We bought another trailer

I’ll preface this post by saying that it’s been a weird couple of weeks. That title is not something I expected to write anytime soon, because we already own a sweet, vintage trailer. So let’s dive right in.

About two weeks ago, we took advantage of some really nice weather to do some work in the extra lot. Although we hired some Craigslist labor to do the first major cleanup, the lot was still littered with half of a tree, a pile of bricks and SOOO many sticks. We pulled out the chainsaw to take care of some of the larger pieces of wood and started a controlled brush fire (file that under things I never thought I’d say).

At some point in the course of the day, Aaron hurt his right foot. It wasn’t a “Bang! Ow!” situation, but more of a “We’ve been recouping on the couch and my foot is really starting to hurt” and the next morning “Seriously, my foot hurts.” And that’s been the status for a few weeks. We’ve gone from crutches to a walking boot, which I have helpfully named “Das Boot” because everyone needs a daily Beerfest reference – right?

All of this foot pain caused us to cancel our first camping trip of the year. So that Friday instead of enjoying nature, we were stuck at home and Aaron was making his usual Craigslist rounds. He stumbled on a 2010 R-pod camping trailer at a fantastic price.

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Before we go any further (because you obviously know that we bought this R-pod trailer) it’s helpful to have a little background about our current trailer. When we bought it, it was supposed to be a relatively quick, interior-only redo that would give us veritable hotel room on wheels. Then the firehouse happened and that project came to a screeching halt as we tackled all of the incredibly necessary projects here (like building a studio so we could keep our photography business going… ya know, little things like that). Now we devote all of our tinkering time, money and energy to the firehouse and we need camping (and owning a trailer) to be as easy as possible. So we knew that eventually we’d want to change to a modern trailer.

The deal on the R-pod was so good and our current trailer is pristine, therefore worth the most amount of money right now. So we’re making the switch. Function beat form and we’re selling the rebuilt Trailblazer.

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It’s a little bittersweet, but it feels like the right time to do it. So if you know anyone in the market, feel free to share this Craigslist post.

In the meantime we’re hoping Das Boot will finally allow Aaron’s foot to heal so he can put the finishing touches on the workshop (I think I’m literally only waiting for a counter top to be screwed down before taking “after” pics) and keep forging ahead on the living room/dining room redo.

The controversial fire hose lights

One of my favorite moments on our House Hunters episode is when we see the fire hose lights. Our realtor, Ted, comments on how cool they are. We awkwardly look at each other while trying to think of something to say that won’t offend him… because we hate the fire hose lights. Instantly and forever.

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Don’t worry if you love them, as Ted does, you’re in the majority. I would say 90% of people love them… maybe even 95% because I assume some people who like them might hold their tongue after we explain our distaste.

They’re just too kitschy for us. “Oooh – you’re in a firehouse and you have fire hose lights.” Blech! I’ll give the guy who installed them a pass because he IS an actual fire fighter. We’re not.

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They were destined to come down since day one, and with the downstairs renovation ramping up, it was time to see how exactly these lights were constructed. All we knew for sure was that each pair of yellow hoses had a bulb of some sort and the white hose housed an HVAC line.

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We suspected that the lights were part of a track lighting system. The lights were clearly suspended from something and that’s the only way we could envision safely hanging them. We’ve actually had several people email us offering to buy these lights when we take them out. Each time I’ve explained that we really don’t know if there would be anything to sell once we dug in. We were right about that… but oh so wrong about the construction…

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A few weekends ago, I helpfully offered to start taking down the patchwork of drywall that makes up the ceiling in the cube. Then, not so “helpfully,” I couldn’t reach the ceiling while standing on the ladder that fit in the cube. Aaron obliged my curiosity and agreed to take down a panel.

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That led to another and another before he exclaimed, “This is so much worse than I thought!”

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Pulling the ceiling revealed a curious network of cords… that looked a lot like extension cords… Odd…

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Closer inspection revealed that they were in fact extension cords that led to two power strips that were plugged into an outlet.

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I understand that not everyone who reads this blog has an in-depth understanding of electrical, but those who do will surely realize the clusterfuck that we uncovered. This is at least six different kinds of wrong. It’s NEVER OK to put a LIVE ELECTRICAL OUTLET behind drywall. Never. Period. This is why electrical codes exist! Because shit like this can cause a fire or get someone injured or killed.

The rest of the lights are made with an under cabinet puck taped to an extension cord. In other words, just as unsafe as the rest of this mess.

We were so flabbergasted by all of this that all we could do was laugh… and be thankful that we never turned those lights on anyways. Oh, and, hey we scored two new power strips!

So the definitive answer to anyone who had hopes of buying the lights is “Sorry, we can’t be responsible for possibly burning your house down.”

Things are looking up

That’s a really silly title. Can you get rusty at blogging? Because I might be. Suddenly a month has gone by! We’ve been working on SO many different things, but haven’t had anything to show for it yet. It’s not our normal MO, but when some necessary parts for the basement workshop had to be reordered, we decided to dive into the the first floor reno, which I detailed our plans for oh so long ago.

Although 2015, felt like a bit of a lost year in terms of visible progress on the firehouse, we kicked off this renovation with some key features routing electric for the basement sub panel, adding windows, and finding and installing our fireplace.

We’re back at it and into some of the really boring/incredibly tedious/worth it in the end, projects that will get the room ready for paint. First up: patching the dining room ceiling. Hence the title of the post. Although, really, Aaron is the one who has been looking up. Get it? Ha! … Sorry.

