Saturday, September 26, 2015

Apartment woes

 First let me say that as I spend a lot of time over at our new little rental house, I find myself having bad or at least critical feelings toward the previous owners.
I am working on this.
But, honestly, not very hard.
I get a certain amount of enjoyment out of grumbling about their poor treatment of the house, their inability to fix things properly and the messes they left us.
I have dealt with so much GRIME!
It makes me think bad things and then I think that maybe I should look more closely at my own house.  
Is my house this grimy and I don't realize it?
In my unkind moments I think that my house is not this disgusting.
But in my kinder moments I think maybe it is...
I go back and forth.

Since I'm gone so much these days, my house is definitely suffering.
At the moment it is definitely dirty.
So I should be less judgmental.
But not right now...right now I'm going to judge.

Our new little house has a basement apartment.
It's a simple place with one bedroom, a small living room and a kitchen.
Quirky is probably a nice way to describe it.

My sister took a few "before" pictures.

The entry to the apartment
(standing in the entry to the laundry room)

Our original plan was to paint, replace carpet and fix broken things.
The living room:

The view from the bedroom into the living room and kitchen beyond.
You can see the weird little heater on the wall there.

The kitchen is small and has an unusual layout but really isn't bad overall.
Problems: broken tiles (visible in the picture below), broken drawer, and no heat in the room.

There is a small closet in the living room and when Jaime, my niece and obviously a positive person, saw it she said, "Look at this cute closet. We can put our coats on these hooks."
To which her fiancé responded, "Unless we have to keep our coats on."

The bathroom is TINY.
A miniature toilet, a small pedestal sink and a very small shower.
We knew from the house inspection that the shower was probably leaking so we decided to replace it.
We opened a can of worms there, I will tell you.

This is the laundry room.
It has a dungeon sort of a feeling but functions.

We started ripping out the shower and discovered that it had, indeed, leaked.
The leaking (over a significant period of time...grumble, grumble) caused the boards in all of the surrounding walls to rot.
Including a main living room wall (the one with the heater on it) which was a bearing wall.

They all had to be torn out.

We also discovered that the vent fan that was located in the bathroom was not vented anywhere!
It simply sent the moisture into the area above the ceiling...
which would be the floor joists of the house upstairs.
The house was built during world war II so parts of it were obviously built from whatever was available.
Inside the wall, it was framed with pieces of fruit/vegetable crates.
I thought that was pretty cool to see.
I wish I would have saved some of those pieces of wood but I wasn't there and it all got taken to the dump. 
(sad face)

Tearing out the back wall.  
Now the laundry room is visible from the apartment.

View from the laundry room side...tearing out the wall.

Here's the view of the living room today:
New carpet was supposed to be installed early next week.
I don't think that will be happening.

and what was once a bathroom is now just a big hole.

We decided that since we had to rip the whole thing out, we may as well improve some things.
So now we are putting in a bigger shower, a vanity instead of a pedestal sink (a little storage is always nice), a normal sized toilet.
We are also taking some of the space from the laundry room and putting it into the bathroom so that we can add a closet in there.
It will still be a small bathroom...we didn't want to spend the money to move the plumbing around,
but it will be better for sure.
And not gross and old and moldy and leaky.
And the vent fan will actually vent the moisture OUTSIDE.
Imagine that.

We have also decided to put a more normal heater in.
It should be able to heat the kitchen and living room and hopefully the bedroom too.
The bedroom does have a separate electric heater though, just in case.

Today, as the new plumbing was being installed and the duct work rearranged,
water began coming up from the floor drain and the toilet drain
 (which no longer has a toilet on top of it)
Apparently our main drain to the house was plugged somehow.

It made a big mess
but Frank worked on the drain and we think and hope that it is fixed.
I really don't want to call a plumber.

I did have to work there all day without running water or use of a toilet.
That was fun.

I leave exhausted at the end of each day.
But things are slowly coming together.
The upstairs is ready for the new renters to come next week...all I have left to do is clean the grime off of the oven, (grumble) which I couldn't do today due to not having water, and mop the kitchen floor.

Frank does harder stuff than I do and I'm amazed at how much he accomplishes each day.
Today he was up in the attic fixing the upstairs bathroom vent 
(which vented into the attic instead of outside...what is wrong with these people???)
and it was a hot day.
He did drop an electric drill on my head as he was trying to work up there though.
Which is another story I suppose.

Anyway, those are my updates and my woes.

I'm sure we will love the place when it's all done!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


The neighbors at our new rental house have two little girls.
They are both very cute 
but the older girl is very outgoing and precocious.

Yesterday as I was painting in the living room, I could hear that something was going on outside,
but the house is right across the street from an elementary school
so there are often kids or parents walking along the sidewalk
so I didn't even look around at the noise.
Then I hear,
"Um helllooo"
So I turned around to see these two little girls standing at my door.

I went over and said Hi
The older girl told me all about herself and how her "bestest" friend used to live in this house.
The younger girl looked at my paint splotched shirt and said, "You are going to have to change your shirt."

