Category: House

House Project: Basement Joist Replacement (part ii) & Platform Rebuild

By , February 20, 2018 12:21 pm

When we first toured our home, we noticed the floors weren’t level, and knew we’d have to fix them at some point (as much fun as it is to watch the cats’ ball toys roll to the lowest points of the house, ha). We started working on one of the unlevel areas in June 2016 when we put jacks in the basement where two joists were being crushed due to faulty loading. We replaced one joist in August 2016 (it was a priority to get done then, due to work going on two floors above), and – drumroll, please! – replaced the other one this weekend!!! Other parts of the house remain unlevel, but it’s exciting to make progress!

As I mentioned, when Steven and I started clearing the way for this joist replacement project, we found some wackadoodle construction under our first floor stair landing, so he and my dad took care of that during this project, too. But the first priority was the joist.

They picked up the new joist – a $19 2×10 – on Thursday night. Kind of funny to think all of this work is being done to put in a piece of lumber that costs less than $20!

And they got to work Friday afternoon. Despite our previous weekend’s work of clearing all the odd wood framing out from around the ductwork, they still had more to clear out to be able to get the joist in. You can see in the photo below that there was a lot of wood and conduit around the joist, and the stairs behind it were also in the way.

So a lot of Friday was more demolition! They ended up cutting out the drywall above the brick wall to expose the joist.

View from the other side:

They also took down a lot of ductwork and started demolishing the goofy stair platform. You can see in the photo that there was a double platform – which had no point to it. There used to be a post there too, which supported the platform. But they rebuilt it in a way that the post is no longer required!

Old photo:


They did put a jack there in the meantime though.

They kept working on Friday until they were able to get the joist in, which required cutting out part of the stair (and not taking the whole thing out THANK HEAVENS), turning off the power and moving some of the conduit. But they got it in. Yay! (This joist is under the wall next to the dining room, which is why they told me and Mom to move when we were playing Blokus in there!)

On Saturday, they focused on rebuilding the stair platform, and redesigning the ductwork that went underneath it. The wood supporting the platform hangs off of the new joist they put in, so a post is no longer required. Before, it relied on it <— dumb design.

Some of the old bottom platform was structurally supportive at the foundation wall, so they put blocking in between the old pieces, to support it more.

As you can tell, I don’t have very good before pictures (dammit, that is my job!) but the ductwork used to be below the second platform. Since they were taking that out, and rebuilding it, the ductwork could curve up, and we could have more head space there! Woo hoo!

They spent a lot of time redesigning the ductwork, and cleaning out what they were reusing (they used some new pieces, too). Then they put it all back together, and the project was DONE!

And now, we have this pile in our basement, and everything is covered in dust! But that’s how it goes with these projects. Although, what the hell was going on in the previous “design” that they had this much extra wood hanging around?! Seriously?!?!

Ha, I made them take this photo on Sunday.

Thanks for all your hard work, Steven and Dad! Dad, we’ll let you know what the next project will be for your spring visit!

If you made it this far, and can follow all of this, thanks for reading! I will be better about taking before and after shots from the same angle for future projects (because you KNOW we are going to have them)!

Another weekend of DOING ALL THE THINGZ!!!

By , February 19, 2018 12:59 pm

While I was sad my parents had to leave late yesterday morning (I wanted to hang out more!) it was a blessing in disguise because Steven and I were worn the f*ck out from our weekend of doing all the things, and needed a day to be sloths. It felt good to do almost nothing after two and a half busy days!

And I am still feeling lazy so I am going to bullet this shiz up, ha!

On Thursday

  • Mom and Dad arrived at 6:30 pm and we ate homemade vegan alfredo sauce on pasta! And dessert was a vegan apple pie sent from my mom’s mom!

  • After dinner, Steven and Dad went to Menards to get the beam and other wood for the basement project, while Mom and I watched the Olympics, then screwed around in the basement gym for a bit.

On Friday

  • I taught class at 5:00 am, and Dad and I went for a run (me)/bike (him) when I got back.

