Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

This fall I had the great idea that I would go back to school. Then Jude (the dog) decided that he would gallop around the countryside for a month. Then Chris and I both decided that we would apply for graduate school. All this while I am still working in NJ and living in a hotel three nights a week. My class is winding up and our applications are submitted and the dog is back, so hopefully we can get back to the fun stuff.

We got some motivation for house work just in time for Thanksgiving. I was thinking of picking up a used range and sticking it in the basement to use for bigger dinner parties. Chris suggested a wall oven next to our current range, I looked at craig's list and viola! A short drive and 25 bucks later, we have a second oven.

It's not exactly a showroom kitchen, but it really helped for cooking Thanksgiving dinner and I'm happy to have it.

New roof starts tomorrow. My favorite kind of work, things get done without me doing them. Plus, the added benefit that it stops raining in the kitchen!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

We've Got the Funk... Seriously, not the good kind either.

Work on the house has been slow and frustrating. We finally got all of the parts for the kitchen island light fixture and Chris installed it last week while I was lolling around with a bad attitude. It looks good and it's nice to be able to cook at night, but I haven't solved the big hole next to the fixture problem. I need to get on that so we can zip the kitchen up and call it done. The hoosier style cabinet still has not arrived, we're going on 14 weeks for a 6-8 week lead time, so our dishes are still all on the dining table.

We had a roofer come and give us an estimate for new (cheap) shingles, epdm lining in our yankee gutters and new downspouts and it was a whopping $13,000, twice what we were expecting. Now I feel certain that if we don't do it the house will fall down this winter and if we do it, it won't matter if the house is still standing because we'll be living in a trailer park at the edge of town. This is a major cause of the funk, we have a lot of water problems and I wanted to at least stop the water this fall before working on the structural problems next spring. It looks like the best we're going to be able to do is dig a french drain and install new downspouts, and maybe I'll take up religion, although I'm not sure if it works for houses.

In the midst of all of this I have decided to go back to school, so projects are going to be extra extra slow and project money is being diverted for books and protractors and pocket protectors. Fun fun fun...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Little Elbow Grease

For the last two years I have thought that the chandelier in the solarium looked dull and yellowed due to age. It's probably the only light fixture that remains that was original to the house, so we have never even considered replacing it, but it wasn't all that pretty. The previous owner was very energy conscious so all of the bulbs in this house were/are compact florescent, so there are many bulbs that we still haven't changed since moving in. One of the lights in the chandelier finally went out the other night. I dragged a ladder over and looked inside the chandelier and the scene wasn't pretty. We took the bowl of the chandelier off and immersed it in a sink of hot ammonia water and rubbed gently and viola!

It's all sparkly and pretty again! This is definitely going to be added to the spring cleaning chores from now on.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hoosier Style Cabinet Update

Chris finally got some information on the cabinet that we ordered for the kitchen. It turns out that the factory lost every single purchase order on one day in May and it happens to be the day that we ordered ours. Their only recourse was to wait 6-8 weeks for people to start calling and then build the furniture. They said that they would put a rush on our piece, but we still won't have it before the beginning of September.
Here is a photo of the cabinet:

I looked at Hoosier reproductions, but they just didn't suit our needs. I think this will work out beautifully. We didn't order it in this two tone color scheme, ours is all one color and it will be a color called antique glow, not too red, not too yellow, a nice medium natural wood color. That is... if we ever get it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Weekend Work

Since we are at a standstill on our current project we decided to work on our friend and fellow old house dweller Stephen S.'s house. He is actually selling this old house to move into a different old house that has a couple of barns and a babbling brook, so he is contractually obligated to finish a few projects before the closing. When I say a few, I mean more like 15 projects that require advanced woodworking skills and lots and lots of time. Since Chris and I are not skilled labor, we just painted clapboards while Stephen S. did the hard stuff. It was actually a very pleasant day. Much better than Sunday...

