Disclaimer: we aren't professionals

Thanks for reading our silly little blog! As the disclaimer says, we aren't professionals in either blogging or house stuff, but we try. This is mostly to let our friends and family know what we've destroyed so far in the house. We post irregularly and usually forget to take pictures, so thanks for your patience, and please feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Update: my sunflowers shot up to 1 ft tall and then all died. That's ok, I'll plant more. They grow quickly.

Edit: They were actually only 6 in tall, and definitely dead, so I took them out and planted some new ones. Also the bean pods popped open into little purple flowers. They're quite pretty. It makes sense, flowers then beans. Hehe. You can tell I've never gardened before, that's for sure.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bean me up, Scottie!

Hey... I like puns.

Guess what?! Our bean plants are growing pods! Now I just have to get Chris to try to eat them when they mature =)

Here's the planter box overall. Our tomatoes are still tiny, but the beans (back row) and zucchini (in the cages) are doing very well. The beans had some mildew problems when it was really rainy, but they've recovered.

The tomatoes are growing strong. You can see how we tied them to the little stakes to support them. Those will obviously be replaced as they grow, but they do for now. 

The zucchini are flourishing. We have 6 plants in a small space, so we're going to train them to go up the metal tomato cages. The internet says you can do it, so we'll give it a try.

Here are the pods! I think they're pods, at least. They don't look like leaves, or flowers. You can see the spotty leaves damaged earlier, but all the new ones are healthy and green.

Hiding underneath the zucchini, where we had to pull the dead bean plants, we've planted some peppers and another tomato plant. They came from those silly $1 Target kits that give you a tiny pot and a peat pellet. Still, they're doing well, so I hope they actually produce something! If not, oh well, it was a cheap experiment and learning process.

Finally, here are the sunflowers that I started. The ones by the mailbox all got eaten, so I planted these. We'll probably keep these in the backyard, and transplant them once they're strong enough to survive any more squirrel attacks. They're supposed to grow up to 10 feet tall! Truly mammoth sunflowers. Also, when I checked on the one that hadn't sprouted, it was just below the surface. I think it's alive, and just a late bloomer.

I'm already making plans for next year. I would like to plant a raised bed garden on the ground (maybe where some trees used to be?) and use the planter box for herbs. I went to Home Depot and got myself some basil, rosemary, and lemon thyme. They're on my balcony in the cute metal bucket that Sheila gave Chris as a housewarming gift. When I move out of the apartment, they'll probably get put in individual pots on the windowsill or something. Now I can make fresh caprese salad: sliced tomato, sliced fresh mozzarella, and whole fresh basil leaves, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil . Yum!

I leave you with this delicious image. Someday, I will make it with my own tomatoes, too. Eeee!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bathroom Demo!

This weekend was exciting. On Saturday we participated in the Muddy Buddy bike/run adventure race (mountain biking and trail running with obstacles in between). Then on Sunday we started tearing out the master bathroom. We need to get it to a point where we can rough in the new plumbing next weekend. There are so many interesting things behind those walls!

First, some Muddy Buddy shots:

Okay! Here are a few refresher "before" pics: 

The lines are for where the new tub will come out to (36" or 42"). We decided to go for the 36" so the room wouldn't feel too cramped (it's only 8' from the window to the door). That's still a lot bigger than the current 29" tub, though. 

So I didn't get a pic of the assembled vanity, but all we've done here is take the top off. Wait until you see what we found when we pulled the sink drain pipe away (prepare to be grossed out).

Ewwwww so nasty. I wouldn't touch it, even though I had gloves on. Sorry, I'm a wimp sometimes. Mud? Ok, awesome! Who knows how many years' worth of someone else's hair? No thanks.

More images of destruction... Sawzalls (sp?)are awesome. We did save the plywood for more garage storage projects. The blue tape circle is where the new toilet is going to go. And since these pictures are small, just click to enlarge.

At last, the vanity was no more. There was so much more space! Next it was time to take out the drywall to see what kind of plumbing we're dealing with. We can already see that there was a cutout for the washing machine (this half used to be the laundry room). There's a dryer vent on the brick outside, too. 

