Archive | September 2011

The New House!

It’s finally happened, we’ve moved in! We bought the house the first of June 2011, and we moved in third week of September 2011. What were we doing for the 3 and a half months in between? I thought you’d never ask!

First let me tell you about the house. We’re in Wilmington, MA. Our house is a 1969, 2 floor colonial, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, fireplace, full basement (unfinished), about 1100 sqft living space. We’re on about 14,500 sqft lot, 50ftx290ft, long and narrow. The house currently green with white spots (previous owner patched up some spots with primer and left it) so it’s very ugly.

We want to first say thank you to Lisa Pijoan, with Wilson Wolfe Realty. She worked with us for just over a year in finding the perfect house. We visited dozens of houses with her, and made plenty of offers. We found the perfect house in our price range (hence the amount of work needed) If you’re looking to buy or sell, we HIGHLY recommend Lisa, she rocks!

We upgraded the house, significantly. We bought it as a fixer-upper, and underestimated the time and money it would take to get it ready to move in. I don’t regret it though, it was worth every penny, and all the sweat, blood (usually quickly followed by) and  tears.

A brief overview of what we’ve done thus far: (I will jump into greater detail on select items in coming posts. Stay tuned!)

  • Pulled up nasty old carpet in living room and stairs
  • Tore down wall between kitchen and dining room, and opened up wall between living room and hallway
  • Ran multimedia wires through wall above fireplace for TV
  • Replaced basement exterior door
  • Washed, primed and painted all rooms
  • Stripped wall paper from master bedroom, then decided to skim coat
  • Refinished all hardwood floors (great job by Square Floor Service)
  • Refinished kitchen cabinets, new sink, counter, tile back splash
  • New floor in kitchen and dining room
  • New bathroom: shower/tub, walls, vanity, toilet, floors
  • Ran new outlets in kitchen, light over sink, replaced a few plugs and switches throughout house

It was a collective effort, we’d still be working on the house if it wasn’t for our friends and family helping out. Heather and I would like to say special thanks to my dad, Michael Lozzi and my brother, Mike Lozzi Jr., for hours and hours of work in demolition, construction and finish work throughout the entire house. Thanks to my father-in-law, Ken Dorothy, for the beautiful bathroom. Thanks Kirk for the electrical work. And thanks to our many friends and family (Dan, JJ, Diane, Michelle, Nancy, Kyle, and some more I forgot)  who helped paint, clean, wash, and move in! We couldn’t have finished it all with you!

And what I’ve already discovered as being a new home owner: there is always plenty to do around here. Our goals for the next year or two (in no particular order)

  • Replace siding and windows
  • Remove oil heat and install gas
  • Add gutters
  • Paint deck
  • Replace stairs on deck
  • Throw a play room in the basement
  • Rework entire back yard
  • Patio

So there you have it. We’re new proud home owners having fun making our home the best it can be. Check back soon or subscribe to my blog, I’ll be posting a lot more photos, videos and info about what we’ve done and will be doing.

LJR Construction

If I may take a moment to show off my brother.

My older brother, Mike Jr., most commonly goes by junior. Following our dad’s footsteps, Jr has impeccable skills in the ways of craftsmanship. Jr pays close attention to detail and ensures utmost quality on EVERY task he performs.

He is currently self employed as LJR Construction and he can be emailed at juniorloz1@yahoo.com.

Craftsman Homebuilder

If I may show off my dad for a moment.

My dad, Michael Lozzi, is a master of the trade. In the business since I could remember, he has built exceptionally beautiful homes, commercial buildings, residential complexes and more. An absolute professional, my dad has constantly received the praises of his customers time and again.

It is a true blessing that I have had him available to work on my house. Not only physically performing work, but also advising and counseling me in the correct ways of doing things.

If you’re ever in the market for a renovation, addition or anything for your home, check out my dad, his sites are www.craftsmanhomebuilder.com, and www.newenglandhandyman.com.

Normal or Unpredictable?

“We become more normal when we actually know what is going on — we are more unpredictable when we don’t.” – David Hassanpour

Losing 60 pounds, and going for more!

So, if you haven’t seen me since the winter, I’ve lost 60 pounds this year, most of it from January to March. I went from 315 to 255 pounds! I kick started my weight loss by doing one small thing: stop eating sugars.

I lost 40 pounds in one month by taking sweets and candies out of my diet. It was tough. I surprised my wife when she came home with my favorite piece of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and I said “No thank you, I’m not eating desserts anymore.” After that, she was incredibly supportive and I greatly appreciate her through all of this.

I stopped desserts, candies, CoffeeMate creamer in my coffee, mixed coffees from Starbucks, candy drinks, sodas, and whatever else I could determine had sugar in it. Once I was committed and had my wife supporting me, it became easier and easier. I’m now 9 months in and have yet to have candy or a brownie. I enjoy my coffee black with Splenda. I’ve had birthdays, parties and other festivities where the cakes and sweets looked delicious, but I refrained.

After the first 40 fell off, the next 20 were a little more stubborn. I walked once a week with a close friend of mine. I started trying to eat frequently, like small snacks every 2 to 3 hours during the day. I minimized my meal sizes, pulled back from going for 3rds. This seemed to help and it took a good two months to lose the other 20.

So now I’m at March and lost 60 pounds, and then my weight loss would plateau for the next 5 months, which brings me to September, weighing in at 255 pounds.

I want to lose at least another 20 pounds, and I’ve decided to use the gym to do so. I could cut additional foods out of my diet (like yummy sausages, hot dogs, cheese, breads, bbq chips, pizza, etc.) but I don’t want to. I love an Italian sausage from a street cart in Boston, and my Baby Bell cheese snacks and pizza from AJ’s Kitchen, YUM! If I really wanted to I could cut these and probably shave some more weight off, but again, I don’t want to.

So now to the gym I go, at least twice a week, focusing on running, with some weight lifting. High heart rate to help burn the fat, and low reps high weight for muscle growth. At meal time I eat healthier foods first (like salad, fruit, Larabar) before the main course, which fills me up faster and minimized the amount of other foods I take on. I’ve decided that if I can lose the next 20 pounds by staying in a routine with the gym, then I’d consider enjoying some small desserts once in a while. I want to make sure I’ve set myself up to win, and once in a routine, it should be easy to keep the weight off.

What changed? Why did I lose the weight? My quick answer is “I just felt like it, so I did it”. I wish it were that simple. A few things in my life finally pushed me to do it.

Leading up to the decision and the change to lose the weight, I was battling with how. How can I lose weight? What’s the best method? I researched some options, and looked hard at options that lowered my responsibility in the entire process. Things like health supplements, like hoodia, which helps curb my appetite intrigued me. Also the idea of taking a pill which would fill my stomach so I feel full longer was cool.

I also checked out a more hands on approach, a surgical process like lap-band, to help shrink my stomach. I quickly dismissed this for a couple reasons: one I don’t like needles, so surgery isn’t on my top ten list of things to do, and I was afraid of the embarrassment of telling people about it later on. Being out of work for a few days and then suddenly losing weight would be hard to hide.

I was able to agree that controlling my appetite would definitely cause me to lose weight, but did I want to use something else to do it for me? Couldn’t I just do it myself? If I used something else, would I be dependent on that forever? Could I ever say I lost the weight, or was it just hiding, waiting for me to forget to take the pill again?

The reasonable side of me thought if pills will help curb my appetite, and surgery would basically do the same, I narrowed down the solution: I need to cut back on how much food I eat. Simple.

So I figured out the how, and I began to try it, without telling anyone. That was a big mistake. Not telling anyone set me up for failure. But I didn’t want to tell anyone, that would admit I was fat and that’s embarrassing, or so I thought. So instead, friends and family would simply assume I’d eat the last piece of pizza, or cake, and so I would. They didn’t know I was trying to lose weight so we all continued down the already paved road.

I finally committed and stuck to it because of others.

A friend at church lost a lot of weight, I didn’t know how, but he looked good and I wanted to too.

A customer of mine that I highly respected was in the process of losing weight, and he talked about it. That was inspiring and loosened up my fears.

My good friend who I previously mentioned lost a lot of weight right before I started. He was then diagnosed with diabetes. That was scary. He’s come a long way and has it under control, but it was a little bit of a wake up call for me.

And probably most important, my kids. Funny thing about kids, they aren’t up on the whole “politically correct” thing, so they would say daddy’s fat, or I don’t want to be fat like you. What a great wake up call. I didn’t lose the weight only because of what they’ve said, I want to be healthy to have fun with them, to play and chase them around (or be able to carry both of them up 2 flights of stairs when it’s bed time, what a workout!)

My commitment to weight loss and eating healthy isn’t just a “diet”, it’s a change of life. Saying it’s a diet implies it’ll end, that it’s a temporary phase. So many people, including my self, have tried different diets for a period of time. Instead, I’ve changed my diet (what I eat day to day) and my choices. I’m not looking at this like once I lose 80 pounds I’ll go back to what I use to do. Instead I will always be mindful of what I eat, pay attention to amounts, keep exercising, and maybe sneak in a sweet here or there.

Where do I go from here?

Regardless of the next 20 pounds, I’m going out and up! My life has changed so significantly that I love spending time outdoors, hiking, playing with the kids, walking, going to the beach and more. I get antsy if I sit around too long on a Saturday or Sunday (no fear of that anymore with a new house ;), I need to be doing something, and I love to with my family. This weekend I’m going up Mt Washington via Tuckerman’s Ravine, I can’t wait (not with the family, a few friends). Expect a post on that one!

