Category Archives: home improvement

A House is Not a Home

I just finished blasting the Mayor’s office as well as the Director of DC Housing and Community Development. I am not naive to believe that my comments will be addressed or even read, but I am sick to death of seeing this type of abuse.

This is the Nation’s Capitol. I believe that we pay the HIGHEST taxes, have no representation AND have extremely shitty and limited affordable housing. Over and over, we hear about property owners in our city (seldom do they even live here) exploiting residents by taking their rent and providing housing that is unfit and unsafe. They are finally hauled to court, ordered to pay fines and nothing changes. WHY?!?? Is it because the impacted residents are on the low socio-economic rung of society?

I do not understand why there is no cap to the neglect that a landlord can inflict. If you have over X number of code violations and/or X number of lawsuits, your property can be seized and sold. What are agencies waiting for? Someone to die? A child to get seriously hurt?

I am so disgusted…

The Rental Housing Accommodation Nuisance Abatement Amendment Act Of 2016 was introduced last May in the DC Council but no action has been taken on it to date beyond it being added to the Public Register.

More, if you’re interested…

North Philly Notes article

Urban Turf article

Washington City Paper article


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Happy Mothers’ Day


So after I ate my annual Mothers’ Day breakfast-in-bed courtesy of my daughter, I lazily watched my favorite: home renovation tv.

Just in time for Mothers’ Day, I stumbled upon Two Chicks and a Hammer. It is a new home rehab show featuring a mom and daughter duo in Indy. Karen and Mina rehabilitate devastated homes (17 in their town) and now they’ve moved on to the next town.

They are super cute. I could NOT work with my mom, but it works for them. And I loooove seeing women who are proficient with power tools. They are literally breaking down walls that still define gender roles! Love it.

Check them out on HGTV



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Five and Five

hi 5This year I actually completed my goals for the upcoming year at the optimum time during Winter Solstice (Mom would be so proud!). With that said, I will review what was “tops” for me in 2013 and what I think will blow the roof off the muthasucka in this new year.

Five in 2013

5. Children – The kids are fine. Wasn’t that the name of a movie? Anyway, they are…in fact they are fantastic and thriving in spite of their crazy mother.

4. Family and friends – Reconnected with estranged family members and past friends whom I missed dearly.

3. Photo Shoot – My children and I were photographed and will be featured in a campaign to encouraging people to donate bone marrow. Specifically, helping people with tips for talking to their kids about their upcoming donation.

2. Poetry – I finished tweaking my series of poetry books for publication!

1. Mother/Daughter Bonding – Kicked off the college tours in Atlanta, sharing laughs and some serious chats with my favorite girl.

Five in 2014

5. Wealth & Finance – New and exciting clients as well as long-term projects that will hasten numbers 1 & 2.

4. HGTV Dream Home at Lake Tahoe – I WANT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Health – To learn that my stem cell recipient is thriving and living the life that a teenaged girl deserves.

2. Home – I am finally able to use all of these ideas that I have collected to renovate my home.

1. College – My daughter is admitted to her top choice with a full ride and I won’t stay in the fetal position too long once she’s gone. (My five year-old wouldn’t stand for that foolishness for too long…)

Oh yeah and…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!


Work From Home No-nos


For the entreprenuer and telecommuter.

Flexibility is great. While it’s not for everyone, virtual working can be awesome. Workplaces that get it focus on work getting done. Increasingly, the workspace is becoming fluid. Take advantage of this great benefit.

For some, it takes getting used to, especially extroverts. 🙂 Some tips to keep you productive.


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Move That Bus!

Over the past nine years, Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition has traveled the country rebuilding homes for families who rebuild their communities. They have found the most deserving people who give back regardless of the hardships that they have experienced or continue to experience in their own lives: veterans, teachers, mentors, fire fighters and counselors. And for these none years, I have eagerly watched the show and been ridiculed. Tonight marks the end of this show’s incredible run.

What began as a ritual for my daughter and me, became a weekly reminder that there are good people in the world. I was always moved by the capacity to give that people possess especially when they have lost so much. As I said, I have been derided for being a fan and remember with clarity the faces of co-workers when I explained why I loved this show. Yes, I am warm and fuzzy…I know.

So, each year the team came back with houses and extras that were bigger and better. Including tonight, the team totals 207 builds. I was always jealous that they were doing what they loved and the bonus sense of gratification that they must surely feel. I can not imagine that the Makeover team, builders and volunteers have not had their lives changed by this experience. 

The series finale showcased a huge build in Joplin, Missouri for seven families who lost homes in the tornado that struck the town in May 2011. Two of the families were single mothers who lost children during the disaster. They of course touched me in a way that is indescribeable. And the Nguyen patriarch was too cute! 

