All in All It’s Not a Brick in the Wall

The Gingerbread Diaries

Because our walls are drywall, you see.


Or, at least these are. The rest of the house is mostly plaster on lathe with some sheetrock repairs here and there. But I digress.

Week 8 has wrapped and we finally have the beginnings of walls going up!

(Direct link for the feed readers: GBD 2.10 | Bathroom Renovation, Week 8: Going with the Flow)

Now, I thought we’d be tackling the wall earlier rather than later, but hindsight (lovely thing) says that leaving this wall as a bare frame while we worked on everything else made a lot of things easier while we were still knocking around. But a very important thing happened this week:


We installed the new toilet. And since we do respect bathroom privacy in this house, a wall became kind of necessary pretty quickly. Plus, with the party only a week away, we figure our guests would appreciate walls, too. Just a bit…

We spent a good amount of time under the house on Saturday prepping the rest of the supply lines for the toilet, sink, and tub. I cut CPVC pipe and insulation to the lengths Todd called out–it was nice to be useful. I also had my phone out, playing music because music makes everything better, only to be punished for that effort when the phone slipped from my hands as we were crawling out from under the house and landed, face down, on the edge of a brick.

Casualty count: 1 Droid Maxx phone screen. Damn.

(And, of course, I’m only 3 months away from an upgrade so, yeah, I’m going to try to deal with the cracked screen until then rather than pay the exorbitant insurance fee for a replacement. I’ve got a screen protector on it, now, that’ll keep me from glass splinters. It’s not pretty, but it still works just fine.)

We also trimmed two sheets of drywall that evening for the section of interior wall behind the commode and the doorway opening between the bathroom and my office. After 7 weeks it was suddenly very strange not to be able to talk to Todd through that opening when I was at my desk and he was working in the other room! Still, I’m glad that we’ve got it filled in.

Apparently we’re doing the drywall the “wrong” way, but ask me if I care right this second?

Todd tells me, after we’ve cut the first few panels, that you’re supposed to use the 4’x8′ panels sideways and stack them so that they run perpindicular to the studs. That last part makes sense for stability and stress and all that, but for the sake of efficiency, if you have a space that’s less that 4’x8′, it makes absolutely no sense to chop a panel into sections and fit them in when one tall piece will work. And you’ll see in that first photo that we ignored those instructions, again, when covering the studs for the pocket door and will, probably, continue to do so for the rest of the dividing wall. The skinny strips left over from the first panels will work great for building the new corner of the room.

Rules are rules, but loopholes are loopholes. And common sense trumps even that some days.


Todd’s last task for the week was to fill in those gaps between the new subfloor and the exterior walls. This blocks all those problematic drafts and will keep the insulation that will be added when we do the drywall from sliding down to the ground.

The to-do list for this weekend is to get the rest of the dividing wall in place, I’ll add some privacy film to the window, we’ll get the sink mounted on the recessed wall and hooked up, and maybe even get the new outlet and switches wired.

But with the party next weekend, I’ll be focusing on getting the rest of the house tidied up, decorating the dining room for our luau theme, and starting the food prep!

Something That Looks Strangely Like Progress

The Gingerbread Diaries

I’m happy to report that things are progressing well, over all, at the Gingerbread Dollhouse, even though we haven’t been up there in a couple of weeks (first missed weekend was spent at a convention, then the next one we just needed a quiet weekend at home to recover from the previous one!). Of course, when we were last there, we (and by we, I once again mean Todd) went for another round with the hot water heater (which I realize is rather redundant, and yet I seem to always default to that instead of just water heater–I’ll work on it).

[Direct link for feed readers: Gingerbread Diaries, Ep. 1.4: Todd vs the Hot Water Heater (redux)]

Look out, y’all! I found the speed controls and some background music; before you know it I’ll almost look like I know what I’m doing! But seriously, I’m making an effort to keep the videos rather short and single-topic, so this is the first part of “weekend 4” and there’s at least 1 more part to add to our Gingerbread Diaries Playlist on YouTube, so make sure you subscribe to not miss anything (not all of them will be embedded in posts).

While Todd was working on the water heater, I was taking care of another small chore that I’d been meaning to do since we bought the house: smudging.

You might think I’m a bit off, or maybe you agree with me, but with new spaces (and old houses especially), you just never know what kind of energy has been left behind. Between the 100+ years the house has stood and in light of the last 10 years or so spent as a personal care home, there’s bound to be some negative vibes hanging around that we could just do without. I actually don’t mind if the house is haunted–it might add some character, you never know–but I’d like only happy haunts if you don’t mind. To that end, I went room by room, window by window, and door by door, with a smoking bundle of sage and sweetgrass to help cleanse the area. If nothing else, it felt like a productive thing and gave me a bit more peace of mind when I went to sleep that night.

In fact, it might have been the first night I slept easily and soundly in that house!

We even slept in until 10am–almost unheard of for Todd–and only got up when the doorbell rang. It was a neighbor from down the street wanting to chit chat about the house and it was only after he’d left that I looked in the mirror and realized what a mess my hair was, not to mention the raccoon eyes and lack of bra. Great first impression that one. (At least I was wearing shorts and a long-sleeved tee instead of something more nighty-like!)

He wasn’t our only visitor this weekend, either! One of Todd’s former coworkers knocked on the door to take a peek inside the place and we were happy to show her around (despite the construction clutter). We haven’t even moved in yet and we’ve had more people stop by and say hello from the neighborhood than we have in the 3.5 years we’ve lived in our current home! Once again, Thomasville shows itself to be a true southern town.

The new flooring in the upstairs bath.

The new flooring in the upstairs bath.

Since that visit Todd’s been kind enough to drop by the house and take pictures of the progress so I don’t feel so out of the loop! In the last 2 weeks they’ve replaced the vinyl flooring that was in horrible shape with a rather nifty sheeting that looks like wood planks. Since I’d told them to find the cheapest replacement out there I was expecting plain white or brown flooring so this is an unexpected treat. We’ll be replacing it all as we do the room-by-room renovations (hence the request for cheap and serviceable) over the years but this’ll hold us better than expected while we decide what to do next.

They've repaired the brick pillars at the back (the culprits for our "structural" issues) and installed lattice skirting to enclose the crawlspace.

They’ve repaired the brick pillars at the back (the culprits for our “structural” issues) and installed lattice skirting to enclose the crawlspace.

There were almost enough recovered cut-work spindles to reassemble the railing on the side of the porch, looks like they only had to cut 1 new one.

There were almost enough recovered cut-work spindles to reassemble the railing on the side of the porch, looks like they only had to cut 1 new one.

And they've even built us new railings on the ramp/stairs (the ramp is staying until we get moved-in, we figured it might make things easier for moving furniture).

And they’ve even built us new railings on the ramp/stairs (the ramp is staying until we get moved-in, we figured it might make things easier for moving furniture).

Aside from a few odds and ends inside, the last big push is to get the exterior scraped and then the big finish: painting!

“Roughing It” on Gingerbread Lane

The Gingerbread Diaries

It started out as a joke, that we were going to “camp out” at the new house. Turned out to be a more accurate description that we expected. After all, we had lights, water, Internet access, and all that important stuff, right?


The first Friday night we spent up there (2 weeks ago), I dragged a car-load of gear with me: an air mattress, compressor, linens, pillows, a folding table and chairs, bath towels, and even the shower curtain from the hall bath in our current rental. If I could have reached it, I would have brought my camping cot, too, to serve as a makeshift sofa, but Todd had already brought the big ladder up to Thomasville. Furnishings might have been sparse, but we had more than the average hotel room in other respects, so it all evens out.

Wine but no wine glasses--obviously I didn't think that one through 100%

Wine but no wine glasses–obviously I didn’t think that one through 100%

Before we ate supper (Burgundy Beef in the slow cooker, that I’d also brought up from home) we headed off to Lowe’s to pick up lightbulbs, a thermocouple for the hot water heater (the pilot wasn’t wanting to light, and that’s the most common fix for it), a new toilet seat (no amount of bleach was getting the old one clean), new door knobs/locks, and other odds and ends.

We discovered a few things, that evening:

  • There’s a small leak in the downstairs bath, coming from the roof–we know it’s not a plumbing issue as the water was still turned off. At least this will be addressed when the contractor gets started.
  • Speaking of water, there’s a busted pipe under the water heater/laundry room area (more on that in a bit).
  • All of the downstairs faucets exist in some sort of leaking state.
  • The plaster and lathe walls, thanks to the metal mesh that provides their structure, impede wifi signal–between the router in the living room (temporary location) and the dining room (across the hall and one room back) the signal went from fabulous to almost nonexistent; we’ll work on that!

The burst pipe was, of course, the most pressing issue and not something we could easily remedy at 9pm, in the drizzly rain. So we went from “roughing it” to near-primitive camping pretty quick! Thankfully we’d picked up a 5-gallon bucket at Lowe’s, and that (filled before we shut off the water to the house) allowed us to manually refill the tank of the commode, so at least there was that. Everything else we used bottled water for (I’d brought up a case, figuring it’d be a good idea and I didn’t know how city water was up there.)

Those finials at the ends of the pin--swoon!

Those finials at the ends of the pin–swoon!

It wasn’t all bad, though! We found out most of the downstairs doors have these awesome hinges on them, which will look amazing once I get the paint, etc. off the metal. Plus the weather was nice and cool, even if drizzly, so the 5K walk we participated in on Saturday morning was relatively comfortable. The 10K run that went by our house the following weekend would not have been so cozy!

I feel like this picture needs a hazmat warning! Years of build-up *shudder* but it's gone now!

I feel like this picture needs a hazmat warning! Years of build-up *shudder* but it’s gone now!

At any rate, my plans to start cleaning the house were a bit hindered by the lack of hot running water. I managed to get most of the crud off the bannister using bottled water and Magic Erasers before we headed back to Tallahassee.

Weekend #2 started off with far less surprises, at least of the negative kind. The Rose Festival Parade was Friday night so we walked down to the parade route, then decided to scope out the downtown Chinese place (gotta find your basics, right?). Hun Yip won’t be our go-to spot for take-out, turns out, but we’ve got a few more options to check out. We came out of dinner to find the dance party in full swing at the intersection of Jackson and Broad, stayed for the live band and then the fireworks before walking back home. It was all very Stars Hollow and I love that we’ll be able to walk downtown for a dinner out (there are so many lovely restaurants in the area) once we get truly settled in!

(For pictures of the parade, etc., check out this Facebook album.)

Saturday was the day, though! We (read as: Todd) was going to fix the pipe, repair the leaking faucets, and once and for all get the water heater’s pilot light lit! Since there wasn’t much I could do until all of that was done, I decided this was as good a time as any to start making some videos to go along with these posts! I still need to work on my editing skills, etc. but it’s not a bad start.

(Direct link for the feed readers: Gingerbread Diaries 1.1: Bread and Pipes)

I also filmed the faucet repairs but I haven’t had time to edit those, yet. I’ll add them to the YouTube playlist when I do, though. (Note to self: the night before you want to post them is not the best time to take a crash course in a new editing software!)

So glad Todd is handy with this sort of thing! Of course, if he weren't we probably wouldn't have bought the Gingerbread Dollhouse in the first place!

So glad Todd is handy with this sort of thing! Of course, if he weren’t we probably wouldn’t have bought the Gingerbread Dollhouse in the first place!

I didn’t film the hot water heater repair as it was supposed to be a simple fix. Todd described it as a 2, going in, but after an hour declared it more of an 8.5! Basic rule of thumb, everything takes longer than expected, but he eventually got everything put back into place and, yes, the pilot light finally lit! By that point it was creeping into early afternoon and Todd had some errands to run in Tallahassee, so we packed up and headed back to our other home.

We still have some issues to work out with the bathroom faucet (they don’t leak, but they also have next to no water pressure, meanwhile the tub spout flows with no problem), but at least we can leave the water main on and the major leak is fixed. Hopefully this means hot water will be in good supply for next weekends clean-a-thon!

Until next time!