 

I hope this helps if you’re looking to lose weight. I hope I am some sort of motivation to someone, like I’ve had motivators in my own life. I’m sorry if I down play pills or surgery. They may work for you and that is great, I know someone who has a lap-band, and I never think less of him/her. These options just wouldn’t work for me, and I hope they do for you.

Hardware stores: Home Depot vs Lowe’s

Home Depot Rocks!

Lowe's Sucks

I bought a house, a few months ago, and it needed/needs a lot of work. So before I jumped in and just started buying up supplies and materials, I decided to spend a few hours in doing a little research. I’m a huge fan of Home Depot. With most of my family being in the construction trades, we always went to Home Depot (Grossmans before that but they’re not around anymore.) So I became a sort of loyalist to Home Depot. Before simply going there because that’s what I knew, I wanted to ensure I’d be saving money.

I took a basic list of stuff I needed and went to Home Depot and Lowe’s and compared prices. Both stores are equal distance from my house so I could easily go to either. I avoided big ticket items like appliances, since these types of items change every weekend and are always on sale. My list is below. Some items it was easy to compare, for example medium grade 25 foot extension cord. Some items were a little uneven, like a pull down attic ladder, Lowe’s had 300lb limit, Home Depot had 350lb, so I compared those two.

Item Lowe’s Home
Depot
Interior Paint, 5 gal $125.00 $105.00
Exterior Paint, 5 gal $91.00 $98.00
Hardwood Stain, 1 gal $29.00 $26.00
Hardwood Poly 2.5gal $70.00 $70.00
counter top 10′ $188.00 $104.00
Oak base cabinet 36″ $218.00 $155.00
Door locks $25.00 $25.00
Drywall 1/2″ $6.83 $6.83
Electrical box $72.00 $60.00
Breakers 20A $3.64 $3.64
Lightbulbs, 6 100w $12.50 $21.00
Garden hose 100′ $36.00 $28.00
Extension cords 50′ $25.00 $20.00
Ceiling fan $100.00 $100.00
Attic ladder $195.00 $169.00
Light fixtures, 6″ recessed $10.00 $10.00
Pavers 8×16 brick, 72 pieces $92.16 $99.36
Light fence 48″x50′ $56.00 $56.00
Fence posts $2.20 $2.36
Steel rake $19.00 $15.00
Plastic rake $15.20 $10.00
Mailbox, black metal $25.00 $18.00
Ladder 6′ $49.00 $59.00
Door 36″x80″ prehung hollow $71.00 $70.00
Multi ladder 17′ 300lb $169.00 $149.00
Total $1,705.53 $1,480.19

Home Depot is $225 less then Lowe’s for the basics. There are a couple of items where Home Depot cost more, but by far going to Home Depot was going to save me money.

Another comparison I did was to see what options were available in each store. The kitchen sink, not listed above but something we decided to buy. Home Depot has a great one we fell in love with, see it here. Comes with a nice faucet as well. We went to Lowe’s because I had a gift card, and I hoped to find a similar sink. Terrible selection. Their sink selection was small, and none came in that price range with a faucet. We were looking at spending at least an extra hundred bucks to get a decent sink. So to Home Depot we went.

I also checked out Lowe’s kitchen hardware selection. Their selection was by far smaller, and didn’t have exactly what we were looking for (brushed antique brass window sash locks). Who did? Home Depot. I ended up using the gift card at Lowe’s on some random supplies like nails and primer.

As I buy stuff, I sometimes buy the wrong item, or to many. So I need to return some items, and Home Depot’s return process is AMAZINGLY simple. Just show up with your item, no receipt required as long as you have the credit card you used to pay for it. A few scans with the reader and you’re off. Love it. I haven’t had to return anything to Lowe’s yet.

I don’t understand why people go to Lowe’s, especially the one in Woburn. Next town over in Reading, right off route 128 is Home Depot, with a larger selection and better prices across the board.

Am I a loyalist? My friends would say that I am, I attach myself to a company or brand (Coke, Ford, Microsoft, Lenovo, Starbucks, etc) and will fight for it until I die. I didn’t want to be stubborn with the house stuff, I wanted to make sure I opened my mind to any and all options, especially since I wanted to save money. It appears my loyalty wasn’t poorly placed:

Home Depot Rocks! Lowe’s Sucks!

Netflix, RedBox combined! New business idea!

So I have this awesome business idea, I just need some funding. Hear me out…

NetFlix is a great service, basically any DVD is available for a set monthly fee. There is also online streaming of older/mediocre movies (not the good side). The big problem here is if you want a movie now, you can’t get it. You have to wait for it to be mailed out.

RedBox is also great, allows you to simply walk up to one of its many locations and simply rent a DVD for a buck a night. Not too shabby, but a very limited selection.

So what if we combine them?

Stream the movies, and offer all of the DVDs immediately, the best of both worlds! We could rent out a store front, and basically allow people to come in and pick from a much larger selection than RedBox, and they don’t have to wait for NetFlix to mail it.

What do you think?

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