  • Then Mom, Dad, and I went to the 10:15 showing of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I laughed so much, and we all liked it. I usually do NOT like Jack Black (except in The Holiday) but his character cracked me the hell up in Jumanji!!!

  • We went to Aldi after that (where we picked up a Kringle for Mom and Dad to try!), the came home and made lunch (salads and couscous). Steven came home from work and ate with us, then he and Dad got to work in the basement.
  • And Mom and I got to work shopping at the outlet mall! I live so close to the outlet mall – it’s less than a ten minute drive, and I even run through there and fill up my water bottle on long runs. We found a few deals, and made sure to send my snister photos of the clothes we were trying on.

Sample photo we sent Christina, ha

I only got two soaps and a new PocketBac at B&BW. Restraint FTW!!!

  • We went to Woodman’s (a grocery store) after to get ingredients so Mom could make a cake she wanted to try vegan for me (and to get some things I needed).
  • Then we went home and made chili and cornbread for dinner (and had pie and Kringle for dessert!). Steven and Dad kept working until we ate, then went back in to the basement to work more, after. I’ll do a separate post about the project, but it was structural, so there were parts of the night we were told not to be in certain parts of the house (on the stair landing or in the kitchen). Mom and I were playing Blokus in the kitchen when we were told we needed to move (they were putting a beam in underneath us, so I understand why!), so we went to the living room, but they had turned the power off, so we played Blokus by candle light. Ha.

On Saturday

  • Dad came to my Indoor Cycling class (then went back home to work in the basement with Steven after)!

  • And Mom came to my Fitness Boxing class!

  • After class, Mom and I went to the Holcomb Hollow grand opening, then ran errands at the mall. I hate going to the mall (and shopping, in general) so it was nice to have Mom with me! I got my rings cleaned, and did an exchange.
  • Then we picked up everyone’s favorite El Famous Burrito for a late lunch! (Seriously, most people who visit us want to go there!)

  • The boys ate a late lunch with us, sampled some of the Holcomb Hollow treats (and had more Kringle) then got back to work. Mom and I went for a swim (we swam for about ten minutes then used the hot tub for forty!). When we came back, I helped her book a hotel for her March trip with her mom to Mount Rushmore.
  • I made a stir fry type dish for dinner, and the boys ate with us, then, you guessed it – got back to work. I helped them clean out one (huge) duct and later, hold some ducts in place. That is basically all I did on that project. <— so helpful (they didn’t care, but I feel a smidge guilty to be entertaining my mom and not helping much)
  • After dinner, mom got to work on the cake she wanted to make. It was called a Hummingbird Cake (recipe here), and the main flavorings were banana and pineapple. She decided to make it in to cupcakes. It turned out AMAZING! We all liked it, and had some close to 11:00 pm. Oops. SO MUCH SUGAR ON THIS VISIT AHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

  • The boys finished up the project around 10:30/11:00!

On Sunday

  • Dad and I went on a run in the morning, then I finished up this dishcloth real quick for Mom to take with her.

Ha, it’s obviously NOT blocked

  • Then they packed up and were off! We took a quick usie since, of course, we got no photos of all four of us throughout the weekend.

We’re extremely grateful my parents visited to help us with this basement project. My dad is so helpful with house projects (or any project). Steven and I were impressed that they got it done in one and a half days of work, and I know that wouldn’t be the case if I was the one helping him with it (because I have way less experience)!

And I appreciate my mom running errands with me and helping me out with other things around the house! And being up for doing anything I suggest, ha.

I really do hope though, on the next visit, all FOUR of us can do something fun, like go to a movie, or bowling, or out for a meal!!! I bet we can make it happen!

House Project: new glass for a few windows

By , February 16, 2018 7:03 am

We had glass replaced in five windows this week, and I’m STOKED about it! The seals between the double pane glass were broken in a few windows, so they were fogged over between the glass and appeared dirty all the time. It embarrassed me – especially because two of the windows were ones you see as you pull up to the house. I SWEAR I CLEAN MY WINDOWS.

But they look dirty no more!

