Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nephew conquers a bear

Z: During the summer, we went to visit my cousins in Colorado and had a swell time dining, relaxing, and helping them set up a new room. One of them, Julie, was exuberantly with child and enjoying every minute of it while her husband, Jake, was there, eating. (In reality, I witnessed a loving husband serve his wife, I award him 100 man points) On July 5th, Julie entered the most joyous phase of pregnancy called labor. And the fruits of that labor came forth in the form of a new human, Mason Lanier. Technically speaking in genealogical terms, Mason and I are second cousins once removed, but until someone stops me I'm calling him my cousiphew. I haven't met him, but he's pretty cool even though he doesn't have a facebook page yet.
S: I agree, Mason is the only infant I know to have appeared on 2 separate blogs. And he's already fully prepared to handle those black bears in colorado....he'll just kill them with cutenes. Tiny Mason makes his needle felted bear look huge :) And thanks for letting Zach claim you as his cousiphew. It means a lot to an only child who's only chance at unclehood is through my nieces, who call him uncle cracker.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New niece on the way

S: My sister will be having her third girl, Shae, this October! Her first two are pictured above. Is it possible for my sister to bring any more cuteness into this world?
One great thing about having nieces is being able to make girly presents for them! My first attempt at quilting was a pink and green baby quilt for my second niece:

Last time Zach and I went to the city wide garage sale, I picked up a bunch of vintage embroidered linens with the intention of repurposing them in to something new. I chose a standard size pillow case that was embroidered with birds and a bird cage, in pinks and blues, to make a baby gift for Shae. I cut up and sewed the pillow case to make a cover for a small accent pillow and then stitched her name onto the front.
I also made Shae two pairs of baby shoes. Thanks to my friend
Jennifer for the pattern!

Here is a similar pillow I made for my friend Brittnee and her baby boy Dylan.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Minnie Millery at The Book Box!

S: My needle felted animals are now being sold at The Book Box in Pflugerville! If you live nearby and are thinking about selling your old books, or buying some new ones, stop by The Book Box...and check out the local artist displays while you're there!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Attic Door

S: One of the many things in need of repair when we moved into our house last year was the attic door in the garage. It had gotten a little lazy over the years an no longer wanted to open...or close. So it hung slightly ajar for about a year until we could get around to fixing it. Before the fix, it was all bent out of shape and missing a spring. To shut the door Zach would have to use a hammer to bend the ladder in at the side while pushing up at the same time. We bought a new ladder on one of our many Home Depot trips, and with much hard work on Zach's part, (and a little on mine), we got it up and installed in about half a day.

Z: I purchased an 8 ft Louisville Ladder rated at 350lbs at Home Depot on sale for $70.00. (Which was almost theft, but Home Depot occasionally runs in-store deals on items such as attic doors) There is pretty broad price range on attic doors, but most of the cost is the material (wood or aluminum) or the length (longer= more $$). When attacking your attic door problems, aluminum is best. It's stronger and more durable than wood and you'll probably never have to replace it. Even though I only weigh 140lbs, its comforting to know that if I accidentally cloned myself, I could easily hide the body in the attic without having to worry about the steps giving way as I lugged my doppleganger up there. When buying your attic door, you need two measurements: the size of the rough opening and the distance to the floor. Never buy an attic door with a ladder that's too short. If it's too long, no problem, you can cut off the excess length.
S: I got up in the attic and hammered it temporarily in to place with removable bracket straps as Zach held it in place above his head.
Z: Installing this absolutely necessitates having two people or the ability to be in two places at once, whichever is easiest. Once you have the door temporarily secured, you can adjust it to be level with the ceiling and begin nailing it in place using 16d sinker nails (or similar). Don't use screws, they will most likely get the frame out of square. In our case, we had a big gap between the door and the ceiling joist that I shimmed with a 1x4 to make a tighter fit. You definitely need shims to complete this project, so don't forget to pick those up. Essentially, you need two nails in each corner, and one or two nails where the hinge connects to the frame. Also, when your last nail is half way in, I recommend you miss it and hit your thumb instead because that's exactly what I did and my fingernail looks sweet.

