Small Wins

Since it is taking hours upon hours to paint all of the wainscoting in the Not-Pink Parlor and I needed to be able to check a couple of things off my list in order to feel right about the universe, I decided to take some time this week in between rounds of painting, calking, and swearing about getting joint compound in my eye to tackle some smaller projects around the Liberty House.

First up on the list was installing new door hardware on the back door, garage, and barn so that all the locks can be opened with the same key. This is the back door of the house:


This mismatched set of hardware is a holdover from something less-than-legal I may or may not have done before I officially owned this house. If you read this novel of a post about my home-buying experience then you know that after I wrote a big old check as a deposit and signed the purchase agreement, I was basically “on the hook” for the purchase price of the house, whether or not someone broke into the house and stole all the appliances and copper pipe before I closed on it. Normally something like that would make me a little queasy but probably wouldn’t cause me to break out in hives, however at that time the house had a similar keyless deadbolt and anyone who had access to the MLS system could see the code and get in. Add that to the fact that on a second walk-through of the house–after I’d signed the paperwork–I found someone’s flashlight and work gloves in the kitchen (that hadn’t been there two days before) and you basically have a recipe for a semi-permanent twitch in my left eye and at least five new gray hairs.

The way I see it a girl has two options in a situation like this: 1.) hope for the best, or 2.) surreptitiously unlock a ground floor window then break into the house later that evening and change the locks, ensuring that no would-be copper thieves can get their grubby little hands on the plumbing in your future kitchen.

And you guys know me, I’m definitely a sit-around-and-hope-for-the-best-while-not-taking-action kind of girl. Plus I would never do anything illegal. So. Yeah. About that door hardware…


The door is still ugly and needs to be replaced, but in the meantime at least the deadbolt and handle match. (For a complete how-to on changing door hardware, check out this post.)

And since I’m on the subject I have to say that I absolutely love the keyless entry deadbolt. No, it isn’t the prettiest thing ever, but for someone who once locked herself out of the house in her pajamas in the middle of winter, function definitely trumps form where door hardware is concerned. I also prefer the lever handles to knobs because they are way easier to open with a toe when hauling eight bags of groceries in to the house at once instead of walking the twenty steps out to the car again for a second trip.

One of the doors to the garage also got a new knob…



That’s another door that needs to be replaced eventually. And then there’s the barn…


It’s kind of fun to open the “big” doors every time I want to go in there…


But perhaps not as efficient as this:


It feels good to have consistent locks on everything and to have freed up a little more space in the mudroom where I’ve been storing that hardware and 75% of the rest of my belongings for the last month.

I also finally got my hands dirty with a little cleaning project I’ve been telling myself I needed to tackle for the last couple of weeks…


I thought, oh, it’s just a couple of logs and a little ash. No big deal. Okay, first of all, that was an entire paper grocery bag full of ash.


I don’t know much about the cremation of bodies, but I do know the ash from one human fits into like a quart sized container. So basically I shoveled twelve bodies out of my fireplace last night.


It took slightly longer than expected. The good news is that the entire house no longer smells like you shoved your face into a campfire, so that’s nice.

And, one more thing to add to my list of small wins… even with all of stuff that needs to be done to the Liberty House, I’m really making an effort to maintain better work/life/house balance than I did while working on the Memorial House. One of my good friends convinced me to run 3 races with her this summer as a way to keep us motivated to stay active.


We tackled the first one last weekend and I did not a.) puke, or b.) die, so I’d consider it a successful run. And yet another thing to check off my list for this summer.

9 Responses

  1. You have a barn?! SO jealous. What an awesome workshop space that would make. Alas, the congested shores of California isn’t conducive to such amenities without significant capital. As I was tweeting to someone else the other day, the view from my biggest window is my neighbor’s biggest window.

    But I digress…

    I use the same technique; that is, find some small win (completely self contained project) to do in the middle of a long stretch of something tedious. It helps break up the monotony and rejeuvantes your spirits to finish strong.

    Good luck on the rest of it.

  2. I read the locked out of house post, but I am not seeing how you got back in…

    1. I think that info was buried in the comments… got lucky enough to find a spare key in my unlocked car that I didn’t know was there (I actually thought it was to something else and thought I may be able to jimmy the lock with it.)

  3. OK – it looks like the deadbolt & lever handle both have key holes in them. If you use both locks you could get locked out again (I’m guessing that the keyless part isn’t tied to the lever handle in any manner).

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have a non-locking lever handle – or don’t they make them?

    We have similar keyless locks at our office and I love them – so easy to add or delete a code for employee hires & terminations. Just be sure to keep a set of batteries on hand for quick change when they get low.

    1. I’ve never locked the actual handle, but they don’t make (readily available) non-locking exterior handles. I also like having it– and having it keyed to the same key as all other locks and deadbolts) just in case. I just don’t currently push the lock in ever.

      The deadbolt gives several warning signals when the batteries are low and can still be used with a key, so I’m mostly safe there, I think. If they go out I have to actually use the key to lock the door, which means I should have it on me. (If I somehow lock it in the car… whole other story!)

  4. This post reminds me of the time I may or may not have broken into a dishonest contractor’s truck and may or may not have stolen back the tools he stole out of our garage while totally doing shoddy work on our roof. I learned a lot during that home improvement disaster, which may or may not have included breaking and entering. 🙂

    1. If a contractor stole my tools… whew. I think I might have learned what choking someone until they turn blue feels like. That is so uncool. Please tell me you reported them to the BBB and Angie’s List! People like that should not be allowed to work in the business.

  5. I have wanted keyless entry so badly but have been discouraged by their appearance too! Ugh! I am not so sure I won’t go ahead like you did just for the convenience, but hoping someone comes up with a better design soon!

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.