Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 goals

It's that time of the year when people reflect on what they've accomplished in the year gone by, and their goals for the future.  And with P due to start a new job 800 miles from here on January 15, we're reflecting and goal-setting with a particular urgency.

Let's see where we stand vis-a-vis the list I set out at the beginning of 2011, before everything changed....

Guest Bedroom

  • hang pictures
  • reupholster antique chair
  • install closet doors
  • fix hinge-bound door so it will actually close

Office
  • make and hang curtains
  • reupholster footstool  not a priority
  • put laminate on top of craft table not a priority
  • paint and hang door

Hall Bath
  • skim coat walls a little more
  • repaint walls
  • really, really scrub grout--and if that doesn't remove yellowing, try one of those grout pens I realized that the grout is not just ugly--it's unstable.  Potential for water damage sooner than later.  Drat.  But in current panic state, there's no time for regrouting.  I'll either cheat and smear some caulk on the worst spots, or just not do anything.  I suspect part of the ugliness is due to a previous half-assed repair 
  • hang at least one picture/piece of art not a priority
  • install closet door knob
  • install hooks where I can hang my work clothes
  • install new light fixture

Hall/Living Room/Kitchen/Dining Room

  • knock down walls to make these all a single space
  • install structural beam to replace structural wall
  • patch existing oak flooring where walls were removed
  • make new attic hatch or just paint old one
  • replace textured ceiling in kitchen
  • remove wood panelling and replace with drywall
  • remove vinyl floor in kitchen, and lay new hardwoods there and over exposed subfloor in dining room
  • commit to new kitchen plans
  • build new kitchen cabinets (at least the lower ones)   no time for that now, plus no point in doing something that custom when we don't know what the next owner will like.  We have some IKEA cabinets on order
  • get/make new countertops
  • install backsplash will probably just cheat and do one of those laminate countertop lips that extend a few inches up the wall
  • run plumbing for gas range
  • install new sink
  • remove windows in dining room, and replace with french doors out to backyard this had to do with our plans for an eventual patio--would have been nice
  • buy fireplace screen and make the occasional fire
  • replace hearth tile got old stuff up, need something new
  • make living room curtains (purely ornamental) not a priority
  • figure out window treatment for front windows that will maximize both light and privacy bought some ENJE shades from IKEA--need to hang
  • install new baseboard and crown molding
  • install doors on coat closet
  • fix draft under front door not a priority
  • install lots of new outlets to bring house up to newer codes for required number of outlets per room
  • install new lighting the new switches are in, but we still need the ceiling junction boxes

Utility room
  • build utility room
  • buy and install new tankless water heater
  • run plumbing and install utility sink
  • run plumbing and vent lines for washer/dryer

Master bedroom
  • lay hardwood flooring over exposed subfloor

Master Bath

  • give ugly medicine cabinet a cosmetic face lift not a priority

Crawl Space

  • complete encapsulation
  • test house for radon oops
  • enjoy running lots of plumbing and wiring for new kitchen/utility room/great room in new, dry, clean space

Garage
  • fix roof leaks 
  • continue to work to make this a functional wood shop for P (so he can spend lots of time out there building me new kitchen cabinets!) plans definitely changed here...

Exterior
  • paint foundation to complement new stair color
  • figure out how to make exterior brick look good after we cut into it to install afore-mentioned french doors that project didn't happen
  • paint front door a more lively color (it should be easy to beat white)
  • work with P's brother A, a professional landscape designer, to come up with an actual design for our landscape nope
  • remove a few more azaleas
  • add more plants and beds to continue moving toward cottage garden look 
  • grow a tomato that doesn't rot before it ripens I got two? before someone else discovered they were good eating and the weather got chilly
  • try to agree on privacy plantings for west property line, and plant them so they have some time to grow nope
  • buy and plant something on east property line 
I'll be back tomorrow with what we need to accomplish in the first two weeks of 2012....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The best-laid plans....

P and I made a big decision this fall--we're moving!

It certainly isn't a convenient time to move, what with the ongoing renovations that we need to finish.  But it's the right decision for us.  This move will put us much, much closer to family, and is a good career opportunity for P.  We're sad about leaving the house, right as we're getting it the way we want it. 

Two years ago when we were talking about buying a place, we looked around at friends and family who had bought at the height of the bubble.  They felt trapped in their homes.  They were out of jobs and in areas where jobs simply weren't to be found, or in jobs they didn't want to stay in, or places they didn't want to live.  And they were staying because of their houses--underwater, couldn't sell for the price they wanted, etc.

When we bought this house, we decided that we didn't ever want to find ourselves in that situation.  We didn't tie up all of our finances in this house, so that we would have the freedom to move on with our lives, regardless of what happened with it.  (And we were so very lucky to be in an area where housing prices let us make those kinds of choices.) 

So with finances out of the way, all that stood between us and a move was the emotional attachment to the house.  And in a way, those conversations of two years ago prepared us for that part of the decision, too.  We like the house.  We've poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it.  But it's just a means to an end--and the end is the life we want. 

When this new opportunity came along, the house was no longer supporting the life we wanted--it was standing in the way of it.  We want to be closer to family and friends.  We want fulfilling work. 

So Secret City Ranch, we're moving on.  It's not you; it's us.  And we're confident that you will get a new family, one whose life goals you can support and further.

Because when we are done with you, you are going to be one nice house.

But we know we have a lot left to do before we put the house on the market, and we'll fill you in on those plans soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas surpise

I had thought this would be the year without a Christmas.  (More on all that and what we've been up to at another time....)  And then this morning, P came back from his trip to the dump and Home Depot looking very self-satisfied and carrying this:



And then he went back outside, and reappeared:


"Was the tree lot at Home Depot closing?" I asked.

"Not exactly."

Turns out he found them laying on a side at the dump--the first two contributions of the year to the Christmas tree recycling pile.  So back they came with him, forestalling their fate for at least a few days.

We're curious where they came from--I imagine they were the last two trees left on a local lot somewhere.  Neither shows any sign of having been in anyone's house, and are still nice and moist.  The first, larger one still has its original tag, identifying it as a North Carolina Frasier fir.

The fir turned out to be over 9 feet tall, so it needed a little work before being ready for our house and its 8 foot ceilings.


So P whipped out the sawzall....


What, isn't that the traditional way of trimming a Christmas tree?

Picking up a free tree on Christmas Eve turns out to be highly liberating.  For instance, why bother with a stand and water?  By the time the poor thirsty tree dries out, it will be time to send it back to the recycling pile anyway.  So P just knocked together a quick wooden base, and screwed the tree directly into it.


I ran to Kroger and Wal-Mart, and picked through the remaining decorations (with an eye on cheap), and came up with this:


I can't remember the last time I felt this child-like Christmas joy--at least not over a tree.  Turns out these freebies were just what we needed. 

The smaller tree was rather more crooked, but with some lights, he's looking perfectly festive in our bedroom.  When I was a kid, my family scored our own free trees by cutting down scrub pines from the property of family and friends.  And since they were free, why stop with just one?  So I always had my own in my bedroom.  I haven't done that for many years--I'm looking forward to once again basking in the glow of twinkle lights tonight.

Hope your Christmas also held some festive surprises!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our three day weekend

Started here:



Moved on to here:



For the first time ever, P convinced me me to join him in the crawl space.  Unfortunately, jobs in the crawl space tend to involve a lot of this:


While P is awfully cute when he's thinking, I have very little patience for the finer parts of working out the plan.  Give me a job, or I'm out.

So I was out.  Instead:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

June 2011--month in review

Nothing like arriving at the year's halfway point to make one feel horribly behind on the list.

Guest Bedroom
  • hang pictures
  • reupholster antique chair
  • install closet doors
  • fix hinge-bound door so it will actually close

Office
  • make and hang curtains--remember that joke I had here several months back about how my mom was going to have to come finish this one for me?  Well, it turned out not to be a joke.  Thanks, mom!
  • reupholster footstool
  • put laminate on top of craft table
  • paint and hang door

Hall Bath
  • skim coat walls a little more
  • repaint walls
  • really, really scrub grout--and if that doesn't remove yellowing, try one of those grout pens I tried all the srubbing possible, and nothing changed.  So I've reached the point of not caring anymore.  Works for me.
  • hang at least one picture/piece of art
  • install closet door knob
  • install hooks where I can hang my work clothes
  • install new light fixture

Hall/Living Room/Kitchen/Dining Room
  • knock down walls to make these all a single space
  • install structural beam to replace structural wall
  • patch existing oak flooring where walls were removed
  • make new attic hatch
  • replace textured ceiling in kitchen
  • remove wood panelling and replace with drywall partway done
  • remove vinyl floor in kitchen, and lay new hardwoods there and over exposed subfloor in dining room
  • commit to new kitchen plans I wouldn't say we've completely committed, but I think our current ideas are pretty firm
  • build new kitchen cabinets (at least the lower ones)
  • get/make new countertops
  • install backsplash
  • run plumbing for gas range
  • install new sink
  • remove windows in dining room, and replace with french doors out to backyard
  • buy fireplace screen and make the occasional fire
  • replace hearth tile
  • make living room curtains (purely ornamental)
  • figure out window treatment for front windows that will maximize both light and privacy (plantation shutters?)
  • install new baseboard and crown molding
  • install doors on coat closet
  • fix draft under front door
  • install lots of new outlets to bring house up to newer codes for required number of outlets per room
  • install new lighting

Utility room
  • build utility room--making progress--dismantled exterior wall, installed insulation, and put drywall back up in May
  • buy and install new tankless water heater--The water heater is up, and most of the plumbing is done--now for the finishing touches and the gas line
  • run plumbing and install utility sink--everything is in place and waiting for the final hook-up once the water heater is ready
  • run plumbing and vent lines for washer/dryer--again, everything is in place and waiting for the final hook-up  
Master bedroom
  • lay hardwood flooring over exposed subfloor
Master Bath
  • give ugly medicine cabinet a cosmetic face lift

Crawl Space
  • complete encapsulation
  • test house for radon
  • enjoy running lots of plumbing and wiring for new kitchen/utility room/great room in new, dry, clean space

Garage
  • fix roof leaks 
  • continue to work to make this a functional wood shop for P (so he can spend lots of time out there building me new kitchen cabinets!)
Exterior
  • paint foundation to complement new stair color
  • figure out how to make exterior brick look good after we cut into it to install afore-mentioned french doors
  • paint front door a more lively color (it should be easy to beat white)
  • work with P's brother A, a professional landscape designer, to come up with an actual design for our landscape
  • remove a few more azaleas
  • add more plants and beds to continue moving toward cottage garden look I spread 2 yards of mulch, my dad spread another two, and the place is shaping up
  • grow a tomato that doesn't rot before it ripens the deer ate my tomato plant, so I added a second, and now they're both a foot tall--while everyone else in town is doting on their already-pink tomatoes
  • try to agree on privacy plantings for west property line, and plant them so they have some time to grow
  • buy and plant something on east property line  for now, I've filled in some butterfly bushes and purple lovegrass.  Not anything either of us is excited about, but for now, it's better than nothing

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June...

Sorry for the silence--I'm not sure where I disappeared to in June.  I'll have to fill you in on what we've been up to--but plumbing in the crawl space doesn't make for very glamorous pictures.

So I'll give you some glamor shots of me instead.  :-)

P needed to take some shots to document my hair, because I was done with it.

So I tied it back, handed him the scissors...


...and we passed the hair on to someone who could make better use of it.


Once the major deed was done, P got cold feet and refused to go any further.  So I had to wait two days until Walmart was open (because isn't it classic that we get into a pickle like this on a Saturday night?), and the lady there straightened it out and added some layers.


Not bad, eh?

Friday, June 3, 2011

May 2011--month in review

We got more serious about tearing things apart this month. But the progress has been slow--who would have thought it would take P three weekends to rough in the waste plumbing lines for our new utility room? Not us!

