Charlie Needs Invoices

Actually Charlie needs to print invoices. For some reason he has an aversion to hand-writing invoices.

Our invoices are simple.

If it meant getting paid or not, I would write them.

This computer is so dusty it’s an allergy attack waiting to happen.

Charlie really only needs a computer for his invoices but he’s been using a desktop computer in his little office since at least 2000 and maybe longer.

The computer tower still sits on the floor.

The computer won’t get on the internet any more but that’s not the actual issue.  He can use his phone for internet access. Charlie needs to print invoices for when he goes out to music gigs.

Charlie will now work on a laptop.

So I figured out a way to take his invoice templates off the old computer and onto one that’s slightly newer (only 10 years old) by transferring them to a thumb drive then downloading them onto the newer laptop.

The old clunking printer

Recently the printer, also a dinosaur, won’t print; it just goes clunk.

New computers don’t hook up this way.

It doesn’t matter really because its cable is so archaic that there’s not a compatible port on the laptop.

The HP Envy is being delivered Friday.

So now we’re left with buying a new printer.

We bought a new mouse, too.

Yea! The cheaper solution.

Are you tech savvy or do you need a guru?

Tied Up in Taxes

This is the time of year we pull together all the financial information from the prior year so we can file our tax return.

Charlie plays the piano with animation. He can't help it.
Charlie plays the piano with animation. He can’t help it.

We both individually file a Schedule C (Self-employment) with our tax return even though the businesses for both of us are called “Charlie and Jo”.

Schedule C for people who are self-employed.
Schedule C for people who are self-employed.

Charlie is a piano player and I am a singer/manager. Charlie determines how many gigs he’s done and how much money he made. I consolidate his reckonings with my own.

Mileage counts for the most expense for musicians.
Mileage counts for most of the expense for musicians.

We both figure out the mileage for our cars that constitutes getting to and from music engagements.

We're a frugal pair expenses-wise.
We’re a frugal pair expenses-wise.

I calculate investments and expenses both for our personal finances and our business finances. In addition to filling out the multiple page tax packet our accountant sends I also make a cheat sheet  summary version that’s easy for me to see how the money came and went.

This tax information packet is my project.
This tax information packet is my project.

No fun!

Do you prepare your own taxes?

All That Planning and I’m Short

The tile setters started working 2 days ago and basically laid the floors of the two bathrooms in the first day.

The Ida White Venatino and Marmara Grey honed marble basketweave is laid in the master bathroom.
The Ida White Venatino and Marmara Grey honed marble basketweave is laid in the master bathroom.

The master bathroom floor is basketweave Carrera marble with a medium grey dot.

My dressing table fits in the niche on the left created by 2 kneewalls.
My dressing table fits in the niche on the left created by 2 kneewalls.

I ordered plenty for the entire project because I calculated the square footage and added 10%.  Since I had to buy full boxes of tile I rounded down just a little bit.

The shower and middle of the floor is finished.
The shower and middle of the floor in the conservatory bathroom is finished.

Unfortunately I had purchased the conservatory bathroom tile first and I forgot about the 10% rule.  So stupid, but when I’m sitting in front of the computer ordering tile from Home Depot, what did I know?

Extra tile is needed for this little area.
Extra tile is needed for this little area.

After the tile arrived, I knew the conservatory floor tile would be close.  Apparently too close since I needed to order 6 more sheets. I immediately hopped online to order a few more tiles: 5 tiles would incur a $9.45 shipping charge while 6 tiles (at $7.95 each) would be shipped for free.

I'm glad I stayed committed to curbless showers -- the clean line on the floor makes the area seem larger.
I’m glad I stayed committed to curbless showers — the clean line on the floor makes the area seem larger.

The tile setters are not grouting the tile until all the tile — both floors and walls — is set. I’ve spent the whole day texting “Tee hee hee” to Charlie.  He concurs.

Do building materials tickle your fancy? What does?

We’re On the Schedule

Notice I didn’t say “we’re on schedule”. I received an email yesterday from our tile setter:

The conservatory shower wall accent tile.
The conservatory shower wall accent tile.

“Hi Charlie and Jo. With all the polishing of the glass tile edges and setting tiles looks like I can drop the price down to $8000 even. I wish I could do more on the price but the work I do I pay close attention to detail. Most tile setters won’t take the time that I do on polishing the tiles and try to hide it by covering it up with grout. Let me know what you think. Let me know as soon as possible.
Thanks Rod.”

