Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cleaning House

Literally.  The inside of the house is in pretty good shape with all the small renovations we've done over the last 7 months but the outside hasn't seen much love.  With Tyler's 2nd Birthday party around the corner we needed to get a few things done.

1.  The basement stairs were a mess of rust, chipping paint, and a clogged drain.  Here is a photo from our inspection day:

ignore the jungle grass growing in all directions and the broken hose cart.  See those nasty rust stains? Such an eye sore.
I bought some concrete cleaner and Jeff went to work power washing the stairwell.
Tyler and I watched from the comfort of his air conditioned bedroom.

 It helped but not quite enough and it would take forever for us to clean, sand, and paint the stairs, walls, and railing so we enlisted some help from the guy who sealed our driveway. Little did I know he would bring all of his kids, cousins, nephews, and friends to help him.  Seriously, I wish I had gotten a picture of the craziness.  They did a good job and the stairs look brand new.

2.  The swing set came with the house and apparently in it's day was one of the biggest models.  It's made by Rainbow Play Systems and is part of their castle series. 

It looked to be in pretty bad shape so we decided to go to check out the showroom in Columbia to see if we could get some new parts and speak to someone about getting a safety inspection.  The place was huge and Tyler had a blast running from play set to play set. 

The salesman said our model runs about $8,000 brand new (holy donut holes, batman!) to which I replied, "Who would pay that for a swing set?!".  Well, apparently a lot of people do.  While we were there 4 other families came in and each bought a swing set.  Who would have thought swing sets would be a lucrative business?
We set up a safety inspection to the tune of $160 which turned out to be a couple of guys that tighten all the bolts with a drill.
We found a nice website where we could purchase coated chain and a ships wheel for Tyler who is really into driving these days. 
I needed a  way to get the black "gunk" off the yellow plastic parts of the swing set and, as with pretty much all random questions that pop in my head in a day, I googled it. I didn't really get any great information.  Instead I set off with my trusty concoction of warm water and ammonia with a tooth brush.  It worked pretty well.  Most of the black gunk came right off.
We also had to remove the busted up flags.  We get some serious wind here (our street acts like a wind tunnel) and the flags had just been ripped to shreds over the years. So here's new updated swing set:

3.  The herb garden continues to be a work in progress.  We started off with a kit from Home Depot that I thought would take about an hour to put together.  WRONG! A few hours later and Jeff doing most of the work we had a garden with organic compost.  What took the most time was leveling the ground so the sides would be even.  Our top soil (if you can call it that) is full of rocks and tough clay material from when the house was built. 

The other reason it took a while: our little helper kept running off with the tools.

Here it is after planting the cilantro and the basil with a jalapeno pepper in the middle:

And here it is now (exactly 3 months later). 
The pepper plant was the first to die.  The cilantro lasted a little while but only long enough to get a couple of batches of salsa made.  I spoke to a successful cilantro grower to get some tips.  He said once it's gone to seed you have to just let it go so that is what I did.  There are tons of little seeds on the ends so I don't want to just cut it back and toss it out.

I planted Rosemary in the middle where the pepper plant used to be and it is doing well.  As you can see, the basil is doing really well.  It looks like a giant basil bush!

4.  The random white bricks on our front patio are an eyesore.  At first glance I thought it was chalk and would be easy to remove with a little water but no.  One of the 7 kiddos that lived here decided one day they wanted a white house instead of brick and began coloring in the bricks one by one with crayon.  Luckily they gave up pretty fast.  I'm guessing they either got caught or ran out of white crayon.

I googled it (again).  Yes, Google and I are BFF's.  If I had money I'd buy stock in it.  Google led me to the Crayola website where they said to use a brush and laundry detergent to get it out.  I armed myself with dish soap and a tooth brush and hoped for the best.

What do you know?  It actually worked!  And it didn't require nearly as much elbow grease as I thought it might.  Thank goodness...

Here's the before and after side by side so you don't have to scroll:

We have a few more outdoor projects to complete so stay tuned!

No comments: