Saturday, May 29, 2010

Prom Night

Oh the rituals of youth, prom tonight, graduation next week and soon my days of having a "child" at home to care for, worry over, get exasperated with, will be over.

Has it really been 18 years? Did I survive all the bad stuff, did I take enough pictures to help me remember all the good stuff? Did I teach him everything he needs to know to survive and thrive?

Only time will tell. Take a deep breath and plunge into the next stage of life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kitchen Remodel - Part 4

You know on those home improvement shows how they go from "before" to "after" in 30-60 minutes? Yeah, that doesn't happen in real life and you also don't have a huge crew of professional carpenters, plumbers and electricians waiting in the wings. It takes longer, it's harder, hotter, heavier and more painful than those shows lead you to believe. That said, here's what we've been doing since the last time I posted:

Do you see the wall on the left side of this picture? When we removed the pink laminate, we discovered a very damaged wall. There was exposed framing from a window that used to be there. There was missing plaster, crumbling plaster and outright holes in the wall that had to be fixed before a new wall covering could go up.

So the first step was to repair all the holes and create a solid surface for the liquid nails to adhere to when we put up the new back splash wall.

Next we sanded and primed the necessary areas.

There, now doesn't that look so much better?

Next we had to prime, paint, cut and cut out electrical openings on the new wall. What do you think of the teal blue?

Then came the task of mounting said wall coverings and doing additional cuts to fit around the angles of the cabinets. We hurried to get this part done because the counter tops were going in the next day.

I was surprised they brought the counter top in, in two pieces. For some reason I thought it would be in one piece just like the previous counter.

They mounted a new, BIGGER, DEEPER sink, which I am so excited about. I can finally wash any pan in that sink!

They installed the other part of the counter. They glued, sanded, buffed, and polished to the point where you can't see where the counter joins together. Isn't that lovely?

Here are some more shots. Hopefully you can begin to see the look we're going for. Alas, the doors to the cabinets still aren't finished. We've finally got the first coat of primer on, they're waiting to be sanded before the next layer of latex and now we're expecting rain again for the next three days!

That's okay, there's still plenty more to do. The sink plumbing needs to be hooked up. The light fixtures need to be replaced. The over the stove microwave, exhaust fan combo is slated to go in this weekend and we have tons of wall paper to remove from the other walls so we can begin painting there. Later this summer, the other cabinets on the very top will be installed. Back to work for now!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Oddest Thing We Saw All Day

My son, B, and I were driving down the road today and were so stunned when we saw this unicycle whiz past us that we turned around, and drove back up the road to get a picture. The old guy was going pretty fast too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stop Thief!!!

Another icky thing about our kitchen were these two tiny 16 inch sinks. You couldn't wash any pans in them and the faucet didn't have very high clearance to get anything very tall washed in there either.

Well today the unthinkable happened. Someone stole our kitchen sink! I went running around outside looking for it and when I came back in I discovered

someone stole our kitchen countertops! Oh my goodness, who could have stolen all that pink loveliness? ;-)
New black countertops arrive on Monday, stay tuned....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kitchen Remodel - Part 3 - the new creation

So last I left you,we were still in the tearing apart phase. We had just finished sanding and removing the doors.

After sanding the facing of the cabinets, we next painted on an oil-based primer in white. We had done research on painting over varnished cabinets, and 99% of the opinions were to put an oil-based primer on the sanded wood, then put a latex enamel over that.

Painting the primer on the face of these cabinets was not difficult and didn't take very long, however, (there's always a however, isn't there) the oil-based primer was incredibly watery and splashed and dripped EVERYWHERE. So it was a good thing we did this before the floor went in.

Also notice that the pink laminate on the walls is gone now. That ripped out pretty quickly and easily only to reveal _really_ damaged walls behind. We went and got some thin plywood to install there to cover up the mess.

So the priming is done, two coats of latex enamel was applied, the next step is to begin the floor work.

That began with a fairly new product that is an underlay for tile floors in place of the concrete backer board they used to use. It's much thinner, more flexible and quicker to install.

So that went down in no time at all and even though it was a bright orange, it was still a dramatic improvement over the linoleum that used to be there.

Now on to the tiling! We picked out a ceramic tile that looked like slate stone, a gray with a little texture to it.

This is how it looked just being laid and before any of the grout went in.

I really like these tiles, they're a pretty gray with just the slightest hint of a smoky blue in them. Very pretty.

Here they are once the grout was applied. The grout color is called "Raven." It has a dramatic effect on the subtle colors in the tiles, the pictures don't do them justice.

Okay, next step is to finish painting the cabinet doors and reinstalling them, then add the new hardware, oh yeah, I think I have pictures of those. Let me go find them....