S: What's this? Zach actually reading instructions? I have proof.
Z: Safety Sarah can never be pleased.

S: Now I can safely and easily access my ceramic snow man village and Christmas garland come this December. I'm sure that was Zach's priority too.
Z: Uh, nope, I think my priority was not having my obituary read "impaled through face by attic door spring."

The new door installed. All it needs is trimmed out & painted!

Friday, August 14, 2009

AC Killed by our Anniversary

S: We got another somewhat unexpected gift on our anniversary. Our air conditioner quit working. It was 25 years old so were weren't all that surprised, but we were hoping we could wait until the fall to replace it.
Z: I knew our marriage was beautiful. But apparently it's so passionate that our experienced Trane Air Conditioner collapsed under the overwhelming hotness and emotional stress involved in the celebration of our second anniversary.
Here's the two 25 year old beasts that have served this house well:
Our temporary "AC" until we could get the central unit replaced:

S: With highs near 103 outside, it was in the upper 80s inside our house. It was HOT! Those nights without the AC were some of the worst nights of sleep I have ever gotten. It made me feel so...AmeriCan.
Z: Sloppily sleeping with the slick sweaty saltiness of sweat. Loads and loads of sweat.
And here's our new AC!

S: Luckily we only had to wait 3 days for the new unit to be put in and will be getting a rebate from the City of Austin plus a $1500 tax credit for making our home more energy efficient.
Z: The new Amana ASX16 is a 5 ton 16 SEER unit that uses the new R-410A coolant which will save us boat loads on our electric bill. Although due to the upfront costs we won't see the savings for another 7 years or so. In 2016 I expect to hear a big "Cha-Ching"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anniversary Gifts

When I got home from work yesterday, I was greeted at the door by a cheery yellow post-it note, written on by Zach's familiar scrawling hand. I had a feeling this was just the first of a long series of notes. (Once during college, Zach used an entire post-it pad and hid messages all throughout my shoes, behind picture frames, inside books...I was finding notes a year later.) This time Zach had set up a sort of scavenger hunt for my anniversary gift. Each post-it note was a clue leading me to another, and then finally my gifts...all 3 of them! Zach really outdid himself. He even put a note on the cat's collar. He got me a 4V Ryobi cordless drill, which I'm really excited about. We have the 18V which is great but after awhile it gets really heavy for me to hold. The 4V is much lighter and is perfect Sarah-size.
He also got me a beautiful flower bouquet with roses and lilies, and a sweet 'S' monogram necklace from Etsy.

Photo from Robin's Egg Blue

I gave Zach a memory book of all the letters and notes we sent one another while dating. We dated long distance, so a lot of letters were sent. Wondering what's with the bird and the paper? Zach is the piece of paper.....pale and ever so thin. I'm the egret, because I like birds and have a tendency to "groom" Zach.

We went to The Oasis on Lake Travis for dinner. Unfortunately the sun set behind the clouds, but the view of the lake was still beautiful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mr. and Mrs.

Today is our 2 year wedding anniversary! We thank God for bringing us together and for how he's blessed our marriage.

Friday, August 7, 2009


S: Zach and I spent last week in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for the wedding of our friends Bethany and Sam. (Congratulations you guys!) We stayed at the Riu Palace hotel...our first time to stay at an all inclusive resort. Eating at a buffet three times a day really throws off your perception of proper portion size. Here are a few pictures from our trip:

Our room
Outside the resort

Bethany and her bridesmaids

At the reception

Zach's dapper seersucker suit and amazing dance moves. Where am I, you ask? Being my usual wallflower self of course.