Ok. So we have a cast iron vent more than 36" from the outside wall. Crap. 

Ooh, it gets better! There are 2 T's that we don't need going to the old toilet and sink faucet. That complicates things, if we were to salvage the vent, which we can't really do anyway. 

Other bonus surprises: old clothing (a rat's nest?), a photo from 2005 of some guy sticking his head into a stuffed alligator in some tourist shop, severe sub-floor damage, and our old friend mold. Good thing all of that is coming out, probably down to the floor joists. 

After we had cleared the dividing wall to our satisfaction, Chris took out the area behind where the vanity and toilet will go. Behind this wall is the central hallway. Fortunately, it was nice and clean with no pipes, ducts, or wiring. The studs are close together, but that's because the old vanity area used to be the laundry room, and the awkward middle wall went all the way across to this hallway. 

So, I think that's where we left off. It was fun, and gross, and now we have to put it all back together again. That's ok, it'll look great when we're done. And we still have one functioning bathroom. Hooray! 

Catching up - thrift store table and new fridge

I was taking pictures off of my camera at school yesterday and found a lot that have never made it onto the blog. So, here are a few pictures of the table we scored for less than $9 (+ another $15 in spray paint, and ??? for glass). Then there will be a few of me taking the shipping packaging off the fridge. Mmmm fridge. It's nice.

Without further ado:

Real, solid bamboo coffee table from Goodwill. Note that it is a hexagon.

Despite failing at basic geometry, the people at Goodwill sell things for a good price!

This is after just 1 coat of paint, I think. I ended up adding two more. Shiny black lacquer gives it a more modern look, and if we cover the top with a big glass circle, it'll be a great coffee table with storage and display space underneath.

We're still looking for a glass top. The cost of buying one online and having it shipped is almost $200, which kind of defeats the purpose of buying the cheap table in the first place. What we're trying to do is find glass-top dining tables on sale on craigslist for under $100. Then, it's a bonus if we like the chairs that go with the table, because we can use those in the dining area (with a new table) or on the patio. 

Now for the fridge: 

This is actually all you get, because I look weird in the other pictures. Chris caught me by surprise. But, you can see the awesome bottom-freezer design, the french doors, the big door bins, and all that good stuff. Just trust me, it's a nice fridge and I love it.

Here's a bonus picture of the shelf in the storage area that Chris was building. It's finished now, and is a great place to store all of the power tools in their hard plastic cases. We used the plywood from the old cabinets, and the salvaged wood from taking apart the deck benches and railing.

This is just a bonus picture of Jezza being a weirdo. Actually I think the pink tennis balls are cute, and they're easier to find in the overgrown backyard than the green ones. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekly Summary (again)

Last week was Chris' first week of work at Lockheed Martin. This means that work on the house has pretty much slowed to a crawl. I still have obligations on campus with research, classwork, and an individual research project, so I can only make it up there 2x or so in a week. 

Still, we have made some progress. Chris got the rest of the drywall up on the outer wall of the kitchen. I finished sanding and started priming the newer cabinets in the garage. Chris even started hanging the corner wall cabinets; that's exciting. 
We still need to pick up those 2 36" base cabs and one 18" base cab, but even though we cleared all the junk out on Friday (rented a Uhaul for ~$30, plus $60ish for the cost of dumping), we immediately used up the open space in the garage. 

Chris also built a work bench using the salvaged kitchen countertop and wood from the removal of the deck benches. We're going to use one of the metal shelves that we got from Walmart a long time ago to hold scrap wood. I think it'll work out really nicely. 

