Monday, January 30, 2012

Hanging drywall is harder than it looks .... when it rains

What was originally planned to be a weekend activity ended up being an exhausting task that took over a week!

We decided to hang drywall in our garage because the garage was very dangerous without it!  There were pointy-ends of rusty nails jutting into the garage and spiders crawling everywhere inside the foundation.  Also, it was just hideous to look at.
Cousin Yao volunteered to come down to LA for a few days in November (of 2011.. this blog post is a bit overdue) and help us out with the drywall! horray!

The plan to install the dry wall seemed very easy:
1. Rent a truck
2. Buy drywall and drive it home
3. Install the drywall
4. Joint compound the seams and nails.
5. Let joint compound dry, then joint compound again.
6. Sand down the joint compound.

It should really take a weekend to complete this list.  Maybe a couple extra days to wait for the joint compound dry, but that should be about it.

A few days before Yao's arrival in LA, we tried to rent a truck to gather all the supplies so everything will be ready-to-go when Yao arrives.  Home Depot trucks are $20 for 75 minutes, which is pretty good and easier than getting a Uhaul, since we are getting the drywall from Home Depot anyways.  Jeff called all the Home Depots within the vicinity but all the trucks were taken!  (the truck rentals are on a first-come-first-serve basis).
Jeff finally found a Home Depot that was far away, but had a truck available.
It was around 7:15pm when Jeff called and the store closes at 9pm, so Jeff high-tailed it over to Home Depot and got there around 7:45pm.  Unfortunately, the store employee was slow and didn't get the truck rented to Jeff until 8:15pm!!  Remember the store closes at 9pm?  So Jeff had only 45 minutes to drive to truck home, unload the dry wall, and drive the truck back.

Like a maniac, Jeff quickly drove the gigantic truck home and unloaded the heavy drywall off the truck bed onto our drive way, with the help of our roommate.  Then Jeff high-tailed it back to Home Depot and returned the truck at 8:53pm!  Amazing!

In all the truck-rental madness, we forgot to use our 10% off coupon to pay for the dry wall. =(

The weekend rolls around and Yao arrives.  On Saturday, Yao and Jeff spent all afternoon (~4-5 hours) figuring out how to install the drywall.  There were issues with the screw not screwing in completely into the studs.  After 2 more trips to Home Depot to get missing supplies and the proper length screws, the boys figured out how to efficiently install the dry wall, and installed a grand total of 3 sheets of drywall by the end of the afternoon!

On Sunday morning, it is raining a bit but the boys begin working on the garage anyways.  It took about 10 minutes to install the first sheet of drywall, so it was expected that it should take no more than 2 hours to install the remaining 10 sheets of drywall.
Of course, all good things don't last long.
It started raining harder so I suggested bringing in all the drywall from the driveway, to prevent it from getting wet  (drywall is pretty much chalk powder with glue, so when it gets wet, it warps and melts).
The drywall is very heavy, so Jeff and Yao moved the sheets, 1 by 1, into the garage.  After all the sheets were moved into the garage, they realized that water was entering the garage and was getting the drywall wet!  So they pushed the drywall, 1 by 1, back into the garage further, but the water traveled into the garage faster than they can move the drywall.  They tried to prop up the drywall on some 2x4 wood blocks, but the water flooding into the garage was too high.
They then decided to put the sheets on top of the ping pong table! (Noooooo!).
To test if the ping pong table's hinges were strong enough, Yao did the "Yao test" by laying on the ping pong table and see if it could support him.  The ping pong table supported him just fine so they started loading the drywall sheets on top of the ping pong table.
3/4 of the way through, the ping pong table collapsed!  (The ping pong table is a goner.  So tragic).

Water was still entering the garage, so they decided to move all the sheets of drywall to the back of the garage.  Yao figured that should buy them 1 hour to think.  So they moved the drywall, 1 by 1, to the back of the garage.  Before the sheets were all moved, the water reached the back of the garage!
At this point, our roommate suggested that they use 2 coffee tables (which were already in the garage) to hold up the drywall.  That was a great idea, since the coffee tables are strong enough to support the drywall and are high enough off the ground to avoid the flooding.
So Jeff and Yao moved the remaining sheets of drywall off the ping pong table, moved the ping pong table out of the way, then loaded all the sheets of drywall, 1 by 1, onto the coffee tables.
At this point, the boys were sloshing through water in the garage.
There was about 4 inches of water in the garage and a lot of our items in the garage got water damaged, including the some of the drywall.

No more work on the garage could be done on Sunday because it was just raining too hard.  (Since when does it rain so much and so hard in LA??  It was just not meant to be!).  Also, the boys were exhausted from spending the last couple of hours ferrying 10 sheets of drywall all over the garage.

The weekend ended with only 3 sheets of drywall installed.

Yao was in town until Thursday, so Jeff decided to take Wednesday off at work, so the two can work on the garage.  Thankfully, on Wednesday, it was bright and sunny.  Some of the drywall was warped, but we wanted to work with what we had, rather than go rent another damn Home Depot truck just for a couple of sheets of drywall.

A view of the boys hanging drywall.
On the right wall, that's how the entire garage walls looked before we installed the drywall.

As expected, the installation of the drywall moved pretty quickly and all the sheets of drywall were hung by the end of the day. 
Of course, something bad always has to happen.
Turns out, during the initial calculation, we did not include a buffer and we were 1 sheet of drywall short.  It was already Wednesday evening, so this problem needed to be figured out on a different day.

On Saturday, Jeff and I went to Home Depot and purchased 1 sheet of drywall.  We had no intention of renting a damn truck, so we borrowed an employee's utility knife, and sliced the drywall into 3 small pieces  (I can always use joint compound to "glue" these 3 pieces back together!).  We loaded the 3 small pieces into Jeff's Camry, drove home, and installed the 3 pieces on the dry wall.
After an entire week, we finally finished hanging drywall in the garage!

All that was left to do was:
1. Joint compound the drywall seams
2. Apply drywall tape onto the seams (I went the cheap route and bought the non-adhesive tape, which means that I need to use extra joint compound as the "adhesive").
3. Joint compound over the drywall tape, and over the nail holes.
4. Wait for the joint compound to dry.  (this requires waiting overnight).
5. Joint compound again.
6. Wait for the joint compound to dry.  (more overnight waiting)
7. Sand down the joint compound until the wall is smooth.

I slowly did these steps myself over the course of several weeks.  Jeff helped joint compound some of the hard-to-reach areas, and he did the sanding.

Joint compounding would have been MUCH easier if some of the drywall was not warped.  And maybe if I was not 5-6 months pregnant.
In the process of joint-compounding the drywall seams

Finally! The garage is complete!
The walls look great now, and I think there is less spiders in the garage now too.
If we want, we can now paint the walls, but we are still undecided if we want to bother painting or not.

The finished product: A drywalled garage.  The joint compound is completely dry and sanded.

We still need to clean all the debris from the garage, but won't be easy, since we will need to remove all the contents from the garage first.
Once we get all the debris cleaned up, we can start putting everything in their proper place in the garage, and hopefully purchase more racks and storage solutions for the garage.
It's going to look great!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

dineLA Restaurant Week

You may have already heard of "Restaurant Week", which is a bi-annual nationwide event that promotes trying out new restaurants by luring you in with a prix-fixe menu at a sensational price. 
To find out when Restaurant Week is at the city near you, check out the site here.

Although I've heard of dineLA Restaurant Week for quite some time now, Jeff and I actually never participated.  We never really found the time, I guess.  And the price is not always that great of a deal  (the prix-fixe menu is typically a 3-course meal, and the flat rate price you pay is usually around the cost of the appetizer and entree, so you are pretty much getting the dessert for free.  If you don't usually order dessert, then it really isnt a deal then).

What got me interested in dineLA Restaurant Week this time around, was an email that I got from American Express:  Sync up your Amex card with Foursquare, check-in on Foursquare at the restaurant, pay for your dineLA meal with that Amex card, and get $5 off your credit card statement!
Now, $5 isn't that much, but it *does* give me a good excuse to try out dineLA, so I enrolled.

After reviewing the super long list of dineLA participating restaurants, then refining my search by only selecting the lowest pricing pricing tier (which is $26 per person), I decided to go to the restaurant "Little Next Door".  I've heard of this restaurant, the prix-fixe menu looked great and the yelp reviews looked positive.

Upon reaching the restaurant, we realized that the restaurant I had in mind was "The Little Door", and "Little Next Door" is actually the sister restaurant of "The Little Door" (and is located... you guessed it... next door to "The Little Door".  haha!), and is not as upscale.  Whoops.
The names are so similar, anyone can get confused!

