Never a dull moment in the Florida panhandle. Not now that we’re here! Our days and evenings have been filled with shuffling boxes, furniture and appliances from various PackRat containers and storage units into our new home. And our nights? Well, besides the two week-apart 3am tornado warnings (one ended with a lightning strike destroying a neighbor’s house and the other with an EF-3 twister causing mayhem a few miles to our northeast), our nights have passed in peaceful and restful sleep. More tornadoes on the menu for tomorrow though (today, for those of you reading).
Like I said, never a dull moment in the panhandle. Silly us – we thought we had moved into the slow lane of life!
Anyway, tornadoes, lightning and rattlesnakes aside (yes, apparently they live somewhere in the back end of the back yard, much to Handan’s delight), we started cleaning the moment we moved in. A new house needs a deep, deep clean, and paying someone to do it will cost several hundred dollars. But for all that money, they’ll never get it as clean as we can. So on day one, we armed ourselves with bleach and ammonia and set out to do battle with the toilets and the kitchen cabinets.
You wouldn’t believe how much grease, grime, and what-the-eff-is-this-stuff?!? accumulates on cabinets over the years if you’ve never rolled up your sleeves and had a go at cleaning them. It’s astounding. Remarkable, really. But nothing a
little lot of ammonia, some elbow grease and a bit of determination can’t handle.
With the cleaning mostly finished (I still have a few forgotten toilets to scrub), it’s time we started eyeballing the rooms, hatching plans and tallying costs (translation: Handan comes up with ideas and runs the numbers while I shovel donuts into my cake-hole and wonder what I’ll be cooking for dinner). Don’t believe me? Here’s one from the Okaloosa Island archives showing the Bearded Weirdo hard at work figgerin’ stuff out.
So here we go with our list of short-term goals for our new Florida home. Some are big, some are small, all are important. I’ll give the list first and then talk a little more about each.
Florida Home Short-Term Goals
Paint craft room walls and set up room Install smart deadbolts on all doors Pantry makeover
- Master closet makeover
Install 3 additional electrical outlets to lanai Fix screen on lanai Paint front door
- Paint outdoor lantern and run power to it
Remove columns in dining room and replace with walls New flooring Install cabinet in alcove at top of stairs
- Install smart and silent garage door openers
- Interior wall painting (in progress)
Wage war with fire ants Deploy snake shield for bukbukbuk snake-averse wife(We expanded the yard and kept the snakes)
Paint craft room walls and set up room
Can’t make crafts without a craft room, and what on earth would I do without my crafts? I’d be forced to go to bars, guzzle brewskies and watch football, I suppose. Yep, much better and safer for me to stay home, sip martinis and craft, I’d say!
So you’re all familiar with the color we moved into. It’s nearly everywhere, including the CROG (Craft Room Over Garage).
Well, with apologies to those who loved the color, our first order of business is to paint that green to white. Not only is it a nicer color to look at, but it’ll amp up the light in the room and make everything brighter. Brighter room, happier crafts…or something like that.
Once the walls are white, we can begin hauling up the furniture and boxes and setting up my workspace. For the first time, my craft space and writing desk will be in the same room. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time in this room. It already has its own bathroom, and Handan even offered to put a small fridge up there. Tempting, but I assured her I’m more than capable of descending into the kitchen to forage for sugar and caffeine.
Install smart deadbolts on all doors
If there’s one thing I’m really fantastic at it’s forgetting to lock the doors when we leave and then misremembering my actions. This causes Handan to fly into fits of panic which usually end in turning the car around so she can check the locks. All of that ended in Georgia when I installed smart deadbolts on all the doors that allow me not only to check the lock status from anywhere on earth (or presumably low-earth orbit), but to change that status with the push of a button.
I took two of our three Schlage Encode smart deadbolts with us from Georgia, and boy do I wish I took them all! Chalk up another victim of the supply chain fiasco. We have seven deadbolts here, and I want five to be smart. No biggie. I already had two, so a quick trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s should fill in the rest, right?
Home Depot and Lowe’s are sold out everywhere in this region and online. Ditto every other online outlet. You can only find a few selling for $100 over MSRP on eBay, and sometimes up to double MSRP.
Undeterred by this global shortage, my babes dug in her heels and started to methodically search every Lowe’s and Home Depot in the Southern United States until she finally found three in stock in Bainbridge, Georgia, nearly three hours away. We bought them on the spot, hopped into my new used Ram truck and enjoyed our ride across state lines to pick up what were likely the last three Schlage Encodes in North America.