On Sunday we decided to take the cook nook light fixture down and paper the ceiling even though we don't have much light in the room without it. Chris would just have to finish his business in the kitchen before sundown. The cook nook is a perfectly rectangular area and we only had to cut around the light fixture, so it was going to be super easy and fast. Of course, it wasn't either of those things and we did eventually get all of the paper stuck to the ceiling, but it isn't our best work so I'll spare you a photo until it gets painted.

Here is a photo of Stephen's house:
Nice, eh? I've known him since 2001 when I first moved to Albany. He was my boss at the time so we stuck to polite conversation like the painstaking stripping of the entire house down to bare wood, reproduction of the porch apron, repair and reproduction of any missing or broken wood work, new storm sashes, new working shutters and of course re-painting the whole thing. I still think he was crazy, but you can't deny what beautiful work he's done.

No Progress. None at all...

We are now at the part of the kitchen project where time has slowed to nearly a stop. I am spending 8 hours a day on phone and email trying to get 1. Light Fixture Parts and 2. Hoosier Style Cabinet.

Unfortunately the light fixture situation has degenerated into me threatening to have 'my attorney' deal with them. I don't mention that 'my attorney' is my sister who practices criminal law and knows more about heroin than light fixtures or sales contracts. To back up my whole attorney thing I also call Visa and file complaints with anyone who has an online form, then I get back to the threatening emails. I like to write them two or three times before I send them out. My high school English teacher would be so proud. Finally, one of my threatening emails has gotten through and they vowed that they would replace the whole fixture if they couldn't get me the right parts this time. I'll believe it when it's lighting up the kitchen.

Chris has actually been handling the cabinet because it's a local vendor and he can go over there and intimidate them at lunchtime. OK, intimidation isn't actually necessary because they are super nice and they're trying to figure out exactly where the cabinet is and they've already waived the delivery fee and I'm hoping it takes a little longer and they'll throw in some dining chairs for our trouble.

Right now all of our dishes are on the dining table gathering dust and animal hair and you know that we're not wiping them off before we use them... even if we have company, and my mom and bonus dad are coming out for a visit later this week and I was hoping to get the dishes in the cabinet before they showed up so they would presume that said dishes were clean. Hopefully they won't read this before they show up.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

He's a Maniac...

...Maniac on the... ceiling?

I think Chris' desperation for this project to be over has peaked. Today after work he finished painting the ceiling:

And installed the sink flange:

And installed the disposer:
And now we have a functioning kitchen sink!
I accused Chris of beginning to enjoy home improvement projects, but he assured me that this is not the case. He is merely desperate to have a working kitchen again.

Until the missing light fixture parts and the new updated Hoosier cabinet come in, there's really nothing more that we can do. I have some organization projects planned for this weekend in the event that the parts don't arrive. Maybe I could straighten up some other rooms of the house that have been neglected for too long... nah.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Magic Painting

While I am sitting in a clean, climate controlled, whirpool tub-having, hotel suite (I was upgraded this week), Chris is slaving away at home to finish the painting on the kitchen ceiling. He says that the photos don't do it justice, but I think they look pretty AWESOME!

The paint is a specialty metallic finish that I searched far and wide for. It's allegedly very difficult to roll on because you have to finish the strokes all in the same direction so that the metal particles are all lined up. Chris is applying it with a brush to avoid this and he said that it's taking him about 4 minutes per square. That's either dedication to a job well done or desperation for this project to be over, I can't decide which.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kitchen Lighting

This is the new fixture over the sink. We didn't have a fixture there before, so this is a very exciting thing.

This is the only good thing that has happened with the light fixtures for the room. When the island fixture arrived, there was much excitement, but then we discovered that the shades were broken. This is easy enough to fix, manufacturer's deal with this all the time. I sent an email and they assured me that the new shades were on their way. Great! Now we can install the fixture and just wait for the shades, no need to send the whole thing back. I assemble the fixture and strip the wires and Chris was standing on the island waiting and then I realized (yep, I didn't realize until this point, sad, I know) that the mounting bracket and chains that the fixture are supposed to hang from are missing. I sent another email and I got the same response, but still no parts. It's been two and a half weeks and this is holding up the whole punch list and I would totally call them up and give them what for, but no one picks up the phone there, they just have a recording that says to submit questions via email! Maybe they've had too many talking to's in the past. I am definitely going to send a semi-harsh email now!

Grandma's Plates

Since we moved into this house, I have been searching for some beautiful artwork for our dining room. This is really the only room in the house that has a lot of wall space. All of the other rooms are full of windows and doors and chimneys so decorating them didn't require a lot of thought. The beautiful artwork had to fulfill a couple of requirements. It had to take up a lot of horizontal space, and it had to be relatively cheap. We are not in the 'art collector' phase of our lives yet.

Grandma to the rescue! My Grandmother, Shirley D, painted these plates when I was a kid. They've hung in her house for as long as I can remember and I have always loved them, so I was very happy to be the lucky recipient when my grandparents moved to a smaller home recently.

This isn't a great photo, but if you click on it you can see them in more detail. They fulfill all of my requirements, AND they have sentimental value. Thanks Grandma!

More Kitchen Work...

This was a big day in the kitchen project, it is probably the last full day of work needed. Everything else that needs to be done can be finished an hour or two at a time. This was also the most stressful day, the day that I could ruin the most expensive things.

The first thing that we could ruin was the subway tile. The people who installed the previous counter top used really large amounts of caulk, so we had to be very careful prying the backsplash away from the tiles. We managed to uninstall the counter with only 1 broken tile and two that were pulled out of their grout. A number of tiles that would've been behind the backsplash were also missing. We found some tiles under the counter on top of the cabinets, but we are still missing 2.5 tiles. I will head to the Historic Albany Foundation Parts Warehouse this weekend to try to find properly worn replacements.

The second thing I could ruin was the sink. Someone from the Old House Web forum suggested I look for sinks at Ikea. I shot her down and then marched out and bought a sink from Ikea. It wasn't expensive, but it took two trips to Paramus, NJ to get it and I didn't want to make a third trip. The sink only had one faucet hole and we needed two so I got out my trusty Off Brand Rotary Cutter and porcelain bit and hoped for the best. I taped everything because I was worried about chipping, but it turns out that the OBRC worked like a dream.

The third thing I could ruin was the counter top. Fortunately the sink installation didn't require me to cut a rectangle in the oak slab, I don't think my 10$ jig saw would've been up for the job. Since I didn't think my wimpy cordless circular saw (it seems I don't have a lot of faith in my tools) was going to do a very nice job either, we dragged the 9 foot long, 100 pound counter top to the basement so we could cut it on the table saw. This worked superbly, but it was a little nerve wracking for me. Obviously I couldn't use the fence, so I tried to dig up some geometry skills to ensure a square cut. I'm not saying that the cuts were square, but I'm saying that if you don't have a T-square with you and you squint your left eye a little, they look pretty good.

The right side of the counter butts up against the wall, so I tried to scribe it and then measured that angle and then tried to cut it so it would fit. For this one you'd have to squint both eyes, but it looks OK. The back corner is about 1/2" from the wall, but when I put the cookie jar full of dog treats there no one will know, so don't tell them.

Here are some pics:

The oil rubbed bronze disposer flange has not arrived yet, so the sink is not fully functional, but Chris finally got the right supply lines yesterday (plumbing always requires at least 3 trips), so we have water. Hurrah!

The gap on the right side of the sink is where the disposer switch will go when we get that wired up.

I'm sure I'll ruin something during that project too...

Cook Nook... Before and After

I am making the executive decision to call this portion of the kitchen 'Finished'. OK, it's not really 100% finished, but we're down to the punchlist and we're frozen where we are until the missing parts for the island light fixture arrive. I work as a consultant, so I am skilled at declaring things Finished!

This is what the Nook looked like before the snow storm that caused the Hole:

I just realized that in the photo it may look like Chris and I are drinking heavily. This is surely not the case. The night this photo was taken we were hosting a very innocuous baby shower and we were merely making 'punch'.

And this is what the Nook looked like not so long ago. I would say that was the low point.