Oh, also our beans were having problems, and so we had to pull 4 of them, but we still have 11 left. I staked the zucchini with 54" tomato cages, so they'll grow up instead of spreading. The tomato plants are still little, but I thinned them and staked them with bamboo. The beans were staked with the same bamboo, just for a little extra support. They're not pole beans, but they're leggier than usual because the wall of the planter is about 8" high, right behind them. I also planted some tomato sprouts and pepper plant sprouts that we got from those Target dollar bin plant kits. I'm shocked they're still alive, and we'll see if we get anything decent out of them. And because the sunflowers I planted by the mailbox got eaten by squirrels, I started another 10 in the pots left over from the original mailbox pansies. They're on the patio table I made, so maybe the squirrels will leave them alone until they get strong enough to go in the ground. 

Our next steps include hanging the rest of the wall cabinets, using the paint sprayer that came in the mail to paint the doors of the cabinets, and then install base cabinets. In order to do the microwave cabinet, first we have to vent. We decided to vent through the roof, but then realized that because the microwave is centered on a stud, we can't put the 3.25"x10" rectangular vent in the wall. It'll have to be outside the wall, which means it'll show above the cabinet. I was ok with that as long as we could paint it to blend with the wall, and not have it stay shiny aluminum. Then there was an issue that the microwave's plug is also on that center wall stud, so we had to think about shifting the vent left or right, or moving the sockets.

So I complained about not using 4" round pipe to get around the plug, and using rectangular ducting until we go through the ceiling.  Chris countered that it would make him have to crawl around in the attic's corner and he would have to cut out the drywall, move the socket, and patch the hole. I eventually won, though, arguing aesthetics and how the round pipe would look so awful, and basically whining a lot. Chris demanded a dinner for his trouble, and I offered 5 dinners and 5 cheesecakes (I was worked up; I maybe should have reduced the number of cheesecakes). So, we'll use rectangular ducting up against the wall to go through the ceiling, switch to 4 inch round and bring it in towards the center of the house once we're in the attic, and go through the roof with the 4" round ducting. That way we'll get an actual outside vent for all the smoke and crap we generate when cooking. 

Right, so, this week Chris will move the plug, patch the drywall, and install the microwave vent, and I'll help hang the upper cabinets and paint the drawer fronts and doors of all of the cabinets. The end!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Photos, finally!

Hi! I finally took some pictures of the kitchen and the laundry room, and some other stuff too. As always, click on the picture to enlarge it.

Let's begin:

This is our new microwave. It's supposed to go under the cabinet above the range, but for now Chris just needs to be able to heat up some Hot Pockets.

One side of the kitchen. We'll leave this open for now because we need to have a plumber come in and do the stuff for the sink and the dishwasher. The dishwasher will be slightly to the right of the blue switches on the left, and the sink cabinet will start where the speaker cords are hanging down and end where the white trash can is. Then we'll have an 18" cabinet to the right of that for counter space and an in-cabinet slide-out trash can.

The other side of the kitchen. There's our new window, and Chris is doing a very good job of mudding and sanding the new drywall. He's going to hang the rest of the drywall today I think (we picked it up last night), and then we'll be ready to hang our primed wall cabinets. I'll wait to paint the frames until they're on the wall.

On to the laundry room!
Here is the super-awesome panel curtain thingy that we installed. It has room for Hula to get to her litter box (if it ends up in there), and it's sort of translucent with a neat pattern, but blocks you from seeing clothing that is hanging, or laundry hampers, or anything like that. 

Now you can see the new cabinet, hung all the way up at the ceiling, and the metal shelf (same as we're going to put in the kitchen). The washer and dryer are big, but there's definitely room to work. The only sad thing is that the washer door ONLY opens as you see it there. It would be so much better if it opened the other way. Oh well. 

A lovely storage cabinet, courtesy of Ikea. So glad we didn't do the whole kitchen in these laminate boxes. Yuck. But it's ok for the laundry room.

The iron hanger I was talking about. Tucked away in a little nook. 

The track for the panel, showing how it slides out of the way using the hanging metal dowel. 

Uh-oh, someone left his clothes in the dryer. They're going to get wrinkly! Tsk tsk tsk. 

Here are the kitchen cabinets in the garage. All the white is oil-based primer, which will seal the wood against grease stains and provide a really good sticky surface for our gloss paint. The ones on the far side were just sanded.