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This is definitely one of those projects that we waffled on. Was it worth it? Would it make a difference? Could we just paint over the rough spots to make them blend in? That is what we opted to do in the studio.

But the dining room felt different to us. While we love the industrial look, we worried in this space it would just feel unfinished. Also we have so many things going into the space that we want you to notice. It would be a shame if the ceiling detracted from that.

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The ceiling in the living room was previously repaired (and painted black) which also made us lead towards making the change. (That ceiling and the duct will be painted white when the time comes.)

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So we decided it was worth the time to fix the ceiling… even though that means in the end you WON’T notice the work. The project itself was more labor and time intensive than expected, because isn’t everything in a renovation? Aaron started by scraping off the loose bits of plaster and patching the numerous holes. Then he carefully layered on 150 pounds of mud.

The result was so worth it! (Says the person who did none of the work.)

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It’s nice to have a clean slate in here. We’re working on a few DIY light fixtures that will give some much needed light to this space.

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As I mentioned, we’re ping ponging between projects a bit. Lately, we’ve been sourcing wood slabs for the dining room table, and Aaron is in the basement this week installing the dust collection system. Updates should get more frequent as we start crossing things off the list for both spaces!

Checking in

It’s been a bit of an unintended absence the last few weeks and I apologize. It felt like we literally spent the last few days of the 2015 hanging onto a thread and hoping the universe wouldn’t notice and send some other tragedy our way. It worked and 2016 has really turned the corner! So I thought I would check in, chat a bit, show you pictures of our dogs. It’s basically like my Instagram account, but with more words.

The flood waters have receded

Like the rest of St Louis, we faced an unprecedented amount of water falling from the sky in the warm weather of late December. Our basement nearly flooded. Truthfully we were only saved by the drainage system, which Aaron was able to divert most of the leaks into. Our sump pump ran constantly. I spent a sleepless night worrying about the basement literally filling up with water. At the peak of the crisis, water started shooting in OVER Aaron’s head. It was like the firehouse was suddenly built in the middle of a pond.

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But it precipitated (see what I did there) a welcome change. The massive amounts of water and a call from one of our neighbors (we’re not sure who, we tried to to call the sewer department and couldn’t get through) brought out a crew to pump the storm drain. That gave us a chance to tell them about the entire truck of concrete that was emptied into a now nonexistent manhole in preparation for tearing down the building by the substation. That prompted a massive project to fix the line and now the water is gone. It’s like it never happened. Barring an act of God (or another misplaced load of concrete) we think our basement is finally once again safe… and now has added protection thanks to the drainage system.

The workshop is happening

FOR REAL. I’m a broken record when it comes to this space, but things are getting real down there. The lockers are in place and full of supplies. The dining room is being freed of construction paraphernalia. And if it weren’t for an incorrect order of pvc pipe joints (it was marked incorrectly on Home Depot’s side) we would be JUST about done with that space. You’ll get a real update soon!

I got a Roomba!

Aaron surprised me (despite our “no gifts this Christmas”) with a Roomba he scored on an awesome Amazon deal. It is AHHHHHmazing! I feel so fancy, like a have a cleaning lady… even though she’s really only good at floor maintenance.

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Hank is huge!

Hank is still growing, but we think he’s reached his max height. The situation behind the couch went from this…

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To this:

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So that is what’s new with us. Things will get back to their regularly scheduled programming around here very soon. We’ve got our sights set on the dining room/living room and can’t wait to get going!

New desk and new(ish) conference table

I’ve hesitated to call the studio completely done because we’ve been reserving a space in the rear for a conference/work table. Exhibit A

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We’ve even been hoarding a table base for it since late 2014. (Should I be embarrassed by that??) But as you probably know, 2015 didn’t leave much time for extra projects.

We can cross this need off the list thanks to Ikea, which opened just down the street from us last autumn. We used our first free weekend from weddings to check it out and walked out spending just over $100, which is a massive feat and probably deserving of some sort of medal. The trip reminded us that Ikea is offering sit/stand desks, and after mulling over it all night I told Aaron just to go get one. So the second trip to Ikea was not as easy on the wallet, but it resulted in this new set up.

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Ikea has a cool powered base for around $400, but we opted for the cheaper, man-powered Bekant frame that came in at just $119. After installing a white top, some cable organizers and a felt half wall that hides some of the mess, Aaron was up and running (standing?) with a new office.

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So far we’re really happy with the quality of the desk, and he has yet to lower it to a seated position. This may be because I stole his desk chair… but to be fair I’m rarely in the studio during normal business hours so he could take it back anytime he wanted.

That left us with a spare table. (Here’s a tip: if you need a big desk just buy a table. It’s usually cheaper than an oversized desk.) And we had the perfect spot for it.

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Ultimately, Aaron will probably still build something to sit on the other table base, but for now this works great. It also makes this area look less like a chair graveyard. Those beauties are in a holding pattern and destined for the dining room.

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We are dangerously close to calling this space finished! According to the list, we only have a few items left:

  • Build a cool light fixture to hang over the conference table <– Probably will get scratched because we don’t really need more light here
  • Build a new front door <– We need a workshop for this. Any guesses as to what is at the VERY TOP of the list for this year?
  • Design and build a screen door for the garage door <– Interesting concept…. I would give this a 5% chance of actually happening