting I determined the pump was defective and called customer service.  Midea customer service arranged for repair service to arrive the next morning.

The repair man arrived and we got off to a rough start. He was a nice man but English was not his first language.  It took a bit of back and forth of his trying to tell me I’d plugged up the drain with me explaining this was brand-new.  Once we got that straight he opened up the washer and shortly after informed me he had good news and bad news.

The machine didn’t have a defective or clogged pump, but the bad news it didn’t have a pump. Then again he said that was also good news that it didn’t have a pump as I would never need to worry about a pump going bad. The water drains by gravity and while the manual,  description of the machine and even the set up of the drain hose was made to drain into a kitchen sink, the machine would only drain if the hose stayed roughly a foot or lower from the floor.

He was a sweet man who tried to offer suggestions. He first suggested I hook the machine up in the bathroom and drain it into the tub, problem there is I would have to be able to walk into the bathroom and pull the machine in backwards for this to work. Oh and I would be stuck in the bathroom while it ran.

His next suggestion was to run the drain out the kitchen door.  Okay not bad but the hoses didn’t fit that distance. Stretching the water hose on the faucet to its limit wouldn’t get the drain hose to the door.

But the problem was still what to do about the load of clothes and the water currently sitting in the washer.  Then it came to me, for the time being I could use the recycling bin to drain the water from the washer and push it to the door. This water I could use to water the garden and dump any I couldn’t use. I set this up and crossed my fingers the bin was large enough to hold the water, if not I was going to have to quickly remove the hose and elevate it to stop the machine from draining any more water which would then theoretically be all over the floor.

recycling and drain
See the curved piece that is supposed to hook on to the kitchen counter to keep the hose in place during draining? Nice thought but no it doesn’t work.

This got old real fast and was darn heavy to move without spilling.  I knew this wasn’t an option in the winter either. So I sat down and gave this some thought. How could I be so dense, I must have been overwhelmed because it suddenly came to me. They make special drain pipes called a Y pipe to allow a dishwasher to drain under the sink. For less than $5 I removed part of the straight drain under the trap and replaced it with a Y pipe and slid the washer’s drain hose right over it. Perfect fit.

drain pipe


Some days you just need to take matters in to your own hands.

I have several jobs around here that require a circular saw, one tool that is not safe for me to operate as my arms are pretty weak.  Hiring out would cost a fortune, and some jobs are so small they aren’t worth the drive to my house, so instead of borrowing a circular saw, and risking life and limb, I bought a miter saw, which is basically a circular saw mounted in a sturdy frame and operated by moving an arm which controls the blade.  It’s a circular saw that I can’t get hurt using, at least let’s hope. 🙂

miter saw

Not all miter saws are created equal. Ryobi is a good brand but I would recommend you carefully read reviews and look for issues with stability because some are a bit shaky resulting in the base moving around making the saw not as safe as it should be.

The miter saw was $119 and will save me many more times that amount. The first jobs on the list include:

  • Cutting the boards to install the railings making them finally safe!
  • Converting a found cabinet into an art table for the children
  • Cutting the boards to make more raised garden beds
  • Converting a rocker to a stationary chair, a job for my son that has been here a year waiting on that darn circular saw he has in his garage. 🙂
  • Building of a bench I will upholster and use as a window seat in the living room
  • Finally, a neighbor has asked me to help her build a fence.

Later on the miter saw will be used to cut trim for around the doors, and to cut wood to install baseboard on the first floor to bring back features of the original design of the house that have been removed over the years.

If and when I run out of jobs for the saw  I will sell it and recoup some of my investment (or pass it on to one of my sons if they have a use for it).

You can see I will be quite busy for the next week or so.

What have you been occupied with? I do hope whatever it is you are enjoying the summer (or winter if you are in the southern hemisphere).


  1. I can’t quite understand how someone would treat floors that way. I guess they expected carpet to be on top of them. Can’t wait until the floors get finished and the rooms finally come together for the kids. You’ve been planning those rooms since you moved in.


    • I have been planning these room since the beginning, or rather planning with the kids how to restore these two rooms. Every floor in the house had plaster caked into it. They carpeted over it in most of the house but in the main bedroom and kitchen they simply laid inexpensive laminate planks down. without cleaning up the plaster. My guess is at some point the house sat empty and the original plaster got damp and crumbled. When they redid the plastering they were too lazy to care about the mess.


  2. Wow! Even with no stain or finish, those floors look amazing! I’m reading with great interest since pulling up the carpet is one of my next moves in the carpet beetle battle. I’m really hoping that they’ll be in good enough condition that I can avoid redoing them right away, but who knows what’s under there. I’ll be very curious to hear how staining and finishing goes. I’m quite concerned about having to try to do all that with cats in the house. I can lock them in the basement, but if the fumes are too bad, even that would not work. Are there low or no VOC floor finishes?


