Operation ReloSouth: At the David Weekley Design Center

SC Wish you were hereMy husband Mike and I were on the hunt — which I dubbed “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect location to build our retirement home. We found it — a no-snow, lower cost, more relaxed area of the country near water — in Hampton Lake SC. And this is our story.

After we signed on the dotted line with David Weekley to build our Blue Point home, my husband Mike and I worked with Tressa at the David Weekley Design Center choosing fits and finishes and appliances for our new build.

Choices, choices, choices!

Choices, choices, choices!

It’s good to know that Weekley offers “levels” of finishes in its homes. If you select anything for your Weekley build other than Level 1 materials/finishes (the basic home, which is really nice), the cost of your build increases. If you delete something from the plan, the cost of the build decreases. As part of a recent promotion, the company gave us an “allowance” (aka cash) that we used toward upgrades from Level 1. That being said, during the actual selection process we didn’t have any idea what a particular upgrade would cost and the pricing process took some days to complete, which means we had to wait to find out if we could actually afford what we chose.

I stayed up late the night before our design center appointment to make this list!

I stayed up late the night before our design center appointment to make this list!

Tressa began by showing us samples in the expansive David Weekley Design Center and talking with us about our likes and dislikes. She quickly nailed our style preferences! The entire choice process — which took about 10 hours over 2 days — was about what we wanted, our “dream build.” As we worked our way room by room in the selection process, Tressa added the items to our summary sheet called an HTS, or Homeowner’s Transaction Summary. That document (plus the actual design floorplans), which we received via email after we returned to New Jersey, is where we first saw the cost of the upgrades we chose at the Design Center.

Weekley’s methodology was a challenge for Mike and me. During two previous home builds, Mike and I knew immediately what the cost of an add on/upgrade was and we could quickly and efficiently parse through the options on the spot. With Weekley it was a choose-and-wait selection process. And, just like in our other builds, we had to purchase only through approved vendors. Don’t even ask me how many different kitchen sink selections Tressa researched and priced for us before we chose one that satisfied our needs for quality, function, and price. That woman is a gem!

We are diligent people and we did our homework. Back in New Jersey, Mike and I spent weeks staring at the architect’s plans, making comments, measuring things out and figuring out if it would suit us as designed. When you are building a home take the time to look at the plans very carefully, over a span of weeks. You will pick up on different things every time your eye falls on the drawings. And you will save yourself time, money and aggravation during the actual build if you get it right on paper.

I think I'm going to love this kitchen!

I think I’m going to love this kitchen!

Mike has a very firm grasp on our cash. Dollars do not fly out of my husband’s fists easily. Soooo…after much back and forth, choosing and re-choosing, updating of the HTS and one architectural plan redraw (and the promise of  a red-line change in the field), we have our fits, finishes and tweaks to the Blue Point plan that suit us perfectly!

design plan tweaks

And if you build with Weekley in South Carolina? Tressa will make the selection process go smoothly. She is the real deal: a funny, patient, professional who was fully present every step we took.

P.S. Our final HTS is 18 pages long and specific, very specific. We hope that means everything will go according to plan during the actual build.

Next Up: Operation ReloSouth: Lot Clearing & Dock Building in Hampton Lake, SC

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Operation ReloSouth: Building a Dock in Hampton Lake SC

SC Wish you were hereMy husband Mike and I were on the hunt — which I dubbed “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect location to build our retirement home. We found it — a no-snow, lower cost, more relaxed area of the country near water — in Hampton Lake SC. And this is our story.