These short doors are from Lowe's because they had 36x12 and 30x12 wall cabinets for over the fridge and microwave, respectively. The edges have a different router bit finish, but there will only be one pair (over the microwave) so we hope nobody will notice. We're taking the doors off the one over the fridge to use as some sort of open storage display cabinet (like my pretty Le Creuset dutch oven, say)

This is the top of our pantry cabinet, just sanded by our little Dewalt 1/2 sheet pad sander. Behind it is the lazy susan corner cabinet, already primed and ready for action.

As you can see, we're pretty much out of garage space for cabinets, and we still have our 2 biggest base cabinets to pick up, as well as another smaller base cabinet. I'm going to go online right now to reserve the Uhaul trailer for Friday so we can take all the trash to the dump and make room for more cabinets. 

And finally, I ordered the desk that we're going to use as a bathroom vanity. It's solid wood legs and a fiberboard top. We'll need to coat it with poly before I feel safe using it in a bathroom, but it looks really good and is very sturdy; definitely strong enough to hold a sink.

Here you can see Jezza being the placeholder for the toilet. We can put towels or magazines or extra TP or something on the shelves.

Now Jezza is showing you where the sink's plumbing is going to go. The sink will go where a computer would normally go, and we'll have nice pretty pipes beneath it. Even though there will be exposed plumbing, the overall open structure of the desk will make the bathroom feel a lot less closed-in, especially in the middle walkway. Also keep in mind that the wall there next to Jezza's elbow will be gone, so there will actually be a walkway. We still need to demo the bathroom; probably before the plumber comes...

And that's what we've been up to! There is still a LOT of work to be done, but I think we're making progress. After the bathroom is done, all of our big renovation expenses (except for the roof, tree removal, and landscaping) will be behind us. But all of that is ok, because Chris has a job and will actually get paid, for the first time since April! Or maybe the end of April, not sure. Point is, om nom nom cash. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The laundry room is DONE!!!


I'm excited.



And even though we forgot the camera today, I thought I would share what we did with you.

After getting the washer and dryer hooked up, we knew there would be room for a cabinet. So, I looked around teh interwebs and found that I could get a decent sized (36" wide) standard wall cabinet (30" tall and 12" deep) from Ikea for $62. Definitely cheaper than buying an oak one like the kitchen cabinets ($97?) and sanding, priming, and painting it.
[photo courtesy ikea.com]

Then I found a shelf that we could use in the kitchen, also from Ikea. It's not on the website, but it's just 5 steel rails, 4 feet long, that we can use as a pot rack over the window in the kitchen. It fits in the space perfectly. So, I bought one ($26) and took it to the house and we assembled it. Yep, it fits in the kitchen! But you know where else it fits perfectly? That's right, the laundry room! Yay! That wall with the cabinet across from the W/D is something like 4'3", and technically the shelf is 47 1/4", so it fit nicely. The edge rail is perfect for hanging clothes on hangars to dry, too.
Jk, I found a picture. The one I bought is longer, but you get the idea. 
[photo courtesy ikea.com]

So today we went to Ikea on the way to the house, and picked up the Akurum cabinet with Harlig white doors. Translation: a white laminate cabinet with the cheapest white laminate doors they sell.
I also had been thinking about how I hang clothes that can't go in the dryer (delicates, if you will) in my current laundry room. It's behind closed bifold doors in my bathroom, so nobody can see swim trunks or whatever drying. However, this laundry room is directly visible from the future living room seating area. The perfect solution to this was to hang a fabric panel on a track in front of the door. I saw them when I was buying the shelf last time. This is what we came home with:
[photo courtesy ikea.com]

This goes on a rail hung from the ceiling, and has one of those hanging stick thingies that you pull/push to make it move back and forth. It doesn't cover the whole doorway, but placed in the right spot it hides any clothing hanging from the shelf. Mission accomplished!

It actually looks really cool, so I can't wait to upload pics.

