Tag Archives: clutter

Beer Tour and Life After the Kitchen

Well, the beer tour was fun! Ticket sales were down a bit this year, which meant that the crowd fit into my house better than last year. I forgot to take photos but picture about 3/4 of this. Also look at the unfinished banister and the pig tail!


Now, some people said that no one would notice any changes from last year. Based on this comment, you were half right: “It looks so much more finished than last year! Did you get new counter-tops?” Ironically, my sister told me the very next day that her boyfriend was looking at the kitchen’s current state and he said that now I need to replace the counter-tops because they look cheap next to the doors. This is fitting because I paid $50 for them. See where the edging is missing to the right? Gluing that back on should make them look a little less cheap.


I’m grateful for LOTS of help getting the place clean since less than a week before I was still painting. My mom’s help came of course with free advice: from here on out, I should keep the house clean all the time and also finish all the painting. I’m still leaning closer to none, or maybe some odds and ends and touch-ups, until January.

But anyways, here’s what the place looked like the day after the tour.


Aside from the clean house I had half a catering tray of mac and cheese left behind. My mom said I should give it to the Irishman’s family, but she doesn’t know what it’s like to be a bachelor. I ate it for breakfast every day last week. Only one coworker said anything about this.


So, Chad’s retiring from house projects until January? Not quite. I really need to clean out the basement. It became a dumping ground and a half this time.


On top of the light reorganizing that my basement ends up desperately needing about once a year, there are some things in this lumber-hoard that I may be ready to work with soon, so it’s time to go through it. Does anyone want 125 year old rough sawn lumber? I have an awful lot of it. My next door neighbor growing up made made this table out of my lumber.


Aside from that, I could stand to make 2 Homasote bulletin boards, (I already own the Homasote) install the mahogany boards currently in the lumber-hoard at the top of my bookcase (even though I’ll take them down again later once I figure out staining them),


Re-glue the counters of course, and replace the missing insulation and beadboard up here:


The last piece up there has saw cuts in it and has to go. I’m thinking the way to fix this mess is to cut the nails holding that piece up with a Sawzall, then pull it out as cleanly as I can. I’ll check how many of the removed boards are salvageable, and then buy replacements. My dad suggested boarding over all of it. Replacement boards are $8 each, so I’d rather patch it so this job keeps a 2-digit price tag. I have some cellulose insulation in the basement, so I think I’d want to put up some kind of mesh and then stuff it in. It’s only missing from about 2 cubic feet. I can, sigh, even paint the boards before they go up, though they’ll need touch-up painting again next year when it’s warm enough.

Beating Back all the Clutter

Would you believe that my parents had a normal looking basement in the beginning of May 2010? But we were already losing the battle against clutter. My grandmother and I both moved that month. But we were already losing because for over a year before that my grandmother fought tooth and nail to keep things. But most of her stuff went into storage. Then the next year my sister took a bunch of furniture and the rest went to my parents’ basement.

The basement was a cluttered but usable. Next she had to go to assisted living. We’re now in December 2014, the Crooked House is nowhere near habitable, and half her remaining possessions wind up in that poor basement.


It’s about a full year later, November 2015, that I got the floors done. And in came the furniture without delay. Before it made sense even. But now she’s moved again, to a smaller room (hopefully with better care). And it got just as bad all over again.

So I started listing things on Craigslist. I feel pretty good about my writing but the real star of the show here is the old rug my dad pulled out of the garage to style the photos.

stereo cabinet.jpg

And everything sold within a week except the chairs! So 2 things about that: Shameless plug. Buy them, please! And I’m using my grandmother’s table with different, smaller but less sturdy chairs and we’ve decided not to feel guilty about breaking up the set.


Now do we sound like saints? Because yes, we are taking care of her and diligently dealing with all of her things. But my mom and I also picked what she was going to part with by taking what we liked best first. I got this lamp.


For years now we’ve discussed a fall yard sale, then a spring yard sale, then fall, then spring, and so on. Now one of my parents’ neighbors has one scheduled of September 17 so the date is set. The basement is cleared out enough (thanks to selling 3 bookcases and a set of tables) to be a sorting station. But a lot of what we’re selling is antiques and we’re trying to get higher than yard sale prices, so there will probably be another round of Craigslist listings soon.


There’s a lot of this stuff. More than we know what to do with. But I still sometimes feel guilty about getting rid of it. After all, my wash stand is bare (now that I’m not using it for long-term storage of unfolded laundry) and this set has been in the family for generations. So we’ve been pulling things out here and there. But mostly we’re keeping things we’ll actually use.

And we’ve left my grandmother with only the books about her 2 favorite things, opera and Obama. It’s all for the best, but… tell my mom she’s not allowed to keep the 1968 World Books. (I already put the good books on her shelves.)

A super dumb way to save money

I got my mattress and box spring free from an old dead lady. (But she always slept on the couch so we can call it essentially new.) Then I got a platform bed free from a friend and it totally works with the little chests I got free from my grandmother. Don’t mind the junk. I cleaned it up later.


Because this is a platform bed, you’re looking at it without the box spring. I tried using the box spring but it looked ridiculous and I put it in the closet. So after some pondering and asking my parents for advice, I decided to throw out the box spring and just use the mattress like this. First I tried to give it away but no dice. Then my mom told me that her trash people would take it for just 20 bucks.

I said, “20 dollars? Do you think I’m made of money?” And I proceeded with my better idea.


That is, ripping it out with a crowbar. But then I realized that there were staples through it everywhere. Lots of staples. So instead I used an ice pick.


That worked pretty well. Until the ice pick broke. Too bad because it was a nice one. But then, has anyone used an ice pick in my lifetime? But anyway, I’ll call this a classically dumb thing to do. It took about an hour and a half. And then staples flew all over the room. I had piles of wood with sharp things protruding out of it. And there are still metal things lying around. I’ll probably find reminders of this in 3 months even though I thought I got it all.


Not only that but my closet has finally crossed the threshold from almost done to… done enough to hang clothes in part of it! Except half of them are in a wad instead.


And the overwhelming amounts of random scrap wood are almost sorted. I was holding onto old lathe because it has character and I could repurpose it. But after storing it for 2 years I decided I don’t have the patience to repurpose it and cut it all in half. Now it will fit in my parents’ fireplace. Other wood that’s not safe to burn is in other cans to throw out.


I’m really, really excited about all this. Being able to turn around in my basement! Putting the stove in the kitchen! It’s a little cluttery now. Plus, the Home Depot return pile is on the dining room table.


What would be really nice would be to borrow that Suburban again and get all this stuff sorted out, plus bring in a refrigerator and a few other big things. Problem is that somebody shoveled his car out and blocked the street with the snow. Then the city brought in a Bobcat to plow the street and it got stuck. So now there’s a mini-mountain outside my bedroom. And you can see that it’s sorta clear in front of this car.


Everything is ready to go. How long until I can drive down my own street? Your move, Philadelphia Streets Department.

About those 3 deadlines

I think I’m giving up on the non-mandatory ones. Which doesn’t mean I got nothing done. First of all, this is the only memory left of that crap I couldn’t get rid of. Now kindly tell the IRS that it’s worth my entire income and I don’t owe any tax this year.


But at this point it looks like it may be a strain to get the baseboards painted in a week. Which doesn’t mean nothing happened this week. I just decided to make the front bedroom actually clean and empty the closet. To accomplish this, put a shelving unit in the basement for all the paint stuff.


This is not a joke. I filled an entire shelving unit with paint. I also put my old kitchen cabinets next to the stationary tub. The entire cabinet to the left with all the drawers is now filled with screws, nails, and drill bits. The whole thing.


But this is a huge step forward. I had a lot of boxes filled with a mix of random crap and nothing. And now, 2 out of my 4 closets are empty!


So doing that organizing wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was repairing the radiator pipes. Several of them have been cut and I don’t remember why. It’s an easy fix at least.

For now, all my woodwork is back in the basement. But the pile is getting smaller. And the basement somehow has more (useful) stuff in it and looks saner at the same time. The living room is empty again. My floor guy is coming tomorrow because there are drips in the poly. Hopefully third time’s a charm.

And not only is its closet empty and clean, but the front bedroom is clean and sorta furnished!


And the bathroom is partially cleaned up. Now it looks like something normal slobs would use.


So the old plan was that the baseboards would be prepped to paint this weekend. Now it’s pretty obvious that I’m running behind and so I don’t think I want my grandmother’s big super heavy maple sideboard in my back bedroom just yet. Which is all the better because my dad has it full of his stuff.

buffet and rug

The couch is still coming next weekend. And I’m hoping to get started with the painting. But now I want the front bedroom and linen closets all painted, too. I want some door strikes and stops installed. I want the house to actually start functioning like a house, at least upstairs. Can I get the heat on in 1 extra week, by the 13th? Or am I still delusional?

One last look at my beat up floors

That’s right, I made it. Whew! The floor finisher said he’ll be here between 7 and 7:30 tomorrow. I’m on the floor where my bed used to be writing this now. So here’s a quick look at what I accomplished this week.

The scotia under the stairs that I wrote about before but forgot to photograph:


Then there were these holes in the kitchen floor.


I patched them the same way as I did upstairs about a year ago, except didn’t try to make these patches look good since they’ll be covered.

And the radiator alcoves, stained just like the doors. Everything took the stain a little differently but it all looks great. Those vertical lines are saw marks that are original to the wood, not horrible runs from me applying the stain badly.


And a crazy amount of cleaning. My dad came down today and helped a lot with this. It’s weird to see the house empty. Full of stuff it’s hard to really see the house for what it is. So here it is, cleared out for the first time in 2 1/2 years, with a few minor alterations here and there. The downside is it kind of looks newer than I wanted it too. I think more woodwork will help though.





And you remember all that effort to have a paneled wall that’s secretly removable? Here it is taken off!


You probably guessed by now that I’m not a magician, so there is a very ugly side to all this clearing out. You guessed right.



So, I’ve got a key laid out for my floor guy. But for now, let’s bid farewell botched sanding jobs, old mastic, paint overspray, and mismatched patches. They won’t be missed. But to the inlays we’ll say hello.


When are you going to get everything out of the basement?

“I mean including the things from Nana that aren’t even going to be yours?”

That’s a loaded question, Mom. I might be ready to answer it, but the answer is long. She’s talking about the things that we boxed up both times my grandmother moved in the last 5 years. Moving her was chaotic enough so we wound up with some of her stuff to deal with, well you know… half past never.


The plan is to start going through all that stuff in their basement… but first I have to make room by taking the things I do want. Which means that it’s all tied to my schedule and I think someone’s had enough. I’ve been wrong about my move in date so many times it’s become a sore subject, but it looks like I might have the skeleton of a realistic timeline.

To start, the floor finisher penciled me in for the 9th! I’m getting help from the Irishman this weekend and banging out the remaining bigger jobs. That means the threshold at the back door and the cove molding under the stairs. Plus as many smaller jobs as we can fit in. And then I’ll have 8 more days to finish odds and ends. 8 days!!!

So what next? I think I’ll be allowed in my own house again by the 11th or 12th. I’ll have through the 13th to unpack the basement and procure the 1×6’es I need for my baseboards. (The other trim work used more wood than I accounted for, unsurprisingly.) And I can set the Irishman loose on the house the 14th and 15th do do as much trim work as humanly possible outside the kitchen. That means that Monday the 16th I should in theory be able to bring the first round of furniture into the bedrooms. This dresser is down there but it’s in the back.

bedroom dresser

So back to my parents’ basement. Right now there’s a path to the laundry room. So the plan will be to fill our friends’ Suburban with as much as we can take in one trip of things I definitely want that are cluttering their house now. That means mostly furniture but I might take cookware and some other stuff too. I don’t know what I have or where anymore.

Then we can start to plan for the second round of stuff. This piece was in my grandmother’s dining room, but can go in my back bedroom… once my dad transfers his random crap to the matching hutch.

buffet and rug

Which brings us to somewhere around Thanksgiving. At this point, I’m hoping there’s room to open the table and use the basement to go through Christmas ornaments while my sister is home. Neither of us needs to buy any. Will I have a tree this year? We’ll figure that one out later. I’m also hoping that the Irishman will be up for spending Thanksgiving weekend fitting out my kitchen. Because he doesn’t like to sit still and I want a kitchen like you wouldn’t believe.

So back to my mom’s question: we might have my clutter out and be ready to go through the rest in December, but I can’t see starting in earnest until January. Let’s cross our fingers that we can have a spring yard sale. Or is that crazy talk?

Outside the Crooked House, the Christmas Theme Is Hoarders

Apparently having Christmas decoration themes that change every year (and require you to buy new decorations) is a thing for some people. But nothing so absurd and wasteful will ever be a thing for me. This has nothing to do with decorations, really. My grandmother moved to assisted living on Tuesday. Yes, on Christmas Eve Eve. So this year the holidays were a weensy bit hectic.

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