Category Archives: Home Renovation

Goal 3

I really thought I’d be able to keep up with a goal of posting once a week. I even planned time tonight to sit down and write.


This is new, because most days are helter-skelter, what with the new job, the kids and the random acts of renovation.*

*In the last eight weeks, in addition to regular busy life, Hubby and I have repaired and painted walls and ceilings.

So tonight, I planned to take a break and write while Hubby was at a late meeting.

But then I thought, “if I get the bathroom painted, Hubby can install the new porcelain sculpture…” (yes, we’re replacing the toilet). So instead of writing, I listened to a great audio book and painted the potty.

This brings me to

Goal 3

for this year:

Finish the doggone house.

If you’ve followed the blog these past two years, you’ve seen the mess seven leaks can precipitate.

We are almost finished with final repairs (which we stubbornly insist on completing ourselves because, well, we are stubborn). This is the year we DO IT.

So I finished the bathroom in record time. I thought, “great, I still have time to write,” and simultaneously wondered, “what IS that ridiculous noise?”

It was the sound of our clothes washer NOT draining.

Determined to ensure this did not become leak #8, I drained it manually then cleaned out the pump filter.

Only took me an hour.

And now, I write. 

What goals have you set—or met—this week?






Where I’ve Been

This is my imagined reality: you, sitting at your screen, waiting with impatience for my next post and thinking, “Whyyyyyyyyyyy did Casey stop writing? What could possibly be keeping her from us?” 

Real reality: you, sitting at your screen, thinking, “Who’s this Casey person again? When in tarnation did I follow this blog? I definitely need to adjust those auto-follow settings…”

It’s cool. I’m fine with it. Except when the person asking how to unfollow the blog is Hubby. Out loud. From the armchair five feet away. Then…it feels just a little personal. But it’s been a long month; I’m a little over-sensitive. (Just kidding. Pretty sure he’s at least fifty-three of my followers.)

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. NOTHING is finished. I tried using the blog as my carrot. “I can write when I finish…”


Photo Credit: Clay Junell

And yes, if I’m reaching for the carrot, I know what that makes me.

Exhausted and desperate for motivation. That’s what it makes me.

Why—what were you thinking? HEY!

Anyway, life has been nuts. WordCamp US 2015 was fabulous. I still have pending (read: I need to sit down and write them) posts about what I learned. If you’re able to attend next year, I highly recommend the experience.

I’m still working through the pictures from WordCamp because as soon as I came home, Hubby and I began demolishing our kitchen (also a planned post…more later).

I keep telling myself that I can write a post once I get through a certain number of pictures. I can edit pictures when enough work is complete in the kitchen. And the day-to-day tasks don’t go away. Laundry, school, shopping, packing for family gatherings.

The above paragraph sounds like a list of complaints. Not the case, I assure you. I’m ridiculously happy when busy.

However, I realized today that I’m getting a bit twitchy. My carrot is just a little too far out of reach. I need  to write almost as much as I need to sleep. (In fact, I’d much rather write.)

The kids have been good today—exceptional, even—and I still found myself wanting to withdraw from everyone to a dark, quiet space this evening, to write. Craving a keyboard.

Instead, I forced myself to participate in “building night.” Hubby and the boy assembled a K’nex roller coaster on the table while the girl and I sprawled on the floor nearby and snapped together an elfin Lego kit.

Three minutes in, I felt better. Spending time with the kids one-on-one (and together) has been on my subconscious “list of things that are making me antsy because they aren’t getting done.”

It’s so easy to put off the things we want to do because of everything demanding our time, and in many cases what we have to do must come first. Sometimes, though, doing something you want to do can give you the boost necessary to get through harder work.

Time with the kids, now blogging with you.

I feel the “we will never finish any of this and our house will always be a wreck and the laundry pile will never deplete and the list will only grow and…” panic dissipating already.

I am so ready for tomorrow.






A Day in the Life…

Writing 101 assignment, Day 14: Recreate a single day

Saturday, October 3.

11 am. Hubby and I decide it’s time.

We’ve been planning an overhaul of the downstairs bathroom for almost a year. The new cabinet and toilet have been sitting in my kitchen (in boxes) for about a month, waiting until we completed more urgent projects (like repairing areas where leaks occurred). The floor is a bit soft; we’ll have to replace some of the plyboard.

He removes the toilet that refuses to work properly. We find that the previous owner (PO) never installed a wax ring. Now the soft floor makes more sense.

For those of you not prone to replacing your own ceramic thrones, the wax ring fits under the toilet and prevents water from escaping. Without it, water had been slowly leaking for years.

First person to spot the new place for the toilet gets three points. (Don’t worry, it’s not permanent. We’re going to pot a mum inside it and put it in our neighbors’ yard. They’re going to be thrilled.)


We remove the mirror and pull the sink top from the cabinet. It looks pretty good in these pictures, but it’s actually falling apart and still smells like smoke inside. (The PO left a lot of tar and nicotine behind.) It was white; I painted it chocolate when we moved in, hoping to forestall the bathroom remodel until we had settled.


We pull the cabinet out. That thing is darn heavy. Note the “Danger, Construction Zone” sign. Guess whose handiwork and you get another three points. Ignore the spelling; he was in a rush.


We find decent white vinyl underneath the gross stained vinyl.


It’s important to score the sheet rock heavily before demolition; this allows a clean break and causes less mess.


The boy is thrilled to hear that he MAY kick holes in the wall. Just this once.


See that grey pipe? That has to go. It (and its fittings) have caused seven leaks in the last year. We’ve re-piped most of the house but waited to replace these until now.


We pull up the top layer of vinyl to find the PO’s lack of wax ring use has caused a really nasty mess. The toilet leaked under the top layer of vinyl. UGH.


This is the moment we bring the kids in for a look. And an object lesson.

Hubby says, “The guy who used to live here decided not to bother with a $5 part. Because of that, the floor is damaged. We have to spend a LOT more than $5 to replace the floor. The directions for installing a toilet say to use a wax ring, but he decided not to follow the directions. His decision to ignore the rules is costing us a lot of time and money.

When we don’t follow the rules, it affects someone. Sometimes it affects us. Other times it impacts somebody else. And SOMEtimes, we don’t feel the effects right away. This guy actually owns his own contracting business, so he knows how to install a toilet properly—he just didn’t do it.

We know a lot of people, and many of them ask my advice about who can fix their house. After this, I’ll be letting them know that they should not use the guy who built our house. So, even though he made the decision to ignore the directions years ago, that choice will start to affect him now.”


The kids peer at the damaged floor.


“You know how we always talk about following directions and we make you correct anything you don’t do properly? This is why. We want you to know how to follow the rules and directions in small things as a child, so you’ll be able to do it with the big stuff when you grow up. Does that make sense?”

(The floor in the below picture was so saturated, it crumbled when Hubby pressed it. I wonder…if the floor had collapsed while someone was sitting, would that cause a toilet-phobia? Is that even a thing? I’ll have to look that up in the DSM-V…)


Our girl nods. “So when I grow up and build a house, I will remember to put the wax ring on before the toilet.”

This is not exactly what we were looking for, but yes, that’s an important step when constructing a home, so we’ll call it a win for now. Next time they have to re-write spelling words in a legible manner or pick up the trash after forgetting to close the lid (to keep out the dogs), there will be another “wax ring” discussion.


Hubby cuts out the rotten sub-floor (above), then reinforces with 2x4s (below). Note the vinyl (above) is gone (below). That was me. The installers used staples all around the edge. In order to remove the vinyl, I had to pull the staples out with needle-nose pliers. All fifty-million of them. (Slight hyperbole. Slight.)


He cuts a new piece of plywood. I think it looks like that game everyone is playing…Cornhole.

Great. This is what I’ll think of the next time someone suggests a toss tournament. Because…ha ha ha cornhole. When you eat corn it doesn’t always…never mind. Stop looking at me like that.


While the floor is open, Hubby drops down into the crawl space to replace the pipes. I push the pipe through the holes and he connects it.

As we work, one of the kids uses the bathroom upstairs and flushes the toilet…re-pressurizing the pipes. Thankfully, it’s clean water, but still—Hubby gets soaked.


We install the new piece of sheet rock.


I start layering the plaster.


I use fiberglass mesh tape to cover the gap on the wall and paper tape in the corners. In the corner on the right, you can see a trick I figured out when we had to make repairs in the boy’s room: remove the old paper tape first. This leaves a cavity the exact size needed, requiring less plaster work.


The key to seamless plaster work is several layers, wider each time.


Hubby installs the final floor covering before we put in the new vinyl.


Done for the night. I’ll sand tomorrow, then add one final, wider layer.


Our son re-purposes the commode box into a submarine, complete with hinged top, gun turret and front window. Of course.


So, there’s our day. In under 24 hours, we pulled out and replaced the damaged wall, flooring and pipes.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. —Dr. Seuss

How was your day?


All photos: Casey Alexander

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