Thank you to ABC for this show. I have shed countless tears watching and my only regret was that I never volunteered on a build. Now I must wonder what will fill the void that this show is sure to leave.



Money Pit, Part II

The second major project for my house was a new roof. I reaaaally wanted to finish the basement, but I had to prioritize and the responsible choice won.

It was a hefty investment but one that was long overdue. I was very lucky that my flat roof withstood the record snow of 2009. When I purchased the house in 2000, I was advised that I had about 3 years left on the roof…do the math. So I began to research roofing companies that were experts in flat roofs. Using my trusty Service Magic resource, I looked up service providers in my area as well as ratings.

After securing a company, I went with an upgraded finished product that had a 25-year life rather than the 10 year flat roof option with maintenance every 2-3 years. It added insulation material to the roof extending the life and lessening the interior temperature of my top floor. The added bonus was that it was energy-efficient, upping the “green” quotient of my house. And I got a tax credit!

Although I’m still bummed about my unfinished basement, I know that I made the best decision. Home ownership is about enhancing your investment, getting the best bang for your buck and peace of mind…especially for a single girl like myself with two kids banging around in here. A roof isn’t sexy, but I can breathe easier so to speak.

Stay tuned for the chronicles of the soon-to-be updated upstairs bath.

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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in home improvement, Home ownership


Landscaping Woes

It’s me again with my “Money Pit” adventures!

So, my first project was my yard…ohhh, I wish you could’ve seen the “before”; my intent was to take a picture of that urban jungle but my new friend and landscaper, Manuel, had it cleared by the time I was back from the store.

Manuel was referred and recommended to me by a friend (remember the tips). He came over to look at the yard, gave me estimates as well as ideas for the front and back. We went for sod in the front yard and grass seed for the shady back. I went to the nursery with Manuel to pick out flowers and to learn a little. BTW- my petunias… did not do so well, but the begonias were beautiful! I, of course, went for colorful and unique. The flower beds also have a black mulch which I love.

The change was AMAZING. I told him that friends/fam were going to walk right past my house. I have gone from the neighbor that everyone surely talked about, to having the best yard.

Disclaimer: I should have taken “after” pics of last summer’s record heat wave. Oh, the sun…despite the fact that I was diligent about watering the grass and flowers, parts of the grass were scorched. Then, I began to fall off with my watering. Manuel pulled up the sod and planted grass this past fall. Yay!

Thanks Manuel- I’m sure the mailman thanks you too! If you’re in the DMV and need a landscaper, contact him now!
Stone Mans
Landscaping Service & Construction

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in home improvement, women


The Money Pit?

Home ownership and real estate are said to be mandatory and key assets in your personal financial portfolio, especially for women. As a single woman and homeowner, I began this journey in my twenties and it has been INTERESTING. Early on, I had some not-so-positive results from various contractors. The good news? I learned along the way, received on- the-job-training, if you will.

A decade later, I am ready for some home improvement projects and am a bit wiser. A close friend recently purchased property here in DC after re-locating back after about ten years. He affectionately refers to his home as “The Money Pit.” The term makes me shudder, but I get where he’s coming from. He has had some great results thus far- some of them more painful than others- but I have been inspired; especially by his wife who has served as foreman for the projects.

With that said, I am excited yet hesitant. Is a contractor going to give me a fair shake as a single woman? Will I luck up with a company that takes pride in its work with a good work ethic to boot?

A few basic tips for you…

  1. Get at least three bids.: Even for “small” projects, this is still an investment into perhaps your biggest asset.
  2. Get referrals and recommendations.: Talk to your homeowner friends, neighbors and co-workers for good contractors, if possible. If not, try this resource – ServiceMagic. I stumbled across it years ago in some sort of mailed promo or advertisement and have used it a few times to get bids. They are a portal that offers pre-screened, licensed contractors for almost any service you can think of, with ratings. You can submit inquiries for estimates right there on the spot. There may be some other sites/services like this; please let us know if you know of any.
  3. Do your research.: Know what you want. Know the materials, lingo and techniques/processes required for the project. Since home improvement is “sexy” now, so many of the networks have web sites for do-it-yourselfers: check out DIY, TLC, HGTV or my fav, This Old House (I have at least a year’s worth of this magazine at home waiting for me to dive in and absorb).
  4. Trust yourself and your gut.: As a business person or student of life, you know when someone is yanking your chain. Call them on it and be firm- you have nothing to lose, they do.

With that said, I am pressing forward with my projects. It is a daunting task, but the end result will be well worth it. AND, I will have some contractors that I can recommend… if you live in the DC- metro area.

Happy Home Development!

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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in home improvement, Home ownership, women

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