You can’t put a price on Peace of Mind.
It’s not the worst pantry on earth, but it needs work to bring it to its fullest potential. Like everything else in the house (besides the hulking chandelier), it’s a builder-grade special – an austere collection of wire shelves arranged and installed with all the loving care a mother rattlesnake gives her young as she silently slithers out of the picture after laying her clutch of eggs.
As you’ve no doubt guessed, my babes has better (and bigger) plans for this under-used space. I’ll be starting this project lickety split, so keep an eye peeled for it in the coming week or so.
Master closet makeover
Even with the ruthless culling Handan did upon moving out of Georgia (Goodwill never had a clothing donation so big!), my babes is finding it hard to fit into the spartan rows of wire shelving that the builders passed off as a master closet.
Two shelves and a puny shoe rack do not a master closet make. And why just one shelf up high? Are they expecting the homeowner to hang nothing but floor-length ballgowns?
Why does no one else pay attention to these details? It’s time to demand more from our home builders. It’s time to put an end to wire shelving once and for all! I’ve half a mind to launch my own home building business and start building the damn things right. Oh, who am I kidding. Just pass me a martini and I’ll shut up already.
Anyway, I’ll be building shelves and installing rods in there. We made a beautiful closet with IKEA Brimnes in Georgia. Here, I think we’ll do it from scratch.
Install 3 outlets in the lanai
There’s no such thing as too much power…said every politician ever. And there’s no such thing as too much electrical power – which is why I’ll be packing some meat on the lanai’s scrawny bones with 3 additional power outlets. There’s already one out there. I mean, it’s better than no power. But really, in this day and age, if you’re proud of your one-outlet room, you probably like to show your phone jacks off at parties, too. You better be careful how you read that last sentence. o_0
Anyway, it should be an easy install, even for a bargain bin Ben Franklin like me. There are already outlets on the inside of the house directly opposite of my intended lanai outlet sites. Should be a simple matter of punching through the wall and hooking up some wires.
Fix the screen on the lanai
I’d love to blame my idiot dog Penny for this one, and make no mistake, that red-haired ruffian made the dog-shaped hole, but it was her dummkopf owner who caused her lapse of judgement. You see, I locked her and Pepper in the lanai one day when a landscaper came over to quote a job. He and I were just around the corner talking. Penny could hear daddy, but she couldn’t see me. Of course, to her pea brain, this meant I was in mortal danger and needed immediate rescue. Her quickest path to save daddy was through the lanai screen.
I should have known better. This was the same dog who I stupidly locked in our Jacksonville apartment bedroom when the movers came the day before we were set to move out. There was a snafu with the help – I had only hired labor, not labor and a truck. I had to run out to U-Haul (dogs forgotten) to get a truck. 30 minutes later when I returned to the apartment, I heard a curious ripping sound. Upon opening the bedroom door, I discovered that Nervous Nellie had been busying trying to dig her way under the door…through the carpet. As a final sayonara from Jacksonville, we got hit with a full-apartment carpet-replacement charge.
Yeah, that was my fault. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by the time we got to Freeport. Apparently I’m a little slow on the uptake.
Paint the front door
Remember what we did to our front door in Georgia?
Well, we’re fixin’ to do the same (or similar) thing here once receive the blessings of the Almighty Council of Architectural Overlords in our HOA.
Paint the outdoor lantern and energize it
This thing. This thing here.
It needs paint. But you know what else it needs?
This is another head-scratcher. They installed a legit outdoor light fixture, but they never bothered to run power to it!
Builder Bob: Hey Joe, we’re outta wires.
Builder Joe: Waddaya mean we’re outta wires?
Builder Bob: No more wires. Fresh out. Still gotta run power to this here lantern.
Builder Joe: No wires, huh?
Builder Bob: Nope.
Builder Joe: How ’bout you just stick that lantern to the garage and we go get lunch.
Builder Bob: Think anyone’ll notice?
Builder Joe: Bob, the light is on the outside. The light switches are on the inside. How could they possibly notice?
Builder Bob: You’re a wise man, Joe. Let’s eat.
Remove columns in dining room
Okay Handan and I had been operating on the assumption that the columns in our dining room were non-load-bearing.
We dug a little deeper into the issue today, and we discovered that they actually are load-bearing. Thank the stars I didn’t clobber them out with a sledge hammer! And I decided to drill a few more exploratory holes in them and discovered a tension cable running up their length. A quick research revealed that the cables in the middle of these columns are part of what holds the damn roof on in a hurricane!