They came by later in their dance clothes to show me that they are learning ballet.
I warned them to be careful since I was painting the front porch railing and it was wet.
The older girl said that she would definitely be careful because her tights were brand new!
As she said this, she used one foot to rub up and down her other show me the tights.
Sadly she was standing on a dirty sidewalk and got her new tights all messy...
When she noticed, she looked up at me (with a very sassy look on her face) and said, "You really need to clean up your house."

Today a workman arrived at the house and
the two girls arrived at the same moment with a friend in tow.
The workman thought they were my kids so he held the door open for them 
and they all trooped into my house.
The two girls said Hi and the little boy said,"I'm a stranger" as an introduction.
They wandered around my living room, into the bedrooms and kitchen.
I warned them to stay out of the basement where we were working.
The older girl asked if she could have a candy bar that she saw on the counter
but I had to tell her no since it was there in case Frank needed it for his blood sugar.

They went into the backyard and picked some raspberries and asked me to wash them.
I told them to take the berries home to wash them but that they were welcome to eat them.
A few minutes later the older girl returned to report that the berries were very delicious and it was the first time she had ever tried them.
She went and picked some more.

This kid is totally cracking me up!

Also, I have yet to meet her mom which I find a little odd since her kid is coming into my house and I am a total unknown to that mother.  
But it also makes me think it must be a nice little neighborhood if kids are used to wandering into each others' houses.
It's a good thing for that mom that I am a nice person and that I find her slightly pushy kids to be kind of adorable.

Friday, September 18, 2015


I have started volunteering at the Timpanogos LDS temple
which is only a couple of miles from my house.

This seemed like a good idea when I decided to do it.

But it turns out that I am the worst volunteer ever.

Week 1: go in and learn my job. no prob.
Week 2: Out of town.
Week 3: Forgot to tell them that I had to drive up to Rexburg ID that day to take a friend to college.  Oops.  Call and get a sub. Thank heaven someone was willing to fill in for me!

And then came week 4.

In order to go into an LDS temple you have to be an active member of the church in good standing.  We each get a temple recommend that we show at the front desk that allows entry.
I need this recommend when I volunteer as well.

Frank went on a business trip earlier this week and after he left I couldn't find my purse anywhere.
So we thought maybe I left it in his car (which only has one his pocket and is parked at the airport)
So I get all frantic realizing that my temple recommend is in there.
I cannot miss another week! I've only shown up once so far!

Then I find my purse.
It was here after all.
And temple recommend!

I get all frantic and make some calls to find out what I can do.
It takes some emails and calls but I get it worked out.

Week 4: Today...wake up with a horrible headache and nausea.
I haven't had a migraine in awhile and I actually have my botox treatment today
so for me to get this headache today of all days when I really have to show up
or truly be the worst volunteer upsetting.

I'm going anyway.

I have taken medication which seems to be doing absolutely nothing.
But I will at least show up...and then maybe go home early.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Slum Lord

Back in the spring, Frank got the idea in his head that we should buy a rental property.
I thought it was a generally good idea and said that we should definitely do that and start saving now to do it in a year or so...maybe.
But when Frank wants to accomplish something, he does it.
He started figuring out how to gather the necessary down payment.
We lived frugally.
We looked at all of our expenses and figured out where we could get some extra cash.

And then he sold his beloved jeep.

That's when I knew he was serious.

We spent quite a few months looking and even made some offers on a few places.
It was kind of nerve wracking at times.
(For example, the run down condo that tested positive for meth)

But we have officially purchased a small rental property in the nearby college town.

Since we closed, we have been there from morning till night just about every day.
It is exhausting I can tell you!

We like to think of it as a cute little house that needs work.
I've hear rumors that some family members think it is more like a place that should be burned to the ground and start over.

Since that isn't an option, we are fixing it up.

and I'm sure I left something out.

We've got a long and tiring list of things to do.

But every day I cross a few more things off the list.

A couple of my siblings have made comments that we are becoming land barons or amassing our fortune in property and we always jokingly correct them
that we are fulfilling our dream of becoming slum lords.

Yes, it's a little bit on the rough side.
But it's ours and we hope to make it a humble but happy home for some lucky renter.

As soon as we finish working our butts off to get it ready.

I'm off to paint...

Sunday, September 13, 2015


We didn't leave until 3 PM to drive to Albuquerque.
Frank and I do not stay up late most days so it made for a long day!
But overall it was a pleasant drive...
rain, clouds and a rainbow all at the same time

A lovely sunset

We stayed with my brother Daren and his family.
I hadn't ever seen his house, which he has lived in for over a decade, so it was high time I visited!


We went to Old Town Albuquerque with the whole group including my parents.

We ate at a Mexican restaurant that took FOREVER to bring our food.
But they put the BYU game on their tv so that made Daren feel better.
As you can see, my family was into the game.

After lunch we went back to my parents hotel where they finished watching the game
and probably scared a few people in the rooms around us with all the screaming and jumping around.


I got to see my old house...
I lived here during my high school years.
I was so tempted to ask for a tour from the current owners!
Unfortunately I never saw anyone home so I was thwarted.

