What a mess

It’s been pretty much a snowless winter in SLC so far this year. The mountains have received some, but the valley has been pretty much “dry as a popcorn fart” as my brother would say. This has been wonderful for my lazy side who doesn’t like shoveling snow and picking out snow-approprate footwear, but it’s pretty bad for the ski resorts and for, you know, water supply for next summer.

So my wise, I-want-to-go-skiing side was thrilled to see this outside my window this morning:

It also happens to be doofer the dogger’s favorite weather.

Sure is pretty.

Back indoors, things are not so pretty.

We’re in the midst of some major de-junk and purge action. MAJOR.

I’m hungry.

Sometimes I complain about our ‘hood, but the fact is that graffiti could be anywhere. It can be done by anyone from gangsters to rich kids. I think the difference between “good” and “bad” neighborhoods really comes down to how much people care. Do people care about their yards looking nice, or whether there are stray dogs and cats running around? Do they care about stuff that’s spray painted?

For months, I’ve “cared” about the mailbox on the corner and how crappy of a feeling I get when I turn onto our street. But passively cared, as in one time I think I googled graffiti removal services in my neighborhood and gave up after about 3 seconds. But this past weekend, by golly, I decided to actively care!

Of course now that I’ve already removed it, I find this link that looks super easy to use (if you live in my neighborhood, please use this!). I swear that was hiding from my previous google searches.

Anyhoo, I didn’t feel like waiting for anyone to come out anyway, so the link I found was this one from the Minneapolis Police Dept that had lots of good info on DIY graffiti removal. (Minneapolis- what a great city!)

There are a lot of options, so I headed down to the mailbox with a rag and an armful of supplies. These are the ones I trudged down with:

  • Orange degreaser (I think Zep brand)
  • Simple Green
  • Mineral spirits
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Paint thinner (which I’m pretty sure is just mineral spirits)
  • Goof-Off (says right on the label it can remove graffiti)

I’m just sad I didn’t get a picture, because I looked pretty ridiculous. Here’s a closer shot of the “artwork”:

Since the earth and I are friends, I started out with what I guessed was the least harsh of the chemicals: the orange degreaser and the Simple Green. Surprisingly, the orange degreaser took the paint marker (the yellow in the picture) right off. Simple Green would have done it too, but with much more scrubbing. Seriously, it wiped right off. Made me wonder why I waited so long!

But for the actual spray paint I had to pull out the big guns, and I finally determined that lacquer thinner is the only way to go. (Since that worked and I hadn’t opened the Goof-Off, I decided to save $4 and return it.) Surprisingly, it didn’t even remove the powder coating underneath. For some reason, some of the paint was more stubborn than others. The black stuff on the left wiped right off, but most of the stuff on the right had to be scrubbed with a Scotch Brite pad and lots of elbow grease, and copious amounts of lacquer thinner (wear gloves). There were a few parts that just would not come off, but in the end I decided that the result was satisfactory.

While I was at it, I even trimmed that bushy tree thing trying to grow. I debated digging up the grass and mulching it, but decided that the grass/weed mixture already looked 10x better than it had, so I saved my mulch.

While I’m glad to have found the SLC graffiti removal service, I think I’m going to make this particular mailbox my own special project. It’s been three days, and so far so good. They say the best thing to deter graffiti “artists” (sorry kid, but you’re not Banksy) is to remove it as soon as humanly possible, so that’s exactly what I intend to do. I will sit there like Walt Kowalski (minus the guns and racial slurs).

Oh and if you’re here to comment and tell me that I should have asked for permission before improving public property, you can go ahead and take your comments elsewhere. I had enough rude comments on my post about the dang fence, and if my act of public service offends you, you can find another blog to terrorize.

If you drive by ugly graffiti regularly and are hoping someone will come take care of it, I encourage you to channel Gandhi and “be the change you wish to see in the world”! Find a service in your area, or just head out there yourself! People will roll down their windows to thank you, and you will feel really superior/good about yourself.

Now, spill it: Does anyone else live in a ‘hood where this kind of thing is common? Or do bloggers usually only live in classier neighborhoods? Any more helpful/constructive tips on DIY graffiti removal?

This weekend we did lots of stuff, including:

  • Got rid of a huge eyesore hanging from the side of the house (more on that later)
  • Toured a neighbor’s current reno- I mean they are really in the thick of things!
  • Perused old pictures from when I was really in the thick of things

  • Built a tabletop raised bed for a friend (more on that later)
  • Spent half a day designing invitations and insert cards
  • Hand-addressed half of our wedding invitations
  • BBQed salmon burgers twice and hung out with my friend Becca who I wish would move back here
  • Performed a major cleanup on the patio and made a thrilling time-lapse video of it (I know, it seems like that’s all I ever do- move pavers around and make time-lapse videos of it. But this time I had help, and this time the patio is NOT going to turn into a storage unit again, and this time I used my Wingscapes ProjectCam that the nice folks over at Wingscapes sent me. This time is different.)

No there aren’t two Stans. The other one is Duncan.

  • Ate a delicious Easter dinner
  • Booked our Honeymoon! Well that was last week but it counts. We’re going to Playa del Carmen and I cannot WAIT. I’ve never been on a resort vacation before.

  • Thanks to all of your helpful input, we set up our registry. We chose to use myregistry.com, since you can put anything from any store in the world on there, and also set up a cash fund if you want (still figuring all that out). We also chose not to include the info on our invitations, but to tell our parents so they can spread the word if people ask.

I’m feeling pretty good about the amount of stuff we got done, but also a little overwhelmed by all that there is left to do. My brother-in-law offered to fly me out to Texas for my niece’s baptism and my new nephew’s blessing this weekend (robbers beware- I will have a housesitter so don’t try anything funny). I’m suuuuper excited to go there! But we also kind of made me going out of town the deadline for the invitations (which is probably laughable) and work is busy this week, so we’ll see how much more we can get done.


When I was filling nail holes on the recently-installed quarter-round, I decided to also patch a few dents and cracks in the walls. I was just going to do a couple.

Juuuuust a couple. Oops.

PS- I woke up at 12:34 today due to getting home at 4am due to seeing the 12:40 showing of Harry Potter. Anyone else see it yet? It was good, but there were some awkward parts. That’s all I’m going to say.

That’s what I keep telling myself when I wake up in the morning and face this:

It’s the contents of my kitchen cabinets sprawled out all over the place. How could such a tiny kitchen hold so much? (PS I couldn’t find my camera- shocking I know- so this pic was taken with Photo Booth on my computer, which is why it’s backwards.)

And speaking of keeping calm and carrying on, why do I see this poster everywhere in blogland?

Don’t get me wrong, I really like it- it’s very soothing and reassuring, and well, calming. But seriously, lately as I “tour” people’s homes on their blogs, I find that everyone seems to have this! Am I missing something? Is owning this poster a pre-requisite to having a home renovating/decorating blog?

Oh and if you own this, I’m not trying to make you feel unoriginal, I’m simply wondering how this phenomenon managed to evade me, given that I spend 70% of my life on the internet. And hey, maybe I’ll join the ranks and get one of my own because I wasn’t kidding about liking it.

Water leaks stink. And they’re terribly inconvenient. But T/P valves are our friend.

You see, if it wasn’t for this little valve, then if your water heater got too hot or built up too much pressure, it would just explode, shooting scraps of scalding hot metal and water into nearby objects and people. Scary, huh? Instead, our little friend the T/P (temperature/pressure)valve  just opens a bit, and water pours all over your basement. Not great, but as far as exploding water heaters go, it’s a pretty good compromise.

Of course I discovered that either my water heater had built up too much pressure or the valve was defective just minutes before I had people coming over. I was too frantic to think straight so I called my bro, who told me to just shut off the water supply (duh). (In case you ever have to do that, it’s a valve that’s connected to one of the pipes coming out of the top of the water heater- you’ll see it.) So that was fine to stop the water, but that meant that any time I wanted hot water I would have to go downstairs and flip the valve (letting water flow all over the floor until I was done). Why, you ask, don’t I have a nearby drain for situations like these? Well I do, but it’s not at the lowest spot on the floor, so the water kinda just bypasses  it and pools in the lovely dent in the floor that does not contain a drain. Then it soaks into the concrete, letting loose all the lovely musky “old house” and “meth heads’ dogs’ pee” smells.

Thanks to Stan and Google, I figured out that the T/P valve was probably just defective and it is cheap and simple to replace.

Here’s what it looks like:

temperature/pressure valve

And here’s what you need to unscrew the old one and screw the new one on:

pipe wrench

First you need to unscrew the long pipe (seen in the below diagram on the left) from the p/t valve. Then apply the pipe wrench and give her a good twist (rightie-tightie leftie-loosie). Water will spew out everywhere, so be sure you have a bucket handy. The water will drain from the tank till it’s below the level of the valve. At that point, you can screw on the new p/t valve, tightening real good with the pipe wrench. Then just screw back on the long skinny pipe and you’re good to go!

And as for that drain bypass problem, instead of chipping up the floor and lowering the drain, I think a simple tube going from the water heater directly into the drain would work just dandy.

Here’s a little diagram that was helpful for me (of course I never take the time to learn about these things until something goes wrong).

The water supply valve is located just “up-pipe” from the “cold water inlet”.

That skinny little pipe on the left- the water will come out of the bottom of that if your p/t valve is faulty.

If, after you replace the valve, the water heater is still leaking, that probably means there is indeed too much pressure built up. You may have the water temp too hot, or you may have sediment built up somewhere, which I don’t really know anything about. Disclaimer: as you can probably tell, I am not an expert nor do I profess to be qualified to give plumbing/water heater advice; I’m just sharing what I learned. Also I’m sure Stan will comment and correct a few things.

I lost my camera cord, or I would have real pictures of the real action for you. These Google gems will just have to do. Also, talking about plumbing really brings out the redneck in me so I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post in your best Hank Hill voice.

I’m so lucky- my back yard came with so much fun stuff- so many beautiful plants, a rockin’ clothesline… you could have a wedding out there!

If you were marrying your cousin Larry. Check out this mess of nasty:

Like any good homeowner, I have been putting off doing anything in the yard until it’s absolutely necessary, like in the springtime. But one day, we went out to play with Misty and somehow ended up doing this:

Pruning and sawing and pulling and twisting dead thing after dead thing. Oh, this spring is going to be joyous fun.

Yes, that pile is still in the back yard. I’m slowly cutting them up and stuffing them into the garbage can.

Someone sure seems to enjoy it though:

And just for fun:

She always runs straight back into the pile of branches! Funny dog.

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