It’s difficult to capture the fogginess (of course) but I think you can see it clearly (ha) here, in the dining room:


And these are the ones you could see driving in, in the guest bedroom:


Data cracks me up – when we first moved in and had people doing loud work in the house, he’d hide under the bed. Now? He sleeps through it on the couch while the work happens behind him! He’s a construction pro!

Of course, I wrote this, then the next day, Data and Khali were both scared out of their minds by the snow sliding off the roof. Funny that this guy doing loud work with a Dremel didn’t bother Data, but the snow does. 

More work needs to be done on the windows, and some other glass, but it feels good to have this done. Bit by bit!

Is it Friday yet?!

By , February 12, 2018 6:29 am

Whoa, this weekend felt busy. Luckily I had Friday off, and had a chill day before the days of doing all the things!

On Friday night, Steven and I went to our neighbor’s restaurant for dinner and instagrammed drinks.

We watched some of the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies when we got home. I’m glad I had a drink before that – it helped me through what we did watch (the commentators talking over everything, just, ugh).

I slept horribly Friday night and was up at 4:30 am! Whut dafuq. Ugh. I cycled inside at home until it was gym opening time and I could go do my long run there.

When I got back we began a demolition project in our basement. My parents are coming to visit next weekend (!!!) and my dad is going to help install a new joist in the basement (part ii of this project). We were clearing as much out of the way as possible, before the visit. (The joist has to go above the ductwork below, hence taking all that wood off of it.)

Eventually we’ll remove all the wood paneling off the walls

Of course, in the process, we found a hot mess of construction under the landing for our first floor stair. Gah, there’s always something with this house. Every time we do a project, we have more questions about how our house came about – we think the house started as something much smaller that was added on to more than once. That’s one logical explanation to some of the things we’ve found, like frame outs for windows in interior walls.

We took a short work break to check out “Snow Daze” in Kenosha. The downtown area had over forty-five ice sculptures to check out! Most of the sculptures related to what the business (or sponsor, in the sponsor area) was. What a clever way to get people to walk all over downtown when it’s so cold!

It was in the teens, but we still stopped for ice cream!

Then we went home and got back to work. Which was really just more brainstorming and discussing how to install the new joist and rebuild the platform under the stair. Next weekend is going to be busy. I was hoping we’d actually have hang out time with both my parents, but it doesn’t sound like it.

On Saturday night I put together Valentine’s Day treats for my fitness boxing class then FINALLY chilled out. Woo hoo!

I woke up Sunday to more snow. It didn’t seem like much looking out the window, but when I got outside for a run and saw how deep the tire ruts were, I called my run short and went back to snow blow so I could get out of the driveway to go teach fitness boxing!

I taught, ran errands, came home, unloaded, finished shoveling, then finished my run.


After lunch, we went to the Chicago Auto Show. It’s been several years since we’ve gone and we thought it would be fun to see all the models in person. And I was excited to check out the F-PACE!

We walked around the show for about two and a half hours, then headed to Waterhouse to try the Impossible Burger.

Seen on the way to dinner!

We both liked it (and the buffalo cauliflower “wings” we got)! This burger is only available in certain restaurants, and I hope more add it. It’s great that regular (non vegetarian/vegan, I mean) restaurants are adding vegan options to the menu (like TGI Fridays adding the Beyond Meat burger) and I hope this trend continues!

We got home close to 9:00 pm! On a Sunday! I did the Sunday night chores and was beat. I woke up well before my alarm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and felt exhausted. I might have to take a Monday afternoon nap after work!

Two years!

By , February 6, 2018 7:00 am

Wow, it’s been two years (to this date!) since we moved in to our current home! I was talking to Steven about it, and we both agreed that it feels like less than two years. It must feel like that to other people too, because I still get lots of questions about the “new” house and what projects we’re working on <— Steven is team #projectsforlife so that question will always be appropriate!

Our sentiment toward our home is the same as when I wrote about it last year at this time – we love how peaceful and quiet it is (because we live on a short dead end street where everyone has five acres or more, and part of the street is surrounded by forest preserve), and don’t mind that it’s “far” away from things. Feeling relaxed and at ease AND HAPPY in our home is worth the distance from things. (And different things make different people happy! For us, we knew we needed space and land for our happy home – but I know some people would be much happier in an area more densely populated.)