At the beach. Luckily no topless women were caught in the background of this shot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One half bath, a whole lot of work

S: The 1/2 bath is finally done! Thanks to my hardworking husband, the bathroom was ready just in time for the baby shower I helped host the other weekend. Whew! The idea of 25+ women and no guest bathroom on the main floor was a little worrisome. That little bathroom has come a long way, all 15 square feet of it.

Z: Granted, this before photo does not give you a full appreciation for the transformation this little bath received. But maybe it does?! This picture says two things simultaneously: Boring and blue flowerish wallpaper. The room bores you with such frightening severity that I fell asleep taking the photo and that is why you get one lame picture of it.

S: Before, the bathroom was dated and dark. The cultured-marble-seashell-shaped sink was yellowed and cracked with age. The walls were covered in dark blue floral wallpaper. We pretty much gutted the bathroom, removing the vanity, mirror, fixtures, toilet, and a good portion of the drywall. The only thing we left was the built in cabinet above the toilet, which we painted white. Zach tiled the floor where the vanity had been and did a wonderful job painting and installing bead board all along the walls, even though he despises painting. And of course the walls were painted my favorite color, green (no surprise to those of you who know me well). We hung a great antique mirror above the sink, given to us by Zach's stepfather. Some of the decorative trim was missing, but it was nothing a little Sculpey and paint couldn't fix. After a long search for affordable wall sconces (in the exact style I envisioned in my mind, much to Zach's chagrin) we found a perfect pair at the Pottery Barn outlet marked down 60%. The lamp shades came from Garden Ridge for 50 cents each...although I have in mind to recover them with another fabric.


S: We'd been planning to remodel the bathroom ever since we moved in, but we had a little extra motivation in the form of a clogged sewer line that backed up into the bathroom. Luckily, we were able to get
free HE toilets from the city of Austin, and an affordable pedestal sink from the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Z: That clogged sewer line! My Malodorous Tale of the Terrible Toilet and the Putrid Plumbing is featured here

Next time you come to visit, feel free to excuse yourself to go to the restroom.

My Malodorous Tale of the Terrible Toilet and the Putrid Plumbing

Z: I won't claim to be an expert, but I must say that the way in which the average toilet attaches to the floor is like some crappy quick fix that just caught on. It's a pretty lame set up: a hole in the floor with a flange, two bolts to keep the whole thing from wobbling, and a big ring of wax to keep it sealed up tight. Not that getting your feces out to the street needs to be a complicated or elegant matter, but the design seems to have some major weaknesses. I mean come on, wax? Really all that keeps your yellow water from flowing out from under the toilet is wax.

So when water started flowing out from under the toilet in this half bath, I thought the wax ring had broken. But once I got the toilet off the floor, I realized we had a completely different problem. The sewer line had backed up from the street and sparkling gray water was sitting in the drain pipe, level with the floor, just ready to spill throughout the whole house like it had done 10 minutes prior. So we hired a plumber to clear the main drain line from the house.
With water freely flowing from our house again the bathroom was ready for the porcelain throne.

But the lament of the plumbing continued as I realized the lead drain stub for the toilet was cracked all the way through and about 8 inches down, meaning sewer water could leak into the concrete foundation from under the wax ring.....crap.....on the floor.

A trip to home depot got me no where, so I ended up at the (highly recommended) Crump Plumbing Supply here in Austin, where the experts scratched their heads as I described my problem. They basically told me I was screwed and not to hire plumber because they wouldn't really know what to do either. Now I have great respect for plumb
er's because they do a technically difficult job and, rightly so, they are paid pretty well for it. But this situation scared me because I was outside the knowledge of the experts, it was all ad -lib from here.

I left Crump's with a PVC replacement piece that eventually solved my problem

I solved the problem but it took several days of cutting lead with a dremel (Lead dust + dust mask = Zach + intact brain), hand chiseling concrete, and applying new concrete. After chiseling all the concrete to fix the problem, the new toilet sits about 3 inches to the right of where the old one sat. After 10 days of intermittent work on the half bath, the room was still empty save for a perfect hole in the ground which no one will ever see.