So, we hung the cabinet all the way at the top of the wall, right next to the ceiling. The top shelves will be for sewing kits and other rarely used items.
We hung the shelf at a little above counter height (42" vs. 36") so that hampers fit underneath it (ones I already own) and so that clothes can hang easily from the outer rail while clearing the ground.
We installed the panel curtain on the inside wall of the laundry room, hanging from the ceiling. It slides out of the way next to the washer and dryer most of the time, and will "close" the room for guests.
Finally, we hung a little thingy that you place your iron in. It hangs on the wall very nicely, hidden on the far side of the wall cabinet.

Again, can't wait to upload pics, and I am so excited that one room is finally done! We're still working on the kitchen... had to do a little bit of outlet re-arranging today (it was going to be stuck behind the range, no good), then we'll finish drywalling that side of the kitchen, then prime and hang cabinets. The cabinets are in the garage; about half have been sanded and primed, and some others still need to be prepped for painting, and we still need to pick up 3 from Home Depot. Chris did order a paint sprayer, so I hope we can get a really professional look on our DIY paint job. It's been hard getting an even coat of primer by combining paintbrushes for detailed molding and a foam roller for the flat surface areas. Plus, we'll use the sprayer for all the outdoor furniture I'm going to build, as well as for staining the deck and probably painting the shutters at some point.

But again, yay! Victory over one small room!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Weekly summary

Hi again,

Sorry we haven't been posting much. It's been a busy last-week-of-Chris'-unemployment.

Last weekend, we worked on the laundry room a lot. We tried to match the drywall pattern on the ceiling, painted the ceiling, installed baseboards and trim, and finally stacked the washer and dryer! Chris plugged them in, leveled them, and we tested that they were balanced by running the rinse/spin cycle. It was really fascinating to watch the front load washer for the first time. I probably sat there for 15 minutes straight.

We hunted around for some Memorial Day deals, and found the cabinets we were buying for 20% off at Home Depot. It was raining, so we bought almost all that we needed and had them store them for us on will call. The ones we didn't buy were the ones over the microwave and fridge. We needed 12" tall ones, but Home Depot only had 15" tall. Lowe's, however, had almost the exact ones in 12" heights, (36x12 and 30x12) so we got those. We'll keep the doors off one and just leave the other the way it is, unless we can find the router bit that makes the edges ever so slightly different.

Anyway, we bought cabinets, and we also found some ceramic floor tile (12" square) for the kitchen. We went to Floor & Decor, which is just a big warehouse where you pick up as many boxes as you need. They're all laid out on pallets. We ended up getting 10 boxes of 17 tiles a box at $0.59 per tile, which works out to roughly $100 for all the kitchen tile. Woo! The pattern on this one is much less noticeable and will look sooooooo much better than the crap they had in there before. Also it matches the backsplash and countertop. I still need to order the countertop. It's only $11/sq.ft. if you don't get it installed.

So, after those victories, we put up drywall in the parts of the kitchen that were done, and Chris is still rewiring a bit in there (just moving stuff out of the way now) before putting the rest up. We also need to get the plumber in there to move the sink, which means we should also start demoing the bathroom. Hm.

Meanwhile, I've been sanding and priming the cabinets in batches as we bring them home. We still have 3 cabinets left (2 to bring home that are already paid for, and one we haven't bought yet). I have a batch to sand, but a lot have already been primed and are just waiting for a paint sprayer to do the final, perfectly smooth and glossy coat of white. It's going to be pretty.

Chris has helped out by using his circular saw, dremel, and wood chisel to cut the center panels out of two doors for wall cabinets. We're going to put panes of glass in there so you can see dishes and glasses. It'll be pretty too.

So I'm sure there's some other stuff; our vegetables have all sprouted, and we're about to thin the beans. The zucchini have already been thinned; they're all growing strongly! Yay! We finished painting the table for outside (the one I was painting pieces of when Chris' family was in town in early May). The new microwave was delivered. I'll let Chris elaborate on his stuff, and we'll try to include pictures. Blogging fail, right here.

Now I'm tired because GT beat Mercer in the 1st regional baseball game of the weekend. Go Jackets! Goodnight.