The day after our 36th wedding anniversary, Mike and I signed a contract with Weekley. They would build us a David Weekley Blue Point home. On our lot. Seriously, I can’t even believe I signed the papers. It’s not like we can move there now. And we’ve owned two homes at the same time before and it was nothing but a drag for me. I was always cleaning something, no matter which house we were living in. And I swore I’d never own two homes (with twice the upkeep) again. I think we’re crazy. Whatever. Talk with my husband…

Meanwhile, like even before we signed the contract to build the house, Mike was in communication with the two most-used, best lake dock builders in the area. Since we knew we would be building a dock in Hampton Lake SC, Mike called a couple of our soon-to-be neighbors and asked if we could look at their docks, hear their opinions of their dock builders and basically kick their dock’s tires. Our neighbors are the greatest! One offered up their all-wood dock for inspection, while another offered up their Trex-deck/wood underpinning dock.

The same day we signed our contract with Weekley we hustled over to look at our neighbors’ docks. Building a dock in Hampton Lake SC is serious business, friends! We examined both docks carefully, asking how it had been for them building a dock, weighing the lesser cost/more maintenance aspect of the natural all-wood dock versus the higher cost/no maintenance (and, we learned, cooler-under-the-feet) wood pilings/Trex surface dock.

This is the Trex decking.It comes in many colors.

This is the Trex decking.It comes in many colors.

We also kept in mind our immediate next-door neighbor’s request: They asked if we could tie into their dock so that we have one long seamless look from the lake side and less possibility of erosion in the future. That neighbor’s dock is made of wood.

This is the all-wood dock. We could stain it any color, but that's ongoing maintenance!

This is the all-wood dock. We could stain it any color, but that’s ongoing maintenance!

Ultimately, we thought the Trex-topped dock would be a good choice for us. We looked on line at the colors offered and saw one that we thought would blend nicely with our next-door neighbor’s natural wood decking. With the “building the dock” decision decided, I asked Mike if we could hang out at the pool the following day.

Mike had other ideas. Bright and early the next morning we met with Harry Hussmann, the owner of Alpha Marine LLC, so Harry could walk our lot with us, examine the shoreline and talk about options regarding the dock’s purpose, shape and configuration given the curve of our waterfront land. Harry also pointed out deck color samples of docks he completed in our Hampton Lake neighborhood. And he offered his expert opinion on the best configuration when building our dock. Harry is the bomb of dock builders…easy to talk with, full of great ideas and he has that Trex material sample just waiting in his back pocket for you!

Building of all sorts is booming in and around Hampton Lake S.C. Harry said that if we decided to build a dock with him that he’d be able to fit us in between larger jobs in Spring 2016. Given that the contract we signed with Weekley indicated a build start of April, Harry’s opening sounded ideal. But we would wait to receive his estimate before we decide.

Up Next: Operation ReloSouth: At the David Weekley Design Center


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Operation ReloSouth: We Changed Our Minds — David Weekley Blue Point!

SC Wish you were hereMy husband Mike and I were on the hunt — which I dubbed “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect location to build our retirement home. We found it — a no-snow, lower cost, more relaxed area of the country near water — in Hampton Lake SC. And this is our story.

I thought my husband Mike and I were looking at model homes so that “someday” we would build our retirement home in beautiful Hampton Lake, S.C. I thought I could “relax” once we decided that “someday” David Weekley Homes would build us our Pawley.

Hampton Lake SC signBut Mike kept wanting to visit Hampton Lake. Every visit Mike dragged me encouraged me to walk through the Weekley homes under construction”just to be sure” we picked the right model. He’d pull out his phone and snap photos of whatever home was being built. He’d measure doorways, closets and other stuff, while I walked around and admired the countertops and furniture. After all, it wasn’t like I needed to pay close attention to the house itself; it wasn’t ours.

Every visit to Hampton Lake we’d talk with Nancy Cantor, our sales consultant whom we now call friend, about any incentives or changes in the Weekley build offers. I should point out that Nancy is the third salesperson with whom we’ve discussed building a Weekley home. (I dare say that Mike and I are probably known as “the couple who took years to sign on the dotted line.” I wonder if Nancy got a signing bonus for finally getting us to commit?!) After we finished exploring the Weekley homes under construction and talking with Nancy, we’d walk our lot, talking about someday putting in a dock, which we knew had to be built before our home could be built since the lot is narrow and the heavy equipment wouldn’t “fit” after the house was built. I teased Mike that “someday,” after we put in the dock, we could come visit and sit on lawn chairs admiring our own lake view even though we wouldn’t have a house built yet!