We went for a hike at the top of Sandia.
It was a gorgeous day and so much fun.

and, of course,
the reason for the trip was the 50th anniversary of the Miesems.
Jennifer was my best friend in High School and I spent a lot of time at her house.
She lived just a couple of houses away on my street.
Her parents fed me, clothed me (a lot of clothes borrowing went on back then) and put up with me!
It was so great to see them as well as other neighbors from the street.

Jennifer and I

Mary and Ross Miesem
I love these folks!

and then it was time for the drive home.

the visit was too short but I am so glad I got to go!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The bathroom incident

My brother Dion has great kids.
I love being close to his family and his great kids.
The story for today involves one of his kids...
And here's what you need to know about Randy:
He tells the truth.
He tells the truth even if it is slightly awkward for the adults around him.
Dion with Randy

Here's a simple example.
I visited once and had a rental car.
Randy loves cars and knows more about cars than anyone I know.
So, he asked for a ride in my rental car.
As I started to drive him around, he says something along the lines of
"This rental car is a pretty crappy car.  We can just go around the block.  I thought it would be a better car."
Funny.  And honest.

Now to preface my story you need to know (or be reminded) that I am not a great housekeeper.
It's just not my strong suit.
I'm not a slob or a hoarder but I am a little bit lazy.

Housekeeping tasks I do well at:

Housekeeping tasks I am mediocre at:
cleaning windows

Housekeeping tasks I am terrible at:

My house has two bathrooms: one in my bedroom and one in the hallway that is both the boys regular bathroom and the guest bathroom.

I rarely go into this second bathroom.
My boys use it and I remind them to clean it 
but I don't check it and I don't use it.
And we really don't have guests that often so I don't give it a lot of thought.
But occasionally a guest will come over and then I have a mini panic attack wondering just how bad that bathroom is and hoping they don't ask to use it.

My brother came over one day and asked to use the restroom.
I told him that I hadn't been in there so I couldn't vouch for how disgusting it was...
so when he came out I asked (foolishly) how bad it was.
And he responded something like "I've been in worse I think"
So after he left I went in and checked...
My kids are pigs...that's all there is to say about that.

Flashforward a couple of weeks.
Dion comes over with Randy...
I am in the kitchen when Randy comes walking in from down the hall 
and he says to his Dad, 
"Debbie's bathroom isn't creepy.  You said it was creepy."

Of course I look at Dion with a smirk on my face
as he stammers and blushes
 saying how he would never say that and 
he doesn't even use the word creepy


So busted.

But seriously, my kids are pigs.
And I guess I will check it more often.

I don't want to be the one with the creepy bathroom.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Yes, it's a crazy picture of me cutting onions with goggles on.
But that's not the point.

Look at my shoulder...
See that kitchen towel there?
This is how I work in the kitchen.
I always have a towel over my shoulder.

I have no idea how or when it started but I can't work in the kitchen without a towel on my shoulder.

This morning I am doing a lot of laundry to get packed for my trip.
Yes, I'm still doing laundry and we leave today...
that's a problem we can discuss another time.

Anyway, I noticed that Carter had left a pile of his laundry on the counter so I grabbed it all up to take it to his room.
I put his stuff away in his closet and went about my business.

Quite awhile later I reached up to grab the towel on my shoulder...
and it was a pair of Carter's pajama pants.

I am so used to the weight of something on my shoulder
and also so used to slinging things over my shoulder
that I didn't even notice I had slung his pajamas over my shoulder!
I walked around for quite some time, cleaning and packing, before I even realized I was walking around with a big pair of flannel pants hanging off of me.

I'm so glad I didn't go out to check the mail or answer the door!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Weekend plans etc.

Tomorrow I am driving to Albuquerque 
to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the parents of my best friend from High School.
I'm excited to be back in Albuquerque if only for a couple of days.

I spent my High School years there and loved it.
For many years, I considered Albuquerque to be home
even though I only lived there for about 5 years total.

My oldest brother died while I lived there.
I graduated High School there.
I had my first date and my first kiss there.
I had my first broken heart there.

I have a brother that still lives there 
and I have never been to his house.
That's just not right.

My parents are coming too.
We will be visiting my old neighborhood
and visiting my brother's grave.
It will be a great weekend of reminiscing I'm sure!

My two best friends in High School were both named Jennifer.
And I remain close friends with both of them to this day.
I love them like sisters.

when I should be packing
I am canning beef stew.

Yes, I admit it, it's partially because I am a complete nut.
Mostly it's because I did not plan well and defrosted a bunch of meat
and couldn't leave it for the whole long weekend
and risk it going bad.

But I also admit
that I'm super excited to try my home canned beef stew.
Made with my grass fed beef and home grown onions.

There's a part of me that really enjoys this old fashioned stuff
like canning and baking and sewing.

Then there's this other part of me that can't stand making dinner and can't hem a pair of pants to save my life.

I wonder about myself sometimes.

Austin came to visit for a day and a half
on his way to Oregon where he's going to live for awhile.

It was fun having him and his two friends.

I love to watch my boys as they talk and laugh and play music together.

I took pictures (not enough) but can't get any of them to load...
so I guess the pictures will be another post on another day.

Because I really need to pack.