hole in the wall

A few months ago, we had a major plumbing problem in our bathroom and the plumber had to cut a huge hole in the wall behind the sink to fix it.

I've fixed small holes before with a little patch and some spackle, but this one was way too big for that. The idea of major drywall repair really intimidated me, but I figured I'd do a little online research as usual and see how hard it really would be. I found this how-to video from Bob Vila and decided I could do it. But before I went to Home Depot to get the supplies, I realized that my wall didn't just have a simple hole -- it also had a big pipe sticking out in the middle of it.

I got back on the computer and searched and searched, but I couldn't find any clear instructions on how to deal with a pipe like this. I started to give up on the idea of fixing it myself and started calling around for quotes from professionals. The absolute lowest quote I got was "we start at $150 and go from there" -- which means they could end up charging a lot more than $150. The idea of dropping a big load of cash when we already have a broken dishwasher that needs to be replaced made me start thinking that maybe I could do this job myself after all :)

So I went to Home Depot and told a man that works there my situation. He told me that all I needed to do was somehow carve out a hole in each piece of drywall to put around the pipe. It still seemed tricky but I decided to go for it anyway. I got all my supplies and headed home, and these are the steps I took over the next few weeks to patch that hole:

1. Cut into the dry wall to make the irregular hole into a rectangle. I used a utility knife so I wouldn't have to buy a drywall saw just for this project, so that made it a little harder than it had to be. But I saved $9!
2. I cut 2 pieces of drywall to go above and below the pipe, then I sawed into the drywall so each piece would fit around the pipe. This was HARD and my hands hurt for days afterwards, but it worked.
3. Screw both pieces into the stud with drywall screws.
4. Fill everything with joint compound, then cover with mesh drywall tape.
5. Continue to spread joint compound over the entire area 3-5 times, spreading the compound out a little further each time and sanding between each layer.
6. Prime and paint the area, and voila! The hole is gone!
All in all, this was one of the easier house projects I've done, and I'm so happy that I didn't pay a contractor $150+ to fix this for me. That reminds me -- I spent a total of $22 to fix this myself!! That's a savings of at least $128, but it probably would have been even more.

This project reminded me once again that you can do so much more than you think you can. I have no training in this kind of work, but I have access to a computer and time and that's really all you need. Sure there are some things that I would call a pro for, like electrical work or bigger plumbing issues, but I'd say 80% of house projects are things that most of us can do for ourselves, and the money we can save doing it is just incredible. And not only that, but the feeling of figuring out how to do something that you thought you couldn't do is priceless.

Anyway, that's my latest project! It actually inspired to start on another project in the bathroom, but more on that later...

cute stuff

My friend Stacy put together the most adorable room* for her new baby Clara Lou. Its sweet and creative and doesn't scream BABY the minute you walk in (which is great since it doubles as a guest room). It is so cute, in fact, that it was featured on ohdeedoh (a design site that focuses on kids rooms and is part of apartmenttherapy.com)...check it out! Congrats, Stacy!
*photo by Michael Lantz

More than a feeling

Today I am remembering when Seth showed up at my apartment 7 years ago today for our first date. With the help of my friend Karen, I had called him two nights before and asked if he wanted to come over Saturday night. He showed up with a 12-pack of PBR under his arm and I was wearing a black tank top with a silver tiger on the front. I had a Boston record playing and was beyond nervous. Two of my friends were also at my apartment, and Seth gave everyone a hug when he arrived but me. Turns out he was a little nervous too :)

It feels like a million years since that night, but it also feels like no time has passed. I always thought Seth was the coolest guy in the room from the time I first met him (and still do), and I'm so glad that he saw past the shy girl and wanted to get to know me too. I love you baby! Happy 7th first date anniversary!!

Hmm....pasta.

I know my blog has been all over the place lately, but I gotta share this recipe for arrabbiata sauce from Casual Kitchen:

http://casualkitchen.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-to-make-arrabbiata-sauce.html

It is perfectly spicy and insanely easy, and if you use whole wheat pasta (I always use w.w. spaghetti with this sauce), it is completely healthy. You don't even use salt! Just like when you cook onions in olive oil on low heat for 30 minutes or so, something magical happens to this mixture of canned tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes after about 25 minutes of simmering. It is even better the next day, and since Seth and I love a lot of sauce I always double the recipe...it makes the right amount for 1 16 oz. box of pasta, plus a little extra to dip the garlic bread in :) Enjoy!