David Weekley Design Ctr

Typically, buyers who haven’t signed a contract for Weekley to build them a house don’t get to visit the Weekley Design Center. We did. Multiple times. That’s when we met Tressa, design manager. I liked her right away, maybe because her taste and my taste are so similar. Or perhaps she just wants me to think that! She’s so Southern, I’m not sure!

But pay attention here! The visit that changed everything in my world occurred October 20, 2015. Weekley was building a new model, one we’d never seen! The model, The Blue Point, is a riff on the Pawley, only a bit bigger and better for folks like us in some ways. Mike was intrigued. I was too.  “Knowing” that our build was years away, I mostly played Scrabble on my phone, while Mike spent, I kid you not, hours roaming the construction sight, measuring, staring into space, measuring and staring some more.

We changed our minds...this is the Blue Point model, our latest love!

We changed our minds…this is the Blue Point model, our latest love!

That night we ate dinner with the David Weekley Blue Point plans scattered all over the table. We looked hard at the numbers (okay, Mike looked hard at the numbers while I looked at the kitchen and bathroom layouts) and then we returned to the build-in-process to walk through the house again. And again. And the next day we pored over the design drawings again. And again. Hint: Examine everything, more than twice, before making a major life-altering decision.

On October 26, 2015, the day after our 36th wedding anniversary, Mike and I signed a contract with Weekley. They would build us a David Weekley Blue Point home. On our lot. Seriously. With that major decision made, I asked Mike if we could go hang out at the pool.

Mike had other ideas.

Up Next: Operation ReloSouth: Building a Dock in Hampton Lake SC


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Hampton Lake SC, NJ Blogger, ReloSouth, SC blogger | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Operation ReloSouth: Got the Lot! Now Finding a Builder


SC Wish you were hereMy husband Mike and I were on the hunt — which I dubbed “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect location to build our retirement home. We found it — a no-snow, lower cost, more relaxed area of the country near water — in Hampton Lake SC. And this is our story.

Finding a buildable lot in a dream location — Hampton Lake SC — took us a few years and a lot of road trips and plane flights South. Don’t rush your own search. Enjoy the adventure! That said? If you find a lot that makes your heart melt? Buy it!

We went. We saw. We bought!

We went. We saw. We bought!

Mike and I are very happy with our lake view lot and how the front yard (for the yet-to-be-built house) pretty much faces due South. With the rear yard (and stunning lake) facing North, we’re pretty sure we can hang out in our backyard and not catch fire during the blisteringly hot, humid S.C. summers. Alternatively, we can come and stay with you when it’s too toasty in SC!

Hampton Lake SC signMike and I toured a number of model homes in Hampton Lake. We talked with the builder’s reps and explored different style homes large and small. If you, like us, are looking for a builder, do yourself a favor and make a list of the dozen or so drop-dead things you MUST HAVE in your new home before you start looking a models or begin working with an architect on a custom-designed home. And know what you can afford to spend on your dream house. No sense falling in love with a home that is out of your price range, right?

Your must-have list will vary from ours. Why? Because we are quirky. And so are you. These are the questions we asked ourselves as we toured the model homes:

  1. Is there enough room for at least two people to walk through the front door and stand in the main hallway comfortably? Mike and I seem to be joined at the hip sometimes. Or maybe that’s just being married for more than 35 years!
  2. Is there a master bedroom suite that includes a bathroom with walk-in shower, two sinks and a toilet not situated inside a tiny windowless closet-type room? Does the suite have a large walk-in closet?
  3. Is there at least one guest room with its own bath?
  4. Is there a well-located half bath for guests?
  5. Is the layout open concept to suit our casual lifestyle (and my need to see who’s coming toward me at a given moment)?
  6. Is the kitchen large enough for Mike and me to pass each other comfortably? This is a critical question for me because it seems like every time I turn around Mike is thisclose to me (see #1 above).
  7. I love to cook. Mike hates to cook, but he loves to eat so…Does the kitchen offer a great  layout and can I get top-of-the-line appliances, especially a stove, in the allocated space?
  8. Is there a large pantry?
  9. Is the dining area large enough to accommodate six adults (Mike, me, our two kids and their significant others) and still have space for a high chair (God willing!) someday?
  10. Is there office space for Mike?
  11. Is there a dreamy sewing room for me?
  12. Is there a separate laundry room large enough to also accommodate 2 large litter boxes and 6 cat bowls (this is not a typo, my friends)?
  13. Is there space for a covered/screened patio where we can hang out during the hot, humid S.C. summers without me getting chewed up and spit out by the no-see-ums and mosquitoes?

It quickly became apparent to Mike and me that we needed a 2,000 or so square foot home to “fit” our “must haves.” That narrowed our search. We fell in love with the Low Country home style. That narrowed our search. We also realized pretty quickly that some builders/homes cost more money than our budget allows. So that narrowed our search even more. If you keep at it, folks, the choice becomes pretty apparent! Finding a builder isn’t that difficult!

During our couple-year period of looking at model homes we kept coming back to one builder: David Weekley Homes. And one particular model home: The Pawley. The model is right-sized enough to suit our way of living and our lot size. And it ticked all the boxes on our must-have list.

David Weekley Pawley model

David Weekley Pawley model interior

Up Next: The Day We Changed Our Minds


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Hampton Lake SC, NJ Blogger, ReloSouth, SC blogger | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Operation ReloSouth: Hampton Lake SC

Do you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. AND…We’re gonna do it AGAIN, this time in Hampton Lake SC!

My husband Mike and I have been on the hunt — “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect retirement location. We want to live in a less-expensive, more relaxed area of the country near water. With better weather (no snow) than what we have here in Northern New Jersey. This is our story.

SC Wish you were hereIn 2012 I was barely half a century old when my husband Mike insisted we begin the search for our perfect a retirement home. Yeah, Mike likes to give himself years of research time to weigh his options. In case he can’t make up his mind. Or I can’t (hah!). And just to make our search more challenging Mike told me that we couldn’t retire in New Jersey (see reason #1 below) and he wouldn’t retire to Florida (see reason #3 below). Yeah, Mike’s full of rules.

Our “must have” list for the perfect retirement location included the following:

  1. a significantly lower cost of living than what we have here in Northern New Jersey, which is ranked the 6th most expensive state in these United States;
  2. a slower paced, but still interesting lifestyle. Living in New Jersey, which is the most densely populated state in the United States, means we are often tense, anxious and/or grumpy. Not even Botox can eradicate my Jersey frown lines. On the plus side, though, New York City is a short train ride away, which means we have access to some of the best of the best, most fun things to do. And we have the Jersey Shore.
  3. a more temperate climate. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 just about did us in. That said, Operation ReloSouth does not include researching areas in Hurricane Alley (e.g., Florida).

You can read my earlier posts about our searches near Wilmington, Leland and Southport, North Carolina; Hampton Lake, South Carolina and Skidaway Island, Georgia. I stopped writing about Operation ReloSouth for quite a while after Hurricane Sandy smacked us around, but that didn’t mean we stopped looking. Nope.

After two “sneak-a-peek” weekends and a number of other trips down, we bought a lot in Hampton Lake SC, a private, gated community that is home to families, singles and couples of all ages.

Hampton Lake Our Lot 10 2014

And I thought that would be the end of it until we actually retired. You know, years from now when we actually retire we’d plan and build a house on our lot and live in Hampton Lake SC full time.

Hampton Lake our lot water view



Mike was suddenly a man on a mission.