Floorplan for the master suite including the master bathroom.
Floorplan for the master suite including the master bathroom.

The original quote totaled $8240 (broken into 4 separate quotes). Charlie asked him if he could look at the job and his numbers again and sharpen his pencil.  His sharpened pencil saved us $240.  That’s a day’s wages at least, right?

Conservatory floorplan with bathroom.
Conservatory floorplan with bathroom.

He had already put us on his schedule for November. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know exactly when since our date is based on the finishing of his other projects.

Our tile setter laying waterproofing membrane.
Our tile setter laying waterproofing membrane.

This is the same person that put in our shower waterproofing here and here.

The conservatory bathroom will have tiled floors, shower walls and bench.
The conservatory bathroom will have tiled floors, shower walls and bench.

From that job I know he is a detail oriented craftsman.

The master bathroom is a large space to tile.
The master bathroom is a large space to tile and will also have floor, shower walls, and bench fully tiled.

To get everything in perspective for the bathrooms the list looks like this:

Master Bathroom

Conservatory Bathroom

  • Tile shower and floor (November, 2015)
  • Install plumbing fixtures in shower
  • Install glass panels and door in shower
  • Install toilet (December, 2015)
  • Design and make divider for access space behind shower

    The area on the right is a narrow access room to get to the plumbing which should be closed off with a removable panel.
    The area on the right is a narrow access room to get to the plumbing which should be closed off with a removable panel.
  • Make vanity from salvaged wood
  • Install sink on vanity
  • Install remaining plumbing fixtures
  • Install over-vanity lights
  • Choose, buy, and install towel bars
  • Hang mirror
  • Hang cabinet

So that ought to keep us busy.  I’m predicting the bathrooms won’t be finished by the end of 2015 but by the time Spring, 2016, is upon us we’ll have 2 more working bathrooms. Hoping to have the toilets up and running before Christmas.

Are you good at predicting how long projects will take? Cost?

Bathroom Tile Order #3

The tile for the conservatory bathroom has been sitting at the house for months now.

Conservatory bathroom shower tile -- Snow Frost glass subway tile
Conservatory bathroom shower tile — Snow Frost glass subway tile — in the display room at The Tile Shop.

Order No. 1 was the glass tile for the walls of the conservatory shower.

White basketweave tile from Home Depot.
White basketweave tile from Home Depot for the conservatory bathroom floor.

Order No. 2 was the conservatory bathroom floor tile.

Marble tile on the floor and white ice matte subway on the shower walls.
Marble tile on the floor and white ice matte subway on the shower walls.

Now I have placed my order with Best Tile for both the floor and walls of the master bathroom.

Imagine this entire area beautifully tiled, marble on the floor and white ceramic on the walls.
Imagine this entire area beautifully tiled, marble on the floor and white ceramic on the walls.

I feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders. Whew.

I rejected this Marble dogbone basketweave at $45.55 per square foot.
I rejected this Marble dogbone basketweave at $45.55 per square foot.

I had gone to the Tile Shop, Best Tile and Conestoga Tile to select the tile and to get price quotes.

This is Ida White Venatino and Marmara Grey honed marble basketweave with "warm gray" grout.
This is Ida White Venatino and Marmara Grey honed marble basketweave with “warm gray” grout.

I liked the marble tile at Best Tile and the price was, in my opinion, excellent. (This is the place I ordered the tile for our kitchen backsplash.)

Marble basketweave tile for the floor (trade the white grout for gray on the floor) and ice white subway for the shower walls.
Marble basketweave tile for the floor (trade the white grout for gray on the floor) and ice white subway for the shower walls.

Then came the wall tile for the shower.  Both Best Tile and Conestoga had the same tile but it was 54 cents cheaper per square foot at Conestoga.  (I need 140 square feet). That’s a $75 savings.

My Conestoga quote from last May.
My Conestoga quote from last May.

Happily, since I had a written quote, Best Tile was able to match the price of not only the field tile but also the bullnose tiles on which I saved 19 cents per tile.

As I'm writing this my heart started to beat really fast because the ship date seemed to be April of next year but I called and it's actually next week. Phew!
As I’m writing this my heart started to beat really fast because the ship date seemed to be April of next year but I called and it’s actually next week. Phew!

Again I remind everyone to just ask for a discount.  It can always be denied but in this case the salesperson seemed happy to make the adjustment since she could basically prove it was warranted by my paperwork (which I lugged into the store).

This photo was very helpful in the tile store.
This photo was very helpful in the tile store.