Here are the most recent photos:

At some point I plan to build a cabinet that matches the other kitchen cabinets to put on the left side of the stove. By 'some point' I mean, 'when I acquire the woodworking skills for cabinet making', so that could be a while. It's definitely not on the punch list.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Old House Confessions

I have finally decided to come clean. I hate landscaping. I don't like being hot and I sunburn easily and the thing that I really hate about it is that you can work for hours in the garden and a month later, it doesn't look like you did anything... oh, also there's the spiders. Terrified of spiders. The whole nurturing and growing thing is lost on me and if a concrete slab looked as good as a perennial garden, the cement mixer would be backing up to the house as I type.

I didn't even know where to begin with the existing perennial gardens in our yard. Looking out the kitchen window made me feel sick. We have kind of a snarky neighbor and I was imagining how she must complain to her husband about our disgusting jungle of weeds. There were three major planting beds, one that was roughly 17' square, one long narrow one 10'x 30' and then along the back side of the house there was a bed the width of the house and about 6 feet deep. Each of these beds was chock full of overgrown junk that stood about 4 feet high. Imagine how many spiders could hide in there, I get the heebeejeebees thinking about it.

Enter Mike and Judy M:

Chris' lovely parents LOVE landscaping! They love it in all of it's phases. Local Legend Mike M. seems to especially love the clearing of the land. He spent whole days (90 degrees, 95% humidity) tearing out the overgrown gardens and filling up yard waste bags, 22 in all. Mostly I pushed the wheelbarrow and moved rocks from one pile to another, then, when it was nearing time to plant, so I spent two separate half days with Judy M at the nursery picking things out. All the while LLMM was still slaving away, preparing for planting. Then it actually was time to plant and I pointed to spots on the ground where the holes should be and then I carried buckets of mulch from our chipper-palooza down to the beds. Basically, I only enabled the work, I didn't actually participate. Oh oh, I did sprinkle the grass seed around, that was really hard work, and I was bitten by a bug and it still is itchy, so there's that.

All of the credit for the amazing transformation belongs to LLMM and JM . Here are some in progress photos. This weekend I'll post some photos of the end result.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Vacation... How Relaxing...

We have been on 'vacation' all week, so I haven't been posting. It's hard to type when you're chock full of wine and cheese. Chris' parents' showed up last Friday for a couple of weeks of torture and dog hair. We have showed them around the insides of all of the Home Depot's and Lowes' of the capital district and also the burrito joints around town. I still don't know why they visit.

We worked on the kitchen when we weren't inside the Home Depot. I am happy to say that we have a working range again and I have made a total of ONE meal! I was using the stove as an excuse for all of the burritos, but it turns out we just like burritos a lot.

Here's a short recap of the kitchen progress:

The Cook Nook:

This area used to be sort of a breakfast nook, but it has been renamed The Cook Nook. The plaster wall didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I had some trouble with the finish coat, so I got some advice and tried a second finish coat, but I got distracted while doing it and didn't get it smoothed out before it set. I thought about skim coating it, but then I decided that a tin backsplash would be easier and with the rest of the stuff that was going to be on the wall that the plaster job was good enough. We installed the hood and potrack and then hooked the stove up and we are back in business! We probably should've finished painting the finish coats before hanging everything, but we got so durn excited that we couldn't wait. It's OK, Chris loves to tape and paint trim... hehe. The rest of the hood chimney will be installed after the ceiling is finished. The hood is stainless, it just looks orange because of the reflection from the last of the orange walls.

The ceiling:

Chris and I hung the Anaglypta in the main part of the kitchen. It was clumsy and sweaty work and we were both covered in glue by the end, but there are only about 10,000 wrinkles and gaps, so we feel pretty successful. I understand that the paper generally looks pretty bad until it's painted, and I am hanging on to that hope. We hung the strips at a dizzying rate of 1 per hour, so this project took 3.5 days of vacation.The ceiling will be painted silver for a faux tin effect. The metallic paint chips arrived this week, but we still haven't decided which shade of silver would be best.


