Last week Wendy and I took a nice little vacation in celebration of Wendy's birthday, and boy did we have an absolutely wonderful time!

In what has apparently become an annual adventure for the two of us, we depart the comfy confines of Old Town and head to one of our dream destinations in search of a little rest and relaxation to mask the fact that we've (or more specifically, Wendy has) somehow grown a year older much too quickly. And though it might not be some sort of youthful potion or magic elixir, we've discovered that copious amounts of sun, food, and wine, tend to do just the trick in obscuring our focus from our aging vessels. Instead, we fixate on the wonderful time were having, placing our concerns more in the realm of fun and enjoyment. I like to think it keeps us young.

If you follow us on Instagram you likely saw some of our hijinks as we spent several days in Northern, California.

We started our journey in one of our favorite places on the planet, Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Monterey Peninsula. This was actually Wendy's fourth time to Carmel, and my fifth (counting a 1st grade trip with my parents some 30 years ago during Clint Eastwood's mayoral term in the city). The thing that's interesting about Carmel is that each time we return, we find it just a little bit harder to leave.


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Now that we've been at this whole DIY renovation game for quite some time, there tends to be less and less that intimidates us. Early on I remember the fear I felt when turning a circuit breaker back on after simply swapping a single duplex outlet. Today I feel like I can pretty much do that in my sleep, no concern that our entire house will burst into a ball of flames from some errantly placed wires.

Experience, and as I said last week, perspective, have helped to build a solid foundation that typically results in far less concern for failure, and far more attention to doing the job well. However, at certain times in a project when tackling something truly new, that creeping feeling of self-doubt brought by the Doubt Gnome inevitably shows his ugly face and tries to undercut our overall progress with words of de-motivational catastrophe.


The Doubt Gnome spends the majority of his time on the toilet.

Our vanity work has been progressing nicely, and though the work I've been doing to sure up the piece's stability was "new" work, it was still a collection of woodworking techniques with which I was comfortable. But as I completed this work, the little Doubt Gnome began to creep into the picture, dropping nuggets like, "You know, if you're painting this piece and it turns out streaky, all of your effort will be for naught and it will ruin the whole thing. The last person I know who failed at this task is now living in that piece of streakily painted furniture somewhere under a bridge, too embarrassed to even show their face. Have a nice day!" 

The Doubt Gnome is actually a real jerk and provides untrue anecdotes to support his fear mongering, then tends to end his depressing words with an upbeat closing. I really hate that guy.

The Gnome was preying on my inexperience when it comes to paint sprayers. He knew that I had never used one, that I barely had a clue how they worked, and that I've had a High Velocity/Low Pressure (HVLP) sprayer sitting in our basement for over a year, received as a Christmas gift for this very task, a bit significantly prematurely. He also knew I was as intimidated as I could be and I didn't want to ruin the vanity we'd worked so hard on. At the same time, I didn't want to somehow screw up and ruin the paint gun. I didn't want to waste the paint and primer that has gotten exponentially expensive over the years. And I had an overwhelming fear that the spray gun was going to somehow end up like a giant out of control snake, wildly whipping around the room, knocking me unconscious, proceeding to cover the entire bathroom with streaks of paint while I lay motionless on the floor. Hey, it could happen, right?


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Recently I went over the approach we decided to take to add to the structure of our buffet-turned-bathroom-vanity to ensure its ability to support a marble top without cracking. If there's one thing I'm known for in both my professional and hobbyist life, it's knowing how to solidly over engineer a project. I'm hopeful that my solution soundly fits into this category, otherwise we could have some cracked marble on our hands.

With the upper portion of the vanity work complete, I turned my focus to the lower section. I had four primary goals remaining before we could call the vanity carcass "ready for paint." I'd need to:

We've always known we'd be altering the height and skirt boards of the cabinet, but weren't sure how. We'd planned on cutting some off of the bottom and also removing the fancy decorative element in the middle, but I wasn't sure if we'd do it in place or some other way. When I disassembled the bottom (photo above) and was able to remove the skirt boards, I was elated at the fact I could then make the alterations on the table saw. It's so much easier.

The first thing I did was to remove about 1/4" of material from the tops. This was a little difficult due to the legs and needing to alter my saws fence setup. I couldn't just set the table saw on 1/4" as this would have likely caused some pretty significant kickback of the small spear-like material, possibly injuring me, or at least freaking my bean enough to make me think better of it. I ended up using a length of 1-1/2" poplar as a guide fence and slowly ran the whole thing through the saw, ripping it to size.


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I'm spent.

That's all there is to really say about it. This weekend took it out of me, but I feel really great.

As I type this I'm riding the bus into work, bleary eyed, back aching, fingers slightly dry, cracked, and a little roughed up. My iPhone's screen speckled with flecks of white paint, a trophy of the weekend's DIY spoils.

Yesterday evening, after a marathon two days of effort, culminating in a Sunday packed with roughly 13-14 hours of non stop work on the house, I remarked to Wendy that we'd "accomplished a lot this weekend." She said, "Yeah, it's like you're in your 20s again."

This statement, true in so many ways, got me thinking about where we are today versus where we were in those early innocent days of home ownership and renovation. Wendy has attributed my less frequent all-day efforts on projects to the fact that I'm "getting older," but I think it has less to do with age related decomposition and more to do with age related decisions and commitments.


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I can't believe it, but this week marks the three year anniversary of Old Town Home. And though a billion people probably say this about so many things, time has sure flown. But with this perceived rapid passage of time, the projects we've undertaken, successes we've experienced, failures we've encountered, and life events (both good and bad) we've endured, they've all contributed to our own personal unique view on life known as "perspective."

We've all likely heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20, but this old phrase speaks more to an ability to look back on your experiences with a gained perspective that you couldn't do prior to the experience. Whether you're assessing a decision made, or a task completed, doing so with the knowledge of the events grants an altered view that only you possess based on your specific variables you've encountered. Many people may have had a similar experience to yours, but your own personal experience and perspective is unique beyond all others.

When we started our blog we did so with many goals in mind, but two overarching goals took precedence over the rest.

Our first focus is sharing our love for and experience in DIY. I'm convinced it takes a person with a little bit of crazy to take on major DIY, but that's just what we love about it. By the time we started blogging we'd already been renovating our house for years and had gained a lot of general knowledge about DIY from those experiences. I felt we could share those experiences to help someone else in a similar situation avoid some of the pitfalls or intimidation that inevitably comes with doing something new. Maybe, just maybe, our experiences might even convince someone else getting started to take the plunge into old home DIY.

And second, we like to focus on how much we love our city. Alexandria, Virginia is a special and wonderful place, and we want to share that with people from all over the world. There are few places we've experienced that have a similar vibe to Old Town, and if we can possibly convey even a small slice of what we get to experience, we're pretty sure you just might want to visit some day.


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