It was helpful to have photos with measurements. When the Best Tile representative and I were talking about the bullnose tiles it was easy to point to an area and describe what would be most appropriate in a certain spot, from her perspective and from mine.  Her counsel really helped me decide.

What decision are you up against?

Dehumidifier – A Quick Evaluation

On the advice of the technician who comes once-a-year to tune up the furnace, I  ordered a dehumidifier for the basement.

Frigidaire dehumidifier FAD504DWD
Frigidaire dehumidifier FAD504DWD

I placed an order on Wednesday with Amazon for a Frigidaire FAD504DWD Energy Star 50-pint Dehumidifier .  (Don’t let the price on the Frigidaire website scare you — you can get it on Amazon for much cheaper.) It was delivered by UPS on Thursday.  I call that fast service.

Most of our house is over crawl space so the basement is very small.
Most of our house is over crawl space so the basement is very small.

A couple of days later (we’re not as quick about getting things going) Charlie carried the humidifier down the basement. It weighs almost 40 pounds.

The hose hook-up overrides the internal bucket of the dehumidifier.
The hose hook-up overrides the internal bucket of the dehumidifier.

He cleaned of a piece of yellow hose that was lying behind the shed and connected it to the back of the humidifier.

The hose drips into the sump pump well so we don't have any buckets to empty.
The hose drips into the sump pump well so we don’t have any buckets to empty.

It drips into our sump well and is ejected to the outside of the house by the sump pump.

The front of the dehumidifier opens to reveal a water reservoir with its own handle.
The front of the dehumidifier opens to reveal a water reservoir with its own handle.

While we’re using a hose to remove the water, there is also a bucket in the dehumidifier that will catch water if a drain is not available.

The humidifier has a built-in handle and wheels on the bottom. "CO" means it's set for continuous operation.
The humidifier has a built-in handle and wheels on the bottom. “CO” means it’s set for continuous operation.

The atmosphere is much dryer now under the house (hovering around 60% after the first few days).

When first set the setting is displayed; then the number changes to the actual percentage of humidity in the air.
When first set the setting (55) is displayed; then the number changes to the actual (60) percentage of humidity in the air.

We’re hoping it not only reduces the rusting and gunking of furnace hardware but also deters the growth of mold and mildew in the cellar and crawlspaces under the house.

Have you cleaned your basement recently?

Impulse Purchase; Suggested Purchase

I was looking through my “Bedrooms” Pinterest board when I noticed a wireless remote for lamps that I had pinned 2 years ago.

One for my lamp and 2 for ??
One for my lamp and 2 for ??

I clicked onto Amazon and thought a wireless remote would work well in the bedroom for the lamps.

Each lamp has two bulbs each of which work on pull chains.
Each lamp has two bulbs each of which works on a pull chain.

Our bedroom lamps are vintage and work on pull chains which are a little touchy.

Limoges lamp in the master bedroom needs remote control.
Limoges lamp in the master bedroom needs remote control.

Charlie’s is controlled by the switch near the door but mine is plugged into a surge protector strip on the floor.  I have to lean over to turn it on and off.  Not convenient when I’m ready to fall asleep. So I bought a set of 3 for $15.

This furnace was installed in 2009, before the renovation began (2013) but with it in mind.
This furnace was installed in 2009, before the renovation began (2013) but with it in mind.

While I was on Amazon I remembered that the furnace in our basement had recently been cleaned and serviced and that the technician told Charlie we should get a dehumidifier for the basement to prolong the life of the furnace.

Frigidaire dehumidifier FAD504DWD
Frigidaire dehumidifier FAD504DWD

After doing a quick check of recommendations at ConsumersReport.org (which I access through my public library card) I purchased a 50 pint Frigidaire dehumidifier for $188.

Sump pump in corner of basement keeps it dry. I don't have a photo of the new pump which replaced this relic last year.
Sump pump in corner of basement keeps it dry. I don’t have a photo of the new pump which replaced this relic last year.

I was looking for a dehumidifier that would run continuously if a hose were run into a drain.  We don’t have a drain in the cellar but there is a well with a sump pump that will serve the same purpose.

In addition to furniture and tool storage, The Cottage holds future projects like the French garden chairs.
In addition to furniture and tool storage, The Cottage holds future projects like the French garden chairs.

We used to have a dehumidifier in the Cottage so if this one works well we might purchase another for out there after we get it cleaned up.

Do you follow through on recommendations made by plumbers, electricians, technicians, etc?