Archive for the ‘appliances’ Category

In Like Flynn!

October 13, 2007

We’ve moved in, though one of the disadvantages of living in the wilds of Florida is that we no longer have a high speed Internet connection.  No DSL.  No cable.  Nada.  So the photos accompanying this post will have to wait until I am at work and happen to have a free moment – ha!

Since I last posted, several things have happened, the two biggest of which are that we moved in and school started (I am a teacher).  The school at which I teach prepared for 1400 kids, though 1600 had enrolled; they clung in vain to the belief that 200 children would not show up on the first day.  What actually happened was that OVER 1600 showed up, and more continue to enroll, so class sizes are nowhere near Florida’s “suggested” classroom size of 22 children.  Boo.  Hiss.  The reason I mention this is that it accounts for the fact that I have not posted in about two months.  Poor blog.

Our moving day was not without its hitches, though we did remarkably well, considering.  My primary advice to moving families would be to inspect the tires of your U-Haul or Ryder truck BEFORE leaving the lot.  When we moved from New York to North Carolina, quite a few years ago, our move was enlivened by the U-Haul truck experiencing a blowout in BFE Pennsylvania.  On this move, we got up early, picked up the U-Haul, began loading our furniture into it, only to find that one tire was flat.   We then called the repair shop, and, between them giving the repairman the wrong city and the repairman experiencing a fear of storms (he refused to exit his vehicle until the storm had passed, a matter of several hours), we weren’t able to get going until around 2:00 pm.  The good news was that we made the move in two trips, and no further flat tires happened to disrupt our journey.

And now, a bit about life in the house, since being in a place and using appliances is always different in practice than in theory.

The house:

We love it; it’s solidly built, and the walls are very, very quiet.  My favorite feature is the 12′ wide sliding glass door, though the window treatments for this cost us an arm and a leg (always something to consider when determining the cost of the house: window treatments).  We have only purchased window treatments for the master bedroom and the great room, since these are fairly expensive things.

I also enjoy the library shelves; it’s wonderful to finally have a place to store all of our books.  The under-the-stairs closet was another stroke of genius on our part.  We have a lot of random crap that’s not fit to display, but that we are reluctant to discard.

The appliances:

Our washing machine leaked when we first ran it, but we called out the Appliance Direct repairman.  He came promptly and tugged on the front of the machine, explaining that it sometimes gets a little bent by the delivery men.  Sure enough, this solved our problem.  We like the front-loading washing machine.  When we began to use this appliance, we’d sit in front of it, enraptured by the swirling clothing.

Our  dishwasher is a mixed bag.  It is very, very silent, which is great.  We don’t even know it’s running, until it begins draining out the water.  On the other hand, it doesn’t clean terribly well.  We usually end up with 3-6 dishes, pieces of silverware, pots, etc. per load that need a hand washing.  These aren’t pieces that had baked-on food, either, so I’m mystified as to why it leaves so many of our dishes unclean.

Our refrigerator is good: easy access, especially the tilt-out freezer.  There are two features I’m not wild about.  The first is the French doors, because you have to give these a nice, solid press in order to close them all the way.  I’m used to a door that you just kind of swing shut, and off it closes on its own.  These definitely take a deliberate act of closing to fully shut.  The second feature is the alarm, which goes off after the doors have been opened after around 30 seconds.  This is extremely irritating when one is attempting to put away groceries, but I don’t turn the alarm off because of the aforementioned door closing issue.  Several times now the alarm has alerted us that we didn’t close the doors deliberately enough.  Other than that, we like the refrigerator.  It’s well-laid-out and is quiet and energy efficient.

The range is awesome.  No cons at all about it.  The small upper oven preheats very, very rapidly.  We actually haven’t used the larger oven yet, so this is a good energy-saving feature.  The gas cooktop is nice, and my husband enjoys the sear that he gets on the food, as compared to our former electric coiltop range.

The furniture:

We’re very happy with our American Signature Plantation Cove furniture.  The down cushions on our couch are nice and comfy, and the bedroom furniture is nice and solid.  No complaints there.

The yard:

I’m having so much fun with this!  We purchased an electric mower (zero emissions, baby!), and I have been cutting grass for the first time in my life.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off quickly, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

We rented a cordless drill and used some leftover pieces of Hardie board to make raised vegetable garden beds.  I’ve started some vegetables (peas, tomatoes, okra, and spinach), so we’ll see how that shakes down.

We spent several days hoeing a patch that will be our butterfly garden eventually, also.   Right now, I have in it one hosa, two Mexican heathers, and a few very, very tiny Orange Cosmos plants.  I’ve got some seedlings that are still too small to be transplanted, of dill, milkweed, and mistflowers, and we purchased two coral honeysuckle vines: one to climb around our well’s lattice work and the other to climb around the fence by the butterfly garden.  We will see how that works out also.

We also bought two Walter’s Viburnum bushes and planted them in a clear area by the fence that separates us from the neighbors with the aggressive dogs.  The dogs are getting better, but still not enough where I trust Hannah outside alone with them.

Hannah loves the clumps of palmettos and oaks.  She can happily spend 20 minutes at a time crawling through these thick patches.  I’m afraid that she’ll be bitten by a snake, but there’s not much I can do about it, short of razing the yard, which I’m not willing to do.

So that’s about it for us.  We still haven’t finished unpacking and organizing everything.  Perhaps that will be a task for me during winter break.

So close!

August 12, 2007

We have a yard! With actual, factual sod: Bahia grass in part. We just sodded the small area in front of the house and in the backyard area behind the house. We’re leaving the clumps of oaks & palmettos, and have big plans for the backyard area that is farther back: a future vegetable garden and butterfly garden.

Here is the backyard with the sod:

And here is the front yard area:

We have the front of the house surrounded by a layer of pebbles, than have a layer of pine needles between the pebbles and the sod:

Our plants are mostly natives, with one glaring exception: my indulgence, the gardenia. I love their smell, so we planted a gardenia bush next to our back porch. I’m hoping that it will fluorish, so that we will enjoy those heavenly breezes as we sit out on our porch. Ah…

The painters were hard at work today. They stained the library bookshelves:

And painted the wainscoting in the downstairs bathroom:

The kitchen installers had come in and finished up. They attached our door knobs and pulls, and they also installed the onion & potato baskets:

Then we got to work, installing the backsplash. We’re actually quite proud of this. Our back splash is the ACP thermosplastic panels, which look an awful lot like real stainless steel. They were very easy to install; we were able to do them in about 5 1/2 hours. Here is a photo of me hard at work measuring:

And here is the finished product: huzzah!

We’re very proud of ourselves 🙂

Our LG dishwasher from Appliance Direct came in on Monday, though it’s not very photogenic:

And we got a delightful new toy: Roomba! He is such a good boy; he vacuums our upstairs bedroom for us with very few complaints. Occasionally, he gets caught in the deep pile, or else he gets a plastic thread from the new carpet cuttings tangled in his bristles. When that happens, he calls for help, very pitifully, then shuts himself down and waits for us to heed his cries. I can only scratch my head in bemusement: why didn’t we get one of these before? I am a mediocre housekeeper at best, so Roomba is going to save me a good deal of work.

Since the carpet is new, there was a lot of loose yarn, so we had to come to Roomba and empty his bin several times today. When he got tired, he returned to his docking station for a recharge. Hooray for Roomba!

Now, back to the house. The fencing people will be coming out early next week (not this coming week, but the one after). We are getting a 4-rail fence on 3 sides, and are sharing our fourth side of fence with our neighbors, who are amenable to that idea.

We’ve passed all health and code inspections, so we are ready for our Certificate of Occupancy. There are just a few hoops that our builder, Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc. has to jump through, and then we are done. Our furniture will arrive on Saturday, August 18: a red letter day for us. It will be our first set of matching furniture, not mishmashed giveaways.

A giant hole in our yard

June 23, 2007

Yes, there is a giant hole in our backyard. Here it is:

“Oh, no!” you exclaim. “Just when things were going so well!” Not to fear; this giant hole is actually a necessary part of the circle of life. It enables us to get through the day. We can use now use the bathroom in our house – or we could if we had toilets. This, my friends, is part of acquiring a septic tank.

I was lucky enough to catch the tank before it was inspected and, thus, buried:

And here is our unburied drain field:

Here, in contrast, is the drain field once it’s been inspected and buried:

The giant hole is still there, just waiting to be filled. The reason for the hole is that the septic tank people needed to build up the land, before they could get the septic tank inspected. In order to build it up, they took dirt from right in front of our back porch. Now that the inspection is finished, Woody can bring in fill dirt to – you guessed it – fill the hole.

And now, a brief rant on our propane company of choice. The one fly in our ointment, throughout this process, has been the proprane company we had the misfortune to choose. They were scheduled to come the week before last, but, without calling Woody or giving him any indication why, they just didn’t show up. So he rescheduled them for Wednesday of this past week, June 20. Part of the crew showed up: the part the brought in our hot water heater. The part that was supposed to bury the tank, however, called in sick. So we will try again, this coming week, to coax them out to our lot.

The tank is yet another thorn in our sides.

It is not a good tank. It is a bottom of the line tank. We told the propane man, repeatedly, that we’d like to pay more to upgrade to a better insulated tank. This would save energy, which is our goal. It is not, however, his goal. The more energy we save, the less money we give him for propane. So he went ahead and installed the bottom-of-the-line tank. We will foil him by wrapping it in a tank blanket. But we’re still disgruntled.

And, finally, the third problem, which, again, we must attribute to the propane company. We told him that we were having an electric dryer. He decided to go ahead and put a propane drop in for our dryer. What can it hurt? Maybe it will help for resale value. Good point, EXCEPT – the electric guy, on seeing that we’re having a gas dryer, then doesn’t install the necessary wiring for our electric dryer. Result: our electric dryer is delivered, and there is no plug. Woody now has to rip out drywall to put in the correct wiring. Thank you, propane man.

Here is a picture of our washer & dryer:

It’s not a good picture, because we couldn’t really get in front of them, but you get the idea. They’re both good, and very energy efficient. We are happy with everything but the propane man.

Our range was delivered today, and, since it’s a dual fuel range, we will need the propane man to hook this up with a special liquid propane kit. Dare we trust him to do this? Will we, in the words of the Flying Hawaiian, David Kala’iki Ali’i when confronted with propene, say to ourselves, “I thank God everyday … that I didn’t get exploded.”

We also now have a bar; the rest of the Silestone has been put in:

The beadboard is going in, in our downstairs bath. This will be painted white when the painters return:

Next week, Woody will return and work on getting our stairs in. The maple has arrived, and is chilling in the garage right now. Unless he thinks up another excuse, the propane guy will return and bury our propane tank. And, once the range is hooked up, we can get the electric inspection and get temporary electric turned on, our first step to getting the bamboo floors installed.

A note about living in Florida: you see a lot of sad things. I saw a gopher tortoise get exploded on the road this week, when a dump truck just tore right through him. Very sad. It always stinks to see an endangered species, or, indeed, any species at all, die a nasty road death. Today, while we were driving from our house to the recycling center (we recycle all the cardboard, cans, bottles, etc. from the construction site), we saw another sad road death:

He was nowhere near a pond or lake, so I’m not sure why he was out where he was killed.

But then we came home to our apartment, and the waterfowl were frolicking in our pond, and that was nice: