Clearing the Side Lot

I’m not sure exactly what came over me, but I took up the ambitious goal of cleaning out our side lot in late March. I think I just wanted to get ahead of the spring.

We call it the side lot, but it’s really just the extension of our driveway past where it turns toward our garage. It’s probably about 30 feet wide, and as long as our back yard. I cut down everything i could reach back there, aside from the giant Osage trees.

It took three evenings of work to get it done. It was WAY MORE than we expected, and still haven’t found a good way to haul it all off. My current plan is to wait till late fall, cut down everything that has grown back, and then rent a U-Haul to take it to the dump.

 Disappointingly, every type of weed took advantage of this newly cleared space and grew like the Amazon forest of Indiana. The picture below is from early spring, when they sprung up seemingly overnight. These weeds grew taller than the shed before we got around to knocking them down. It’s enough to make you want to pave the whole thing.


A few months back, we hosted a party for Aaron’s cousins. Having a theme was by no means necessary, but we chose Pirates all the same. The flag and statue are from Assassin’s Creed IV, and I just happened to see a gift set of Captain Morgan that came with cannonball cups. We made a pirate Spotify list (turns out there are a lot of pirate songs out there) found a bunch of rum drink recipes, and decorated the mantle. That was in march… and I’ve since added a pirate book and a bottle of rum to the mantle. I’m not sure what it says about who I am as a person that this still delights me greatly. Even better, Aaron has said nothing about taking it down, which is either a sign of his love or his indifference. I recently realized that whenever delivery people come to our door, their first glimpse in into the house reveals a gigantic black pirate flag…


The Meridian Kessler Home Tour

Home tours are an interesting concept – you pay a small fee to walk though a collection of other people’s homes. It’s like House Hunters with the pressure to actually buy a house. The Meridian Kessler Home Tour is features homes in the historic district of the same name. Most of the homes have been renovated and modernized over the years, making each one distinct. Honestly, it’s worth a visit to Indy just to go on this tour.

This year was a bit offbeat, with one of the homes being completely empty and mostly gutted (they intend to feature on the tour again when the home is complete) and another that was a music school, artists residence, and private residence in one.
They won’t let you take pictures, which is a bit strange considering hundreds of people will be walking through these homes. Because we have major renovations planned for our own home, it was helpful to see how other people dealt with renovation challenges. We could see some other finished basements and observe how they managed low ceiling heights, duct work, and other tricky situations.

Granny’s Porch

I wasn’t quite sure what to get my grandmother for her birthday when I had the good and possibly a bit ambitious idea to put down new flooring in her screened-in back porch. She had been complaining about her floor for some time, which was just peeling paint on concrete.

I used vinyl plank flooring, which I love for many reasons: It’s relatively cheap, it’s a floating floor that can be installed over many surfaces, and it installs quickly. We surprised her with the flooring one Friday evening after work, and were finished laying it by sundown. Once the new floors were in, it was clear that it could use a new coat of paint as well. I fully intended to paint the ceiling too, but she’s LOVING it all the same, so I figured I’d leave well enough alone for now and go back to working on my own house.

The Indianapolis Home Show

The Indianapolis Home Show was definitely better this year than last year. I actually ended up going twice: once on the weekend with friends when it was super crowded, and once on a weekday with Aaron when it was almost empty.

I felt that a lot of the smaller, less relevant booths were grouped together in an auxiliary pavilion, making the main pavilion more interesting. We saw some cool ideas, nice products, and the feature home was lovely. The master bedroom was especially impressive.


The feature home also made a shallow platform in their media room, which we might consider making in our basement game room

One company featured lighted tiles in a weave pattern.


Another company constructed a massive outdoor room using a covered, angled pergola.


One of my favorite features was an above ground pool with a patio and landscaping build up along the edge. The pool felt integrated into the landscape even though it was above ground. I’m sure that this was more motivated by the constraints of the home show, but I thought it was a great idea for a pool all the same.


City Sewer Connection

Our neighborhood was still on septic tanks when we moved in, but had a deadline to convert to the city sewer by early 2015. Luckily, the seller agreed to pay for this connection (which costs a few thousand dollars). It’s a little strange that homeowners are required to pay for the connection that will result in them paying the monthly sewer fee as well… but that’s the cost of living in the city.

The company that we had do this work for us was abhorrent. They took forever to come out, didn’t say so much as hello before digging up our yard, and left a gigantic pile of of dirt in our driveway for no stated reason.

That said, they didn’t have to run a pipe through the middle of our basement, didn’t need to move our deck and they were done with the work in a couple days. We haven’t had any issues, so they seemed to do a fine enough job. They didn’t return to regrade or re-seed the lawn. They happened to dig up a small bolder, which, out of indifference, we haven’t moved from where they placed it.

Painting with a Paint Sprayer

With a big new empty basement to paint, we decided to buy a paint sprayer to get the job done. We’d been thinking of doing so for a while, and thought it would make the job of painting the basement faster and easier.

First, let me say that using a paint sprayer is extremely fun. Its like a giant paint marker that instantly transforms everything around you. Its like being deBlob. And, it is lightning fast. I painted all the walls in the basement in about a half an hour.

That said, they are cumbersome and extremely messy. You will get paint everywhere, especially if you are painting the ceiling like we were. I wore an outfit most closely resembling a beekeeper, and had such a thorough dusting of paint I was soon unable to see out of my goggles. Everything that happened to be in the basement at the time was covered in a thin dust of ceiling paint. the entire floor was covered as well. We thought that it didn’t matter if we covered the floor or not, but this just made for more work when we went to sand it.Those lines on the floor in the picture below are from some tape that we pulled up after painting.

They are also annoying to clean. It’s not that it’s over complicated or necessarily difficult, but we’ve found that the process takes so long that it cuts into the time saved by using the sprayer in the first place. We probably should have gotten a much smaller paint sprayer, and just dealt with the frequent refilling. I’m sure the clean up would have been easier, and the process as a whole might have been a bit neater.