Remember when I begged for clothesline advice? I was lamenting the lack of dryer hook-up at the little brick house and trying to convince myself that there is something sweet and natural about line-dried clothes… and really there is. I do like using a clothesline; I just like it LESS as the days get wetter and colder.

baby clothes on line

Here’s what happens when you have several wet days in a row and really need to do laundry:

clothes hanging in garage

clothes on bed

clothes over showr

They end up on the bed, over the shower, and in the garage. The only thing missing was socks draped over an old radiator.

There were some other issues with the clothesline – like the fact that it was old and rusty. There’s just not much to be done about rust on your church clothes. So Danny bought me a new clothesline. This one is braided polyester cord and it works splendidly. No rust.

hanging new line

cutting old line

Here you can see the oxidizing metal one contrasted with the nice white rope one:

metal clothesline

rope clothesline

The only drawback with the rope is that, unlike the old steel one, it tends to stretch and sag. But I’ll take that over rust any day.

I still plan to write an exhaustive “how to maximize your clothesline” post. Be watching for it. Oh and feel free to leave clothesline advice in the comments!

What kind of clothesline would you prefer? What would you do with wet laundry on those rainy days?



Since it’s that time of year and we haven’t done it publicly yet, it’s time to thank everyone who has helped us so far with making this new place our home.

Gratitude Roll

Thanks to Zach and Angela and family for helping to clean, watching kids, helping us move, and letting us borrow a trailer.

Thanks to Gary for helping us move and letting us borrow a trailer and for offers of more help.

Thanks to Deva for watching kids, cleaning, sweeping up the messes I made while scraping off the old ceiling texture and for bringing the trampoline down from Missouri.

Thanks to Amanda for watching the kids and scrubbing a bathroom.

Thanks to Josh for letting us borrow a truck and for helping to get the tractor running.

Thanks to Jerry for helping look over the house prior to us making an offer.

Thanks to Kevin for moving the air conditioning pipes.

Thanks to Roy for installing new tub and shower valves.

Thanks to my dad, Danny, for coming down and watching the kids while we painted their room.

Thanks to Vanessa’s dad, Dan, for building a picnic table and benches and hauling them up to us.

Yes, we do have an abundance of Danny/Daniel’s in our family.  To be accurate, I’m actually the only Danny.  There’s also another one, my mom’s brother, which is why I grew up going by Danny Joe.

Thanks to Lois for helping to clean and putting together a group to come help, even though we didn’t end up using them.

Thanks to Melissa for cleaning the house we moved out of.

Thanks to all of you reading this blog.  It’s nice to know it’s not just us reading it.  If you like it feel free to spread it around.

Thanks to my wife that was willing to go down this road even though the house looked rough to start and needed a lot of work.

Most of all, thanks to God for blessing us with this house, for the ability to do the work on it, for the job that allows us to afford it, for the friends and family that have helped us on it, and for so much more.

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

What are you most thankful for right now?

Our family Thanksgiving is at our house this year in spite of its half-remodeled state and I’m excited to host it. But I couldn’t do it without at least a little decorating. We have absolutely nothing hung on the walls, we’re walking around on awful 80’s carpet, the baseboards are off, there are building supplies stacked halfway to the ceiling, but I was determined there would be at least a pumpkin somewhere.

So I created four little vignettes – one on the mantel, two on the end tables beside the wood stove and one outside the front door:

thanksgiving mantel

front entry decoration

I’ve been reading a lot of Houzz, Cultivate and YHL, so I’ve been soaking up a lot of style tips (not that I’m necessarily successful, but I’m trying). Many of these sites preach “less is more” and “casual simplicity.” So I tried to choose a few things that worked with fall colors, created varying heights and had personal significance and here’s what I came up with for the mantel:

mantel close up

My dad built the old red frame you see there. It’s made from driftwood that washed up on the beach near where I grew up (a designer would be so proud – sentimental value and repurposed materials). The books are bibles that I love, the basket came from a mission trip to the Philippines and the red bottle was a wedding gift five years ago.