Phew! Did I ever dodge a bullet!
So yeah, the columns are definitely coming down.
Wait, what? You just said they’re load-bearing AND keeping the damn roof from going all Dorothy Kansas! You’re still going to knock them down???
Indeed I did, madam, and indeed I am! Well, to be fair, once we learned of their importance, I excused myself from the job. We’ll let someone competent take over. Yeesh, can you imagine me monkeying around with the 4 things literally holding this house together? No thanks!
Install new flooring
We got some quotes on this, and it was so disheartening. Prices have gone through the roof on LVP since we got our floors done less than 2 years ago in Suwanee. Not unexpected, but no less annoying.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way to save a penny…or a few thousand dollars. So instead of hiring a contractor to do the job, Yours Valiantly and his beloved wife will tear out the carpet from the dining room, living room, sitting room and master bedroom alcove. We will then lay over one ton of cement board to bring the subfloor level with the existing tile, and then we will lay LVP on top of the cement board and the tile. Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom.
It’s a big job, and I’m just the sucker to do it.
Install cabinet in staircase alcove
It sucks not to have a basement, but it’s so fantastic to live life on one floor! Still, no basement means we have 6 gigatons of crapola and only a 4 gigaton house. Those 2 gigatons need to go somewhere, so every cubic inch of storage space will help. Thus, the little alcove at the top of the stairs leading to the craft room will host some sort of pantry cabinet. Not sure what yet, but we’ll figure it out soon enough.
Smart and silent garage door openers
Not only are the current openers dumb as a box of scrap metal (which they pretty much are), but they are quite possibly the noisiest garage door openers this side of the Pacific Ocean. If a gaggle of shrieking banshees and a herd of drunken ogres started a heavy metal band, it might sound something like our garage doors.
As I did in Connecticut and again in Georgia, I will replace the noisy with the silent and the stupid with the smart with Chamberlain belt-drive wi-fi connected garage door openers. They are the absolute best!
Interior wall painting
This is a given, and it will be ongoing until every green wall has been whitened and every white wall has been refreshed.
By the way, for you Northern folk, have you ever seen or heard of knockdown walls? Well that’s what we have on every wall and every ceiling.
Knockdown texture…knockdown texture everywhere. I’m eternally baffled how this became a thing. When I get involved with painting, I’ll take some closeup pics of the walls so you can marvel at the profound idiocy of the knockdown texture wall.
Some dudes walk on the moon. Others invent calculus or the personal computer. Others still engage in feats of outstanding strength and athleticism. Then there’s the bozo who sprayed goop on a wall, ran a putty knife over it and declared it a thing.
I’m shaking my damn head at humanity right now.
Wage war with fire ants
The brochure said nothing…nothing about fire ants! I want to speak with the manager!
Karen – 2022
So what they don’t tell you when you’re looking at real estate down here is that every yard will have a thin layer of sod, perhaps an inch of topsoil, and approximately a 6-inch layer of fire ants under every square foot of yard. They will push through to the surface wherever sod meets concrete…hell, they’ll push through anywhere at any time and for any reason. You’ll soon learn of their hideous nature, and you will wage war against them.
This will be a war of attrition. And lest you think your mighty size makes a difference, their sheer numbers will grind you down over time. The 300 Spartans probably thought for a while that they had a chance against the Persians at Thermopylae, but Xerxes had near-infinite soldiers to throw against the Spartans’ spears. Numbers always win in the end.
Still, it’s war worth fighting. You don’t want to step on an active mound with bare feet!
Deploy snake shield
Did you know they make snake repellent? I didn’t know they made snake repellent. Apparently they make snake repellent, and when my babes discovered it in Lowe’s, she insisted I buy it to protect her from all the slithery critters out there in the dark on the periphery of our land. I just hope it doesn’t repel blacksnakes. They’re the good ones that eat vermin and other snakes of the poisonous persuasion.
So far, I’ve managed to swap out all of the deadbolts, and we’ve got a good start on the craft room makeover. We painted the walls white, and the room already looks a thousand times better. Once we unload our boxed crafting supplies into the cabinets, we’ll be ready to rock. We’ve got some guys coming this week to look at our column situation and hopefully help us find a way to replace them with something a little more aesthetically pleasing.
And there’s still the matter of fitting all (or most) of our stuff in here. We still have two full 10×20 storage units to unload and one 10×10. We know we won’t be fitting it all in this house – at least not before we build a shed. Until then, we’ll be keeping some of those storage units for seasonal decor and future craft supplies.
Much more to come!