  • We bought our lot in 2013.
  • We visited model homes in the area and chose a builder and a home plan in 2014.
  • We changed our mind and chose a different home plan in 2015.
  • And now? David Weekley Homes is building our retirement home NOW, RIGHT NOW, IN 2016, YEARS BEFORE WE WILL LIVE IN IT FULL TIME.

I need to sit down.

Next Up: Bought the Lot! Now Finding a Builder! 


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, NJ Blogger, ReloSouth | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Cresson House B&B: Warm and Welcoming!

Cresson House B&BCresson, PA is a small town. A very small town. And when I visit the area, I stay at a hotel about 10 country miles away. This trip back I didn’t want to drive those winding country roads (full of deer waiting to jump out at me) after dark. So I looked on Trip Advisor for alternatives, never really thinking that I’d find any. But I did. The Cresson House B&B popped up! The reviews were really, really good so I gave them a call to see if they had a room available on a Monday night. Luck was with me and Marti, the innkeeper, booked me into the Samuel Lemon Room, which has its own private bath.

I had a fast trip (less than five hours) west on Route 80 and arrived on schedule. Marti was waiting to greet me. She gave me a brief tour of the historical home, which is nicely decorated and very well maintained, then showed me to my room.

Cresson House B&B Samuel Lemon RoomCan I tell you? The Samuel Lemon Room at the Cresson House B&B is great: toile cotton bedspread on a comfy queen-sized bed, a well-lit desk and chair tucked in a corner (with a little sign that informed me that they offer free wifi to guests), a nightstand with clock, tissues and a flashlight…just in case. The bathroom is larger than my childhood bedroom and offers amenities like fluffy towels and hand-made fragrant soap! And the shower is divine: strong water pressure!!

The Cresson House B&B offers round-the-clock drinks and snacks (raisin cookies!) in the kitchen, a welcoming front and side porch with old-fashioned swings and chairs where you can sit and pass the time, and lovely gardens.

Marti cooks a large American-style breakfast for her guests. After a peaceful night’s sleep in the quiet home, I went downstairs for breakfast. I was greeted with my preferred hot tea and a warm scone. Marti followed up with a peppers and onions (my choice) omelet with bacon and toast. Yum!

If you’re traveling and need a place to stay in the Cresson, PA area, give Marti a call. The Cresson House B&B is a great place to stay.


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, NJ Blogger, Pennsylvania, Travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Home Reno: The Big Reveal!

Do you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

building permitAre you planning a home renovation project? Our third-floor renovation project is finished! Yes, after months of planning, months of professionals working daily at our Victorian home, it’s time for the big reveal. My husband Mike and I are thrilled with the results!

The stairwell leading up to the newly renovated space!

3rd fl reno reveal 5

The tower room aerie has an epic view of the NY City skyline.

3rd fl reno reveal 2

The serene rear bedroom overlooks our lushly planted rear garden!

3rd fl reno reveal 3

The black and white classic bathroom!

3rd fl reno reveal

The window seat (one of three now on the third floor) in the main living area. The view is of our magnificent copper beech tree in the front yard. Can you say “treetop view?”

3rd fl reno reveal 4

If you’re planning a home reno project, do yourself a favor and hire the best trades you can for the job. Talk to friends and neighbors (and the woman at the food store) to find the right person/people for your personality and the job you want done. Doing your diligence up front means that your home reno job will go that much smoother. Trust me. I know.

And now? It’s time for our next project!

Up Next: Operation ReloSouth: Hampton Lake SC

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Hampton Lake SC, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger, Operation ReloSouth, ReloSouth, South Carolina | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Home Reno: Painting with Mike

Do you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

building permitAre you planning a home renovation project? Our third-floor renovation project is just about finished! The next step is painting. And I know one of the best painters ever. My husband Mike!

Are you looking for a painter? Do yourself a favor and call his/her references before you decide. And ask to see the painter’s work. One sign of a good painter? The straightness of the paint line between the woodwork and the wall. Wavy or sloppy? Don’t hire him/her.