These are the pulls for each of the drawers. I can't find a picture of the knobs, but they're the same material and coloring as the pulls, just round knobs with a slight circular ridge in the center. After the doors and hardware are installed, we have to put up new wood to fix the walls, strip wallpaper and then begin painting the walls, and of course, the new counter top will be installed. Okay, back to work so I can get the next round of pictures up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Birth of Talent

I just read this story about a young man who did a Lady Gaga song at his school. It's really good! Then I read that he had his own YouTube channel and checked out his original songs. I am no musician, but I was very impressed! What do you think?



Broken Hearts

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kitchen Remodel - Part 2 - the destruction

So the destruction began, very carefully and very slowly, almost as if the crew were forensic anthropologists. The whole idea was to save the hardwood floors underneath. We needed to see if glue and/or screws were involved. As it turns out, both were involved. So the initial process was, let's reveal the screws, see if we can remove them, so the plywood sub-floor (in theory) will just lift off. Well, that was very slow going. The Phillips head screws were packed with dirt and glue so you couldn't get the screwdriver in to remove the screw. Plus, as you removed pieces of the linoleum tile, it left traces of this very sticky, tacky adhesive behind that managed to adhere itself to just about everything.

So, unable to remove the screws, more aggressive means were called for. L had a handy floor tool that he'd used on his own floors and was anxious to try out on our floors.

Well you can see that was much more successful in removing the plywood floor and tiles. Still, there was all this tar paper glued to the hardwood floors beneath. Would we be able to have that cleaned off and still salvage the hardwoods below? Only time would tell.

So everyone got to work on different areas of the floor and began attacking it with a vengeance. In all, I think it took a few hours to pull up the whole floor.

Time finally did tell, as we were about 3/4 of the way through the tear up phase. Do you see those grey cement areas on the floor? That's where there is no hardwood floor. When the house was originally built, there was a mudroom of sorts with a wall where the blue basket is now and a support beam where the other patch is. Plus, after tearing up most of the floor, we discovered that the former homeowner must have had stock in a screw company because he used screws every inch and a half. Dude! The floor wasn't going anywhere, you could have used fewer screws and spaced them 2-3 inches apart!

So it was quickly becoming obvious that with all the screw holes and missing pieces in the floor, that the hardwoods could not be saved. We would either have to install new hardwoods or tile. So the tearing up process continued. In the following days we went to look at wood and tile. We got estimates for tearing out the original hardwoods and putting new ones in, installing a new hardwood floor over top the existing hardwoods, and tiling over the existing hardwoods. Amazingly, all three prices were within a couple hundred dollars of one another because of differences in labor and materials costs. We really wanted to keep hardwoods in the kitchen. I personally just liked the look of hardwoods, they're warmer and richer to look at, they're homier looking and more welcoming than cold, hard tile. There were some other factors we had to consider. The kitchen door off the driveway is our main door. We almost never use the front door and neither do our guests. Also, we entertain quite a bit more than the average family, and we regularly have band practice and equipment being hauled in and out. This doorway being heavily trafficked needed to be able to withstand all this. Also, in Spring when it rains and in winter when it snows, this is where we leave umbrellas and wet clothes hanging to dry. We also have the washer and drier right next to the back door. All this water would be hazardous for wood floors. Still there are some woods that handle water better than others and we could have a hard finish put on the wood floors to protect them from moisture. So much to think about.

Then, when B finally got the floor removed from underneath the laundry area and we smelled the damp and saw how much water damage was done to the floor, the decision was made for us. We were going to put ceramic tile down on the floor.

So we continued with the floor destruction and also went in search of counter tops. We decided to go with Lowes and that caused the next area of destruction. If we ripped out the old counters ourselves, we could save money. The first thing that had to go was the back splash so the installers could come in and get a good measurement for the new counters. M jumped right in on that one, you'd think she was anxious to be rid of all that lovely pink!

Luckily, that pink laminate stuff came up pretty easily. As long as we were ripping out the back splash, why not go ahead and rip out the rest? Now of course, if you're ripping out the back splash, it would probably make sense to do all the painting before the new floor and new counter tops went in, right?

Well, that would entail removing all the hardware from the doors.

Next you would have to sand all the varnish off the cabinets before you can prime them to paint.

Once you got the doors sanded, well of course you would need to remove the doors so you can sand the facings.

It's amazing how tightly screwed these doors were, even with a power drill/screwdriver, some of them needed more torque and had to be removed by hand. So once all the cabinet doors were removed, then the painting could begin. This next post will be startling as we go from brown to white cabinets. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Couple Arrested At U.S. Border For Asking Questions

I was just listening to this audio on another blog. A Canadian couple are stopped at the U.S./Canada border crossing for asking a question. Let me know what you think.

