Warming the House.

Tomorrow (or later today, rather) is our housewarming party! I've been baking and cooking for the past couple of hours to get a head start on the morning. Really looking forward to hanging out with some people outside of work. Sounds like we are going to have around 30-40 people! I hope it's nice so we can go outside too...

In preparation for the party I did a bit more with the outside of the house. The front porch really needed some sprucing up, so I tried my hand at making some planters. I found this pretty hard as I was going into it with no idea what to do. I asked a woman at Lowe's for some suggestions and she started rattling off garden jargon and plant names and I had no idea what she was talking about. I pieced some things together and all in all I think they look pretty cute. I'm not sure if they will survive, but at least they will look okay for tomorrow.

I got a couple of great gifts from Jackie in the mail yesterday, one of which was this awesome switch cover that matches the framed poster we have in the living room. Thanks Jacks!

Last, but not least, I put the finishing touches on our master bathroom with another piece of artwork and some new colored glass bottles for the window in the shower.

Finally got the plumbers back over here, after a week of battling with them on the timing of it. They will only service homes between 8:30 and 10:30 M-F. They would not budge on that, and I refuse (and am not able) to take time off from work to meet with them. Finally the builder sent their building supervisor to the house to meet them and he locked up when they were done. Apparently the replaced the upstairs toilet, but did nothing about the valve. They swear to me that there is nothing wrong with it and that I shouldn't have any more problems. It's an exhausting story to tell, but the bottom line is that I have a feeling we're going to have a problem again. All I can do is wait for it to happen and call again. Perhaps this time I'll have to pull out some Teddy Baron (my grandfather who was notorious for sticking it to the man) attitude. For now the plan is to have everyone at the party use the downstairs toilet so the plumbers have a sweet surprise waiting for them when the go to check the valve next time...

Stay tuned for party pictures!


I'll use "Spring Has Sprung!" since I can't think of any other clever tributes to spring for the heading of this post.

Everything is blooming and I wore shorts and tank tops all weekend. We've been sleeping with the windows open and a fan on. We barbecued our dinner Friday night. I think Spring is officially here.

The Dogwoods are blooming! Could "Green Thumb Weazie" actually have given them life? I suppose time will truly tell...

I got some supplies for our housewarming party this Saturday. The back yard needs some sprucing up since it still only has a bit of grass and straw back there, so I found some cute glass lanterns and posts to put them on. I also found some new gnome friends. Kathy and Theresa are bringing over some tables and chairs since we are still lacking in the outdoor furniture department (a problem that I almost solved this weekend as I drooled over the back yard gazebo and patio furniture sets that Target has...but then remembered that most people like food at a wedding so I should save my money to pay the caterer). I got some little birdies to decorate the tables and have 4 more of the colored lanterns to display. The party will be mostly during daylight hours, but those of us that are hardcore may get to enjoy the lanterns once the sun goes down as well.

Seriously though. *Drooooool*

Who could resist purchasing a happy little pipe smoking gnome?

I also got some new artwork in the mail this weekend and ran out to Michael's for some frames. I'm totally in love with Etsy and have been getting a ton of ideas, inspiration, and original products from there. If you are looking for anything homemade, check it out. The tree photo really completes the living room artwork and I'm in love with the birds in love. Too cute. Birds are all the rage in home decor and clothing lately and I couldn't be happier about it. Right up my alley!

In house news, we are having plumbing problems again. More of the same, I'm afraid, and a problem upstairs as well. It's frustrating, but Cimarron has been great. The plumbing company annoyed me today because they are saying they will only come to service the upstairs toilet between 8:30am and 10:30am M-F. I explained that I can't (and won't) take time from work and that we need to work something else out. She just kept repeating that those were the only times they would come out here and that I should call Cimarron and see if someone from their office wants to come and wait at my house for the plumbers for me. Needless to say, Cimarron laughed at that idea. I'm still waiting for a phone call in regards to when they will come to the house. They are working on the outside stuff tomorrow. More details as events unfold...

Finally, I'll leave you with some shots of the cats in various stages throughout the day. I always crack up when I come home and find them snuggled up somewhere together. The last shot is classic. Ted was trying to take a nap and Mortimer just couldn't get enough of his favorite person in the world. Who can blame him?


Arbor Day!

