Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year Bloggers!

I've been wanting to share some of our house projects and photos with you, but just can't ever seem to find the time.  But this morning, with my ever so slight headache, I sat on the couch and decided that today is the day! 

We had a surprise snow storm several weeks back and I ventured out to get a photo of our Ravenna, all snow covered and cozy. 

And we actually managed to decorate the house for Christmas this year, inside and out! 

I hope all my blogger friends have had a happy holiday and I'm wishing you all a new year filled with hope, health and opportunities.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ready to Nuke the Microwave

Hi all!

Its been a year and a half (!!) since we moved into our Ravenna and I have been a very bad girl about posting updates.  I promise to post some pictures soon.

The inspiration for this post is that our "upgraded" GE microwave has #($*%&ing stopped working! And, of course, its also out of warranty.

For a few weeks, I've felt like there was something amiss.  It seemed like it was taking longer than normal for say, a potato to cook, and it was taking double the time for my fake bacon to cook in the morning.  We finally tested it out this weekend and found out that yes indeed, the microwave was doing no better than making things lukewarm.

After futzing with it, unplugging it and plugging it back in (it works for the computer, right?) and cleaning out some of the filters, it still remained only lukewarm.

The manual very helpfully said that if it wasn't getting food hot, to reset the power level.  Which was great, but it neglected to tell us how exactly to reset the power level.

I've discovered that if I cook food on power 9 (90% power) it actually cooks stuff.  On power 10 (100%) it acts like it is defrosting butter.  Anybody had similar experiences or advice?

I'm so disappointed that this brand new appliance has turned out to be such a piece of crap.  I have a Kenmore microwave at my rental townhouse that has been problem free since 1999.  I can assure you that this experience will ensure that I never purchase a GE appliance voluntarily.

Hope all my Ryan Friends are doing well, and can make food hot!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Garage is Garbage without the B

Hey, remember me?  The Ranter?  We moved into our house over a year ago and I promised to keep blogging but rarely have I been home to enjoy our new house, let alone do any projects to show off.  But now, as kayaking season is winding down and the weather is actually cool enough that we can sit outside and enjoy it, I spent some time time today puttering around in our gar<b>age.

Our garage: the only place that looks worse is the basement.

yes, i own a lot of boats.  There's a boat for every river, and I want them all

We haven't done squat to organize the garage or basement, with the exception of these very awesome kayak hangers:

With one hand I can raise and lower each boat (each weighs 50-60 pounds) down to the ground or right on top of my car.  While I'd like to take credit for being able to engineer it, we bought a kit called the Harken Hoister.  They make them for bikes, canoes, kayaks, mother-in-laws and anything else you might want to suspend from the ceiling. A tad pricey but I HIGHLY recommend.  We are fortunate that our garage ceiling is so high that the boats can be clear of the garage doors.  Garage doors that we don't really use because we can't squeeze either of our compact cars into the garage right now!!

I'm hearing that this winter might be a bit snowy so its time to maybe think about cleaning and organizing the garage to make it useable.

First will be to put some small shelves above the laundry sink.  But beyond that I'm a bit at a loss.

I've been thinking about maybe putting a large shelf all the way around the top of the garage for storage of things we don't use very much - my hammock, kayak crap, random tools and yard toys.  Then just get some regulation plastic shelves for storage of the usual garage stuff.  But how to install a nice sturdy shelf like that?  <scratches head and cracks beer>

So, for all my blogger friends, please share how you have overcome the rather small 2-car garage in most of the Ryan homes.  I would love tips and pictures and maybe even a how-to or two or three.

Take care and enjoy the fall weather, my blogger friends.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

AC solved

A big zap and a spark.  And BF diagnosed the AC problem, while leaning against the wall as I chanted "I TOLD YOU not to touch it!" and hoped I didn't need to call the paramedics.

Turned out, our AC problem WAS caused by a wiring issue, but not the aluminum v. copper that the AC dude has alluded to.  We discovered a junction box in the basement, and when BF got near it, he found that it was producing heat.  He touched it a couple times to determine that it WAS hot.  Then got zapped.  And the AC turned off.

We immediately called the electrical contractor, told them what was up (again) and they agreed to have the electrician come over before 6pm. When we discovered the issue, it was Friday afternoon and I was damned if I was going to let that spark producing junction box go all weekend.  He showed up around 4pm.  When he opened up the box, he found a hot mess (seriously).  He apologized profusely and accepted blame for the issue -- their company had wired the house improperly when it was built.  He said there is normally no junction box in this model house, but that they must have been short some wire and patched it.  So, he didn't bother to come in the house to look at the junction box the first time he came out.  Since he fixed it, the AC has worked with no issues.  And the house hasn't burned down.

This is certainly the biggest issue we have had with Ryan Homes since building the house.  What concerned me the most is that our new point person for repairs instructed us to just reset the breaker when it tripped to keep the AC running all weekend.  I'm fairly convinced that had we done that, we would have been dealing with a fire situation at some point over the weekend.  What concerned me second most is that it was up to me and BF to sniff out the issue and resolve it.  We had scheduled a joint meeting between the AC and electric contractor for Monday, but it felt like we were pulling teeth to get it scheduled.  Certainly, nobody understood the potential seriousness of the issue.  Except me and BF who were faced with the possibility of spending another 100 degree day with no AC in our 9 month old home.

Our 10-month inspection is coming up this week, and it will be the first time we meet our new Ryan Homes point guy in person -- and we are already off to kind of a rough start what with all the pissed off emails and phone calls and whatnot.  I hope he can make the repair process smoother and easier than he made the AC problem.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The great AC Caper

We've been in our new home for 10 months now and are scheduled for our 10 month punch list visit in two weeks.  I thought it was going to be a breeze, but we seem to be piling up the complaints.  More on that later.  First, this:

We had a tornado!  I was going to post pictures and tell you the whole story, but now that will have to wait because I've got a bug up my butt about the air conditioning and wanted to solicit some thoughts and opinions from you good folks to see if you've had any similar issues.

We've had a series of pretty terrible storms here in the Mid-Atlantic (and I'm hoping all my DC area Ryan friends have their electricity back and aren't too badly damaged!), coupled with horrible, horrible heat.  <puts environmental scientist cap on> For what its worth, this is the type of weather that can be expected to become more and more normal with the effects of climate change.  Keep this in mind as you are landscaping your homes and planning on where to plant trees and what types of trees to plant (like, ones less likely to blow over on your house. Please don't plant pears.  They are the worst).

So, after last week's 100 degree days, the AC unit started choking a bit.  BF likes to keep it around 70 <see above climate change piece to know why, besides having to wear a sweatshirt in the house, this makes me crazy>;  when the house was at 75 and wouldn't cool any more, I chalked it up to the fact that an AC unit can only do so much against that kind of heat.  Until I realized it wasn't on!  The fan was on, but the compressor wasn't.  And the circuit breaker was flipped.

Fast forward a week.  We have been flipping the circuit breaker back on periodically as the unit has tripped.  First I thought it was the heat, but now its happening routinely even on normal days like today (high 87 or so, and its right nice outside now, and it STILL won't stay on).

Today, the electrician came.  He checked everything and replaced the breaker at BF's request, even though he thought it was good.  He swore the problem was the AC unit.  We call the AC guys for an emergency visit (we are fed up with having to wait from 12-4 for someone to come over).  AC guy checks it out, and swears its the wiring, not the unit.  He's been here for an hour or so still trying to diagnose the problem, but it appears as no progress is being made.

We are caught in the middle.  Both the electrician and the HVAC guys are on contract with Ryan for these repairs and we are still under our warranty period.  HVAC has no incentive to find a problem, because it will cost them money.  Same too for electrician.  Our new project manager, while competent, has many more homes to take care of and is not nearly as responsive and awesome as our construction PM.   To make it more complicated, the AC guy says it is overheating and that it is probably because they wired the house with aluminum wires.  Aluminum?  I'm no wiring expert, but I'm pretty sure that copper wire is code, and if there is aluminum wiring in my house, we are going to have some problems.

Anyway, anyone out there experienced any similar AC issues?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Deck the yard

Well, the bedroom isn't put back together good enough for pictures yet, so I've decided its high time to share with you pictures of our new deck!

20' x 20' Deck
I am fortunate to have "my own guy" for house projects, so when it came to doing the new deck, calling him up was a no-brainer.  I probably could have done it for less, but with "my guy" I knew it would get done, get done well and be mostly on time.  And it was, just in time for my graduation/memorial day/deck-warming.

We thought 2 sets of steps would be nice
I'd like to do a patio area in front of morning room

This would be where a patio would go.
The deck is 20' x 20', with hidder hanger fasteners, so there are no exposed screw heads. I took months to pick out a type of deck, and color and after much internet research, price comparisons and anxiety, we chose Timber Tech Earthwood Evolutions in Pacific Rosewood.  This type of deck board is composite on the inside, and coated with PVC on all sides (except the ends). The PVC coating protects the composite from moisture (preventing mold and decomposition) and provides a scratch proof outer layer.  Its kinda like a skittle or M&M!  Hard candy coating on the outside...  There is a similar trex product, but it has a PVC coating only on the upper side of the deck board, which would make the underside susceptible to mold etc.  And, the trex ended up being more expensive.

A close up shot

View from the sliding glass door

Timber Tech Earthwood Evolutions Deck
color: Pacific Rosewood
Standard home-depot stock vinyl railing

The kitties were so excited to finally be able to use the back door
Meow.  Let me out.  Meow. Let me in.
All.  Day.  Long.
Once the deck was done, I realized how much I had missed having a useable outdoor space.  And back-door I could walk out of.  As soon as it was complete, we started hanging out outside way more often.  Morning coffee.  Evening dinner.  Drinking a beer.  Looking a stars....  And, yesterday we finally pulled the grill out of the garage so now we can cook here too!

If you have been holding off on building a deck or patio, i say do it now!  I'm so glad we didn't wait until we were "more settled" or "had enough money".  :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bedroom Blues

Dear blogger friends:

Please send me ambition and creativity.  We are halfway through FINALLY painting the master bedroom and I have just completely run out of steam.  Its like, the further I get, the longer the wall is... The only thing keeping me going is knowing that I can sit down with a beer, upload some pictures and show you all what we've done.