Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

Special Delivery

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Spring is here (at least in Houston), so Ethan & I have taken up gardening! We’re in the process of building raised beds for a vegetable garden behind our garage – more details on that coming soon.

We started construction this weekend, but for two 5′ x 12′ raised beds, we needed a lot of dirt. So Ethan made a quick trip to Living Earth & placed an order. This afternoon, a dump truck came rolling down our street with 6 cubic yards of dirt. Ever wonder what that looks like on say…a driveway? Well, here it is.

My apologies for the terrible iPhone pics. I didn’t have the foresight to grab my camera. But if I had, I would’ve been the girl sitting on the curb with a camera, waiting for a dump truck full of dirt. Real cool.

Now the clock is ticking…we have to get this stuff into the backyard before our HOA notices!

February 19, 2011

Quick Tip: Oil or Latex?

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

While we’re on the subject of paint, here’s a quick tip for determining if your existing trim is covered in oil or latex paint.

Most interior woodwork (trim, doors, cabinetry) is coated with oil-based paint. Although it’s rather messy to clean up, oil-based has a better look when you’re painting semi-gloss or high-gloss trim. Oil-based takes a little longer to dry, but it won’t show as many brush strokes as latex. So if given the option, I’d always choose oil-based paint for trim.

Our existing trim was covered in oil-based paint. But before we purchased 5 gallons of the new color, I wanted to be absolutely sure. Oil-based paint will adhere to latex, but latex won’t adhere to oil. So if it was originally painted with oil, you better repaint with oil.

Here’s the 5 second way to find out: rubbing alcohol + cotton balls.

Put a little alcohol on a cotton ball (or an old rag) & rub it on the paint in question. It’s a good idea to do this in an inconspicuous area. If paint comes off on your cotton ball, it’s latex. If not, it’s oil based.

So there you have it. Give it a try & let me know how it goes – Happy Painting!

February 17, 2011

I’ll Take the Big One!

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Since my husband has been cooking up a storm today (20+ gallons of spaghetti sauce for a cookoff tomorrow evening) and storing that sauce in 5 gallon paint buckets (they’re new & clean – why not?), I thought I’d share our adventure with a 5 gallon bucket of paint.

It’s been a love/hate relationship from the start.

One of our first big projects after moving day was the master bedroom. Remember this? Big mess.


With that gaping hole in the ceiling, it was completely inhabitable. And even though my dad boarded it up, but I sure wasn’t sleeping in there! Since the room was already torn apart, I decided to redesign the whole ceiling – new can lights & relocate the air vents (because that’s where I wanted the can lights, of course).

{master ceiling – during the redesign}

After we called in reinforcements (in the form of Angel, my oh-so-talented drywall guy) to patch up the ceiling, we had LOTS of painting to do. Walls, ceiling, trim, doors – if there hadn’t been carpet on the floor I would’ve painted it too!

After much deliberation, I finally settled on Benjamin Moore’s “Super White” for the trim. Since we planned to use it on all 23 interior doors (yes, 23 – they’re out of control), the entry and dining room wainscot, plus various built-ins, I figured we’d need at least 5 gallons. And since there’s a nice discount on the 5 gallon bucket, buying in bulk seemed like the perfect solution.

So I drove down to my local Ben Moore store, bought that big bucket & proudly lugged it home. Ethan & I got started on the master bedroom trim right away and painted the first coat that evening. Check out our handiwork!

{Can you believe how yellow the trim was??}

One coat down – we were well on our way (and EXTREMELY excited about seeing that yellow trim disappear!)

Fast forward to the next night. We’re armed with 4.99 gallons of “Super White” and ready for coat #2. But the can didn’t open as easily this time.

We’re slightly messy painters, and we’d failed to clean the small cap as well as we should have. So it took a wee bit more elbow grease to open the second time around. Here’s my mess from the first night of trim painting.

Multiply this episode by a few more rooms/weekends. We started using pliers to open & close the can until finally, it wouldn’t close at all. Fabulous.

I think this was the first time (and it surely won’t be the last) I realized the difference between overseeing a whole home renovation and actually doing the work yourself. It has everything to do with your manpower & the oh-so-crucial timeline – days or weeks vs. YEARS. Where’s that painting crew when you need them?

So here’s my recommendation (and the solution we found for our dilemma) to any DIYers who might actually need 5 gallons of paint.

1. Make sure you actually need that much and buy it (but seriously, calculate first).

2. Go directly to Lowe’s/Home Depot (do not pass go, do not collect $200) and buy five 1-gallon easy-to-seal paint buckets.

3. Carefully portion out your paint into the new buckets. It’s probably a good idea to do this outside.

You may lose a little paint during the transfer, but you won’t risk it drying out, getting clumpy, and having to strain debris out of your paint months later (take it from a girl who knows). So there you have it. Five gallons of paint: good, bad, or maybe a little of both.

One thing is for sure – this overzealous DIYer still has about 4.25 gallons of “Super White” paint sitting around her house. We have some painting to do!

UPDATE: Ethan’s spaghetti sauce won third place at the cookoff! I’m so proud.

February 7, 2011


by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Last week was a rather interesting one. We had our fair share of home repair projects and water seemed to be the common theme.

Water Situation #1

While half awake & making coffee on Tuesday morning, I snuck a peak at our work-in-progress half bathroom, only to find water dripping from the ceiling. BIG problem!

The night before, a torrential downpour blew through Houston, and apparently our brand new roof (thanks to an August hailstorm) didn’t hold up to the weather. We put in a call to Don the Contractor, who came out with his crew the next morning & sealed up the pesky flashing that caused the problem. So now we’re left with a soggy ceiling & just a little more work that originally planned in the half bath. (That project just got bumped to the top of the list!)

And you think THAT would be the highlight of our week.

Water Situation #2

Behind that Monday night/Tuesday morning rainstorm was a blast of arctic air. We knew it was on it’s way and took all the necessary precautions…or so we thought. So when we woke up Wednesday morning, Ethan was a tiny bit upset (ok, a whole lot upset) when turned on the shower & nothing came out.

I know what you’re thinking – frozen pipes. So were we. But we took all the necessary precautions! Don’t those pipes look nice & warm to you?

{main water line + unused water softener}

Well they weren’t. Here’s a little background information on the never-ending water drama around our house. Before buying our lovely foreclosure, we did the responsible thing & hired a home inspector. His assessment brought forth a laundry list of minor problems, along with one not-so-minor problem: the main water line to the house was busted. And how do you think it broke? You got it – frozen pipes! So we’ve been here before – oh goodie.

Which brings us back to this morning’s adventure. Ethan goes to take a shower…no water…overwhelming sense of dread. He bundles up, goes outside to assess the situation & we make a phone call to dear ole Dad, the master of all household projects. There are a couple of places where the freeze could be & there’s only one way to find out. Time to thaw out some pipes!

STEP 1 – Get water. Sounds easy, but…the pipes are frozen. Now imagine where in your house there’s water that’s not inside a pipe. That’s right, the toilet. Not the bowl (gross!!), the tank. I know, still gross. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

STEP 2 – Boil water. This may take a while (especially with our circa 1984 stove), so feel free to make breakfast while you’re waiting.

{Abby – getting in the way while I’m frying eggs}

STEP 3 – Take boiling water outside & thaw out some pipes!

While Ethan is pouring a couple of gallons of boiling toilet-tank water over the two suspected area, water starts spewing from the shut-off valve connected to the water softener. Found it! I thought about grabbing the camera to catch it in action…but I’m pretty sure he would’ve killed me. So here’s the troubled spot – post drama.

{the frozen spot – our water softener shut-off valve}

We both needed to get to work, so Ethan turned off the main water supply (there’s a shut-off valve at the street) and we put this project on hold until the evening. In the meantime, we both headed off to our offices without showers or the necessary dose of morning caffeine. Thankfully Starbucks had a solution for one of those problems.

That afternoon, my dear husband came home from work, armed with the necessary supplies (plus a decent amount of daylight & the luxury of above-freezing temps – smart guy). Here’s what he had in hand.

{l-r: pipe insulation, 3/4″ pvc pipe, pvc primer + pvc glue, residue-free duct tape, right angle connections}

I’ll spare you all the technical details, but he basically recreated the “U” connection and bypassed the water softener all together (we’ve never used it & definitely don’t want to mess with it now). At a future date (when it’s not as cold & we’re not in an emergency situation), we’ll chunk that old, unused water softener & put this whole thing connection underground. But in the meantime, this definitely did the trick – check out his handywork!

{the repair work in progress + the finished job}

Nothing glamorous, but we now have running water & that’s all a girl can ask for! Good thing I have a husband who knows how to save the day!

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