Another sign of a good painter? Ask the references how neat the painter was during the job. Sometimes a painter can lay an epically straight line, but they “splash” little specks of paint when they roll the walls. That’s a problem. So make sure to ask his/her references.

3rd fl reno paintingMy husband Mike and I are particular people. We expect that if we hire a professional that we get professional results. Over the years we’ve had some good painters pass through our homes. That said, Mike likes painting so if he has time he will do the painting. Mike is an orderly soul. So it never surprised me that he can lay one of the straightest, crispest lines of paint where the woodwork and walls meet. He doesn’t use painter’s tape. He uses a steady hand, something I don’t have.

It took longer for Mike to paint the entire third floor since he does have a day job that keeps him pretty busy. That said, we weren’t in a rush to complete the space so…

Mike began by sanding and priming all the ceilings, walls and trim.

3rd fl reno painting 2

Then he painted all the ceilings and walls.

3rd fl reno painting 3

Next Mike removed all the doors/hardware, sanded/primed the doors, painted them using two coats of paint and then rehung them.

3rd fl reno painting 4

And while Mike spent his nights and weekends sanding, priming and painting? Our cats…watched.

3rd fl reno painting 5

Up Next: The Big Reveal!

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Do It Yourself, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Home Reno: Painting with Mike

How to Fix a Broken Clothes Dryer: The Tale of Lola & Me

Whirlpool Duet DryerLola and I are close personal friends. She’s my stalwart clothes dryer. We spend many hours together, week in and week out. We’ve long-term buds, friends since 2005. We’ve had a healthy relationship lo these many years. Until recently…I think I have a broken clothes dryer!

A few weeks ago Lola seemed, down, a little off. I thought she was feeling neglected since my husband Mike and I have been away a fair bit. As I loaded her up with wet towels, I encouraged her to have a positive mental attitude.

“Come on, Lola,” I said. “I know I’ve been neglecting you, but a woman’s got to have a little fun. And Nashville was loads of fun!”

I swear I heard Lola grumble under her breath. And when her timer went off 55 minutes later? The towels were still damp, quite unlike my Lola. Seriously, do I have a broken clothes dryer?!

“Lola, what’s the problem? Are you still sulking?”

Lola’s control panel blinked off.

As I folded those less-than-fluffy towels, I wondered if Lola had a more serious problem. Maybe even life threatening. Replacing a friend like Lola isn’t easy. A lot of dryers are, well, not true long-term friends. They come, and in a few years, they fade away. I didn’t want to think about. So I didn’t.

Until last night.

Last night I was drying the last of several loads of clothing. Lola buzzed, as usual, to let me know I could fold the last batch, but when I opened her door? Still-wet clothes greeted my warm hand. I snatched my hand back.

“Lola? LOLA?”

She didn’t reply. It was like she had checked out, maybe even breathed her last.

Without many (ok, any) option, I hung the clothes to dry and went to bed, hoping that Lola would make a miraculous recovery over night. Because sometimes friends get sick and they need a little space to rest and recover.

Whirlpool Duet dryer vent pipeThis morning I ran a load of laundry. Just a small load. And as soon as Marvin the washer buzzed, I tossed that small load into Lola and fired her up. She started as usual, but when I felt her exhaust vent? It was stone cold.

I rushed upstairs and consulted my gal Google. Up popped many bits of helpful information about Lola and her family of Whirlpool Duet dryers. I scanned the topics “What to do when your Whirlpool Duet doesn’t dry your clothes?” and read the four top posts as well as watched two YouTube videos looking for ways to restore Lola’s hot body.

Clever dryer, I discovered that she could run a self-diagnostic test. So I followed my YouTube instructor and tested to see what ailed her. Nothing! No codes appeared on her readout screen.

That’s when I tackled her jammed lower storage door, the one that’s been stuck since 2010, give or take. YouTube showed me that if I couldn’t get that door open then a trained professional wouldn’t be able to access her innards. Wielding 1 long screwdriver in one hand, a BBQ fork with wicked prongs in the other and with my missing-but-now-replace xenon flashlight clenched between my teethh, I worked on the drawer. After a good 10 minutes of poking, pushing and pulling, Lola’s drawer popped open! Never mind that I gouged a chunk out of my arm in the process. Good friends are worth one smallish hunk of skin, right?

Whirlpool Duet dryer storage drawer

I pondered my options as I bandaged my arm. And I realized that I needed help. Professional help. . .No YouTube DYI video for me and Lola. She (and my skin) are worth calling in a professional!

I thumbed through my appliance files, looking for the name of the handy dandy repair folks who I use in those rare instances when an appliance friend of mine takes ill. And…I couldn’t find a repair receipt! I figure my husband sneaked in, took the receipt, scanned it, then tossed it in the trash. He loves to scan shit that I then  can’t access (because, duh, he has the files on his computer, not on mine too) when I’m in a time crunch like today.

Desperate, I signed on to Angie’s List, searched and found Anytime Service Expert Appliance Repair.

I dialed the phone, heart sinking at the thought of strangers looking at Lola, but resolved to do the right thing by her (and my wet laundry). A woman named Jen answered the phone.

I gave her the 411 on Lola.

She replied, “Ok, is this Darlene? Do you still live at …?”

I gasped. My long-term repair folks!

Jen, sensing the seriousness of the situation, arranged for a trained professional to look at Lola immediately. Today! He arrived within the hour, a black briefcase in either hand and a confident smile on his face. I ushered him into the basement, to Lola’s room, and left them together. (Hint: give your trained professional a little alone time with his patient.)

Within minutes he popped into the kitchen, “The machine needs a thermistor and a thermo fuse. Including parts and labor it will cost $299 to replace both. I have the parts on my truck and I can do it now if you want me to.”

I didn’t hesitate, “Done!”

30 minutes start to finish.

Anytime Service Appliance Repair

Lola is fired up and drying my jeans as I type. Thank goodness, I no longer have a broken clothes dryer.


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Do It Yourself, Home Manager, Humor, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Fix a Broken Clothes Dryer: The Tale of Lola & Me

Home Reno: The New Bathroom

building permitDo you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

Are you planning a home renovation project? Our third-floor renovation project included a new bathroom so I feel like we did two renovations — one of for the two bedrooms/common area and another for the new bathroom. Bathrooms take a whole different kind of planning what with choosing/buying the fixtures and the tile. I have to admit, though, I love me a great bathroom and I think our third-floor bath qualifies as great.

When you use a carpenter/general contractor like Jimmy you sometimes get a two-fer: he’s a great carpenter and he lays tile like a champ.

3rd fl reno bath 2I chose very traditional (for a Victorian home) fixtures for the new bathroom (see left). When we built our home yea 17 years ago, we had the plumbing for the bathroom roughed out. And we had the cast iron tub carried up and placed in the “bathroom.” That job took three strong men…grumbling the whole way! Because cast iron tubs weigh more than 300 pounds! Our plumber then is our plumber now. When Dave Ciccotti walked into our house for the reno the first thing he said was, “Thank god the tub is already up there. I’m not as young as I used to be!”

Dave did the original install of the plumbing so he made short work of attaching a main cutoff valve (NO water disasters, thank you very much) for both the plumbing and the humidifier for the third floor.

Then it was Jimmy’s turn. I chose a classic tiny black/gray tile accent for the shower surrounded by classic white subway tile.

3rd fl reno bath tub tile

And the floor? Mmmmm…I love the look of marble so that’s what he installed. Do you have a preferred flooring?

3rd fl reno bath floor

3rd fl reno bath towel barsWhat helps pull a bathroom together? A unified look: We used square lights, a square mirror (which I faux finished, but that’s another blog post!), square sink and toilet back, which is why we chose square trimmed towel bars and toilet paper holder.

3rd fl reno bath

Next Up: Painting with Mike


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments