Fall Trees and Fab Freebies! $20 Challenge

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Its fall and in Sacramento this is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. Also a great time to start our $20 Challenge. We’re going to see how many house updates and projects we can come up with under $20. With the holidays approaching, new roof installed and financial goals in 2014 its probably a good idea. Luckily the SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utilities District) Free Tree program and our friend Erik at Healthy Turf Lawn Aeration made our first $20 Challenge possible. Our back fence line was incredibly bare with only ugly telephone poles, until we added our privacy screens this last spring. Here is the latest pic of our trumpet vine filling in the screen nicely.  (Unfortunately the honey suckle next to it needs some more time)

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First as part of the challenge we decided to install a submerged drip system by changing an old sprinkler pipe into a spigot. This required $4 worth of PVC connectors and a spigot, along with some leftover soaker hose.

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The last part was easy, we planted about 12 different shrubs and trees, including flax, nadina, and golden boxwood, thanks to a Home Depot $10 special and our friends at HTLA maintenance and landscaping . Oftentimes their clients want them to tear out perfectly good plants and trees. These guys don’t want to see good plants go to waste so we were able to snag a few free ones for our project.  Also with SMUD’s free tree program, and a little palm from the side yard,  we hope this will jump start our tropical dream backyard. The backyard still has a long way to go but hopefully with budget friendly ideas and a bit creativity, our bare and ugly backyard will have some worthy “after” shots someday. Grow little plants grow!free trees 012

Is your Mail Slot ready for the holidays?

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One of the lessons I’ve learned from marriage, is that its often the little things that make hubbies happy. A particular little thing was installing our new interior mail slot with dampener/door. Here is a before pic…

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Hubs may have to fight for the remote, but he is the King of the Thermostat. Always checking vents, hvac, filters, etc, are his thing and with good riddance. (See I grew up in a household of “if you’re cold layer on a fifth sweater”) I don’t touch a thermostat if my life depended on it, and so I will happily relinquish this responsibility to the hubs. A duty which he takes very seriously. So much so, here is what our mail slot looked like last winter and through the summer…mail slot 002

Oh yes, that’s a freakin towel shoved up our mail slot! Not trashy at all right? Well this is where I had to agree with hubby, the mail slot was creating a decent draft in our living room, so the towel stayed. Luckily my awesome father in law created this lovely mail slot cover with door. It acts as a fabulous draft barrier against the winter chill and covers up the ugliness. (We’ll have to post his How to on the project page soon) Ultimately this little gift from the father in law made the hubs very, very happy. Whats even better is that it looks original to our mid century home. mail slot 004

Then during the roof “house arrest” a very bored wife installed the mail slot with glue, a few nails and silicon sealant around the edges.mail slot 003

Thanks pops in law for a fabulous alternative to the towel, and now a Christmas card worthy mail slot!

What to expect? When you’re expecting…A new roof! (And free printable)

Finally!…One year, three months, and many sleepless rainy nights…We have a new roof!Roof installation 014

Our previous roof was 20+ year old wood shake with a second overlay of 10+ year old wood shake. (Apparently re-roofing over old shake used to be common?) Ultimately with two shake layers falling apart, moss and broken shingles, our house was beginning to look like a hobbit house. When the wind kicked up little moss pellets would rain down, which we called “roof poop.”

We bought the house knowing the roof was bad, and this was going to be an inevitable (high cost) expense. Which would ultimately prevent us from big renovation projects the first year. We also knew having a roof installed is not that simple, even when someone else is doing the job. Here is a quick run down of what we learned from our experience and our free Homeowners Guide: Pre-Roof Checklist (printable).

Pre-roof checklist for homeowners

Pre-roof checklist for homeowners

Watch the weather forecast…And be prepared. We were biting our nails a week before the install because rain was expected the weekend of our roof tear off. Luckily the rain only came the day before. However Home Depot dropped off all the plywood/ skip sheeting on that rainy day. Luckily we had plastic tarps at the ready and were able to cover the wood in time.Roof installation 002

Expect to be under house arrest during the roof tear off. Once they start tearing you will be surrounded by mountains of wood, shingles, nails, and all sorts of debris. We had to carve out a path from our back slider in order to get out of the house. Luckily the dogs got a walk and potty break before the demo.

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Expect there to be surprises as the roof is coming off…Ours was the second layer of shake, two dump runs and some dry rot. Also do not panic when you see random men sitting on low eaves, with the dry rot.

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Expect a mess in your attic, especially if there never was any skip sheeting or plywood underneath your roof shingles. Roof installation 011 Roof installation 010

Luckily our roofer was awesome and started cleaning much of it with a shop vac. However it is almost impossible to remove dust from loose insulation. You can always insist on a full clean-up clause in your roof contract, but the dust is unavoidable.

Expect there to be possible delays, and the job take longer than expected. (Ours was due to the rain delay) Also early morning noise…Rise and shine 6:45 am on a Sunday morning.Roof installation 012Overall having a new roof brings incredible peace of mind and hopefully an expense that we won’t have for another 30 years. 

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