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Welcome! This is Weekend Warlock: a blog on DIY home maintenance, improvement, and smart living.

Hey there. I’m Aron. Nice to meet you.

I’m keeping busy these days being a dad. So busy that I decided to say goodbye to my video game habit. Now, my weekends are filled by hanging out with the kids and running quests around my home (making improvements and keeping on top of maintenance). The other days I spend working as an emergency medicine pharmacist.

My passion is for old houses; however, I have no training in the home improvement realm and haven’t had the need for many tools up until this point, so we’re just going to figure this out as we go. Thank God for the internet!

This story takes place in Salem, Oregon. My wife and I returned here to the town we grew up in and settled down with our two kids. Sure, it’s not in the top five trendiest places to live in the state, but despite its problems, we like it.

New life has infused into the historic downtown core. Empty lots are being developed in to mixed-use buildings. We’ve got great parks and big trees. There’re a growing number of shops, restaurants, and breweries. Wine country starts right outside the urban growth boundary. We’ve got plenty of festivals and friendly people.

Here’s our generic “Anycity, USA” promotional video if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHTWUBLT-tQ

Salem is big enough to have all the important amenities – HD, Lowes, Ace, True Value, and Harbor Freight; yet small enough so everything is close by. Home prices are a little more reasonable than up north. It’s a great location for growing kids.

It starts with a little, old house

The place has seemingly countless issues. Really, enough to keep me busy for a long, long time; but the truth is, I love that about it and am excited to tackle each one. You’re here maybe because you have similar house problems and like reading about other’s pain – a weekend warrior who’s a little…evil. Regardless, thanks for stopping by.

Our focus surrounds working on the house, but will also include another category that I often write about: smart living. It’s a term I use to cover these elements that increase happiness in your home and life in general:

  1. Efficiency: living space, location, and belongings.
  2. Self-sufficiency: do you do it yourself?
  3. Health and fitness: ignore this and your home will be the least of your worries.
  4. Personal finance: road to financial independence – the magical ingredient that truly lets you live your life as you see fit.

I used to have ridiculous goals for my future house

Much of my life was spent working toward an enormous home with minimum three-car garage. Something on the outskirts of town, sitting on one to five acres.

For a long time, that was my definition of success. As soon as I finished school and had a real job, I rushed into purchasing the biggest place I could “afford.” It was 3000 sq ft with an amazing view right on the edge of the town, complete with private mortgage insurance on a 5.8%, 30-year note.  This was my starter home that I planned to upgrade in time.

A newer build in a tract neighborhood with pathetically small, sparse trees. Gigantic for two adults and still way too big when kids eventually joined us. So much unused space. The fifteen-foot ceilings snatched all the heat. Our vast living room was nothing more than cold and uncomfortable. The family mostly hung out in the master bedroom.

Big tract house

The ef am I doing here?

Our old living room with high ceiling

Houses that force you to put a TV above the fireplace can go straight to hell

Getting home through rush-hour traffic was a nightmare due to Salem’s growing population.

What’s the opposite of a close-knit neighborhood? I saw cars pull into garages, but the door would roll back down before any actual people emerged. I didn’t know my neighbor’s names.

However, I was blind to all these negatives. We just dealt with it and kept saving for that bigger house.

Seven years later, we sold and I had an awakening of sorts.

Instead of jumping into an even larger place, I took a long, hard look at how I wanted my next house to feel. Our house just wasn’t right because it was too big. Cozy is comfortable, not this. No more expansive drywall, faux materials, and confused architecture. I want a house with history, plaster walls, and wood windows. A people-sized home.

My goal shifted towards right sizing my living space. I wanted to be close to work and for kids to be able to walk to school and friends’ houses.

I finally had enough money to get my dream home, and I didn’t want it anymore

While living in a rental, I checked the MLS twice a day, ready to pounce on the right house as soon as it was listed. They sell fast in this market. After six months, I found it. A 1500 sq ft English cottage revival built in 1930 in a close-in neighborhood. It’s quite a charming mother f’er. Priced in the mid 200’s. Cute as hell. We viewed it and put in an offer within hours.

small cozy cottage

It needs a lot of work to bring it back to its glory, and like any home, infinite maintenance to keep it there (which could provide infinite material for this blog!). I’ve got some projects planned before moving the family in. So, it looks like that’s how I’m spending my summer vacation. Here we go!

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Thanks for reading!





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