    • Thank you, I’m really happy with them. Now having to sand your floors would be so wrong after all you’ve gone through already to get rid of the carpet beetles. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. Staining and sealing is actually the easy part and yes you can get no VOC sealers. The stains mostly have some odor to them, unless you make your own. 🙂 Say for instance you wanted walnut, just gather walnuts(in the shell) the dark stuff between the shell and the nut is what they make stain from. You could also paint floors, there are some lovely painted floors and I had considered that at one point but really wanted the two floors to work together. But really you can get safe stains they cost a bit more but are worth it the best option is Safecoat. Just click on products and you will find VOC free paints, stains, sealers and more.


      • Well that’s good to know. The thing I’m most worried about are urine stains because the floors are oak with a very light natural color to them (at least that’s how they look in the closet) and I know the previous occupants had a lot of big dogs…

        But I did talk to a friend who’s a contractor about how to deal with the gap in the flooring where the remodel took out a wall, and he suggested stealing a few boards from the back of one of the closets – then use the closest match I can find to fill in the back of the closet where it won’t show. I never would have thought of that! Of course he said it as though getting the pieces out of the back of the closet would be no big deal.

        Anyhow, thanks for the link!

        BTW – I meant to mention before – great job hacking the laundry drain hose! That’s SO much better than trying to lug a huge bin of water outside!


        • Just today I came across another company selling safe sealers and stain. here’s the link: You can look on their site and find retailers near you.

          I “borrowed” wood from another space once, it does work nicely. In my case it was an early 1900 house that had a full attic. When they built these old homes they ran the same flooring into the attic so I borrowed from there. It’s a pain to get the flooring up I’m not sure if there is a trick to it or not, I used a screwdriver to wedge under the nails and pull them up then turned the plank over when installing it to hide the gouge marks I made pulling it up.

          If your floors were properly sealed then urine stains might not be a problem. I’d guess the worst that would have happened would be the finish was degraded some and a light sanding and new sealer should do the trick.


  3. Lois, I am so happy for you there was good wood floors under…I was a bit worried, as too often these have been dismantled somehow.

    it already is looking amazing…And, I am impressed and pleased and joyful at how you have incorporated the children into planning, working and the thrill of it all. I can barely imagine the lifelong impression/teaching/inspiration it has made/continues to make on them. For one, just imagine, back in school in the fall, and they have to write the usual “what did you do on summer holidays” story (do they still do that?)…WOW… I strongly suspect they will not be believed by the teachers. Maybe you could make sure the kids all have some photos to carry with them, to whip out and show off?

    It really is amazing the changes you have made..Beautiful.

    too bad you had some trouble with the washing machine, but of course (grin) you figured out a solution. what do you do for drying? cnt recal if you have a dryer?

    looking very much forward to what future changes you make…(with your new saw). As a woman reading this, it gives me a huge amount of joy and encouragement to see what you, as a woman, have accomplished. Honestly, I will not likely ever be using a saw, or some such, but to see a woman accomplish what you have/are, is hugely pleasing. Thank you.

    (I am seriously not the right person to be handling things like saws, etc…I tend to drop much, and jiggle and so forth, and it is not such a great idea. sigh. I never thought about how genuinely kind my parents were when I was little on the farm until I was much older, close to what I am now. We were very poor, and indeed had few glasses/dishes/ etc. “Just enough, in fact”….. I can still recall and actually visualize, when I would drop (and break) a precious glass…..One of my parents would smile and shake their heads and speak the words…”Must have been a weak one.”)
    It is a shame I never thought of this all, until they were gone, as I am sure they would have enjoyed knowing their efforts were noticed.


    • The kids thought it was hilarious to talk to family (mom, aunts etc) and tell them about the cicadas. They loved knowing and experiencing something the rest didn’t. As for the back to school “What we did over summer” I have that all covered. Both have birthdays in September I thought I’d make them a scrapbook or some sort of photo album when my daughter-in-law offered me a free coupon for a Shutterfly book. I’ve decided to make them up a book after each summer.

      No I don’t have a clothes dryer. I hang my laundry outside when it’s nice or in my bedroom when it’s not. In the winter I sit the rack in front of the heating vent in the bedroom and by morning my clothes are ready to put away.

      My youngest was like you, he knocked over every glass he touched for years. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like to work with his hands. 🙂 He used to give me dirty looks as I moved his drinking glass away from him after every sip and still he would knock it over. I always kept a towel on hand to catch the liquid quickly so we could go on eating our meal. Your parents were wonderful to put the blame on the glass and spare your feelings while you worked out your dropping issues 🙂


  4. Great job on the floors! No home-improvement projects around here, except for re-potting my herbs. It turned out the large pots I had them in were too unwieldy to move, so I’ve switched them to smaller pots. This will allow me to bring them indoors if it’s really hot or really cold.


    • Christy, while I love puttering around in the garden and even enjoy pulling weeds the one job I always put off is any transplanting of potted plants. I’d definitely count your now smaller pots as a home improvement as indoor plants are very soothing to have around. At least for me. 🙂


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