After coughing up $7 for valet (damn you Beverly Hills/West Hollywood), we were seated immediately (probably because it was 8:30pm on a Tuesday night). 
We both chose the escargo for appetizers, Jeff ordered the moules frites for the entree while I ordered the steak and frites.  Dessert was unfortunate because they were all out of flourless chocolate cake but at least they still had lemon tarts available.

The food was good, not the best, but still decent and $26/ person is pretty good for a 3 course French meal!
And I thought their lemon tart was absolutely amazing.

The escargo.  I asked to take the shells home to add to my snail shell collection but they said "no",  they reuse the shells. =\

The moules!  They were tender and delish, but there was 1 dead one in there.  =(
Frites are not pictured.

 Steak and frites.

 The lemon tart that made me want to die of happiness.
Isn't that cat-face logo so adorable?! It reminds me of the 7-legged spider drawing.

Remember my Amex deal, where you get $5 off your credit card statement? 
Well, Jeff synced up his Amex to his Foursquare on his Iphone while at the restaurant, and we asked the waiter for separate checks.  We each paid with our own Amex, which makes it $5 off per person, making the meal $21 per person!
Woohoo.  =)

What a fun dineLA experience that was.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tidepools at Point Dume in Malibu

The weather has been so odd lately.  1 day, its warm and sunny, and the next day, it's gray and rainy.
It was rainy this past Saturday, the sun was shining brightly on Sunday, and today (Monday), its gray and rainy again!
It works out perfectly that the day that we planned on going to Malibu to visit the tidepools landed on a sunny and warm day.

Visiting tidepools is one of those things I've been wanting to do for quite some time now, but I never really knew where to go and when to go.  Both are kind of key in successfully observing the sea creatures that are only visible at low tide.

We discovered that there is an area in Malibu called Point Dume State Beach that has tidepools!  We also discovered this site that tells you when the low tide is for each day.
It worked out so perfectly that the lowest tide of the month (-1.4 ft) occurred this weekend during the afternoon!

I have to admit, whenever I go looking for something nature-y, I always get so nervous.  The reason why is because when searching for something like, a tidepool, or a hiking trail, or a rare green sand beach, there is no address!!  You can't just simply punch in the address into your GPS or into Google Maps and have lovely step-by-step directions pop-up with the estimated time.
Instead, you usually have to follow non-descriptive directions that you find on some random website, such as "Walk on the path to the left of the tree.  Walk until you see some rocks, then scale down the side of the cliff to your destination".  Great... because, you know... in nature, there aren't a million trees, rocks and cliffs!
My nervousness is from a combination of both: the fear of disappointment in not finding my destination and getting terribly lost somewhere in nature and never getting rescued.

((I hope to document the instructions on how to get to the tidepools in a somewhat understandable manner in this blog entry so I don't lead future tidepool searchers astray!))

Nervously, we headed out to Malibu on Sunday for brunch and to find these tidepools.
We had brunch at a small cafe called "Godmother's Cafe" tucked away inside the Malibu Racket Club. 
We were seated outdoors under the warm sun.
It felt great to defrost under the sun since I've been sick with a cold and cooped up inside my frigid house.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

To get to Point Dume State Beach, we took Pacific Coast Highway northbound.
It's actually hard to miss Point Dume when driving up PCH because it's that giant peninsula jutting into the water. hehe.  =)
From PCH, we turned left at the street "Westward Beach Rd" and continued following that street all the way to when the road dead ends into the paid parking lot.
Normally, we would find street parking to avoid paying but since I am 7 months pregnant, we decided to save my energy for the tidepools.  =)
When we tried to pay for our parking spot (it's a machine-operated Park & Pay lot), the machine was broken!  Rather than walking to the other end of the parking lot to use that pay machine, Jeff decided to "risk it" and not pay!
A 3rd worry to add to my nervousness!

I changed into my sneakers (be sure to wear sneakers, since both the hiking trail and the tidepool is full of sharp rocks!), and headed south towards Point Dume.