My parents got us two red flowering dogwood trees to add to our yard! Ted and I "walked the yard" together and decided to plant the little guys to the left of the driveway to give some sort of border between our yard and the neighbor's. I was all gung-ho about planting them yesterday, but it was a bit chilly outside and I soon discovered that the shovel I bought wasn't going to dig through the rock we have in our yard. I made multiple trips back into the house pathetically shouting "planting things is hard!" up the stairs to Ted. He was busy with his own work though, so I gave up and watched a movie instead. I felt inspired on my way home from work today because of the nice warm weather, so I stopped off at Lowe's and picked up a pick axe. It worked like a charm and I had the first tree planted before Ted got home. He helped me with the second one and we were done before I knew it. What seemed to be a daunting task after my first attempt yesterday was actually quite fun and I'm looking forward to doing some more landscaping in the near future. I think our little dogwoods look adorable and I can't wait for them to bloom. Now, I just hope I planted them correctly and they will grow in our crazy terrain...

Our two new little friends

The obligatory "before" shot

The don't call me "Green Thumb Weazie" for nothin'!

Getting a drink

Planted and ready to grow!


The Plumbing Fiasco 2007

The fam arrived in town safely Friday night. This brought the population in the household up to 6 adults, one toddler, two cats, and an odd looking dog. We ate pizza. We laughed. We slept. We showered. We went on adventures. Rinse and repeat. On Sunday morning, my father noticed that the toilet in the half bath downstairs was clogged. He spent quite a bit of time and energy trying to unclog it with the plunger, to no avail. As he was plunging, I noticed an odd gurgling in the kitchen sink, suggesting the problem may not be at the toilet itself. As I ran water in the kitchen sink, the toilet began overflowing. We now knew that a trip to Lowe's was in order. We got some draino and a snake and my dad got to work. After a trip to the park to let the draino take effect, it became quite obvious that we had a bigger problem on our hands. My dad checked out my pictures from when the house was built and was able to figure out where all of the plumbing ran. We have a sewer access point in the yard, but when we went to take off the "hand tighten only" cap, we found that it had been tightened way too much with some sort of fabricated tool. My dad tried everything he could think of to try to get that cap off, but just couldn't budge it. He even took another trip to Lowe's and bought some special tools, but it was on there for keeps. While at Lowe's he found the exact cap and piping he was trying to loosen. He bought it, knowing he was going to have to break the cap open to get to the root of our problem. He did just that and found that when the plumbers had put that cap on, they hadn't put it on correctly and the back flow valve which should be positioned just so was laying all haphazardly in the middle of the pipe--causing a major obstruction and back up of all the downstairs drainage. It appears it had been that way since they did the plumbing on the house, so everything that had been flushed or put down the drains downstairs since we moved in was backed up along the pipe. I'll spare you the gory details, but let's just say that my father rocks and we have some hilarious pictures and inside jokes from the incident. Once he removed the obstruction, everything was working fine again. Of course, I was an emotional wreck the entire time thinking that our plumbing in this brand new house was shot. I called the builders first thing Monday morning and they sent the plumbers our right away. He spent most of his time trying to get that cap off, and ended up having to use a hacksaw. It turns out that they do have a fabricated tool they use to unscrew these caps, but must be using it to tighten them too, and someone got crazy with it. Since the toilet downstairs had been overflowing he had to move that and make sure the floors were okay beneath it. Then he put a new wax seal on and re-caulked it for us. Everything has been working fine since then and I guess the good news is that Ted and I now understand our plumbing system better than we ever thought we would! Anyway, a special thanks to my father for working his butt off on Sunday, and for the rest of the family for cheering him on! I'm hoping that's the only plumbing disaster we'll run into...this year.


Stay tuned for "Plumbing Fiasco 2007: We're all gummed up."

The story in full will be coming soon...
The Letter

March 15, 2007

Mary Davis
Electrolux Liabilities Department
PO Box 212378
Augusta, GA 30917

Dear Ms. Davis:

My fiancé and I purchased a new construction home on January 30, 2007. We moved into the new house the following day on Wednesday, January 31. We had a Frigidaire SXS refrigerator (model # FRS6LF7FM-6, serial # 4A70319874, silver mist color) delivered from Lowe’s that afternoon. The fridge was installed and appeared to work fine until Saturday, February 3, when we noticed that the food in the freezer was not fully frozen. We consulted the fridge’s owner’s manual and were instructed to adjust the temperature to a cooler setting and then wait 24 hours for the fridge to adjust. When we woke up on Sunday, February 4, there was a pool of standing water in front of the refrigerator and water leaking from the freezer section. All of the food in the freezer had completely thawed and all ice had melted. As my fiancé cleaned up the mess, I called Lowe’s regarding this five-day-old fridge. I was instructed to call the service center, which I did. I was finally put in touch with the Electrolux service center, but was told that no one could come look at the refrigerator for at least two days. We have hardwood floors in our brand new kitchen and allowing water to leak from the fridge on the floors for two more days would ruin them. I called Lowe’s and they agreed to replace the fridge that day. When the delivery team came to replace the fridge, my fiancé and I noticed the water damage to the floors, shown in the photographs provided.