And I do kind of love the little gourd as the sole official salute to Thanksgiving:

small pumpkin

Remember when we first got the house and made all these great finds? I’ve finally managed to display a couple of them! I cleaned up the old black lantern and dusted the gorgeous Royal typewriter, plopped them on an end table, added a little pumpkin and I was done. And I think it looks great:

vintage typewriter lantern

On the other side of our cute old stove, I leaned an adorable canvas I have been dying to hang but haven’t because we’ve been painting every wall in the house. I added three photo books of our family. From there I wasn’t sure. I threw in some fall leaves and a basket, then a warm brown scarf and some berries.

decorations with scarf

It just wasn’t working for me. So I reminded myself that less is more and took off the scarf and berries. Now I like it much better:

decorations without scarf

And outside, the kids and I studded a big orange pumpkin with brass tacks. We wrapped a little fall garland around the bottom and that’s our front entry decoration.

brass studded pumpkin

There are a few other touches scattered around here and there and there will be a few more on the day of our family dinner, but now you’ve seen most of my fall decor. Next year, I’ll decorate again, but hopefully in a substantially completed remodel!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May the blessings continue to flow.

What do your decorations look like this fall season? Do you go all out or keep it simple? Feel free to post pictures on our Facebook page!


Yes, I know the title is a stretch for a pun, but you have to imagine it with a high society British accent and it gets closer.

After I removed the old faucet and the sink was installed the next day, it was time for the new faucet.

We decided to go with this AquaSource faucet in polished chrome:

AquaSource faucet

One requirement was that it was fairly inexpensive since we didn’t want to spend a whole lot on it.  Even bigger than that, though, was that it had enough room between the water stream and the back of the sink.  You know those faucets that don’t stick out very far and are so close that you can’t hardly wash your hands without rubbing all over the back of the sink?  Yeah, not a fan.  So we wanted to make sure to avoid that.  Yes, we measured the existing ones and then measured the displays at Lowe’s to make sure it stuck farther out.

The faucet installation was pretty easy.  The parts included were the faucet itself and the plastic nuts that go  under the sink to hold it in place:

Faucet Parts

I had to get some piping and other parts to complete the installation:


There are different options for the water supply piping, but I chose to go with the plastic tubing rather than the braided stainless steel mainly because of cost.

After attaching the faucet to the sink and making sure it was straight, I attached the piping to the faucet with some more plastic nuts (sold separately).  You can see the white nuts in this pic:


Since it was a little long, I trimmed it off rather than try to wrestle it into position.

The connection to the supply valves used another compression fitting like I talked about when installing the valves.  And all done:

Piping fitted

So now we had a working faucet once again.  Only problem was we didn’t have a working drain.  That installation was a little more complicated since the drain in the sink was farther out from the wall than the last one.  Somehow I didn’t get any pictures, but to fix the problem I had to add a coupling and some more pipe to bring the drain farther out.

So here’s our shiny new faucet installed:

Faucet installed

We actually left the protective plastic on the sink since we still had to texture and paint the walls, but finally got that done and the sink cleaned off.  More pictures on that later.

Do you have a pet peeve (like the faucet being too close to the back) about bathroom sinks?

Drip, Drip, Drip

That’s the sound that started when we had our counter replaced in the master bathroom.  We had it done at the same time as the shower was installed and they were supposed to give us a couple of days notice.  Since they didn’t call until that morning and didn’t tell us to have the existing faucet and drain unhooked, everything was still connected.  The installers typically don’t mess with plumbing, but decided to try it to save a trip.  As he started to turn off the valve to the sink, it started dripping.  It can happen with old valves.  The packing (a material to help prevent leaks) and gaskets inside get old and stuck in position.  Everything’s fine until you turn the valve and it all breaks loose.  So they didn’t get the sink done then.

I was kind of torn on what to do.  The plumbing in our house is all copper pipe as most older houses are and I had never sweated copper together before.  I was a bit hesitant to try, but decided why not, that’s what this is all about.  So, I did a little research on how to sweat pipes and then came across something else.  A compression fitting valve.  It has a thin piece which gets wedged between the valve body and the pipe to hold it in place without sweating.  Not a professional installation, but it would be quicker and work for me.  I stopped at Lowe’s (once again) to pick up some new valves and other parts.

Of course, the valves are always at the back of the cabinet in the hardest to reach places:

Old valves and pipes

First step was to go turn off the water to the whole house:

Turning off water

Sometimes this can be done with a valve right outside the house.  Our house has one of those, but it seems frozen and I was advised by the plumber who redid our shower valves not to force it since it’s old and it might leak.  So I had to go out to the valve where it comes off the main water line.

Since the old sink was coming out anyway, I decided to take it off to work on the valves to have more room.  First, I had to unhook everything from it.  If the valves look hard to get too, the piping going to the sink itself is even worse:

Water tubing

Most of these pictures were done with the old camera and here’s the shutters getting stuck like I mentioned as one of the reasons that we wanted to replace it:

Old camera

Fortunately, removing the piping doesn’t require special tools, just some finagling with a wrench.  Although, I did see a tool at Home Depot that looked like it would make things quicker.  The drain is even easier:


It just has a plastic nut that unscrews from the pipe and then everything could be lifted out.

I say that as if just lifting it out was very easy.  It wasn’t.  I didn’t realize how much those sinks actually weigh.  They’re not screwed down, because they don’t have to be.  They’re not going anywhere.  This one was 4’ long and weighed 108 pounds.  That’s almost like trying to carry Vanessa except a little harder since the sink wouldn’t wrap its arms around me and help out.  The hard part is that I couldn’t just tilt it out the front since there was a notch cut in it to go around the door trim.  I had to tilt it up on its side a little to get it past that.  But I got it out:

Sink removed

Now the fun part which requires this:


Time to take the valves off.  I decided to just remove them instead of cutting the pipe and making it shorter in case I needed the length some other time.  To do that, I had to heat the pipes up hot enough to melt the solder.  It’s not really that difficult, just turn on the gas and use the striker to light the torch:

Lighting the torch

Then turn it down until the flame is all blue to get the most intense flame:

Good flame

Finally, heat up the valve until the solder melts and it becomes loose enough to pull off:

Removing valve

You’ll get a little steam and some smoke as it burns off old dust and such so it would probably be best to use a mask.  Also, a wet rag placed on pipes or cabinets or other wood will help protect them.  Here’s a better picture showing the flame:

Better flame

Sweating the valves on uses a similar heating process, but parts of the valve may be removed to avoid having the heat destroy them.

After I removed the valves, I heated the solder some more and quickly wiped it with a wet rag to remove as much as I could and then I sanded it down smooth before installing the new valves:

Sanding pipes

Here’s the compression valves I was using:

Compression valves

Of course you want to make sure you get ones with the inputs and outputs pointing in the right direction.  For sinks, this typically means they are pointing 90 degrees from each other.

Removing the big nut exposes a little copper band called the ferrule.  Don’t lose it!  This is the part that gets sandwiched between the pipe and the part of the valve that goes over the pipe and gets compressed when you tighten the nut and holds everything together.  The nut goes on the pipe first, then the ferrule, then the valve:

Nut and ferrule

I also used some plumbers tape wrapped around the threads of the valve to help seal it against leaks:

Plumbers tape

Another option is thread sealant which is messier but may provide better results.

I tightened everything up and I was done.  Shiny new valves:

New valves installed

Then of course it was time for the test: turning the water back on.  Big suggestion: make sure the valves are in the off position before you do this.  If they’re not, you’ll probably have water shooting to the ceiling.  Thankfully this didn’t happen to us, but I can almost imagine Vanessa’s reaction if it had.  That would have been something to see.  It also helps to have someone watching for you to scream at you to turn it off if something is wrong.  So, Vanessa watched while I went back outside to turn the water on.  Success!  Mostly.  No big leaks, but I did have a little drip.  I just had to tighten the nut some more and all was well.

There you have it.  A change-out that wasn’t planned but was made necessary by one that was.  The next day, the guys were able to install the sink and continue on.

Have you ever had a big water mess from something like a valve being in the wrong position when the water was turned on?

Ah, the Colors of Fall

It’s Fall, the temps are dropping, and the leaves are changing colors.  At least that’s what is happening in other places besides Texas.

But at least there is some coloring going on.  We’ve painted the kids’ room!

Since it had paneling on the walls and didn’t suffer the same problem of needing the drywall patched, we didn’t have to worry about retexturing the walls.  We thought about it a little, but decided to save the headache and just let the walls be different from all the rest.

Of course, before we could even get started, we had to make a little room to get to the walls:

Everything covered

We moved the toddler bed for Baz and the pack-n-play for Jane into our room.  I’d take a picture, but our room’s a general mess right now anyway, so suffice it to say, it’s kind of cramped.

Back when were cleaning up the house to move in, we had wiped down the paneled walls with TSP to degloss them and help the paint to stick a little better so we didn’t really have any other prep work to do.  I trimmed out while Vanessa rolled:


My dad was down for a couple of nights so Vanessa and I were both able to work on this while he watched the kids, but it still took most of the day since we started a little late, had to get everything moved, and the trimming took a while because I had to get enough in all the little grooves, but not so much that it ran down the wall.  With three doors, a big window and the inside of two closets to trim out, that a lot of trimming, but we finally got it all primed:

All primed

It did take long enough that we decided we weren’t going to do anything else and give dad a break with the kids.