I actually did not know that a hike was required to get to the tidepools!!  I thought you just parked your car and walk to the shore.
Only sandy beaches and the Point Dume bluff was in sight:
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

So we took the hike trailing on the left in hopes of getting to the other side of the bluff.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

The view of the beach from the hiking trail on this sunny January day was so lovely.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

After a few minutes of following the ascending trail, I found myself in a sea of (not water!) but yellow daisies.
Nervousness set in again.
I'm not going to find the tidepools, am I?
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

After huffing and puffing (pregnancy really put me out of shape!), we reached the apex of the hiking trail and realized that the only way to get to the top of the Point Dune bluff, was to jump over the rope fence, go off trail, and stomp on the plants. 
I am not that evil.  But those folks you see goofing off at the top of Point Dune are.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Following the hiking trail, we got a good view of the south side of Point Dune State Beach.  Notice that the rocky hiking trail turned into a boardwalk?
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

The boardwalk leads to a "Viewing Platform", which has benches for people to take a break and take in the view.
Realizing how high off the ground we were, we weren't sure if we were going the correct way to the tidepools (especially since we have been hiking for at least 20 minutes already!).
Jeff asked a woman there, if she knew anything about the tidepools. After a really long round-about answer, her answer was essentially "no".
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

We decided to continue heading south on the boardwalk, which eventually turned into a damn rocky hiking trail again. (The rocks seem really unsafe!).
After several minutes, just when I thought that we will never find the tidepools...
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

I was feeling a lot less nervous.
We finally stumbled upon this sign, which confirmed that we were on the right track!
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

The trail ends at the top of a steep flight of disintegrating stairs.  Must be due to the salt water during high tide. 
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

The guy at the top of the stairs told me to "be careful", since I'm super pregnant and all.  How sweet. 
(I also got other remarks during the hike, such as "omg, look at her!"  What? Never seen a non-sedentary pregnant woman before?)
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

We finally made it!
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Hello cutie starfish.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Gross! Barnacles!! and maybe some limpets too?
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Jeff with some sea anemone and starfish
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Red sea grass? It's quite pretty.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

I believe that majestic looking bird is a white heron
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Red starfish
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

View of the tidepools with Point Dune in the back
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Long green sea grass!
Looks like a green version of Marbles' butt.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

What are these mushroom-looking creatures called?
This one is encrusted in sea shells! Poor thing.
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Finish off the adventure with a picture of us two <3
From Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Overall, I had a really great time.
(Of course, our impromptu hike caused us to be late for our Chinese New Years dinner with the family).
The hike was great exercise, the tidepools was a success, AND we parked for free! (Remember we were too lazy to find a working parking machine? hehe).

View my entire photo album here:
Point Dume - Malibu, CA

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We are famous!!!

The other day, I was casually reading Orange County Cavy Haven's annual newsletter for the year 2011 (
As I was flipping through, I felt my heart skip when I found a photo of Jeff and myself (well, our backs) and a photo of Marbles in the newsletter!

We are famous!

If you look closely on Page 5, on the left most column, under the title "Whole Foods Adoption in Huntington Beach", that person in the red plaid shirt is Jeff!  And that black shadowy figure in front of him is me.  =)

Marbles made it into the newsletter too!
At least...we are pretty sure that is our Marbles (a Cavy Haven rep also suspects that is our Marbles =D).
Go to page 6, in the center column, under the title "You can also bring your guinea pig for grooming services!".
I am pretty sure that photo of the gray and white piggie getting her nails cut is Marbles because that's how Marbles looks and that is the expression she gets every time she gets a pedicure!
Someone must have snapped a shot of Marbles getting her pedicure when I wasn't looking!

If you need a refresher on what Marbles looks like, here she is (on the right)

Isn't that so fun?
It was so great seeing these pictures in the newsletter of my favorite rescue organization.  =)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ecstatic! Relieved!!

Folks, we can all breathe a big sigh of relief. 
I was happy to hear from my ob today that the baby is in the head-down position!

You don't know how worried I was that I would end up with a breeched baby. 
Supposedly, the frequency of babies in the breech position is only 3%-4%, but when I count all the people I personally know that had a breeched baby and had to do a c-section, the statistic seems closer to 50%! 
(There goes all your efforts in child birth, prenatal yoga, and Lamaze class!).

 For the last few weeks, I've been trying to do silly things that supposedly will prevent breeched babies like "keeping your knees below your pelvis at all times".  This was tough since I love propping my legs up or sitting indian style!

 Glad I don't have to do this

Still a bit wary, I asked the ob "is it possible that the baby will flip back up again?".
The ob said: "very unlikely".
Then he said, if this was not my first kid or if I was a bigger person, then it is more possible for the baby to flip back up since there is more space in there to move.  But for me and my size, he thinks it's very unlikely.
It really feels like a pile of bricks have been lifted off my chest!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy 2012!

We started off the new year right by letting the piggies thaw out under the sun, in the lovely 79 degree Los Angeles weather, and soak up some much needed vitamin D.