When I try to contact your company about the damage your malfunctioning unit has caused, I have been put on hold and transferred to a number that no one answers. I have left a message on a voicemail about my issue instead of talking to a real human being. When no one returned my call, I called again, making my way through automated systems and countless transfers, and was told that the liabilities department at Electrolux does not have a single phone number that will reach a human being in that department. There is only a number to a voicemail. I feel that you and your company’s “policies” have insinuated that you will not rectify the damage done to my floors unless I jump through countless hoops that you throw my way. You yourself have told me that I went about replacing this refrigerator in the wrong way from the beginning, stating that I should have waited until your service people could get to my house, two days after the malfunction of the fridge, instead of replacing the refrigerator. You have told me that Lowe’s should not have helped me by replacing the refrigerator. You have told me that I needed to prevent further damage to my floors while your refrigerator sat on them waiting to be “serviced” by continually mopping up any water that leaked onto them. When asked what I was supposed to do to keep my food cold for two days, you had no reply. When I explained that I no longer have the refrigerator that malfunctioned in my possession, I was told that without record of me servicing the fridge and the actual part that was broken, I probably did not have much of a case.

I am appalled that a company of your stature treats their customers in this way, especially in stressful situations as the one described above. Not once was I told that Frigidaire was sorry for my inconvenience, sorry that their product had failed me. Not once was I reminded that I am a valued customer and that my business with Frigidaire is appreciated or even acknowledged. Not once was my situation considered with competent customer service. I am now questioning how Frigidaire became a household name, as it appears that it has nothing to do with the quality of your expensive products, and I now know first hand that it has absolutely nothing to do with your customer service.

As you can imagine, this has been quite upsetting to us as first-time homeowners. I do not expect a refrigerator that cost more than $1,000 to malfunction within three days and I have been very displeased with the way I have been treated by you and the rest of your company. The only feedback I have received so far, Ms. Davis, is that I need to spend a lot of my life energy fulfilling your checklist of documentation regarding your refrigerator that malfunctioned and ruined my new floors. I have complied with your requests and you will find the proper documentation included in this packet. A leak in the sealed system of the fridge was repaired by the service center contracted by Lowe’s, therefore no actual parts are included with my paperwork. I expect you and your administrators to review my information and my situation carefully and I expect the damage that was done to my new home by your product to be repaired in a timely fashion. I would also hope that you would share my concerns about the customer service aspect of your company with your supervisors.




Weekend Extravaganza

An abbreviated portion of "the fam" are on their way south as I type. They should arrive around 7 or 8 tonight. "They" consist of my mother and father, sister, brother-in-law, and 3 year old niece Bella. They'll stay through the weekend, head off to their vacation spots, and then return next weekend on their way back home. We'll certainly be maxing out our extra space with 5 house guests, but it's looking like we've got plenty of room to accommodate. Mom, Dad, and Bella will sleep in my office/guest bedroom while Dria and John will sleep in the loft. We still have Ted's office and the entire downstairs! We're missing Teague and Mindy, but had they decided to come to town as well, there would be plenty of room for another air mattress. Looking forward to their arrival.

Got another floor estimate this morning. The woman tested the moisture in the floors and said that, though there was some moisture, it wasn't really enough to prove that there has been damage to the wood. She said that we must have cleaned up the water quick enough to prevent it from getting into the wood. She said that it's common for those floors to warp like that and then regain their shape as they dry out. We have residual ridges in the wood that you can see at the correct angle and feel if you run your hand over them. The first company said that it wasn't too bad either, but that those ridges could wear down faster than the rest of the floor causing a problem in the future. The woman this morning told us to give it another month or two and she thinks they will be back to normal. She also is the second person to say that they would have to rip up the majority of the floor to fix that one spot. So now we are stuck with the dilemma of "to fix or not to fix." I hate to give up on my Frigidaire quest (though it would be some welcomed peace) in case they don't go back to normal and we want them fixed down the road. But I also don't want to rip apart half of the kitchen and worry what the floors will look like when all of that is done. Will they match the rest of the floors? I'll be so angry with myself if we go through all of this and the floors look worse in the end. Any suggestions or thoughts?

A couple of pictures to post. I don't think I've posted any pictures of our bedroom now that we have some art up and the bed is actually made (thanks Ted!). Also, a shot of the loft transformed into a guest room.


Torture Me Tuesday.

Have I made it clear yet how much of a nightmare this floor/fridge situation has been? The saga continues. It was easy as pie to get our first estimate. They were friendly and punctual. They sent two copies of the estimate on letterhead-one for me to keep, and one to send to Frigidaire. They followed up with a phone call. The second estimate? Not so easy.

The first guy I called I could barely understand. His street slang was so thick I felt like I was standing on a corner in Harlem. I knew it was a mistake to continue with the estimate request, but it was one of those situations where I was in too deep and felt stupid for backing out. I figured I'd give him a chance. Perhaps I was being judgemental. Perhaps behind his bad English was a degree in hardwood flooring from Stanford. Who was I to judge?

He never showed up and never called.

The second guy was a bit better. He actually showed up. He did, however, inform me that he might have to rip apart the whole kitchen to fix the small area in front of the fridge. He took measurements of the kitchen, hall, AND bathroom. "Just in case," he said as I raised my eyebrows. I wrote my email address down for him to send me an estimate. "Will that be on letterhead?" I inquired. "Of course!" he said quickly. I then noticed him jot down "letterhead" next to my name in his notebook. Uh oh. He promised the estimate later that day or the next. It never came. We called and left messages, but got no return call. Finally, I reached him yesterday. He assured me he sent it. I asked him to resend it to me and he agreed. This morning I found this in my inbox:

Take up water damaged floors,furnish and install new glue down prefinish hardwod floor in kitchen 105sq.ft.@$10.00 per sq. ft. Total $1,050.00

Thank you,
Larry (919)369-xxxx

I wrote back and told him this was supposed to be on letterhead, but I suspect his company does not have letterhead. I did not mention that it should also be free of grammar and spelling errors. Strike two.

Attempt number three just occurred. I spoke to a woman on the phone yesterday to schedule today's appointment. I explained our situation and that I needed an estimate to get Frigidaire to pay for the damage. She asked what kind of Mohawk flooring it was. My reply of "hardwood" was not specific enough. She wanted to know details that I could not comprehend. It was apparently an issue that I didn't know the exact type of floor it was. "So, do you only deal in a specific type of Mohawk flooring?" I asked. "No, we deal with it all," she replied. "So, won't you know what type it is when you come and look at it?" I again inquired, puzzled. "Hopefully!" she exclaimed. Things were not looking good.

I came home to meet the guy at 12:30. As I explained the situation he stopped me mid-sentence. "Most estimates are free, but if you want one to send in for a claim, it's fifty dollars." I looked at him blankly. "All I need is an estimate on letterhead," I said. No one else has charged me." At this point I was just tired. "Yeah, but that's how our company does it. We do the estimate on the computer and it takes over an hour to do it." I kindly showed him the door.

So, three strikes and we're out? NEV-AH! I called around to a few other potentially incompetent businesses and made some more appointments. Mary Davis at Frigidaire will not defeat me!


Saturday Errands

We ran a few errands this morning and then decided it was time to get the garage in shape. It has been in various stages of organization since we moved in, but seemed to have blown up in the past couple of weeks with various projects we've gotten into out there. Ted put together the bike rack for us to store the bikes off of the ground and it is perfect. I hung a shelf to put the portable DVD player on in front of the treadmill (running for 30 minutes is so easy when I have an episode of Will & Grace to watch) and we basically got things put away. We still need to get some big shelves to store things like paint cans and other cleaning supplies, and we'd like to come up with some sort of easy work shop set up that doesn't take up too much space. I found this idea in Ted's new subscription to The Family Handyman:

The Family Handyman seems like a good little magazine so far. Some great ideas with "how-to" instructions and illustrations.

We had a nice heavy rain the other night and our sad little starter yard is finally sprouting a bit of grass. Yay! It's still not picture-worthy though.

Here's some pics of the garage. I forgot to take before pictures, but believe me, this is much better. Still some work to be done, but that will require some $ and a trip to Lowe's.

In other news, I got this message from the Home Owner's Association. Ted and I are all about it:

On April 10, 2007 through May 17 from 7-8:30 p.m., the Police Department will be hosting our annual Citizen’s Police Academy. This year’s program is structured a little differently. Each division of the Police Department will have an active role in this year’s program. You will also have the opportunity to ride with an officer from Uniform Patrol. I am interested in seeing if we could have at least two representatives from each community. If you would be interested in attending, I have attached a copy of the application. If you have any questions, please let me know. This academy is now only offered once a year.