Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Thanks, thanks, thanks!

I would like to thank all of the different persons in Alexandria for all of their hard work in helping clean up Gustav’s mess!  Thanks to the City, law enforcement, utility companies in and out of state, AT&T, insurance companies, local churches, neighbors, etc.  You all did a great job!  Gustav devastated the area and all of you stepped up to the plate to help your fellow human.

I woke up Thursday to the whir-whirring sound of the street sweeper!  What a glorious noise!  I hate to admit this, but that is one of my favorite noises to wake up to!  I am not sure who it is that comes up Florence Avenue and sweeps the streets and keeps the gutters clean, but sir, thank you, thank you, thank you!

In times like these you figure out what you, and your fellow neighbors are made of.  Some decide to step up and help out, and others decide to be selfish, blame others and do nothing.  I am glad to see that Alexandria is made up of wonderful people with a sense of community.  I am also proud of my Mayor and my Governor.  Everything that could have been done, was done…in my opinion.  Disasters strike and sometimes even the best laid plan goes awry, however, this was not the case here in Alexandria.  In Alexandria, we did not have to suffer through a blame game such as the New Orleanians endured in the aftermath of Katrina.

I think my title line says it all: Thanks, thanks, thanks!


Gustav Aftermath

Well, you see the picture below of the dumpster.  Here is the same picture, except with a pecan on it!  Lol. I have more detailed comments on my other blog at: but here are some pictures of what our backyard looks like now.  If the dumpster were not there, my car and my brother’s truck would be pancakes.  The tree managed to hit all four of our cars. 

We had power for a long time. I was not worried about flooding because we are five feet off of the ground.  I was worried, though, about the two old pecans.  One came down and the other held firm.  The other one, that is still standing, did take out our phone system though.  Branches fell down and ripped the lines from our house and off the pole. 

Pecan on the dumpster and the car

Pecan on the dumpster and the car


Got the truck too

Got the truck too

Gustav Aftermath

Here are the pictures of the area around our house.  The power is back on!  Yay! We had power for a long time last night.  In fact, we felt like a beacon on a hill — everyone around us lost power around 7 or so, our lights shone bright until about 9:30.  I thought that we would be out of power longer.  I got up this morning, fired up the grill and made biscuits, chicken, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese and coffee….all on the grill!  Yes, I was very industrious. And, not long after I was done, the power came back on! HA!

Pecan down in the backyard

Pecan down in the backyard

We had a full pecan fall into our yard, not just a few limbs.  The good news: I won’t have to pay someone to come cut it down.  The bad news: it cost me a car and a truck.  City crews are out all around us.  There are many trees down in the Garden District.  There is a huge (oak?) tree down across Florence Avenue that is being chopped up right now.

I feel bad for my family, they probably could have stayed in New Orleans and fared better.  My brother parked his car the farthest away from the pecan between the house and the shed.  He figured if the pecan came down, it would be on the shed or on the other cars.  However, his truck took the hardest hit!

Jonathan's truck


Many people are out walking around, surveying the damage done around the neighborhood.  Many people have stopped by to gawk at the tree in the yard and offer their condolences.  My brother-in-law and father-in-law are on their way with a chainsaw.  We have a chainsaw, but, it is battery operated and we did not have enough forethought to charge up the batteries. 

Bye bye car

Bye bye car

The lining in this silver cloud (yes, I am always looking for the good points) I can start shopping for a fuel efficient “green” car.  🙂  This makes me happy.  My poor Impala…I did enjoy it while I had it.  It is only three years old. My husband is laughing at me because we barely have the claim filed and I am sitting here online researching cars. 🙂

I hope everyone else did ok.  It could have been worse.  I am glad that I did not incur any damage to my house!  Thank God!  I definitely did not need that.  Good luck and prayers to all in Cenla and the outlying parishes.


One Pecan Down…

No sooner did I hit “enter” on that last post did one of the pecans come tumbling down.  It took out my car and my brother’s truck.  Luckily, we had that large dumpster in the backyard and it took most of the brunt.  If it would not have been there, my dad’s Blazer would have been flattened too.  Here are the very fuzzy pics.  I guess I am really not surprised.  I hate it though.  I am going to have to fill out numerous forms with the insurance company and hope that I do not owe more than my payoff.  How fun.   My last car was also totaled by a tree.  I guess when it is all done we will have to break out the chainsaws. 