Our only major current gripe is that we don’t have a workshop for Steven! He loves to build and create and our garage is not big enough to set up a shop. We’re hoping building something is in our near future!

Thoughts from the weekend

By , January 23, 2018 6:23 am

Because if I saved this all for Random Thoughts Thursday, that post would be WAY too long.

  • On Friday I came back in a great mood from my run… until I was undressing and realized my driver’s license was not in the pocket I put it in during my run. I was 99% certain it fell out somewhere in the car (not on my run), and was stressed out and annoyed until I found it. Ugh. I did find it though. When I unzipped the pocket it was in to take out my phone in the car, it fell in to that horrible crevice between the seat and the center console (you know, the one that the peanuts and popcorn and chapstick and dry cleaning stubs live in). I tried every different way of adjusting the seats to find it. Then, when I did, I had to use a pair of long tweezers to grab it, cause the slot it was in was so small. Fun times, for sure. I definitely learned my lesson to always keep track of my ID, though! And a huge thanks to Steven for spending time trying to find it, as well.

Photo from that run

  • On Saturday we hung up the mirror Christina and Will gave us! I love how it looks! Every time we hang something, or decorate, or do a project, or a deep clean, or I walk down the stairs in to the living room, I get this feeling of “Man, I just love this house.”

P.S. That Cinnamon Caramel Swirl candle in the photo? Definitely a new favorite of mine!!!

  • On Saturday, Bobbi and her husband came over for dinner and games, and we laughed so hard playing the 5 Second Rule game (not an affiliate link). The gist of the game is that you have to name three things from one topic in five seconds. For example, three breeds of dogs, three tv dads, three national parks, three books, etc. If you can’t name three items in your turn, it goes to the next person, but they can’t list any of the things you did! It gets silly and I was laughing so hard I almost cried. I love that feeling!
  • On Sunday, I started working on some wash cloths my mom asked me to knit for her sister-in-law. I was ashamed when I went through my knitting stash and found MANY unfinished projects, and so many skeins of beautiful yarn I’ve been gifted and haven’t used. Ugh. But working on the first cloth, and having it go so easily and all come back to me, and enjoying it SO MUCH gives me hope I will get to those other projects and beautiful skeins! It feels great to MAKE something.

Totally posed knitting by the fireplace photo.

  • Sunday was the first weekend day all year that I’ve had a free day with no plans and it was GLORIOUS!!! I got a lot done but was lazy too. My only regret is not taking a nap!

The house guest who doesn’t know when to leave

By , January 1, 2018 9:17 am

Steven and I had a productive New Year’s Eve planned out – exercise, house projects, put away Christmas decorations, and work. Then we were going to treat ourselves out to dinner!

But our dinner plans went awry! We had a visitor over mid afternoon and THEY NEVER LEFT. And they didn’t want to go out to dinner with us, sigh. So we stayed in.

Ha ha ha. That guest was Snow.

I brought Snow in around 2:00 pm so Steven could work on insulating the sliding glass door around Snow’s house. Snow was doing okay, sitting with me and being petted, but then he started to get antsy about going back outside. But Steven had to close the door to Snow’s house to work on it, and we didn’t want Snow out there, unable to go inside his house, so we kept him in.

Snow, Khali, and Data watching Steven work

Snow waited by the door to go out (rather patiently, actually), but eventually tired of that and went upstairs to hide under our bed.

When Snow’s house was ready for him to go back outside, we called for Snow and he didn’t come. So we shook the dry food container, and Data and Khali came running downstairs immediately. Snow slowly came out of the bedroom, came downstairs, and walked right by where Steven was holding the door open for him to go outside… then turned around and ran back up the stairs. He’s usually super eager to go back outside!

I think Snow may be done with winter! And done with his surprise visitors outside.

Photo from Christmas Eve. We were all watching a movie inside when Andrew saw this coyote running around in our yard! I took this photo of him right by the patio that Snow’s house is on.