Monday, I got the room all trimmed out with paint:

Paint cut in

We decided to go with Sand Swept by Valspar in semi-gloss from Lowes:

Sand Swept by Valspar

I guess, more correctly, Vanessa decided to go with it.  I pretty much let her make most of the color decisions.  That’s the color we’ll be using in most of the rooms.

We ultimately decided to paint the closets a different color since Baz kept saying he wanted a red closet.  So while I was at work on Tuesday, Vanessa and Baz tackled painting his closets while Jane slept:

Baz Closet

They couldn’t quite reach the top to trim it without the ladder, so I get to finish that up.  The color used there is Autumn Fire by Valspar:

Autumn Fire by Valspar

Tuesday night I got the rest of the room painted:

All painted

At first, we were going to leave all the trim white, even the small corner pieces, but after painting the walls it just wasn’t working for us.  The picture makes it look better than it did in person.  I went back through and painted the corners:

You’ll have to ignore the slightly tilted look to those pictures.  Apparently, I need to learn how to hold the camera straight.  Or get out the tripod.

One other thing we noticed after painting, is the that the trim around the window doesn’t quite work either:

Window Trim 1

Here’s a closer view:

Window Trim 2

When it was all paneling and that light beigey-browny wood color, it didn’t stand out much, but after priming and painting, the white trim on the yellow wall just it big enough.  The size doesn’t fit.  Maybe we’ve been reading too much on houzz.com about things like correct trim sizes, but we’ll probably be changing that out to something more fitting for that large of a window.  We’ll also be painting all the trim and doors in glossy white, but will probably wait until we are ready to do more of them.

For now, we just need to get the other closet painted and let everything air out a little and get the kids (including the dog) moved back in.

One last little teaser.  The bathroom walls have also changed colors as well as texture.  Remember the green color before we deconstructed the master bath:

Baz Helping

Well, we’ve managed to get some texture on them (we’ll tell what we did and how later) and got one bathroom primed.  So here’s a glimpse of how they’re looking now:

Bathroom Preview

What finish of paint do you prefer on your walls: flat to hide imperfections, glossy for the ease of cleaning or eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss for somewhere in between?

Color sample pictures are from Lowes.com.

Say Cheese!

We did it.  We finally splurged and went ahead and bought it.  No, not some wildly expensive aged cheese from Italy.  A new camera!

Up until now we’ve been using this old Panasonic Lumix for all our family pictures:

Old Panasonic Camera

Not to say it hasn’t been a good camera.  It still functions, but it’s over 5 years old, has been to London, Italy, and Hawai’i, and as you can see the lens cover doesn’t fully close anymore.  Most of the time, the top part isn’t down;  here you’ve seen a rare 3/4 closed appearance.  Because of that not closing, dust tends to get on the lens and we get shots with white fuzzy dots like you can see in a couple of pictures here.

With the blog and the approaching birth of a new baby we decided to upgrade.  We chose this:

The Canon T3i.

We tossed back and forth between Canon and Nikon (well I did actually, Vanessa didn’t really have much of a preference and left most of the research up to me).  I ultimately decided on the Canon since the autofocus is built into the camera and not the lens and for some of the video capabilities.

With it getting this late in the year, I wrestled with waiting until the Holiday sales came out hoping the price would drop, but then woot.com ran it as one of their daily deals so we went ahead.

It will take us a while to get used to and learn more about it (we didn’t fully utilize our old one, but who does), but hopefully we can improve the quality of pictures we show you all.  It has a little wider lens that allows us to get fuller shots of a room.  It has better low light capabilities, which is nice when shooting inside most of the time.  And we also got a tripod to help avoid any blurry shots.

Plus we can more easily shoot shots like this:

Baz up close

and this:

Jane Chocolate face

It handles motion better so we can get the kids being tossed by Grampy:

Grampy and kids

And even Tigger, although he moved a little too fast:

Tigger jumping

But the first pics we took with the new camera were of one of the main reasons for getting it: the new baby (still in the belly of course):

Vanessa belly pic

Do you have a point and shoot, or a DSLR, or do you just use your phone?  Do you like it?  How much of the functions do you use?

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