We have now entered the era of modern conveniences with a new electric ice box. OK, we did have a modern refrigerator, but it was too big and too boxy for our small kitchen and since we are adventurous people we decided to look for an antique refrigerator. On Sunday we drove to South Hadley, Mass. to pick up this little beauty:
It's a 1941 GE in nearly perfect condition. I was a little worried, but it is so quiet and cold I can hardly believe it. We can fit most of our groceries (and boxes of wine) in it, but we had to get a supplemental freezer. While we were at it we also got a little fridge for the Man Area (den) so we can have cold beers and diet cokes near the TV. Everybody's happy.

The plan for the old fridge (it wouldn't fit down the basement steps) was to put it on the curb and list it on Craig's List for free, but it was gone before I had a chance to publish the ad. Hopefully someone's getting some use from it, I have some guilt about getting rid of a perfectly fine fridge.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

All Smiles

Today was a beautiful day in Albany. Not too hot, nice breeze, lots of sunshine. We were happy to be working on the house and so was the Wolf Pack. Just look at these smiles:

The Bumpy Wall (Formerly Known as The Hole)

The Hole has been a problem for us for a while. It is the thing that started the whole kitchen project. I have waffled and flip flopped about The Hole for months. To plaster or not to plaster? Should we really install a hood ourselves? How much rot do you think is under the lath? Oh no, what do we do about the rot? Where do you buy plaster supplies? etc.

Today we finally dealt with The Hole. Here's the sequence of events:

1. Start cutting hole for hood vent.
2. Break all bits for saw. Send Chris to HD for more.
3. Start cutting 2x4's for new studs and header. Saw batteries are all dead.
4. Too lazy to drag 2x4's to table saw, go to den and lay on couch.
5. Eat Lindt truffles and take nap.
6. Finally get up and complete reinforcing wall and installing vent.
7. Go back to HD for nails for lath, stare at sinks and faucets, eat early dinner.
8. Nail up lath, drop 50% of brads on floor.
9. Mix plaster recipe. Glop plaster all over. Mix more plaster.

Here's Chris putting the finishing touches on the scratch coat. Hopefully it will still be on the wall in the morning.

Painting the Whole World Pea Soup Green... One Room at a Time

This week while I was at work Chris finished painting the main part of the kitchen.

It was not supposed to be this color. The color is called suede, it's supposed to be a yellow toned medium brown color. Looks like pea soup to me. Now nearly every room in the house is green.

Then, today we painted the island:
The color is library pewter. Looks kind of like olive green, right? We freaked out after the first coat thinking that we were being sabotaged by the kid at Sherwin Williams, but the second coat looks much more pewter-ish. Of course, we picked the pewter color to match what we thought the suede color was going to be. For once I didn't do anything rash and we are going to wait until the room is finished before thinking about repainting anything.

We also installed some new switch plate covers and drawer hardware. If you stand in front of the hole and look at the kitchen it looks like it's nearing completion, but then you turn around and see this:


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Masonry Supply Monday

I took the day off yesterday to work on the kitchen since I'd like to be cooking again sometime in '07 and I am pretty happy with the results. I finished sanding the skim coated walls, primed and painted about 80% of the room and the results are good. They look like the walls of a much younger kitchen. Some spots weren't quite perfect, but I usually subscribe to the "It's better than it was" philosophy. I figure that if I work on something for any amount of time and use tools on it, a good outcome would be at least as good as the original condition, and a great outcome would be any improvement on the original state. I'll post photos soon.

The highlight of the day was buying the plaster for the hole project. Recently I accosted some bricklayers in my neighborhood and they told me where to go for plaster supplies. They also told me that there would be a mean old man there and that he would help me.

It's the kind of place that you have to drive between the warehouse and the office and park in the courtyard area, so there's no going back once you turn on your blinker.

In the event that anyone reads this blog who is not related to me, I'll take a moment to describe myself. I consider myself to be young, many women my age have lived a lot more life with babies and divorces, but I am still a spring chicken. My usual historic home preservation attire is a pair of capri pants and flip flops that are covered in paint and plaster dust and 80% of the time I am driving around in a zippy German sports wagon with lumber in the back. (The other 20% of the time I am driving something far more sinister, the smelliest, dirtiest jeep ever).

Anywho, I pull into the courtyard and skip into the office. It smells like the cigarette smoke of 1000 bowling alleys and it looks like things haven't moved in years. There's a stack of calendars on the wall where they have never taken down the old calendar, just tacked the new one on top, but they stopped doing that in 2005. This man emerges from someplace beyond the stuff and I'm thinking that he celebrated his 80th birthday some time ago. I ask in my best cheerleader voice if they carry the plaster supplies I was looking for and before he answers he asks how I am going to pay for it. It seems that they don't take credit cards and I guess I don't look like a cash kind of girl. I tell him that if he has the stuff that I will go to an ATM and come right back. We walk out into the warehouse and he points to the base and finish plaster that I asked for and I zoom off to get the cash. When I went back, there were two other customers there and I'd rather not meet either of them in a dark alley. I waited around feeling like the most ridiculous person who ever lived and finally it was my turn. I paid with my new cash and I tried to make a joke about using German Shepherd hair for the scratch coat, but that didn't go over well. I asked if I could help myself to the 4 - 50 lb bags that I needed, but he insisted on getting the fork truck and bringing them out. Finally he got over to the wagon and I loaded them into the back. I can't imagine how it would've gone down if I couldn't lift the bags. If the old man breaks while he's loading your car, are you responsible to take him to the hospital?

I bought extra so I don't have to go back anytime soon, but I will definitely drive the jeep next time or maybe even send Chris. I'm not sure how he would fare with all of his book learnin' and his uncallused hands. Maybe if we got him a stick on moustache...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

No Fun Sunday

Here's a recap of our whole weekend as it pertains to our unusable kitchen:

Friday morning the plumber and electrician showed up to move the gas line for the range, add some light fixture boxes, wiring for the range hood and split up two of the four circuits that run the whole house. While they were working I continued scraping the texture off the ceiling. They felt bad for me. That's when you know it's bad, the contractors are pitying you.

The ceiling was covered in some ugly texture and I probably wouldn't have done anything about it except there was this faux medallion around the light fixture and I wanted to put a hanging fixture there and it wasn't centered over the island and you see where this is going, and it's not good. I went on the forum at OldHouseWeb and the helpful people there told me that I should be able to scrape it off so I gave it a shot. In typical Tricia fashion I was looking at the ceiling one minute and the next minute I was standing on the island with a spatula in my hand and a febreze bottle full of water in the other. I happily scraped for some time this way and the ceiling soon looked like this:
And the floor looked like this:

Then we cleaned the floor for twice as long as it took to scrape the stuff down in the first place. This time I was smarter and I got some moving boxes from the attic and put them down all over the kitchen floor. Anyway, I managed to get the rest of the ceiling scraped without incident.

Then Friday afternoon I lured Chris with the promise of burritos to my formerly favorite lighting store to choose some fixtures and we stared at catalogs until past closing time without any success. It seems our price range is VERY limiting for the three fixtures we need.

We also went to Harbor Freight to pick up a rotary cutting tool for my other project, 'The Hole'.

Saturday morning I awoke with tons of motivation for the very exciting kitchen project, but I just needed breakfast and a few things from the Home Depot. This can never end well. We ended up being out for nearly half the day and it wasn't even a successful trip. The masonry supply place was closed so we had to go to the Home Depot twice. That place is like a time warp. We also went to a decorating store to look for metallic paints for the faux finish I'm planning to do on the ceiling. I told the nice woman that I am planning to hang Anaglypta on my ceiling and paint it to look like tin. First she told me that they don't make Anaglypta anymore which is weird because I just received 10 rolls of it from the ups man, then she told me that they won't be carrying metallic paints anymore. Bust. At least they had wallpaper paste, so I got some of that.