Snow then camped out under the bed, FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT! At first I thought he was scared, but then I realized he’d let me pet him and get all purry, he’d eat food, and he played with a mouse I put under there for him.

Yeah, totally done with winter.

He picked a good time to spend the night – it’s -8°F outside as I write this (the first floor of his house is 40°F, second floor is 75°F).

We don’t mind if he’s inside, but we would like to be inside when he is (to monitor what he’s up to), since he’s not fixed, doesn’t have shots, and has all his claws (we’d never remove them – just mentioning that because he could hurt Data or Khali during play, accidentally). So… we may be home for a while. But again, it is -8°F out!

In other news, I stayed up until midnight! Woo hoo! We watched a movie until 9:30, then Steven worked, and I did some computer stuff, then tidied up and cleaned to stay up. Ha!

And one last cute cat pic from the day:

Random Thoughts Thursday 159 (on Friday!)

By , December 15, 2017 6:39 am
  • For a while we’ve thought it would be nice to have a small table in the foyer, and we got one this month, as a holiday gift for each other. Steven said we’re really adulting now, since we bought a piece of furniture for a room we don’t spend any time in (other than coming and going)! Ha!

  • Wednesday’s quote of the day was a classic! And one I will be thinking of often as I get dressed for cold weather runs. Note: the fleece leggings I got from Amazon have been working well!

  • It’s crass to discuss but I am going to say it – I am grateful for work bonuses in helping me pay off holiday gifts!
  • Sigh. When I tell you I am sick, please don’t go straight to “Did you get a flu shot?” Pretend to have some sympathy first, before you go in to your flu shot lecture! (And what is the point of the lecture if I don’t have the flu?! Also, I generally keep being sick to myself and am NOT looking for sympathy, but sometimes you do have to tell people – like at work. And I do mention it in my training recaps, and life recaps, here.)
  • I can’t believe Steven’s dad and brother will be here in a week! AHH!!! We have all the presents purchased (just need to wrap them), except stocking stuffers. We still need to grocery shop and clean the house. And decide if we are going to put up more holiday decorations – we kept it low-key this year.

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 158

What a turd

By , November 25, 2017 2:07 pm


Last year, we bought a lovely tree skirt. It was kind of expensive, but we figured we’d use it for years to come.

Last year’s tree and skirt

Data had other plans for it.

For whatever reason, he was drawn to it when he needed to throw up, or go number two. We kept cleaning up the spots, but it was of no use – the spots were horrible and wouldn’t come out. And the skirt couldn’t be put in the washer or dry cleaned. So when we recycled the tree at the end of the year, we got rid of the tree skirt too.

Grr. I was so mad.

We bought two tree skirts on sale after Christmas, liking neither as much as the first, but not wanting to make an investment at the peak of the season again, just to have it ruined.

The strange thing is, Data doesn’t do stuff like that anymore. Sure, he has throw up accidents, but he doesn’t do hate turds around the house. Ever since Khali moved in, he’s been on his best behavior!

So maybe there is hope for the new tree skirt?!


We’ll see when we put it out!

But I am sure Data (and Khali!) will find some other way to get in to trouble!

Cat house upgrade!

By , November 20, 2017 6:23 am

Snow gets in to his house through this “sliding glass door” that is left open all the time:

Which is fine in the warmer months, but not in the colder ones! Too much cold air is getting in, and too much of the heated air is getting out.

So we temporarily hung a towel over the enclosure to try to block some of the air exchange. Classy. But you know Steven had something better planned!

Steven used flashing and bent it to the shape of the flashing over Snow’s entryway.

Then tested it to make sure it fit.

After it did, he added copper snaps.

Then cut up a moving blanket and added the snaps to it as well:

Then attached the blanket to the flashing and slid it on top of the door (it only covers half the glass so we can still see if Snow is in there)!

Snow approves!

And thankfully, he figured out how to get in and out (I always worry he’ll think we’re blocking him out).

Snow likes to come in our house for cuddles from time to time, but he very much wants to go back outside when he’s had enough! So we want to make sure he’s comfortable outside!

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