The House Strikes Back

Our Homeownership Saga

Halloween Display

Pictures from Halloween night 2017 with all of the lights and fog machine in action!

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Pixels out and more songs to sequence

We currently have 3 pixels that are out on the mega tree and need to be fixed. Sadly they went bad somewhere between putting the strips together and hanging them on the mega tree. Hopefully I can get those fixed sometime this weekend so we don’t have a few random ones were the colors don’t match correctly, but one is fairly high on the tree so that will be fun to get to.

Other plan for this weekend is to sequence a third song for the display. Two songs seem too short (probably about 7 minutes currently), so if we at least get a third song in the mix maybe it will keep people parked out front longer.

But as for right now, the display seems to be a success. Most times looking out the window, there is at least 1 car watching and lots of times there are multiple cars. People seem to be enjoying it again this year, in even greater numbers than any years before.

2 Songs Complete!

After another 5 hours of sequencing last night on my birthday, we have a second song done. After finishing that song, we finally started up the display and had it running the rest of the night. (about 7:30pm to 10:30pm) There are some tweaks to make here and there to some of the sequences, but overall they look pretty good.

Songs completed and running currently:
Christmas Can-Can (by Straight No Chaser)
Sandstorm (by Darude)

Hopefully we’ll have time to throw together another song or two within the next week.

32 candy canes to go

Almost everything is complete with the display this year, but we still haven’t started sequencing any songs yet, so that’s the next task.

Happy holidays!

The Liquor Expansion

Bar area before new cabinets

Cabinets assembled

Finished and stocked

Bar area afterwards

So my bar area (previously shown here) had become a bit crowded. In fact, some of the lesser used bottles had been relegated to the floor. So it was decided that we should do something to make that look more presentable. It has long been a dream of mine to have a classy display cabinet for my increasing collection of top shelf spirits. Thus another trek to the almighty IKEA was made and several Billy bookcases with glass doors were purchased. Ideally, there would have been a corner one but someone (may or may not have been me) failed to properly measure for it. It took many hours for Marc to assemble, level and anchor them in position. It became very apparent how uneven our floors are being as he had to shim each and every one of them to stop them from rocking back and forth. However, it looks amazing and I am in love with the feel it adds to the dining room. The down side may be that now I have more storage space so I will be more compelled to purchase further fine scotches and whiskeys to fill the space. I won’t say how long my wishlist of liquors is, only that it would surprise most of you.

My glass shelves above the bar area are now dedicated to glassware storage, including my recent addition of Riedel Single Malt Whiskey glasses for proper whiskey tastings. Also, my wine and scotch journals now have a special place on a shelf in the smaller cabinet instead of being wedged by some martini shakers in a corner.

There will be a future update on this project regarding lighting. Marc is working on adding in programming LED lights to each shelf. This would allow us to have the cabinets fade between a rainbow of colors for added ambiance. They will them turn to a white light when the doors open so one can better see the bottles.

A little bit obsessive — yes. But I don’t know any other way to do it!

The Tree Had to Go

At the start of our Christmas display set-up we had planned to string long sections of lights all the way down our 40′ spruce tree out front, thus creating the ultimate mega-tree. As fate would have it, we could not make that happen without renting a bucket truck twice a year just to reach the top. Since that would run us about $700 annually, we opted not to use the tree in our display. After this setback we started throwing around the idea of removing the tree all together and using that side of the yard for a more elaborate display next year. Well, there is a guy that comes into the Caribou Coffee I work at every day for his morning coffee and he happens to own his own landscaping company so, I asked for a quote. It was a fair price for removing such a large tree so we decided to go ahead and have it cut down. It turned out that the day that worked for him was Marc’s birthday. Not the best present I could have gotten for him, but it was big and expensive (that makes it good, right?).  It took him around 4 hours to cut the whole thing down and he had to use 5 different chainsaws to get the job done. Pretty impressive to watch plus, he did all that without damaging our Christmas display! I have below some before, during, and after pictures of the process. It happened to snow the day after it came down, so that was marvelous timing.

Yard with the tree

Tree with all branches removed

Yard with no giant tree covering the house

I also managed to get a video of the large trunk being taken down. He had planned to have it fall on to the grassy area on the boulevard where he had some large logs waiting to cushion the fall. It didn’t quite work out that way though and he missed the logs by only a few inches. The grass was mostly unharmed though.

So now we have much more space for expansion next year. Plus, you can actually see our house when you drive down the block! In my opinion, it all makes the yard seem much larger now that there isn’t a giant tree covering everything.

Christmas Lights (UPDATED!)

So I know that we have been hyping the Christmas light display for quite a while. It is still happening. However, it is not ready for finally reveal yet. Here are some teasers though. You can check out some progress pictures on Marc’s Facebook page here Christmas Album. Leave a comment if you can’t see them and I will add them to the blog.

Hopefully in the next week or so we will have a video of the whole display in all its glory.


This picture helps give an idea of how much stuff is out there. The snow covers the wires but, there are hundreds of feet of power cables and ethernet under that running the whole display.

Quick fact: each of the mini trees in front has 4 colors totaling 2400 lights bulbs and took over 6 hours to make.

Most of the display in daylight

Love the Vertical Storage

As an addition to our bar area we added some floating glass shelves to store our bar-ware (glasses, martini shakers, jiggers, etc). We didn’t really know what to store on the top shelf, so it holds the wine I have yet to have occasion to drink. I really like the visual appeal this added to the dining room. It really finished that space nicely. Shelves were from IKEA (no surprise there).

Shelves for the Kitchen Cabinets…Finally

So, you may remember shortly after we got the house that I used some small tables from IKEA as make-shift shelves in my kitchen cabinets (read here Kitchen Modification). Well, I had finally grown tired of that solution. So, I made yet another trek to Home Depot to find some suitable shelves. It took me over an hour to find any laminated or finished boards that would fit the space. Even then, I would still need to do some cutting to get them to fit but, who doesn’t love some quality time with a circular saw. So after a few cuts I went from a mess to some decent looking cabinets. Read the full article »

Hopefully there will be more soon

I know we have been horrible at regularly updating the blog for you guys. I am going to try very hard to keep up with it from now on. We still need to tell you about the rest of our plumbing repairs and our yard work. There is also the organizing of all the stuff in our basement so that we can now find everything.

So keep checking back!

How have you guys been?