Couple Arrested At U.S. Border For Asking Questions

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kitchen Remodel - Part 1

Allow me to introduce you to our kitchen. Let me preface all this with the following information (before anyone says anything bad about the kitchen - namely me) the guy who owned this house before we bought it, did a total remodel of this kitchen around 2002-2003. He did it for his wife, who apparently liked country decor and PINK. The whole first floor was Pepto Bismol Pink and Colonial Blue. So in that sense, this was a lovely kitchen and a nice gesture of the man's love for his wife. Okay, that's the last nice thing I will say about it. Neither M nor I like pink, other than the singer P!nk, and we don't like country decor. That's not to say country decor is bad, or that it can't look nice, it can and it does, it's just not our style.

Living in a house of pink and country is like living in a house decorated by your mother-in-law, or some relative who's taste might annoy you. It wasn't our choice and we never would have chosen pink counter tops deliberately. Oh, and if you click on the pictures, you'll not only see much better detail, you will see minty colored sponge painting on some of the walls. - But WAIT!! There's more!

The floor was a lovely creme and green (originally) but now it is only a dingy scratched mess of peel and stick linoleum tiles, that also were not to our taste. The floor bothered me more than the pink counter tops because I could never get it completely clean, no matter how hard I tried. The closest I got was when I would get down on my knees with a bucket of hot water, a rag and a big can of Comet to scour each tile clean. That only took off what remained of the dingy finish and encouraged the accumulation of even more dirt. So, after a while . . . why bother? It's hard to say whether it was the pink counter or the dingy floor that finally pushed M over the edge. I'm going to go with the floor since that's the first item she attacked in her frenzy of frustration.

Her frustration began as asides during conversations on other topics, "do you think there's hardwood under that linoleum?" Later her comments would become more direct, "some day we should tear up that floor," or "we'll never sell this house with that hideous kitchen." To finally, "I just want to take a peek and see what's under the linoleum." At which point she began chiseling away at the molding, breaking it away to reveal, linoleum on top, then plywood, then tar paper, then hardwoods. Yep, the hardwoods were there alright. "I'll bet I can get some of my friends over here and get this floor ripped up in no time." Okay, so it now appeared that "some day" was here and the floor was going.

There were other areas of annoyance in this kitchen, no exhaust fan or light over the stove. The ancient fan was never operational.

Some of the walls were covered by hideous, ahem, I mean, lovely country themed wallpaper with cherries and

watermelons. Fruit can be an appropriate decoration in kitchens. My idea of fruit in a kitchen is lemons in a tall clear vase, or a wire basket of various colored apples hanging from a hook, not tacky wallpaper with fruit printed on it. Sorry, personal taste choice here, some people must like it, otherwise they never would have sold such wallpaper.

Another area of annoyance, for me in particular, I don't think M really cared very much, is the top of the cabinets. There's almost 16 inches of wasted space up there. We store all our big items up there, crock pots, woks, fryers, etc. Since we have no exhaust fan, the grease from cooking finds its way up to the top of the cabinets and the items end up covered with a combination of grease and dust that is very hard to remove. So I always wanted smaller cabinets up there for covered storage. I thought cabinets going all the way to the ceiling would look more old fashioned in keeping with our 1930s house and make the kitchen look taller.

Oh, and let's not forget the tarnished knobs and pulls painted with flowers, another nice country touch. So, it's obvious that the kitchen needed some updating, some additional touches to make us feel comfortable in it. Now, kitchen remodels can cost $30,000 - $50,000, catch your breath, that's right. I don't know about you, but we certainly don't have that kind of money. So we had to think, what's the best remodel we could do on the smallest budget? The obvious answer was to keep everything where it was at, no moving cabinets or plumbing, but we still needed a dramatic change. The pink counters HAD to go, so did the nasty linoleum. So if we replaced those two items, the only things left to change would be paint and wallpaper on the walls, hardware on the cabinets, getting 5 additional cabinets on top, and installing an exhaust fan/light over the stove. We looked at lots of home improvement shows, seeing what we liked and didn't like, we knew we wanted something timeless and classic to fit with the age of our house and not go out of style like the latest trendy kitchen designs would do. We knew we would have to do a lot of the work ourselves to keep the costs down. We decided to pay professionals to do the two things we either couldn't do, or that would take so long for us to do a sloppy job, that it was worth paying someone to do it. So we hired people to put in a new floor and new counter tops. We would do all the tearing out, cleaning up, sanding, painting, etc.

So in the next post, and in following posts, I will take you step-by-step through the tear up phase and show you all the work that has been done in the last few weeks, until we finally reach the finished project. Are you excited?! I'm mostly tired. You have no idea how much work we've been doing to reach the finished project.

European Vacation - not the movie - Spain

We successfully visited and drove in four countries speaking three foreign languages well enough to get what we wanted without insulting any...