This pecan is still holding.  It dropped a limb and took out my phone lines and is swaying, but, so far, it is holding.

Tree down

Tree down

Pics of the tree down.

Gustav and Cenla

The Demo Dumpster

The Demo Dumpster

Well, instead of working on the long list of house projects, I am sitting indoors, watching the weather and hoping that the two very old pecan trees that are in very close proximity to my bedroom, do not collapse on my house!  We had the above dumpster delivered so we could start demo on the house this weekend and take advantage of the extra Labor Day holiday.  We may end up needing it for clean up after the storm!  I got some of the things on my “honey-do” list done.  It wasn’t very hard to talk three very bored men into doing misc. house work.  My family is here from New Orleans.  My mom, dad, sister, brother and their dog.  I have to say, I am glad that I live in a much larger house now than when I did during Katrina.  I lived in approximately 800 square feet during Katrina.  I had seven people in 800 square feet and one and a half baths.  It was interesting… say the least. 

Now, I feel much safer.  My house is five feet above the ground, on piers, and since it has survived the past 100 years, I have much confidence that it will survive this storm (unless our pecan trees feel otherwise).

Right now it is very windy and rainy.  I had to bring in the dog a couple hours ago because the poor thing was getting drenched with the wind blowing the rain at such a horizontal angle.  We still have power and internet (obviously), but the forecasters expect Gustav to reach Cenla at about 8 pm (in less than two hours) and stay until 3am.  It should decrease to a tropical storm sometime in the next few hours.  Although that is better than hurricane strength, a tropical storm is nothing to laugh at.  I like it when the worst of the storm happens during the night hours.  That way most of us can sleep through it (if you can) and not sit around and worry about it. 

Removing the rail

Removing the rail


The above picture is my dad and husband preparing for the hurricane.  They took down the half-rotted porch rail and trimmed all of the trees back from the house.  Both projects are about two years overdue so, I guess there is a silver lining in this cloud. 

Well, back to the news.  Bobby Jindal is giving a press conference.  I really do appreciate that Gov. Jindal stayed behind to take care of the state instead of heading up to the Republican Convention.  I also appreciate the way he relays information.  Go Gov!

Well, if the internet holds, I might be back later, probably more out of boredom rather than reporting anything exciting.  For exciting news, head over to:


Gettin’ Ready!

On Friday I arrived home to find that my husband had the above dumpster delivered in time to make good use of our Labor Day holiday.  Yipee!  We had already started some demo of the upstairs, but this dumpster gave us the authority to take our sledgehammer-ing to another level.  We now had somewhere to dispose of all the junk.

Unfortunately, today, Gustav hit shore and in another three hours, we probably won’t have any power.  So much for our big plans for the weekend!  We were able to get a little done.  Below are some hilarious pics of the PO’s attempt at framing up drywall.  If you will look close, you will see that he bought 8 foot boards, then I guess realized he needed ten foot board so he took another two  foot board and “sistered” it.  Instead of just buying twelve foot boards and cutting them down, this was his ingenious solution to his self created problem.  My husband and brother became increasingly bored throughout the morning…I mean, there is only so much you can do to prepare for a hurricane, so they decided to get at least a couple things done today and started tearing out the sheetrock and ripping out the bad studs. 

One good thing that has come out of all of this bad weather is:  I have three bored men in my house.  They have already installed the cabinet pulls and hardware that I bought a year ago on the butler’s pantry, demo’d most of the upstairs, removed the ugly half-rotted rail that some misguided previous homeowner installed somewhere down along the line on the flat roof and cut all the tree branches away from the house!  Woo hoo!  That dumpster will probably come in handy after the storm too.  We have two very old pecans that look like they are going to fall over at any time.  If they do fall, we can cut ’em up and toss ’em in the dumpster.  However, the bad thing would be if they fell anywhere on our house or on one of our vehicles…yikes! (hmm…maybe we would not have to worry about the roof loan after all…. 🙂  Lol…

Well, wish us luck!  The bad weather is starting to hit and the hurricane will be close to us in another two hours or so.  I pray that God keeps us all safe and that those pecans are still standing in the morning!

More on the house to come…