Guest Bedroom
  • hang pictures
  • reupholster antique chair
  • install closet doors
  • fix hinge-bound door so it will actually close

Office
  • make and hang curtains
  • reupholster footstool
  • put laminate on top of craft table
  • paint and hang door

Hall Bath
  • skim coat walls a little more
  • repaint walls
  • really, really scrub grout--and if that doesn't remove yellowing, try one of those grout pens
  • hang at least one picture/piece of art
  • install closet door knob
  • install hooks where I can hang my work clothes
  • install new light fixture

Hall/Living Room/Kitchen/Dining Room
  • knock down walls to make these all a single space
  • install structural beam to replace structural wall
  • patch existing oak flooring where walls were removed
  • make new attic hatch
  • replace textured ceiling in kitchen
  • remove wood panelling and replace with drywall  partway done
  • remove vinyl floor in kitchen, and lay new hardwoods there and over exposed subfloor in dining room
  • commit to new kitchen plans
  • build new kitchen cabinets (at least the lower ones)
  • get/make new countertops
  • install backsplash
  • run plumbing for gas range
  • install new sink
  • remove windows in dining room, and replace with french doors out to backyard
  • buy fireplace screen and make the occasional fire 
  • replace hearth tile
  • make living room curtains (purely ornamental)
  • figure out window treatment for front windows that will maximize both light and privacy (plantation shutters?)
  • install new baseboard and crown molding
  • install doors on coat closet
  • fix draft under front door
  • install lots of new outlets to bring house up to newer codes for required number of outlets per room
  • install new lighting

Utility room
  • build utility room--making progress--dismantled exterior wall, installed insulation, and put drywall back up
  • buy and install new tankless water heater--bought a gas tankless water heater--now waiting for all of the other necessary parts to come in
  • run plumbing and install utility sink--P has all the drain plumbing installed, and has begun work on the incoming water lines
  • run plumbing and vent lines for washer/dryer--again, drain lines done, and incoming begun. 
Master bedroom
  • lay hardwood flooring over exposed subfloor
Master Bath
  • give ugly medicine cabinet a cosmetic face lift

Crawl Space
  • complete encapsulation I'm going to call it done
  • test house for radon
  • enjoy running lots of plumbing and wiring for new kitchen/utility room/great room in new, dry, clean space--begun!

Garage
  • fix roof leaks  good enough for now
  • continue to work to make this a functional wood shop for P (so he can spend lots of time out there building me new kitchen cabinets!)
Exterior
  • paint foundation to complement new stair color
  • figure out how to make exterior brick look good after we cut into it to install afore-mentioned french doors
  • paint front door a more lively color (it should be easy to beat white)
  • work with P's brother A, a professional landscape designer, to come up with an actual design for our landscape
  • remove a few more azaleas several more down, only a few left to go!
  • add more plants and beds to continue moving toward cottage garden look slow and steady, right?
  • grow a tomato that doesn't rot before it ripens My one tomato seedling that survived the spring with me is in the ground and starting to grow
  • try to agree on privacy plantings for west property line, and plant them so they have some time to grow
  • buy and plant Yaupon hollies something on east property line 
Progress is slow, and not so glamorous--but we are moving forward!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Surprises along the way: part 1

One of the fun things (at least to me) about renovating an older house is the archaeology: what did this place look like when it was first built?  (Can you tell I'm a recovering historian?)

P cut into our kitchen floor last week to give himself easier access to the crawl space for utility work:



Here's his temporary access hatch:


 Better yet (from my point of view) this allowed me the chance to find out what the original flooring in our kitchen had been.  See that green layer there?


We're pretty sure that's our kitchen's original linoleum--looks like a bright blue-green.  Probably full of asbestos--most linoleum was in that period.  (And that's why P's wearing his respirator while cutting in the above picture.)  

The last people to renovate simply covered the linoleum with another layer of subfloor, and then laid vinyl on top of that--a perfectly respectable and safe way to deal with asbestos-laden linoleum.  We'll have to think about what our approach should be to the problem--that technique probably won't work for us, since we're opening up the floor plan and, ideally, would like the kitchen floor to transition seamlessly (read: at grade) into the original hardwoods in the living room.

Speaking of asbestos, here's the house's original siding, which P found when cutting a hole to vent our new gas-fired water heater:


Pretty sure this was painted white at a later date--again, it looks like blue-green was the original color.  Our builder was consistent! 

This fiber cement siding used to cover most of the houses in our town, and is newly back in fashion (at least in building magazines--not in our town) as a fairly attractive and really durable style of siding.  In fact, the word 'cemesto'--a brand name for fiber-cement siding made of asbestos--is used by the old-timers here to describe a style of houses in town (built about ten years before ours).  Again, the previous owners just slapped the current vinyl on top, and left the asbestos underneath.  And happily, this is one toxic problem we won't need to touch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I rocked the zipper

Every other month, my modern quilting guild does a swap: each person (who wants to participate) makes a particular item.  Then we throw them all in a pile in the middle of the table and draw names.

This month was zipper pouches.  There were several linked patterns as resources, but each person chose their own pattern.  It was fun to see what people came up with--no two used the same pattern.

I used this tutorial (but didn't do the striped piecing) and some sewing themed fabrics to make this:



I'm pretty darn proud of how it turned out and how quickly it came together.  I might be over my fear of zippers.
There's one other woman in the group who always seems to be just a few projects ahead of me--as in, she'll bring in a completed quilt for show and tell, and I'll exclaim, "I just started cutting the fabric for exactly that same pattern!"  And as the luck of the draw would have it, she drew my pouch and I drew hers.


I think she used this tutorial from Noodlehead--not because we discussed it, but because we look to the same blogs for inspiration.  :-)

She got all ambitious and added pockets to the lining:



I like the zipper jewelry she added--just the kind of detail I would never have thought of.  That's what's fun about these swaps--seeing all of the different ways people interpret the same assignment.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Special Delivery

Two UPS men carried this baby up to our door a few days ago:



Wait, you don't buy your hot water heaters from amazon.com?  I guess most people don't want to install their own tankless water heater--but if you're as crazy as we are, I entirely recommend checking them out.  The selection was far larger than what was available at Home Depot, at far, far lower prices.  (Not a paid advertisement.)  And let's just say they definitely qualify for free shipping on orders over $25.  :-)

Here she is in all of her unpacked glory:


P was hoping to get her mounted on the wall and some plumbing roughed in today, but some classic project creep took over, so now there are several other things he must accomplish first....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Overwhelming cuteness

Can you believe I got through an entire post on our recent trip with barely a mention of our two and a half year old nephew?

I'm sure his grandparents can't either.

The little guy loves his Uncle P.  I mean, loves.  (And I totally agree.)  And Uncle P had a special surprise planned for him this time.

The little guy's Dad runs a landscaping business, and has a lot of commercial equipment.  There's a famous family story of how, several weeks ago, the little guy backed his tricycle up to a 20 foot trailer, looked up at his Dad, and announced, "Hook me up!"

After we finished laughing, P got to thinking.  And then he hit the wood shop.

He didn't have time to completely finish before we left on our trip, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Because there are few things the little guy loves more than getting to be involved in a building project.



Friday and Saturday, the trailer sat in the living room.  The little man had great fun playing in and on it, but he didn't seem to view it as a trailer.  I put his truck and tools in it once or twice, and he emphatically removed them.  They were not part of his plan.  Which is fine--we're all about imaginative play, and who says he has to see this the same way we do?

But once Uncle P moved the trailer and the tricycle outside together, he suddenly got it.  He enlisted Uncle P's help to hook the trailer up with bungee cords.



Look at that happy, proud face!  (None of these pictures are posed--the kid wouldn't have the first idea what that would mean.)  He wasn't so happy when Uncle P disconnected all of the bungee cords.  But Uncle P had an even better idea of how to "hook him up."  And soon enough, the little guy was so fascinated by the construction that he forgot he was upset.





And my, he was happy when the project was complete!


I brought his favorite dump truck outside to put in the back of the trailer--just to get a few pictures to show off P's handiwork.  Since the little guy had shown no interest in playing with truck and trailer together before, I didn't expect him to react any differently this time.

Boy, was I wrong!  As soon as he saw the two together, he loved the idea!




















And repeat, for at least half an hour or so.  Right now, he loves hooks and closures, so the hook and eye P gave him to fasten the tailgate is a favorite feature.

Wondering what that box up front is?  Why, that's where he stows his tools!

We're hoping this is a toy that can grow with him.  Right now, he's loving playing with it as a toy in its own right--opening and closing the tailgate, sitting in it, hooking bungee cords through the holes on the sides, trying desperately to remove the S-hooks that Uncle P so cruelly crimped closed, etc.  I think that later he might begin to use it in a more utilitarian way, to transport stuff across the yard.  We'll see!