Ashley Cook

Tag: Weekend Adventures (page 1 of 2)

Downsizing for the big reno

Over the past 3 (?!?) years I’ve been doing bits and pieces of the house renovation. Small projects here, a room or two there. It has been slow and steady but there’s only so many small things you can do with wood paneling. Now I’m ready for some big changes to happen. As I prep to renovate the first floor (all together, one shot!) one of the first steps is to clear off the level of the house.

For this upcoming renovation I need to clear off an entire level of my home which has more than just small items. I had planned that this would eventually occur and had a lot of furniture that I wouldn’t be sad to get rid of. And that brings me to what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks: removal of all furniture items from my first floor.

Cute but lots of stuff & wood paneling.

It’s really hard to not accumulate stuff. One of my ways to manage this is to keep a tub in the basement year round and when I decide I don’t want something it goes straight into the bin! Annually my neighborhood association has a big yard sale which is a perfect opportunity to empty out my bin and catch up with my neighbors. This works well for small things and to keep extra stuff from accumulating. But still I look around and there was a lot of furniture, freebies, things gifted from friends and family, impulse purchases, and magazines!

Eek who has a good photo form any yard sale.

So how exactly do you get rid of all of that furniture and unwanted items? You can either trash it or find it a new home. I can call the city and they’ll take up to 3 large items for hauling to the dump. While that’s easy, I have more than 3 large items and they’re still good furniture, just not things I want to incorporate in my final design. There’s a number of way to sell these items and I’ve used a number of different means over the years.

  1. Yard Sales
  2. Online
  3. Word of Mouth

This time around I didn’t do any yard sales but rather focused on online sales and word of mouth. I was able to offload a lot of the furniture to a mutual friend who was moving a needed a lot of items which I could conveniently provide for cheaper than buying new (throwing in delivery was a huge plus too!). For the rest of the items (like all those bookcases I was using as kitchen cabinets) I found I had a lot of luck online. For large items you’re likely going to be selling it to someone local to you. And there’s a number of places to sell things online and I think which is more useful depends on what area you’re in. When I was living in another state Craigslist was the go to for local resell. Where my house is located I find I’m having the best luck with the local Facebook yard sale group. Between that group and move in time at my alma mater I was able to find new homes (and excited new owners) for my furniture that has served me so well these past few years.

There’s a few perks for doing it this way, in my opinion. You get to help connect people with items that otherwise would cost more $$. And there’s a big reusable components to it too. By reusing the furniture there’s one less item going into the city landfill and less new furniture that has to be produced. On the other hand, this does requires running all over town to either deliver large items or taking them to public locations to meet people you’ve never met before. It also assumes that your furniture is in good enough condition for someone else to use it. A huge help in tips for selling items and how to price & take photos came from reddit. This was a really cool board that I found with a ton of helpful information.

As I move through the house there’s a number of other places I’ve found useful to removing items from the house that aren’t suitable to be sold. Below are my favorite places for each category:

Light Bulbs: Best Buy or Home Depot. You take them to the customer service counter or sometimes they’ll have drop boxes for them

Small electronics / appliances: Best Buy. See the customer service counter and they will recycle things like old keyboards, cables, and even small stereos.

House Construction: Second Chance, Loading Dock, Habitat Restore! Look for local places that specialize in de-construction. Usually they have storefronts which are great to buy cheaper cabinets, doors, and the like, but you can also donate good items that you remove from your current home.

Textiles: This is my current exciting find. We have a textile recycling company in our area. Basically they take clothes and worn textiles (not pillows or mattresses) by the pound and sell reusable clothing cheaply to people in need of it. And for items not deemed usable they break it down into the fibers for recycling. Here’s one for the DMV (MAC recycling).

Are there any other items that you’ve had trouble finding homes for? I’m still looking for things to do with old pillows. That’s the one thing I haven’t found a way to get rid of it besides throwing them away.

Next step for me: boxing up everything I’m keeping!

Fall Festive Door Hanger

I keep seeing cute pots and front doors on my runs around the neighborhood. While I like the idea of a wreath, I have yet to see any that I would like to have on my door. The other night while searching the world of Pinterest I ran across this cute sunflower door hanger that was once for sale on Etsy but now only another image on the internet.

This is a great opportunity to try my hand at doing something crafty for a change. My chance came with a sale at Michael’s which is convenently down the street. I took this photo as my inspiration and gathered the tools I thought I’d need.


I already had the large wire cutters in the basement (yes they’re overkill, but it’s what I had). I picked up fake sunflowers, small red flowers, the stems of fall colored beads, burlap ribbon, and the floral wire at Michael’s. It must have been my lucky day in the ribbon isle, as I was looking at various types of burlap ribbon I noticed this roll over in the clearance bin, meaning it only cost me $1.

All pieces in hand I set about constructing the door hanger. I would set the pieces as I thought looked good and then wrapped the parts with the floral wire to keep it in place. To keep the beads on the string in the correct locations I hot glued them to the back of the flowers. I also followed bow tutorial (with the help of the hot glue gun again) to make the bow.

Ta da!


All and all I’m pleased with the way this turned out. And while it was pretty simple, this one is going to stay on the door until we’re well into the fall, or at least until I get inspiration for another door decor item. Perhaps something like this come Halloween:

Snowzilla 2016

If you haven’t seen any of the news, record breaking snowfalls have hit Maryland. A nice summary of the weekend of snow would read: Hot Chocolate, naps,  discovering Lego Dimensions, small house things, watching the snow on tv, a bit of snow shoveling, and venturing out for brunch today. (You should consider reading the “official” Jonas twitter for a good laugh).

The house faired well for my first big snow as a home owner, much less maintenance required than I thought it would. My best measurement from the backyard puts the house around 28″ of snow. Which is quite a bit. I figured I’d share some photos from the neighborhood.


And of course the first thing I did when I went out was make a snow angel in thed alley.


The backyard is a fluffy pit of snow that is hiding my grill, trash can (under the table), and blocking use of my back door. These photos were taken before the last of the snow fell off the roof, there’s much more on the stairs now because of that.


And I must give a shout out to my snow shoveling hero. He was a huge help in allowing me to leave my car in the garage this weekend (no shoveling it out!) and helping to shovel the sidewalk!



Holiday Projects

New year new projects! With so much going on I’ve been slow to update things. Last weekend I took a few days to install my new Christmas present and the ones I bought for the house.

First my present! I drive an 03 Mustang and I’ve been wanting an updated stereo which could allow hands free phone calls (which is law in MD) and would let me play audiobooks/podcasts/anything from my phone in the car (yay!). My phone has been able to do such things for years, but the car never got the upgrade. After some aggravating time on the phone with GeekSquad to schedule an install, I decided it was easier to do it myself. With the help of a few YouTube videos, and a quick stop at Advanced Auto Parts I was easily able to install it with a second set of hands to help.

The stereo: It’s a Sony MEXN5100BT, which for the highlights has NFC to turn on your phone’s Bluetooth, and you can pick your favorite RGB color for the lights. Since its a single din replacing my double din, with the adapter I get a compartment below it perfect for holding my phone, meaning I get my handbrake back (my phones previous resting space). Below are a few things I found useful in the process. Since I had to go out and search for them, I believe it’s useful to list them in one location:

How to remove the old stereo (a Youtube video showing removal of the dash and original radio).

The necessary adapter

A very important part which I didn’t realize I needed at first was an adapter from my current radio wires to the universal plug the Sony one uses. Luckily my local Advanced Auto Parts had exactly 1 in stock. This adapter converts the old radio wires from the car into the correct format for the new stereo. Attaching the adapter to the wires for my new stereo was fairly simple, connect one color with its matching color. Tools required: wire stripper, electrical tape, and patience.

And finally the hardest part of this was figuring out how to remove the pillar to run the microphone wire to the driver side visor (best decision ever).  After much searching on the internet you remove the pillar by pulling on it. It’ll come off and won’t break even if it feels like it will. There are 4 clip points, 2 on each side staggered (they aren’t parallel between the door and windshield side). I ended up having to use some of my body weight to pull it off since I was at an awkward angle. Fun fact there’s plenty of room to run some wires back there. And if you remove the floorboard driver’s panel it’s incredibly easy to run the wire back to the stereo.

And with our awesome neighborhood yard sale page, I was able to pass to old radio onto someone else who could use it!

The original stereo

Let me just say after playing with the new stereo for a week. Upgrading was the best decision. Huge thank you for the best gift I would have never bought for myself.

New Sony Stereo

The finished product!

The House’s present: While on an electrical kick I decided it was time to change out the blue ceiling fan in the spare bedroom. I loved that blue fan so much I have no pictures of it while it was up. Somehow I managed to angle all o the photos of this room such that I never caught it on screen.

The fan once removed

The fan once removed

Needless to say no one misses the blue fan and someone in the neighborhood wanted it so disposal of the fan was as easy as dissembling it. I ended up replacing it with a similar small Hunter fan from Home Depot that matches the Ikea black-brown furniture in the room. The fan was easy to install with the instructions provided in the box, but I must admit having a spare set of hands from a friend made it much easier (i.e. one person hand things up to the ladder and hold pieces instead of a constant up and down).  The only thing different from the blue fan is this one I mounted close to flush with the ceiling. Since the room is smaller this did help make it feel a bit bigger.

The new fan in place

The new fan in place

While on a roll I also ended up adding a few runners to the first floor to cover the rest of the plywood floors while I anxiously await moving forward with getting real floors. Each step is one more closer to the final product and my current weekend project kick is fulfilled!

Delaware and the Eastern Shore

Mom came to visit to help out with the garage sale, aka clean out the basement and all the things I don’t have room for in the house.  The garage sale is an annual event hosted by the Highlandtown community association, which shuts down two blocks to traffic and is open to any of the homeowners in the area. They coordinate the permits, advertisements, and getting the AMVETS. Afterwards they coordinate a cookout for the participants. It was a great way to meet some more neighbors and to off load all of the boxes of items in the basement.

IMG_20150601_203057782After getting through the weekend, Mom and I headed out to the Eastern shore for some R&R in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
After a quick spot at the Dogfish Head Brewery for some tasty pizza. Despite the fact that there were rain storms the entire time we were out there, we still IMG_20150602_120706122managed to check out the beach, enjoy the beach house, and most importantly for me, catch up on sleep.

Back in Maryland, we manage to pick up paint for my bedroom, check out some restaurants, and hit up the Capital Jazz fest before putting Mom back on the plane. More pictures from the trip are below.

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