When we got back to the house Chris screwed up the ceiling with the plaster washers.
He's very thorough. I tried my hand at skim coating. I did a small section. It was messy and hard to get the hang of, but I was satisfied with my first attempt and I had to get ready to go to a folk music festival, so I couldn't mess around all day.

This morning I sanded the skim coat test area and realized that it was actually a really terrible attempt and I was going to have to do something about it. The people on the old house web forums seem to love the Magic Trowel, so I thought that maybe it would save me. Since I needed to wait three hours before Sherwin Williams would open I decided that I would work on the hole.

It seems that holes of this variety get bigger before they can disappear, and this is what the hole looks like now:
There's a section of header that needs to be replaced because of rot and I'd like to add some reinforcements to two of the studs that have some water damage. Also, the hole needs to be cut for the range hood vent before I can start the plaster work. I pulled out some nails and took some measurements and then I got out my new rotary cutting tool to even up the remaining header after I tore out the rotten parts. Within seconds the bit broke and flew across the room. Naturally I had no other bits, so I went downstairs to find my reciprocating saw and I had no blades for that (I guess I haven't used it since Grand St.), so I just sort of pottered around until SW was open. I couldn't go to HD for bits or blades or we could have had a repeat of Saturday.

I returned home triumphant with the Magic Trowel and... it worked like crap. I was so frustrated, and I couldn't understand why everyone loves this stupid thing and I can do a better job with a taping knife and... if you take the protective cover off the magic trowel it actually does work like magic. I finished skim coating in no time flat.

All this while Chris was sealing the flat roof over the stairwell on the side of the house. He's a champ. If you saw the size of the window he shimmied out to get onto the roof, you'd be impressed.

Tonight we went to some friends' for a fabulous dinner and then we came back and I sanded the kitchen, I felt oddly compelled (like by the power of satan). I'm pretty proud of it. I'm not sure how good it really is, but it must be better than it was before, right?
I'm finally getting to bed now. Tomorrow is a vacation day for me so I can work on the kitchen project. I'm definitely still in the part of the tunnel where I can't see any light except from behind me. Why was I so eager to do this again

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dining Room Redux... Part 2

When we first moved in, the dining room was painted Ruskin Room Green, and it's a nice color, but under the light of that room it turned into this yellowy, limey color and I didn't like it. So, I painted it red. Rembrandt Ruby. This has always worked for me in the past, red always works for me. We left the frieze alone because we planned to paper it and the ceiling. The problem with the red was that it made the woodwork and the furniture disappear.

When we bought this giant china cabinet, we didn't want it to blend in with the walls or make the room even darker. I am the first one to say that I like dark spaces, but this wasn't quite right, so we painted it again. This time Chris chose the palette and I think it worked out great. Oddly enough, we used the original room color above the plate rail, so we have kind of come full circle. With the new wall colors, the Ruskin Room Green is a much different color. The yellowy tone now looks golden and lovely. The walls and ceiling are also from the Sherwin Williams historical color palette, the walls are Buckram Binding and the ceiling is Indian White.

Chris installed the new chandelier last autumn while I was visiting my brother. A very nice surprise.

I am hoping one day to build a built-in china cabinet for this space, but that could be many years away. In the interim we still need storage, and it so happens that the makers of this fine quartersawn china and buffet are shutting down their furniture division, so we got it for a song. I am so happy to have a place for everything, now we can get started on the kitchen...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Our first attempt at fruit growing.

We are attempting to grow edible things for the first time. We chose Black Currants for two reasons: 1. Grapes need more sun than we get, and 2. Currants are in tons of fancy recipes and I can never find them. I read an article from the University of Minnesota that talked about how much satisfaction I would get from growing currants, so I ordered some straight away. I also ordered some grapes for the only part of our yard that gets any sun. When they arrived, they were sad little twigs and Chris was skeptical. Then we dug the holes and fertilized and mulched and watered just like the instructions said and the little twigs stuck sadly out of the ground and now we were skeptical, and resentful of digging tons of holes in the rocky soil. Finally this week, SUCCESS!! OK, a few tiny buds probably doesn't mean we will have bushels of currants any minute, but it's encouraging.