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  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!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend "getaway"

P and I spent the weekend with his brother's family down in Georgia. 

On our drive down, we pulled off a random exit to get some dinner.  Instead, we were greeted by this scene:

We had seen the pictures of last week's tornado devastation on the news, but it was quite a shock to see it in person, when we least expected it.  Eight particular people were killed in this town.  One sign from a business blew nearly 120 miles to land near our house.  Somehow, those little details bring these things home to P and I and make us feel all the more thankful that we survived the storms unscathed.

It's becoming an annual tradition to crash my sister-in-law's Mother's Day.  Last year, she spent the weekend at our place while her husband dragged all of our belongings out of our storage locker. 

This year, we tried to make it up to her.  Over breakfast Saturday morning, P innocently pointed out a patch of repaired, but not yet painted, drywall.  "What happened there?"  he asked oh so innocently.  (That's his version of the story.  I'm always skeptical of his ignorance.) 

Turns out it was from a cable routing job.  I helpfully offered to put on a second coat of spackle, P obnoxiously pointed out that there would still be a glaring white spot in the pumpkin colored wall, so I offered to paint.  To paint whole kitchen, that is.

P and his brother were still reeling in shock as my sister-in-law and I piled into the car to pick up paint swatches.  (You know, it would have saved a lot of driving if I had just brought my fan deck with me.  Maybe I should be sure to bring it along on every vacation from here on out.)

To make a long story short, we went from this on Saturday (sorry I didn't get any pictures before cutting in--I was too carried away!):

To this on Sunday:

Sorry we didn't have a chance to get things all staged and pretty--we wanted the paint to be good and dry before we starting putting things back where they belong.  Even so, what a change, right?  I love the color she chose (Olympic "Raindrop")--it really helped to (in P's words) modernize the kitchen. 

Since they have a two year old, we went with the Olympic Premium zero-VOC paint.  I hadn't ever used it before, and after one coat, P and I were pretty skeptical.  But the second coat did wonders. 

P is wondering how we take one weekend off from demolishing our own house, and end up demolishing someone else's.  But I was so glad to get a paint brush back in my hand again--it had been months!  Months!